DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - FINANCE BILL, 1925.—COMMITTEE STAGE (RESUMED).

SECTION 35.

I move amendment 22:

Before Section 35 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The Excise duty on unmanufactured tobacco containing 10 lb. or more of moisture in every 100 lb. weight thereof shall be charged, levied and paid at the rate of three-fourths of eight shillings, in lieu of the rate charged at present of five-sixth of eight shillings per lb.

(2) The Customs allowance on tobacco in a marketable condition and fully cured upon being exported from a warehouse or curers premises or upon being manufactured into Cavendish or Negrohead in bond shall be allowed at rate of 10d. per lb. in lieu of the present rate of 2d. per lb.

In the second portion of the amendment the word "Excise" should be substituted for the word "Customs." I move this amendment for many reasons. In the first place, I think it is desirable to put what was a great industry in this country at one time on a sound, workable basis. Tobacco-growing is an industry that gives a great amount of employment. The amount of employment given by the tobacco crop is about 35 per cent. greater than that provided by any other crop produced. It is fostered almost in every country in the world on account of the employment it gives to both sexes, and also because it is the means of providing the poor with almost their only luxury at a cheap rate. From that point of view alone, the industry should be fostered. From the agricultural point of view also, it is an industry that should be fostered. The tobacco crop is grown on land that has been manured the previous year and that has grown a crop of roots. It is prepared the following season for a crop of tobacco. That tobacco is planted in June and removed by the end of September. It leaves the land then free to be ploughed up and sown with a crop of wheat. There is no crop, I believe, so beneficial or so useful as the tobacco crop, because it can be got out in time and wheat can be got in in time. If wheat growing is to be a success, it must be sown at the right time, which is the month of October. The tobacco crop is not alone favourable to wheat growing on that ground, but it is favourable to it for the reason that the land has been manured first with farmyard manure and then with artificial manure, the latter being for the purpose of the tobacco crop. Consequently, the wheat yield from land on which tobacco is grown is at least 20 per cent. greater than that on any other land on which wheat can be produced.

Prior to 1830, there were 35 tobacco factories supplied from this country with Irish-grown tobacco. At that time there was in the Co. Wexford alone 1,000 acres of tobacco. In the year 1830, a Royal Commission was set up to inquire into the industry, and, in the result, it was believed that the growing of tobacco in this country had so interfered with the English trade that the Government immediately passed legislation forbidding and banning the growing of tobacco here. In the year 1779, as a concession to the Irish demand, the British Government repealed all Acts prohibiting the cultivation of tobacco in Ireland because, as stated in the preamble of the Act, it would not materially interfere with the commercial interests of Great Britain.

The industry, unburdened by duties and restrictions, increased to such an extent that it was able to supply the bulk of the leaf required by English factories during the Napoleonic and American Wars. By 1830 it had ousted the English manufactured tobacco from the Irish market. Mainly for this reason, the British Government passed an Act again suppressing it. The growers emigrated, and for nearly 100 years this valuable industry has been lost to Ireland. It is not alone that this is a crop that gives employment and that it is a useful crop in the ordinary course of farming, but it is really a most beneficial crop to the small holder, because one acre of tobacco will give employment to a household. The work can be done by the members of the family, and there is no crop that can be grown on a small holding which will pay its way so well or be so beneficial to the small holder if given the chance to survive. We have at present the produce of the 1923-24 crop grown in the Co. Meath locked up in bond.

The object of the amendment is particularly to give relief to the County Meath growers, so that this tobacco that is locked up in bond to the extent of about 120,000 lbs. may be put on the market, and also that the growers may be enabled to continue this useful industry, and that it may be extended throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. I appeal to the Minister and to the Government to take this amendment into consideration. We are not asking for very much; we are only asking for a little encouragement and sympathy to carry on the industry. Surely we want industries. We had them at one time, and we were unanimous in condemning the British Government for killing them by legislation. British legislation has killed the tobacco industry. Is an Irish Government going to carry on the methods of the British Government for which we condemned them? I say if we are, we are doing the wrong thing. Let us, even at a little sacrifice, help whatever little industries we have in the country to survive and to extend in every shape and form, if possible. I believe this is about the only country where the products of the soil are taxed. I think on the face of it that is bad. We heard a good deal the other evening as regards the starting of the beet-growing industry in this country. I am not against beet-growing. I am not against anything that will relieve unemployment and that will get us thinking of work and business. While we are working we will have less time to think of villainy.

I mentioned the small holder. In County Meath I know one small holder who grows about an acre of tobacco. With the assistance of his family, he attends to this, and he has found it to be a profitable crop, and one that gives employment to himself and his family. I should mention that this small holder spent twenty years in Kentucky, and, consequently, he knows something about the tobacco industry. He has a wife and four sons, and he told me some time ago that if something was not done to give relief to the industry there was nothing for him to do but to send his sons over to Kentucky, where he spent twenty years. I do not think that I am asking too much in asking that something be done to give help to this valuable industry. It has been said that we cannot produce tobacco of a good quality in this country. I have here extracts from letters written to Sir Nugent Everard by various people in the tobacco trade. One is from C.B. Campbell, Louisville, Kentucky, United States, an old-established firm of rehandlers and exporters. He states:

"It was most interesting to me to see your tobacco this year, and I can safely say your progress in the past twelve months has been wonderful. As you know, I see a large quantity of tobacco in the process of curing and handling in America, and I believe I can truthfully say your crop at this stage will compare favourably with the average crops at the same period in Kentucky."

Here is another from Messers. Edwards, Goodwin and Co., one of the largest tobacco brokers in Liverpool:

"With reference to the tobacco grown on your own and neighbouring estates, which I had the pleasure of examining in your barn last week, I beg to say that up to then I had shared the impression which appears to be general—that the climate of Ireland was too most and deficient in sunshine to admit of anything but very indifferent or common tobacco being raised there. I was surprised, however, to find that you have succeeded in producing several types of the weed of a considerable standard of excellence—in particular, a dark-fired leaf which you called "lizard tail"—a dark Pryor leaf and a red Burley, whilst a short and very light-coloured Burley which you showed me seems to have great possibilities. You have certainly proved (presuming 1906 to have been a not unduly favourably season) that it is possible to grow several classes of merchantable tobacco of American types in Ireland."

I think that does away with the general impression that tobacco of good quality cannot be successfully grown in Ireland. In conclusion, I will read an extract from an article on tobacco growing, written for the "Standard Encyclopaedia" by Sir George Watt, author of "Economic Products of India":

"The repressive legislation of the British Government was entirely a consequence of the desire to favour the then British Colony of Virginia.

Recently experimental cultivation in England, Ireland and Scotland has been authorised, and the success so far attained gives promise of an extended industry in the future, if the production can be freed from antiquated restrictions that have far too long outlived the conditions under which they came into existence."

I ask the members of the Government: Are we going to continue these repressive measures? Are we going to perpetuate them, or are we going to help on this industry, as well as every other industry that can be conducted, so that we can produce all we can in our own country, let it be tobacco, beet, or anything else, anything that will help to relieve unemployment, to bring revenue into the country, and to make Ireland once more a happy, peaceful and industrious nation?

Deputy Mulvany has given reasons for this amendment. I want to explain, in figures if I can, what it amounts to, and to try, if I can, to bring about a comparison of the treatment by this Government of this industry with the treatment which other Governments give to the same industry in their country. It is common knowledge that in no Dominion of the British Empire is there an Excise duty on tobacco growing. Home production in South Africa is free. If my friend, Deputy Cosgrave, had supported this amendment he would be doing the very thing he was so anxious to do, to give cheap smoking to the poor men. In Africa it is usual for men to have their pockets full of tobacco. You can always dip your hand into your pocket and fill your pipe, the price being a shilling a pound. Surplus tobacco is exported. The same thing applies to the Indian tobacco. This amendment does not ask for anything of that nature. This amendment simply asks that the rebate of Excise duty levied on tobacco grown in this country will be increased from ¼ to 2/-, which is the rebate given by England to the growers of tobacco in England. I do not think that is an impossible thing to ask. Take the figures Deputy Mulvany has given: 120,000 lbs. of tobacco in bond. That would amount, at least in Excise, to £120,000, but remember that tobacco is two or three years lying there, and those who have invested their money in it cannot convert it into cash.

On a point of order, I think Deputy Wilson is making a mistake when he says £12,000. The loss would be £3,000 instead of £12,000.

120,000 lbs. weight?

120,000 lbs. weight at the present rate would pay a certain amount of Excise duty. Deputy Mulvany has pointed out that the loss would be £3,000. In other words, the Excise duty, if you gave no rebate, would be £12,000. At the present time you are giving £9,000, and we ask you to give £12,000 to bring us up to the same level as England. I think that is a matter that could be justified. The farmers are constantly being told to take a headline from Denmark. What is Denmark doing?

Mr. O'CONNELL

"See Denmark and die."

"See Denmark and die." Yes, in connection with tobacco. The Danish Government gives a rebate of three-quarters of the Excise duty. If we were to ask the Minister for Finance to take off three-quarters of the Excise duty here we would be considered lunatics. When I say Denmark is doing it, it ought to be good enough for him. But we do not ask that; we merely ask him to give us a rebate equivalent to a quarter of the amount given by Britain. That applies particularly to the first portion of the amendment. I want to direct attention to the second portion.

I do not want to interrupt, but I would respectfully suggest that the second portion of the amendment is out of order. This 2d. a lb. which has been given is in the form of what you might call compensation for costs that might be put on the manufacturer through having to comply with restrictions, but it is an absolute payment out of moneys. Tobacco which has paid any duty at all will have this twopence paid in respect of it, when it is exported, for the purpose of compensating the manufacturer for losses that he might have sustained through complying with Revenue restrictions. I would suggest that this is a payment the same as a sugar-beet subsidy.

Exactly, and we make the complaint that the tobacco industry is just as important as the beet industry.

I was raising a point of order. I think this is a matter to be proposed by a Minister.

I quite agree.

The Minister is quite right. Of course it is not for any private Teachta to propose an expenditure of public money.

On a point of order. In essence, sub-section (2) of the proposed new section is a proposal to reduce the Excise duty. I submit that as regards that portion of it, it is in order. The intention is to give a rebate on exports, and if that rebate is to be an increase, then, on the assumption that no tobacco can be taken out for the purpose of exportation until it has paid Excise duty, this amounts really to a reduction of what is payable on the manufactured leaf to the Excise I submit, with all respect to you, sir, that is quite in order.

I suggest that this is in order. Even if it be technically out of order, it would be quite possible for the Deputy who is introducing it so to redraft it as to make it technically in order, inasmuch as it raises a question of importance, which, I suggest, is on the margin, and should be regarded as being liable to be allowed.

The first portion of the amendment is in order, but the second portion means an expenditure of public money, and no private Deputy can move an amendment which involves an expenditure of public money.

It is not merely or exclusively a payment of public money. It is really, in essence, a return of money charged.

On a point of order. May I ask, sir, whether you will accept a revised version of this amendment, which will read something like this:—"That the Excise duty on tobacco in a marketable condition and fully cured when exported shall be at the rate of so much, instead of the present rate of so much?"

I do not think this matter is understood. Tobacco that has paid no duty at all, and which would be exported, would get this twopence.

That is right, but what I am drawing attention to is not the literal meaning of the words but that perhaps it is unhappily drafted. The proposal is really to come to the aid of the Irish tobacco grower, and if we consider the spirit of it, the proposition as opened by Deputy Mulvany ought to be considered, namely, that the anomalous condition of the Irish leaf tobacco, manufactured in Ireland, as contrasted with its position in Great Britain, should be removed, and the machinery for its removal is to give something which is a reduction in effect of the Excise charges. I quite agree it would be out of order if the proposition were onx lbs. of tobacco, which has paid nothing whatever to the Excise, a sort of bounty should be paid at the time of its exportation. That undoubtedly would be out of order, as being a proposal on the part of a private member to expend public money. The Minister is quite correct constitutionally, in that regard: that only a member of the Executive Council could make a proposition of that nature.

May I put my point in this form? Deputies other than Ministers have not an opportunity of turning matters of this kind over to a technical staff for drafting. They have to undertake their own drafting. I agree with you, sir, if you say this is so drafted as to be technically out of order. I am inclined to agree that is correct, but it is not for a Minister to take advantage of that fact. Because it has not been drafted in some other form in which it would be in order, to dismiss it from attention and cause it to be raised on Report, is hardly fair to Deputies. The substance of this could be so drafted as to be put in order. Therefore I think it ought to come before the Committee now.

I do not think the substance of this could be so drafted as to be put in order, but I do think that if Deputy Mulvany or any other Deputy were to move that the amount charged be three-fourths of 8s., less eight pence, and really reduce the Excise duty by a further eight pence, that would be perfectly in order.

All right. I agree.

I suggest to you, sir, that you abide by your ruling, so far as not putting the second part of the amendment from the Chair, reducing the amendment to its first part, but that, at the same time, you should, as you have done up to the present, allow considerable latitude in the discussion so that the whole state of the tobacco industry may be considered on this amendment.

I would suggest further, that a change on the lines indicated by the Minister—if that be agreeable to Deputy Mulvany— could be allowed to him now by agreement of the Dáil. We should not take advantage of a Deputy because he has unfortunately drafted an amendment, having no technical staff of large dimensions at his disposal to which he could turn.

Would you permit me, sir, to ask the Minister if he would be willing on the Report Stage to accept an amendment on the lines I indicated, namely, that on tobacco of Irish manufacture, which has paid Excise duty, a remission of so much on exportation would be granted? If so, we could withdraw the amendment here and now.

I am not sure that I understand the Deputy rightly. If the Irish-grown tobacco has paid Excise duty and is being exported, every penny of the Excise duty is paid back, and also this twopence in addition.

We want one shilling in addition.

I would not accept that, or propose it, and I do not think any private member can propose it.

I accept the position. The Minister for Finance says that the grower of tobacco here gets a subsidy of £60, and that if he cannot get on with that, then the industry is no use. If you investigate that particular statement you will find that the grower of tobacco gets nothing. It is the man who manufactures the tobacco that gets the rebate of 1s. 4d., and that is where the £60 per acre is supposed to go. As a matter of fact, it is a preference of ¼ on the Excise duty. There is no such thing as a subsidy. Our point is that if Great Britain is able to give growers a rebate of 2/- on 8/2, we ought to be able to give it in this country, in which the industry was successful in the past, where it would give such employment and where the results on tillage would be very great. We think that an equal preference should be given here. In the Dominions there is no such thing as Excise duty imposed on the people of those countries. If we were in that position, our workmen would be able to buy tobacco at 1/- per lb., and they could smoke as much as they liked. I have experience of what an advantage that is to the poor man, because he could always have his pockets full of tobacco. I do not want that here. We are agreeable to pay 6/- per lb. Excise duty, and in justice to the industry, and in order to place us in an advantageous position in the market, we ask you to give us that opportunity. It is a matter of only £3,000 extra, and it will do a great deal of good. It will take the tobacco out of bond, enable the growers to cash it, and place the industry, which is now struggling, in the position of making good, which I believe it can.

I should like to say one or two things about this. Deputy Mulvany spoke in favour of the tobacco industry. We are anxious that the industry should be made to take root and become established here, if possible. The British Government do certain things. Last year we made a change in the arrangements. We then did what we were authoritatively informed would be sufficient. We put the industry in a position that it had the preference of ? per lb., and we were told then that would be sufficient. This industry is in a totally different position from the sugar beet industry, so far as the Government is concerned. There have been years of experiment; there is a good deal of information available. A tobacco expert has been in the employment of the Government preparing information and giving assistance to growers for a long period. We know pretty well where we are in regard to it. We are, as I said, willing to do anything that seems likely to result in success, provided it is not at an outrageous cost. There is no doubt that if we abolished the Excise duty we could stimulate the growth of tobacco here, but of course we would do that at the sacrifice of the greater portion of our tobacco revenue, because people here would become accustomed to the use of Irish tobacco—at any rate the larger proportion. The people who could afford the luxury of the other tobacco might not. But if they were able to buy tobacco at ¾d. an ounce, instead of 8d., there is no doubt that the consumption of Irish tobacco would grow. On the other hand, some £3,000,000 of revenue would go. Up to the present, it has never been contemplated that that should be done. The tobacco duty is one of the most important items in our revenue, and all we could do was to give such a preference—and the preference really works out the same as a subsidy—to Irish tobacco as would give it a chance. We still believe the 1/6 preference given last year does give much.

I take it the subsidy is 1/4½—it is one-sixth of 8/2.

Plus the twopence.

That is on export— that is another thing.

There is ? altogether. There is no doubt that that ? is a help to the tobacco growers. A certain amount of Irish tobacco was taken out of bond last year and went into consumption. There seems to be a considerable amount more being taken out of bond in the present year. Certainly, if the withdrawal from bond does on at the same rate during the remainder of the financial year as it has gone on up to date, a further big reduction in the stock of Irish tobacco held will be effected. I would suggest that we should see whether the ? is sufficient or no. This is a question of what is necessary—of going into the figures. I would say this is one of the things that sometime later on, and well before the next Budget, might be very usefully examined by a committee, which could bring witnesses before it and have all papers and documents produced, because there is ample material for a study of the whole thing. The tobacco is already sown, and nothing could alter the amount that would be grown this year.

Why not a statistical tax?

There is sufficient material available. The industry has been a considerable number of years in operation, and we could at least give information that will enable Deputies——

What is going to be done with the tobacco locked up in bond?

I have already said that there were certain withdrawals last year. Up to last year, when we increased the preference, there had been practically no withdrawal. Tobacco was simply accumulating. Last year there were certain withdrawals. This year the indications are that there should be substantially greater withdrawals. Something, certainly, is being done to relieve that pressure. Any help that can be given by the Government in other ways is being given. There are two or three things that make the question difficult. First, there is accumulation of stocks; secondly, there is the fact that substantially the price charged by the manufacturers has not gone down since 1918 or 1919; although the price of raw tobacco has gone down by 25 per cent., wages, I think, have gone down something, and certainly coal and other costs have gone down. That means that the manufacturers are carrying on in a way that gives them a very substantial margin of profit.

But there is competition, though the competition has taken the line, not of reducing prices, of trying to get consumption by cutting down the price by one-halfpenny, one penny, twopence or threepence a pound, or whatever they could, but along the lines of improving the quality. People who are expert in the matter informed me that even American tobacco of a quality that had a fairly ready sale or cheaper grade products will not be taken at all now. For the lower-grade classes of tobacco there is no sale at present, because even the man who uses twist has to some extent become accustomed to a better grade tobacco than he used before the war. In the old days before the war, Irish tobacco was given to a broker, who hawked it from one manufacturer to another, and each manufacturer bought such parcels as he liked in small quantities. Now, with the accumulation an attempt is always made to get manufacturers to take substantial parcels of good, bad, and indifferent.

If the growers were willing to sell their best, and perhaps their second best, they could sell it readily as things are with the 1s. 6d., but they are trying to sell the grade that is not so good, for fear that if they went to sell it separately it would not get a market at all, and that is making the task of disposal more difficult. Native tobacco firms are very chary about any experiment or the use of tobacco in mixtures or rolls that is not of the first grade, because they are up against very keen competition. As a matter of fact, at present the manufacturer gets Irish tobacco for nothing; he gets it absolutely free when you take into account the duty, and, as I say, some of them will not touch it even when they are given it for nothing.

Might I point out that the manufacturer bought Indian tobacco at one time for 4d., and now it is only 9d., so that when the Minister speaks of it as being for nothing it should not be thought that it is not used. It happens that it is not in vogue now.

What I mean is that the manufacturer, having regard to the difference in duty, gets his raw material free when he takes his bulk quantity, and taking the duty and the price together he has paid nothing for Irish tobacco, and there is a reluctance to use it even though the circumstances are such. I do not think that we should put ourselves in the position that in addition to giving the manufacturer his Irish tobacco for nothing, we should pay him to use it, and that is practically the suggestion.

Oh, no. You are paying him out of his 8/-. You take 6/- from him, and then you say he gets it for nothing. He pays 6/8 to get it out of bond. You are paying him something out of his own money.

He has that much tobacco added to his bulk, free of any price to the grower, as you might say. He simply has the duty on the whole thing to pay, but he is free of any of the cost of producing the tobacco. It is simply as if the tobacco came down like manna. I do not know whether manna came down or came up; I am not very strong on that point. Let us look at it this way: The average crop, as shown by one hundred and twenty-seven crop reports, is 883 lbs. of dried leaf per acre. An experienced grower can easily grow more than that; he can easily grow a thousand pounds. The total cost of producing a statute acre of tobacco is £30 11s. If you take the average quantity that was produced in these one hundred and twenty-seven cases, and allow the grower 10d., for that he gets £36 15s., a profit of some £6 4s. per acre, and for causing the cultivation of an acre of tobacco at a cost of £30 the Exchequer loses £60, and the consumer gains nothing.

That is the present position. In wages and in everything else connected with the production of that acre crop of tobacco the cost is £30. Tobacco manufacturing is an industry already in existence here; it is not like the beet-sugar industry; it is well established. We are paying out of the Exchequer and at the expense of the consumer the whole cost of production by the farmer, and in addition we are paying £30 to the manufacturer. I do not think that that is an economic proposition, but we are prepared to continue that to give the industry every chance. But I think every Deputy will realise that that is not the sort of thing that should be made worse or that could be looked upon as more than something that we will do temporarily. Remember that considerable sums have been spent and that the experiments have been going on for a very long time.

What I would suggest is this, that if the people engaged in this industry have a case for some assistance, they should make their case to the Department of Agriculture or to the Department of Finance. I know that circumstances have made them as expert in agitation as they are in tobacco growing; they have had to be that, because the British Government was always disposed to cut them short and to bring the experiment to an end. Really, I think we had better have all this out in a business-like way, and as far as I am concerned nothing will be done to assist the further growing of tobacco this year; but before the next Budget comes along, and even before the question of sowing the seed is determined, I would be prepared to move for the appointment of a Select Committee of the House, with power to call for witnesses and documents, to go into the whole question thoroughly, have it completely thrashed out, and let us see what all the facts are.

Something must have happened to the Minister in the night, because he has completely reversed his fiscal policy.

Well, he wants us to dress in Irish-made clothes and to sit on Irish-made furniture, but when it comes to the question of smoking Irish-made tobacco and getting it cheaper, because it would involve some loss to the revenue he repudiates the idea altogether. This Excise duty is an old enemy of mine. Fifteen years ago, in conjunction with Deputy Redmond's uncle, I was fighting against it in Westminster, but there was some justification of the Government for their attitude at that date, because they were bigoted free-traders; they objected to the principle of protection in any shape or form, and they said that wherever there was a Customs duty an Excise duty must be imposed as well. The Minister's policy is protectionist, and widely protectionist.

And soundly protectionist.

I have some doubts on that point. We have not yet had, as the Minister said, enough experience to see how it works; we cannot arrive at a final verdict; not even the President can. The situation with regard to Irish tobacco must be reviewed with regard to its competitors in the wider market outside of Ireland, and I missed in the Minister's statement any references to those various units in the British Commonwealth who send tobacco to that market to compete with us. I will make the point very briefly. Irish tobacco for the most part is only suitable for blending, if I understand rightly.

For blowing your head off.

No, it is very suitable for blending, but it has to compete in the British market with tobacco from India and Africa. These States have no Excise duty at all, as Deputy Wilson said. The result is that they can sell their worst grades cheaply to their own people and can compete in the British market with the better grades. The Irish manufacturer is faced with the difficulty of getting rid of his worst grades. If he were in a position to sell his worst grades cheaply in this country he might be able to compete on terms of equality with outsiders in a wider market overseas, thereby helping to redress our adverse trade balance. The whole question comes to this: is the amount of protection given at the present sufficient? The growers say it is not——

The growers said last year that it was.

I think the Minister is beginning by now to know that estimates put forward by interested parties in connection with alterations in duties are not always entirely borne out by their working. The bottle duty is a case in point. Anyway, the growers now consider that it has not worked in the manner anticipated. The Minister is not quite confirmed on the subject but I congratulate Deputy Mulvany in having got him to go as far as he has gone. The growing inclination of the Minister to the idea of establishing committees is a very good sign indeed. I think that Deputy Mulvany would be well advised to accept the promise of the Minister. A committee representative of all Parties in the Dáil would, if the case is a strong one, as I believe it is, report in its favour, and such a report would have very great weight with the Government. I advise Deputy Mulvany to accept this and to withdraw his amendment.

As we on these Benches are the real genuine Farmers' Party, I think in the interests of the agricultural industry, as far as it is affected by this, that Deputy Mulvany ought to withdraw the amendment, because the offer of the Minister is very much better than a mere verbal debate with no relief whatsoever, and those who have confidence in the case must be willing to abide by the course that the Minister proposes. My statement that we are the real Farmers' Party appears to be challenged by the Independent Group.

Oh, not at all.

I can give them a parallel. Notwithstanding the Disestablishment Act there is a Church which still calls itself the Church of Ireland.

Is Deputy Magennis in order in talking on this subject?

The Church of Ireland and the Church of Ireland are in competition. Similarly there is a group in this House which calls itself the Farmers' Party, and there is another which does not, and which is in reality the Farmers' Party. We are quite as much interested in the development of agriculture in Ireland as those who take it under their particular patronage and are interested in nothing else; and though I was prepared to advocate this amendment it seems to me to be a more business-like proposition to deal with the whole thing by means of a Special Committee. I would therefore make an appeal to Deputy Mulvany to withdraw the amendment.

I think the case put forward by Deputy Mulvany is quite a fair one. I wish the Minister would inform us as to how much of this 1/4½ he has been talking about goes to the grower? I understand and have been told by the principal Irish grower that this 1/4½ goes into the pockets of the manufacturer and that none of it goes to the grower. If it werevice versa, that this 1/4½ were going as a bonus to the grower, I am sure that Deputy Mulvany would not have any reason for putting forward an amendment to-day, because I am quite certain that with such a bonus tobacco could be grown more than successfully.

I was a grower of tobacco in the initial stages when the experiment was started in Ireland first by the British Department of Agriculture. At the time things were very different and labour was much cheaper. We got a concession in the shape of a rebate of 1/- per pound in the duty, which then was 4/-, from the British Government. This went into the pockets of the growers of tobacco. Tobacco that was fit for exportation, or that was fit to be put on the market for the home manufacturer, was weighed and, on the net weight, you got paid 1/- per pound for every pound of tobacco grown on whatever area was under cultivation. With this concession, tobacco paid remarkably well. That 1/- per pound to the grower gave a stimulus to the growing of tobacco. Growers vied with each other and there was general competition. Each grower tried to get the largest number of pounds possible off each acre. In that way they were increasing the amount of the subsidy. After a few years the subsidy was changed. I suppose the British Government thought that the few farmers who were growing tobacco were doing too well. They reduced the subsidy from 1/- per pound to £50 per acre. The moment they altered the subsidy, tobacco growing deteriorated; people got more careless about it. It was all right so long as one grew an acre of tobacco. It did not matter so much what the crop was like; you would still get the subsidy. The result was that people did not produce half as much tobacco as before.

A bulk subsidy for an acre of tobacco is no use whatever. Give the subsidy to the grower at so much per pound of tobacco. You will then have the grower getting his back into the work, so to speak, and he will do his level best to produce a crop that will pay. Even if the subsidy is not as large as by giving it in bulk per acre, he will get better tobacco cultivated and the crop will be much better looked after. In the end you will have tobacco cultivated in the proper way. Giving a bulk subsidy was what killed the industry in Wexford, at all events. At least it helped to kill it, because the produce of tobacco deteriorated considerably. It went down as much as 200 or 300 pounds per acre. There were places where we got 1,200 and 1,400 pounds of leaf tobacco off an acre. The production of tobacco dwindled down to almost half when the bulk subsidy of £50 was granted. When the war years came the subsidy was still further reduced £25 per acre, and that killed the industry outright. Nobody would grow tobacco then. There was an increase in wages, and land had to be carefully looked after. It had to be heavily manured. Tobacco is a crop that requires four times as much attention as any other crop. How much of the 1/4½ is going to go to the grower? If the grower gets that much per pound, he will be quite well off, I think. He will be in a position to grow tobacco and put it on the market in a condition in which it will not be rejected, even by Irish manufacturers. When we had a subsidy of 1/- per pound we competed with the very best American leaf tobacco. I got tobacco myself and put it side by side with other tobacco in Mr. Gallagher's establishment in the North of Ireland, and it fetched within a halfpenny a pound of American tobacco of first quality. The tobacco I had was first-grade Irish tobacco.

I hold that tobacco can be grown successfully here. Of course, the costs of labour and production have to be considered, because we have to compete with places where they have much cheaper labour, such as India and South Africa. It is impossible to meet that competition without a subsidy, and that subsidy would be such as would give a fair profit to the farmer and give him a fair chance of paying labourers to cultivate the crop. A tobacco crop improves land. You have to manure land very well, and on that land subsequently one can grow a good crop of barley, oats or wheat. Tobacco requires shelter, and it requires to be grown in rather pet land; it will not grow on poor land. You could not raise a crop that would pay on poor land. It is an industry that should be stimulated to an extent that would encourage people to grow the crop. There is hardly any crop that would give as much employment as tobacco.

I do not think what I have to say applies to Deputy Doyle, or to those who have been growing tobacco in other parts of the country. It is just as well, however, for Deputies to bear in mind, when talking about subsidies to this or that industry on the basis of prices, that if there are to be conditions, in respect of, say, sugar beet—if there is to be a subsidy to the manufacturer on condition that he pays a certain price for the raw material— we must look for a condition that certain prices will be paid for the labour engaged in the work of cultivation. I just want to make that point, in case there might be any misapprehension.

I desire to indicate that I will act on the suggestion made by Deputy Magennis and Deputy Cooper. I do not want to press this amendment any further, in view of the promise the Minister has given, that later on he will be prepared to go into the whole case and have it discussed thoroughly from all points of view. I am very thankful for the way the matter has been received and discussed. I think the debate on the amendment will have the desired effect. I wish to remind the Minister of the very serious grievances small growers in County Meath have at present. Their crop for the years 1923-24 is locked up, and they cannot realise a penny on it. They are largely dependent on that for a living. How are those people to get along? I would ask the Minister to take that aspect of the case into consideration with a view to seeing if those small tobacco growers could be relieved in some way.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Sections 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECTION 41.
(1) In respect of every accounting period beginning before and ending on or after 1st day of January, 1925, the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 52 of the Finance Act, 1920, shall be construed and have effect as if the following paragraph were inserted therein in lieu of the paragraph (a) now contained in the said proviso, that is to say:—
"(a) In the case of every accounting period beginning before and ending on or after the 1st day of January, 1925, the profits arising in the accounting period shall be apportioned between the part of the period which is before that date and the part of the period which is after the 31st day of December, 1924, in proportion to the respective lengths of those parts, and no tax shall be charged on so much of the profits apportioned to the first-mentioned part of the period as bears to five hundred pounds the same proportion as such first-mentioned part of the period bears to twelve months, and no tax shall be charged on so much of the profits apportioned to the second- mentioned part of the period as bears to one thousand pounds the same proportion as such second-mentioned part of the period bears to twelve months."
(2) In respect of every accounting period beginning and ending after the 31st day of December, 1924, paragraph (a) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 52 of the Finance Act, 1920, shall be construed and have effect as if the words "one thousand pounds" were inserted therein in lieu of the words "five hundred pounds" wherever the last-mentioned words occur in the said paragraph.

In regard to Section 41, I would like to express some disappointment that the Minister has continued the Corporation Profits Tax in the present Budget. As I pointed out on a previous occasion, the Corporation Profits Tax was introduced in Great Britain in 1920 at a period of monetary stringency. Owing to its incidence, it was immediately felt that it was a hardship, and it was recognised as a hardship in respect to private limited companies. The attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was drawn to this particular aspect and, in 1922, a well-known financier, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, while expressing disapproval of the tax, stated that the financial situation was such that he could not see his way to withdraw the tax. The matter was again brought forward in 1923, when Mr. Stanley Baldwin, the present Premier, was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He, like his predecessor, disapproved entirely of the tax, but pointed out that owing to the slight improvement that had taken place in the financial situation, he was only able to reduce the tax from one shilling to sixpence. The matter was again brought up the following year, when the Labour Government occupied the Ministerial Benches. It may be interesting for the Labour Deputies here to know that when attention was drawn to this tax it was remitted by the Labour Government.

Do you support all the things the Labour Government did?

There were some good things done by the Labour Government, and I am giving them credit for those things. I am not talking about other things; they will come up in due time. We have an expression of opinion from all the leading parties on the other side with reference to this tax, and that points to no other conclusion than that the tax is obviously unfair to those whose money is invested in limited liability companies. The tax in substance is income tax, because it is a tax on profits. The only difference between the Corporation Profits Tax and income tax is that the Corporation Profits Tax is confined to limited liability companies. Previous to this Budget it was limited to companies whose profits were more than £500. The Minister has now extended that limit and absolved companies whose profits are less than £1,000. It is felt, however, that that is only a very small easement of the burden. I know considerable pressure is being brought to bear on the Minister in connection with this tax and the unfairness of its incidence. If he cannot see his way to remit it this year, I hope this will be the last Budget in which that unfair tax will appear. I would strongly urge on the Minister that, in taking that line, he will meet the views of all those who are quite willing to undertake difficulties that he is faced with in providing the wherewithal to meet the different burdens in the country. They are all agreed, and I hope he is of the same mind, that this tax is not a fair one, and it should immediately be repealed.

I do not want to say anything in addition to what I stated when the Budget was being discussed. I do not say that the Corporation Profits Tax in its present form is a tax that should be a permanent feature of our financial system. A great proportion, however, of this tax is paid by foreign companies. There are hundreds of foreign companies operating here and some of them own great assets here. So far as the position is at the moment, we do not get any death duties in respect of holdings in those companies of people outside the country, although property in the assets situated here actually passes at a death. It is quite probable that we do not get death duty because the property is held by those limited companies. The number of them liable to Corporation Profits Tax is very considerable. I do think that there is more to be looked at than merely the Corporation Profits Tax, but I do recognise that there is a problem here that has to be considered. I can only say that it will have consideration.

I am glad to have that statement from the Minister. I would like to point out to him that if the continuance of this tax confers certain benefits in the way of rights with regard to death duties, these rights could be established in some other way. A tax that is unfair in its incidence should not be maintained simply for the purpose of establishing those rights.

What is to compensate for loss of revenue?

There may be loss of revenue on one side. But this tax does not yield so very much and the loss of trade may be considerably greater than the loss of revenue which would be involved by remission of the tax. This tax imposes a duty of practically 5 per cent. on all moneys invested in the Free State, through the medium of limited liability companies, over moneys so invested in Northern Ireland or in Great Britain. In other words, there is a tax on capital invested in the Free State, over and above the charges on capital in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of 5 per cent. through the medium of the Corporation Profits Tax. That, I am aware, has prevented a considerable amount of capital from being invested in the Free State. I am quite satisfied that while the remission of the tax, on the one hand, might mean some loss in revenue, that would be compensated for by the new revenue that would be derived. The remission of the tax would give an incentive to the investment of further capital in this country. That is urgently needed and it would help to a considerable extent to relieve unemployment. No matter from what point of view you regard this tax, it is one that should in the interests of the country be remitted.

Section 41 put and agreed to.
Section 42 put and agreed to.
SECTION 43.

I move amendment 23:—

Before Section 43 to insert a new section as follows:—

"The following exemption shall be substituted for exemption numbered (6) under the heading ‘Receipt given for, or upon the payment of, money amounting to two pounds or upwards' in the First Schedule to the Stamp Act, 1891—

(6) Receipt given for or on account of any salary, pay, or wages, or for or on account of any other like payment made to or for the account or benefit of any person, being the holder of an office or an employee, in respect of his office, or employment, or for or on account of money paid in respect of any pension, superannuation allowance, compassionate allowance or other like allowance."

The proposal in this amendment is, in effect, to remit the obligation on any person receiving wages or salary over £2 to pay 2d. stamp duty. As has already been said, this, in the main, applies to public servants. It so happens that if the public servant is paid monthly, the annual duty paid by that servant is 2/-, but if he happens to be one of the lower orders and is paid weekly, the annual duty amounts to 8/8. It is a very small matter and I am not going to spend much time over it, but it is one of those trivial and petty injustices that could be removed at very small cost. It is an injustice inasmuch as the stamp duty could be evaded if the persons concerned demanded that they should be paid twice a week instead of once a week. They give credit to the employer for so many days per week and they have to pay for that. I would ask the Minister to agree to this remission and to remove at least one little injustice.

took the Chair.

It is very difficult to arrive at an estimate of what this change would cost, because this duty is collected by affixing ordinary postage stamps. They are not purchased separately, and there is no means of knowing the accurate figure. It is difficult to get even an approximate figure. Our view is that it would cost not less, and probably a fair amount more than £10,000 per annum. There is no doubt that the biggest class affected is civil servants.

Municipal and national employees are practically the only classes affected.

There are some exceptions.

Although Government employees may have to pay this stamp duty, they are people who have got certain remissions of taxation. They benefit by that. They have certain advantages in their employment. They have the benefit of the cost of living bonus, which keeps them right if there is any change in the cost of living. Even if they have a little grievance because they have to pay this duty, which other employees have not to pay, they have certain advantages. The advantage they have in the cost of living bonus is a very considerable one. There does not seem to be any substantial grievance. There certainly would be no grievance if the duty were widely exacted—if other employers did not make arrangements to avoid the necessity for it. The appeal for change arises from the fact that these employees know that certain other people, because of different arrangements, escape it. It is not a heavy duty. It is not a thing that a person feels very much, and while there are demands for a change, I do not think it causes any very serious sense of grievance.

There is another aspect of the matter. The Minister has tried to justify the practical applicability of this duty to public employees, because it is easy in their case to collect it. He says, too, that they enjoy certain advantages. The unfortunate point regarding that argument is that the provisions of the law in the matter apply to every person, whether a public employee or not, but that it is not practicable to enforce it, except in the case of a very small minority of the people who are receiving wages. To have a general law and to say: "We do not intend to apply it to three-fourth of the people, but we will apply it to one-fourth because it is easy for us to do so," is not defensible.

This matter has been the subject of discussion in Great Britain, and it was there seen that there was no reasonable justification for maintaining it if it could only be collected from a certain proportion of the people. The provision there was deleted and a section exactly in this form was introduced into British legislation. If the Minister would use his influence with the Government Departments to induce them to pay their employees twice a week, there would be no trouble, but the cost of that would be very much greater than the loss to revenue sustained by the adoption of this amendment. He is in a better position to judge the cost than I am, but I think he can take it as certain that it is only public employees who are called upon to pay this stamp duty, which is nominally a duty that should be paid by every person in a similar position. If the exemption were given, it would certainly remove an irritant and make legislation a little more in accord with equity. If a duty of this kind, nominally applicable to 100,000 people, but only applied to 20,000, is unfair and unreasonable, we ought to alter the law if possible.

It is not just a question of not enforcing the law. It is really a question of paying wages or salaries on receipts and having stamp duty paid on the receipts. If certain firms choose to make arrangements so that receipts are not necessary, that is their affair. People who are in the Government service are employed by an authority which does not choose to make that arrangement, but which insists that there shall be receipts. Consequently, the tax is paid. I have no doubt that a system could be evolved even in Government offices—it might lead to certain looseness—whereby receipts would not be demanded from certain classes of employees and stamp duty would not be exacted. There is no question of not enforcing the law. So far as we know, the law is enforced, and if we came across the case of a private employer in which receipts were not stamped, the usual proceedings would be taken. A person in Government employment has certain advantages. He also suffers certain disadvantages, and one of the disadvantages is that his employers make him give a receipt for wages which involves the use of a twopenny stamp.

Amendment, put and declared lost.
Question—"That Section 43 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sections 44, 45 and 46 put and agreed to.
FIRST SCHEDULE.

On the First Schedule I would like that the Minister would take the opportunity of enlightening me, if not any other Deputy, regarding the effect of these duties and particularly the importance of the word "polarisation" and 98 degrees. I have a suspicion of the truth of the matter, but I would like it to be made clear, particularly the difference between 98 degrees polarisation carrying a duty of 9/4, and polarisation not exceeding 76 degrees carrying a duty of 4/6.

I am afraid I cannot do that very satisfactorily. It is a test of the purity of the sugar.

Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether the ordinary commercial sugar we buy is, speaking generally, 98 degrees and if 76 degrees is unrefined sugar. Is that the position?

Yes, that is the position. As a matter of fact, in connection with the sugar subsidy we were first told that there would be no sugar under 98 degrees produced.

Question—"That the First Schedule stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
SECOND SCHEDULE.
1. (for a firearms certificate, for a rifle or a revolver, with or without ammunition therefor—)

I move:—

"In line 37 to delete the words "or a" and substitute therefor "or a pistol or."

Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendment 25, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That the Second Schedule stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
THIRD SCHEDULE.
Amendment 26: To insert in appropriate places the words "No. 21 of 1923; Finance Act, 1923; Section 6: 24th April, 1925."

I want to ask the Minister again if he will agree to the insertion of this amendment which would mean the deletion from the law of the obligation that may be put upon employers to deduct arrears of income tax from their employees. The case has been argued several times. The Minister has attempted to meet it, and his only case is that while it may be unfair, unreasonable, and inequitable and a burden upon both employers and employees, straining the relations between employer and employees, and generally tending towards the disorganisation of industry and trade and commerce, nevertheless, because it is necessary to collect arrears, and he hoped to get a considerable sum of money during this year, he intends to carry on with the inequities and the unfairness and risk disorganisation for the sake of those moneys which he hopes to collect. I move that Section 6 of the Finance Act of 1923 be included in the Schedule of enactments repealed, to begin from the 24th April, 1925.

I really reject this with more conviction than the last amendment of Deputy Johnson, which I felt a certain hesitation about rejecting. This particular power that we took in the Finance Act of 1923 has collected a considerable amount of revenue which would have escaped altogether, or could only have been collected by the Revenue Authorities taking drastic action by way of summary arrest and imprisonment, which would have caused far more trouble and far more disorganisation than this present arrangement. The people to whom it was applied were chiefly people in certain big establishments, and in one or two municipal establishments who, perhaps, lived in lodgings, and had nothing that could be distrained, who simply laughed at the idea of paying their debts to the State, and who were determined and organised in certain cases in their attitude of opposition to paying. When the collectors in some cases went to look for them they could get no information. These people simply laughed at the idea of discharging their liabilities. We could have taken steps to identify them; a warrant could have been issued by the Revenue Commissioners, and immediate arrests could have been made. We could have taken them out of the shops and lodged them in Mountjoy. We would have been forced to do it in connection with the opposition of a certain section of people who were liable to be taxed, and who undoubtedly laughed at us. The opposition is really largely the opposition of people who are determined not to pay, and the real resentment is resentment at having to pay. It might well be, at some future stage, if we had a different attitude that there would be no good case for having to use this, but we were up against a certain attitude in the public mind at the present time, and the failure to have these debts collected would lead to greater trouble as far as friction is concerned. I think that stage is well passed. The people have got to realise that the employer has no option, and they feel no resentment against the employer. It involves a certain amount of clerical labour on the employer, but it is not half the trouble that it would be to an employer if the income tax people walked into his shop and took away two or three of his assistants and landed them in Mountjoy, which is really the alternative to using this method. There is no doubt that the most satisfactory way of paying income tax is to have it deducted at the source. It is not missed in the same way as if a person received his salary in full, and at the end of a period had to pay a lump sum, which would come very hard on him. Not a penny can be deducted by this method till the 1st April next—I suggest it would not be practicable even to repeal the section in the way Deputy Johnson suggests, because we would be up against a question of a refund of money which has been collected since the 1st April last. It would have to be made not applicable to any tax in respect of any year up to the 31st March last. However that is only a point of detail in connection with it. What I am arguing is that this is a reasonable method of enforcing the payment of debts due to the State. There is no doubt that one of the things that is wrong in the income tax law at present is that, for various reasons, a full collection cannot be made. The complaint of several people is that they believe their neighbours escape. We do not want to open more avenues. Our view is that, without loss of revenue, we could give at least 4d., and perhaps 6d., reduction in the rate of tax if we could make a complete collection, when the mass of arrears is cleared away, and when the new staff, that we recruited ourselves, is trained, and certain people can be got at whom we really cannot overtake at the present time. The really satisfactory thing to do in regard to income tax is to see, without injustice, and without harshness, that people who should pay do pay, and that the revenue collected should go to a reduction of the rates of tax. I suggest that there has been no harshness in this case. I have examined one or two individual cases, and I have made representations in regard to them, but, generally speaking, I cannot offer any criticism of the rates of reduction. The fundamental objection to this method of collection is by people who hope, owing to certain advantages, not having property or anything that can be seized, that they would escape paying.

The Minister has not stated correctly the position, even of those who have an objection to paying, apart from the harshness of collection. The objection to paying, as far as I can understand it, and I think it is a very sound one, is that people who were acting for and by the Government, and were able to speak for the Government at the time, deliberately set about a policy of persuading the people not to pay, prohibiting them from paying income tax at the time it was due, and that then, after coming into orderly possession of the authority of State they insist on the collection and use methods for the collection which, as I said, are unfair and inequitable, and in many cases have been aplied harshly.

It is all very well to say that the easiest and simplest way to collect income tax is to collect it at the source. Take the case of an employee of a drapery establishment whose wages were reduced by £20, and who, within the six months ending January last, had been forced to pay arrears of income tax of £40. Commitments were entered into. People adopted a certain course of life without regard to the possibility of having large sums like that deducted from them by their employers. It may be that the Minister has attempted to mitigate the evil results of collection in unreasonable sums. There have been many cases of complaint where the resentment at having to pay a tax which the Government that they gave allegiance to, advised and urged should not be paid, apart from the resentment that the same people should now come along and say you have now got to pay what you were hitherto told not to pay. The method of collection by forcing employers to deduct large sums within short periods from salaries is a grievance, and, I think, a very reasonably grounded grievance, against the Government.

I would make this plea as the very minimum, that persons who have arrears to pay, especially arrears going back to 1923, should be given the very greatest amount of latitude possible to make their arrangements with their employers as to the amount that is to be paid, if the employers have to collect; but that there should be the fullest possible consideration given to the amount of money they are now earning, and to making the deductions as light as possible, in view of the present circumstances, not the circumstances that existed when salaries were greater and payments would have been easier. The grievance is a double one; first, that the collection is made from people who were told quite clearly—and we all know it was part of a policy—that they were not to pay income tax, and then, having, if you like, taken advantage of that, very often handed over the money for National Bonds, or political collections and demands at one time or another for the political purposes of the time. Having done that, then to come along and say: "You have got to pay, and to pay it in a lump sum," is a grievance, and it ought to be mitigated to the utmost possible extent.

I accept what Deputy Johnson says about meeting cases of hardship. Where there would be undue hardship I have always been willing to have all the necessary steps taken to mitigate the hardship. There are cases in which it is not possible even to pay the most moderate instalments, and the attitude in general has been to meet those. As a matter of fact, the person who showed any disposition to pay would probably not have those powers enforced against him. I know cases which I examined in which there was an absolute conspiracy to stand out even against this payment. It was an absolute determination not to pay. When it got to that stage there might, in individual cases, be sums fixed which would be too high, because the statements of people about their own private circumstances might not receive the measure of credence they would have received if they had shown some willingness to pay. If you come across somebody who is dead against paying and if, when it comes to fixing the amount of instalment, you are told some pitiful story, you will possibly discount it. There might be cases of that sort where hardship arises. I certainly am prepared to go into the whole matter, and to take any steps necesary to see that hardship is mitigated.

In regard to the belief that people would not have to pay, there is no doubt that people may have got certain impressions about the payment of income tax, although they were not given any direction not to pay. It is often hard to believe those pleas.

Does the Minister want us to understand that only matters that were issued authoritatively under the seal, if there were a seal, of the Dáil or Ministry, could be considered valid, and that other orders given by authoritative servants of the Ministry were not to be taken into account?

I do not want to go at all as far as Deputy Johnson suggests. I was just going to point out that one case was brought to my notice by the Revenue Commissioners, because it was a case that might have made a considerable stir. It was the case of a man who was a very well-known Unionist politician, and the only way to recover the amount due would have been to put him in Mountjoy. He pleaded that it was as a protest against the British Government that he had not paid and said that he could not pay then. However, the threat of Mountjoy proved sufficient to induce him to pay. He was a man who certainly simply took advantage of the conditions of turmoil. He could have no objection to the British Government. There were all sorts of people without any politics who simply thought they could escape paying for the time being and did not pay. I am sure they are the people who are now loudest in saying it is wrong to force them to pay.

He could not have been a Unionist.

He passed for one.

Even Unionists obeyed the order.

Amendment put, and declared lost.
Third Schedule put, and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.