Ceistenna-Questions. Oral Answers. - British Duties on Saorstát Produce.

asked the Minister for Finance if he is aware (a) that according to figures officially given in the British Parliament on December 4th, 1933, the amount collected by means of penal duties on Saorstát produce up to November 25th, 1933, was £5,572,000; (b) that recent figures similarly given indicate that between November 25th, 1933, and the 13th January, 1934, the amount so collected had increased by £670,000 (approximately) bringing the total to nearly 6¼ million pounds; (c) that on the British contention a sum of £820,000 (approximately) remains to be collected between 13th January and the 31st March, 1934; and to ask what provision, if any, he has made to meet the situation which will arise when the duties yield more to the British than that portion of the money withheld from them for which they have assumed the responsibility of payment.

I have seen reports of the Parliamentary Questions on which the figures mentioned in parts (a), (b) and (c) of the Deputy's question are based. I cannot accept the inferences which the Deputy draws from them, because as I have already pointed out, in reply to a question by Deputy Dockrell last week, it is incorrect to assume that the burden represented by the sum of nearly 6¼ million pounds referred to fell completely on the shoulders of Free State citizens. I am therefore not prepared to admit that the position which the Deputy forecasts in part (c) of this question can or will arise, but if it should, I have no doubt that the Government will be fully able to deal with it.

This is a question which vitality affects the finance of the State. It is based upon the assertion made elsewhere that no more money would be extracted by duties on Irish produce than what had been withheld, and in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I intend to raise this matter on the adjournment.