There should surely be some figures to show that the imposition of the duty was necessary in order to prevent an expected dumping of these vehicles. That is a point that has not been met at all. The Minister's objection to answering questions in the House is quite contrary to the ordinary procedure of the Dáil when in Committee. Usually in Committee the procedure is such that one is not confined to the general type of speech customarily made on the Second or the Fifth Stages. The debate on the Committee Stage as a rule gets more intimate, and Deputies are allowed to cover a very wide field. At times the discussion assumes the more rapid form of cross-examination as the Minister called it. Until the procedure is changed I assume that we have the right to indulge in what has been described by the Minister as cross-examination.
The whole case made by the Minister in answer to certain questions takes the form of a reference to the Report of the Tariff Commission. It has been pointed out that the customs duty now being imposed is to be applied to wheeled vehicles which, in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners, are designed and primarily intended to be drawn by an animal or two or more animals and for the carriage of persons or goods or both persons and goods. There is no question of secondhand vehicles there. What was the application originally made? It related entirely to second-hand articles—used articles. Paragraph 109 of the Tariff Commission Report, under the heading "Vehicles for animal traction," after paying a tribute to the efficiency of the industry in the Free State, says:
The application for a tariff on horse-drawn vehicles was stated to have been made not because the applicants were unable to compete with foreign competitors in the construction of new vehicles but in order that the importations of old governess cars and traps, which have been discarded by their owners in Great Britain, might be stopped. The applicants stated that they are getting little or no work in the construction of new vehicles of this description and they asserted that it was imperative for the maintenance of efficiency in this section of the industry that the importations should be discontinued. They also stated that many of those who now purchase secondhand vehicles would invest in new ones if a duty was imposed.
The Commission reported:
We are of opinion that the applicants are unduly sanguine in anticipating that a tariff would stimulate to any appreciable extent the demand for new governess cars and traps in this country because it seems to us that in a large number of cases those who buy the old imported vehicles are only just induced to do so by the very low prices at which they are offered. These marginal purchasers will not be prepared to pay the higher prices required to secure new vehicles.
Then they continue—and I think this is very relevant to the present imposition:
The evidence which we obtained indicated that practically no new commercial horse-drawn vehicles are being imported and that, indeed, very few of them are being made either here or in England.
Continuing further the Report states:
The difficulties of the Saorstát coachbuilders are really due to the fact that the use of horse-drawn vehicles for commercial or private purposes has declined and is steadily declining. Such work as is still available for the home coachbuilders in this branch of their industry is confined to the construction of farm carts, bread and laundry vans and a small number of governess cars and traps. We do not consider that an appreciable increase in this work would result from the granting, in whole or in part, of concessions asked for in the application.
There is one more reference in paragraph 133:
The imposition of a tariff on horse-drawn vehicles would deprive many people, mostly of the small farmer class, of the opportunity of providing themselves with a form of private transport. As we have already mentioned, the imported secondhand traps and governess cars are being purchased in most cases by persons who can just afford to do so at the low prices at which the vehicles are offered and these persons would scarcely be in a position to pay the extra prices necessary to secure new traps and cars built in the Saorstát.
We get to this extraordinary position, that the original application was for a duty against imported secondhand vehicles, with special emphasis on imported secondhand traps and governess cars. That was refused on what seemed to me to be very good grounds. Now we have an imposition on all wheeled vehicles, whether new or old. We get that under the plea that the imposition was necessary in order to prevent expected dumping. We get no information as to where the dumping was apprehended—what country it was to come from.
We have the statement made in the Tariff Commission Report that no new commercial horse-drawn vehicles are being imported and that, indeed, very few of them are being made either here or in England. It is necessary to know where the dumping was expected to come from, and what articles would be dumped—secondhand or new. It is necessary to know whether they were horse-drawn vehicles, governess cars, pony traps and so on.
There is another small point to which I would like to make reference. In paragraph 5 of the Order we are told:
Any article liable to the duty imposed by this Order which is re-imported into Saorstát Eireann after exportation therefrom shall be exempt from the said duty if it is shown to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners either (a) that the article had not been imported previous to its exportation, or (b) that the article had been first imported prior to the 6th day of May, 1932, or (c) that the article had been first imported on or after the 6th day of May, 1932, and the duty imposed by this Order had been duly paid thereon.
How can you re-import if you do not previously import?