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Dáil Éireann debate -
Friday, 25 Apr 1924

Vol. 7 No. 1


I move:

"That a Customs duty of an amount equal to fifteen per cent. of the value of the article shall be charged, levied, and paid on all boots, shoes, slippers, goloshes, sandals and clogs, and all shaped soles, shaped heels and shaped uppers imported into Saorstát Eireann on or after the 5th day of May, 1924."

Will the Minister explain why he should make it the 5th of May? We have a possibility within the next few days of having the country flooded with boots and shoes. Anything that was said about flooding respecting fruits will surely apply to boots. If advantage can be taken of the next five or six days to buy thousands of pairs of boots and shoes at an advantage of 3/- to the £1, it would be very well worth doing and a very good speculation. I would like the Minister to explain why he should set out the 5th of May in this Resolution when it is the 26th of April in previous Resolutions. There must be some reason, and I think the Minister should state the reason, and why he would like to invite all the shippers of boots from Leicester to flood this market, when he raised objections against flooding the market with jams.

The 5th day of May had been fixed in preference to the 27th of April, which is the day we would like to fix because of the knowledge that there would be attempts to flood the market. The duties being imposed and charged on the 27th April are simply alterations of existing duties. The staff is there for dealing with them, and in some respects the instructions are in their hands, so that the matter can be dealt with at once. In the case of boots and shoes the staff are dealing with an entirely new matter. For instance, it will be impossible actually to collect revenue to-morrow on boots and shoes. It will not be difficult to collect it on confectionery, which will be paying duty anyway on a different calculation. It would not be difficult to collect duty on table waters that are already paying a duty, but in the case of boots and shoes it will involve a very heavy burden of work on the Customs staff, work with all the difficulties that surround a new tax and with all the disputes that will arise. It would be impossible to deal with them for a few days. We feel that the 5th of May is the earliest date that we could deal with this particular tax. If we were to put it on as from to-morrow the only result would be a hold-up and a very great amount of confusion, as arrears would accumulate against a staff that will be heavily enough taxed in any case. We feel also that the time is so short, if there is going to be any great amount of forestalling, they will have to look very sharp about it. There is only a week. Undoubtedly a certain amount of forestalling is bound to take place, but we do not see that we can help that. Of course, there is the fact that a considerable number of importers may not be able to pass the ordinary Customs entries even on non-dutiable goods in the interval that will elapse between this and the 5th May.

I am not sure whether the English boot manufacturers ought to be more grateful to the Minister for Finance for offering this respite or to Deputy Johnson for calling attention to it. I would deprecate the last argument used by the Minister, because his suggestion that boots may not get through the Customs in time is turning business into a gamble. It is simply inviting the retailer to put up his price at once because he does not know if he will be able to replenish his stocks, or whether his new stock will have to pay duty or not. Any uncertainty of that kind is most injurious. I think the Minister adopted the argument on the spur of the moment, and, on reflection, will not, I hope, adhere to it. If we are going to adopt the principle of a protective tariff—as to which I shall say more in my general remarks—I think a better case can be made for this duty than most. I would like to suggest to the Minister, however, that he has made the duty a little too steep. For the first imposition of a duty of this kind 15 per cent. is rather high. It is bound, as he said, to be passed on to the consumer, because the Irish boot trade cannot deal with all demands at the present time, and English manufacturers have had no time to put factories here. That being so, would it not be desirable to adopt a slightly lower duty at present? I would suggest ten per cent. for three years. Of course, the Minister cannot bind his successors or the Dáil, but if he would let it be known that it was his policy to levy ten per cent. for the first three years, then when Irish manufacturers have had time to increase their output, and when English manufacturers have had time to put up works here, as they probably will, I would not quarrel with a duty of 20 per cent. I think 15 per cent. coming immediately on all classes and on everybody in the community who wears boots will be felt as a somewhat severe and onerous tax.

I pass from that to the second point. Has the Minister considered at all the possibility of exempting children's boots from this tax? Any father of a family knows that if his children are not growing out of their boots they are wearing them out. It is one incessant process, and no amount of admonition will persuade children to be careful with their boots. This tax weighs as heavily on the wage-earner and the working man as on anyone else. I notice in my own district that the game of "hop-scotch" is becoming extremely popular amongst children. That game, I think, must be subsidised by boot manufacturers, as it is one of the most expeditious methods of wearing out boots that has ever been known. I admit there would be a certain difficulty in defining children's boots, and that some ladies whose feet happen to be unusually small would probably be able to reap the advantage of any concession. But I would suggest to the Minister that he might consider the exemption of boots below a certain price, even a low price-say, 10/-. An ad valorem duty of 15 per cent. on ten shillings would not be a very great deal. The revenue would not lose very much, the Irish manufacturer would not lose, because I believe that children's boots are not manufactured in the Saorstát at present; and, that being so, I hope the Minister will give favourable consideration to an amendment on these lines, if one is moved on Report.

The third point is the tax on shaped soles, shaped heels and shaped uppers. That again is not protection at present, because I believe these parts are not made in Ireland, and it will be very injurious to a comparatively large number of people who carry on the trade of boot repairing. They have to import the material, and they are small men, with usually what is known as one-man businesses, without any great capital behind them. I am thinking of a certain number of men discharged from the Army after the European War, trained in boot repairing, and encouraged by the British Government to set up in this business. They have no capital; the fact that they have to buy, and possibly keep the goods on hands for a considerable time before they can dispose of them, will hamper their operations, and they belong to a class that the Minister for Finance dislikes, and naturally dislikes, because they give him trouble. But, nevertheless, they deserve consideration. It will mean a constant loss of 6d. and 2/6; it will mean all the impediments that the Minister desires to place in the way of the small importer, and the result will be, I am afraid, that many of these men, who are earning an honest living now, will be driven out of it and will have to be given the dole or turn to some other occupation already overstocked. I suppose I am a reactionary, but I would sooner see a man repairing boots in his own neighbourhood than to see him in a big English factory here. I believe he is a happier man and a better citizen. I would ask the Government to reconsider the duty on shaped soles and heels. I am not concerned so much about shaped uppers, as that is a matter of assembling, but the shaped soles and shaped heels are the raw material of this boot repairing business, and I think they should be exempted, even from this protective tariff.

I quite agree with Deputy Cooper that fifteen per cent. is too much. I would like to know if, before introducing this, the Minister for Finance had an interview with the boot manufacturers in the Saorstát to find out whether they were in a position to manufacture the same class of boots both for adults and children, and at the same price as those sent into the country. Certainly it is a fine thing from the workman's point of view to preach Protection, but not to give with one hand and take away with the other. It has been adopted by many in the Dáil for the past three or four months. But you will find that a person who has suffered from Protection is not really a sincere Protectionist. I think the only men who will suffer from this Resolution will be the working men. A pair of boots costing at present twenty shillings will cost twenty-three shillings. I wonder where the extra three shillings are to come from. Deputy Cooper has explained the question of children's boots, and I am sure the Minister for Finance has some experience of what it costs to keep children in footwear for twelve months. I do not think this Resolution should be accepted by the Dáil until some arrangements are made, or some guarantee given that prices will remain as at present, or, if possible, will be reduced. To my mind, this fifteen per cent. is another tax upon the citizen. Everyone must have some kind of footwear. If a tariff is necessary I think five per cent. would have practically the same result as fifteen per cent. I would like to know, if this is agreed to, whether the Minister will prevent traders throughout the country who have large stocks of boots on hands from charging the extra fifteen per cent. on their present stocks, which would certainly be profiteering. I wish to propose an amendment, that is, to delete the word "fifteen" and to substitute the word "five." I think five per cent. would be plenty to charge, at least for the first twelve months. I believe it will have the very same effect as the fifteen per cent., and it will be as much as the ordinary man can possibly afford to pay, taking the prices the farmers are getting for the produce of their land, and that the manufacturers say they are getting, and the workers' scanty wages from both.

I feel obliged to oppose this resolution. The Minister has taken off, as far as I can gather, about ten shillings or ten and sixpence in the year in the case of an ordinary family by reducing the tea duty, but by this protective duty on boots he imposes a duty on a family of five people, wearing, on an average, two pairs of boots each per year, of £1 10s. per year. If there is any form of Protection that I would be inclined to support, it would be in the boot and shoe industry, because it seems to me to be almost the ideal industry to start on a protective basis. But I maintain, with the present situation in this country, that it is not right or advisable that people should be taxed to this extent. We hear every day—we heard it to-day from the Minister—about the dire condition of agriculture, and if you have protective duties imposed upon articles of everyday consumption by the farmer you will have an increase in his cost of living, a direct increase on the price of boots of at least £1 10s. a year. You will have an increase in the price of confectionery for his children, if he can afford to buy any, which I very much doubt, an increase in the price of his cocoa, and, possibly, an increase in the price of his bottle of stout by the increase in the price of bottles. What are you giving him in place of these increases? You are giving him absolutely nothing. The main industry, which we have heard so much about, and which has to be bolstered up and helped, is getting absolutely nothing, and I maintain that if the members of the agricultural community have to bear costs directly, and, eventually, indirectly, they will have to bear still further expense, because if these tariffs increase the price of boots, jam and other things, the index figure of the standard of living will be higher, and naturally the workers— perhaps rightly so—will refuse to accept any reduction in their wages while the index figure remains high, with the usual result which we have got quite accustomed to, that the whole cost will be eventually forced upon the farmer, who will have no option but to pay.

He has to sell his goods in an unprotected market. I notice that even the one article which might be protected is ignored altogether, and that is barley. The Minister did not deal with the question of barley. He never said for a moment that barley could be protected, and apparently all we are to get is his pious recognition of the fact that agriculture is in a dire condition, and we are to be asked to pay directly or indirectly for these protective duties. With regard to boots, I am sure this protective duty will increase the price of boots by that amount. It is quite evident that the manufacture of boots cannot be enlarged to such an extent that the Irish manufacturers will be able to meet the requirements of the population for some time, with the result that imported boots will be coming in for a long time, and costing the consumer an extra amount. There is the further matter, that is well known, that English manufacturers of boots specialise in different grades. One factory in Northampton will make one form of boot, and another factory will make another class of boot. They specialise in that manner, and it seems to me, with the comparatively small demand we will have, that it will not be possible to specialise in this way, or if it is possible the articles produced will be inferior in quality or else higher in price. That means that the Irish manufacturer will have to make a great number of grades which will be of inferior quality, and can never hope to send these goods to the foreign markets.

They will always have to depend on the home demand for these grades. If they do that they can concentrate on one, two, or three grades, and specialise, but that will mean the balance of the grades will have to be imported, and the Irish consumer will have to pay the 15 per cent. I think the Minister suggested that the hide and tanning trade would be improved by this protective duty. If that is the case he should have imposed a protective duty on hides, because hides are tanned in England and they will be sent here. I see no possibility of tanning being revived here by this tariff. If he imposed a protective tariff on tanned hides it would to a certain extent encourage agriculture, and that would possibly mean there would be an increase in tanning, an increase in the prices which the Irish farmer gets for his hides, and possibly a fillip would be given to the dead meat industry. Factories could be established, and hides might be used in these tanning factories. Taking all these considerations into account, and the present condition of agriculture, which has, to my mind, mainly to bear the extra expenses of these tariffs, I think it is not an advisable time for the imposition of such a tariff as this.

I am absolutely opposed to Protection, although I must admit there is not much protection in this Resolution. The Minister for Finance is anxious to encourage Irish industry. I would suggest that he would reach his goal far quicker if he reduced the income tax 6d. or 1/- in the £. He proposes to put 15 per cent. on boots, and other manufactured articles. Even though I am opposed to Protection, I can very well see that 15 per cent. at present amounts to nothing at all. Irish boots are always 15 per cent. dearer. I would rather advise the Minister to put on 33? per cent., and then he might succeed in encouraging the manufacture of boots in Ireland. Fifteen per cent., I think, does not go far enough.

The Minister for Finance expects to reap £250,000 out of this tax, and that shows that he knows very well that the boots are not going to be made in Ireland; they will be imported. It is a counterpoise to the 3d. he has allowed in tea. He is going to get it all in the boots. I hope the Finance Department will see that the people who gain on the boots—that is, the people who hold the stocks to-day —will have 15 per cent. added to their incomes for the purpose of income tax next year, for they will have gained it by a stroke of the pen. He has admitted that 11-12ths of our boots have to be imported. That is one pair out of twelve is made in Ireland.

Worse again, one pair out of 15 is made in Ireland. I put it to him as a sensible man, is it a fair and reasonable proposition to impose on the whole people a tax to support an industry which is able to produce only 1/15th of the requirements of the State. It is a revenue tax, a tax which will raise the cost of living, and the price of the boots to the people. He places us at a greater disadvantage than we are in at the moment in the sale of commodities across the sea.

Might I ask the Minister if rubber soles and heels are included in this Resolution?

Deputy Wilson pointed out that at present for every fifteen pairs of boots Ireland uses she produces only one pair. He pointed out that as the miserable position in which the Irish boot industry stands, and asked is that the sort of industry we are to support. I say that is an extraordinary way of looking at it. What Deputy Wilson should say is, that so poor is the encouragement and support that the people of Ireland gave to the makers of boots that Irish factories, one by one, factories where Irish boys and girls were working, had to close their doors because the Irish people would not buy their boots, and for every 15 factories that were working 14 had to close one after another, and Deputy Wilson's money for boots has gone across to England, to Nottingham and other places, where these boys and girls who were working had to go to follow his money, and he said it with a sneer at the Irish manufacturers.

We always have a sneer at the Irish manufacturer and the Irish artizan. It reminds one of the scathing sneers of the landlord twenty years ago. "The Irish farmer," he said, "is contemptible, ignorant, lazy. He is not able to sow his land. He has not machinery or anything else." It was not the fault of the Irish farmer. It was the fault of the system. I say the Irish artizan, the Irish works manager, and the Irish manufacturer are of the same cloth as the Irish farmer. They are no worse if they get a fair chance. And the Farmers' Party ought to recognise what the Minister means by putting on this tariff. We want boots for Irishmen to be made in Ireland by Irish artizans. Then we will have a prosperous Irish tanning industry. The Irish tanning industry only wants a fair start to get on its feet.

During the war, when we had some sort of Protection, the Irish tanning industry was working up to the full extent of its capacity. The moment the amount of Protection that the war gave was withdrawn dumping began and the Irish tanning industries were closed one by one. Ireland is to-day without any boot industry worth talking about, but it is not the only country that was in that position. Australia was as poorly off some years ago with regard to this industry as Ireland is to-day, and it had to face the opposition of men like Deputy Wilson and others. Australia had the good sense to put on a tariff, and to-day it has captured not alone its own market but it is going over the seas, and it has captured the South African and other markets. As Australia has done, first try to capture your own market for your own people, and do not be regarding the Irish manufacturer as one having all the sins of the world. He is just as good as you are yourself and just as honest. Give him a fair chance and he will make boots that will be good enough for the Irish people.

If you go to France you will handle a cigarette that is not as good as the British cigarette, and when the British young fellow or girl asks for a better cigarette he is told by the sensible French people: "The cigarette that is good enough for the French artizan is good enough for you." If you go to America you will get bicycles——

Therefore, we will have to wear bad boots.

You will have to wait until they are made, and it will not be too long for you at all. Until there is a sufficient supply you will have to pay an increased cost, and when we reach the full development the employment given to artizans will be the compensating value to this country. That is not the point that is taken into consideration. If we are going to hold this nation together we must give employment to the youth of the country. The farming Deputy here is the owner of his farm. What about his brothers? If the Farmers' Union could pass a resolution that every farmer would only have one son who would get the farm we need not bother about Protection at all, but it often happens that there are four or five sons in the farmer's family.

Do you think a resolution will do it?

I think it would be just as sensible to propose that resolution as to support the policy of the Farmers' Party here. When America passed Protection the farmers used the very same argument that the Farmers' Party are using here in all sincerity and all honesty. They said, what is going to happen this country if the farmer has to pay additional tax. But in spite of the farmers' opposition Protection was introduced, and to-day America is the wealthiest country in the world. Her artizans and farmers——

What are the farmers in America now?

They are all convinced Protectionists.

I would like to assure Deputy Sears and the Minister for Finance that the farmers of Ireland are quite prepared to wear Irish boots and to buy Irish boots. What the farmers object to, and what I think the workers of Ireland generally will object to, is that they will be forced, if this Resolution is passed by the Dáil, to pay three shillings for every pair of boots in which they invest a pound more after the 5th May than they could buy them at to-day. They will object to paying that three shillings extra simply because they are unable to pay. Agriculture in Ireland was never in a worse position, and Deputy Sears knows it just as well as any Deputy in this Dáil. The workers of Ireland were never worse off than they are to-day, and in spite of that fact they will be compelled to go into the shops to pay three shillings a pair more for every pair of boots purchased after the 5th May. We want to see where this extra money is going to come from to enable the purchaser to do this. Unquestionably it will raise the cost of living. It must raise the cost of living. It will certainly raise the cost of production for the farmers of the country. And what effect must that inevitably have on the agricultural industry? Agriculture is in as much need of protection to-day as any industry in the country, or any industry that you seek to have in the country. What way are you proposing to protect agriculture? You are proposing to protect it by raising the cost of production on the agriculturists. If there is any Deputy or anybody outside the Dáil in earnest in supporting agriculture, prepared to give agriculture its due, the protection that they can best give it is to do everything they can to enable us to reduce the cost of production. That is what we want to get in order that we will be in a position to compete with the farmers of other countries.

The cost of production for the Irish farmer to-day is so high that he is not in a favourable position to compete against the farmers of other countries. Now it is proposed that the cost of production for the Irish farmer must be still higher. Every pair of boots that comes into his house henceforward will cost him three shillings more—and perhaps more than three shillings—than he would have to pay if this Resolution were not passed. That is really a revenue tax. It is going to increase the amount to the Exchequer. It is not, to my mind, a tax that will first assist an Irish industry. Its first effect will really be to increase the revenue. It must be for that object this resolution has been introduced. I think it is not right that it should be put to this House that the motive is to assist Irish industries that to-day are not able to live. The main point of view must be to increase the revenue.

The Minister for Education says that it is nothing of the kind, but whether that is the intention or not, that will really be the effect, and the people of this country, who are the purchasers of this article all over the country, will really be the people to pay this increased tax and to pay this amount into the Exchequer. Deputy Sears may say, and perhaps there is reason for his saying it, that the Irish manufacturers are not able to compete, and that Irish manufacturers want protection, but does Deputy Sears suggest that one section of the Irish people, and that the greater section of the Irish people, must be penalised so that another section may prosper? I think that will really be the effect of this Resolution. The great majority of the people on the land and all the people who are not on the land but who are depending upon the land for their living, will have the cost of living for them increased. The articles they have to buy and the necessaries of life are going to cost them more. Deputy Sears may say that manufacturers cannot live under present conditions, and that employment must be found for the extra women we have on the land. I agree that extra employment must be found, but I think it would be well for those people who have been managing those industries up to the present to explore every possible means before having a tariff on one of the articles which is one of the very essentials of life. I think, as I said before, that if better business methods were employed by our people, and perhaps if there was a better spirit shown both by the workers in the factories and the managers and the owners of the factories there would be no trouble whatever in the Irish people procuring as good boots to wear and as cheap as those which come from Northampton. I am not satisfied that the possibilities in that direction have been fully explored, and I am very much afraid there has not been the efficiency we would all like. It is doubtful whether we will have that efficiency now, and it would be a better way to try to establish that standard of efficiency first and that our people should have made every possible effort to establish that standard of efficiency. To look to Protection at all now is, to my mind, a very dangerous principle and a principle that we will have established and will want to have administered all round to every industry, great and small, in the country that can really find an excuse for saying it is not able to live against foreign competition.

Deputy Baxter's speech was a speech against protection in any form, and this is not the time to go into that question. I agree that the best service you could do to agriculture would be to bring down the cost of living. I also agree—I am not going to repeat the figures again—that the farmer is in an extremely bad position at the moment. But the point I wish to make is that you cannot oppose this particular Resolution on any other basis consistently except by opposing any attempt, any experiment now in the nature of protection. Any speech against this Resolution in the circumstances is simply stating we cannot in any circumstances—good, bad, or indifferent—make any experiment in protection. That is what it comes to. If that is the official policy say so, but I have been listening to speeches—I listened to the speeches of Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Baxter—and I think that is what they amounted to. I also listened to the speech of Deputy Wilson, and I had a question to-day about offals, and it comes to this: Deputy Heffernan wants an import duty upon barley, and in the next breath he wants to cheapen production——

As a matter of explanation I only want the duty on barley contingent upon the other protective duties being forced upon us.


The argument apparently is: this duty will raise the cost of production, and therefore we ought to put an import duty on barley in order to raise it higher. That is the position; that is what it comes to.

No; the argument is that the farmer's cost of living has increased, and, therefore, putting an import duty upon barley would give him a return.

One would think the farmers were the only people who wore boots.


Exactly; the argument is quite plain. This duty increases the cost of living. Put an import duty on barley in order to increase the cost of raising pigs.

Beer. You do not feed pigs on barley.


It comes to this, that the remedy for the alleged increase in the cost of living by this Resolution is to increase it further by an import duty on barley.

We have not demanded that at all.


Deputy Heffernan has.

He has not.

On a point of explanation, I have not done so, and if the Minister will read the official record he will find I did not say so, but I said agriculture was not protected, not even barley; that was not a demand that barley should be protected.


The fact of the matter is, it was good enough as an argument for the moment. The Farmers' Union considered the matter in Congress, and passed a resolution against the protection of barley, quite sensibly. Deputy Wilson is on sounder lines, and wants to cheapen food stuffs, but you cannot have it both ways. I understand Deputy Baxter's attitude, which is no protection in any circumstances or under any safeguards; that is what his speech amounts to; but do not try to have it both ways. Do not ask for cheaper food stuffs in one breath, and dearer in another. I know perfectly well the greatest service you could do the farmers at the moment would be to lower the cost-of-living figure, and the cost of production. That undoubtedly would be the greatest service. But I do not take up the attitude that we cannot make any experiment of any kind in the direction of the development of the commercial and industrial side of this country. I think experiments are necessary. I think you will never get the question of Free Trade versus Protection properly understood, and appreciated, in this country, until you make experiments, and I do say we will have a far more educated electorate and Dáil and Government this time next year when we come to debate the question of Free Trade and Protection as a result of these experiments.

I think that is worth a certain amount of money. In fact it is the only way.

Who is going to pay?


We will come to that, but I think that is the only way you can get this question of Protection versus Free Trade faced squarely. Anybody will admit that if you withdraw this particular duty, this duty on boots, the whole experiment falls to the ground. It is not worth while going on with the rest. I do not accept Deputy Heffernan's figures, which are, I think, that the ratio between what the farmer loses by this duty and what he gains by the rebate on tea would be thirty to ten. I do not think that is so at all. Take the figures in bulk. The best estimate which the Minister for Finance can make is that they will about balance. I think when you come down to the case of the small farmer, and the small farmer is the man who holds the greatest area of land in this country, you will find that there will not be very much difference between what he will gain and what he will have to pay. That is the reason I support this resolution, that I believe the difference between what he will lose by this duty as against what he will be recouped by the rebate on tea will be very little, if anything. It is hard, of course, to dogmatise on an estimate of this sort, but I do think that the event will justify the prediction of the Minister for Finance.

You are undertaking a substantial experiment, an experiment that will, I hope, lead to somewhere, teach us something and give us some results. At the same time you are not to any extent increasing the cost of production to the farmer. I would be sorry to think that the farmers of the country would be so short-sighted as to say: "Whatever effect it is going to have on us we are not going to allow any gambles, if you like, any experiments, no matter how unimportant, in the interests of any other class." I am fully aware of the importance of agriculture. It is the most important industry in this country. I agree entirely with Deputy Baxter when he says that there is no other industry that needs so much Protection, and, I go so far as to say, has got so little. But opposition to this Resolution or to experiments in the direction of developing the commercial and industrial side of the country is not the way, I say, to help agriculture.

I am sure we were all edified by the fatherly little speech which the Minister for Agriculture addressed to his friends, the farmers, and by the docile attitude in which they accepted his advice. But really they owed that to him, because there is no more pampered or subsidised industry in the country than agriculture.

We would be delighted to hear you develop that argument.

You have got the agricultural grant, and the general taxpayer pays for your special education in colleges here and in Agricultural Colleges throughout the country. The College of Science, this big building here near us, was erected by the Department that had charge of your interests. You have colleges scattered all over the country with more professors in them than pupils. The cost of experiments in testing seeds, in dealing with the breeding and feeding of cattle, is borne out of funds provided by the general taxpayer. Money is poured out on you from the general taxpayer in a way that it has not been poured out upon any other section of the community. And even now Deputy Baxter says he would be satisfied to vote for this Resolution if he could get a quid pro quo. Really when the Minister for Agriculture delivered his fatherly advice to you to be satisfied with what you have got we were all very edified.


And to look for more.

Yes. For my own part, and this is my principal reason for intervening in the debate, I must confess that it is with a good deal of hesitation I am supporting these Resolutions of the Government. I accept what the Minister said on behalf of the Executive Council. I am sure what he said was said in good faith, that these taxes are now being put on imports as experiments, and purely as experiments. As experiments, I am quite willing to support the proposal of the Government, which has all the information at its command. At the same time I cannot get out of my mind that what Deputy Baxter said is perfectly true, that every tax that is put on imports is going to raise the cost of living. That increase is going to create a greater difficulty for the poor to exist. I do not know whether, when Deputy Johnson opposed these Resolutions, the evidence given before the Fiscal Committee, if not by himself, by other leaders of the Irish Transport Union, in favour of Free Trade, was before his mind, He quoted from the report of the Fiscal Committee, and I think he has a copy of the report now before him. The five Professors who sat on that Committee decided that this country could prosper on nothing but Free Trade, and Deputy Johnson, I think, agreed with them. The Deputy will contradict me if I am wrong.

If not, the Deputy himself will find in the book that lies open before him, and perhaps on the very page of the book that is open before him—I have not got the book myself—that the leaders of the Transport Union were entirely in favour of a policy of Free Trade in this country, but that afterwards—the Deputy does not contradict me now—when the Trades Council met they decided that they wanted Protection. Now, when experts differ among themselves it is quite natural that a mere private member like myself would be rather doubtful, especially when I see here below me, five Professors each and all of whom unanimously voted for the first resolution enforcing Protection in this country, while their five colleagues who sat and inquired into the subject equally unanimously declared that Protection would be the ruin of the country. Now, which way are we to have it? When the leaders of the Labour Party go before the Fiscal Committee and say they are in favour of Free Trade and afterwards meet their friends and say they are not, and when five Professors meet and receive evidence, and say they are in favour of Free Trade, and five other Professors express the opposite view, it is natural that any Government would be puzzled to know what to do.

The farmers are consistent.

Yes, so long as they get the Protection that suits them. It is natural that no Government would introduce any such measure as a purely experimental matter, and it is purely as an experimental matter that I am going to support this resolution. I know that the effect of these resolutions will be to increase the cost of living. I know that they are going to result in raising the prices on the poor, and I know that boots are going to cost more than the 15 per cent. they will be taxed, because everyone who is dealing in boots will take advantage of it.

But I equally well know that in this country, at the present time, there is widespread unemployment. I equally well know that if a boot industry is started and can get on its feet, it will be able to remain here, and that in addition to supplying boots to this country, the tariff being removed, we will be in a position to export boots to other countries. Let us hope that that will be so, but it will not be so if the tariff is left on for longer than an experimental period.

That brings me to another question. Why did the Minister say this is a purely experimental business, and then invite native and foreign manufacturers to come along and start boot manufactories? How can his statement, that it is purely experimental, be in good faith if he invites native and foreign manufacturers to come along and start boot factories here? Having started the boot factories, he (the Minister) might find that the experiment was not a success, and we would be left without boot factories. I think the Minister owes it to himself to say exactly what he means. Does he mean the tariff to be kept on longer than a year, because it would not pay anyone to start a boot factory, and, if it were not a success, to close it up in a year. I think the Minister owes it to the House to say what exactly he means. That is the only comment I would make on his speech. I think his Budget will be well received in the country. The fact that the Government have the courage to take the matter in hand and make this experiment will be received by the people of the country in a way that they have not received any act of the Government up to the present.

Better come over to these Benches.

I will without any reservation—except as regards the question I mentioned regarding the Minister's good faith, that this is experimental—support and support ardently the Protectionist proposals of the Government.

I was very pleased to hear the Minister for Finance, in his opening statement to-day, say that the viewpoint from which both the Executive Council and himself approached this important question of Free Trade or Protection was not a doctrinaire one. I was subsequently glad to hear him state that this proposal was in the nature of an experiment. I confess that I sympathise largely with the Deputy who has just sat down in regard to his qualms of conscience in supporting any proposal such as this, which will inevitably and immediately increase, to a certain extent, at any rate, the cost of living, which, at the moment, is so exorbitantly high. At the same time, I also agree with him that the Government ought to be commended for the courage they have displayed in taking this step as an experiment and acknowledging it as such. It is perfectly true that what they give with one hand they take away with the other. They have proposed to reduce the existing tax upon tea, and now they are proposing to put a new tax upon boots. The proposed reduction upon tea is supposed to be for the benefit of the community. The proposed new tax upon boots is not so much, they say, for revenue purposes as in the nature of an experiment for the protection of an existing, though small, Irish industry.

I certainly do not agree with the statements that have been made from the Farmers' benches, that the fault lay entirely with the Irish manufacturers or the Irish workmen in the past. They have never had either the market or the facilities, or the opportunities of people in similar positions in Great Britain. What Deputy Sears said is undoubtedly true in regard to other Dominions, Australia in particular, that they were in almost precisely the same position as we were, in regard to certain articles which are only manufactured in a small way in their country, and that when they took the lead, as we are taking it now, they were successful. I am not saying that we shall be successful, but I am saying that it is a wise thing, at any rate, at some time, to make some experiment in the direction we are going. If I may be permitted to say so, I agree with most of what the Minister for Agriculture said in this regard, with the exception of the statement he made that any speech made against this particular Resolution was against any experiment in Protection. I disagree with him in regard to that statement. With respect, I suggest that though we may not agree with the exact and precise terms of this Resolution, at the same time it does not follow that those of us who have expressed those views are entirely against any experiment in Protection. As regards this particular experiment, I am not against it. I think, with Deputy Cooper, that possibly this is one of the best items that we could have made an experiment upon. It is true that, as the Resolution now stands, it will inflict serious injuries and hardships upon large classes of the population. But then, the Resolution need not pass as it now stands.

It is not necessary that every word proposed in this Resolution should be subsequently adopted, to make the experiment. I would strongly support Deputy Cooper's suggestion, that if we make this experiment, we should do it in a more modest way, and that we should not commence by putting fifteen per cent. upon imported boots and shoes and parts for the making thereof, but that we should start with, say, ten per cent. for the first three years, as he suggested, with a guarantee, or, at any rate, an expressed intention, that the duty would be increased thereafter. Certainly, in regard to boots, shoes and slippers worn by children, I do think Deputy Cooper has made a strong and almost irresistible appeal, even to the Minister for Finance, who has shown himself exceedingly hard-hearted, as he is supposed to do, in these matters. I do think that Deputy Cooper has made a strong case that shoes and boots under a certain size should be exempt from this experiment, because that is what it is; and, furthermore, that these various portions, such as shaped soles and shaped heels, should also be taken out of the Resolution. If that were done, it would in no way interfere with the experiment. There is no reason why the experiment would not have as good a chance if it were altered on the lines suggested by Deputy Cooper. I certainly will support a Resolution to the effect adumbrated by Deputy Cooper.

In doing so, I am glad to have the opportunity of welcoming this step because I think it is a step towards showing the people of this country that we are not bound hand and foot either to Free Trade or Protection, but that we are here in practically a new State, and that we must regard ourselves as we find ourselves, according to all the circumstances which surround us, and that we cannot be bound and fettered one way or the other by the success of England as a Free Trade country, or by the success of America as a Protectionist country. I think that it is a step, therefore, in the right direction. As it stands, I think the resolution would go too far. I think it would inflict too great hardship at the start. If amended I certainly would support the Resolution, and I can see no reason why the Minister for Finance would not yield to the argument put forward by Deputy Cooper in this matter.

I move the suspension of the sitting for three-quarters of an hour.

Motion put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended. Resumed at 7.40 p.m.,

Deputy O'Mara has indicated to the Dáil that he is prepared to support this Resolution, and all the other resolutions which embody a Protectionist policy, although he is against Protection. He has been persuaded that as a matter of experiment this policy should be put into operation, but apparently he does not desire that the experiment should be for a very short time. It should be continued long enough to ensure that those engaged in the businesses that ought to be protected would have a fair opportunity to develop. I am not quite able to follow his reasoning in that But it is easily understood when one also heard him say that I may have taken a certain line of policy before the Fiscal Inquiry, and the leaders of the Transport Union took a different line. It would be well if Deputy O'Mara, one who had experience in another place, as they say, would be quite sure of his facts, before he makes pronouncements in An Dáil. I simply say that the statement is not correct. I leave it at that. The Minister for Agriculture said what I think is an unfortunate thing. Deputy Redmond drew attention to it. He said that those import duties upon boots, shoes, slippers, etc., were to be a test of the merits of a Protectionist policy, and if it failed, then, that was the end, and that one could go no further upon this policy. I suggest that it is not the best item on which to have a test of the merits of a Protectionist policy.

As a matter of fact there may be disadvantages accruing to this particular duty which would outweigh the advantages. There may be advantages accruing to similar duties upon other commodities which would not be outweighed by the disadvantages. And it is unfortunate, I say, that the Minister for Agriculture should add the weight of his opinion and responsible position to a statement that the whole question of protective tariffs would stand or fall by the result of tariffs upon boots and shoes. I think, for instance, that this duty in itself would have been much more likely to be effective without carrying with it some of the disadvantages, if the duty had been modulated, shall I say, so that a heavier scale of taxes would fall upon the higher priced boots and shoes, and a lower scale of taxes, ad valorem, would fall upon the lower priced boots and shoes. By such means the burden of taxes would not fall upon the working man with a big family. Notwithstanding that, I am going to support the motion. I have said that I believe that with certain conditions that import duties were at this stage of the country's development, probably the best way to ensure that development continuing or to arrest decline. I am not going to run away from that proposition when the first experiment is being mooted, even though it falls upon a commodity in a manner which I do not think is the best manner that could be applied. I have made a rough calculation as to the effect of these taxes.

I find from the report of the imports and exports for January there were imported 8,806 dozen pairs of men's boots, and 13,041 pairs of women's and children's boots. The value of the men's boots was £61,942, and of the women's and children's boots £65,927. That is, speaking roughly, 11s. 6d. per pair for men's boots and 8s. 4d. per pair for women's and children's boots on the average. Deputy Heffernan made the mistake in assuming that the duty is leviable upon the retail price. Unless the Minister is going to adopt entirely new methods the duty will be leviable upon the declared prices at the ports. One may fairly say that the retail price would be double, or very nearly double, the declared price at the ports. So that the 15 per cent. does not fall upon the retail prices. It will be only about 7½ per cent.

I have made this assumption, that speaking of the average working class purchase of boots, the duty will amount to, say, 1s. 3d. per pair, rather below the average, and on women and children's about 1s. per pair. Assuming that each member of the average family of five persons purchased two pairs a year, we have a duty borne by them of round about 10s. or 10s. 6d. per year. That fits in fairly well with the approximation of the saving upon the tea duty, assuming that the average purchase was one pound of tea per week. Unfortunately the saving on tea may be counterbalanced by the extra cost of boots, and we are being asked to assent, and in some cases we have so far assented, to the additional charges upon the workman's family in respect to confectionery, jams and cocoa, and, as will come a little later, on soap and candles. Though, as I said a little earlier, the balance in this Budget is weighted against the working-class family as a consumer, I think it is unfortunate that at this initial stage the Minister should have taken the line of making the cost of living inevitably higher by virtue of his new taxes. I am one of those who never pretended that protective duties did not raise prices. I believe it is inevitable in five out of seven cases at any rate that the protective duties would have the effect of raising the prices, but I would be prepared to meet that and to accept the fact, because I believe that the advantages may, subject to certain conditions, or if certain conditions are applied, redound generally to the advantage of the community. Deputy Heffernan and those sitting with him made some play about the cost to the farming community, and pointed out how necessary it was that if there were to be duties of a protective nature, then agriculture should get some of the benefits. Some hours ago Deputy Heffernan put a question to know whether the Minister for External Affairs had done anything to provide new markets for agricultural products on the continent of Europe. I want to suggest to him and those sitting with him that we may be finding a new market in Ireland.

According to the report of the Fiscal Inquiry Commission a little more than one out of fifteen pairs of boots and shoes purchased in Ireland was of Irish manufacture—it is slightly over 1/15th —and also the aggregate number employed at present in Irish factories is 700, while the possible capacity is over 1,000 hands. If 1/15th of the present consumption employs 700 people, and if the series of duties does bring into effect what the Minister and others hope, we may find that the market which Deputy Heffernan has been looking for on the Continent will be at his doors. Let us assume that the effect of these duties would be to raise the manufacture of Irish boots to half the total instead of 1/15th; supposing 7 out of 15 were home manufactured instead of 1 out of 15, and the number of persons engaged in the manufacture rose accordingly, we should have, instead of 700, approximately 5,000 people working at that industry. With 5,000 people working at that industry at an average wage, let us say, taking the various classes, ages, and sexes of, £2 a week, you have £520,000 a year of an additional market, about half a million of an additional market, for Irish grown agricultural produce.

You need not then go to Paris or Belgium—where you will not find a market by the way—you will have it at home. I suggest that there you will find a direct benefit to Irish agriculture. While it may be true—I think it probably is true—that the tax would not immediately have the effect of raising to the extent of half the demand for Irish-manufactured boots, there would be a steady increase. I am prepared to believe that the workers in the country —and the farmers in the country ought, too—will be agreeable to pay the extra price for boots when they see a steady encroachment upon the number of the unemployed. If they see 4,000 or 5,000 people taken out of that unemployed market they will know that there will be less competition for the jobs that are waiting, that their benefit would arise from the fact that the competition for jobs would be less intense, and that the position generally would be thereby improved. I believe that it is a good thing for the country—quite apart from the immediate effect—that there should be employed in the manufacture of the things that are required in Ireland as many people as can be within a reasonable amount of expenditure-even a reasonable amount of additional expenditure, even a reasonable burden upon the country, if it is to be a burden.

I think it is a good thing for the country that that burden should be borne, so that there will be a variety of occupations, and that we shall not be entirely dependent upon quality, or fashion, or style, but that we shall be able to manufacture things that we desire of the kind that we desire. I am prepared to advocate, at any rate, that we should be prepared to pay something for that benefit. I do not think that in the long run it will be an actual loss. I believe that in the long run it will be a benefit all round. I think the fact of employment being more general and more varied will remove this deadweight of unskilled, unemployed labour from the community's back. If you have 4,000 or 5,000 people at present waiting for employment they are not living on air. They are consuming something of the substance of the country. Whether they are getting it out of unemployment pay, living upon their neighbours, or robbing or begging, they are living somehow. I say it is better that we should have to bear the cost of this possible £300,000 per year and employ regularly in actual productive operations another 5,000 persons than that we should have them hanging upon the necks of the community.

While saying that, I would demur to the method of application and suggest, owing to the fact that home-manufactured boots are very much more likely to be in the rougher grades, that the incidence of the taxation should be heavier upon what may be called "luxury boots." The Minister may reply that the fact that it is an ad valorem duty will make it have a sliding-scale effect. I would make the super-tax scale come into operation, and let the scale be higher when we come to the higher-priced boots, and lower when we come to the lower range of boots. With that modification I would think the tax was quite satisfactory as an application of a principle which I have been prepared to support.

But there is another condition I want to touch upon, and upon which I shall have to enlarge at a later stage, and that is to ensure, that the conditions under which these protected boots are to be produced will be of a kind which will not mean the protection of a sweated industry. There will of necessity have to be some provisions made to ensure that the proprietors of the boot factories which are to be protected shall be bound to adhere to a certain minimum standard of wages and conditions. Unless that principle is applied, then the protective idea is going to be destructive and not helpful.

I understood from the Minister's statement to-day that his object in imposing a 15 per cent. ad valorem duty was to encourage the making of leather boots in the country. I see no reference to leather in the Resolution. I do see that “fifteen per cent. of the value of the article shall be charged, levied and paid on all boots, shoes, slippers, goloshes, sandals and clogs.” Goloshes are generally made of rubber. Is this to be a protective tax on the rubber industry? Will “rubbers,” as they call them in America, be charged 15 per cent? Can the man in the rubber trade avail himself of the rise in prices in order to impose that upon the consumer? Will the Minister accept an amendment to the Resolution that will make it read this way: “That a Customs duty of an amount equal to 15 per cent. of the value of the leather in the article shall be charged, etc.”?

Then I take it that the Resolution as it stands, if passed by the Dáil, will mean that rubber sand shoes, tennis shoes, cricket shoes, and the rubber soles that they have now introduced, will be taxed to the extent of 15 per cent. of the value, and that, consequently, we will be developing a rubber industry in the country. If we are going to make an experiment I am very glad of it, and I will vote for the Resolution even as it stands, but it is well that the Dáil should know what we are going to do.

I asked the Minister for Finance previously was he including rubber soles in this Resolution. Deputy O'Mara in a previous speechhis maiden speech, I believe, in the Dáil—began by telling us what this country has been doing for the agricultural community. I think he said that the State had been showering out money on us and that we were the pampered element in the community. Any pampering that the agricultural element has ever got from the State has been in the nature of oil put on the agricultural machine so as to make it produce wealth, which the industrial element of the community—including the bacon curers—took particular, care to swallow up. The Shaws, the Dennys, the Lunhams, and, I believe, the O'Maras, have all grown fat on the agricultural community. The grants made and the monies expended were not for pampering the agricultural community, but for making the industry more efficient and a better wealth-producing machine. That was the effect, and nothing else. The Minister for Agriculture, speaking on this matter, referred to it as an experiment, and asked us would we be prepared to agree even to an experiment. We are not prepared to oppose it as an experiment, but we are certainly prepared to oppose it from the viewpoint contained in Deputy Sears' speech.

His speech amounted to this—subsidise the poor bootmaker, the poor sweetmaker and Irish industries of every description. It seemed to me to be more of the usual whine than anything else. If Deputy Sears or if the Dáil agrees to subsidise all the industries in the State, then I agree. This is not subsidising all the industries in the State. It is not even an attempt to do it. There are some industries that this State by tariffs cannot subsidise. They can only do so by direct taxation from the State, and except we are prepared to do that the agricultural community would have no return whatever from any tariffs the State can impose.

This, I take it, is an experiment, and as such we are not so bitterly opposed to it as we would be if it was a considered policy or the first instalment of such a policy. As far as I see it, this is a question where one section of the community is subsidising another without any return. The Minister for Agriculture was not quite fair to Deputy Heffernan when he referred to some of his remarks about barley. Deputy Heffernan, I think, said that when the Minister was introducing these protective measures, he did not attempt to do anything for agriculture, not even for the one article that he could protect, if he chose, barley. The Deputy made no demand for its protection. He just instanced the fact that no attempt was made, even if the Minister could do it to subsidise anything in the nature of an agricultural product. Any subsidy given to any industry ought to be a State subsidy, and not a class subsidy. That is what we object to.

We have no objection at all to taking our part in subsidising anything that the people of the country decide to subsidise in the form of a State subsidy. When it comes to be a class or sectional subsidy, we will not have it if we can help it. Professors say, "we wear shoes as well as you." They do, but it is the wealth-producing element of the community that directly or indirectly pays for the shoes. We pay for our own shoes directly, and for other people's shoes indirectly. We say that nobody has any right to force one section of the community to subsidise others. If this nation is prepared to subsidise one industry, then it had better begin by subsidising the industry that deserves to be subsidised more than any other, the industry that is almost starving at the moment. That fact will be more apparent in one or two years' time when there may be a more serious proposition before the country. Anyone who knows the country at the moment and any business man who knows the position of agriculture, realises that the people engaged in it are not able to pay their way. The sooner that matter is taken up the better.

As a matter of personal explanation, I do not know whether the Dáil expects me to reply to the somewhat personal attack that was made on me by the Deputy who has just sat down.

I did not make a personal attack.

The bacon curers in Ireland have never got a subsidy either from the farmers or from the Government. Whatever money they have they made it by their own ability, and the farmers are in a position to sell their produce in England alive or dead to anyone they please. If they sell it to the Irish bacon curers they do so only because the Irish bacon curers pay them a higher price than they get anywhere else. They are a class of people who have got £100,000,000 to purchase land.

The Deputy must address the Chair and not Deputy Gorey.

This is a reply to a personal attack. The attack from the Deputy who has just sat down is very undignified on his part.

On a point of explanation, I do not think the Deputy is quite accurate when he refers to £100,000,000. I do not think he knows what he is talking about.

I am afraid it is very unusual, but I want to say a word about Deputy Lyons' amendment. It has been before the Dáil for more than two hours, but no one said a word about it, not even Deputy Lyons. I am afraid the Minister for Finance when he comes to reply will overlook it. In case it should be still-born I want to recall it to his mind. I want to know whether the 5 per cent. that Deputy Lyons proposes will give effective protection to the boot trade. Will it be sufficient to enable boot manufacturers to undertake new obligations and to induce British manufacturers, perhaps, to set up works over here? I do feel if that is the case that there is a great deal to be said for Deputy Lyons' amendment. This is an experiment which should be confined within limits. It is admitted to be an experiment, and, therefore, provided the experiment is a fair one, one that will give a proper test, we ought not to impose a greater burden on the consumer than is absolutely necessary.

Deputy Johnson has always been absolutely frank when dealing with this fiscal question, and has always admitted that the duty has to be paid by the consumer in increased prices. I am very much afraid that the price will not only be increased by the duty but by something more; that the retailer will say, "Our sales have been reduced, we are selling fewer boots; therefore, we must make a greater profit, as people are making their boots last longer." While the duty may be 15 per cent. the price to the consumer may go up as high as 25 per cent. That should be reduced as far as possible, and, therefore, if a protection of five per cent. will be effective in carrying out the object of the Government, then I hope they will see their way to accept Deputy Lyons' amendment.

Deputy Gorey would lead one to gather that his objection to the Finance Minister's proposition is that he has not applied Protection generally as a principle, but rather that he has applied it simply to one or two small sections, and I rather gathered that if he were to apply it generally as a principle he would have Deputy Gorey as a supporter. The one thing that I did admire about the Minister's statement was the caution with which he used this two-edged sword known as Protection. Those who are connected with, and have any experience of industry, are generally to be found of the opinion that, while Protection would be helpful and necessary in some industries, it would be ruinous in other industries, and to attempt to apply the principle of Protection generally to industry would, I am certain, have most disastrous results in this country of ours. In this discussion it appears to me that Deputies have fallen into an error in assuming that because a protective tariff of fifteen per cent. is imposed in certain industries, the products of these industries will necessarily be raised in price by that amount. Deputy Johnson did not go that far, because he said that it is the charge at the port that will be subject to the duty, and he argued, very fairly, that the charge at the port would be approximately only 50 per cent. of the retail charge, and, consequently, the item would only carry 50 per cent. of the duty. I cannot go that far with Deputy Johnson, and I will tell you why.

We have, in our city and in certain districts in the Free State, manufacturers of boots. These boot industries which are old established, are able to compete at the moment with the Northampton products. If you go into their shops in the city you can buy a boot or a shoe that will compare favourably in quality and in price with the imported article. There can be no question about that, and I can refer Deputies, if they have doubts about it, to these shops. Let us take a very useful illustration. What has happened in other industries? The putting of a duty on manufactured tobacco has led to the starting of a number of factories here. Before these industries started the selling prices of the particular items to which the duty applied was increased by the amount of the duty. The moment the local factories got working the selling prices were reduced to what they had been before the duty was imposed. I think Deputies will agree that that is so in connection with the tobacco industry: that we are now purchasing, as a result, at the same rate as before the factories were started. On the face of that argument, is it fair to state, as a result of this tariff, which we hope will have the same effect in the boot industry, that the price of the products will be increased by the amount of the duty? If so, what would be the use of setting up local factories at all? All the manufacturers would have to do would be to add the amount of the duty to the present price, and not set up any factories.

But the point is really this, that in order to compete with the local industries the makers of boots and shoes on the other side will have to establish factories here and sell at the same rates as the local factories. Therefore, I think on that argument it is hardly fair to say that you will add to the price of these commodities the amount of the duty. In this discussion we have lost sight of what I think was really in the mind of the Minister when he put forward this proposal. It was not put forward with the object—though it may do so in the current year—of producing revenue. It was, I think, put forward with the ultimate object of finding work for the many unemployed in the Free State, and that is what we hope will be one of the results that will accrue. Taking that point of view, I cannot follow the logic of the Farmers' Party. As a result of this unemployment, numbers are at present in receipt of outdoor relief through local taxes, and possibly also, in some cases, in receipt of unemployment benefit— some people will tell us, of course, that these things cannot happen, but they do happen in an extraordinary way in Ireland. You have unemployment a charge on the State funds, thereby increasing taxes. You have also, through the Unions, charges on the local funds, thereby increasing rates. Have not the farmers to pay both of these? Is not one of the burdens they are suffering from at the moment the high local rates and high State taxes they are called upon to bear? These taxes—both the local and the State—are considerably inflated by unemployment.

Schemes such as this reduce the amount of unemployment; consequently they reduce the charges on the local authorities and the charge on the Stale, and thereby ease the farming industry of a heavy burden. Therefore, I say to the farmers, that this will benefit them, and possibly will benefit them very much more materially than some of them are aware of. Suggestions have been made whereby this tariff could be modified. I think Deputy Cooper suggested that the rate could be modified to ten per cent. for three years, and I take it his idea is that after three years it should disappear. A modification, to my mind, would defeat the object that the Minister has in view, that is, that in setting up a protective tariff, if you do not make it a real tariff you will not effect your object, and rather than set up a local industry and give local employment, you will find that many of the manufacturers would be in favour of paying the lower tariff. Another proposal, which I think came from the same Deputy, was that the tariff should not apply to boots and shoes selling at a price less than ten shillings. What would be the effect of that? We would have our shops flooded with poor, cheap, shoddy stuff, because it could come in free from the tariff. Neither of these proposals, to my mind, would be wise. I am against a lowering of the tariff, and I am against fixing a price below which the tariff would not apply.

The question of Australia has been mentioned. I think Australia is an excellent example to quote in connection with this particular proposal, because Australia, as we all know, is an agricultural country. Australia, ten or fifteen years ago, was one of the best markets for the Northampton boot industry. Australia at that particular time exported practically all its hides. It decided that it was an unwise policy to export this raw material, and as a result it set up a protective tariff against leather goods of thirty per cent. I happened to be a member at the time of the Council of the Associated Chambers of Commerce in London, and I remember very distinctly the strong protest that was made by that Council on behalf of the North-amptonshire boot industry against this Australian tariff.

We brought all the pressure it was possible to bring on that Dominion, and the only advantage we could get from them after strong pressure had been applied for a considerable time was that they would give a preferential tariff to the mother country of 10 per cent., that is, they charged 20 per cent. tariff against goods from the mother country, while they charged 30 per cent. against goods from other countries. What was the result of the application of that tariff? Inside of ten years Australia is manufacturing all her own boots, and, in addition, a large quantity of leather goods. One of the last things I had to do with on the Council on the other side was to make a protest against the Colony of South Africa for lowering its duty in favour of Australian leather goods, which shows that not alone had Australia supplied its own markets, but that it was now becoming one of the most formidable competitors for leather goods in the South African market. I do not say the same would apply to the Free State, though we would like it to apply; but it is an argument that occurs to one, and I think the experience that they have had there in a country similar to the Free State is an experience that possibly would be useful to us. While I am using that argument, I want again to make it clear that I am not a supporter of the principle of Protection as a general principle. I want to finish up with the statement I made when I started, that Protection is a two-edged sword. It would materially benefit certain industries, and should be applied to those industries, whereas if applied to other industries it might be followed with disastrous results.

I would like to supplement the very able statement that has been made by Deputy Good, with whom I find myself very largely in agreement on this very important subject. If my recollection is correct, there is an earlier example than the one he quoted. I think some five years previous to the time he mentioned the same experiment was made by Australia with regard to matches. The result was that no matches were imported into Australia, and the Australian people benefited accordingly. While I agree with what he said when he spoke of the farmers, I think he might have developed that a little more. In this matter of fiscal policy it is not a question of Free Trade or Protection, one way or the other; it is a question of what are the needs of the country, rather, and how best the Parliament of the country can serve these needs. I take off my hat to the farming industry. I represent two counties, which are examples of very good farming industrialists; but I would like to point this out, that it is not by placing yourselves under the umbrella of the farming industry in the one case or the brewing industry in another, or the boot and shoe industry in a third, but in considering the whole needs of the entire country that we can get anything like a conception of what the country needs. Is it the contention of the Farmers' Party that the industry itself is to be considered, irrespective of the persons engaged therein? Is it contended that if we have a farming population of two millions this year, and that in three or four years' time that population increases to, say, three or four millions, that the increased population is to be condemned, if we might say so, to the farming industry?

It is well known to those on the Farmers' Benches that that is not the case, that there are a large number of farmers' sons and daughters who take on other occupations, and taking on other occupations their needs, requirements and rights as citizens must be respected. In that case, then, we must look to industry, or some other form of occupation, for the surplus population of the farming community. If you are going to do that, then I think you cannot say:

"You must not look after any other industry than ours, as we are the largest wealth-producing industrial population in the country." Some four or five years ago a very prominent Pressman in England, in reviewing the Irish situation, pointed out that one of the real causes of complaint on the part of Irishmen was that they had no opportunities in their own country of getting a decent livelihood, and while the farming community are entitled to every consideration, and, I think, they get a fair share of that consideration, they ought not to shut their eyes to the fact that we have Universities instructing a great many members of their families, and exporting them; and the question, after all, is whether, reviewing and reconsidering our fiscal problems and position we might not enable the sons of farmers to get a livelihood in their own country, by which they would be of much better advantage to this country as a consequence.

I was very glad to hear the President speaking as he did about the farmers. I must say he is the first member who spoke in anything like a sympathetic manner towards them.

You were outside.

I think so.

As far as I heard, anyhow. It seems to me that we in the farming community practically stand alone, and that we get very little sympathy from the other members of society, or from members of the Dáil, I might say. We are told by Deputies that the farming industry got immense subsidies. Yes, we got subsidies; we got money to buy our land, but the question is: Who paid that? Some people say the English taxpayer paid it.

Would not this be more relevant to the general discussion later on, than to the question of taxes upon boots?

Other Deputies went outside the question also.

We will have to decide whether we are going on with this general discussion and have another general discussion on the Report and another general discussion later, or to take these matters as they are now. I did allow certain latitude, but where the farmers got the subsidies under the Land Bill seems to be very far from the subject.

I bow to your ruling.

It is largely a matter of arrangement.

I quite agree that the discussion has gone beyond the bounds of the Resolution, but some of the other Deputies referred to the subsidies.

I think it was Deputy Gorey who began it.

No, Deputy O'Mara.

I would like to say that we in the Farmers' Party, and I think I know the Party fairly well, are not absolutely confirmed Free Traders. We believe that in certain conditions it might be advisable for the country to institute a measure of protection, and we would be prepared under certain conditions to support such a measure, being perfectly conscious all the time that we were paying for it out of our own pockets. Putting the interests of the country before the interests of our particular section, we would be ready to bear the necessary expense, if we considered it to the interests of the country. But, we believe that in the present condition of agriculture we are quite unable to bear even a halfpenny extra expense, and we believe, rightly or not, that agriculture will have to bear the expense of Protection. A lot of talk has taken place about this being an experiment. It is all very fine to talk about its being experimental, but I think no instance can be found of any country that once started Protection being able to give it up. I say no country was able to give it up, not that "no country wanted to give it up." We are like a man who starts toboganning down a steep snowy hill. Once he gets started he will gather speed as he goes along. I believe once we start Protection we cannot pull up. You start by an experiment on boots, an experiment on confectionery and bottles. What will you have next? There will be a clamour around the lobbies of this House. You will have every manufacturer of every article that was ever thought of lobbying in this House to get special protection. Can you stop it? I do not believe you can. I believe we have definitely embarked on the protective issue, whether for good or evil, and back of it we never can go. The Minister for Agriculture talked about the question of barley.

The Deputy can talk about barley next week for hours.

I will skip that. Deputy Good was able to produce an instance of a boot manufacturer in Dublin who was able to compete with the English manufacturers, thereby showing that it would be an excellent thing for the boot manufacturers to have protection. I would like to ask him if these manufacturers are able to compete with English manufacturers, why do they ask for protection? If they can compete, why not enlarge their factories and still go on competing and selling in the English market? No protection at all is required in such an instance. Deputy Good is also very anxious to relieve unemployment by a system of protection. I was very glad to see that he recognised that the farmers by means of rates and taxes have to bear practically the full burden of unemployment. What Deputy Good means to suggest is that we should change the burden from one hand to the other—that instead of bearing it by means of rates and taxes we should in the future bear it by means of protective duties. I suppose we might as well pay it by one means as by the other.

On a point of order, I tried to argue that this proposal did both.

I did not misunderstand the Deputy at all. I acknowledge that, but it will not reduce the burden. We are told that we ought to look after the population that will be here in ten years' time. Where will the farming community be in ten years? Where will their banking accounts be in ten years? What financial condition will they be in in ten years? I think it is quite enough to look after the population we have got without worrying about the population we will have in ten or twenty years' time. There is ample room for development in the farming industry and for more employment, provided it gets a chance, provided it is relieved of the burden it has to bear and provided the farmers are not crushed by excessive taxes, excessive rates and excessive protective duties, and that they will be able to carry on their business in a productive manner, but not under the conditions that are obtaining at present, and to increase the volume of output at the least possible cost, doing without labour, doing without everything that can possibly be avoided. I believe these conditions will continue if this protective tariff is placed on the country.

When I proposed the amendment to delete 15 per cent. and substitute 5 per cent. I understood it was only necessary to give a class of protection to Irish manufacturers. If you can raise £300,000 by a tax of fifteen per cent., surely the £100,000 that you would raise by a tax of five per cent. would be sufficient in the coming year. Deputy Johnson advocated tariffs. I agree that it will be necessary to protect every industry in the country that it is possible to give protection to. If a tariff of 15 per cent. will mean the giving of employment to 25,000 people, I do not see why a tariff of 5 per cent. would not have the very same effect. I cannot see why all this farming question has to be brought into the question, of tariffs on boots. We have heard enough this evening about the taxes that have to be borne by the poor farmers.

The Deputy cannot say any more about them.

I can speak of the boots they wear, I suppose. If a pair of boots that farmers wear in the Saorstát cost 3/- more than a pair a farmer wears in the North, I do not see how that is going to give the farmer in the Saorstát an opportunity to pay the dole to the unemployed. If these people would only give more employment in the way of extra tillage, I do not think we would have to pay so much. for the unemployment dole to labouring men. The amendment I propose I certainly think will meet with the good wishes of the Minister for Finance. The object of the amendment is to reduce the tax to 5 per cent. for the protection of the trade. If that is accepted it will mean an increase of £100,000 spread over the small amount of citizens of the Saorstát. It would be an extra tax upon them, and surely if up to the present moment we have done everything in our power to try to economise and to make a few citizens the direct victims of economy by a reduction of salaries and wages and pensions, it is only right now that we should be given some opportunity of saving a little, but in place of this we are proposing an increase to their expenditure.

What about the reduction on tea?

I am sure that 5 per cent. would be sufficient to meet the wishes of the workers. I quite agree with Deputy Johnson when he said that the working community of men and women in the Saorstát would be quite prepared in order to see 5,000 fellow-workers in employment and taken away from the tantalising system of the Labour Exchanges, to pay an increased duty of 15 per cent. But we must first find some method of putting the 15 per cent. into the pockets of the people that we are desirous of taking it from. At present the workers in Ireland cannot possibly afford to pay 3s. in the £ extra for their boots. I sincerely hope the Minister for Finance will seriously consider the question of this amendment, and that he will reduce the 15 per cent. to 5 per cent., which, in my opinion, will meet the wishes of the majority of Deputies. It would not in any shape or form reduce the revenue which the Exchequer is so very anxious to increase at the present time by reduction of wages.

I want to take particular exception to the statement made by the President with regard to our attitude upon this matter. He said our attitude was that we always say you shall pay no attention to any industry in this country except ours. No one knows better than the President that that is not our attitude. We have never complained that you should protect every industry but ours, or put forward any contention that no industry but ours should be protected. We say to him now, and we say it all the time, you are not able to protect our industry, and protection is not able to protect our industry. We have made no claim, and the statement that he made is absolutely misleading and absolutely wrong. It is not our attitude, and he knows it.

The amendment is that this tax should be reduced from 15 to 5 per cent. I do not think a 5 per cent. duty would be anything more than a revenue duty. It would not lead to the Irish bootmakers taking steps to increase their output, or lead to the bootmaker from outside coming in here and establishing factories. I believe 15 per cent. is the least figure that would give us any good prospect of the extension of the industry that we desire. It is undoubtedly a fact that this tax imposed for protection purposes will have a considerable value as a revenue tax in the beginning, but we have set that off by a reduction of the tea duty. So far as we are able to calculate, the two amounts will about balance, and the figures that have been given to indicate that the average family will pay about three times as much in the increased price in boots as will be set off by the reduced price of tea, do not give a correct view of the position. The difference will not go into the Exchequer, and as the possibility of the extension of the Irish boot industry inside a year is not so great, it will not go into the pockets of the boot manufacturers. Some particular families may gain more by the reduction of the tea duty than they will lose by the increased price of boots. In other families where there are young children who will be playing hopscotch they may lose more by the increased price of boots; but, taking it all round, the family budget will not be appreciably affected one way or another. Deputy Good has dealt with the point of an ad valorem duty and with the point of excluding a certain class of boots. I do not think that that is possible or desirable, and I think the only thing to do is to let the tax fall upon the entire range of the commodity. Later on it might be possible to make some further adjustment in taxation, but I think that it would not be practicable at the moment to do anything but to put a 15 per cent. ad valorem tax on all classes of goods. We cannot say how long the experiment may last; it must certainly last for some years. It would not be possible at all to get any results if the experiment was to end at the end of a year. On the other hand, this is an industry for which this country seems to be suited. It is an industry in which this country should be able to compete with any other country, and, consequently, we must look forward to a time when it would be possible to remove this tax and when the Irish boot industry would stand upon its own feet. Possibly we may always have to import a certain class of boots, but, on the other hand, we may extend our manufacture and export trade.


Will the Minister say ten years?

I have not any number of years in my mind. I may have nothing to say to it in much less than ten years, but I reckon that the country and the Dáil of that time will be able to judge the matter, and remove the tax or reduce the tax altogether if it can be done with advantage.

Amendment put and negatived.

Question—"That Resolution No. 6 be passed"—put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 12.

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • John J. Cole.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Darrell Figgis.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • John Good.
  • John Hennigan.
  • William Hewat.
  • Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
  • Liam T. Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Pádraig Mac Giollagáin.
  • Eoin Mac Néill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Pádraig S. Mag Ualghairg.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Criostóir O Broin.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Próinsias O Cathail.
  • Aodh Ua Cinnéidigh.
  • Partholán O Conchubhair.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Séamus N. O Dóláin.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon S. O Dúgáin.
  • Seán O Laidhin.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Pádraig O Máille.
  • James O'Mara.
  • Domhnall O Muirgheasa.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Seán, M. O Súilleabháin.
  • Seán Príomhdhail.
  • Liam Thrift.


  • Pádraig F. Baxter.
  • Seán de Faoite.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Tadhg S. O Donnabháin.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Donchadh S. O Guaire.
  • Mícheál R. O hIfearnáin.
  • Patrick K. Hogan (Luimneach).
  • Nicholas Wall.
The motion was declared carried.