Finance Bill, 1936—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 8:—
Before Section 6 in Part I to insert a new section as follows:—
Any provision of any Act or rule which authorises a claim for repayment of income-tax to be made within a specified period shall be and is hereby amended so as to authorise the making of the claim within a period of fifteen years after the end of the year of assessment.—(Deputy Costello.)

When progress was reported on this amendment, I was going on to say that the Revenue Commissioners, excellent as they are as a machine and almost as inhuman as a machine, have no real conception of the conditions of business. I wonder whether these excellent officials were ever really acquainted with any business, with the lives of business people, or have ever met business people in the ordinary way. Anybody who has lived in the country, who knows farmers and business men, knows perfectly well that they have not, and never had, any exact idea as to what their net earnings are. They may have been altogether wrong and may have underestimated their earnings. Very often, I believe that they do quite genuinely, underestimate their earnings. I have always found one attitude towards such underestimation, genuine underestimation on the part of such business men, by the revenue collecting machine, and that is fraud, nothing but fraud.

Anybody who knows the country should be aware that that is not the explanation. The explanation is that businesses in the country towns—I am not speaking about the cities; I do not know nearly so much about the cities as the country towns—are not run upon an exact system of book-keeping. Many of them, as a result of the operations of the Revenue Commissioners, have introduced a better system now. They have been compelled to adopt that course by the Revenue Commissioners to investigate into the past. If that investigation goes against them they will have to pay out under the provisions of this measure. Surely it is mere equity to demand that they should have a similar concession on their side, that if they find they did not claim what they were entitled to claim, and if they contend that they thought their business was a more paying concern than it really was, as sometimes happens, they should be allowed to claim back if they paid to the Revenue Commissioners more than was due. Is there anything unfair in asking that exactly the same principle should apply to them as applies to the Revenue Commissioners?

Why should the Statute of Limitations, and I admit it is an excellent statute, be scrapped only for the powerful and not for the weak? The revenue collecting machine is a powerful machine and I do not think that those who operate that machine, often in a machine-like fashion—possibly all the more efficient from the collecting point of view—have any conception of the psychological effect it has on many business people in the country. Why, it almost drives many of them to despair; they feel they are absolutely helpless in front of an institution of that kind. They know perfectly well, they are often convinced, that their case is just, but they feel they are not able to make it against the Revenue Commissioners. I have met men brought almost to the verge of insanity by that particular feeling. They may have been wrong, but they were genuinely convinced that they were being fleeced by the Revenue Commissioners and they had no remedy.

If that is their attitude towards the machinery of the Revenue Commissioners, why should they not get this benefit? Why should the Statute of Limitations be repealed in this one-sided fashion? Why only for that powerful, terrifying Government machine and not for the person who is daily becoming more helpless, namely, the taxpayer? The amendment is, in my opinion, eminently reasonable, but I am afraid it is quite obvious that Deputy Costello was quite justified in his pessimism and in feeling that its reasonableness could not make any appeal to the present Minister for Finance. But that does not absolve the House from doing its duty in this respect; that does not justify the House in committing an injustice by refusing to give the same measure of even-handed justice to the taxpayer that it gives to the tax-collecting machine.

The Minister's reply is only explained by the fact that he has no genuine grounds for his refusal to accept this amendment. He purports to misunderstand some of the sentences I uttered when I was moving this amendment. I will repeat that the reason I did not think this amendment would be accepted is because it is so just and reasonable and its basis is that of reciprocity. If the Revenue Commissioners have power to reopen closed transactions, if they have power to ask a taxpayer to tell them what his income was 30 or 40 years ago and to make him pay on alleged mistakes that were made 30 years ago, surely it is only just that on the taxpayer proving in court, if necessary, that he has paid to the Revenue Commissioners more than six years ago something which he was not legally bound to pay, the Revenue Commissioners should refund that money to him.

The Minister will find if he looks up the records of the Revenue Commissioners that there are in fact cases of such genuine overpayments, payments in connection with which I believe the inspector of taxes concerned would readily admit that it was a payment that was made by the taxpayer without any necessity and made through a genuine mistake on the part of both parties, the inspector and the taxpayer. If the Revenue Commissioners have all the powers they have got under the Minister's Budget and that will be conferred on them perpetually by this measure, it is a small thing to ask on behalf of a taxpayer that he should get his legal rights.

The Minister gave only two coherent reasons that I could follow for his objection to this amendment. He said the taxpayer is the one person who knows his income and therefore he ought to be bound by his mistakes. Let us examine that. Who is the taxpayer up against? He is up against experts in a very difficult branch of the law. He is up against people whose job it is to collect the last farthing they can lay their hands upon and who are under no obligation, moral or legal, to tell the taxpayer what his rights are. You have here a man who is working so hard that he allows his accounts to get into arrear and possible into a mess. In order not to be bothered with the exactions and the worries of tax officials, he neglects to make claims for relief to which he is legally entitled. It is the duty of the Revenue Commissioners to collect all the taxes they can. He does not learn of his rights to relief until years afterwards. There are cases in which even minors are involved under trusts of a will. They are unable to recover the taxes paid during their minority because the six years have elapsed. Is that justice or equity, or is there any answer to such a claim as that? There is none, and the Minister can make none.

The Minister, in the second branch of his so-called reply, says that if the claim is not made within six years it is difficult to investigate it because it is not made within a reasonable time. If it is difficult for the Minister to investigate the claim made by a taxpayer seven years after he has made a payment which he was not legally bound to make, if it is difficult for his expert officials who have all the records before them in their offices, every minute in connection with the case preserved in the records of the Department, every step of the case on paper, every account that was furnished, every payment made, every item of the claim sifted and considered to the last degree—if it is difficult for the Minister and his officials to investigate such a claim, how much more difficult is it for a taxpayer who is asked 40 years afterwards, when all his evidence is lost, to show that he did not make a claim that some official says he made? Let us even put it at seven years. Why should it be more difficult for the Minister to investigate that claim? In the case of a payment which was obviously unlawful, and which has been made without legal justification, why should it be unreasonable to ask the Revenue Commissioners to pay that back to the taxpayer on his establishing in court, if necessary, the fact that it was unlawfully made? The truth of the matter is that the Minister is very hard pressed in his effort to get taxes in every direction, notwithstanding his glib statement to-day— which was, of course, disproved in his Budget statement—that the revenue is so grand and that the country is becoming so prosperous that the income-tax is coming in like water out of a spout. Notwithstanding all that, he has to resort to every possible device that his trained officials in the Revenue Department can consider to extract every few pounds out of the pockets of the taxpayers who probably are not legally bound to pay it.

I think, as I said at the beginning, that the claim which I make in this amendment is unanswerable in equity and in ordinary common justice, but I have no possible hope that it will be acceded to by the Minister, for the reason that his Government is so hard pressed for taxes to enable them to continue their mad career of spending that they must resort to this class of thing, which, in my view, as I have indicated on a previous amendment, will so exasperate the taxpayers and in the end cause such disrespect for the Revenue Commissioners and for revenue methods that the taxpayers will eventually arrive at the conclusion that they are morally entitled to take every possible method to avoid payment of their taxes. The net result of that will be that the dishonest people will get away with it. The honest people will not be able to resort to those methods and will be made to pay for the methods of the dishonest taxpayers.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:—

Before Section 6 in Part I to insert a new section as follows:—

The charge of excess profits duty effected by Part III of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, and the Acts amending or extending that Act in reference to such charge is hereby repealed.

This amendment, Sir, is to endeavour to repeal the provisions of the Income-Tax Act of 1915, which imposed the charge for excess profits duty. The grounds for the amendment and the reasons for the amendment may be stated in a very few words. It is about time that the charge for excess profits duty was wiped off our Statute Book. It is about time this fiction that people did not pay their excess profits duty in 1915 should be put an end to. Above all things, it is about time that those provisions should cease to be used as a further instrument of tyranny to extract payments which in my view are not due by taxpayers throughout the country. In any event, in my opinion the provisions relating to excess profits duty have long since been exhausted, and, as I say, ought to be wiped off the Statute Book.

This charge for excess profits duty was imposed during the European War—very shortly after it had started —when it became apparent that people were making profits out of the European War. In 1915, by the Finance Act of that year, the charge for excess profits duty was imposed. It was intended to meet the situation created by the possibility of war profiteering. Twenty-one years after that charge was created we, in a State which did not exist when that charge was imposed for the first time, are using it to extract money for the revenue out of the taxpayers of this country, and it is being used—I say it with all sense of responsibility—quite improperly and quite unjustly. The provisions of the Income-Tax Act of 1933, which extended the powers of the Revenue Commissioners in reference to excess profits duty, were, in my view, something that this House, while it had the lawful authority to pass them, had no moral justification for passing. In 1915 this charge was imposed. We may take it that the British Revenue extracted out of the business people of this country as much money as they could. We may take it that in 1922, when the Free State was established, when a new Government was set up, and when, in order to finance the depredations caused by the civil war, every possible pocket had to be searched in order to provide the £35,000,000 damage which was caused by the Party now forming the Government, as much money as possible was got as a result of this tax.

In 1926 the last Government called a halt and said: "We have done enough about this excess profits duty. Except in cases of fraud or wilful neglect we will not have any more of it." I am speaking roughly now; that is the general effect of it. That situation existed for seven years—from 1926 to 1933. In 1933 the Minister introduced provisions into the Finance Act of that year which gave extraordinary powers to the Revenue Commissioners in connection with Excess Profits Duty—this out-of-date charge—provisions which, in my view, are used for improper purposes. I do not use the words "improper purposes" in the ordinary sense, but rather in a technical sense. I will illustrate what I mean by referring to one of the provisions of the Finance Act of 1933. If a business is being sold at the present time the purchase of that business cannot be concluded until the Revenue Commissioners give a certificate that Excess Profits Duty has been paid. No matter through how many hands that business has passed from 1915 to the present time, a period of 21 years, that transaction cannot be concluded until the Revenue Commissioners give a certificate that they have no claim to Excess Profits Duty. What is that used for? They will give no certificate until they get paid for it. They will give no certificate until Excess Profits Duty is paid. That section is being used for the purpose of extracting Excess Profits Duty; that is why I say it is being used improperly.

Two people come along, one saying: "I have sold this house," and the other saying: "I have bought it." In order to conclude that transaction a certificate must be got to the effect that there is no charge for Excess Profits Duty. The Revenue Commissioners, quite properly doing their job under the direction of the Government, say: "Well, we do not know whether Excess Profits Duty has been paid or not. We will raise an assessment." The parties are then faced with this situation, that that sale cannot be concluded for years if they dispute the revenue claim. In order to put an end to the revenue claim, and to get that certificate, as business people they say: "We will cut our losses and try to compound with the revenue." They pay the Excess Profits Duty, for which in 99 per cent. of the cases they are not liable. I say it is about time that stopped. I think I referred to the case of public house A. Perhaps I should not identify it so specifically. The Minister smiles.

I am only thinking how many public houses in the City of Dublin may be public house A.

Public house A was assessed for income tax. The owner did not owe any income-tax, and was able to show that, but in effect what was said to him was: "Pay something in income-tax or we will assess you for Excess Profits Duty on public house B, which you bought in 1929 from somebody who bought it from somebody else who carried on business in 1919. If you do not pay the tax you do not owe on public house A, you will have to pay Excess Profits Duty on the profits which two or three of your predecessors made in 1919." I say that is an improper use of the powers given to the Revenue Commissioners by the provisions of the Act of 1935. Again I stress the point in the public interest that the powers should not be used in that way, because it will bring disrespect for the law; it will bring disrespect for the Revenue Commissioners; and it will eventually hamper the collection of revenue. It will not merely hamper the collection of revenue and impede it, but it will make it exceedingly difficult ever to collect revenue from even honest taxpayers when they see such penal provisions put into an Act. Now, penal provisions, perhaps, have no binding force in conscience. I do not know, nor will I express any view on that, but I know that it is very easy for a taxpayer to be able to tell himself that a law that is used in that way by expert officials in a harassing fashion is not binding on him in morality, whatever it may be in law, and that he is entitled to use every device, legal or illegal, to outwit the expert officials who are on him like hounds after a fox.

Sir, I never listened to a more extraordinary speech——

If the Minister listens to his own speech he will hear a more extraordinary one.

——from an ex-Attorney-General than the one to which we have just listened. There is nothing novel in the proposal of this Government to collect Excess Profits Duty. We did not initiate that procedure. It was adopted, as Deputy Costello has admitted, in 1923, and it had not been repealed by our predecessors when we took office in 1932.

In effect, it had. It had been repealed in every case except fraud.

In effect, it had not. It was in force for cases of fraud or wilful neglect, and surely nobody can allege that a taxpayer who has a safe little amount of cash on deposit in a bank in this country or elsewhere, the income on which he does not even disclose to the Revenue Commissioners, and the ownership of which particular asset he takes every possible precaution to conceal—surely that man cannot be thought to be guilty of anything less than wilful neglect.

But no fraud.

Fraud or wilful neglect.

The Minister can have a present of that man. I have given the Minister a present of him lock, stock and barrel. Will the Minister come to the other cases?

Will the Deputy tell me what taxpayer, who knows that he owes Excess Profits Duty and who fails to make a return to the Revenue as to his income in respect of these assets, is not guilty of one or the other? He has certainly neglected to make a full return of his income, and I do not think it could be contended that he neglected to do that by mere inadvertence. The Deputy cannot get away on that horse——

I never rode that horse.

——because, in fact, it does not matter how the Deputy looks at it. People who, after all the discussion and controversy that there has been about this question of liability to Excess Profits Duty, do not disclose the fact that they had made themselves liable to Excess Profits Duty in earlier years, must be, in my view at any rate, if not in the view of the Revenue Commissioners—and, of course, I am not the judge in the matter—guilty of something bordering very close on fraud or wilful neglect. In any case, however, if it was legitimate and proper—and I contend that it was legitimate and proper— to collect the revenue yielded by this duty prior to 1932, there is no reason why we should forego that revenue now, particularly when so much better use is being made of the revenues of this State. The proposal which the Deputy has put down, supported by the speech to which we have just listened, would mean that from now on, and for a further number of years, we should lose at least £200,000 per annum, and it must be remembered have to take this Excess Profits Duty people who cannot afford to pay or from people who do not owe it. We have to take this Excess Profits Duty as a whole, and to remember in connection with it that, if the State has been collecting Excess Profits Duty for a number of years, in the earlier years, when the duty was enforced, very heavy repayments had been made in regard to it. Now the Excess Profits Duty is not, as the Deputy seems to think—any more than is any other revenue duty—a perquisite of one particular Administration, to be utilised by them for their purposes and to carry out their policy, and then to be abandoned by their successors. We should come to a pretty pass indeed if we were to be told that, because our predecessors had imposed a tax on tea or sugar for the particular purposes for which they wanted moneys which were raised as a result of these taxes, their successors, when they went out of office, were to be debarred from imposing the same taxes. The State is a continuity. It is a Corporation; it is continuing.

Certainly it is not a Corporation.

We will say it is a corporate body.

Not even that.

It is a definite continuing entity, if the Deputy wishes to split hairs about it. There is no sincerity behind this amendment of the Deputy's. No person has been called upon to pay Excess Profits Duty who has not been in a position to pay, and there is no such person from whom the State may not justly have demanded it. If it was proper for the administration which the Deputy supported to have searched every pocket as he said to defray the cost of a civil war, it is the right of any other Government that takes office in this country to search the same pocket in order to wage war against poverty and unemployment, as we are doing. I cannot see any merit in the argument the Deputy has put before the House in order to bolster up this most misconceived amendment of his. He is charging it as offence by the Revenue Commissioners, in connection with certain transactions, that they make certain that any taxes which might be due to the State by one party to that transaction must be paid before they will give him a clear certificate that they have been paid. What else can they do in the discharge of their statutory obligations to the State? In a case where they have clear reason to believe that what has been due to the State has not been paid, are they to give the defaulting taxpayer in that case a clearance from his liabilities? Yet, that has been the gravamen of the charge which the Deputy launched against them, that they do their duty, and see that the taxes are paid before they give any person a clear receipt. I cannot see that there is any wrong or any hardship in that.

Every citizen in the State has to pay his due meed of taxes. If he is not so well placed as those people who are affected by Excess Profits Duty, if he does not happen to be one of the people who are so well circumstanced that they have to pay property tax of one sort or another, if he happens to be a workman or a farmer—and God knows we have heard often enough from Deputy Costello's colleagues about the position of the farmers and the workmen—if a person of that sort does not want to pay taxes he has to forego some of the necessaries of life. He has to forego tea, sugar, tobacco, porter and entertainment. If he wants to get away without paying taxes he has to deny himself these things. Why should the class for whom Deputy Costello speaks, the person who is wealthy, the person who has made this money at the general expense of the body of taxpayers not pay? Make no mistake about it, the term Excess Profits Duty is no misnomer. These profits were derived from buying cheap and selling dear during a period when prices were mounting. So far as businessmen or shopkeepers were concerned, it represents in general exorbitant profits upon goods which they had to retail, and the exorbitant profits were in general provided by the community. I think there is scarcely a tax that can be so justified as this Excess Profits Duty can be justified in relation to that particular period. These persons held these taxes, and held them, as I say, unjustly, and if we get it from them we are entitled by every canon of justice and equity to get it. I am perfectly satisfied that if the position in this House to-day were to revert back to the position in 1930 or 1931, we would have the administration supported by Deputy Costello enforcing the collection of this tax as we are doing it.

A complete answer to that last observation of the Minister is that the people who form the Opposition here now formed the Government in 1926 and repealed the provisions of the Act of 1915 except in cases of fraud and wilful neglect. I make the Minister a present of cases of fraud and wilful neglect. I object to this stale demand being made, and more particularly object to tax being demanded from people who do not owe it. The Minister made a speech which ran to greater heights of nonsense than I thought was possible for the Minister to go in this connection. In some of the other amendments he excelled himself in dodging the issue by deliberately making a series of platitudinous observations which had nothing whatever to do with the topic we were discussing. He reached the quintessence in this one. He made a speech about war and poverty as if he were, in fact, making war on poverty. Incidentally, let me remark, he is creating poverty. We are not dealing in this amendment with taxation imposed by Parliament on those who made profits, or who were justly bound to pay their due share of taxation. The Minister conveniently forgets, and certainly did not deal with the provisions of the Act of 1933, which made a person, who had no connection with a business, when the profits were made, pay for the profits made by his predecessor. The actual case I referred to is one of a man who bought business premises in 1929. The profits, if any profits were made, were made in 1915. There were various people concerned in the business between 1915 and 1929. The premises were sold in the open market in 1929, on the basis of the law as it then was in reference to excess profits duty, but seven years after that transaction, a demand was made on the man who does not owe excess profits duty and who never made a halfpenny profit in the business, because he did not own it in 1915. He was asked to pay. How the Minister could get over that set of facts in his platitudinous observations I cannot understand. He made profound observations about poverty, and of the duty of the people to pay and that sort of humbug, but overlooked the fact that people are being asked to pay who are not bound to pay; that people are being asked to pay excess profits duty who never made excess profits duty, and had no connection, good, bad or indifferent, with the business in relation to which the assessment is being made.

On the Budget proposals I drew the attention of the Minister to an actual case, speaking from my own experience of it, and not speaking in the air. Nobody is asked, the Minister retorted, to wage war on poverty and unemployment, moryah, and nobody is asked to pay something that he does not owe. What about the assessment for excess profits made last year on a farmer? It is quite clear, on the face of the Act of 1915, that a farmer cannot be assessed for excess profits duty. I saw that the assessment was raised, not for the purpose of getting excess profits duty but in order to try to find out some extraneous information which would enable the Revenue Commissioners, perhaps, to assess the individual in question for some other purpose. My client was a man of 84 or 85 years of age, and as he had several strokes of paralysis, in the opinion of his doctor, if he was told, he would have died. The whole case went on, on my advice, without the man knowing about it. We appealed to the special commissioners of income-tax and we were asked to produce accounts. They are called capital accounts. I know nothing about accountancy, but this man who is carrying on the business of a farmer was asked to produce capital accounts. They are something that accountants have to produce, but they had nothing to do with the man's business as a farmer. The special commissioners made an order to produce such accounts. There is no power to make such an order, but they did so. We then appealed to the Circuit judge and the case was to come on in the country in due course. I had no shadow of doubt, from the first time I was consulted in the case, that there was no jurisdiction for this assessment, and I was further convinced, as the case went on, that it was not for the purpose of getting excess profits the assessment was made but for other purposes. The day before the case was to come on we received information that the Revenue Commissioners had consented to the assessment being discharged. After the family had been worried for 12 months——

Are those all the facts as the Deputy knows them?

I could give plenty more. I know all the facts but I do not want to worry the House. If I have left out any fact which is relevant the Minister can produce it. A demand for excess profits duty was made on that farmer, but the Revenue Commissioners assented before it came to court to its being discharged. They kept the bluff up to the last minute. I can bluff pretty well myself, but I had no doubt whatever that the case would have to be discharged in the Circuit Court. What was the result? That man could not be told or worried about the case or he would be dead. That was the opinion of his medical attendant. A son of his, an elderly man, conducted the whole business. It went on for a considerable period. I do not know the extent of the cost to which the taxpayer was put, but I know that he had to employ counsel in connection with the appeal, and had to employ an accountant to deal with the demands of the revenue authorities. He was out of pocket several hundred pounds at the very least, which he can never recover, in reference to a wholly unsustainable demand. Provisions of that kind in a Bill of this nature should not be allowed to stand on the Statute Book of this country.

I think it is a well-known legal maxim that hard cases make bad law. Deputy Costello has been trying by means of one case to make bad law.

That is always the excuse. The Minister is resorting to an outworn device.

Maybe, but the Deputy has twice mentioned in the House this star case in his collection.

I can give you more than one if you want them.

At any rate he has mentioned this case about the man who was a farmer. The Deputy knows as well as I do, in connection with this particular case, that the question was whether the person was only a farmer, whether he had not made very considerable profits, running into tens of thousands of pounds, out of an ancillary business, the business of cattle dealing. The Deputy knows that the question had not been decided as to whether profits derived in the particular circumstances in which they were derived in this case, from the business of cattle dealing, came within the ambit of the definition of husbandry. When the assessment was made that was still an open question. The Revenue Commissioners and the Inspector of Taxes who made the assessment were quite entitled to proceed on the assumption that profits derived from carrying on a cattle-dealing business were properly assessable for taxes. That was the question at issue.

Of course it was not.

Prior to the Deputy's clients coming into court a similar case was tried before the Circuit Court judge before whom this case was going to be heard, and after a long and reasoned argument, after taking time to consider his judgment and indicating that there was a great deal to be said for the contention of the Revenue Commissioners as well as, admittedly, there was a great deal to be said against it, he did deliver a lengthy judgment in favour of the taxpayer, whose case was somewhat similar to that which Deputy Costello has mentioned in this House. Now, we have been told about the methods of the Revenue Commissioners. What did they do in this case? The moment it was clear that the law favoured the taxpayer to whom Deputy Costello has referred they withdrew the assessment. They intimated to the taxpayer's legal advisers that they were prepared to withdraw the assessment. Of course it was said that they had to go in and have the assessment discharged by court order. That was not the seeking of the Revenue Commissioners. Before the assessment was discharged by agreement, by court order, they had agreed to withdraw it. That is the point the Deputy put forward.

It is not.

That is the one case that he dealt with, shall I say, with any preciseness in this House. What do we find? That there was a question as to whether a person who had admittedly made substantial profits, running into tens of thousands of pounds, was assessable for taxes or not. It was an open question. Another taxpayer had contested the authority of the Revenue Commissioners to make an assessment in a somewhat similar case. He won his case before the Circuit Court judge, and at once the assessment in the second case was dropped. It was agreed that it should be discharged by court order. That is the whole foundation for Deputy Costello's speech here to-night. Charges have been bandied about in this House as to the way in which revenue is collected and as to the manner in which the law, which is devised to protect the honest taxpayer, is enforced. Remember this: the dishonest taxpayer does not defraud the Revenue. The Government has to get a certain amount of money to carry on services of which the Dáil has approved. If the State does not get that money from every taxpayer according to what is properly due by him, if some taxpayers are able by various devices, subterfuges and concealments, wilful or otherwise, to avoid paying what is justly due to the Exchequer, other taxpayers—people who are in receipt of salaries and others who have a proper conscience in this matter, who have a better sense of public duty, who are prepared to pay their way— have to make good the dishonest man's default. It is not the Revenue loses. We have to make good at the expense of the honest man what we have been cheated out of by the dishonest man. Since this Government came into office it has made up its mind that taxes would be collected efficiently, and, in so far as we are endeavouring to make those who are in default in their proper obligations to the State meet these obligations, we are protecting the honest man and the honest citizen.

The Minister has allowed his rhetoric about the dishonest citizen and the dishonest taxpayer to run away with him. Let me make clear that I have no sympathy with the dishonest taxpayer. The people being harassed are not dishonest taxpayers, in the main. The dishonest taxpayers are well able to look after themselves. They are able to look after themselves as efficiently as the Revenue Commissioners are able to do their work and they get away with it very often. It is the honest taxpayers who are being harassed and worried, I can say, without exaggeration or hyperbole, even to the grave. These are the people with whom I am in sympathy, the people I am defending in this House. The honest taxpayer who suffers from a conscience is not able to get away with fraud but in order to save himself from worry he pays money which he knows he is not bound to pay to the Revenue. The Exchequer of this country has gained very largely from that class of thing during the last four years. Yet this is the Government which masquerades as a Government that made up its mind that taxes were going to be collected efficiently and that the honest taxpayer would not be allowed to suffer. May I say that the Minister has not stated correctly the point at issue in the case to which I referred at all? The point in that case was not whether cattle dealing was assessable, as a farming business, to excess profits duty. The question was whether the man was a farmer or was engaged in cattle dealing—an entirely different proposition. One was a question of law, the other a question of fact. On the question of fact the man took the stand: "I never dealt in cattle in my life. I did ordinary farming and made money during the war, and, unlike many another farmer, I kept it." He told that to the Revenue Commissioners. He made the case from start to finish that he never engaged in the cattle business as a dealer. The point of law which the Minister has tried to get away with was not involved in that case at all. He was not asked by the Revenue Commissioners whether he was a cattle dealer. He was asked to produce his accounts so that they could look through his books to see if they could harass him in any other direction.

I do not want to delay the House much longer on this amendment. Deputy Costello said that he is not in favour of dishonest taxpayers. I am afraid that, like myself, his memory may not always serve him. I see that in volume 62 of the Official Reports, column 456, Deputy Costello said on May 14th: "If they have not been discovered the perpetrators of the frauds are entitled to get away with them." That seems to me to be applauding the fox who is able to get away with the goose.

I do not intend to resort to the device of the President of the Executive Council, and say that the Minister has taken that quotation out of its context. That is what the President would do. I draw the attention of the Minister and the House to the fact that in making that speech I was alluding to the underlying principle of the Statutes of Limitation, and I told the Minister that even fraud was protected by limitation.

Are we discussing the Statutes of Limitation?

The Deputy is entitled to reply to points made.

I have not questioned the Deputy's right to reply. The Minister is asking whether we can discuss the Statutes of Limitations upon this section.

Fortunately I have not the slightest intention of discussing the Statutes of Limitation upon this, or any other, section. I am drawing the attention of the Minister to the fact that in making that speech I drew attention to the principle underlying the Statutes of Limitation, and went on to point out that even in cases of fraud limitation was implied.

Will the Deputy tell the House when the Statutes of Limitation commences to run in cases of fraud.

In one breath the Minister protests against the Statutes of Limitation being brought in and in the next he wants information about it.

No, what I want to know is if the Deputy argues this matter on the grounds of the Statutes of Limitation, shall I be allowed to follow him?

So far as I am concerned, the Minister can deal with the whole series of statutes since they were devised by the ecclesiastical courts, down to the 21st of James I, and then when they came over here.

Will the Deputy tell us when the statutes commence to run in the case of fraud?

I told the Minister that in the speech from which he made a quotation.

Tell us now?

I will. When a fraud can be discovered by the exercise of reasonable care equity steps in and does not allow a person to take advantage of fraud to prevent the statute running. I think now I have given the Minister a sufficient lecture on legal principles. If the Minister wants any more tuition I would refer him to some lecturer on the ordinary law of contracts, and on principles of equity. If he has not all the information he wants perhaps he would apply to some Deputies in this House who have been newly called to the Irish Bar and are fresh from their lectures at King's Inns.

Perhaps the Deputy might explain again Article 73 of the Constitution.

If the Minister thinks that the statement he quoted for me purports to be as he claimed, then he can have it so. I say that after the lapse of a certain time the principles are applied there, as in ordinary cases, that a man should be allowed to get away with his fraud in the interest of the community. The principle that underlies these Statutes of Limitation in the cases of fraud is because Statutes of Limitation are called Statutes of Repose. That is the reason that even equity allows fraud to be condoned even if perpetrated.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 10:—

Before Section 6, in Part I to insert a new section as follows:—

In any case in which agreement has been arrived at (whether before or after the passing of this Act) between the Revenue Commissioners, an inspector of taxes or any person on their behalf respectively and any person charged with or assessed to or alleged to be liable to be charged with or assessed to income tax, surtax or excess profits duty in reference to the liability of such person to any such tax or duty or the amount or payment of any such tax or duty or in reference to any matter or thing connected with or incidental thereto every such agreement shall be binding upon and enforceable against the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister for Finance.

This amendment again is so reasonable that its very reasonableness, I am afraid, destroys its chance of being accepted. The amendment means this, that if a taxpayer makes an agreement with the Revenue Commissioners, or with the inspector of taxes, that agreement shall be binding. That seems to me to be reasonable in every respect. Everybody knows that a taxpayer comes to the inspector of taxes and, in the same way as a man carrying on his ordinary business would make a business proposition, makes his arrangements. The inspector may say: "You owe me so much," and the taxpayer may say: "I owe you nothing," but eventually they come to an agreement. Neither side gets away with his demand. A compromise is arrived at and is binding for both parties and never can be reopened except in the case of fraud. I want to secure that any arrangement reached bona fide between a taxpayer and an inspector of taxes or the Revenue Commissioners or anyone on their behalf should be incapable of being repudiated. As the law stands, irrespective of fraud or anything else, an inspector of taxes or the Revenue Commissioners can repudiate an honourable agreement arrived at with the taxpayer and reopen it years afterwards. I think that is not just or right.

It is obviously impossible to accept this amendment. Everyone knows an inspector of taxes has no power to make anything in the nature of a settlement. He can make an assessment according to law, and I think the Revenue Commissioners are in the same position as regards assessments made by them. Settlementsper se have not been made. Where the taxpayer, however, has made a full disclosure of his liabilities for the past years for which he has been not assessed, the Revenue Commissioners, in the light of the information given, have intimated that they are prepared to accept a definite sum in satisfaction of all duties and penalties up to a specified date, it has not been, and will not be, the practice to reopen such cases. That is a very different matter to what is proposed here in this amendment. As the amendment is worded it would debar a reopening in any case, and, accordingly, it is obviously impossible to accept it.

The Minister's reason is a peculiar one. He will not accept the amendment because the inspector of taxes has no power to make a settlement, but in the next breath he says that an inspector did make a settlement.

No; I said the inspector made an assessment.

The Minister, as I heard him, said the inspector had power to make a settlement.

I said that an inspector of taxes had power to make assessments, but no power to make settlements. I did not say that an inspector of taxes made settlements.

We can take it now that no agreement between a taxpayer and an inspector of taxes is worth even honourable mention. It cannot be relied upon.

I said that where the Revenue Commissioners had made agreements it was not the practice, and it will not be the practice, to reopen such cases.

The Minister wants to have one law for members of the Executive Council and another law for the plain people. This provision is on a par with the question of tariff duties. If goods are smuggled in, a duty of several times their value can be imposed. The Minister will not place the Ministry and the people on a par. He wants one law for the Ministry and another for the people. There should be one law for all and, when a contract is entered into, it should be respected by both the Ministry and the people.

The experience of Deputy McGovern, who lives near the Border, should extend even further than that. Does he not know that some people who smuggle sugar are not brought before the courts, and that other people who are found smuggling sugar are brought before the courts?

How does this arise?

These questions do not arise on this amendment.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment No. 11:—

Before Section 6 in Part I to insert a new section as follows:—

Notwithstanding any enactment, rule or law or practice to the contrary an appeal shall lie to the Circuit Court from any and every rule, order or decision of the Special Commissioners of Income Tax.

I have ceased to expect the Minister to give any reason why amendments of this kind should not be given the consideration they deserve. This amendment was partially discussed on the Courts of Justice Bill. Its object is to provide that, in every case, there shall be an appeal from the Special Commissioners of Income Tax to the Circuit judge. What is the objection to that amendment? I suppose that, in 90 per cent. of the cases that come before the Special Commissioners, an appeal lies. The general rule is that an appeal lies from the Special Commissioners to the Circuit judge. Why should not that apply in every case? Perhaps the Minister would tell me why, before I develop the case further?

The onus is on the Deputy to make his complete case.

The Minister refuses to give information. Can he give me any adequate reason why this amendment should not be accepted, so that time will not be wasted? If he satisfied me that it was an undesirable amendment in any way, I should withdraw it.

The onus is on the Deputy to show that the amendment is desirable, particularly in view of the fact that, during the period he held office under our predecessors, the law was the same as it is now.

I cannot see how the fact that the law was the same under the Minister's predecessors is any justification for its continuance.

The Deputy ought to know both sides of his case and he should now proceed to make it.

I can and shall make the case. Apart from the question of waste of time, I do not wish to go into the case fully because I developed these matters on the Courts of Justice Bill. I shall, however, make the case fully but very briefly for the Minister. The Special Commissioners of Income Tax are civil servants. They are part of the office of the Revenue Commissioners. They exercise quasi-judicial, if not judicial, functions of very vital import to the taxpayers. They perform a useful function and they do it well. I make no reflection whatever on the Special Commissioners but I say it is better the taxpayer should be left under no sense of grievance. The ordinary taxpayer knows that these two men who hear his appeal from the inspector of taxes who has assessed him are officials of the Revenue Commissioners. My recollection is that the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners or the solicitor to the Revenue Commissioners could be a Special Commissioner of Income Tax. They do not, in fact or in practice, so act.

Is not that the important element—that they do not, in fact, so act?

Of course, it is not. The important fact that underlines and emphasises the point I am making is that, to the ordinary taxpayer coming to make his case before the Special Commissioners, these men are civil servants, officials of the Revenue Commissioners, part of the Revenue Commissioners' staff and, consequently in the eyes of the taxpayer, may not be trusted to give him a fair deal. I have made quite clear that I think they do give a fair deal to the taxpayer, but I am speaking of people of whom I have considerably more experience than the Minister. The ordinary litigant is suspicious to the last degree—suspicious even of the independent judiciary. In every case of importance, an appeal does lie from the Special Commissioners to the Circuit judge. Only a small residue of matters appears to lie within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Special Commissioners. One of the matters is, I think, the question of reliefs. They are matters of some importance to the small taxpayer. The smaller he is, the greater the importance of these matters to him. I see no reason why, remembering that in matters of great importance—the amount of the assessment, the liability to be assessed and other matters of that kind—there is appeal, as of right, to the Circuit judge, exclusive jurisdiction should be given in minor matters to the Special Commissioners. I think that that is due to oversight. If I had adverted to that matter when I had any responsibility, I would have urged amendment of the law and I shall do so at the appropriate moment if the Minister is not prepared to do so.

The Special Commissioners are civil servants whose salaries are borne on the Vote of the Revenue Commissioners. They hold office at the will and pleasure of the Executive Council. They are hearing cases of vital importance to the taxpayers. These facts are in themselves sufficient to cast doubt in the minds of the taxpayers. Even if that doubt be unreasoning and unreasonable, it ought to be removed. It will conduce, in my opinion, to the respect taxpayers will have for the decisions of the Special Commissioners if they know that over and above them there is a judicial tribunal in the fullest sense of the term to whom they may appeal in the event of their being of opinion that justice has been denied them by the Special Commissioners, whether they are right or wrong in that opinion. I cannot see any reason why that appeal should not be given. The last point I shall make is well known to the Minister. It is better that this point should not be further developed. The Special Commissioners are exercising judicial functions. So long as there is an appeal from them to the Circuit judge, there is a protection against a constitutional point being raised as to their jurisdiction.

I cannot understand Deputy Costello's attitude to this amendment. He has made a statement and, if I heard it correctly, it is rather an extraordinary one. He said that the reason the right of appeal in certain cases had not been given was because of an oversight. There have been at least three instances in the financial statutes passed since 1924 which gave the right of appeal from the Revenue. Commissioners to the Special Commissioners and on a point of law to the High Court but expressly ruled out the claim for rehearing by the Circuit judge.

It gave an appeal to the courts.

It granted an appeal to the High Court on a point of law and expressly ruled out the claim for rehearing by the Circuit Court judge. Again, the right of rehearing by the Circuit Court judge in connection with Section 12 of the Finance Act of 1924, and paragraph 4 of Part II of the First Schedule to the Act of 1926 also expressly ruled it out.

What was ruled out? Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to tell me to what section he is referring?

The right of rehearing by the Circuit judge was ruled out.

What I am asking is the right of rehearing by any judge.

The Deputy puts down one thing on the Order Paper and asks for something else here.

Is the Minister stating that he proposes to continue the system of the exclusive jurisdiction of the Special Commissioners or is he in favour of an appeal to the High Courts?

I am in favour of the law standing as it is since 1924, or, I might say, since 1853. This statute has stood the test of time.

It certainly has not stood the test of time, anyway.

This particular section has, in any event, so far even as there have been four recent amendments specifically ruled out, the right of appeal from the Special Commissioners, except only on points of law to the High Court. There have been four amendments of that description since 1924—two of them before Deputy Costello became Attorney-General and two of them after. I have cited the three earlier ones. Again, the Finance Act of 1930 provided expressly that the decision of the Special Commissioners in connection with an application under Section 4 should be final and conclusive. I think the House ought to understand what the present position is. Of course the attempt is made here to prejudice the whole position by saying that the Special Commissioners are civil servants. They are, and always have been, civil servants, by reason of the fact they have held their position under the tenure of civil servants, but they are as independent in the exercise of their functions as any member of the judiciary. Not even Deputy Costello has ever said that there has been any attempt to influence them improperly in giving their decision. That, of course, is the essence of the matter—that they are a perfectly fair, just and impartial tribunal. There is no reason to throw any suspicion on them. The manner in which the Deputy tried to do it here this evening was to say that they were civil servants. I have a high regard for the probity, honour, uprightness and virtue of civil servants. I have been tremendously impressed during the four years I have been in office by the manner in which civil servants try to do their duty independently of any consideration, without seeking to curry any favour with Ministers or anyone else and with a just regard to what is properly due to the taxpayer. But apart altogether from the fact that they are members of this very honourable body, the Special Commissioners are particularly secured. No person will dare to influence them. They have a status by custom and law. They have been established by custom and law as a fair tribunal in this matter. I am perfectly certain that no man of honour would occupy their position if he did not feel himself able to do justice between the Revenue Commissioners on the one hand and the taxpayers on the other.

What is the position? The present position broadly is this: that there is an appeal to the Special Commissioners against every assessment of income-tax. The taxpayer, if he so desires, has the right to require that after the appeal there may be a rehearing by the Circuit judge. The Revenue Commissioners have not that right. They have to abide by the decision of the Special Commissioners. The taxpayers or the Revenue Commissioners can require the Special Commissioners to state a case for the High Court on a point of law, but so far as any appeal to the Circuit Court is concerned, the taxpayer has a right to have his case reheard in the Circuit Court and the Revenue Commissioners have not. As I have said already, this system has worked well for over 80 years. Our predecessors, who brought in four new statutory provisions relating to applications and rehearing from the Special Commissioners, saw no reason for a change, and in my view no reason has been adduced to-night for making a change.

The Minister for Finance made a most impressive declaration of faith in the civil servants, but he cut their salaries and refused the concession he promised them before the present Government came into power.

I must deny that.

So far as I am concerned, I am not taken in by that sort of clap-trap oratory made on this question of appeals.

The Deputy is now bringing in this question about civil servants.

No; the Minister dragged it in himself. He said that these men forming the Special Commissioners are an impartial and just tribunal. I entirely agree. I never said they were just and impartial, because it was not necessary to say so. To insist on it is an insult to these gentlemen, because it is an accepted fact that they are a just and impartial tribunal. But the District Court is a just and impartial tribunal and there is an appeal from the District Court to the Circuit Court, and it is no reflection on the justice and impartiality of the District Court that there should be such an appeal. The Circuit Court is a just and impartial tribunal, but there is an appeal from the Circuit Court to the High Court, and it is no reflection on the justice and impartiality of the Circuit judges that there should be this appeal. There is an appeal from the High Court to the Supreme Court, and that is no reflection on the impartiality and justice of the High Court. Why the Minister should get up and use his clap-trap for the purpose of confusing the issue is capable of only one explanation, and that is that he has no reasonable argument to offer against this amendment. It is not the justice and impartiality of the Special Commissioners of which I complain. I say it is good for any inferior tribunal to have an appeal to some higher tribunal, irrespective of to whom that appeal is to be made.

It is quite good for their morale and decisions. It is a necessity for the taxpayer in this case. It is not the justice or impartiality that I am complaining about. But, like the District Court, they are not always right; like the Circuit Court they are not always right. Even the High Court has on frequent occasions been set right by the Supreme Court. That is all I am asking in the amendment, that from a body, which is in fact a civil service body, just and impartial as all civil service bodies are, who have not always been right in their decisions, there should be an appeal to a judicial tribunal. It is not merely proper that there should be such an appeal, but I think it is a constitutional right that there should be, in accordance with the Constitution. That is what I am asking for in the amendment. I do not care whether the appeal is to the Circuit judge in most cases or in all cases, so long as there is an appeal to some judicial tribunal to satisfy the taxpayers and give them confidence in the administration of the revenue laws, which they have not got at present.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
Section 7 and 8 agreed to.
SECTION 9

Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 are out of order.

Question proposed: That Section 9 stand part of the Bill.

I put down certain amendments to this section which have been declared out of order. At the same time, I suppose I can mention some matters arising under the section. This section is in many ways an extraordinary one. As I have stated before, the duties imposed under this section run from 39 per cent. as high as 500 per cent. on various articles of glass. The Minister stated that he hoped at the present price to do an export trade in glass, and that the price would not exceed the present price charged by more than 10 per cent. I should like to ask the Minister what exactly the 10 per cent. excess means. Is that calculated on the normal world price of foreign glass delivered in this country, packed in cases, because I want to see what we are comparing the price with? In other words, is the Minister taking the glass manufactured in this country at the factory as against the glass brought into this country and saying that the price will not exceed the price of the imported article by more than 10 per cent? I am sure that the Minister when replying will clear that up. If that is so, it seems extraordinary that protective duties are required for an article such as that, and at a price such as that, as high as 500 per cent.

There is another aspect of the section to which I should like to draw attention—the extraordinary passion of the present Government for putting on tariffs on a whole host of articles that are not going to be manufactured, or are not likely to be manufactured in this country, in order to protect a limited range of articles. Under the Emergency Duties Act, which I consider in some cases has been improperly used for putting on protective or revenue duties, the Government can put on a duty in five minutes. Yet a whole range of articles is protected, and the commercial community, and the general public whom they serve, are put to the trouble and expense of applying for licences, permits, or quotas. To show that the dread of the commercial community of quotas is well founded, I shall refer to one article which is very much before the public at the moment, namely, cement. The commercial community had to go to the expense of getting auditors to certify their returns for cement and various quotas were made out and allotted. Now, apparently, that has all gone by the board. However, let that go by the board, too, because cement has nothing to do with glass.

As I understand it, and I am not belittling in any way the industry which has been started, the company are going to make sheet glass, rolled-plate, wire-drove plate, and some patterns of figured rolled-plate glass. They are also going to do silvering and bevelling. That, as I am informed, is the entire range of the company's activities. If they like to extend their activities, which I do not object to in any way, the Government can put on protective duties on the articles they are going to manufacture in five minutes.

There is another point in connection with this section. The Government might as well describe the articles accurately. Would the Minister say what is plate glass? That is not a trap question. What I am anxious about is to find out what he understands by plate glass, because that is a matter that will crop up in an aggravated form if the section, as at present worded, is passed.

There is no mention in any of these sections of polished plate glass. What, according to the Minister's idea, is coloured plate glass, or under what section does it come? I will not say that these things are improperly described but I do say that they are unitelligible to people in the trade. One of the reasons why my amendments have been ruled out of order is that I took the trade meaning of plate glass, and understood it to mean polished plate glass. To illustrate the difficulties and the expense that the commercial community will be put to with no possible benefit that I can see to the company who are manufacturing glass, I would like to read for the House a list of the various kinds of glasses that the company are not manufacturing and have no intention of manufacturing: bent sheet glass of all kinds; bent polished plate glass of all kinds, coloured glass, all kinds; vitrolite or other opalescent, vita glass, polished plate glass, marbrite, marmoreen, prismatic, maximum, enamelled, glass domes, round and oval; armoured plate, clear or coloured. I suggest to the Minister that there is not the slightest intention on the part of the company to manufacture any one of these kinds of glasses.

When I said that the company were about to manufacture certain patterns of figured rolled plate-glass, I made the Minister a present of an enormous range in doing so. Would the Minister explain what is the difficulty in specifying that there is to be a protective duty of whatever size he considers necessary on sheet-glass and rolled plate-glass, wired if he likes, and figured rolled plate-glass? The company, of course, can do the silvering and the bevelling. The Minister can put that in also although it is somewhat controversial. Would the Minister say what is the difficulty in specifying plainly the articles that the company are going to manufacture? The list of glasses that I have read out will give Deputies some idea of the difficulties that confront people carrying on the glass trade in the way of asking for permits or getting licences for the importation of the big range of glasses that will not be manufactured here. What possible competition can there be in the case of these glasses?

I have referred to vitrolite or other opalescent glasses. That is the raw material for those who are manufacturing what are known in the trade as splash packs which are put at the back of lavatory basins with perhaps a mirror on them. What is the good in making difficulties for getting raw material for a particular trade? Surely all these glasses that I have read out might be omitted from the section for the present? If the Government, or some company, liked to spend £250,000 in putting up polished plate-glass works they can put on a protective duty or a prohibitive tariff to encourage that class of manufacture and I will not complain. We on this side consider that where an article is going to be made in this country, honestly and properly, those engaged in its manufacture are entitled to a protective duty. What we do object to is this awful system of licences and permits on things that have nothing to do with a particular article, that confers no benefit on the country and only brings discredit on those engaged in the manufacture of that particular article. I would ask the Minister to deal with these points when he is replying.

If the Deputy wanted to get a reply to the points that he has raised he would have been well advised to have given some notice of his intention to raise them. I could not follow all the Deputy's remarks, but I was able to do so sufficiently to say that he is obviously misinformed concerning the intentions of the company which is going to manufacture glass in the Saorstát. The company, I understand, propose to manufacture figured glass and roll glass as well as certain classes of vitrolite and of safety glass. With regard to the armoured plate-glass. I presume, it is the same description of article otherwise described as reinforced glass, and, if so, the company propose to make reinforced glass. They do not propose to make coloured glass, but we cannot exclude coloured glass from the scope of the duty because apparently ordinary plate-glass is coloured, and there would be some danger of evasion of duty if the definition of the duty were so drawn as to exclude from its scope coloured plate-glass. Consequently, it is necessary to deal with that difficulty by means of a licensing provision.

So far as ordinary coloured glass is concerned, licences will be issued on application. There will be no restriction on its importation, and the sole reason why it is not possible to exclude it from the scope of the duty is the difficulty, with regard to the defination, which I have given. So far as bent glass is concerned, there is not very much of it being imported. The company do not propose to manufacture it. We may, perhaps be able to frame an amendment to exclude bent glass from the scope of the duty. Apart from that, it is not desirable, I think, to alter the provision in the section. If the Deputy looks into the matter he will find that the various suggestions that he has made would be inappropriate, having regard to the manufacturing programme of the company and the definition difficulties likely to arise.

I do not want to trap the Minister into a discussion on a subject such as this. If he is prepared to accept the principle that he only wants protection on the articles manufactured by the company, and to prevent any evasions of that, well then we aread idem.

I must really controvert some of the statements made by the Minister. He is confusing armoured plate, clear or coloured, and reinforced, which is his own word, with what we in the trade call wired. Now, wired, I imagine, is the same as what is described here in paragraph (a) as reinforced. Armoured plate, clear or coloured, is an entirely different substance. That is hardened by an electrolytic process, and is the raw material of some of the shop fitters. I merely mention that, so far as I know, the company have not the slightest intention of manufacturing that; it is supplied in tremendous thicknesses. The Minister spoke about polished plate glass being coloured. That is a thing I wish to question; I deny it is coloured. I suppose the Minister knows what coloured plate glass is. For instance, the doors coming in here into this apartment have polished plate glass, and there is the faintest tinge of green possible in some of them. Now, others are absolutely crystal clear. I do not think, if the Minister considers the matter, that there would be the slightest difficulty in separating polished plate and some other sections —a whole lot of these—from the sections he is anxious to protect. Having accepted the principle, I am not going to ask the Minister to specify what he will accept and what he will not accept. If he is prepared to look into this matter between now and the Report Stage, I am perfectly satisfied.

I think we can meet the Deputy so far as bent glass is concerned. We were very much concerned to exclude coloured glass, if it were possible to do so, without opening an avenue for the evasion of the duty. I do not think we will be able to get over the difficulty of coloured glass except by means of the licensing provisions. It is in respect of these two classes that the difficulty will arise.

I am suggesting to the Minister that the plate-glass will exclude itself on the question of price, because polished plate is many times dearer than drawn sheets, and there is not the slightest danger that I can see. However, I do not want to enter into an argument with the Minister. As regards prismatic, enamelled glass domes, round and oval, surely you could cut those out? However, we have now got down to arguing about details, and it would probably be better to postpone that. I suggest to the Minister that as he has given way on bent glass, polished plate can be left out altogether. Of course he will probably take powers to silver polished plate. I expect he will want to exempt it, and very properly, because it is silvered in this country. There are certain others of these sections that are just as clear-cut, and it is not possible to have them confounded with the others. However, I leave that to the Minister.

Section 9 agreed to.
SECTION 10.
(2) On and after the 1st day of July, 1936, entertainments duty on all payments for admission to any entertainment which consists wholly or mainly of a cinematographic exhibition shall (save as is otherwise provided by the next following sub-section of this section) be charged, levied, and paid at the following rates in lieu of the rates specified in sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935), that is to say:—
(3) Section 22 (which relates to the exemption of stage plays, etc., from entertainments duty) of the Finance Act, 1931 (No. 31 of 1931), shall not apply, on or after the 1st day of July, 1936, to any entertainment in a theatre in respect of which letters patent have been issued and are in force under the Act of the Parliament of Ireland passed in the year 1786 and entitled "An Act for Regulating the Stage in the City and County of Dublin," and in lieu thereof the following provisions shall have effect as on and from the said 1st day of July, 1936, that is to say:—
(b) entertainments duty shall be charged, levied and paid on all payments for admission to any entertainment in any such theatre as aforesaid at rates equal to fifty per cent. of the respective rates set forth in the next preceding sub-section of this section where—
(i) the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that such entertainment consists partly of a personal performance and partly of a cinematographic exhibition and that such personal performance constitutes less than seventy-five per cent. of the whole entertainment, and
(ii) arrangements are in force whereby the entertainments duty on payments for admission to such theatre is charged and paid of the basis of certified returns of such payments for admission furnished by the proprietor of such theatre to the Revenue Commissioners;
(c) entertainments duty shall be charged, levied, and paid on all payments for admission to any entertainment in any such theatre as aforesaid at the rates set forth in the next preceding sub-section of this section where—
(i) such entertainment consists partly of a personal performance and partly of a cinematographic exhibition, and
(ii) neither of the foregoing paragraphs of this sub-section applies to such entertainment.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In sub-section (2), page 8, line 39, to delete the figure and letters "1st" and substitute the figure and letters "5th".

This amendment is proposed for the convenience of cinema proprietors. The returns furnished to the Revenue Commissioners by proprietors who pay duty on the basis of certified returns are in respect of the week commencing with Sunday, and the adoption of a day in mid-week for the date of the first operation of an altered scale of rates of duty causes extra trouble and may lead in some cases to confusion. Accordingly, Sunday, 5th July, is taken as the day for putting the new scale into operation.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In sub-section (3), page 9, in lines 1 and 2 and also in line 7, to delete the figure and words "1st day of July" and substitute in each case the figures and words "23rd day of August."

This amendment and also amendment No. 18 might, I think, be considered together. This amendment is really moved for the purpose of granting a concession to those theatres in which cinema-variety shows are staged. They will be called upon to pay entertainments duty at half the standard rates. Under these two amendments it is proposed not to bring the duty into operation until the 23rd August, instead of 1st July as originally anticipated and it is also proposed to reduce the statutory minimum for the live element in the entertainment from 50 per cent. to 35 per cent. It will permit them to have greater flexibility in the arrangement of their programme, and will meet, I think, fairly satisfactorily, the new situation which has been created.

Amendment No. 17 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:—

In sub-section (3), page 9, to delete paragraphs (b) and (c) and substitute two new paragraphs as follows:—

(b) entertainments duty shall be charged, levied, and paid on all payments for admission to any entertainment in any such theatre as aforesaid at the rates set forth in the next preceding sub-section of this section where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied—

(i) that such entertainment consists partly of a personal performance and partly of a cinematographic exhibition, and

(ii) that the next preceding paragraph of this sub-section does not apply to such entertainment;

(c) where—

(i) entertainments duty has been paid on payments for admission to an entertainment in any such theatre as aforesaid, and

(ii) such duty was charged on the basis of certified returns of such payments for admission furnished by the proprietors of such theatre to the Revenue Commissioners, and

(iii) the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that such entertainment consisted partly of a personal performance and partly of a cinematographic exhibition and that such personal performance constituted less than 75 per cent. and not less than 35 per cent. of the whole entertainment,

the Revenue Commissioners shall repay to the proprietor of such entertainment an amount equal to one-half of the said duty so charged and paid.

Amendment No. 18 agreed to.

I suppose there is no possibility of the Minister agreeing to the next amendment? I take it the amendment the House has just accepted will relieve the situation so far as these people are concerned, coupled with the change of date?

I think so. It has been designed to meet the representations made.

Amendment No. 19 not moved.
Sections 10, as amended, 11, 12 and 13 agreed to.
SECTION 14.

I think amendments Nos. 20 and 21 might be debated together.

I move amendment No. 20:—

Before Section 14 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) There shall be allowed in respect of beer brewed in Saorstát Eireann on and after the 6th day of October, 1936, the following rebate from the Excise duty now payable in respect thereof, that is to say:—

In the case of beer brewed by a brewer for sale for every 32 gallons of beer of whatever original gravity charged with duty and delivered from the brewery, a rebate of one pound, or where the duty now payable in respect of thirty-two gallons of any beer so charged and delivered is less than two pounds four shillings, a rebate equal to the amount by which that duty exceeds the sum of one pounds four shillings; and so in proportion for any less quantity.

(2) The Excise drawback now payable on the exportation of any beer or on the deposit thereof in a warehouse for exportation from Saorstát Eireann as merchandise or for ship's stores shall unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners that no rebate has been allowed in respect of that beer under this section be reduced by an amount equal to the amount of the rebate allowable under this section in respect thereof.

(3) This section shall be deemed to have effect as from the 6th day of October, 1936.

(4) The Revenue Commissioners may make such regulations as they consider necessary for the purpose of carrying this section into effect, and in particular for the purpose of facilitating and controlling the calculation of the amount of the rebate to be allowed under this section and with respect to the method of computing the quantity of the beer in respect of which rebate is to be allowed.

The proposal in this amendment is pretty well worn, because it has been brought forward in connection with Finance Bills here from year to year. It asks the Minister to see the reasonableness of agreeing to a reduction in the interests of the working class people of the country, the people who mainly consume beer of the light or the heavier forms. From any angle I am quite sure that the Minister is conversant with all the facts and figures which I could put before him to-night. Members of the licensed trade have been very active this year, as they have been in other years, in laying a full statement of the case before the Minister, both from the point of view of the heavy exactions made upon them because of the continuance of war time taxation in normal times, and the hardship that that is inflicting upon the country generally. There are various view-points that ought to influence the Minister to give this matter his very favourable consideration. First, from the point of view of employment, there has certainly been a great reduction in employment through the diminution of the drinking of beer in the country. The loss to the barley growers would be something in the region of 500,000 barrels per annum, caused by the decreased consumption owing to war prices at a time when we have not war conditions. That carries in its train also, of course, a loss of employment in the distribution, and a loss to coopers and other people who have incidental employment in the manufacture and distribution of this native beverage.

It cannot be that the Minister is influenced by financial reasons, because it has been clearly proven on the other side of the water that when they wanted to increase the revenue they did it by reduction of the taxes on beer to a reasonable figure. There have been results to justify that. When they maintain a high level of taxation they lose revenue in the long run. It is estimated that if the concession sought in this amendment were conceded in regard to plain porter, as it is known here in Dublin, there will be an estimated loss of between £200,000 and £270,000 in a complete year. This amendment deals only with the period from 6th October, which would be just about half a year. But that estimated figure will have to be taken in relation to the absolute certainty of an increased consumption which I think it would be reasonable to assume would more than counteract or counterbalance any estimated loss. I do not think, therefore, that the Minister would dream of objecting to this amendment from the point of view of loss of revenue. He certainly could not resist it from the point of view of the interest that the Government has and must have in trying to cope with the unemployment menace. Any and every avenue ought to be explored to try to provide employment for our people.

What then can be the Minister's idea in resisting this amendment, if he will resist it, which I hope he will not? There can only be one reason, and that is the fear of increased drunkenness among our people. This is a matter which caused very serious discussion throughout the country during the régime of this Government and also of their predecessors. It is a very thorny subject, and one that many Deputies are diffident about tackling, but I think it ought to be courageously faced up to. We ought to ask ourselves if we are going to be a race of teetotallers, or if we are going to be a nation following on the lines that Russia and America found to be unsuitable for them and eventually had to abandon—the lines of total prohibition. If there is going to be the drinking of a pint allowed in this country, it is not reasonable to expect that the working-class people of this State should be asked to have their drink at such a prohibitive cost in comparison to the price which must be paid for the same drink in Northern Ireland or Great Britain. Personally, I would be very sorry to see anything done here which would lead to increased drunkenness in the country, but I have not the least fear that the reduction sought for in this amendment would have that effect. In fact, I believe it would lead to more careful and beneficial use of the beverages of beer and stout.

Anybody conversant with working-class conditions knows it is unreasonable to suggest that beer and stout can be treated as luxuries in relation to working-class people. Dockers and people of that kind engaged in very laborious occupations do a good deal of their work on the sustenance which they draw from stout and porter. It is their main beverage, and in some cases their food. If a man is confined to a limited expenditure in the week—as working-class people are, owing to the wages they receive—the first thing he has got to do is to contribute what the household needs for its requirements during the week, and what is left is all the working man can hope to have for the enjoyment of his leisure hours. From a study of this question, what I feel is happening is this: The working man finds he has a certain limited amount of money left after providing his wife with what is necessary for the week's budget, and he says: "This is not going to last me all the week, so I might as well spend it all on Friday night." Consequently, he has more pints than are good for him on Friday night and on Saturday. I suggest that if the drink were not quite so prohibitive in price he would be able to spread that money over the week, and have a pint or two per night, which would be a nourishment for him, instead of having it all on one night. This is a very prosaic and common-place discussion on what is a very common-place topic, and one which ought to be faced up to. I am inclined to believe that the Minister's idea in resisting a diminution in duties is not because of a fear that he would lose revenue—he knows he would not— and not, as I said, because he is ignoring the necessity for increased employment; I feel it is because of his fear that any reduction in beer duties is going inevitably to lead to increased drunkenness in our country.

I suggest that an inquiry into the statistics of the drink evil in the country in recent years will show that the major portion of the drunkenness cases tried by the district justices are not concerned with people who drink beer, who are mainly the working class people. The higher percentage of cases causing investigation by the Gárdaí and the district justices comes from that section of the community who drink something more high-falutin and lofty—champagne, wines and whiskey. I think it would be very well worth while inquiring into that matter, if that is the reason at the back of the Minister's mind for objecting to this reduction. If he has not got it at the back of his mind it is at the back of the minds of a lot of very influential people in this country who are trying to tie us down rigidly to the assumption that any opening of this door is going inevitably to lead to definite drunkenness. I do suggest that those pioneer methods are not necessary not desirable nor advisable to-day. Pioneering methods call for muscular and robust tactics at the outset, but after that the pioneers do not continue those rough muscular tactics. They adopt much less drastic methods, which are more suitable to the needs of the occasion. I suggest that it is not now necessary to adopt pioneering tactics in dealing with the drink menace in this country. I believe there is no greater danger amongst our Irish people of sitting back into excessive drinking than there is amongst any other people in the world.

I do seriously suggest that the Minister should look calmly into this matter, and I think he ought to deal with it on very broad lines. I feel that in various parts of this House, whether on the Government Benches, the Opposition Benches or the Labour Benches, there are very definite views on this question, and I should like to have recorded the views of the elected Deputies of this House on the question of beer duties. I have carefully avoided dealing with spirit duties. That is quite another question. I am mainly concerned with duties on stout and porter. I think it would be very desirable in the interests of the country's progress as a whole that a decision should be taken in this House—free from Party trammels. As I said outside the House, we have plenty of expression given to views on the question.

We have various contending Parties, each of them fanatical, perhaps, in their own points of view and with not a good deal of common-sense between them. You do not get common-sense in extremes, and perhaps, sometimes, you do not get common-sense between extremes either. I should like to have, for once, a free expression of opinion of the Deputies of this House on this matter and I think, if it would not be too much to ask the Minister to do so, he ought to allow this matter to be tested by a free vote of the House. I do not think he need have much fear that his revenue would suffer by this reduction. The estimated loss would be only about £250,000 for 12 months, and we are only asking for half of that. I think that the increased consumption would counterbalance that. At any rate, it would be surely worth the experiment for one half-year—from next October to next March—in order to see how it would work out.

If the Minister is inclined to agree to the proposed reduction, I shall not ask for any vote of the House, but if he is inclined to be adamant on the matter I shall press it. If he does not see his way to accept the proposal in the spirit in which I have moved it, I think he would be doing himself and the country a service by allowing a free vote of the Deputies of this House in order that we might see where we stand on the matter. If he allows a free vote of the House, I shall be quite prepared to agree with the decision of the House; but I feel fairly certain that we would have a majority of supporters from both the Fianna Fáil and other Parties in favour of the proposal. I think this is a perfectly fair and reasonable amendment. Its purpose is to reduce the price of the working-man's pint and it would enable him, when he is hospitably inclined, to treat his friend. Correspondingly, there would be a similar reduction in the price of the pint of stout where stout is the favourite beverage, as it is in my part of the country and, indeed, in most parts of the country, I understand. As a matter of fact, if it were known in Limerick that I was here advocating some reduction in the duty on porter and not advocating a reduction in the duty on stout, I am afraid I might not go home again. Down there they consider porter too light and only use it for washing hearses. I believe the Minister would be well warranted in giving the experiment a chance as from next October to the end of the next financial year. As I have said, he will not suffer any loss and, although he will not gain much, I am certain that he will gain a little; and he will have the added advantage of being the first Minister to have the courage to break away from this tradition which has been inflicted upon us and that has now reached the stage in which it ought to be broken away from.

I should like to support this amendment standing in the name of Deputy Keyes. With Deputy Keyes. I should like to see an expression of opinion given by Deputies from all parts of the House on this question. I think that the time has come when there should be some remission of wartime taxation on the drink of the common people of this State of ours. There will be, to certain sections, great benefit by the reduction. It will be a relief to the worker in his weekly outlay of wages. It is a necessity for a great many workers and, in fact, in some occupations people could not very well do without a little drink. Apart from that, it would provide an impetus to barely growing and would help generally in creating more employment. Now, as against that, I suppose there will be objections to it by—I will not say the temperance people, but by, say, the total abstainers. Now, total abstainers, in many cases, are intemperate themselves in that they are not at all temperate in their views as regard other people. Of course, I do not say that they are all like that. However, there will be objections to any remission of the present taxation on the ground that such remission would tend to increase drunkenness. I do not think there is any fear of that whatsoever. I think that, even with the proposed reduction, the ordinary pint of stout or pint of porter will still be dear enough to prevent the ordinary man from drinking more than is good for him.

There will be an objection in other quarters—and perhaps it needs a man as courageous as Deputy Keyes to venture to get up and speak against people of certain views—to the effect that any reduction in the price of drink will have a tendency to impair the general morality of the people. Now, I for one will always be against that point of view. As I have said, I do not believe that a small remission of the beer duties will have any effect whatsoever as regards drunkenness. I do not believe that a small or even a big reduction will have any effect as regards the general morality of the people. One does not wish to go into that particular subject too deeply, but if we take a number of years, extending back to 50 years ago if you like, you will find that the tendency to certain classes of vice was not any greater when there was more drink. In fact, there has been an increase in certain classes of vice where there has been the least consumption of drink. I think it can be refuted definitely that the consumption of drink leads to vices other than drunkenness, if you like, and that it can also be refuted that there is less danger of drunkenness while drink is at a prohibitive price. The proposed reduction is not very much and the danger, if there is any, will not be very great.

I have always held the view that, if that were the only argument against a reduction in the price of drink, it is a false argument. I have always believed that you cannot cure vice by the infliction of taxation. Deputy Keyes, I think, said that the greatest drunkards are not to be found amongst the workers and that the workers are the people who can afford to spend least on drink. I agree. With Deputy Keyes, I believe that the greatest drunkards are to be found amongst the people who have more money to spend, and, apart from that, it is well known that a man who is a drunkard will get drink no matter what the price or what taxation is put on. If he is a confirmed drunkard he will beg, borrow or steal to get drink.

There is no reason why the ordinary individual who wants a drink of necessity, or who likes a drink, should not have it. The majority of drinkers will be temperate in their drinking. There was a time, perhaps, in this State when amusements were not as plentiful as they are now, and when drink was very cheap, when there was occasionally a tendency on the part of some people to drink a little too much. That goes back nearly to the days of the Barmecides. As far as I can see, there is no possibility of drink ever being as cheap again. We will never go back to the days when the poor man's pint was 1½d. As there is no possibility that drink will ever be as cheap, there will be no danger of drunkenness, and any argument to the contrary does not hold. I do not agree with those who are confirmed teetotallers, and who look with disfavour on anyone who takes a drink. I hope this discussion will go on for two days, and that all Deputies will give their views on the question. I happen to be a total abstainer, but I do not agree with those total abstainers who see nothing good in those who drink with judgment, and do not take too much. I do not think that point of view should be considered. I do not agree with those who think there is danger to morality by a slight increase in the consumption of drink. That argument can be refuted by anyone who takes the trouble to look up the records.

Possibly what will cause the Minister most concern is the financial aspect. I do not think he need have any great fears there. It is almost certain, if there is a reduction in the duties, that There can be increased consumption without any danger of drunkenness. Any loss on the financial end will be more than made up, and while he might not look on a loss with equanimity for the first half-year, the loss will gradually diminish. In the end I am not quite sure but there would be rather a gain than a loss to the Exchequer. I do not see any argument that cannot be met by a better argument by those who are supporting this proposal. Attempts have been made for a number of years to get a remission of these duties, and possibly every year helps a bit, and that we will get further away from the days when this huge incubus is necessary. I suggest that the time has now arrived for doing so, and I appeal to the Minister to take his courage in his hands and do it now. I believe he has some of the ideals that I am trying to express in this regard. I do not believe that the Minister really feels that eventually there will be any great loss to the Exchequer if a reduction is made. I urge Deputies to look on this matter as it ought to be looked on, in a calm and, I hope, intelligent way. They should view the things that can be said for and against; on the one hand, the dangers that there might be if it could be proved that there would be dangers, and, on the other hand, the gain that there would be to many sections of the community if the Minister agrees to this proposal.

I wish to support the amendment moved by Deputy Keyes. I do not know whether we can hope that this year will be marked by the acceptance of the principle, that it is time to give some reduction in the enormous duties on beer, spirits and wine—particularly on beer. We should be clear on this point, that there is not very much to be said for the view of persons who are absolutely opposed to any reduction in the duties, apart from whether the State could afford the reduction or not. I refer to persons who take the view that any reduction, no matter how modest, is going to result in increased drunkenness. I do not believe that it will. I do not believe, in present circumstances, that price determines, to the same extent as it would years ago, whether there would be drunkenness or not. The habits of the people and conditions generally have changed so much that price is not the same factor to-day that it was in the old days. We are faced with this position, that over the last 12 years there has been a reduction, approximately, of 50 per cent. in the consumption not only of beer and spirits but wines. That reduction has made itself felt in many ways. The State has lost very considerable sums in revenue, and that revenue has had to be found in other directions. It has also made itself felt in the employment that was given when the consumption was nearly double what it is to-day.

It affected the barely situation in this country. I do not want to stress unduly, or to exaggerate, the importance of the use of barley in the manufacture of beer and spirits, but it is a big factor, and only last year we know the position in which we found ourselves, and the difficulty the Minister for Agriculture had in disposing of the surplus barley. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister increased the admixture up to 50 per cent., it looked as if we would find ourselves at the end of the season with a surplus of from 100,000 to 150,000 barrels of barley. In my opinion, if a reduction in the duties leads to increased consumption, I believe there could be that increased consumption without any abuse of the use of drink. The habits of the people have changed considerably. In the old days we know that there was a fairly considerable amount of drunkenness, and that it was due to some extent, if not to a very large extent, to the conditions under which certain people had to live. We know that for workmen—and I say workmen because, if you like, it applied particularly in their case—the only escape they had in many cases from miserable hovels of homes was into the nearest public house. It may be said that that was going from the frying pan into the fire, but it was the fact. In those days outside the cities there were no cinemas, theatres, plays or concerts to which people could go. Even in country towns there were very few workmen's clubs into which they could turn to have a game of billiards or cards, so that for company sake, and not for drink, the only place where they could meet their comrades was in the public house. Conditions are changed now, and people have a variety of ways of spending their spare time usefully after working hours. I do not believe the modest reduction in the duties asked for would have the effect of increasing drunkenness.

There is, of course, as I say, the State's point of view and one can see the difficulty, if you like, the hesitation, of the Minister for Finance in taking this step. In that connection we have to remember what happened in Britain a few years ago. The British Government, in an attempt to get more revenue, increased the duty by, I think, about 1d. per pint of beer, but they found that, far from getting an increased revenue, the consumption fell and I think in the following year they removed the increase. I think I am correct in saying that the revenue from the reduced duty was almost equal to, if not greater than, that which they had received after the imposition of the additional penny. Deputy Bennett in the course of his speech referred to the point of view of the person who is a strict teetotaller. These people, of course, are entitled to their views. Many of them perhaps have genuine fears as to the effect of a reduction in beer and spirit duties but I do not think these fears are well-founded. I think that, as I say, there is a necessity for a reduction. I want to say here that I believe that, so far as certain classes of workers are concerned, a certain amount of beer or stout is not only not harmful but is positively good. I remember in this House a very distinguished member of the House, now unfortunately dead, the late Sir James Craig, intervening in a debate somewhat similar to this. I remember his stating in this House that as a medical man it was his opinion that for men engaged in heavy work such as dockers, flour mill workers and others of that description, provided they did not exceed two or three drinks, not only was beer not harmful but that in his opinion it was positively good.

I suggest to members of the House that a reduction of a penny per pint on stout is not going to lead to drunkenness. At the same time it will lead I believe to increased consumption. If it did not, there would be no point in moving the amendment. There has been down the years a steady decline in the revenue derived from this particular source. There was a slight increase last year over the year before, but I think that even the Minister himself would not say that that is more than a temporary check to the downward trend. Even from the point of view of stabilising the revenue at the low point to which it has now fallen, this is a matter which the Minister might consider purely from the business point of view. I do not want to weary the House with arguments that have been made year after year here. There is hardly anything that one can say on this matter that has not been said before, but I should like to stress the point that I do not think there is anything in the contention of people who say that a modest reduction in the price of beer would lead to increased drunkenness in this country. I do not believe that it would.

Like Deputy Morrissey, I do not wish to weary the House with arguments that have been put forward in this House so often before on this subject. I think that two years ago I moved an amendment similar in terms to the amendment which has now been moved by Deputy Keyes, and I put forward, in much greater detail than I propose to do now, the arguments in favour of this reduction. They have been dealt with already by Deputy Keyes, Deputy Bennett and Deputy Morrissey, and it would be a waste of time if I were to go in detail into the arguments in favour of this reduction. There are two angles from which the subject is regarded. There is the angle of the Minister for Finance, who has to consider the possibility of a reduction in revenue as a result of the decrease in the duty that is asked for. There is the angle also of teetotallers, who think that if a reduction is granted it will result in an increased consumption of intoxicating liquor. I do not think that that argument should carry weight any longer in this country. I think that, at the present time, there are few countries in the world that can be described as more sober than the Free State.

I have before me some figures showing the number of arrests for drunkenness in the Free State over a number of years. If I wanted to play on words, I would describe the figures as staggering, having regard to the big reduction which they show. I shall only go back as far as 1915. The number of arrests in that year for drunkenness was 43,043. In 1919 it had fallen to 15,339. That may be described as a great argument in favour of the retention of high duties, but I think, in fact, the high duties had reached their peak in 1915. In 1924 the number had fallen from 15,000 odd—the figure for 1919—to 6,000 odd. The figure was about the same in 1925, again 6,000 odd. In 1934 the figure had fallen to 3,400. That is to say, that in the years between 1925 and 1934 the figure had fallen by 50 per cent. There was a further fall of a couple of hundred in the following year, 1935, which is the latest year for which I have a figure. Therefore the argument of people who advocate prohibition, if you like, or practically that, falls to the ground because there has been an extraordinary change, if I may say so, in the habits of the people of this country. Even in the years during the war period, when money was abundant, and people could buy any quantity of drink they liked, the consumption of drink kept on falling. That simply meant that there was a change in the habits of the people and in the viewpoint of the people as regards drink and drunkenness. I think the House need not pay any particular attention to the argument of the teetotaller or the prohibitionist that to reduce this duty would mean an increase in intemperance.

As Deputy Morrissey has pointed out, porter and beer undoubtedly form a substantial article in what I might call the food of the working man. I remember that in 1925, when the Intoxicating Liquor Commission was set up, the Government of the day brought over from England a certain witness. I cannot remember his name—I have a bad memory for names—but he was a very eminent gentleman. He had studied this question and had written a number of authoritative works on the question of the consumption of liquor. During the war period he had been appointed by the Prime Minister to control the whole drink traffic in England, at a time when large numbers of people were working on munitions. He was a man whose mental outlook was strongly in favour of temperance, but I do distinctly remember that he gave evidence at that Commission and he said that, in his view, no more valuable food could be given to a man who is doing heavy work—he instanced men working at the docks unloading ships—than a pint or, if you like, two pints of stout in the day with perhaps a bit of bread and cheese. He said that beer, including in the word "beer" porter and stout, was a valuable article of food for the man who had to do a hard day's labour. I move to report progress.

Progress reported, the Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Thursday, 25th June, at 3 p.m.