I wish to propose two motions to the Dáil that arise out of a report of the Tariff Commission, which considered a reference made to it by the Executive Council as to the desirability of imposing a Customs Duty on oats imported into Saorstát Eireann. The report presented by the Tariff Commission has been received by the Executive Council within the last two or three days, and it recommends the imposition of a tariff on oats and an increase in the duty on oatmeal. Resolution No. 1 is as follows:——
(1) That a Customs duty at the rate of two shillings and sixpence the hundredweight shall be charged, levied and paid on all oats imported into Saorstát Eireann on or after the 24th day of October, 1931.
(2) That the provisions of Section 8 of the Finance Act, 1919, shall apply to the duty mentioned in this resolution with the substitution of the expression "Saorstát Eireann" for the expression "Great Britain and Ireland," and as though oats were included in the Second Schedule to that Act in the list of goods to which two-thirds of the full rate is made applicable as a preferential rate.
(3) 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).
It is proposed that the general duty on oats should be 2/6 per cwt., the Imperial preference rate being 1/8 per cwt. Consequential upon that the Tariff Commission recommend that the duty on oatmeal be increased, and the second Resolution is as follows:—
(1) That in lieu of the duty of Customs chargeable under Section 7 of the Finance Act, 1926 (No. 35 of 1926), there shall be charged, levied and paid on all oatmeal imported into Saorstát Eireann on or after the 24th day of October, 1931, a Customs duty at the rate of six shillings the hundredweight.
(2) That the provisions of Section 8 of the Finance Act, 1919, shall apply to the duty mentioned in this Resolution with the substitution of the expression "Saorstát Eireann" for the expression "Great Britain and Ireland," and as though oatmeal were included in the Second Schedule to that Act in the list of goods to which two-thirds of the full rate is made applicable as a preferential rate.
(3) That in lieu of the drawback payable under Section 16 of the Finance Act, 1927 (No. 18 of 1927), there shall be allowed as from the 24th day of October, 1931, on the due exportation or the due shipment of stores for use as stores of any goods in the manufacture or preparation of which in Saorstát Eireann any imported oatmeal chargeable with duty under this Resolution has been used a drawback equal to the duty paid under this Resolution in respect of the quantity of such oatmeal which appears to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners to have been used in the manufacture or preparation of the goods.
(4) That in allowing the drawback under this Resolution the Revenue Commissioners, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may, in order to facilitate trade, modify or dispense with all or any of the requirements of Sections 104 and 106 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876, as to the giving of security and the examination of the goods.
(5) 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).
It is proposed that the duty on oatmeal which is at present 2/6 per cwt. without any Imperial preference rate should become 6/- per cwt., with an Imperial preference rate of 4/-. That is, broadly speaking, that the effective duty on oatmeal should be increased from 2/6 to 4/- per cwt., corresponding with the imposition of an Imperial preference rate on oats of 1/8, and 2/6 as a general duty. I think it would be better not to discuss this proposal at any great length to-day. The report is ready to be sent to the printers and will be in the hands of Deputies when the Dáil next meets. A good deal of evidence was submitted to the Tariff Commission. A considerable number of people volunteered, or were invited to give evidence, representing farmers, agricultural committees, trainers of racehorses, oatmeal millers and people variously interested, and, in general, the view of the Commission was that the duty should be chargeable on all oats; that although there has been constantly an importation of seed oats, it would be difficult, if not impracticable, to exempt seed oats. Furthermore, the Commission was satisfied, having heard all the evidence, that there was no good reason for the importation of seed oats; that in fact better seed oats could be produced in this country, and that oats that were being imported as seed oats were simply good commercial oats, and not a special pure line of oats at all. It would be better that the quantity of seed oats required should be produced at home, and that the importation of seed oats should be confined to whatever small quantities were necessary for the introduction of new varieties.
There was opposition also on the ground that imported oats were required by the trainers of race horses. The Commission were satisfied that only in wet seasons were small quantities of imported oats necessary for this purpose, and that no appreciable hardship would be inflicted by the imposition of the moderate duty on oats that is proposed. The view of the Commission is that the imposition of the tariff will prevent, in certain circumstances, the importation of commercial oats which would depress the market. There is a certain tendency towards increasing imports and this will prevent the market being depressed by that particular kind of import.
It will also give an increased market and, in fact, develop a certain line of oat growing by causing the seed oat requirements of the country to be produced at home. Undoubtedly, while this increase on oatmeal is necessary, it will, in fact, I think further substantially increase the preference that home oatmeal millers enjoy and tend to further exclude the oatmeal produced outside. It is necessary to increase the tariff on oatmeal because if, in any season, it was necessary for the oatmeal millers to import substantial quantities of oats and pay a tariff on them, they would be at a disadvantage with competitors outside if the tariff were allowed to remain as at present. It is not anticipated that, generally speaking, substantial quantities will have to be imported by the oatmeal millers. This increase in the tariff will, I think, have the effect of improving their position, and in that way of increasing, or giving some addition to, the market for home grown oats.