It might be well, perhaps, before moving either of the resolutions which I have to move, to say a word in regard to procedure. It is customary, when resolutions proposing or modifying duties on customs and excise have to be proposed, not to circulate them in advance, but to distribute them to Deputies when they are being moved. That is necessary in order that forestalling may not take place. If the resolutions were put down on the Order Paper in the ordinary way it would be possible for traders, and other interested persons who might be very much alert, to take advantage of the knowledge and succeed in either importing or removing goods from bond, thus making considerable profit and either injuring the revenue or defeating the object of the tax. Under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, if it is declared expedient in the public interest that a resolution in Committee on Finance shall have statutory effect, the position then is that the tax can be collected but, within ten sitting days after the passage of that resolution, it must be confirmed by the Dáil on Report, and if it is not confirmed by the Dáil on Report, it ceases to have effect, and any taxes collected under it must be repaid.
If it is confirmed on Report, the Second Reading of the Bill, embodying the substance of that resolution, must be passed within the next twenty sitting days. If it is not so passed the resolution ceases to have effect and any tax collected must be repaid. Finally, the Bill giving legislative effect to the resolution must be passed within four months of the passage of the resolution in the Dáil or the time of coming into effect of the resolution. If that resolution is not so passed, the tax so collected must be repaid. If there is any modification in regard to the tax and money is collected which would not be collectable under the Act as finally passed, then repayment must be made. We have not hitherto had any duties on customs or excise imposed except at Budget time, but I think the same procedure would not be suitable on the present occasion. When we have had a Budget the usual procedure has been for the Dáil to pass without a full debate the resolutions submitted to it. Within a week or ten days the resolutions came up on Report and were fully debated. The reason that they could not be fully debated when first presented was that Deputies had not opportunities for thinking over them in advance, and it was also necessary on several occasions to pass a large number of resolutions on the same day.
The first resolution which I have to propose is as follows:—
1. That a customs duty of an amount equal to thirty-three and one-third per cent. of the value of the article shall be charged, levied, and paid on every rosary and every article which in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners is a substantial part of a rosary imported into Saorstát Eireann on or after the 22nd day of October, 1927.
2. It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927 (No. 7 of 1927).
This resolution is introduced pursuant to a recommendation of the Tariff Commission. We passed in 1926 a Tariff Commission Act setting up a body to which the proposals for tariffs were to be referred. That body was given power to make regulations for its procedure, to hear witnesses and to employ such people as were necessary to investigate fully and effectively the proposals which were brought before it. It was directed to report under ten heads on a proposal. These were:
1. The efficiency, extent, and relative importance of the industry in respect of which the application is made, the amount of capital invested therein, the number of persons employed therein, the total annual value of the goods produced by the said industry, and the cost of production of such goods in Saorstát Eireann as compared with such cost in other countries.
2. The cost, efficiency, conditions of labour, and rates of wages in Saorstát Eireann in the industry in respect of which the application is made as compared with such cost, efficiency, conditions, and rates in other countries.
3. The effect which the granting in whole or in part of the concessions asked for in the application would be likely to have on the several matters mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Schedule.
4. The effect which the granting in whole or in part of the concessions asked for in the application would be likely to have on other trades and industries in Saorstát Eireann.
5. The effect which the granting in whole or in part of the concessions asked for in the application would be likely to have on consumers of the goods produced by the industry in respect of which the application is made and on the cost of living.
6. The effect which the granting in whole or in part of the concessions asked for in the application would be likely to have on the public revenues of Saorstát Eireann.
7. The prospects, if any, which the industry in respect of which the application is made has of establishing itself eventually on a permanent basis without the continued aid of a customs duty or with a modification of such duty after a period.
8. The minimum amount of customs duty which would probably be necessary for the successful conduct in Saorstát Eireann of the industry in respect of which the application is made.
9. To what extent, if at all, the competition from imported goods to which the industry in respect of which the application is made is exposed is unfair by reason of currency depreciation or the grants of subsidies or bounties in the country in which such goods are manufactured.
10. Such other economic, industrial, and administrative aspects of the application as appear to the Commission to be relevant to the determination of the merits and demerits of the application.
As Deputies will see, the Commission is expected to cover a fairly wide field. Even in respect to the simplest and easiest application considerable delay is likely to take place. That arises out of the circumstances of the case. Delays will occur, but even without any undue delay occurring the investigation of an application will take a good deal of time. The application in respect of rosaries was made by the one firm which manufactured rosary beads in the Saorstát, Messrs. Mitchell and Co., of Waterford Street, Dublin, and it was referred to the Tariff Commission on 31st January, 1927. Evidence was given in support of the application by the manufacturers, and by Miss Louie Bennett and Miss Moloney on behalf of the Irish Women Workers' Union. Evidence in opposition was given by a number of firms engaged in the wholesale and retail trade. The Report has gone to the printers and will be circulated to the Deputies to-morrow, and they will have a chance before the Report Stage of the Resolution comes on to study it and make any inquiries in respect of it they care to make. The Commission recommends, as appears in the resolution, that an ad valorem duty of 33? per cent. be imposed, and it recommends that it be imposed in the first instance for a period of five years. When the Bill is introduced giving effect to these resolutions a clause will appear limiting the period of the duties to five years, and the matter can then be reviewed. The industry is a small one, the capital invested being about £10,000, and the number of workers employed in 1926 was 85, many of whom were part time. In previous years the number had been higher, being 165 in 1920-21. It is anticipated that following the imposition of this tariff the number of workers will be about doubled, and that the total will reach 160. The average annual output for the four years 1923-26 was £8,700. As a result of the imposition of a tariff it is expected that the output will be increased to £15,000 or £16,000. The competing goods are manufactured very largely in France, and are made in the homes of those engaged in the industry and not in the factories. It is alleged that the rates of wages paid are extremely low, and that the labour costs are so low in fact that it would not be possible for the industry to continue here without some tariff. Unless great changes occur there will be a time when it cannot be continued without some tariff.