IN COMMITTEE ON FINANCE. - FINANCE BILL, 1926—THIRD STAGE (RESUMED).

Sections 13, 14, 15 and 16 put and agreed to.
SECTION 17.
(1) Section 68 of the Spirits Act, 1880, shall be construed and have effect as if the following two subsections were respectively inserted therein in lieu of sub-section (3) and sub-section (7) respectively now contained therein, that is to say:—
"(3) If the spirits are for home consumption they must be drawn off into either—
(a) imperial or reputed quart bottles; or
(b) imperial or reputed pint bottles; or
(c) Imperial one-half-pint bottles; or
(d) imperial one-quarter-pint bottles; or
(e) imperial one-eight-pint bottles,
and packed in cases containing either,
(f) one or more dozen imperial or reputed quart bottles; or
(g) two or more dozen imperial or reputed pint bottles; or
(h) three or more dozen imperial one-half-pint bottles; or
(i) six or more dozen imperial one-quarter-pint bottles; or
(j) twelve or more dozen imperial one-eighth-pint bottles."
"(7) Spirits so bottled may not be removed for home consumption,
(a) by a distiller who is not licensed as a dealer, in a quantity less than
(i) five dozen imperial or reputed quart bottles, or
(ii) ten dozen imperial or reputed pint bottles, or
(iii) fifteen dozen imperial one-half-pint bottles, or
(iv) thirty dozen imperial one-quarter-pint bottles, or
(v) sixty dozen imperial one-eighth-pint bottles,
(b) by any other person in a quantity less than
(i) one dozen imperial or reputed quart bottles, or
(ii) two dozen imperial or reputed pint bottles, or
(iii) three dozen imperial one, half-pint bottles, or
(iv) six dozen imperial one-quarter pint bottles, or
(v) twelve dozen imperial one-eighth-pint bottles."
(2) Section 3 of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1880, is hereby repealed and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that foreign spirits bottled in accordance with the regulations of the Revenue Commissioners in any customs or excise warehouse in either—
(a) imperial or reputed quart bottles, or
(b) imperial or reputed pint bottles, or
(c) imperial one-half-pint bottles, or
(d) imperial one-quarter-pint bottles, or
(e) imperial one-eighth-pint bottles,
and packed in cases containing either,
(f) one or more dozen imperial or reputed quart bottles, or
(g) two or more dozen imperial or reputed pint bottles, or
(h) three or more dozen imperial one-half-pint bottles, or
(i) six or more dozen imperial one-quarter-pint bottles, or
(j) twelve or more dozen imperial one-eighth-pint bottles,
may be entered and cleared for home consumption, and there shall be charged upon the delivery for home consumption of such spirits, in addition to the duties of customs and any other charges thereon, the rate following, that is to say—
for every one dozen imperial or reputed quart bottles or two dozen imperial or reputed pint bottles or three dozen imperial one-half-pint bottles, or six dozen imperial one-quarter-pint bottles, or twelve dozen imperial one-eighth-pint bottles—threepence,
and such rate shall be deemed to be a duty of customs or to be a duty of excise according as the same is payable in respect of spirits delivered from a customs warehouse or from an excise-warehouse.
The following amendments stood in the name of the Minister for Finance:
17. In sub-section (1), page 8, to delete lines 15 to 19 and substitute the following:—
"(h) thirty-two imperial one-half pint bottles or any multiple of thirty-two imperial one-half pint bottles; or
(i) sixty-four imperial one-quarter pint bottles or any multiple of sixty-four imperial one-quarter pint bottles; or
(j) one hundred and twenty-eight imperial one-eighth pint bottles or any multiple of one hundred and twenty-eight imperial one-eighth pint bottles."
18. In sub-section (1), page 8, to delete lines 26, 27, and 28 and substitute the following:—
"(iii) one hundred and sixty imperial one-half pint bottles, or
(iv) three hundred and twenty imperial one-quarter pint bottles, or
(v) six hundred and forty imperial one-eighth pint bottles."
19. In sub-section (1), page 8, to delete lines 32, 33 and 34, and substitute the following:—
"(iii) thirty-two imperial one-half pint bottles, or
(iv) sixty-four imperial one-quarter pint bottles, or
(v) one hundred and twenty-eight imperial one-eighth pint bottles."
20. In sub-section (2), page 8, to delete lines 48, 49 and 50, and substitute the following:—
"(h) thirty-two imperial one-half pint bottles or any multiple of thirty-two imperial one-half pint bottles, or
(i) sixty-four imperial one-quarter pint bottles or any multiple of sixty-four imperial one-quarter pint bottles, or
(j) one hundred and twenty-eight imperial one-eighth pint bottles or any multiple of one hundred and twenty-eight imperial one-eighth pint bottles."
21. In sub-section (2), page 8, in line 56, to delete the words "three dozen" and substitute the words "thirty-two," in line 57 to delete the words "six dozen" and substitute the words "sixty-four" and in line 58 to delete the words "twelve dozen" and substitute the words "one hundred and twenty-eight."

Amendments 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 all have the purpose of effecting a change in the number of dozens in the case of smaller bottles; that is, bottles of a half-pint and under —thirty-two, sixty-four, one hundred and twenty-eight, or multiples of those numbers.

Amendments agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, put and agreed to.
SECTION 18.
Amendment 22:—
Before Section 18 to insert a new-section as follows:—
"The excise duty on unmanufactured tobacco containing 10 lb. or more of moisture in every 100 lb. weight thereof shall, as on and from the 1st day of August, 1926, be charged, levied and paid at the rate of five shillings per lb. in lieu of the rate charged at present of five-sixths of eight shillings per lb."—(Deputy Esmonde)—not moved.

I beg to move amendment 23:—

To insert before Section 18, a new section as follows:—

"The duties of Customs and Excise chargeable or leviable on twist and plug tobacco, shall on and after the 30th of June, 1926, be chargeable or leviable at rates amounting to three pence per ounce less than the duties chargeable or leviable previous to the said 30th day of June, 1926."

I proposed a similar amendment to the Finance Bill of last year, and I assure you that nothing has occurred since to alter my opinion. I am convinced that the present tax on twist and plug tobacco is a cruel injustice upon the poorest and most deserving classes of the community, and that it helps to create and prolong the discontent which we still have abundant evidence of from many parts of the country. During last year's debate we were told by a Deputy that tobacco is a luxury which working men and small farmers might very well do without. Although that Deputy does not smoke, he must know, as well as I do, that to deprive poor people of their occasional smoke would be nothing short of cruelty. Why should not the poor people have some little luxury? Is it to be all work and no play for a class without whose labours we could have no State? Is this the comfort, the freedom, and the independence that are guaranteed under the new order of things, when British rule has disappeared?

In last year's debate the Minister for Finance said: "That there was no means of distinguishing between the twist and plug and any other form of tobacco when the leaf is coming in." And he went on to say: "It is difficult to estimate what this would cost, because we have not any firm figure of the amount of twist and plug used in this country, but (he added) it would cost anything in the neighbourhood of three-quarters of a million."

If the Minister cannot distinguish between the different kinds of tobacco when the leaf is coming in, and when he has no firm figures of the amount of twist and plug used in this country, how did he arrive at the conclusion that it would cost the State three-quarters of a million, if my amendment was carried? I wish to draw the Minister's special attention to the fact that the present high duty on tobacco was imposed as a war tax by the British Government. Now, sir, we were told by the President in this House a short time ago that Ireland's contribution to the war tax, in accordance with the Treaty Agreement, was wiped off the slate. If this is so, why continue the war tax on tobacco, or on any other articles which were free from such tax previous to the war? In conclusion, I appeal to the Minister to leave this matter to a free vote of the House. And if he does, I have no doubt as to what the result will be.

I wish to support this amendment. It is eight years since this tax was imposed, and I see no good reason why it should be continued eight years after the war is over. The Minister will no doubt ask where the revenue is to come from if this tax is not imposed. I think the revenue would come from increased consumption. There is no doubt whatever that 75 per cent. of the revenue would come from increased consumption. I also think it is time that the war bonus which is paid to officials should be discontinued. I do not see any reason to continue the war bonus almost ten years after the war is over.

I think the Deputy must have been attending meetings of public boards. I explained last year that this is a proposal which would not be practicable unless we adopted some entirely different system of dealing with tobacco duties. Tobacco is mostly imported unmanufactured. When the Free State was set up tobacco in the form of cigarettes was imported manufactured. Cigarette factories have been set up, and there is now a very small import of manufactured tobacco. All tobacco, we may say, is imported unmanufactured. It pays duty, is allowed out of bond, and is used by the manufacturer in whatever way it is suitable to use it. If we were going to give a rebate on twist and plug tobacco we would have to make arrangements whereby manufacturing operations would be carried on in bond and under excise supervision. An entirely new system of dealing with tobacco manufacture would have to be set up. Presumably what would happen in that case would be that the manufacturers would pay full duty when the tobacco was taken out of bond. Then the Customs officers would see that it was manufactured into twist or plug, and arrange for a rebate to be paid.

It is very difficult to estimate what the cost of the change would be. It certainly would be a very high figure. Our revenue from tobacco is £3,200,000. A reduction of 3d. per ounce would be about a remission of half the duty. If this rebate were to apply to all tobacco it would mean that our revenue would be halved. That we would have about £1,600,000 instead of £3,200,000. We have no means of knowing what proportion of the tobacco consumed in the country is consumed in the form of twist or plug, but certainly a very substantial amount is, and the loss to the revenue on the Deputy's proposal would be very substantial. It would be half-a-million or more of a loss, or perhaps three-quarters of a million. It is very difficult to say. It would be a sum that would certainly throw our Budget entirely out of balance. It is, again, a concession that it would not be possible to make, unless we were prepared to impose other duties. To make up the sum that would be lost by Deputy Cosgrave's amendment would involve heavy impositions of duties on other articles.

I am not satisfied that it is desirable to impose duties, say, on tea or sugar to make up the loss. There is no doubt at any rate that tobacco is an article that is consumed by a smaller number of people than either tea or sugar. There would be no appreciable increase of revenue as a result of a reduction, because tobacco is one of the commodities the consumption of which has not decreased. Since the Free State came into operation and we had figures for our own territory, we have seen that there has been a decrease in the consumption of whiskey and beer, but there has not been a decrease in the consumption of tobacco. Even when money was more plentiful in the country at the beginning of the Free State, there was not a greater consumption of tobacco than there is at present.

Mr. COSGRAVE

Because the poor people cannot do without it.

Whatever the cause is, that fact indicates that a decrease in the duty and a consequent decrease in the price would not increase the consumption appreciably, so that whatever figure this amendment would cost would be a definite net loss of revenue to be made up by some other tax. I indicated that there might be some grounds for thinking that there would be a ten per cent. increase in beer consumption if we reduced the duty, but there is nothing in the figures available to indicate that a reduction in the tobacco duty would lead to any appreciable increase.

Mr. COSGRAVE

Has the Minister anything to say with regard to my suggestion as to its being put on as a war tax and our contribution to the cost of the war being wiped out?

Nothing at all, because we took the taxes over. We did not know why they were put on. We keep them on, in so far as we have kept them on, for the purpose of providing revenue.

Mr. COSGRAVE

Does the Minister deny that it was put on as a war tax?

I do not really go into that.

The Minister says there is no decrease in the consumption of tobacco. Could he tell us if there is any decrease in the consumption of those two specified sorts of tobacco? The consumption of tobacco as a whole would not have decreased—in fact, the general consumption of tobacco and cigarettes is probably greater than ever—but in the consumption of the two kinds of tobacco specified in the amendment I believe there has been a large decrease, and I would be very glad if the Minister could give us any figures as to that.

Would it not be possible to discriminate between the tobaccos of higher and more expensive quality and those tobaccos that are used by workingmen? I am not a smoker myself and therefore do not profess to know much in actual practice about the difference between one type of tobacco and another, but I am aware that the ordinary workingman regards his tobacco as he regards his food, that frequently men would rather go without their food and have their tobacco. So that in that light to certain classes of the community this cheaper sort of tobacco is an absolute necessity. It is quite possible they could be weaned from the use of it, but I think it highly improbable that that would ever come about.

If we accept facts as they are and admit, as we must admit, that indulgence in tobacco is not immoral, it seems to me that the situation could be met by taking off from the tobacco in more general use and keeping the revenue intact by putting a heavier impost upon the higher quality which, as a higher quality, is more in the nature of a luxury. It may be that the Minister would reply that that is tantamount to class legislation. But it is not, because it is on that basis that most of the taxes upon luxuries are calculated: that luxuries come first and necessities absolutely last. So, unless there is some practical difficulty in the way of making the distinction, it seems to me in reason a good case.

I do not know what the situation is at the customs, as to whether it would be impossible in the case of tobaccos to deal with them separately without increasing the cost of collection, but if there is no difficulty, if the position is merely this: "We must get the money and we will get the money at all hazards," I do not think it is a fair position for a Minister for Finance to take up. The history of a tax is an important consideration in regard to its continuance. Emergency measures ought to be emergency measures, and a tax imposed under the stress and stringency of war is not wholesomely continued, inasmuch as it shuts the door against the possibility of the Minister in peace time being able to increase the flow, the yield of taxation, when it becomes necessary for some new enterprise of State. It seems to me the argument is all in favour of the amendment.

I could not give the information that Deputy Doyle asked for. It probably could be got with a reasonable degree of accuracy from the manufacturers, because the tobacco used in the Saorstát, as I have said already, is now put into its manufactured form here. If we had those figures they would indicate whether there has been a decrease in the consumption of tobacco in this particular form, but those figures would not give by themselves any indication of the loss of revenue by the adoption of this amendment; because if you enable those particular tobaccos to be sold at, say, threepence per ounce, or more than threepence per ounce, less than they can be sold at present, there would be a certain tendency to shift over to the consumption of twist and plug. So that if we had the figures and were trying to calculate the amount of loss, we would have to estimate for a change over to the consumption of tobacco in that particular form, and I think it cannot be doubted that the cost to the revenue of this concession would be well over half a million.

It is impossible at the moment to do more than indicate that it would be very large, so large that we could not at all contemplate the concession unless we were prepared for the imposition of other taxes. It becomes a question of whether it is desirable to take taxation off an article which is consumed by only a proportion of the people, by only, shall we say, less than half the working-people—because the wives of the working-men do not consume tobacco to any extent—and put it on something else. We take it off something that is consumed by only a proportion of the population—I do not know what proportion, but a proportion that is very much less than the proportion that consumes the other articles on which we would have to put taxation to meet the revenue.

It is impossible simply to sail in and drop half a million or three-quarters of a million of revenue without considering how the deficit is to be made up. As I said last night, to make up a sum like this involves the taxation of some article of common consumption. Many a time I have had occasion to go over the import list to see where revenue could be got if we were dropping some of the existing taxes or wanted to change the scheme of taxation, and it has always appeared to me that the taxation of some article of common and necessary consumption is the only way to get substantial revenue. I certainly do not think it would be desirable to take the tax off tobacco and put a tax on, say, tea or sugar, or some other article of consumption, for the purpose of getting revenue. If we had no protective object in mind, we might put a two or three per cent. tax on cloth or other articles and get substantial revenue, but I believe that we would be imposing much greater hardships on the community if we raised taxation in that way than by continuing it as at present. Here we have an article of, shall we say, a semi-luxury type, which is bearing taxation. The great trouble really and the great perplexity that is occasioned by the beer and spirit duties is that they have shown signs of not being able to bear the taxation. The consumption has shown signs of shrinkage, but there is no sign at all of shrinkage in consumption as far as tobacco is concerned.

Mr. COSGRAVE

I should like to know from the Minister if he is leaving this matter to a free vote of the Dáil.

If the Deputy means that I should leave it to a free vote of the Dáil and consider that there was no want of confidence in the Government if defeated, I could not do that. This is an item of major financial policy. It is a proposal that could not be left otherwise than as a matter of confidence.

Mr. COSGRAVE

In that case I appeal to Deputies who have the interest of poor people at heart to vote for the amendment.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 29; Níl, 36.

  • John J. Cole.
  • John Conlan.
  • John Daly.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • David Hall.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • James Sproule Myles.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • William Norton.
  • Ailfrid O Broin.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Tadhg O Donnabháin.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Seán O Laidhin.
  • Pádraic O Máille.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).

Níl

  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Thomas Bolger.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Séamus de Búrca.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Michael Egan.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Seán MacCurtain.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Conchubhar O Conghaile.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Séamus O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
  • Seán Príomhdhall.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Séamus Mac Cosgair and Professor Magennis.
Amendment declared lost.
Níl: Deputies Dolan and Sears.

I regret I was absent when Amendment No. 22 came on, but I would ask you, sir, on a point of procedure, whether it would not be advisable that I should move it now, as otherwise I would be obliged to put down a motion asking the Dáil to agree with the recommendations of the Committee on Home-Grown Tobacco. I put down the amendment in the hope that it would be a more convenient form for discussing the recommendations of the Committee, and I suggest, as this amendment is down to the same section as the amendment which has just been considered, that it would be advisable to consider it now, and not to pass it over and necessitate a motion.

Deputy Esmonde's amendment is for a new section before Section 18, and, in fact, might as well have appeared on the Paper after the amendment that has just been defeated as before it. Therefore I see no objection from the point of view of procedure to allowing him to move it now. But I am not agreeing to allow it to be moved under any threat of a motion by Deputy Esmonde later; I am agreeing simply because, in fact, as it happens, there is no difference between its being moved now and in its place on the Order Paper.

I have only made the suggestion from the point of view of procedure and of saving the time of the House. It was not in the nature of a threat. The amendment is:—

Before Section 18 to insert a new section as follows:—

"The excise duty on unmanufactured tobacco containing 10 lb. or more of moisture in every 100 lb. weight thereof shall, as on and from the 1st day of August, 1926, be charged, levied and paid at the rate of five shillings per lb. in lieu of the rate charged at present of five-sixths of eight shillings per lb."

As I have stated, the object of this amendment is to try to give effect to the provisional recommendations of the Committee which were communicated to Deputies, and I presume that the discussion will be roughly in the nature of the discussion on the report of the Committee. The first point to which I wish to draw the attention of the Minister for Finance and of the House is the extraordinary discrepancies and the apparent contradictions which exist in the statements of the Minister during the last twelve months with regard to this question of home-grown tobacco. I must apologise for quoting several statements made by the Minister during that period, but it is necessary, I think, in order to bring home to the Minister his delinquencies in this respect.

A year ago when Deputy Mulvany moved an amendment which, although the amount was different, was substantially the same as that which I am now moving, the Minister gave certain undertakings and made certain statements, as a result of which Deputy Mulvany withdrew his amendment. On that occasion the Minister for Finance said that he, or the Executive Council, was anxious that the Irish Tobacco Industry should be made to take root and become established if possible. He further said that the Executive Council were willing to do anything that seemed likely to result in success, provided it was not at an outrageous cost. He went on to state that if there was a complete removal of the excise duty on tobacco it would undoubtedly result in a demand for Irish-grown tobacco, because people here would become accustomed to the use of Irish tobacco, or at any rate the larger proportion of them would, but the people who could afford the luxury of other tobaccos might not smoke Irish tobaccos.

But if they were able to buy tobacco at three farthings an ounce instead of eightpence there is no doubt that the consumption of Irish tobacco would grow. On the other hand, some £3,000,000 of revenue would go. He then suggested that this was 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 was ample material for a study of the whole thing. When Deputy Mulvany's amendment was withdrawn be gave an undertaking that "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 thoroughly threshed out and let us see what the facts are."

On that understanding, as far as I remember, Deputy Mulvany withdrew his motion to the Finance Bill last year, and then on the 10th February this year the Minister moved for the appointment of this Committee. "This Committee"—I am quoting from the Minister—"will enable the Dáil to make up its mind with greater certitude than if it were simply to rely on the arguments put forward by a Minister and put forward against a Minister by people who might have been briefed by tobacco growers." Deputy Johnson, on that occasion asked the Minister what amount of money was available in order to keep alive the tobacco industry. The Minister replied "Any sum that the Dáil might like to spend on the luxury could, I presume, be afforded." The Minister went on to say that in spite of the very considerable time spent experimenting on tobacco "we are still at the point where the manufacturer getting the leaf"—that is the Irish leaf—"for nothing will not take it."

That was the statement of the Minister in February. Then this Committee, representing all parties in the Dáil, was set up and although it had very short time it reported to the Dáil. The Minister, in his Budget statement, admitted that the Committee was placed in an invidious position and was placed under certain handicaps when he stated on the 21st April that the Committee "unfortunately was appointed rather late in the year and had, consequently, very little time for the hearing of evidence or the consideration of findings." But in spite of these handicaps under which the Committee was suffering, the Minister came to the conclusion that the tobacco growing experiment in this country should be put to an end on the grounds that "the Executive Council are satisfied that a sufficiently large proportion of Irish tobacco would not be used in mixtures to enable any part of the reduction in duty to be passed on to the public."

That is the sole ground which the Minister for Finance gave in his Budget statement for rejecting the recommendations of the Committee of the Dáil. He based that opinion on the evidence of one manufacturer who appeared before the Committee, and also on the opinion of other manufacturers who apparently had given secret information to the Minister and who refused that information to the members of the Dáil Committee. The Minister apparently had private means of information which the members of the Dáil, appointed to this Committee, had not got. Again, in the concluding stages of the debate on the Budget, the Minister replying to Deputy Egan who advocated the adoption of the recommendations of the Tobacco Committee stated "That the report was quite an excellent report if the terms of reference had definitely included the suggestion that the tobacco industry was to be kept going at all costs." That was the opinion of the Minister with regard to the report of the Dáil Committee.

I have had to give these quotations at some length because they will recur again. The first point to remind the Dáil of is, that the Minister agreed to the withdrawal of Deputy Mulvany's motion on the undertaking that a Dáil Committee should be set up to go into the whole question, and that it should have full time and opportunity to investigate the whole matter. According to the Minister's own statement, the Dáil Committee did not have those full opportunities because the Committee "unfortunately was appointed very late in the year and had very little time for its investigations."

Therefore the question arises whether the undertaking which the Minister gave to Deputy Mulvany has been carried out. For myself I do not think it has. The Committee, both in its interim and final report drew attention to the lack of time and the difficulties of the question. In fact it bore out the statement of the Minister for Finance that it was not given an opportunity to go fully into the whole question of tobacco growing in this country, and consequently I do not see how it can be maintained that the undertaking of the Minister to Deputy Mulvany was carried out in this particular respect.

The second question which arises is one of Parliamentary privilege and procedure. It is, what are the functions of a Dáil Committee? If the Minister required private information or technical information on this particular point of excise duty, surely he should have appointed a departmental commission of inquiry that would have reported to him personally and advised him on this particular matter, but he did not do that. He appointed a Parliamentary Committee which was to report, not to him, but to the Dáil. As far as I know, this is the first occasion in the history of the Irish Free State in which an unanimous report made by a Parliamentary Committee appointed by the Dáil has been ignored and rejected by a Minister without consulting the Dáil. This report was not to the Minister, but to the Dáil. The Minister himself knew perfectly well that this Committee had to report to the Dáil, and that the Dáil was responsible for rejecting or accepting the recommendations of the Committee.

When in answer to Deputy Johnson, who asked what sum was available, the Minister replied in definite language "any sum that the Dáil might like to spend on this luxury could, I presume, be afforded," it was obvious it was the Dáil that was to decide this question and not the Minister. Otherwise I do not see the object of appointing a Parliamentary Committee. Surely Deputies are not supposed to spend their time sitting on committees simply for departmental work and helping Ministers. That surely is the business of civil servants. If members of the Dáil are asked to sit on a committee, and particularly a committee representing all parties in the Dáil, presumably that is a committee which reports back to the Dáil, and the Dáil, as distinct from the Minister, is supposed to decide whether the report of that committee is satisfactory or not.

The Minister, as I have quoted, gave as his sole reason in the Budget statement for rejecting the recommendations of the Committee that a sufficiently large proportion of Irish tobacco could not be blended with other tobacco so as to produce any benefit to the consumer. In other words, that no protection was to be allowed to this industry unless it resulted in a reduction of price to the consumer. That was the Minister's contention: unless the consumer by this protection would be benefited by a reduction in the price of the commodity then no protection was possible. That was the contention of the Minister, but where did he get his information? We hear that he has received this secret information from manufacturers of tobacco, information which was refused to members of the Committee.

Did the Minister get any information from the first interim report of the Agricultural Commission of 1923? Obviously not, because that Commission would completely contradict his statement. The report of the Agricultural Commission stated that although the evidence was conflicting as to the possibility of using Irish tobacco in mixtures still it ultimately came to the conclusion that at least 25 per cent. of Irish tobacco could be used in mixtures, assuming that there was no reduction in price. The Minister stated that he received information from Mr. Goodbody. The evidence of Mr. Goodbody before the Committee was that Irish tobacco could not be used in mixtures in sufficient quantities so as to hand on the benefit to the consumer. Yet if the Minister had taken the trouble to read all the evidence before the Committee he would have seen that Mr. Goodbody himself publicly urged people some years ago to buy tobacco with a blend of 50 per cent. of other tobaccos in spite of the statement which he made before the Committee, which was, I fear, a prejudiced and not altogether satisfactory statement.

Perhaps the Deputy would allow me to correct a mis-statement which fell from him accidentally. The Report of the Committee did not state that "at least 25 per cent." could be used. It stated "having regard to the fact that such an alteration of taste is necessarily a slow process, we feel justified in assuming that the maximum quantity of Irish tobacco that can be utilised for some years to come is about 25 per cent."

That is so. I was incorrect in using the words "at least," That, I understand, was on the assumption that there would be no reduction in the price of the tobacco.

I think that has nothing to do with price.

I will endeavour to explain that. The Minister for Finance admitted that if there were a sufficient reduction in the Excise duty, Irish tobacco would become very popular here. That admission was made in the discussion on Deputy Mulvany's motion. The Minister admitted then that the larger proportion of the people of this country would become accustomed to the use of Irish tobacco if there were a sufficient reduction in the Excise duty. That statement is in striking contradiction to his other statements, that no matter how cheap Irish tobacco is nobody will take it, and that the manufacturers will not accept it even if they get it for nothing. Deputy Johnson has reminded us that cheapness is an essential factor in determining public taste. If Irish tobacco is to become popular in this country, then it must be cheaper than the ordinary tobacco. That is perfectly obvious and the Minister admitted it.

Yet, on a subsequent occasion, he said that no matter how cheap Irish tobacco was, nobody would accept it. Something happened between the time the pledge was given last year and the time the Minister proposed the appointment of this committee, when, I understand, the Minister made a very significant and sinister remark in this connection. Probably Deputy Mulvany will be able to throw light on this matter. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture and the Minister for Finance, when speaking of the development of Irish tobacco growing, compared it with the development of tea growing in Ireland. The Minister for Lands said that if we spent enough money in building green-houses we could grow tea in Ireland with great success. But does the Minister for Lands or the Minister for Finance suggest that a hundred years ago the greater part of the tea consumed in England was grown in Ireland? Yet, we have the authority of Hansard—however reliable that is—for the statement that the greater part of the tobacco consumed in England in the years preceding the suppression of the Irish tobacco industry in 1830 was grown in Ireland, and that there were over 100 tobacco factories in Ireland in a flourishing condition. I never heard of even one tea factory in Ireland during that period.

I do not think, therefore, that the comparison of tobacco-growing with tea-growing was a fair comparison. The two investigations that we have had into this matter during the past few years—the Agricultural Commission and the Dáil Committee on Tobacco Growing—have resulted in reports that tobacco of a satisfactory class could be grown in this country. The words of the Report of the Agricultural Commission (section 3) are:—"For the past twenty-two years, the Department of Agriculture has conducted a series of experiments in the growing, curing and handling of tobacco. These experiments have proved that tobacco of a fairly satisfactory quality can be grown and cured in this country." The Report of the Dáil Committee stated:—"From the evidence which has been adduced, the Committee are satisfied that tobacco of fairly good quality can be grown in Ireland." For those reasons, I think the remarks and allusions by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Finance, in comparing tobacco-growing in Ireland with tea-growing, are rather cheap, and are not supported by the evidence brought before these two inquiring bodies. They are not supported either by the experience of those people who have seen the increasingly satisfactory results of tobacco-growing here.

The contention of the Minister for Finance is that to reduce the excise duty from 8/- per lb. to 5/- per lb. means a subsidy of 3/- per lb., or roughly £120 per acre, taking 800 lbs. to the acre. Superficially, that seems very convincing. It seems convincing to say that if you give this preference you are subsidising the growing of Irish tobacco. At the present time, the British Government gives a preference of 2/- per lb. to tobacco grown in Ireland as against American tobacco. Is it suggested by the Ministers for Lands and for Finance that the British Government, when they were here, gave £25 per acre of a subsidy to Irish tobacco and now, when they have gone, that they are, with extraordinary magnanimity, giving a subsidy of 2/- per lb. or £80 per acre to the Irish growers of tobacco? That is obviously absurd. Yet, that is exactly on the same plane as the contention of the Minister for Finance that we are asking for a subsidy of £120 per acre to-day. At the present time, the British Government gives a preference of 2/- per lb to Irish-grown tobacco and British Empire-grown tobacco over American tobacco. The Irish Government gives a smaller subsidy in Ireland to Irish tobacco than the British Government gives to Irish tobacco in England.

On the question of subsidy, the unfortunate man who would grow an acre of tobacco in Ireland would, if this amendment were accepted, have to pay £200 or £300 to the Government for the privilege. And this is the man whom the Minister describes as "subsidised!"

I should like to explain, as far as I can, the reasons which induced the Committee to decide on this recommendation which is embodied, so far as I have been able to embody it, in this amendment to the Finance Bill. In the first place, what struck the Committee, when listening to the evidence, was the extraordinary value and importance of this crop as distinct from other crops. It is not necessary for me to recapitulate the matters mentioned in our Report and also in Section 1 of the Agricultural Commission's Report, in this connection. All the members of the Committee were struck by the extraordinary importance and value of this crop as distinct from all other crops that can be grown in this country. The Committee did its best, in spite of the suggestions of the Minister for Finance, to pay attention to its Terms of Reference, which laid particular stress on the influence of any recommendation which they might make upon the revenue. The Minister said that we recommended that this industry be kept alive irrespective of what the cost might be. That was quite untrue. We carefully considered the cost. What would be a reasonable cost for keeping the industry alive? It was to get the opinion of members of all parties in the Dáil on that question that this Committee was set up. We were asked to give that opinion and we gave an opinion which we thought was correct. We gave the opinion that the industry could be kept alive at a certain cost. The Minister disagreed and said that was too great a cost.

The cost is set out in the recommendations of the Committee—a reduction of 3/- per lb. Now, this experiment of tobacco-growing was started, as everybody knows, about twenty-five years ago in the United Kingdom. It was conducted in a very unfortunate manner; it never got a fair chance. It was conducted inside the United Kingdom by means of an acreage subsidy which meant that farmers did not mind what sort of tobacco they grew so long as they got the subsidy. It was something similar to what the Minister for Lands and Agriculture described to the Dáil when dealing with war-time tillage. It was a very unfortunate experiment and it delayed definitely the improvement of tobacco growing.

The fact remains that although for over twenty years the experiment of tobacco growing has been conducted in the United Kingdom, no experiment has ever been carried out in the Free State. From the moment the Free State as an economic entity came into being, no attempt has been made by the Government to organise, control, or show any interest in, the development of tobacco. It is a fundamentally different thing to grow tobacco inside the customs unit known as the United Kingdom and the customs unit known as the Irish Free State.

Unlike the experiment of beet growing, tobacco growing, as anyone who has studied the subject knows, takes a very long time and successful results cannot be expected by a unified plan. In Canada for twenty years tobacco growing experiments were conducted with little result until suddenly one farmer discovered the particular early leaf which suited Canada, and in a few years the growing of that leaf spread all over the country and now it is one of the most valuable assets of the Canadian Dominion. The same applies to America. The reason why America has got such extraordinary superiority over other nations, particularly in the English speaking markets, is because of the centuries of experiments in tobacco growing which were carried out and which have enabled them to reach a much higher stage of perfection than existed in any other country.

At the period when Ireland was a prosperous tobacco-growing country it took forty years for tobacco to develop. The embargo was taken off in the seventies of the eighteenth century and experiments continued down to the time tobacco became a flourishing industry at the beginning of the last century; that would be over one hundred years ago. There was admitted incompetence connected with the experiments conducted by the British Government. The Free State Government has done nothing whatever to encourage experiments in the Free State itself. We are told instead that now the industry is to be wiped out and no more is to be heard about it.

Another matter which influenced the Committee in coming to this decision was the fact that by determining to stamp out tobacco growing in Ireland the Minister for Finance is officially recognising a tobacco monopoly in the Free State; not legally, but nevertheless officially. At the present time the British Imperial Tobacco Company has got a virtual monopoly in this country. It has not got a monopoly in any other country, with the exception of Great Britain. It has got a ninety per cent. monopoly here. The native Irish tobacco manufacturers are being, one by one, wiped out. Only two weeks ago a tobacco manufacturer closed down in Cork and several others are on the point of closing down. Possibly by the end of the financial year there will be only one company manufacturing in the Free State; that is, the British Imperial Tobacco Company.

That is not true. There will be another in any case in the town where I come from.

It is very doubtful.

Not a bit doubtful.

The Imperial Tobacco Company that last week announced a fresh bonus are being given a monopoly here and they are not paying anything for that monopoly. The cost of building their factories in Dublin was paid out of the Irish taxpayers' pockets. They kept the price of tobacco that they manufactured in Ireland at the cost which was paid for tobacco manufactured in England for three or six months after it was manufactured in Ireland and by that means they completely recouped themselves for the cost of setting up the factories in Dublin. In other countries when they permitted a tobacco monopoly the Government made a good thing out of it; they got some money. Here they are giving a monopoly for nothing.

As everybody knows, the prices charged for tobacco here are far in excess of the actual value of the tobacco supplied. When people talk about good and bad tobacco it is entirely a question of taste. People in this country may find South African or Continental tobacco inferior to American tobacco, but the same opinion exists in other countries in regard to tobacco. The actual recommendation we propose, and under this amendment it is suggested, is that Irish tobacco should have a preference of 3/2 per lb. over imported tobacco. I will not waste the time of the committee by going into complicated mathematical calculations, but roughly it amounts to a preference of a little more than twopence an ounce. If this lasts for a time Irish tobacco could be sold at twopence an ounce cheaper than corresponding western American tobacco which is on the market in Ireland to-day.

That is not right.

Will the Deputy say why it is not right?

At an earlier stage the Deputy wanted to have the price of tobacco maintained at its present level. The Deputy demanded it should be retained at the existing rate.

I never asked that. When did I ask that Irish tobacco should be kept at its present price?

When you were dealing with the question of twenty-five per cent.

The Deputy must be mistaken.

I am not mistaken.

The whole argument of the Committee was that Irish tobacco, to be popularised, should be sold at a cheaper price than western American tobacco. If the Deputy chooses to work it out, he will find that by a reduction of three shillings or three and twopence, Irish tobacco could be sold much cheaper.

You talked before of a reduction of one and fourpence; now you are speaking of a three and twopenny reduction.

I mentioned a reduction of three and twopence from the full Customs rate of eight and twopence on tobacco. Irish tobacco could, I said, be sold at twopence per ounce cheaper if there was that reduction in Excise duty. If there was a mixture of fifty per cent. Irish tobacco, it could be sold at one penny per ounce cheaper, or one half-penny per ounce cheaper if the mixture was twenty-five per cent. Irish. These are rough figures.

The question which the Minister is likely to ask is, would it be sold at that reduced price? There is nothing to force the Irish manufacturers to sell the Irish mixture at one penny or a half-penny an ounce cheaper than another mixture. I think there is one very palpable reason why that mixture would be sold at a cheaper rate, and that is, on the admission of the Minister himself, that only by a reduction of price could Irish tobacco be made popular.

The Minister has referred to the loss of revenue. In the opinion of the Committee the loss of revenue would be very small. It would take a very long time, under the present proposals as embodied in this recommendation, to change public taste, and therefore there would be a correspondingly small decrease in the buying of Irish tobacco. The Minister talks as if such recommendation would involve a great loss to the Exchequer. May I point out that the Minister in recent years has been a most disgraceful profiteer in respect to tobacco? In 1923 the Minister stole between twenty and thirty thousand pounds to be set aside for the development of Irish tobacco. When I say "stole" I mean that he appropriated the money to the Central Fund. In his Budget statement this year the Minister admitted that he made twenty thousand pounds out of tobacco. He profiteered to the extent of twenty thousand pounds more than he expected. Now he is unwilling even to make a small concession in order to keep alive this experiment of Irish tobacco growing.

The object of this amendment is not to give an extraordinary preference which would result in a great development of growing inferior Irish tobacco. The object of the amendment, and of the report of the Committee, was to create a situation whereby the tobacco experiment in this country could be just kept alive, pending the complete investigation of its possibilities which we maintained has not been given, and which the Minister himself, in his Budget statement, admitted has not been given. Likewise, if this amendment were accepted, the loss to the Treasury would not be very great because the increase in the price of tobacco would be very slow, and it would require some independent-minded tobacco manufacturer in this country, in order to break away from the ring formed by the Imperial Tobacco Company, to develop an Irish brand of tobacco. It would be a considerable time before that could take place, and, as the loss of revenue during several years would be very small, to that extent the experiment would be kept alive.

That was the whole object of the Committee's proposal. If I may recapitulate the objects which the Committee had in view in coming to this decision, I may say that they were, in the first place, that the tobacco growing experiment has not been given a fair chance; secondly, that the experiment might be of great use, particularly if the Government were to decide, as ultimately it will have to decide, to do something to develop tillage; thirdly, that it would be unfair to condemn this experiment to extinction without having it fully investigated; fourthly, that the Dáil appointed a Committee representative of all parties in the House which was supposed to give an honest opinion as to what cost would be justified in keeping alive this experiment, and whether this experiment could be kept alive at a reasonable cost. We gave that opinion, and I think it is for the Dáil to decide whether that opinion is right or wrong. Finally, it is the conviction of all members of the Committee that for several years the loss to the State would be very small if our recommendations were accepted.

I wish to support the amendment. As Deputy Esmonde has told the House, it is practically similar to one which I introduced last year on the Finance Bill. I am not going to cover the ground again, or to speak as long on the subject as Deputy Esmonde, nor am I going to trot out the arguments used here in debate last year in support of the amendment which I introduced. As Deputy Esmonde has said, it was on the Minister's suggestion that I withdrew my amendment on 11th June last. The Minister then stated that before the seeds would be sown for this year's crop, he would ask for a Select Committee of the House to call witnesses, to take evidence, and to report. Time wore on, and, I think, sometime about November last I happened to meet the Minister downstairs. I said: "Hello, Mr. Blythe, what about that Committee you promised us last June?" His reply there and then was, "Any time you ask for it you can have it, and then it will do you no good."

Was that a public statement of the Minister?

It was a statement by the Minister to me.

You cannot go into that.

That statement was made. I asked for the Committee. I had to ask for it, although the Minister said on the 11th June that he would ask for it himself. He did not. As I say, I asked for the Committee after the Christmas holidays, and it was appointed. As every Deputy knows, that Committee was representative of every element in the Dáil. I think we had about six meetings. We called all the witnesses we could get and we took all the evidence we could. We considered our report very carefully, and on the 25th March last, after going through our draft report, Deputy Egan, who was a member of the Committee, stated before he left the Committee room, that he and Deputy Beamish came in as two die-hards and went out as two converts. We sent up an unanimous report recommending a further remission of duty. That report has been turned down by the Minister. I am not surprised. I think it was going rather too far if the Minister, when having that Committee appointed, had his mind made up beforehand as to what he would do, no matter what the findings of the Committee were. That is what I complain of, and I think that is what every Deputy who sat on the Committee has a right to complain of. I think the action of the Minister is nothing short of a vote of censure on every member who sat on that Committee.

I do not come here to look for favours, but I expect in this House, whether I am here long or short, to get justice and fair play, and I believe that I, for one, and that every other member who sat on that Committee have been treated unfairly and unjustly, and with the utmost contempt. We hear a great deal about subsidising this and that industry. We are told that we are looking for a subsidy to grow tobacco. The question of subsidy does not arise. There is a vast difference in subsidising an industry and asking for a remission of duty on one that is over-taxed. The average acre of tobacco will be about 800 lbs. With the existing duty on an average of 800 lbs. an acre, there would be about £300 duty on every acre of tobacco grown in the Free State. That means that the grower is practically paying a rent of £300 an acre to the State for every acre of tobacco he grows. We are not looking for a subsidy, but for a reduction in the rent. That is another way of putting it, and we are looking for that reduction, not alone for the reason that it will help the tobacco growers to carry on, but that by tobacco being grown in this country we will have more tillage and we will have more wheat. That fact was proved in evidence by the various witness who knew anything about tobacco growing and about agriculture. Wheat can be grown very successfully after a tobacco crop.

Would the Deputy tell the Dáil what would be the duty-free value of 800 lbs. of tobacco?

The Minister will be able to tell the Dáil that.

I will, but you would rather not have it mentioned.

I think that Deputy Esmonde has covered the whole ground. I wish to say, in conclusion, that I hope that every Deputy of an independent turn of mind will support this amendment. When introducing his amendment Deputy Mac Cosgair asked for a free vote of the House. I will not ask for a free vote of the House. but I will ask for a free vote of the minds of all independent Deputies here, and I hope that this amendment will be carried.

The issue raised on this amendment is a very important matter. I do not think we have the whole picture before us in connection with this problem. I think all the facts should be stated.

I think very few Deputies went to the trouble of reading the Report.

There is a good deal that is not contained in the Report, with all due respect to the Committee. First of all, we are placed in the position that foreign-grown tobacco coming into the country gives us a revenue of over three and a quarter millions. I do not know the figure for this year. I am speaking about the figure for 1924-25. If we do not derive that revenue from tobacco we have got to derive it from something else, preferably something that does not grow in the country, for instance, tea or sugar. To make tobacco a paying proposition in this State, to my mind, three things are essential—a remission of duty to a certain point, a fixed price corresponding with that certain point and a restriction of acreage. If tobacco, by a remission of duty, is made an exceptionally profitable crop in this country, everybody will grow it. The agriculturists will grow it instead of turnips, and if the nation is going to have nothing but Irish-grown tobacco, tobacco will be of no more value than turnips. I hope that everybody will have an equal right to grow tobacco. It cannot be the monopoly of a few people. We cannot have protection for a few.

Does this amendment propose that we should?

It does not propose it in so many words, but it is only tinkering with the question to deal with it in the way in which it has been dealt with up to now. To make this a profitable crop, only a certain limited quantity can be grown in the country. Then the question will arise, who will have the right to grow it and to what extent they will have the right to grow it? I would like an answer to this question before I for one could cast a vote for this amendment. I have a perfectly open mind on the question, and I want to be given a little information from those who are apostles of Irish-grown tobacco. Some three and a half million pounds must be provided from some other source if Irish-grown tobacco is going to take the place of the foreign article. It has been stated that by a reduction of 1/4 in the £ Irish tobacco can be made an economic proposition, but only by a reduction of 1/4 in the £, plus maintaining the price at its present standard. A reduction of 3/2 in the £ would mean that the same profit could be derived from tobacco if it were sold at 2d. an ounce less. In any case, there is no fortune in the crop. There is nothing to be made for the grower except under these conditions, and even granting these conditions you will have to restrict the crop, because if everybody starts growing tobacco there will be no profit for the few who work on the assumption that they alone will have the privilege of growing it. Unless there is a remission of the duty and a restriction of the acreage, tobacco can be of no more value than the growing of turnips.

We have gone beyond the experimental stage in tobacco. It is time now, after years of experimenting, that we should be able to talk about it as an economic proposition and not as an experiment. Let us deal with it as an economic proposition and not as an experiment. As I have stated, I have an open mind on the question. I would like to be able to support the proposition, but until I can see the light I am not going to accept it on behalf of a few citizens of the State. I would like when I stand up to try to represent the viewpoint of all the citizens of the State.

Some job!

Well, the majority of them anyhow. If we were told—perhaps it is my own fault that I have not the figure—what is the value of the raw material coming into the country— how much money is leaving the country for the raw material—it might help us. We have been told that £300 an acre has been paid by the grower at the present rate of duty. That is not true. It is true of course that he pays it direct, but it is equally true that he gets it back through the manufacturer or the consumer. These are the people who are paying it and not the grower. I think we want a lot more light from the apostles of this gospel before we can come to any fair and honest decision about it, because we have not all the facts. We have not considered it from that view-point before. I would like to have some of the questions I have asked answered.

It is true that there has been a very partial statement of the case. Deputy Esmonde made a good deal of play with the appointment of the Committee and the lateness of its appointment. I was very willing to admit that the Committee had not a sufficient opportunity of considering the matter, because that seemed to me the only rational explanation of the report that the Committee produced. I think it was a fact that they had not really sufficient time. Through an oversight the actual formulation of the terms of reference was delayed a little. There was some delay between the Minister for Agriculture and myself in settling the terms. Then they were submitted to the Executive Council and it was some days before anything took place. The result was that it was a fortnight or three weeks later than we had intended before the Committee was arranged. So their time was short. I was quite willing to admit that that was an extenuating circumstance.

Could the Minister state if he personally spent more time considering this question than the members of the Committee?

I am not saying that. In any case I will pass away from that. Deputy Esmonde said that some manufacturers appeared to have given secret information to the Minister and refused to appear before the Committee. One Irish manufacturer who spoke to me complained that he had not been asked to give evidence and that he would have been most anxious to give it. The only manufacturer who appeared before the Committee gave evidence which was apparently disregarded by the Committee. He indicated that only about ten per cent. of Irish tobacco could be used in mixtures. Other manufacturers hold that that figure is even less than ten per cent. If only ten per cent., or some such percentage, were used there certainly could be no reduction to the consumer. As a matter of fact, what would happen in that case would be that they would be supplying the manufacturers with a legalised adulterant for their mixtures. At present it is forbidden to include, except in Cavendish, the leaf of any tree or plant other than a tobacco plant. If we reduce the duty to 5/- we would practically be giving them a substance which they could incorporate in their tobacco to some limited extent and sell it to the public without any reduction. Deputy Mulvany tried to obscure the issue. He talked about the reduction in the rate of duty that growers were paying. Deputy Gorey dealt with that. The Irish grower must, in order to carry on, get about 1/6 per lb. for his product. A better article grown elsewhere can be sold for 7d. If there were no duty at all on tobacco— neither Excise nor Customs Duty—in order to enable the growing of tobacco to be continued here a subsidy of from £30 to £50 an acre would be necessary in perpetuity.

Could the Minister tell us what information he has that a better article can be got at the price stated by him?

That is the consensus of opinion. The Irish grower says "an equal article." I would concede that, although I do not believe it is an equal article. The Irish grower's contention is that the equivalent article is an article that sells at 7d. a lb. where he must get 1/6. That makes it clear that there is no prospect at all of Irish tobacco growing being put on an economic basis. I submit to propose to keep that thing going on the basis of a subsidy of £40 an acre would be simply, shall I say, protection gone mad. There is no employment given that would justify it. If our tobacco was free from duty we would have to make an actual payment out of the Exchequer of £40 an acre or perhaps more; it would depend on the crop. I do not say that that could be justified, and that is the prospect. Meantime we are asked to give a remission of duty which is equivalent to a subsidy of anything. from £120 to £150 an acre and that after, I think, 25 years of some sort of experiments. Could anybody say that it is a reasonable proposition that a crop on which money has been spent and on which Instructors have been employed for the past 25 years can only be grown now when we give a subsidy and when we lose out of the Exchequer £120 to £150 for every acre grown? I think it is a preposterous suggestion.

There is at present an arrangement whereby on each pound of tobacco the grower has an advantage of 1/4. We are not proposing to drop that. If anybody can carry on with that let him do so, but really the facts even brought out by this Committee indicate that the wise thing to do would be to recognise that we have been attempting the impossible. The 1/6 and the 1/7 figures which the Irish growers themselves accept and which I have quoted prove that it is an impossible thing, and the wisest thing to do would be to drop it and if it were dropped, as I have already said in the Dáil. I would not object to winding it up decently so that people might not be discouraged from growing experimental crops in future by being left in the lurch. I think we have many a time urged people to make experiments and I would frankly say that if the experiment were being wound up a fair consideration ought to be given to the people who have been engaged in it. I do put it to the Dáil most sincerely that really the investigation conducted by this Committee, if you read it over, is an indication that we should not go on, that it really is only a degree better than growing tea or growing something like that. Conditions one hundred years ago were different altogether. There were not the same transport facilities and it was an entirely different matter growing tobacco one hundred years ago from what it is now.

Somebody said the British Government gives 2/- per lb. The British Government has a general Colonial preference of 2/- per lb., but I do not know how much Irish tobacco is being sold in England owing to that. I understand there is none. There was a consignment sent over, but I believe it is being hawked around and cannot be sold. I heard that information perhaps a month or so ago, and it may be out of date now. That is the fact—that it could not be sold, because the Irish grower if he wants to get his tobacco sold must sell against somebody who can afford to put it on the market at perhaps less than 7d. against his 1/6, so that it is really an illusory thing.

Tobacco will come into the British market from Africa and other places where they have a climate suitable to the growth of tobacco, and they have tobacco there that people will consume in considerable quantities. Even if it has a different taste, it is not the sort of thing a manufacturer is afraid to put into his mixtures; so possibly a considerable quantity is put into the mixtures in order to gain some benefit by the reduction of 2/- on Colonial tobacco. That is not so here. Some manufacturer who has not a scrupulous regard for his product may put some of this tobacco into it, but in general he will shy off, because one of the effects largely of high taxation is that people nowadays are particular about the quality. Various manufacturers told me that the public is more particular about the quality of tobacco that it uses now than it was some years ago. One manufacturer told me that in one of his mixtures in which there were ten ingredients, one ingredient out of ten was altered and within a month there was a distinct falling-off of that mixture because the public did not like it. It is because of that fastidiousness of taste that has grown up that the manufacturer will not risk more than quite small quantities in his mixtures and, consequently, even although you have a reduction of 2/- per lb. in duty, what will happen will be that practically the manufacturer will get that. Because he gets the amount of 2/- per lb. into his pocket he will risk putting some of the Irish tobacco into his mixtures. The grower will get his 1/6 for his acreage and the Exchequer will lose from £120 to £150.

It has been said that we are paying a very substantial subsidy to the sugar beet industry, but that is new, and it is not a subsidy of that size in any case. We would not continue it if we did not believe that at the end of the experimental period a very much reduced subsidy would do. We have to give that big subsidy because something like £400,000 has to be put into a factory to induce the firm to start. There are all sorts of factors which necessitate a very big subsidy there. But to ask us now at this stage to give a subsidy of from £120 to £150 per acre, and with no better prospect before us than that sometime, if we got to the stage when the public liked Irish tobacco as well as they like other tobaccos, when the taste of the public would have completely changed, the industry could carry on on the basis of from £40 to £50 per acre of a subsidy.

I feel I cannot vote on this question without explaining the reason for my vote. When the case was put forward it was put forward mainly because tobacco is valuable as regards the employment of labour. When the proposal for a sugar beet subsidy was before us I examined it as well as I could and asked myself whether the subsidy that was proposed to be given was the best way the money could be spent, first, for the improvement of agriculture, and, secondly, for the employment of labour and the general development of the country—whether if £100,000, or whatever sum might be in question, was to be spent that was the best way of spending it. After a good deal of consideration, in view of all the circumstances, I agreed that the experiment was worth the cost, and that it would probably lead to a national advantage very much greater than the cost to the State that was involved.

I approached this question in somewhat the same way. I asked myself whether the amount that is proposed to be spent, the amount that it is proposed to cost the State, is the best way that sum of money could be spent for the improvement of agriculture and consequently for the employment of labour. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is not the best way that money can be spent. I take the evidence of the report and I find that the estimated cost of the advantage proposed by the amendment is £66 13s. 4d. per acre. That is over and above the £50 at present. Now £66 per acre might be justifiable as applied to tobacco growing if one really saw the prospect of that developing into a valuable asset to the country, and at a cost which would gradually decline. I see no evidence whatever of that gradual decline.

The labour expenditure is a very considerable factor in the consideration of this question. I find from the tables submitted in the evidence that the labour expenditure, including the cost of growing, rehandling and marketing, will average, taking one year with another, from £30 to £35 per acre. That, I presume, includes the cost of the labour of the small farmer who is working it and his family, because the cost per hour is quoted for men, women and boys, no matter whether they are wage labourers or the actual small farmer and his family. So that the labour cost of this produce is, let us say, £35 per acre, including rehandling. The cost to the State to pay that amount of labour is at present £50 per acre, and it is proposed to add to that another £66. That seems to me to be entirely too difficult a proposal to accept.

It is said that the need for this additional subvention is caused by the entry into the British market of coolie-labour-grown tobacco, and that while that coolie-labour-grown tobacco— labour at a very low rate of pay—is in competition it is necessary that we in this country should meet it by a charge upon the State. I am afraid that that is a proposition that we could not very well agree to. If any action that we could take would raise the cost of the coolie-grown article, then we might be induced to continue. But can it be shown that any action of ours is going to raise the wages of these coolies? I cannot see that. So that we would be faced with the likelihood that this subvention would have to continue if we were putting it on for the purpose of meeting the competition of this coolie-grown product.

As to the question of the consumer's taste and the rest, I am assuming that all that is solved, and that we are now treating it purely from the point of view of the producer, the advantage to agriculture and to the employment of labour. In regard to the advantage to agriculture, I have no doubt that it is considerable. But is this the best way to procure that advantage—that is, by the continual expenditure of £66 per acre over and above the £50 per acre already expended? I leave that to the agriculturists to answer. Is there any better way of spending £116 per acre for the protection and development and encouragement of agriculture than by tobacco growing?

Nothing is proposed to be spent under this amendment. I am not allowed to propose an amendment which suggests the spending of money.

I am only talking about the effect. If we want to get at the true picture we have to recognise that if we forego revenue derived from a tax upon imported tobacco by remitting it on Irish-grown tobacco that is the equivalent of a cost to the revenue.

That is not true.

If that is not true, my argument is entirely false. I have no argument whatever if that is not true.

It is not true that an increase in the consumption of Irish tobacco would mean a corresponding decrease in import.

Then I gather that according to the Deputy if a man smokes one ounce of Irish tobacco that will replace three ounces of foreign tobacco.

There is a very important matter in connection with that. Irish tobacco is very much drier than the imported tobacco and consequently it is a fact that for the same period of time you have to smoke two ounces of Irish tobacco to one ounce of imported tobacco.

Well, of course, these are facts that did not come under my notice in looking through the evidence, or when hearing the evidence of an earlier Commission, and I had the notion that there was a certain allowance for moisture in imported tobacco. But apart from that, assuming—and all my argument is based upon the assumption which, if it is false, I ask the House not to take any notice of—that for every ounce of Irish-grown tobacco that is purchased by a consumer there is an ounce of imported tobacco not imported, there is a loss of revenue by the fact that one ounce of Irish-grown tobacco replaces one ounce of imported tobacco. I am taking that assumption. I have heard nothing at all to dispel that assumption from my mind. Then if that is so, the figures that I quoted seem to me to be too serious to allow us to pay the sum required to keep this industry in being.

An experiment.

Well, if the Deputy speaks of it as an experiment he has got to give us some evidence to encourage us to believe that within a reasonable period the experiment will come to an end. I quote from the Final Report of the Commission: "In arriving at this conclusion the Committee did not lose sight of the effect on the revenue of such a proposal. Accepting 800 lbs. as the average yield per acre, and allowing 10 per cent. for waste and assuming that home-grown tobacco would displace a corresponding amount of imported leaf, the additional loss to the revenue, over and above the present rate of preference, would be approximately £116 for every acre of tobacco grown and marketed." The Deputy can answer that by his recent statement. I am relying upon that, because I think that that is the fact. I think his correction of my statement does not accord with the Report which he signed as Chairman, and it is on those grounds that I reluctantly feel obliged to vote against this amendment. I do so as one who is prepared to go a long way to assist the development or to maintain a promising Irish industry. If the Deputy can give me some reason to believe that within a reasonable time this experiment will emerge from the experimental stage, or that there will be from an early date a gradually lessening cost, I would be prepared to consider the matter. But I would like to have some evidence of that before the discussion is brought to a close.

I rise on this occasion only because I happened to be one of the Committee, and I may say that, whether rightly or wrongly, I went on the Committee to a certain extent with a biased mind. I did not believe that there was anything in the industry, and I might say that after the first day's evidence probably 99 per cent. of the Committee left with the idea that the game was not bothering about. But on the second day we had the evidence of Mr. McCaffrey, who said he was growing tobacco for twenty-five years, and who gave us his experience, not only as a tobacco-grower, but as a general farmer. He convinced not only myself, but I think the remainder of the Committee, that the thing was really worth consideration at any rate. This is probably the last effort that the tobacco growers will make to try to get assistance from the Government. As we have heard from practically all benches in the House, it is very difficult for the small farmer to exist at present, and it has been stated over and over and over again that everything he has to sell is practically at pre-war price and that everything he buys either for himself or for his farm is greatly in excess of pre-war price. Therefore, I think that the Government should be very anxious to facilitate the small farmers, especially in anything which would give employment, employment not only to the labourers, but work which will keep the farmers' families at home.

We were told that an average crop would make about 800 lbs. an acre, and if an extra remission of 1/6 in the lb. were granted it would equal about £60 per acre. According to the evidence submitted to us, three-quarters of this would be spent on labour. Tobacco-growing gives about 300 per cent. more employment than any other average crop, and the figures as to the employment it gives in comparison with other crops, for which, I believe, the Department of Lands and Agriculture are responsible, are: Tobacco 748 hours, potatoes 309 hours, flax 228 hours, mangolds 270 hours, sugar beet 270 hours, turnips 173 hours, and barley 83½ hours. So that from the viewpoint of employment alone I think that this matter should not be lightly set aside; I think the industry is still worth consideration, especially as it is an old Irish industry.

The evidence given to the Committee showed that there was very little unemployment in the tobacco-growing districts, in fact it led us to believe that practically everyone was employed. The Minister may laugh, but I am giving the evidence we got, which we had to go by and which was not contradicted. It is also noteworthy, comparing the census of 1901 with the census of 1911, that the population in the tobacco growing districts increased in these years. Another important fact which Mr. McCaffrey brought to our notice, and which I think should have some effect with protectionists, is that tobacco cannot be grown on the same ground two years in succession. In order to be a successful crop it has to be in rotation of six years' crops and consequently there is the first year a crop of corn and the last year a crop of wheat.

We have heard a lot about the subsidy to tobacco, but I contend that it is only a grant to tobacco and that it is really a subsidy to wheat and corn, because for every 100 acres of tobacco you grow you have to grow 100 acres of corn and 100 acres of wheat. According to his evidence, Mr. McCaffrey could grow better wheat and get a much larger yield after a crop of tobacco than after any other crop. I do not give that as a personal experience but as the experience of an expert who has been growing tobacco for the last twenty-five years. The Committee considered this question of remission and all the possible arguments which the Minister could rake up as to the losses which the State had sustained. After due consideration we came to the conclusion that the State would not sustain all the losses that it has been argued it would. We must realise that if 1,000 more people were employed in the tobacco-growing district the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs would get a share of the money that would be circulated, that certainly more letters would be passing through the post, there would be more boots used and more of everything that is taxable, so that it would not really mean all the losses that the Minister has made out.

All these taxable commodities have to be taken into consideration, and the more people you have in the country the more of these taxable articles would be used. Therefore I contend that the loss would not be so very large as has been made out. The Minister for Finance talked a good deal last night about the loss that there would be to the revenue if the spirit duty were reduced. I suppose if the workers on the land would not be consuming this stuff the people in the factories would. As one of the Committee who came to this unanimous conclusion I still hold that we should try to keep this industry going.

Deputy Cole, who is a hard-headed man, should push that to its logical conclusion. He pointed out that if we were willing to give a subsidy of £116 an acre we could get a large acreage of tobacco under cultivation, that we could get a considerable number of men employed, that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs would have more letters to carry, and that the publichouses in the neighbourhood would have more customers for drink. That is all absolutely true, but tobacco has certain limitations from that point of view. It is admitted on all hands that we would not get a very big acreage under tobacco, even with this subsidy of nearly £120 an acre. In fact it is claimed as one of the advantages by the Deputies who are advocating this that you would not be likely to get a very big acreage of tobacco, and consequently that your total payment would not be very high.

It suffers, therefore, from that particular disadvantage from Deputy Cole's point of view, because if we paid £120 an acre to potato growers instead of giving it to the tobacco growers, I would make a bet that you would get 30,000, 40,000 or up to 100,000 more acres grown, and there would be far more labour and far more employment given, more letters carried by the postman, more drink sold, and everyone would be happy. That is one of the objections to tobacco growing. The advocates of tobacco growing point that out as an advantage. If the Minister for Finance says that we would get a great deal of tobacco grown at a subsidy of £120 an acre and asks where is the money to come from, the advocates of tobacco growing say that you will not need it.

Deputy Cole's case is somewhat different. He points out that if the subsidy is a very high one it has other advantages; it puts a certain amount of land into cultivation, enables the owners to grow a corn crop after the tobacco, gives a certain amount of employment, sets the postman going, and means that a certain number of people will be consuming drink who would not be in ordinary circumstances. I am addressing myself now to Deputy Cole's arguments. I am trying to present to him that there is an alternative, that if the Minister for Finance were to give £120 per acre for growing potatoes, not X men, but ten times X men, would be employed, not thousands of gallons stout drunk, but tens of thousands of gallons. Deputy Cole is a hard-headed man and he should at least be logical. Nobody would be wiser than Deputy Cole if the proposition were a different one. He would not talk about an ancient Irish industry, or things like that. He would examine things on their merits and say whether the advantages were worth the money proposed to be spent.

The question I put up is the question that Deputy Johnson rightly put up: Can we spend on an experiment, or on something that is now past its experimental stage, £120 an acre, or £60 an acre, which is the additional subsidy now asked for? Would it be in the interests of the small farmers? How many small farmers would it affect? Who is to pay it, anyway? Money does not come from under a stone. Even the Minister for Finance does not get it that way any more than the rest of us. The thing is absolutely absurd and has never been examined. Deputy Cole must not have examined this question or he would not have put up such arguments. It is absurd to compare it with sugar beet and I am sorry that it has been compared with it. We must get out of the idea that there is no finality about anything. We will all have certain doubts about beginning experiments if we believe that we are going to create precedents and that the experiments are going to be continued whether they fail or succeed.

That is a wrong point of view. I would never have asked the Minister for Finance to give £25 an acre, roughly, for these beet sugar experiments if I had thought that we would have this extraordinary point of view expressed about them, that whether the experiments failed or succeeded we were going to continue them. We must face all these matters logically, and if we do not then no Government can do the right thing. If the Executive Council, or whoever is responsible, has to consider that in this country the point of view of every party and of every interest is you are to continue an experiment whether it fails or not, naturally it will be unwilling to make experiments. Our action should be directed towards encouraging the Executive Council to take risks in making experiments. I protest against the statement that if 50 per cent. of the experiments do not fail, then it is because we are afraid to make experiments.

That gets me back to the old story about the agricultural colleges. Why do they not pay? We all know that we could make them pay if we were merely considering things that we knew would not fail, that were settled long ago, and that are being done on every commercial farm. As I said before, an experiment is essentially experimental. Here is an experiment that was begun long before the war. First of all there was a payment that amounted to something like £25 an acre; then there was a payment of £50; afterwards so much per acre grown; later there was this subsidy of 1/6, which amounted to about £40 an acre, and finally, £60 an acre. Now we are asked, as a commercial proposition, for that is what it amounts to, to give a subsidy of £120 an acre for an odd 1,000 acres of tobacco. There is simply no case for it. We should be quite logical about this matter and have finality somewhere. I suggest that we drop this talk, and that there are many other ways in which the money could be more usefully spent from the point of view of the small farmer.

The tobacco-growing industry is one that is going to give employment to a number of people. The Government have already adopted, as an experiment, a policy of tariffs. In some cases these tariffs have proved satisfactory, and I have no doubt that if Deputy Esmonde's amendment was accepted it would also prove satisfactory. In Ireland a hundred years ago, as we were told, the country was able to provide its own supplies of tobacco for the thirty-two counties. It is strange that we cannot do the same now for twenty-six counties. The Minister for Finance stated that the consumer would not benefit by any reduction in price. I do not agree. I think if you took ten per cent. off Irish tobacco that there should be a reduction of 1d. an ounce. Some Deputies who are opposed to this matter are non-smokers. Their attitude is similar to that taken up yesterday by other Deputies in connection with the liquor question. The non-drinkers objected to any reduction in the duty on spirits, and it is the same to-day as regards tobacco with the non-smokers. These Deputies have never enjoyed the pleasure of a smoke, and that is why I suggest they are opposed to this reduction.

I think the Dáil should accept the amendment. You have only about fifteen or twenty acres of land in the Saorstát under tobacco. I think the Dáil should agree to carry out further experiments, and even if these do not succeed, the money spent on them will not be lost, because it will have gone towards providing employment for a number of people. About twenty years ago I remember seeing men and women around Navan working in the fields in which tobacco was grown. The industry is there still in a small way, but practically no employment is given. Last year a sum of £785,000 was paid through the labour exchanges to the unemployed. You have approximately 87,000 people unemployed in the Saorstát. Under this amendment you are asked to do something that would provide work for the people. I think it would be much preferable to spend money in giving employment to the people than to be paying it out to them otherwise.

I rise for the purpose of saying that this matter has not been treated fairly by the Minister for Finance since its inception here. The question is viewed with seriousness by some Deputies and by tobacco growers down the country—I mean the manner in which it has been treated by the Minister for Finance since the 11th June, 1925. On that date Deputy Mulvany raised the question in the House, and the Minister for Finance then gave an undertaking that he would appoint a Committee of the Dáil to investigate it and report to the Dáil. The Minister did nothing from that date until February last when, following a motion put down by Deputy Mulvany, he moved to set up this committee. If the Committee was tied for time in the consideration of this matter that surely was the fault of the Minister who waited until he was pressed the second and the third time, according to Deputy Mulvany, before he appointed it. I contend that the Minister should have moved for the appointment of this Committee in November, 1925, and should not have waited until February last when he was pressed by Deputy Mulvany to carry out the undertaking that he gave to the Deputy in June, 1925. I hold that the Minister for Finance has not treated the matter fairly, nor has he treated Deputy Mulvany or the House fairly. I presume that when a Minister gives a promise to a Deputy in the House he should fulfil it without undue delay. Deputy Johnson is anxious about the loss to the State if you granted a remission of the tobacco duty or gave a subsidy as it is styled by some.

I would like to remind Deputy Johnson and others who argue on the same lines that if this remission of duty is not given to our Irish-grown tobacco, the net result will be that the industry will have to close down altogether. I can state that because I know the conditions under which tobacco growers in my constituency are working for the last couple of years. If the industry has to close down, and the people who are producing tobacco are obliged to cease doing so, what, I ask, will be the loss to the revenues of the State compared with the amount of the remission that the Minister is asked to give?

There would be a gain of £750 to the revenue.

It has been stated by Deputy Mulvany that £300 is got in revenue from an acre of tobacco. I would like to hear this question developed by the Minister for Finance.

If there is no tobacco grown this year there will be a gain to the revenue, compared with last year, of £750.

Very well. I will leave it so then.

I desire to make a few remarks before the debate closes. I was a member of the Committee that investigated the question. There are one or two points I wish to bring out about the quality of tobacco that I do not think were touched upon very freely by previous speakers. The Minister dwelt rather severely on the quality of Irish tobacco. As regards the manufacturers, I believe myself that they boycotted this inquiry. That was the estimate I made of their attitude. One manufacturer who did attend before the Committee did not impress me. His attitude as a manufacturer was quite different to what it was some years ago. when he was a grower of Irish tobacco himself and also a manufacturer. He then bought in one year all the Irish crop in order to have a monopoly of it, and to put it before the public as Irish. He sought to buy the crop a second year, but better prices were offered by other manufacturers, and when this manufacturer could not get the whole crop he took none of it. That was the attitude of this manufacturer who now ridicules Irish leaf and who said before the Committee that more than ten per cent. of Irish leaf could not be put into manufactured tobacco, whereas some few years ago he put over fifty per cent. of it into manufactured tobacco himself.

As regards cultivating a taste for Irish tobacco, I know something of that, and I believe that if it were put on the market at a somewhat lower price, a taste for it could be developed. In my own county, the people who assisted when we were making the hogsheads ready for market started without any taste for Irish-grown tobacco. In the long run, we were hard pressed to keep the tobacco from being filched. Nothing else was smoked by the people there, and the revenue people had much to do to protect their own interests and our interests. I sold the Irish-grown leaf alongside that of Western America to one of the largest manufacturers then in Ireland, the northern counties included. The manufacturer, the Department's expert, and myself attended for the sale and sampling of the crop.

The manufacturer put the Irish-grown leaf alongside the Western American tobacco and the Department's expert, who came from one of the chief tobacco growing States of North America, said that he really could not distinguish any difference between our first quality tobacco and the American first quality. The difference in price to that manufacturer was only a farthing per lb. at that time, which was pre-war. Deputy Johnson made one statement with which I do not agree. It was as regards the cost per acre. I do not know what years he took his figures for. I think the Departmental figures for pre-war days do not agree with those given by Deputy Johnson. We were allowed only £25 per acre for the growing of tobacco and it was the increased cost of labour during the war and after the war that killed the growing of tobacco in our district.

The figures I quoted are taken from the tables in the report on tobacco growing in Ireland, showing details of the cost of growing and rehandling per acre and per lb., the yield of saleable tobacco per acre in respect of heavy dark pipe tobacco grown by Mr. B. Anderson, a representative small scale grower, selected to keep accounts, and rehandled by Sir Nugent Everard. The tables are for 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1924. I have simply deducted the charge for artificial manures, rents, taxes and insurance. I allowed the whole of the rest to be considered the labour cost. The total figure is £35 gross for the year 1924, including £6 for manure and rents, taxes and insurance.

I thought an acre of tobacco could not be grown at those prices at that time. I was dealing with the question of quality. The largest buyer then in Ireland, who is now in Northern Ireland, said that there was practically very little difference in our first quality leaf and the American leaf. As regards improving the land, a tobacco crop must necessarily improve the land. It makes it fit for any corn crop, because it requires very heavy manuring to grow a full crop of tobacco. It necessitates a very large outlay in artificial and farmyard manures and there is no question whatever that it fits the land for any crop one desires to grow. Wheat, for instance, would be a very suitable crop to follow tobacco. It would stand up better than some other corn crops that might be sown. I think tobacco-growing should get some further time and that this amendment should be agreed to. The Minister took rather hasty steps in condemning the experiment. Anybody could put up the case made by the Minister for Lands and Agriculture. I am convinced that the Minister for Finance would be justified in giving a further trial to this experiment and I think he should accept this amendment.

It is unfortunate that this amendment has fallen into the hands of three of the most notorious non-smokers in the Dáil—the Minister for Finance, Deputy Gorey and Deputy Johnson. Since this has happened, I cannot expect justice, not to mention mercy. One feature of the speech of the Minister for Finance deserves to be noticed. He referred all the time to the manufacturers. The manufacturers told him this and told him that but these manufacturers never took the trouble to inform the Committee of their views. They never came publicly before the Committee. As this is apparently the final stage of this question, I might as well inform the House that manufacturers did send secret communications to the Committee recommending a reduction of the Excise duty; but they had not the courage to come before the Committee. That was because they were simply in the hands of the British Imperial Tobacco Company and would not dare make such a recommendation in public. It is only right that I should inform the House that that is the fact.

Deputy Gorey expressed doubts about this amendment. He said he had not got sufficient information. That was the difficulty of the Committee. That is the difficulty to-day in deciding whether this experiment should be continued or not. The question should be thrashed out thoroughly and I think it is unfair to condemn the experiment before full investigation. It is specifically stated in the Report of the Committee that they make their recommendation as a provisional measure in order to save the tobacco growing industry from extinction. The Committee also state that they "strongly urge that the present condition of tobacco growing should be investigated by a committee having wider terms of reference which could enter into the whole question of developing the industry in relation to both the Irish and British markets." We have not investigated the matter fully and I think the Minister has got a guilty conscience because of that. Both Ministers know that this experiment has not been given a fair trial, and has not been fairly investigated in all its aspects. It has been condemned before the whole case has been put before the Dáil and before the country. Deputy Johnson was gravely mistaken in thinking that this has to do with the position of Irish tobacco in English markets or with the difficulty that has arisen on account of the introduction into the British markets of tobacco produced by coolie labour. This amendment refers only to the Excise duty. We are not referring in any way in this amendment to assistance to Irish tobacco in British markets. British Empire tobacco in this country has no preference, and, therefore, the question of coolie labour does not arise under this amendment.

Deputy Johnson asked if there was any chance of this experiment producing results within a reasonable period. What is a reasonable period? That is, of course, a matter of opinion. In other countries forty years elapsed before satisfactory results were produced. What is a satisfactory result? It is, I think, a constantly-improving result. Tobacco growing in America has been marked by centuries of slow growth and improvement. In Ireland the improvement has been enormous during the past twenty years. It has been much slower than it would have been had it been run properly—had there been an incentive to farmers to improve their tobacco, instead of simply having a fixed grant per acre which, of course, tends to deterioration. But this is a question of years, and it is a question of continuous improvement. It is a question of decision whether this experiment is to be carried out or not. If it is to be carried out, it ought to be carried out properly. The belief of the Committee was that this was a valuable crop, a crop which had possibilities and which succeeded before in this country.

It would be, therefore, unfair definitely to condemn this experiment without investigating all the circumstances. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture was entirely mistaken in suggesting that we came here to propose the setting up of a tobacco industry as a commercial proposition by this method. The Minister for Finance suggested that the whole suggestion was ridiculous and that we were asking an immense subsidy per acre. In other words, he suggested that not only the members who have spoken here tonight but also Deputies Beamish, Egan and the Chairman of the Government Party were idiots. According to the Minister, everybody responsible for this recommendation called for the same condemnation. They have, according to the Minister, put up irresponsible proposals to subside an uneconomic crop to the extent of £125 to £250 per acre. That is the suggestion of the Ministers and that is the accusation which the Ministers have brought against Deputies Egan, Beamish and Sears.

resumed the Chair.

The Minister for Lands and Agriculture declares that this experiment has failed. What experiment has failed? Was the experiment—whatever it was—conducted properly? There was an experiment in the growing of tobacco in the United Kingdom. That experiment, as everybody admits, was badly conducted. Conducted in that manner, it was bound to fail. There has been no experiment in the development of tobacco growing in the Irish Free State and, therefore, it cannot have failed. These are the main points that I desire to bring out.

I must insist, if only for the sake of form, that the Dáil should vote on this matter. It will be voting substantially on the report of its own Committee. I must insist on pressing this amendment. It will be the first occasion, as far as I know, on which the Dáil will have rejected reports unanimously arrived at by a Committee representing all sections of the House. The report was first rejected by the Minister for Finance without consulting his experts or the experts of the Department of Agriculture. The Minister for Lands and Agriculture states that the experiment has failed. I doubt if in saying so he represents the opinion of the experts in his Department.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Ta, 14; Níl, 48.

  • John J. Cole.
  • John Conlan.
  • Séamus Eabhróid.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • David Hall.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Patrick McKenna.
  • Liam Mag Aonghusa.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • Eamon O Dubhghaill.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Seán O Laidhin.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.

Níl

  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • Séamus de Burca.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Michael Egan.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • John Hennigan.
  • William Hewat.
  • Donnchadh Mac Con Uladh.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Seán Mac Curtain.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Risteárd Mac Liam.
  • Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Tomás de Nógla.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • William Norton.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Seán O Bruadair.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Conchubhar O Conghaile.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Liam O Daimhín.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Tadhg O Donnabháin.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Risteárd O Maolchatha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Gaillimh).
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Luimneach).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
  • Seán Priomhdhall.
  • William A. Redmond.
  • Liam Thrift.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Mulvany and Cole. Níl: Deputies Dolan and B. O'Connor.
Amendment declared lost.
Progress ordered to be reported.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Progress reported, the Committee to sit again to-morrow.