Public Business. - Finance Bill, 1936—Committee (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 20.

I rise to support the amendment which has been proposed by Deputies Davin and Keyes. I think that it is one which ought to commend itself to the majority of this House and one that will be endorsed by the whole electorate. Let me say a few words on behalf of the pint of porter, which is the poor man's beverage. It is indeed, much more than a beverage or stimulant; it is, in fact, a food. As they say in my backward part of the country, there is "atin' and drinkin' in it." I heard a very distinguished physician say that porter was a real Godsend to the farmers and workers and that it saved many of them from an early grave because, even if they over-indulged in it occasionally, it made no great difference because they get a remedy in the morning air and they worked off not only the alcohol but a lot of other waste products which, otherwise, they would not have got rid of.

In support of the amendment, I shall, with your permission, A Chinn Comhairle, appeal not only to Irish history but to the Irish song-writers. I shall appeal also to several modern authorities on literature. It is a well-known fact, which cannot be controverted, that the ancient Celts and Gaels were the real discoverers of brewing. As you know, in ancient Ireland the cuirm-thigh or ale-house, was a most important institution in the country and I need not say that the bean na leanna has become proverbial. As a matter of fact, in ancient Ireland the only people who were entitled to brew beer were the flaitha. The flaith was, more or less, a prince or peer and a good prince or a good peer, as he may be called, if a decent sort of fellow, always distributed his brew on Sundavs and festivals to his friends or followers. Hence, as the Ceann Comhairle knows very well, the word "flaitheamhail" has come to mean "generous." In connection with that, I recall an epigram uttered here in Dublin many years ago by a very clever man. He said, "In ancient Ireland only peers were brewers and, in modern Ireland, only brewers are peers." I do not wish to detain the House very long, but I want to appeal to some of our song-writers in support of the amendment. One song-writer says:

"It is little for glory I care;

Ambition is only a fable.

I'd as soon be meself as Lord May'r

While there are lashings of stout on the table."

Another writer sings in this fashion:

"Irish stout I have no doubt

In either wood or bottle,

And well brewed ale will never fail

To cool a thirsty throttle."

I hope these words will appeal to the Minister for Finance. I know he is a very temperate man, but he realises, I am sure, that the moderate use of alcohol is quite legitimate. If necessary, I can quote authority from the Bible on that point. I can also appeal to modern writers. A famous English poet has said that "Nothing can equal the welcome of an inn." Dr. Johnson says that "a tavern chair is the throne of human felicity." The late Gilbert Chesterton, who was such a great ornament to literature and whose death we all regret, says truly that "the most democratic institution in the world is the common public house." He goes on to say that every man who conducts himself there and can pay for his drink is as good as another. It would be a very good thing, he says, if statesmen would occasionally drop in there and hear the comments of the man-in-the-street on their policy, their politics and their tricks.

In view of these circumstances, I do hope that this amendment will be accepted by the Minister and the House. The Minister knows, as we all know, that the price of stout or porter — call it what you will — is oppressive. A large number of people have to consume it. I appeal in this regard to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Hugo Flinn, who cannot deny that some of the hardest worked men in Cork — the coal heavers, who are engaged in a gruelling type of work —have to depend for maintenance of their vigour and health during the day on bread and porter. That is well known to the Parliamentary Secretary, and I am sure he will endorse what I have said, at least, on that point. I reiterate that I hope this amendment will be accepted by the Minister and embodied in the Finance Bill before the House.

I think it would be important in a discussion on this amendment that the House would hear from the Minister something of the policy of milk and light beer about which the President made an important pronouncement in 1932. At that time he emphasised how valuable it would be for the general well-being and health of the people of the country if light beer and milk could be substituted for tea as the more or less standard beverage of the people. The Minister for Finance must be aware that since 1932 the average price for the cheapest tea has gone up by 10¼d per lb. The Department of Industry and Commerce published the figures for three months and these figures show that between mid-February, 1932 and mid-February, 1936, the average price per lb. of the cheapest tea has gone up by 10¼d. That is important from the point of view of the ordinary economy. I would like to ask the Minister if in the Army or in any section of the Gárda an attempt has been made by the Government to carry out in any sort of a planned way the substitution of light beer or milk for tea and whether they have any particulars to put before the House as to whether the substitution of milk is more costly the substitution of beer, and what results if any, or what enquiries if any have been made by the Government with a view to developing and promoting the policy announced by the President of substituting tea by light beer and milk. The Minister, I am sure, will appreciate that at the present time there is hardly any prospect of any great development of that substitution although tea has increased by what must be an enormous figure in the eyes of the ordinary housekeeper who has to run a house for the average family. Therefore I think it would be well while on this question that we would hear from the Minister for Finance what he has to say of the policy of substituting light beer for tea as a beverage in the homes.

I wish to support this amendment. Since 1932 this amendment or a similar amendment has been before the House in some form on the Finance Bill every year. The amendment has always been met with the excuse that the exigencies of the Exchequer could not bear the cost involved. I do not think that is a good defence in itself. It is only at the best a justification for the maintenance of that tax and that tax is too high. I think that in the debate last week the Minister told us that the cost-of-living figure, taking 1914 at 100, was now about 150 and that it had fallen from a higher level to that figure. Let us take 1914 as related to this amendment. I am sure the House would be interested in learning that the cost of porter to-day as compared with 1914 has gone up by 1,190 per cent., at least the duty has gone up by 1,190 per cent. Assume that beer was essential for various classes of the community, particularly people working in the docks, people working in factories or people working in steel works and other such employment where the labour is very heavy and arduous and such as to demand that the people working would require some liquid refreshment during the day. Very often these men take with them to their work in the morning a piece of sandwich or a piece of bread, butter and jam. With this they get one pint of porter for their lunch. Is it fair that men in such circumstances are to be taxed at this high rate simply because of the exigencies of the Exchequer?

I know of no other tax that was imposed during the Great War except this and the corporations profit tax that is in existence to-day. We should be told why, under these circumstances, this tax is being maintained. I know, of course, that when I say something in favour of the remission of this tax, a lot of pious resolutions will be passed and my name will be involved in them. But these resolutions have no terror for me. I am just as big a teetotaler as the ladies and gentlemen who pass these resolutions. The acceptance of this amendment would be an act of justice, first, to the licensing trade and, secondly, to the people in the main who consume the least in the matter of food. These people are crying out against this very high tax. Surely an increase of 1,190 per cent. over 1914 is a heavy burden to bear. I wonder if anybody in this House or outside this House will defend the justice of that tax with this increase of 1,190 per cent. I would like to know how the increase in the wages of these working people compares with this increase of 1,190 per cent. in an important article of their food? Not only is there this enormous increase here but there is an increase in all other items above the 1914 figure. Is it because we have an extreme right wing in this matter and an extreme left wing that we are to have this high increase in the price of the working man's drink? I know of no greater curse than these two extremes, the left wing and the right wing, in the matter of teetotalism. Both are so blind that they are unable to see that the happy medium lies between. On the one side you have got the rabid teetotalers, who are all fanatics. They do not themselves drink. If you sat at dinner with them you would find that their liquid refreshment would be either water or buttermilk. They are so fanatical in their teetotalism that they forget that the happy medium lies between. The main mass of the people do not belong to one wing or the other.

Whether we like it or not, people will drink. The only thing to do is to endeavour to see that they will not drink too much, and it is for this House to see that the drink is sold at a price which will prevent them from drinking too much, while at the same time ensuring that those who need it will still be able to get it. In other years in this debate I quoted examples from America. I am not going to go over these now because the example of America on the question of drink is sticking out as a sign to anybody who wishes to read it.

In this connection I want to say that I read in the paper on Tuesday night the report of a case in the Dublin Police Court. I would like to direct the attention of the Minister for Finance to that case. A woman who attended a meeting down the country on Sunday week last was given, on her way home or before she arrived at her home, "Biddy" or red wine. Having drank it she proceeded home and kicked up a row with her husband. In the morning following she left her husband and children; it appears some other woman was alleged to have got their meals for them during the day. When the wife came back in the evening, having partaken of this bottle of "Red Biddy" or a portion of it she kicked up a row. The affair finished in the police court on Tuesday. At all events this bottle of "Red Biddy" started this case. What was behind that? This is some sort of red wine. It appears that it is stuff manufactured from some ingredients and then highly fortified. What the ingredients are I do not know, but it appears that it can be sold at a cheap price. It is fortified by something that is highly injurious to the people who drink any considerable quantity of it. I would like to know if any attention has been paid by the Government to that side of the drink problem? Has there been an increase of 1,190 per cent. tax on these ingredients? I would support the Minister in increasing the tax on that stuff to 1,190 per cent. Recently I have been making inquiries here in the city about this "Red Biddy," and I am not quite sure that I have got any definite data as to the volume of business done in it. I made some inquiries in Belfast. The thing is so glaring in Belfast that the facts are well known. I understand that in parts of Belfast this stuff is consumed by the poorer classes, especially the women folk among the poorer classes, and the results there are dreadful——

Would the Deputy relate that to the amendment which purports to reduce the duty on beer?

I am trying to relate it. The Minister should increase the tax on this material and reduce the tax on legitimate and sound material that would do the people no harm. That is the case and it is quite simple. The result of this taxation is that it is driving the people to take this other stuff. What the constituents of this stuff are I do not know, but it is being permitted to be made and sold and drunk with great injury to our people. I am not prepared to say what is the extent of the evil that it is doing in this city, but I am informed that in Belfast the results are very degrading. The only case of it I have seen in the courts here is the case I referred to which was in the courts on Tuesday.

Apparently, somewhere between where the procession took place and this woman's house, when she was going home in the evening some person handed her a bottle of this stuff. I take it it was somebody who took advantage of this occasion, when a large crowd of people had assembled on a Sunday, to distribute it, at what price I do not know. I take it the price was not exorbitant and, apparently, a ready-made market was got for this cheap article. I repeat that, while I do not in any way favour indulgence in strong drink, the people have a right to it and that they will get it in some form or another. I want to see them getting it in a form which the State can control and under which the State can guarantee that the people who consume it are getting a sound article which will not be injurious, if taken in moderation. For that reason I support the amendment.

I am aware, of course, that the proposed amendments —I presume that both amendments are being discussed together—would have considerable sympathy not merely from those quarters of the House from which they have been urged, but possibly from every quarter and every Party. Indeed, if it were merely a question of sympathy, the amendments would have a much better chance than they have to-day. But these amendments do two things: they not merely, in effect, propose that the duty on a certain commodity should be reduced, but they would also, if carried, impose upon me the heavy obligation of increasing the tax upon some other commodity in order to make good the deficiency which would be inevitably created in the Exchequer revenues.

Though we have heard a great deal here about the beneficial effects of the beverages referred to, we have not been told about any of the detrimental effects which might follow if ordinary articles of food, like tea and sugar, were made dearer for the general mass of the people. Of course, there have been pathetic stories told about the hefty dock labourer who must have his pint or two. I am not without sympathy with the amendment, I am not a dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler by any means; but I have to consider as to whether, in fact, even if the Exchequer position permitted it and we were to accept these amendments, there would be anything like the general increase in consumption of beer, stout, and porter which those who have advocated these proposals tell us would more than make up for any loss of revenue that might otherwise be expected to ensue. If you reduce the price of the pint by 1d., and the ordinary workers' wages were to remain at their present standard, I question whether he would be able to buy at the very most more than one or two pints extra per week.

We have been told here that, if we granted a remission, there is no fear that there would be any increase in drunkenness; that the tastes of the people have changed. I listened last night to a speech by Deputy Morrissey in support of this proposal. It seems to me that it is more calculated to secure its defeat than anything else, because he told us that at a time when we might have expected people to increase greatly their consumption of beer and stout, if it were cheaper, the workingman had no place to spend his leisure hours except in a publichouse; that he had not a decent home. I am not going to say that every working-class family in this State is housed as we should like it to be housed, but at any rate the housing conditions have been very considerably improved. The Deputy went on to say that at that time there were no cinemas and no cheap transport and nothing like the same provision for the entertainment and amusement of the people that exist to-day.

Where is the cheap transport?

If the Deputy has not eyes to see, I cannot give them to him.

I do not know where it is.

It will be employed on the Deputy's behalf next Tuesday.

You gave a monopoly to one company that is the cheap transport.

The Deputy has cheap enough transport.

It is more cheap than transport.

I was saying that at that time there were not all the other inducements for the worker or for any other person, because I do not want to be taken as implying for a moment that the change for the better in the habits of the community that has taken place applies to any one class of society. What I have said in regard to the worker applies also in regard to those who might be much better circumstanced. There are many other ways of spending spare money now, if one is not inclined to save it, than there were in the days when the consumption of beer and stout was much higher than it is to-day. These other ways all make a demand upon the spare cash of the worker.

I am not going to believe for a moment that if we were to grant the reduction which is asked for here that there would be anything like a commensurate increase in the consumption of beer and spirits. I have examined this problem very carefully and I am satisfied that if we were to accept the first amendment it would cost the State at least £250,000 this year, and £500,000 in the following year. The problem that the House has to address itself to is this: whether is it better to find that £500,000 as we are finding it to-day out of the beer and spirits duty or that we should go and put another ½d. or ¾d. per lb. on sugar. It is all very well to talk, as I have said, about the poor workingman and of every other person who consumes beer and spirits, and to say that he finds the price of his favourite beverage a bit high. But it is much better, I think, that it should be kept high rather than that we should have to come along and increase the cost of food to his wife and family, because really that is the second part of this amendment though it is not put down in black and white on the Order Paper. That is what the House would have to vote for: for a reduction, if you like, in the duty on beer and spirits, or for an increase in the duty on tea or sugar. With that proposition before me, I can only ask the House to reject both amendments.

Is an open vote being allowed on the question before the House?

There has never been an open vote on the Budget and the Deputy ought to know that.

Amendment No. 20 put.
The Committee divided:—Tá, 28; Níl, 47.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brain.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Everett and Keyes; Níl: Deputies Smith and Moylan.
Amendment declared lost.

We will take amendment No. 21 as covered by amendment No. 20.

Amendment No. 21 not moved.
Amendment No. 22:—
Before Section 14 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) There shall be allowed on and after the 6th day of October, 1936, in respect of spirits imported into Saorstát Eireann a rebate of £1 2s. 6d. for every gallon computed at proof.
(2) In lieu of the excise duty payable on spirits distilled in Saorstát Eireann there shall, on and after the 6th day of October, 1936, be charged, levied and paid for every gallon computed at proof of spirits distilled or manufactured by any other process whatsoever in Saorstát Eireann an excise duty of £2 10s. in respect of spirits warehoused for five years and upwards; and an excise duty of £2 12s. 6d in respect of spirits not warehoused or warehoused for less than five years.—(Deputy Morrissey.)
Amendment No. 23:—
Before Section 14 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) There shall be allowed on and after the 1st day of January, 1937, in respect of spirits imported into Saorstát Eireann a rebate of £1 2s. 6d. for every gallon computed at proof.
(2) In lieu of the excise duty payable on spirits distilled in Saorstát Eireann there shall on and after the 1st day of January, 1937, be charged, levied and paid for every gallon computed at proof of spirits distilled or manufactured by any other process whatsoever in Saorstát Eireann an excise duty of £2 10s. in respect of spirits warehoused for five years and upwards; and an excise duty of £2 12s. 6d. in respect of spirits not warehoused or warehoused for less than five years.—(Deputy Morrissey.)

Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 might be debated together.

I agree that amendments Nos. 22 and 23 could be discussed together. I do not know that there is very much to hope for so far as these amendments are concerned, in view of the attitude of the Minister and the Government towards the amendment which has just been voted upon. I think it is only right that these amendments should be put before the House and that we should point out that the duty upon spirits in this country has been increased by nearly 500 per cent. There is, I think, a good case to be made for a reduction of that enormous increase. This matter has been brought up before, not only in this House, but also in the British House of Commons. It has been brought up there year after year, just as it has been brought before the Dáil. In 1934 the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Chamberlain, admitted that the duty on whiskey was too high. He said that that duty had been imposed at a time when the source of their indirect taxation was very much more limited. Of course, that could be said with much greater truth so far as this country is concerned. Mr. Chamberlain also said that if they were imposing duty in 1934 they would not impose anything as great as the duty that spirits are called upon to bear at the present moment.

A good case can be made in connection with Irish barley. So far as I know, all the spirits distilled in this country are distilled from Irish barley; all the distillers here use Irish barley exclusively. I think at one time the Irish distillers were able to use about one-third of our total barley production. What they use to-day is a very small percentage of the total crop. I do not know whether it is much good delaying the time of the House on these amendments. The Minister's attitude towards the last amendment was that he was not in a position to grant the reduction asked for and that he saw no hope of the present Government ever being in a position to grant any reduction in the case of beer or spirits. The Minister, I take it, will give on these amendments reasons somewhat similar to those he gave for refusing to accept the last amendment.

The Minister asks the House where the money is to be got otherwise. He asked the House to assume that there would be a loss to the Revenue in a full year of £500,000. The Minister seems to consider there would not be any increased consumption as a result of the reduction and he said that he cannot see where else the money can be got. The Minister and the Government have shown themselves to be very resourceful in the last three or four years for the purpose of getting revenue. They have shown that they have been able to discover sources to tax that were never thought of by any previous Administration. The Minister was resourceful enough, in any case, to put himself and his Government in the position that they were squeezing something in the neighbourhood of £10,000,000 a year over and above the amount extracted from the taxpayers by their predecessors.

I am sure if the Minister has the will to accept this amendment and grant this reduction it will not be beyond his powers to get alternative sources of revenue, alternative sources that will not affect the cost of living of the poor. Although the Government have succeeded in extracting about £10,000,000 over and above what was looked upon as normal taxation five or six years ago, they still maintain there has been no increase in the cost of living. If the Minister can succeed in getting additional taxation to the amount of £10,000,000 without increasing the cost of living, then I think we can safely leave it to him to get £500,000 without further increasing the cost of living.

On the Second Reading of the Bill I directed the Minister's attention to the position of the mineral water manufacturers and I suggested that he should consider if the heavy duties which are imposed, particularly on sweetened waters, could be adjusted.

If there is such a duty, the Deputy might discuss it on the section, but he must not discuss it on an amendment aimed at reducing the duty on spirits.

I am rather an unsophisticated member of the House still. I thought this might be the appropriate place to raise that matter, seeing that soda water sometimes goes with the whiskey.

The Deputy may not mix them on this amendment.

I have supported a similar amendment on a previous Finance Bill and I desire to support this amendment this year also. Deputy Morrissey was quite modest when he said that if the Minister had the will he could find the money. I am not concerned with whether the Minister has the will or not. I do know that the duty devolves on him to remove this tax. Those of us who remember the imposition of the tax will recall that it was imposed purely for the purpose of financing the European War; that is the only reason why it was imposed. That reason has disappeared. It certainly has disappeared in our case. We are not responsible for one penny of the cost of the European War, and hence there is no justification for the maintenance of this tax as it at present stands. To say that the money cannot be found is no answer. No matter what tax is imposed, no matter to what height it is raised in a national emergency for the defence of the State and its citizens, each succeeding Minister who comes before this House ever afterwards can say: "I cannot reduce the tax. If I did, I would have to impose a tax on something else." That technique is far too detailed for me; it is far too neat. I would ask every Deputy in this House to vote against this tax, because it would be quite easy in the future to raise a national emergency in order to make an excuse to tax some body of citizens, and having got it imposed by way of an emergency then defend it by saying: "I cannot reduce it. If I did, I would have to increase the cost of living of the poor." What is done is this: the Ministers get hold of those devices for imposing taxes, and then retain them, the money being wasted. There is no such thing as retrenchment, or putting taxation back on an equitable basis. There is no defence for this particular tax, which was imposed as a war tax.

I am not saying at all that spirits and liquors should flow through the streets. That would be as abnormal as the amount of this tax, but there are many very poor middle-class people who often require spirits for their children in case of sickness, and owing to the cost they cannot get it. What is the cost? If you want a bottle of whiskey, gin or rum, to have in the house in case of sickness, you put down £1 and get a few shillings change, but for practical purposes the £1 is gone. Take the middle-class family, living on the margin line, and having to bear heavy taxation—they are the people really hit—are they to have no consideration given to them? Having bought their houses, in discharge of their duties as good citizens, in order to have a permanent home on the soil of this country, thereby showing their thrift and their economy, their houses are now taxed at five-fourths. Everything else is taxed in proportion, and on top of that there is this duty. Remember that is the class of people in this community to-day who are really ground down. They have only small marginal incomes, which are being swept away in taxes and rates. This tax was an emergency measure imposed for the purpose of fighting the European War, and there is no defence for maintaining it at this figure.

A Chinn Comhairle, I just want to say a few words in support of this amendment. On the last amendment I referred to Irish history and to Irish poetry, fruitlessly. I am going to do the same now with, I am sure, the same result. It is well known that at one time our ancestors had the monopoly of distilling, and I need not remind scholars of Irish history that the word "whiskey" is a corruption of the Gaelic "uisge beatha," which means water of life. During all the centuries the people have been accustomed to "a drop of the erathur," as it is called, and they have enjoyed it thoroughly. Now the price has become so appalling that only the sick person can afford to buy it, and even then he can only get it in dribs and drabs. Our great national poet, Tom Moore—I am glad to see that modern scholars and writers are beginning to realise that he was really a national poet—said:

"Fill the bumper fair!

Every drop we sprinkle

O'er the brow of care

Smoothes away a wrinkle!"

I commend this very seriously to the Minister for Finance. Another Irish poet said:

"Whiskey, drink divine!

Why should drivellers bore us

With the love of wine,

When we've got thee before us!"

I am sure that the Minister, who is conversant with Irish history, with Irish lays, lyrics and legends, will remember all about the "Cruiskeen Lan" and the "Little Brown Jig" and the "Jug of Punch," and bear those things in mind. Being, as I am sure he is, a patriot, I hope he will do something to relieve the burden which is at present being laid on the consumers of whiskey. Everybody knows that in recent years the country has become extremely temperate. A famous Bishop said to me long ago "Father Mathew was a great man and a wonderful man, and he did a great deal of good in the country, but Lloyd George did more than Father Mathew ever did by putting this tax on beer, wines and spirits." However, as the people have become very abstemious, in my humble opinion there is no necessity at the present time for the continuation of the existing taxes, and I am sure that the Minister for Finance, with all the ways and means at his disposal and with his financial craftsmanship, will be able to relieve the public of at least a share of the burden in respect of distillation in this country. I think, as Deputy Morrissey said, that he can do so without inflicting any terrible harm on the State and without in any way increasing intemperance in the country.

I was expecting that some Deputy on the opposite side would take part in this debate.

Where is Deputy Cooney?

Of course the Minister has refused to give Deputies a free choice as to their manner of voting, but even though they were compelled to vote with the Minister it would be interesting and perhaps useful to the House to have the views of various Deputies for and against those particular proposals. There is no use in elaborating very much further the arguments made in regard to the beer duty. They apply equally to Deputy Morrissey's proposal on the spirit duty. Perhaps we cannot make the same argument about whiskey and brandy being a necessity for the poor man as much as stout, but if whiskey or brandy is not the poor man's beverage it is very often the poor man's medicine. It is prescribed very largely by doctors, particularly in the winter months, in epidemics of influenza, and in other cases. We all know that very many doctors prescribe whiskey or spirits as a medicine for poor people who find it extremely difficult to purchase it. When you come to think that a glass of whiskey costs, I think, 1/8 retail, it must be realised that, when a poor person is ordered that as a medicine, it is an extremely difficult matter to purchase it.

Wine and spirits have been used, I suppose, in all times. There is even a Biblical reference which says that we must drink wine for our infirmities, and not water. I think that, in those days, it was considered good for people and good for certain infirmities. I believe that some reduction in this particular duty is necessary if ever the poor man is going to taste the liquid again. However, there is a further fact to be considered, and that is that people who want spirits, and who cannot get legitimate spirits at a fair price, will resort to every subterfuge to get other kinds of spirits. They will resort to poteen. That, I understand, is what some people have been driven to drinking as a result of the high duties.

Methylated spirits.

Yes—as Deputy Burke says, methylated spirits. Now, I am sure that we all hope that a stop will be put to the manufacture of these illicit spirits, and I feel sure also that a great deal of the trouble that has existed in this country as a result of drunkenness is due to the manufacture of these illicit spirits. I also believe, however, that we are never going to end that trouble so long as this high duty remains on the manufacture of legal spirits. So long as that high duty remains, I believe there will be a great incentive to break the law. So long as legitimately produced brandies and whiskies are at such a prohibitive price there will always be that inducement to break the law. I think Deputy Burke referred to the old saying to the effect that, if you cannot have punch, you will have something else. It is a fact, undoubtedly, that a lot of the old people used to drink punch. Possibly, the Minister knows the joke of the old saying, but it is as true now as it was on the day the saying was first made, and I think that, perhaps, a reference by the Minister to the list of vices that were punished would bear me out on that. It was not drinking people, in the old days, if they did drink too much, who committed most of the other vices that nature makes us all fall into, occasionally, one way or the other.

Would the Deputy tell us which way most appeals to him?

Perhaps in the same direction as the Minister. However, I did not really intend to make very much of a further appeal to the Minister, but I do say that a tax imposed as a war measure at a very high figure ought now to be reduced. As I have said already, war taxes have been reduced in most other countries, and even in England they have arrived at the point where they felt that they could safely reduce the duties on spirits and beer. I dare say, therefore, that we also have come to that point, or at least that we ought to have come to the point where we could do something of the same kind. When the Minister said that the proposed reduction would cost something like £500,000 in the next year, I do not know if he had made any allowance for an increased consumption. I think that the Minister said that there would be no increased consumption. If that is so, the argument of those people, who are opposed to this proposed reduction on the ground that it would lead to an increased consumption of drink and possible drunkenness, falls to the ground. I think that the same argument would apply in the case of whiskey and spirits generally. I do not believe that the small reduction in whiskey or spirit taxes, generally, that is proposed here, would lead to any great extra consumption of spirits, but I do believe that it would certainly help poor people, who needed spirits for medicinal purposes, to have whiskey or brandy, and there are innumerable cases, as any doctor in the House can testify, where whiskey or brandy is a necessity medicinally. The House, I think, has made up its mind on this particular matter of the reduction of the duties on whiskey and spirits generally, and I wish we could influence the Minister to take the broad view on this matter. However, as that does not seem possible, I do not propose to say anything more on the matter.

Some of the Deputies who have spoken already on this amendment do not seem to be quite clear in their own minds on the difficulties that exist in connection with this matter. I think I ought to make an exception, in this connection, in the case of Deputy McMenamin, who said that in the course of what he called this technique, a Minister for Finance could easily take the course of putting it up to the House that, if concessions of this sort were advocated, he could not reduce the tax because there would be no means of knowing what alternative tax would be imposed in order to make up for the deficiency in the Exchequer revenue. He asked us to ignore that. I am simply asking the House to imagine itself in the position of an ostrich whose political technique Deputy McMenamin seems to have adopted of burying its head in the sand. We have no option. We may as well make up our minds to that. If we are to reduce the duties on wines and spirits, then we must increase the duties on other commodities.

Or stop the economic war.

One of these would cost £160,000 per annum in the current year and the other would cost £385,000 in the current year. We simply can not afford either of these, and I think the country is fully prepared to endorse our attitude. I do not know whether Deputy Mulcahy himself would be prepared to say that we ought to grant a concession which would cost us £385,000 and make up for that deficiency by cutting the old age pensions. One way, perhaps, which might appeal to the Deputy, would be to wipe out the provision made for widows' and orphans' pensions.

Why should he have to do that when he takes into consideration that, in tax and non-tax considerations alone, he has substantially more than £7,000,000 for spending to-day than the previous Government had? Goodness knows, we would like to know what is happening to some of it.

The Deputy heard all that at length on the Budget. We have increased the social services almost 50 per cent. above what they were in 1931-32. There was over £4,300,000 last year, and in the present year there is an increase of almost £1,000,000.

That includes the land annuities.

Of course it does.

Where is the other £3,000,000?

I was referring to the social services. There was over £4,300,000 last year and almost £1,000,000 more of an increase this year in the proposed expenditure on these services. In addition, of course, as the Deputy is aware, additional assistance was given to farmers in the form of export bounties and subsidies amounting to more than £2,000,000. I think even the Deputy will have to admit that in the compilation every penny piece of the £7,000,000 was dealt with in the debate which took place on the other sections. He is now concerned when he comes to the House to get facts to back up statements he made. I cannot accept the amendment.

We had this fact, that in spite of the assistance the Minister says he gave to farmers, farm labourers had about £1,000,000 less in wages last year than they had before Fianna Fáil began to assist the farmers.

I wish to support the amendment. The Minister stated that it was difficult to find money. That may be true. The Minister seemed to emphasise the fact that the granting of the concession would mean a loss of revenue approaching £385,000 in a full year, and he asked the Opposition what means were to be adopted to provide that money. I wish to put this question to him: What amount of extra taxation has been placed upon the shoulders of the people to set up new industries of a very doubtful character, as against industries that were already established here for years, and that wanted no props from this or any other Government, but simply wanted to get a fair chance to live? I wish to put this aspect of the situation to the Minister, that he has imposed millions of extra taxation upon all sections of the people, including the very poor, to set up new industries. The fact remains that many of them are being set up at the expense of the general public. Here is an old industry and it gave a very large amount of employment, notwithstanding the views expressed by some people that it does not give much employment in comparison with the output. I wish to remind these people that this industry has been the means of increasing the National Exchequer by several millions yearly, and that the real advantage of it is not gauged by the amount of wages paid annually. It must be gauged by the amount paid into the National Exchequer, out of which comes money for old age pensions, provision for relief schemes, as well as other means of providing employment. In addition, the raw material used in this industry is mainly Irish, which cannot be said of many of the other industries that have been set up. I refer to barley. Everyone knows that if the present tillage policy is to be made a success, barley is one of the most important crops that could be grown by farmers, as it is peculiarly adaptable to the soil of this country. For that reason alone, seeing that it gives employment to the farming element, the Minister and the Government are entitled to give some remission of the amount of excise duty paid on whiskey. It is well known that the use of whiskey is advocated by the medical profession. While I am not in favour of increasing the sale of alcoholic drinks, nevertheless, my answer to certain people is that many of the crimes committed here are committed by people whose boast it is that they never took a glass of whiskey in their lives. I am one of those who believe that it is very bad policy to kill an old industry that is in existence, unless we are prepared to set up another one in its place. For that reason, I am prepared to support the amendment, as I think the time has arrived when there should be a reduction in the enormous burden that this industry has carried since the days of the Great War. Whiskey now costs 10½d. a half-glass against 2d. in pre-war days, while the price now paid for barley is no greater than the price paid in pre-war days. That is an extraordinary state of affairs. It is the duty of the Government to do something for this old-established industry which, in the opinion of many people, is giving very much needed employment, and would give more in future if it only got half a chance or half the facilities that other industries are getting, for which, to use the Minister's own words, millions of extra taxation had to be imposed.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 25; Níl, 46.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brain.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl: Deputies Smith and Moylan.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 23 not moved.

I move amendment No. 24:

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

"The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935), shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion of Section 16."

The section of the Finance Act of 1935 which this amendment proposes to delete is Section 16. It operated to put a duty of 75 per cent. On cutlery. There is in fact a duty of 100 per cent. on cutlery and the only information we have had is that in spite of a duty of 75 per cent.—in effect a duty of 100 per cent.—the imports of cutlery, so far as value is concerned, have not been affected at all. The total value of cutlery imported in 1932 was £27,000; in 1933, £38,000, and in 1934, £46,896. We find that in 1935 the total value of cutlery imported was £46,350 or substantially the same as was imported in 1934 before this very substantial tariff was imposed. I should like to find out from the Minister what the explanation of that is. We should like to get some information as to what is happening in the cutlery industry here and to what extent the tariff is being used to raise money for purely revenue purposes. This is just one sample of these very heavy tariffs. There is another duty, as well as this particular tariff, which raises the total duty well above 75 per cent. As I say this is but one sample of the effect of very high tariffs. Cutlery is coming in to the same value, at any rate, at which it came in before the tariff was imposed. We should like to know what is happening in the industry and how much people are paying as a result of this very high tariff.

People are paying nothing as a result of the tariff. It is producing practically no revenue whatever. The manufacture of cutlery in the Saorstát was commenced towards the end of October last year, and consequently the importation of cutlery during 1935 was not affected. The fact is that a firm for its production has been established here. That firm is now in operation and is employing from 60 to 70 men. They are, of course, not yet in full production. There are certain classes of cutlery that are not yet being produced here. In respect of these classes, licences to import them free of this duty are still being issued. It is anticipated that the full range of cutlery, in the quantities required, will be produced in the course of this year in which case, of course, the import figures to which the Deputy refers will be reduced very considerably.

Has the Minister made any examination of the situation with a view to seeing why it is necessary to have such a high tax?

I explained that last year. I explained that one of the reasons why such a high duty is necessary is because some of the countries engaged in the exportation of cutlery subsidise it. Any lower duty than that in operation would be ineffective. The maintenance of the duty at this rate is essential to the development of the industry. The industry is an important one and is giving a good deal of employment. Its products are of very good quality, and there is no complaint about the price at which they are sold.

I should like to ask the Minister this question. I believe the Minister's tariff policy is ill-advised and irresponsible inasmuch as he does not consider all the relevant facts before he proposes his tariffs. But assuming that this House is committed to a policy of putting on a tariff of 100 per cent. where, in the opinion of the Minister, a 100 per cent. is necessary, can he tell me why it is necessary to put 100 per cent. on cutlery when his colleague in the Executive Council thinks it inexpedient to give another Irish industry—ship-building—a tariff of 40 per cent.

I submit we are now discussing not tariffs in general but this particular tariff.

The Minister's philosophy of putting 100 per cent. tariff on cutlery rests on the ground that tariffs are necessary to get something done in this country and that tariffs must go on. I submit there is evidence that that is not the philosophy underlying these tariffs. If it was it would be comprehensible and the matter might be debated on its merits, or at least we would know where we were. But we see a far bigger individual job being sent away to Great Britain with whom we are at present engaged in an economic war. When we see that sent out of the country because a British firm can do the job 40 per cent. cheaper than an Irish firm, then I feel that we are on completely different ground. Why is it desirable to put 100 per cent. on knives and refuse to put 40 per cent. on ships?

The question of tariffs on ships does not arise here.

Except in so far as the action in one case suggests comparison with the other. Why put 100 per cent. tariff in the one instance and refuse any tariff in the other?

That is raising the question of the tariff policy in general.

The argument put forward by the Minister is that 100 per cent. is put on in the case of cutlery in order to keep so many people employed in producing these knives and that that is worth a tariff of 100 per cent. I think a case where a number of people would be necessarily kept employed in repairing the Muirchu is one well worth a tax of 40 per cent. If the Minister tells us that the criterion by which to criticise each individual tariff is the effect it has on keeping people in employment, why should it not arise in the case of the Muirchu.

The Deputy must realise that the introduction of a criterion by which to criticise a tariff policy would involve the whole policy of tariffs. That issue might have been debated on the Second Stage of the Finance Bill but is irrelevant to an amendment relating to a duty on cutlery.

Why put 100 per cent. on knives?

Why is the Deputy moving to take it off?

If the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who are at present engaged in conversation, would make up their minds I could proceed.

Is there any rule to prevent people from indulging in conversation?

Yes, the rules of common courtesy. However, I leave that. I want to know why the Minister put on the tariff of 100 per cent?

And I ask why is the Deputy moving to take it off?

If this tariff was put on to put a certain number of men into employment, I want to know how much tariff the Minister is prepared to put on to get any given number of men into work? Or is it only when a certain number of people come to the Minister, hat in hand, and adopt a sufficiently obsequious manner and ask for a tariff, that they get it? I am not prepared to endorse that kind of action, out of which the consumer gets nothing. That is the situation at present, as it seems to me. I have argued in this House on divers occasions that citizens who stand in similar circumstances should be entitled to demand the same rights.

There is nothing about differential treatment in this amendment.

Except that there is differential treatment in favour of the cutlery industry here.

Does the Deputy not realise the fallacy of his submission?

He does not see the fallacy of his own argument.

My word was "submission."

You must, of course, Sir, decide, and I leave the matter at that. I advise the Minister to further consider this matter.

Does the Deputy know what we are discussing?

Does the Deputy know what the tariff is? If he does, will he tell us?

It is not my function to enlighten the Minister.

The Deputy has a habit of shutting his mouth after he has put his foot in it.

Will the Minister tell us what the tax is?

Deputies opposite are supporting an amendment to remove a tariff which if removed would put 70 men out of employment. They have not given a single reason for doing that.

We have ascertained that there are 70 men in employment, that there is no increase in the price of cutlery to the people, because, during the year, cutlery has not been produced and has been allowed to come in under licence. Beginning in October, the production of cutlery was started, but the price has not been increased, and will not be increased. Are we clear that the Minister has told us all that?

Am I clear that the Deputy is moving to take off the tariff, and if so, why?

I am moving to take off the tariff because, as shown, it has no influence at all in reducing the amount of money that went out of the country for cutlery, and because, so far as we know, it is taking money out of the people's pockets and putting it into the Treasury. The Minister denies that. He implies that all the cutlery sought to be imported was imported free on licence. I am moving to reduce the duty here, to 75 per cent. of the value of the article. The Minister will not deny that this is not the only customs duty on cutlery coming into the country. Will he deny that?

He does not know.

I prefer to proceed by way of debate rather than by way of cross-examination.

This is not the only tariff on cutlery. There is another tariff of 25 per cent. on cutlery and, so far as the duties against British goods are concerned, there is now an additional 10 per cent., so that, in so far as cutlery from Great Britain is concerned, the deletion of this section would leave a duty remaining of 35 per cent. and, in respect of other countries, a duty of 25 per cent. Inasmuch as as much money went out of the country last year for cutlery as went out the year before, I think there is good reason for moving to take off the tariff. The Minister has now told us that the factory has gone into production and that 60 or 70 men are employed. He has also said that the price of cutlery is not going to be increased. Personally, I should be prepared for the moment to take that statement and withdraw the amendment. I do not think that pressing the amendment would do any good but it has given the Minister an opportunity of making that statement in which the House will be interested and which Deputies can for a time ponder over.

I should have given that information in reply to a Parliamentary Question at any time.

We have now got an invitation from the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Industry and Commerce to address more Parliamentary Questions to them than we have been doing. I thank them for the invitation because there was a time when we did want information and, not only was there no invitation to ask for it, but it was unavailable to us.

I shall give the Deputy any information he requires, barring statistics.

Would the Minister tell us now——

Has not the amendment been withdrawn?

It can be withdrawn only by unanimous leave of the House.

And Deputy Dillon is objecting?

Would the Minister now tell us what is the total duty on cutlery?

We are concerned only with the duty the Deputy is moving to delete.

I think the question I have asked is relevant to the subject under debate.

If the Deputy puts down a Parliamentary Question, he will get a reply.

This is the kind of conduct that protracts debate. The Minister is here to give information.

The Deputy is the great "protractor."

If the information is forthcoming, business will be expeditiously disposed of. If it is not forthcoming, business will be held up until the House gets the information.

The question before the House is the proposed deletion of Section 16 of the Finance Act, 1935.

And with respect, I submit, that, in order to enable me to make up my mind as to whether the duties imposed by that section should be withdrawn or not, I am entitled to inquire what other duties are imposed by order or statute. The Minister has a clear parliamentary duty to give me that information.

There is recognised parliamentary procedure for eliciting that information.

At the beginning of the debate, the Minister did not know what other duties applied to cutlery. He has just found out and, having got that information, I suggest that he should relay it to me. The Chair might, in certain circumstances, think it rash to suggest that the Minister for Industry and Commerce does not know whether duties are attached to commodities or not. However, only a few days ago, the Minister was asked whether or not a duty attached to wallpaper and he angrily retorted "No," whereupon there was dismay amongst his experts and he was obliged to stand up and say that there was a duty on wallpaper.

What is the present position of the amendment?

The Deputy who moved the amendment has asked leave to withdraw it. It can only be withdrawn, however, with the unanimous consent of the House. Deputy Dillon has withheld his consent.

Are we to have a division on the amendment now?

The debate has not yet concluded.

If the Minister for Finance would subside for a time, we might be able to proceed.

There is not much chance of the Deputy subsiding.

I want information to which the House is entitled. I want an answer to the question I put and it is the Minister's duty to give that answer. We are entitled to information as to what the total of the duties affecting cutlery is at the moment. The Minister has that information on his desk and I ask him to give it to the House. I think it is an act of gross disrespect to refuse to do so. It is not open to the Minister to pick and choose as to whom he will give information and from whom he will withhold it. I ask again what are the present duties affecting cutlery?

Am I to understand that the Deputy has been speaking in support of an amendment to delete certain duties and that he does not know the amount of the duties?

I am asking the Minister to state the amount of the total duties. Certain duties were imposed on cutlery by the section which this amendment proposes to delete. Certain other duties were imposed by statutory Order and by other statutes. I ask the Minister to inform the House what these duties are. Deputy Brady will have to vote on this amendment in a moment. Deputy Brady does not know what duties attach to cutlery. Deputy Mrs. Concannon does not know what duties are imposed upon cutlery. Neither does Deputy Jordan nor Deputy Moore.

How do you know what I know?

Has Deputy Dillon not an amendment down?

The Deputy is going to be asked in a moment to trot like a sheep into the Lobby. I want him to trot into the Lobby in an informed state of mind.

If I put down an amendment, I would take care to know what the circumstances governing that amendment were. I would not put down an amendment in an irresponsible way.

I did not put down any amendment. As an humble Deputy in this House, in the same position as Deputy Moore, I decline to walk into the Lobby like a sheep. I want sufficient information to enable me to make up my mind and to decide what Lobby I shall go into. Deputy Moore is in the deplorable position that he is going to go into the Lobby without knowing anything about the duties.

There is no reference to Deputy Moore's knowledge in this amendment.

How does Deputy Dillon know what I know?

I have a shrewd suspicion.

That is like the conceit of Deputy Dillon. He wants to get information for the benefit of other people.

Surely this business can be brought to an end.

By your shutting up and sitting down.

I want information to which the House is entitled.

Is there not a rule about useless repetition?

Is it useless repetition to ask for information to which the House is entitled? The Minister has the information on his desk and refuses to communicate it to the House, although he has been categorically requested to give it by Deputies.

To show that Deputy Dillon is not unreasonable in his attitude, I could not swear at present as to what the duty on cutlery is.

And you are asking to have it removed.

The Deputy could have found out by putting down a question.

I have given the House a certain amount of information as to what I think the duty is. Now, I shall tell the Minister how I got that information.

Tell Deputy Dillon.

Let it be pinned round his neck, so that he will have the information next time.

I looked up the debate on the Finance Bill of 1935, and I could not get satisfactory information as to why the duty of 75 per cent. was put on. We have, according to the import list, a duty on cutlery and component parts, of 25 per cent. full, and 25 per cent. preferential, and an additional duty of 75 per cent. full and 50 per cent. preferential. Then we had the coal-cattle-cement pact, and now the coal-cattle minus the cement pact, and that appears to our minds to interfere with certain duties on articles that might include cutlery.

There is no emergency duty.

Look at the difficulties in which we are. I asked the Minister for Finance what duties did remain on articles after the reduction of the penal duties from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent. I had to wait several weeks for that information, and had to hold back the question on the Order Paper. In the end I got the information by letter, and I have it here that

"the rate of emergency duty on United Kingdom goods, on iron and steel goods not otherwise liable to duty, subject to duty under the Emergency Duty Order No. 5 of 1932, was reduced from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent."

I felt under the impression that cutlery could be described as iron and steel goods, and——

What else does it say?

——that if they were not dealt with by the Emergency Duty Order No. 5, they were covered by the statement issued by the Minister for Finance that they were subject now to an additional retaliatory duty reduced from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent.

That is what the Deputy understood from the letter?

Yes, that is what I understood from the letter. The Minister took, I think, about four weeks to find out what he could make out of the coal-cattle-cement agreement, and then he gave us this information. Approaching the question humbly enough, I make a deduction from it. I make the deduction that not only is this duty that is mentioned in this list imposed, but that there is also a retaliatory duty on cutlery coming in from Great Britain, and that, therefore, if this amendment of mine were passed, there would still be a 25 per cent. retaliatory duty on goods coming into the country from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Does the Minister say that that is correct—does that mean that there is now a 10 per cent. duty?

A revenue duty.

The duty on cutlery is 25 per cent. and 75 per cent.

Nobody pays the 75 per cent.

If that cutlery is at 25 per cent. and 75 per cent. now, did it not take you a long time to get that out?

It is published.

It is published after a long research.

Amendment No. 24 withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 25:—

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

The Finance Act of 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion of Section 17.

This is one of the high power statutes. Section 17 of the Finance Act of 1935 imposed a duty of 75 per cent. on clocks coming into the country. We have the position now that the value of imports of clocks has fallen from £24,000 to £16,000 between 1934 and 1935. I would like to ask the Minister for some information as to how many persons are employed in the industry. Has he any information as to the total value of the annual production? I understand that a duty is being collected on clocks coming into the country. Is the Minister issuing licences for the import of clocks free of duty for clocks of the kind not manufactured by the companies manufacturing clocks here? Are these licences issued on the application of the importers free of duty?

There are no licences issued for the importation of clocks free of duty. There are a number of firms engaged here in the assembling of clocks. I cannot give the figure as to the number employed in the industry but it is not inconsiderable taking all the firms together. Returns in regard to that industry will be published in due course. The duty was imposed by the Finance Act last year. The figure as to the imports for last year would be no indication as to the extent to which these firms could supply the requirements of the country.

But last year's import figures indicated that £ 12,000 had been taken in revenue duties out of the pockets of people who had to buy clocks of that kind that are not yet manufactured by the companies manufacturing here.

All classes of clocks that are subject to duty are produced here.

Amendment No. 25 withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 26:

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

Section 18 of the Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby annulled.

This amendment proposes to annul the duty of 6d. per lb. on tea. To my mind a very extraordinary situation seems to have arisen with regard to tea. The Minister for Industry and Commerce publishes figures from time to time showing the average prices of those various commodities that particularly affect the cost of living of the people. The position is remarkable in regard to tea in respect of which he publishes the average prices of the cheapest tea sold in the various towns throughout the country and the average price of the dearest tea. The average price of the cheapest tea has risen by 10¼d. per lb. between mid-February 1932, and mid-February 1936, while the import price for tea in the same time during the two years 1932 and 1936 has fallen by 1d. per lb.

That is the average price.

The average price of the tea landed at the port has fallen by 1d. per lb. The average price of the dearest tea has fallen by 1¾d., so that here we have a situation in respect of a commodity of general use and which to a very large extent is the staple beverage of the people and the price of that beverage has risen for the majority of the people by 10¼d. per lb. And 6d. of that tax goes to the Government. I do not want again to go over the various classes of people in this country on whom the burden of taxation is falling. The Minister for Finance indicated, when dealing with the question of relief of income-tax in respect of children who are undergoing certain types of education that the cost of giving that relief—that is to say, the tax which would have to be imposed to give that relief—would fall on the labouring classes, and I have repeatedly indicated what is the condition of the labouring classes, particularly amongst the agricultural community, at the present time. In that situation I submit that the tax of 6d. per lb. on tea is about the most inequitable tax that you could possibly have. I have repeatedly pointed out that the previous Administration realised that. It was a tax that fell very inequitably on various classes of the people, and was borne to the greatest possible extent by the poorer classes until they removed it. It is now being restored to the extent of 6d. per lb. One extraordinary circumstance that has accompanied that restoration is that the price of tea, when we take the 1d. reduction in the import price, has gone up by 5¼d. per lb. as well.

There is an obvious explanation of that—the tax went on in 1932.

How is it that the tax going on not only runs up the price of tea in four years by the amount of the tax, but by an additional 5¼d.?

The Deputy is now talking about a five-year period, not 1932 and 1933.

I am giving the Minister the benefit of a comparison with the 1932 price. The import price of tea between 1932 and 1935 fell from 1/5 to 1/4. That 1d. fall is not reflected in the price the people pay. If we take, as we might take, the 1935 price as compared with the 1931 price, the fall is 4d., because the import price of tea in 1931 was 1/8 and it was 1/4 last year. So that I am putting the mildest possible case, that over the price paid in February, 1932, the people buying the cheapest class of tea paid 10¼d.

In 1933?

In 1936. I should like the Minister to be clear on it. In mid-February, 1932, the price paid for the cheapest tea was 2/1¼. That had risen by 10¼d. in mid-February, 1936. Sixpence of that was tax. Not only is there 4¼d. to be accounted for of an additional rise, but there is 1d. to be accounted for also by which the import price of tea actually fell. If the Minister wants to carry it further, there is an additional 3d. to be explained in the high price of tea to-day, if he takes the 1931 import price of tea as the foundation.

The Deputy is relating the average price to the price for a particular class of commodity.

I am relating the price quoted by the Minister as the average price for the cheapest tea paid by the community and, as it were, found by an examination of the price of the cheapest tea bought in a number of towns in order to arrive at what is the general position with regard to the cheapest price of tea.

There are at least ten possible explanations other than the Deputy's.

Let us have them.

Let us assume that the people are buying a better class of tea. That is one explanation.

There is another explanation and that is the true explanation. The incidence of the tax which the Minister put on tea fell either upon the palates of the people who drank the tea or upon their pockets. So far as the rich people are concerned, or the people in a condition of moderate prosperity, the tax fell upon their palates, because the different blenders reduced the quality of the tea in the blend and left the prices at what they were before the Minister put on the tax at the special request of the Minister for Finance. Deputies will remember that he begged the people not to pass on the 4d. tax because we were fighting a struggle to the death with Great Britain, that victory was to be won in a period of six weeks or two months, and, if the tax was passed on it might shake the foundations of the Irish nation. It was not passed on. The only persons to whom it was passed on were the poor of the Cities of Dublin, Cork and Limerick, who buy cheap fannings. These fannings were the lowest grade of tea that money could buy and there could be no depreciation of their quality, with the result that the whole tax had to go on to them and they suffered in their pockets. I am not pretending that the people who bought a better quality did not suffer in any way. They did not get as good tea as they got heretofore. They simply put cheaper tea in the blend. It was the poor who were buying the cheapest tea that could be found in the market who had to find the extra 4d. or 6d., according to whether the tea came from the Dominions or the Dutch colonies.

The result of the Government policy has been a very substantial fall in the consumption of tea in rural Ireland. I have tried to get a figure out of the Minister for Finance but he is very coy. He keeps making the same answer and says it is an answer to the strict letter of the question put, but he feels bound to warn the Deputy that it leaves a considerable lacunae if information is really sought as to the total consumption of tea. If the Minister knows that I want to ascertain what the total consumption is——

Surely Deputy Dillon, who has such a command of English, ought to be able to frame the question which he is trying to ask and he will get an answer?

I do not want to make any reflections upon the Revenue Commissioners, but I am not always satisfied that classical English will extract from the Revenue Commissioners the precise information that we require. However, that need not be investigated here. The Minister is responsible to the House and not the Revenue Commissioners. If the Minister knew what I wanted——

——and forbore to afford the information, the Minister was seeking refuge behind——

If the Deputy knew what he wanted.

I wanted information as to how many lbs. of tea were consumed by the people. The Minister wanted to cover up his tracks, to conceal the fact that the consumption of tea has declined. It declined because the people had not the money to pay for it. The reason they had not the money was because the Minister was impoverishing them. These are two facts. The third fact is that the quality of tea consumed by the people of rural Ireland has fallen materially during the last three years. A person who used to pay 4/4 for tea four or five years ago is now paying 3/4. The person who used to pay 3/4 for tea is now paying 2/4. The person who used to pay 2/4 for tea is now paying 1/8 or 2/-. He would pay less if he could get cheaper tea, but he cannot.

I beg Deputy Kelly, who represents a city constituency, and Deputy Mrs. Concannon, who holds herself out as a representative of the women of Ireland, to remember that the people who are actually paying the tax out of their pockets and not simply depreciating their standard of living are the poor. The people who are buying the lowest grade of tea that they can get, because they cannot afford a better one, are the people who have to contribute to the tax-gatherer who stands at the door of every grocer's shop the 4d. or 6d. that the Minister levies on every poor person who buys a lb. of tea.

What price do you suggest the poor of Dublin pay at present?

I am not familiar with the Dublin tea trade, but I should say the poorest people in Dublin ought to be able to get tea at from 1/7 to 1/8. I can conceive an exceptional fanning being available for 1/6, but I do not think any grocer will be profiteering who finds himself unable to offer tea at less than 1/8, even for the cheapest grade. I am going to make a suggestion in connection with the tea tax. The President spoke last night of being honest with the people, letting them know exactly what was being done and inviting judgment on it. Will the Minister consider arranging in future that this tax should be collected by way of stamps: that each customer, having bought his tea and paid for it, would then be invited to pay for a stamp to be reminded that when he was buying tea he was being privileged to contribute 6d. on each lb. of it to the development of the grand Fianna Fáil policy that we have in this country? I feel sure that if the President is right—that the people are so anxious to know everything and that he is so anxious that they should know—the Minister would be glad to tell the working-class people of this country that he is extending to them the privilege of paying their share of the expense of the Fianna Fáil policy. The Minister for Education said some time ago in this House: "Why should they not be made pay?""Is it not right," he said, "that they should be made pay their share." If that is the policy of the Government, why not tell the people that honestly? I was down in Deputy Tom Kelly's stronghold last night, addressing a meeting at the corner of York Street. I wonder would he go down there, amongst his own friends, and tell them that the Party that he is supporting is putting a levy of 6d. a lb. on tea, 2d. on sugar, 1½d. on the quartern loaf and 5d. per lb. on butter. Would he tell them this: that, because he knew them to be enthusiastic citizens of this State, they would regard it as a privilege to make their contribution of 2/- a week to the policy of the Fianna Fáil Party? I suggest that Deputy Kelly, who rejoices in his native borough in the cognomen of "Honest Tom Kelly," should go down and dole out some of that honesty in York Street. I have no doubt but that the Minister for Finance would be glad to escort him. When the Deputy has done what I suggest he should do, and when both start running from York Street, we will be above at the corner at Stephen's Green with a barrage ready to receive them.

I would remind the Deputy that no one but Fianna Fáil candidates has yet been elected in the County Dublin.

In one of the first speeches made in this House by Deputy Dillon, he pleaded for a tax on tea as one of the most suitable and harmless taxes that could be imposed.

That is quite untrue. I said that it was better than a tax on sugar.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 40.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Keating, John.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Rogers, Patrick James.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo. V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick, Stephen.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl Deputies Smith and Moylan.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 27:—

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

Section 19 of the Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby annulled.

Section 19 of the Finance Act of 1935 puts a duty of 6d. a cwt. on wheat imported into the Saorstát. This is one of the ways of keeping up the price of flour and the price of bread. I submit that this is the simplest, the easiest way by which the Government could indicate that they realise the enormous increases that have taken place in the price of bread and flour to the people and that they are going to see that these increases are not going to last. There is a Bill before the House to give the Government power to fix the price of bread. We should get an indication now that they are going to fix the price of bread at a rate lower than that applying to bread at the present time.

The Minister for Finance is, no doubt, aware that, when calculating the official cost-of-living index figure, something over 57 per cent of that figure is covered by the cost of food to the people and one-third of that is covered by items such as bread, flour, tea and sugar. We have indicated that the price of the cheapest tea between February, 1932 and February, 1936, had risen by 10½d.; that the price of sugar has risen by 1/2d. a lb.; that flour has risen 4½d. a stone and that the 4 lb. loaf has risen by 1½d. The Government have tolerated the continuance of that kind of thing for the reason, no doubt, that they set out to raise the price of bread and the price of flour; but there is very little excuse for the Minister for Finance tolerating the increase in the price of the 4 lb. loaf to 1½d. more than it was in the beginning of 1932, before Fianna Fáil came into office.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce has been presented with the statement—and I have no doubt that he has brought it to the notice of the Minister for Finance and the Government as a whole—that in the first quarter alone, the quarter to March, 1934, the millers made very considerable profits over what the Commission that was inquiring into the matter considered reasonable profits. Dealing with the matter in page 35 of their Report, the Commission say:

"It represents a contribution of £34,640 to millers over and above the profits to which they were, in our opinion, entitled."

Here we had a group of flour millers, according to a report presented to the Minister very early last year, and the Government have been informed that these millers made, in the first quarter of the year 1934, £34,640 profit above the margin of profit that would be considered reasonable. The Government have taken no steps to deal with that situation. They sat idly by and they allowed the situation to develop to the extent that people are paying 1½d. more on the 4 lb. loaf than they were paying before Fianna Fáil took office. It must amount to an enormous additional taxation, hidden taxation taken out of the pockets of the people.

The wheat policy was being financed by direct contribution from the Exchequer up to last year, but the extent of that contribution was becoming so great that the Government hid it, ceased the system by which it was made a direct contribution from the Revenue, and planned so that the people would have to pay the increased charges for the wheat policy over the counter. No doubt 6d. a cwt. on imported wheat is a very small thing in the matter of revenue, but it is an important factor in keeping up the level at which both flour and bread will be sold to the people. There is a very grave situation indicated there in view of the unnecessarily high price that is being paid on two of the most important items in the whole cost-of-living index.

I have said that food represents 57 per cent. of the total cost-of-living index. Bread and flour together represent nearly one-fifth of what the whole food component of the index represents. That gives some measure of the burden of increased prices on the people and I move that the 6d. should come off the wheat imports as a small indication to the people that when facing the question of fixing bread prices the Government will move in the direction of having them fixed at a lower level.

The Minister, on amendments discussed some time ago, expressed considerable concern that the House should take any action which would in any way compel the Government, by way of alternative taxation, to increase the cost of living. This is a matter to which I have had to draw the attention of the House on several occasions during the last year. Deputy Mulcahy has quoted certain figures regarding the increase in the price of a 4 lb. loaf and regarding the increase in the price of flour. Of course the House is aware that in the rural parts of Ireland people make their own bread at home; it is mostly home-made bread that is used. Flour is bought by farmers and others in half sacks in the towns and villages. It is bought in smaller quantities by the poorer people. Deputy Mulcahy quoted an increase of 4½d. per stone. I do not know exactly where that figure was got, or what are the comparative periods.

Mid-February 1932, and mid-February 1936, as quoted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The price was increased from 1/10 to 2/2½.

So far as the rural parts of this country are concerned there was an increase of 8d. per stone. The price of flour increased from 1/6 to 2/2. It varied in certain parts from 2/1 to 2/2. The poor people who have to buy flour in half-stones found they were saddled with an additional 8d. per stone. In working-men's homes, where there are large families and where all the bread is made at home, 4 stones of flour are very often used in the week. That gives the House an idea of what the additional cost means to an agricultural labourer with a comparatively small wage. On flour alone there is an additional 2/8 per week; if you like, an additional 1/4 per week or an additional 2/- — the increase depending altogether on the size of the family. Of course there was an increase also in the price of bread. I do not think there is any justification whatever for this particular tax. Deputy Mulcahy has quoted from the report of the Commission regarding the profits made by millers in this country. I do not think anybody in the country doubts for a moment that millers are making very large profits, particularly over the last two or three years. About a fortnight ago the newspaper which is controlled and directed by the President of the Executive Council, in an attempt to prove its contention that this country was prosperous and was growing more prosperous, quoted the price of shares in certain firms in this country, and referred to the way in which the price of those shares had advanced over the past four years. One of the firms quoted to prove the contention that the country was growing more prosperous was one of the principal flour-milling bakery firms in this country. We were informed in that article that the shares had increased from 50/- to £5 14s. 0d. each.

I would ask members of the House to turn that over in their minds, remembering, as I say, that as a result of this tax and the other dealings of the Government the consumers are compelled to pay from 6d. to 8d. per stone extra for flour. That is a statement which cannot be contreverted. It is a statement that can be substantiated. It is a statement which I have made on more than one occasion, both in this House and outside it. I have gone to some trouble to make sure with regard to that particular figure. I say that in my opinion this is perhaps the most unjust tax that was imposed in last year's Budget. There were a great number of taxes imposed on the necessaries of life, and I think it will be agreed that there is no greater necessity than flour, particularly in the homes of the poor, where bread is used for every meal. In the case of the better-off people in the larger homes there is a greater variety of food, and for that reason perhaps this tax does not hit them as badly as it hits the poor people, in whose homes bread is the staple part of every meal of the day.

It is really very surprising that any Deputy who represents a rural constituency, at any rate, should manage to steel his heart and subdue his conscience sufficiently to follow the Minister for Finance into the Lobby upon the motion which we are now discussing. This is a motion which comes to the relief of the very poorest members of the community, and since the interests of the Minister for Finance and the interests of the Executive Council are concentrated, not upon the welfare of the poor, but upon the welfare of the shareholders in milling and other companies, I take it for granted that this motion—a motion in relief of the poor—will be opposed by the Minister for Finance. He has not spoken but, from my general knowledge of the Minister for Finance and my general knowledge of the Fianna Fáil Party, I take it for granted that a motion which comes to the relief of the very poorest persons in the country will inevitably be opposed by the Party which is now in office. Deputy Mulcahy quoted certain figures from the cost-of-living index, but we must always bear in mind that the cost-of-living index is not at all an indication of the cost of living of the very poor in this country. The cost-of-living index is an index which has been weighted to suit civil servants. There never has been an index to the cost-of-living figures in this country weighted to suit the working classes. If a proper cost-of-living figure, weighted to suit the working classes, were introduced, the weight which would be given to the price of bread, to the price of flour and to the prices of the necessaries of life, would be very much heavier than the weight which is given to those items when an index to cost-of-living figures is produced weighted solely for the Civil Service. We have it on the Government's own figures—admitted by the Government themselves—that the wages of agricultural labourers have fallen by at least an average of 3/- per week. At a time when agricultural wages are being reduced, and must be reduced—it has been admitted even by the Chairman of the Labour Party that agricultural wages have been reduced of necessity because the farmers in this country cannot pay any higher wages—because the farmers are compelled, as a direct result of Government policy, to reduce the wages which they pay to their farm labourers, is it fair, is it just, is it moral even, that the Government, which on the one hand by their policy is indirectly foreing down the rate of agricultural wages, and on the other hand by their direct policy and the taxation which they have imposed upon the principal necessary which an agricultural labourer has got to buy, should further reduce the real purchasing value of those wages? After all, what a wage means to the working man is solely what he can purchase with the amount of wages he receives.

Deputy Morrissey has now given figures which cannot be controverted. As a matter of fact, I think that Deputy Morrissey has rather understated than over-stated his case. We may take it that the cost of living of the ordinary agricultural labourer, rearing an ordinary family, has been put up by 2/- per week in the cost of flour. Therefore, you may take it that if the Government policy means, indirectly, a reduction of wages by 3/- a week, and, directly, a reduction of the purchasing power of wages by another 2/-, it means a loss of 5/- a week on an average to the agricultural labourer in this country.

Now, surely, there ought to be some sense of fair play in the Executive Council, or at least in the Fianna Fáil Party; and surely, when they see, as they must see—they cannot be blind —that their policy has been the direct cause of a reduction of, on an average, 3/- a week in agricultural wages all over the country, instead of getting at that agricultural labourer, whose wages have been cut down, and instead of acting on the policy of saying "There is a fellow down there, and let us jump on him," surely this is a time in which, if they had any sense of fair play or decency, the Executive Council would take a very different attitude and, instead of putting on taxes, would, owing to the poverty that exists among the agricultural community as a result of their policy, take this opportunity of removing every single tax off food, but, above all, off the prime necessity of life, because the staff of life, the staple food of the agricultural labourers and the small farmers of the country, is grain. That is their standard food. What has happened? That is being driven down. Their wages are being driven down, and, at the same time, the cost of bread is going up. What must happen as a result is an underfed population, and you are going to have little children wanting bread because you have made bread too dear. You will have a population growing up underfed because, at a time like this, you have put up the cost of living for the poor. You might raise the cost of living at a time of tremendous prosperity or at a time when agricultural wages were booming up, but, to increase the cost of living, at a time when the cost of agricultural wages are tumbling down, is unfair and unjust, and, I do not hesitate to stigmatise it, Sir, as immoral.

I have certainly spoken, Sir, on the assumption that the Government will refuse this motion. According to their past history, I know that they talk about themselves as a poor man's Government, but it seems to me that, when they get a chance to do something for the poor man, their only idea seems to be to know what else they can extract from his pocket. Their attitude seems to be that, although they have made these people poor already, they will make them poorer.

The cost of living is lower now than it was in 1931.

We are dealing now with the cost of flour. What about the cost of flour?

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney was dealing with the cost of living generally. The cost of flour fluctuates from time to time and it fluctuated considerably during the time the previous Government was in office. Taking the cost of living generally, however, the general cost-of-living figure now is lower than it was in 1931. Deputy Morrissey's and Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney's arguments, again, fall before the facts. I have often referred before to the innumerable tragedies in this House when beautiful theories advanced by certain Deputies come into contact with ugly facts. Deputies opposite do not like facing facts, but it is only necessary to face the facts in order to destroy their arguments because all their arguments are based upon conceptions of the facts that are wrong. The cost-of-living figure now is lower than in 1931, and the remission of this duty would not affect the price of bread in the slightest—this duty of 6d. a cwt. on wheat. That would not influence the price of bread in the slightest.

Who passed the tax? Will the Minister answer that?

Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney talked about hungry children crying for bread because of this tax. We had all these rhetorical references from the Deputy about the consequences of an ill-nourished population on the future of the race as a result of this tax. As a matter of fact, the remission of the tax would not alter the price of bread by ¼d.

Who pays the tax?

It would not alter the price by ¼d. Let Deputy Morrissey take the prices of wheat in the Corn Trade News for this week, and for a number of weeks past. If Deputy Morrissey does that, I shall be very much surprised if, comparing one week with another, there is not, in each week, at least 6d. per week in the fluctuation in the prices.

Therefore, the Minister is going to add another?

Therefore, this tax, which brings in £150,000 a year, is of a character which does not influence the general cost of living to any degree whatever. It has, however, a protective effect. It is important that we should grow our own wheat and secure for the growers of wheat here a good price, and that, I think, is appreciated by most of the people in this country, if not by the Deputies opposite. That protective duty is very small in relation to the world price of wheat which fell so much in 1929, and subsequently, that it was the prime cause of the world depression. The addition of 6d. a cwt. does not bring the price anywhere near the minimum price we have guaranteed the wheat producers of this country. In so far as we are succeeding in getting an increase of wheat production here, an increase that Deputies opposite and their Party always told us was a physical impossibility, this tax is becoming of less and less importance, because 35 per cent. of the flour being milled this year is being milled from Irish wheat. It is not so many years since the ex-Minister for Agriculture, and many of his agricultural experts, asserted, with all the authority which their positions gave them, that the land of this country would grow thistles, would grow weeds, would grow dandelion, would grow grass—anything except wheat. They said the climatic conditions were such that wheat could not grow here. It is growing, and in increasing quantities every year, and in due course this tax will be merely historic relic.

Will the Minister tell us how many acres of winter wheat could not be put in last November?

Does the Deputy know?

I am asking the Minister.

I do not. How many acres of wheat were not grown?

How many acres could not be put down owing to the condition of the land?

How many acres were put down and how many might be put down? If the Deputy subtracts one figure from the other he will get his answer. Being in my own country I cannot pose as a prophet, and I could not possibly attempt even to estimate a figure which would answer the Deputy's question.

The area under wheat is increasing, and the effect of the Government's plan for the development of wheat production has been very beneficial in all the wheat-growing parts. It has given the farmers in these areas a new cash crop, one which they can grow with the certainty that in the harvest they will be able to dispose of it at a remunerative price. I think that is a good thing for the country, and a good thing for the farmers, who know that it is a good thing. All the talk we have on occasions from the benches opposite, about the effect on consumers of agricultural produce of the Government's agricultural policy is intended for town consumption only. They make the mistake of thinking that people in the agricultural community are illiterate; that they do not read the newspapers, but they are going to find out some day to their astonishment that the speeches they deliver for town consumption are being read by the rural population. Deputies opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot go around saying that the Government are ruining the farmers because the price of farm produce is too low, and, at the same time, contend that we are ruining the towns because the price of farm produce is too high. They have to stand by one thing or the other. If they stand for an increase in agricultural prices, they may get increased support amongst the farmers, or if they stand for lower prices for agricultural produce in the towns, they may get support from the workers. So long as they are trying to do both things they are not going to get any support, as the result of the recent County Dublin elections illustrates.

The Minister started on the amendment——

That is more than the Deputy did.

——and having made a couple of blunders realised that he was blundering and got to the general question. He stated that this tax will not add anything to the cost of bread or flour. A sum of £150,000 is going to the Government out of this tax. Is it the Minister's contention that the millers are paying the £150,000 to the Government, and are not passing it on? Does the Minister contend that?

We will proceed by way of speech and not by way of cross-examination.

Exactly. The Minister would like to proceed by way of speech because he will find some difficulty in answering. The Minister wants to get away from the point. A sum of £150,000 is involved for wheat which is to be imported, notwithstanding the Government's wheat policy. If the consumers do not pay the £150,000 to the Government, who pays? Does the Minister contend that millers whose shares have increased from 50/- to £5 14s. 0d. will pay? Does the Minister contend that millers will pay this £150,000 and not recoup themselves from the consumers? It is nonsense for the Minister to try to relate this to the guaranteed price. What has that to do with it? The Government is not contributing to the guaranteed price. They are making the consumers pay it. This is a case of transferring it from the Exchequer and making it a direct charge on the people. Whatever difficulty there is in making up the guaranteed price is solved by the direct charge on bread and flour used by consumers, and not by any contribution from the State. This tax is for revenue purposes only, and is not passed on to the people who grow wheat. The Minister spoke of this as a measure of protection for the wheat growing policy. I should like the Minister to explain that. Does any other Deputy understand it in that way? I do not think there is, except Deputy Briscoe.

Speak for yourself.

I thought the Deputy intimated that he understood what was meant.

He merely groaned.

The Deputy is not the only member of the Party opposite who will have to groan, if I know anything.

There will be some groaning over there.

The Party opposite are groaning.

Tell us about the 6d.

I am going to tell the Deputy about the 8d. a stone on flour to which the Minister made no reference. That is the one fact he kept away from.

It has nothing to do with this.

No, the millers are great philanthropists, and they are going to pay this £150,000 to the Government—I know that the millers are noted for doing that, and I am wondering whether their sense of gratitude would bring them to the point of paying up to the tune of £150,000 yearly.

It would not.

Therefore, as the millers do not pay it, consumers of bread and flour must be paying it. Otherwise where is the Minister going to get it? This is going to be a greater puzzle than the 5/- a ton on coal.

And on cement.

If the Minister would address himself to this matter, and get away from the fantasy of protection, the guaranteed price, and of the amount of wheat we are growing, I suggest he would be getting a little nearer to realities. When the Party opposite ask us to face realities we put a few points before the Minister. I ask the Minister for once to try to face the points that have been made, and not to be putting up skittles of his own to knock down.

I have often heard the Minister for Industry and Commerce being disingenuous and irrelevant, and I have heard him on occasions being disingenuous but reasonably effective, but I am afraid we heard the Minister at his worst this evening. We heard him being extremely disingenuous, remarkably ineffective and extremely irrelevant.

But the Deputy will admit that my worst is not bad.

The Minister's worst was very poor, I am sorry to say. I do not think, if he wants candid criticism, he has often been so poor. The Minister started off with a very nice case. What proposition did he set out to prove? That the increase of the tax of 2/- on flour does not cost consumers anything.

Where is the 2/- on flour?

The bread tax costs the ordinary family 2/- a week. I am dealing with the bread tax as a whole.

I am sorry. I thought you were dealing with the amendment.

Here is where the Minister is completely disingenuous. He knew we were discussing the bread tax as a whole.

I did not know that.

We are entitled to discuss it, as a whole, because this is one of the items which go to make up the bread tax, and this is the only way in which we can bring the bread tax up for discussion in this House. The Minister knows that the amendment was brought in, in order to discuss the bread tax, but, disingenuously and entirely ineffectively, he tried to dodge that issue. The Minister endeavoured to pass the major proposition. He said that flour was as dear in 1932 as it is now, and that by taxing it, it is not going to be made any dearer. That is an idiotic statement. I beg pardon, that is unparliamentary. The Minister is not doing his own intellect complete justice when he puts that argument before the House. I think the Minister might now give us an example of endeavouring to do himself justice. Let him use his own mind, let him do himself justice, let him deal with these questions which we have put to him and let him answer this plain, simple, straight question I put to him: when agricultural wages are driven down should not the cost of living to the agricultural labourer be reduced as much as the Government can reduce it? I put this plain straight question to him very sincerely and the Minister will not answer it by rubbing his fevered brow to get inspiration, as I see him doing at the present moment. Let him answer that question plainly and straightly. When agricultural wages are driven down, is it fair and is it right or, I again say, is it even moral, to tax the necessaries of life for those people?

The Minister asks why we do not talk about farm labourers, and says that we had confined ourselves to the towns. I have not mentioned a town or city. The people in whom I am interested are the small farmers in my own constituency. These are the people who are being hit by the price of flour. These are the people on whose behalf I here denounce this increase in the cost of living by Government taxation of food. Let us have it out with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Let him tell us whether he thinks it is fair to raise the cost of flour—I do not want any comparative figures—over what it would be if untaxed at the present moment when agricultural wages have been driven down and when the small-holders of this country, the ordinary country people, have been reduced to poverty by the action of the Government in depriving them of a market for their stock.

I do not know what the Deputy means when he refers to the price of flour "as it would be" if there were no restrictions on its importation. Flour is taxed in Britain for the purpose of subsidising wheat production in Britain.

"What England does is right." Is that the new argument?

The Deputy's point is that we should pay the subsidy to English producers.

None of our wheat comes from England.

Some of our flour did.

We get our wheat from Canada, Australia and other countries.

The difference is that Ranks get 10/- per sack more for their flour milled in Limerick than they get for their flour milled in Liverpool.

And they pay more for their wheat here.

For the home-grown wheat here.

Does the Minister deny that this tax on wheat results in an increase in the price of a cwt. of flour of about 10d.?

6d., 8d., and now 10d.

So far as I am aware, the tax of 6d. per cwt. on wheat will result in an increase of 10d. per cwt. on household flour.

Can you not find agreement amongst yourselves even as to the amount of the increase?

The Minister has at his disposal technicians of various kinds and I have no doubt before he advised the Minister for Finance to impose this tax he consulted his technicians to ascertain what increase in the price of flour this tax would produce and, in the light of that information, fixed the amount of the tax. On a rough calculation, speaking purely as a merchant without any experience as a miller, I understand that a tax of 6d. per cwt. on wheat involves an increase of 10d. per cwt. on flour. Do the Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party take the view that in existing circumstances, whenever a country woman goes in to buy a cwt. of flour, she should pay 10d. to the tax-gatherer as she passes out of the merchant's door?

Or the alternative.

What is the alternative?

A Cumann na nGaedheal Government.

Let us take the Deputies opposite at the value which Deputy Briscoe puts upon them. Do they think that they are worth 10d. a bag to the country?

As against nothing on the other side.

I take that standard of value set up by Deputy Briscoe himself and I ask Deputy Moane to go down to his constituents. Let him bring Deputy Briscoe with him, put him up on the platform and say,"Is he worth 10d. per bag?" If they think he is, then I will say that the Minister is justified in imposing this tax. If the people want to say that, then the will of the people should prevail. I put a little test before to Deputy Tom Kelly. I suggested that he should go down to his friends at the corner of York Street and talk about bread, sugar and tea. He said that, having maturely considered the suggestion, he would stay where he was. Deputy Tom Kelly is "Honest Tom Kelly" in this city, and I have no doubt that if he went down to the corner of York Street be would tell the people the truth but, in the circumstances, he thought it wiser to stay in Dáil Eireann. I think he was right. What about Deputy Moane starting for the West of Ireland, bringing Deputy Briscoe with him, and making that comparison? I shall tell you what I shall do. If Deputy Moane goes down to the West of Ireland, takes Deputy Briscoe with him, puts him up on a platform and asks the people "Is he worth 10d. a bag?" and if the people agree that he is, we shall never again say a thing about the increase of 10d. per cwt. in the price of flour.

The Minister tells us that even the British Government taxed wheat in order to develop wheat production. We were informed by the Government Press the other day—some time in the month of June—that the price of the 4lb. loaf in London was reduced to 7½d. That was about the 5th or 6th of June. Here the price is 10d. The Minister was not here when I was speaking to the amendment and I should like to put to him again the point I made in connection with it. I quite agree that a reduction of 6d. per cwt. on wheat is not going to bring a sufficient reduction either in the price of bread or flour, but this was the only opportunity we had in the Finance Bill of making any attempt to bring about a reduction in the price of bread or of flour.

Why not deal with it, on the Bread Prices Bill which is coming on at 8 o'clock?

It is not so much a question of the Cereals Bill as the Bread Bill with which the Minister will be dealing some time later. The Minister has sat still for two years while he had in front of him on his table, or I hope somewhere near his table, a statement from the Commission which inquired into the price of flour that in the first quarter of 1934 the millers made unreasonable profits to the extent of £34,640. Nothing has happened since. It would be some kind of a sign that the Government were going to operate their Bread Prices Fixing Bill in a way that would bring down prices, rather than raise them, if they took this 6d. per cwt. off wheat coming into the country because it is the top of the dam that the Government has raised to keep up the price of flour and bread in the country. Will the Minister tell us why bread should be 10d. per 4lb. loaf in Dublin and elsewhere in this country, and 7½d. in London?

Wait until we get the Bread Bill. Obviously there is reason why a Bill to regulate the price of bread is going to be introduced.

In view of the fact that we are now about to reject an amendment calculated to remove the tax from the raw material of bread, surely the Minister might disclose to us how he proposes to reduce the price of bread.

I will, at 8 o'clock.

The Minister might tell us that in view of the fact that the increased price of bread has been brought about by the Minister's colleague in the increased price of flour. It seems extraordinary to increase the price of bread by one piece of legislation and then for Ministers to come forward, looking like whitened sepulchres, saying we are going to take means whereby we will reduce the price of bread. There are only two ways by which the price of bread can be reduced; one is to reduce the impost on flour and the other is to subsidise the production of bread. One wants to understand the bread trade to get at prices accurately. When we speak of 5d. we must remember that the producer sells bread at 5d. less the retailers' discount, which fluctuates between 10 and 15 per cent.

Does the Deputy not think it would be better to raise all that at 8 o'clock?

I want to direct attention to the price of bread and the price of flour, particularly for the benefit of Deputy Tom Kelly. I believe by calling attention here now, and as I did on the earlier stages of the Finance Bill, to the Bread (Control of Prices) Bill, Deputy Tom Kelly will discover that there is a nigger in the wood pile, somewhere, and, having directed his mind to that fact, I will undertake to show where the nigger is, and I do not think that Deputy Kelly will have to strain his eyes very much to find him.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 25; Níl, 40.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Bourke, Séamus.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Keating, John.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl: Deputies Smith and Moylan.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 28:—

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion in the First Schedule of reference No. 25, and all references thereto in columns 2, 3 and 4.

I move this amendment for the purpose of ascertaining from the Minister the amount of additional employment given as a result of this tariff in the prayer-book industry and to what extent further production of prayer books and missals has taken place, in view of certain Press complaints made recently as to the application of the tariff to certain classes of books of a cheap kind which are not being printed here. I should also like to know whether any use is being made of the licensing provision with regard to this duty.

I cannot say what extra employment has been given by this duty, but the Deputy may take it that it is small. The duty was imposed following a report of the Tariff Commission and it was designed to ease the situation in respect of unemployment in the bookbinding trade. Some classes of religious books are printed and bound here, but whenever there is any difficulty in getting religious books of the kind to which the duty applies, the licensing provision is being used to allow in the printed sheets, free of duty, to be bound here. I do not think it is correct to say that any difficulty has been experienced in procuring the cheaper class of books. A number of the cheaper classes of books—books which sell about 2d. each —are both printed and bound here. It was probably in connection with the dearer classes of books that difficulty was experienced. The duty is not one of great importance, but I do not think it is one which should be removed. The bookbinding industry in the Saorstát was, at one time, quite considerable. It has declined very much, due to a number of causes. It has probably declined in all countries. The result was that a large number of really skilled bookbinders were unemployed. Although this tax has not done much to lessen that unemployployment, it has relieved it to some extent, and I do not think it can be said, against it, that it has caused much inconvenience. Therefore, I am in favour of maintaining it.

Do I understand that licences to import free of duty are given only in isolated cases, in which definite application is made and that nothing has been done to systematise the giving of licences in respect of a particular range of books or publications not produced here?

There are certain classes of religious books the quantities of which required in any one year are so small that it would not be practicable to have them printed here. In respect of this class of books, licences to import the sheets free of duty are given. The binding of them can be done here quite well.

In no instance is a licence issued to import complete books free of duty?

Except on individual application for particular classes of books which cannot be printed or bound here.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 29:—

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion of, in Part I, Second Schedule, reference No. 2, and all references thereto in columns 2 and 3.

This amendment deals with customs duty of 6d. per yard on linoleum, without any provision for licensing. It has, in fact, come to be a revenue tariff. The statement made at the time was that it was intended to set up a factory for the manufacture here of linoleum. I should like to know what progress has been made in that connection. Again, I should like to point out that the tariff is purely a revenue tariff and, as was pointed out before, bears unequally on the working-classes who buy the cheaper class of linoleum. Linoleum imported at 7/6 per yard bears a customs duty of 6d. while linoleum imported at 1/- a yard bears the same duty of 6d. That is inequitable.

That is 6d. per square yard, which means 1/- per linear yard.

There is a factory now working which is producing linoleum in sufficient quantities to supply all the requirements of the country, with the exception of certain very expensive classes of linoleum on which this duty of 6d. is not of great importance. The factory is located in Tipperary and employs a considerable number of men.

Would the Minister say how many?

I cannot say the exact number, but it is over 50. They are all men and, consequently, the industry is of considerable importance to that town. It is probable that some expansion of that industry will take place but, even as it stands, it is now in an unimportant industry. It is now in full production and able to supply all the country's requirements in linoleum.

That is a situation which rather alarms me. If the Minister says he has induced somebody to establish a factory in Tipperary which employs over 50 persons and which, on that basis, is capable of supplying all the linoleum requirements of the country at the present time, then I think he has done a very imprudent thing. At present, there is a terrific amount of building going on and if the Minister studies the output of the big linoleum factories in Great Britain, he will find that the experience there bears out my contention. If you are going to establish a factory with a capacity to supply an inflated demand for linoleum at present, when we get back to normal the capacity of that factory will be out of all proportion to the national requirements.

That is a matter for the firm. I do not think that it is likely to arise for a long time to come.

When the State interferes in trade the State must accept a certain liability for the result of its own actions. If the State induced a number of men to go into the production of a commodity which ceased to be used, it would not be enough for the Minister to say that that was a matter for the people who went into such production. If they went into it at his express suggestion, they would be entitled to turn to the Minister and say that the business had completely evaporated, that they had lost their money, and ask him what he was going to do about it. Is the Minister prepared to stand by the statement that the factory in Tipperary is capable of supplying all our present requirements?

In quantity.

If it is, then it is floated on an altogether inflated estimate of the normal requirements of this country in respect of linoleum. When the housing boom is finished and a sufficient number of houses built to accommodate the population, the demand must inevitably fall substantially and then you would have a very undesirable situation developing. I have not as yet had an opportunity of seeing samples of the Tipperary product. I hope I soon will. I know nothing about the quality and am not in a position to tell the House anything about the Tipperary product, but I sincerely trust that the factory has not been founded on the basis of supplying the present demand which, in view of the abnormal activity in house-building, can only be temporary.

It is capable of meeting all the requirements, anyway.

Has the Minister any information as to the comparative prices?

I take it, then, that the Minister did not discuss that aspect of the question with those who ought to know, because he must remember that this is completely a monopoly.

The duty is not so very considerable.

Yes, but it is fairly substantial. It amounts to 1/- a square yard.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 30:—

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion of, in Part I, Second Schedule, Reference No. 3, and all references thereto in columns 2 and 3.

In regard to this amendment, I would put the same case to the Minister.

That duty was repealed by an Emergency Order during the year.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 31:—

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion in Part II, Second Schedule, of Reference No. 16, and all references thereto in columns 2 and 3.

This is purely a revenue duty and I would like to ask the Minister, after 12 months' experience of the duty as a revenue duty, if he would make some attempt to justify it. It does seem an extraordinary thing to follow the worker into his house. We have been discussing the effect on the workers of the taxation imposed on them. Last year there were £2,000,000 more taken in customs duty than in the year 1931-32. One of the last things that the Revenue people did in scraping up the various amounts that went to make up that £2,000,000 was to enter the house of the workingman and put 5 per cent of a tariff on wallpaper as a whole. I would like now to hear the Minister make any attempt to justify that after 12 months' experience.

It is a revenue duty.

What revenue does it produce?

£3,500.

For the sake of £3,500 is it worth going to all the trouble of collecting this revenue?

I would put this point to the Minister—wallpaper is bought in very small quantities. It is sometimes bought to match the paper that people have already bought but of which they did not get enough. The inconvenience that is caused in the collection of this revenue is out of all proportion to the amount of the revenue collected. Furthermore, I think the Revenue authorities will tell the Minister that the class of people who go in for wallpaper are principally people who live in the poorer class of house. Wallpaper has gone out of fashion for the purpose of interior decoration. Wallpaper is only used now in labourers' cottages and small rural houses. It is confined almost exclusively to these. I put it to the Minister that a revenue of £3,500 cannot justify the trouble to the customs authorities, to the merchants importing the paper, or to the people who use the wallpaper. I suggest to the Minister that the sensible thing to do would be to drop this tariff. It is helping nobody and the time and trouble expended on collecting it are almost as much as the tax is worth.

Is the Minister accepting the amendment?

Surely the Minister is not working so close to the pin of his collar as to plead that the loss of this £3,500 would upset his Budget.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment No. 32:

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion in Part I, Second Schedule, of Reference No. 6, and all references thereto in columns 2 and 3.

The tax that this amendment touches is even worse than the wallpaper tax. This is one of the cases where the Government went round to discover on what they could put additional taxation and as a result of that investigation they put on a tax of 2/- a cwt. on rice. The Minister for Finance indicated to us last night that if he had to give certain income tax reliefs in connection with the education of children that it would be the working classes who would have to pay for it. Two Ministers have indicated that it is to the working classes that the Minister for Finance has had to go to bear the greater part of his Budget burdens. After 12 months' experience of this tax of 2/- a cwt. on rice I ask the Minister for Finance what he took in revenue on rice, and whether since it was put on he has not got the figures of the amount collected with a view to dropping it this year.

What is the revenue from rice?

It is hard to give the exact figure.

It is about £8,000. That is all from raw rice. I do not believe there is any rice-flour paying a revenue duty because that is being manufactured here.

This tax is put on rice which is very often the main type of pudding that is used in certain class families and it is on this the Minister puts a tax of £8,000.

The worst form of indirect taxation—soaking the small man.

It is an index of the extraordinary condition to which the finances of the country and the country itself are reduced.

Does the Minister for Finance adopt the view of the Minister for Education that it is time that the poor paid their share of the taxation? This is the kind of tax that is designed to soak the poor. When you work this down to the individual rice pudding the extra cost of the individual rice pudding is infinitesimal and that is the real argument that weighed with the Government in imposing this tax. It is a case of shifting the tax from the rich to the poor. It is the sort of tax that every Tory Government in Europe tried to impose.

The Deputy thinks the rich are not paying enough?

If the Government, by their maladministration of the affairs of the country have acted in such a way as to make it necessary for them to abandon the hope of getting any more taxation out of the rich and if they are then driven to this inequitable taxation of the poor, that reflects very gravely upon the Minister and the Government. We have the Minister for Education now saying that the policy of Fianna Fáil is that the poor ought to be made pay their share. That is the philosophy of every Tory Government in Europe and it always has been the policy of the skilful Minister for Finance in every Tory Government that ever existed. They have always contrived to impose a tax that will gather, from people of modest means, revenue for the exchequer without taking much out of the individual pocket at any given time.

A penny per year.

I think the Minister, in his new-found dignity, is becoming detached from those people who used to be his and my neighbours when he and I lived on the north side of the city, both of us living in areas surrounded by the poor.

He does not tell me that he lived near me?

No wonder I moved.

I do not know whether it was because of that the Minister moved, or because he is getting grand. I suppose the purlieus of Capel Street or George's Street are no longer consistent with the dignity of a Minister of the Crown.

Let us come to rice.

In the good old days rice was consumed in the tenement houses of Capel Street and George's Street by persons who might be properly described as our neighbours and in the circumstances in which they live I do not think the Minister would say that 2/- per cwt. put on rice represented only 1d. per year to a family of five or six people. I do not think it represents much. As a matter of fact, it represents very little per family, but it is a pernicious form of taxation designed to extract revenue out of the poor, designed to carry into effect the Minister for Education's view, that the poor ought to be made to pay. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer has the same view. He thinks that it is high time that the poor were made to pay their share. In fact, he says they feel they will be honoured in undertaking their part of the burden. There was never a Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer who did not think so.

And all this from the Party who cut old age pensions.

The Chair checked me for irrelevance. If the Chair will allow me to spread out into the question of old age pensions and social questions, this debate on rice will become rather diffuse.

The Deputy when he thinks of spreading out ought to remember the fable of the frog.

The Minister for Finance is greatly daring. Far be it from me to liken him to a frog, but there may be some in this House who would jump at the simile. Let us leave the frog and old age pensions and concentrate on rice. I want to ask the Minister does he share with the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain the view that the poor ought to be proud of the opportunity of bearing their share of taxation? I do not accept the philosophy, and I shall be glad to know if the Minister for Finance does.

Amendment put and negatived.

Let us hear about the next tariff you want to take off.

I intend to leave the next amendment until Deputy Costello is here. It affects workers.

Golf clubs.

The people who make them. I should like to give an opportunity to the Minister to hear about it from somebody else.

I want to say a word on this.

I move amendment No. 33 on behalf of Deputy Costello:

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

The Finance Act, 1935 (No. 28 of 1935) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion in Part VI of the Eighth Schedule of reference No. 16 and all references thereto in columns 2, 3 and 4.

This is a matter which I think is very pertinent. This is exactly the same kind of tariff as the tariff that was put upon curry powders. It is going to do nobody any good but it is going to cause a great many persons considerable annoyance.

I never saw curry on a golf links.

The fact is, so far as I am aware, that a number of persons get a modest income from making up golf clubs for individuals. It affects very few people, but certain people like to have golf clubs made in that way.

This protects them.

It does not.

What does it do?

This proposal applies, so far as I am aware, not only to golf clubs but to component parts thereof.

It is designed to encourage the manufacture of clubs in that way.

It is not. This applies to component parts.

When substantially manufactured, yes, but not to unmanufactured parts.

I am informed that it is the practice to import the heads of golf clubs and the component parts thereof, and get them made up by individual craftsmen in this country. The result of stopping that practice is going to benefit nobody.

We have not stopped it. This is to encourage it.

If you tax the component parts, the persons who assemble these parts here cannot import them. The Minister may not know it, but the fact is that certain persons ply the trade of importing parts and assembling them here.

This is only on substantially manufactured parts.

The Minister may not know it, but I am informed that this is going to result in considerable hardship on individuals, (1) the class who like to have golf clubs made in that way, and (2) an infinitesimal class who do the business of assembly. As I say, it does not make much difference one way or the other, except that it is going to annoy those particular persons who have that peculiarity, just as the curry powder tax is going to do nothing but annoy the tiny section of the community who like to import curry powder that is made by some particular craftsmen in some particular part of the world.

The standard of golf here has considerably improved since the duty was imposed.

Both Ministers have developed to perfection the bureaucratic mind. They conceive themselves to be entitled to interfere with the daily life of any citizen, and to make no apology for it. In fact, the grand old gospel of the eggs and the omelettes is preached again. We had the President proclaiming the doctrine that you cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs.

You need not break eggs with golf clubs.

On this occasion the eggs are a few individuals; on other occasions, the eggs are a considerable class of persons. Ministers feel themselves entitled, being bureaucratically-minded, to break into anybody's home and put inconvenience upon him, simply because it suits the whim of the moment. This tax on the component parts of golf clubs is just a silly whim of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Somebody came to him and said, "You ought to put it on," and he said, "The logical thing is to put it on; they can be made here and, therefore, to be logical I must put on a tariff."

They are being made here.

This tariff will not help the manufacture of component parts here a bit. It is not going to mean increased employment for one individual.

There are four firms engaged in this business.

This tax is not going to put one extra man into employment in any one of these four firms.

It has been on for the last 12 months.

It is annoying people, and will further annoy them when they cannot get the parts brought in.

Why can they not?

Because they have to pay a tax.

Only if they are manufactured.

The component parts of the finished article are always held by the Revenue Commissioners to be partially manufactured.

That is not so.

This is not so simple and should not be taken so lightheartedly as the Ministers take it. I should like the Minister to hear Deputy Costello on the matter. There was a 50 per cent. tariff put on golf clubs in the Finance Act of 1934, and that helped a rather widespread class of people engaged as golf professionals and assistant professionals in various golf clubs. They had already done a very considerable amount of the manufacture of golf clubs, if the assembling of various parts and the carrying out of certain additional work on the shafts and on the wooden club heads is taken into consideration. The 50 per cent. that was put on in the Finance Act of 1934 assisted golf professionals very much, but the tariff that was put on in the Finance Act, 1935, on component parts, has done a very considerable amount of damage to the manufacturing work of golf professionals. I heard of one particular case where a professional gave an order to one of the companies that the Minister speaks about for some iron heads. When they were supplied he found that they were bored in a manner that was entirely out of date. I believe he refused to take delivery of them. Would the Minister say if he has made any examination as to the type of iron heads that are being produced. Has he had any consultations with anybody representing golf club professionals, all of whom manufacture clubs and assemble clubs? Has he received any complaints from those who are assembling golf clubs in the country and producing the finished article? I, personally, have heard very general complaints. The Minister says that there are four firms engaged in this particular class of work. Would he give the House some idea as to the amount of employment they are providing?

With regard to the Deputy's last point, I do not think that I have any figures. There are these four firms manufacturing golf clubs in the country. The market is not very large, but, so far as I know, they are producing in sufficient varieties golf clubs to supply all requirements. It is true that there are golf professionals who like to be able to buy any new type of club that is advertised because there is a certain number of golfers who insist on buying a new set of clubs every time that a new brand of club is put on the market in the belief that, if they possess it, it is going to improve their golf. That type of trade for golf professionals is, no doubt, restricted. But there are varieties of clubs being produced and, so far as I know, the alteration of the duty has not had any adverse affect on golf professionals. What had an adverse affect on them was the development in production by ordinary sports firms before the change was made, when the shaft and head were brought in separately and put together, and clubs were sold by sports outfitters and other traders. That development in the sale of golf clubs has, undoubtedly, affected golf professionals. It would have affected them in any event. In the past, of course, almost every golfer bought his clubs from the club professional but, in recent years, the mass production of clubs sold through sports outfitters has interfered with that position. That position was not in any way altered by the original duty. It has been, to some extent, altered by the subsequent duty but, again, not to any great extent. There is still a very substantial sale of clubs through golf professionals and the ordinary sports outfitters.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 34:

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

The Cement Act, 1933 (No. 17 of 1933) shall be and is hereby amended by the deletion of Section 36.

The object of the amendment is to try to get some light on the great mystery of cement. This matter has been raised by way of Parliamentary Question on a number of occasions since November last. I have already drawn the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the fact that between November, 1935, and the beginning of February, 1936, the price of cement sold in the City of Dublin went up from 38/- to 44/- a ton, an increase of 6/- per ton in that period. The Minister, in a Parliamentary answer, has indicated that there was no reflex of that disclosed in the import price of cement. He has given the average price of cement imported in November, 1935, at 25/7 per ton, and for January, 1936, the price quoted by him is 26/3 per ton. That represents an increase in the import price of cement of 8d. per ton. But here in the City of Dublin, in that three months' period, cement had gone up by 6/- per ton, and I understand by 5/- per ton in various parts of the country. I have before me a notification addressed to a builder in Galway from a cement selling firm in the City of Dublin. It is dated 18th June, 1936, and it states:—

"We are compelled to advance the price of British cement by 8/6 per ton from this date, as the manufacturers have increased their price to us by this amount. The price of Continental cement remains unchanged at the moment, but we are daily expecting notification of an increase in the price of this also."

That, apparently, refers to an increase in the import price that is about to take place during the month of June. There was no increase in the import price of cement from February to May. As a matter of fact, the average import price of cement in February was 27/7 per ton and in May 26/11, so that there was a reduction of 8d. per ton, as the figures that we get from the Minister and from the trade returns show. If we have the position that, for some reason which I hope the Minister will be able to explain, the price of cement advanced from 38/- to 44/- per ton in February last, that it is now going to be advanced by another 8/6 per ton in respect of British cement and by some unknown amount in the case of Continental cement, my argument is that a situation has been arrived at comparable to the coal situation. Therefore, I submit that the 5/- a ton which the Minister is charging in respect of the import of cement should be dropped. If another 8/6 is to go on to the price of British cement, it means that within a few months the price of cement here will have been increased by 14/6 a ton. In view of what all that means to the building work that is going on in the country, and because of the way in which we are dependent on building to give employment, my case is that the 5/- in respect of licence fees should come off.

The Deputy is not merely moving to eliminate the licence fee, he is moving to repeal the section of the Act under which it is imposed, and that is something which could not be agreed to. The question of the licence fee is always an open question. I do not think that we would be justified at the moment in coming to any decision about it. The whole situation is an utterly abnormal one, due to the strike at the port of Antwerp and to the rather unusual cement situation existing in Great Britain. At some stage the question of the amount of the fee may have to be considered, but I certainly could not agree to delete the section of the Act which authorises the imposition of the fee, because that was designed for a particular purpose.

There were two objects to be achieved by it. The first arose out of the fact that when the Act was passed the price of cement here was abnormally low. It was by far the lowest price prevailing in any European country of which I know, and that was due to the fact that, whereas the cement market all over Europe was controlled by cartels, this market was free and the various producers were in competition, with the result that the price of cement was very low, much lower than we could hope to make it on any economic basis. The Act provided for the establishment of factories to make it, and we contemplated stepping up the price of cement from the price then prevailing to the price at which it would be available when Irish factories were in operation, with benefit to the Exchequer and in a manner which would prevent any sudden dislocation in cement prices. Secondly, there was the reason that the total amount of cement to be produced here will be less than present requirements, and it would be undesirable that there should be any difference in price between the imported cement and the home-produced cement.

The power to impose a fee— variable from time to time—or, under other circumstances variable in respect of country of origin or from port to port was obtained in order to prevent any such difference in price between imported and home-produced cement arising. That was the idea of having that power and it is desirable to retain that power. The situation in respect of the price of imported cement has changed considerably since that Act was passed. The reference which the Deputy read to the price of British cement being increased by 8/6 a ton is only of academic interest, because the situation which led to the repeal of the quota order in respect of cement and the cancellation of the arrangement under which we agreed to purchase a certain quantity of cement from Great Britain was that British cement producers were not interested in selling cement at the prices prevailing here. There is apparently something like a cement famine in Great Britain and, at the moment, very high prices for cement are ruling there. Having regard to the demands and the prices, the British exporters were not interested in sending cement to this market at all.

On the other hand, there was a temporary difficulty in relation to Continental supplies, arising out of the Belgian port workers' strike. That situation is over now and Continental supplies will be again available. The situation under which the various Continental manufacturers were in competition with each other in this market appears to have ended. The Danish. German and Belgian cement cartels have come to some understanding which will prevent them competing in respect to prices here and, therefore, the price of Continental cement has been moving upwards and may continue to do so.

The relation between the price at which cement can be imported and the price at which it can be manufactured here is very different to what it was when the Cement Act was introduced. We can make cement here as economically as they can make it in any coun try, and the cement factories that will be established here will be as up-to date and as well directed as cement factories in any country and, consequently, there will be no uneconomic element whatever in the price of Irish cement. We may well get to the situation when the price of Irish cement will be lower than the price at which cement will be imported, if the abnormal circumstances now prevailing in the cement market continue, but it is unlikely that they will.

However, it is clear that we should retain this power in order to ensure that any difference between the price of imported cement and the price of home-produced cement will be secured for the benefit of the Exchequer, because if it is not so secured it will not go to the consumer. The standard price will be the price of the Irish product which will be supplied in far larger quantities than cement that will be imported, and consequently that section should be retained even though the situation in respect of the fee will vary from time to time, and the fee will fluctuate from time to time. It was never contemplated that we would fix a fee at one amount and keep it at that amount; it was always intended that it would vary as circumstances in the cement market varied and even as they varied in exceptional circumstances from port to port or in respect of the country of origin of the imported cement.

The amendment moved by Deputy Mulcahy must, therefore, be resisted, but in resisting it I am indicating that while the existing fee will be maintained for some time and could not be changed until a clearer view of the future of cement prices is obtainable, and while the Budget has been prepared on the basis of a particular revenue from that source, a revenue which must be secured, nevertheless there is no reason to assume that the fee cannot be changed as circumstances change during the period between this and the commencement of the production of the new factories to be built. When the new factories are built the fee will be varied in relation to two figures, whereas it is now only varied in relation to one figure, and will be designed for the purpose of ensuring that imported cement will be sold to consumers at the same price as Irish-produced cement.

The Minister, when he first spoke, seemed to me to have made up his mind that he was going to reduce the licence fee on cement, but I am afraid as he went on his heart appeared to harden. The deletion of the section, I think, was not intended— it was merely to obtain an expression of opinion as to whether the 5/- tax was now justified. The Minister for Finance suggested to us on this side that we should ask Parliamentary Questions and that, of course, if we put down Parliamentary Questions everything would be well. A few days ago I addressed a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and it was as follows:—

"To ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce if it is intended to enforce the quota of British cement for the Second Quota Period; if he will state if the present price of British cement has had any effect on the allotted quota, or has one-third of our total cement requirements to be taken irrespective of what is the cost of this commodity."

The Minister replied:—

"Steps are being taken to revoke the quota order regulating the importation of cement."

Now, I would like to ask the Minister where that leaves us, because, as a trade, I do not think we know exactly where we stand.

The proposal before the House is in relation to a section which gives the Minister power to charge a fee. There is nothing in it about quotas or anything of that sort.

Some of the amendments tabled to this Bill purport to delete sections of a previous Finance Act. About the admissibility of such amendments the Chair had no doubts. Amendment No. 34, however, aims at repealing or annulling a section of a Cement Act. That section had apparently a double purpose. The Deputy was, in the opinion of the Chair, entitled to propose to annul the portion that related to a licence fee, seeing that the fee is revenue. Beyond that the Deputy could not go. The Chair took it that the purpose of the Deputy was to elicit information, and allowed the amendment. Deputy Dockrell, however, has departed from this amendment and proceeded to discuss quotas. That is a question for the Minister for Industry and Commerce and is not relevant to the Finance Bill.

With all due respect to your ruling, Sir, there are two duties on cement. There is a 5/- duty which Deputy Mulcahy has moved to delete. There is also another duty on cement, namely, the 20 per cent.ad valorem duty, reduced to 10 per cent.——

And affected by this amendment?

If this amendment is passed it will naturally reduce the price of cement to the consumer. As to the other duties, as a matter of fact I do not think most people know just in what position they are.

The Chair wants to know whether they are affected by this amendment?

We are discussing cement.

The House is discussing an amendment by Deputy Mulcahy to annul a fee.

If there is a duty of 20 per cent. On cement that duty is onerous. But if there is a duty of 20 per cent. on cement, plus a duty of 5/-, the duty of 20 per cent. is all the more onerous. Therefore, we have to discuss the two duties on the one commodity when dealing with either, in order to direct the attention of the House to the fact that we are not asking to have cement made free of all duty; that it is already bearing a heavy duty, and that we only advocate the removal of the 5/- in view of the fact that cement is already carrying the additional heavy duty to which Deputy Dockrell makes passing reference.

The Deputy has made a case which Deputy Dockrell did not make.

Not merely that, Sir, but may I point out that Deputy Dockrell has not addressed himself to the question of duties. He has been dealing solely with the question of quotas, and with the reply to a question relating to quotas which he asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

The question of quotas does not arise. The duty may be referred to.

The question is wrapped up with the price of cement. Of course, I will bow to your ruling, but what I wish to point out to you before you express a definite ruling on the matter is that Deputy Mulcahy wishes to do away with the 5/- duty on cement. I have started by pointing out to the Minister that I have asked for information on the question of cement. If the Minister had borne with me I would have gone on to show that as far as the 20 per cent. emergency duty—reduced to 10 per cent.—is concerned, some people are rather doubtful as to whether it has been put back again by the putting away of this quota. The quota for British cement has been done away with. Apparently that leaves us as we were, but some people — myself amongst that number—want to find out how far we are affected by the alteration of this quota. I am afraid I intended also to refer to the coal-cattle pact, of which cement formed a part, and as a result of which the duty was reduced from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent. If you wish to rule, Sir, that I am out of order, under a motion to do away with a duty of 5/- on cement, in referring to other duties on cement which are imposed by the Government, and imposed in my opinion in quite a wrong way, of course I will bow to your ruling, but I wish to ask you for a definite ruling.

Has not the Deputy already referred to the other duties?

I am afraid I would refer to it at greater length, with your permission.

The Deputy may do so but must steer clear of quotas and the coal-cattle pact.

The reason why I referred to the quota question was because it leads up to the other. I merely wished to read out that question and point out to the Minister that I had proceeded in the manner laid down by him for discussing the Budget amendment. He said that in that way we would obtain the maximum of information. People in the cement trade do not know where they stand. I intended to refer only very briefly to the coal-cattle pact.

May I again point out that the purpose of this amendment is to amend the Cement Act by depriving the Minister of power to charge a fee, and that consequently a whole discussion on the cement business would not, I suggest, be in order.

It certainly would not.

I do not intend to touch the Cement Act.

Would the Deputy inform the Chair what section of this Bill imposes the duties to which he refers?

They would be the emergency regulations on cement which were altered on 18th February of this year.

On a point of order, that would be a relevant question under the old procedure, but under modern procedure we do not impose tariffs in the Finance Act. We impose tariffs by an Emergency (Imposition of Duties) Order. They never come before the House in a Finance Bill, and you cannot amend the Finance Bill to delete them. The only way you can come at them is by raising the question on the Finance Bill by an amendment of this kind, and then referring to the duties which were imposed by Emergency (Imposition of Duties) Order and subsequently confirmed by Statute, which in my respectful submission under the rules of order of this House ought to be looked upon as addenda to the Finance Bill which is introduced at the end of the financial year.

The Deputy has made a statement which of course is not based on the facts. The Emergency Order in question has already been before the House and been confirmed by Statute of the House. All this question of cement and the coal-cattle pact which Deputy Dockrell proposes to deal with has already been discussed by the House and decided upon.

The Minister takes that view, apparently on the grounds that the Minister for Industry and Commerce answered the question a couple of days ago. I do not know where the quota, the licence and the emergency duty, begin and end. They are absolutely interlocked. Before you can get a ton of cement you have to pay your licence fee of 5/-. Before the cement comes in you have to pay yourad ralorem duty of 10 per cent. The Minister has made certain quota orders, and then told me that they are done away with.

By the Minister for Industry and Commerce, administering an Act passed by this House. That Act is not under review now except in so far as affected by Deputy Mulcahy's amendment, that is to a very limited extent of the annulment of a fee. It is just the point that I put a few minutes since. The House is not entitled to advocate the annulment of any Act or portion thereof unless it operates to bring in revenue. Licence fees on cement do contribute to revenue. The matter to which the Deputy has just referred could not be brought within the scope of amendment No. 34.

The quota, may I respectfully submit on a point of order, brings in revenue.

But no amendment has been tabled.

No, but surely when we are arguing that a certain burden of taxation should be lifted off a certain commodity, we may go on to say that while we admit that a case may be made against us, if that commodity carried no other burden, we want to direct the attention of the House to the fact that this commodity is already bearing several other burdens. Now you will, likely, ask what has the quota got to do with it. It has this got to do with it: that there is an emergency imposition duty put on Continental cement, but not on British cement, and the quota order compels us to buy so much British cement, thus forcing us to pay so much to the Minister, and forcing us to bear the burden of whatever may be the increased cost of the British cement, and we have got to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the forcing of this country to buy cement, which carries an emergency imposition of duties tax, has been made the reason for advancing the cost of both classes of cement in this country.

On that basis, it would be possible to discuss the whole coal-cattle pact again.

Deputy Dillon's argument, though quite logical, is not valid. The amendment before the House is limited to one small point, and surely the Deputy would not argue that he is entitled, on that amendment, to discuss duties in general?

No, Sir—except in so far as we can satisfy the Chair that these duties are being used as revenue-raising devices, and only in so far as we can satisfy the Chair that that is being done.

The Chair is not satisfied on that point.

You, Sir, seem to have some difficulty in thinking that I am discussing the Cement Act. I do not wish to discuss it. Deputy Mulcahy moved his amendment, and the Minister replied, and I regretted that he could not reduce the price of the licence fee. What I do wish to discuss, however, is the price of cement in reference to the action taken by the Government.

That would not be in order.

Sir, this amendment is designed to prevent the Minister from continuing to levy any licence fee on the import of cement, and it is right for the House to remember that a licence fee is simply a new name invented by the Fianna Fáil Government to cover up the time-honoured description of a tariff. In this case, this extraordinary power has been conferred on the Minister for Industry and Commerce, that, without any reference to the House, so far as I am aware, he can fix any tariff he likes on the import of cement by fixing the import price of cement per ton. Our case is that, although a defence might be made for this imposition along the lines suggested by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, what we complain of is that this licensing provision, which contains the power to exact a fee, is used contemporaneously with other Acts through which additional taxes are placed on imports of cement, and we feel that we are entitled, when discussing this specific figure of 5/- per ton, to ask the Minister for Finance to explain to us what is the exact position of imported cement, at the moment, taking into consideration the various measures which he, or his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, has operated for the purpose of raising the price of cement.

The Chair informed Deputy Dockrell that such a discussion would be out of order.

Very well, Sir. I want to make this case, Sir: that the cement merchants of this country are being harried by their customers on the ground that they are charging too much for cement.

The only relevant question subject for discussion is the question of a 5/- licence fee on cement.

Very well, Sir. I want to know will the Minister afford those cement vendors, who, I am satisfied, are doing their best to give cement at the lowest possible price at which they can afford to keep their houses open— under circumstances to which we cannot refer within the rules of order— some relief by reducing or abolishing the import licence fee? The Chair will probably say that this amendment was put down for the purpose more of ascertaining what would be the fee in the future than of amending the Cement Act itself, and I ask the Minister now to take into consideration the fact that cement is one of the raw materials of housing and that an increased price of cement means an increase in the price of labourers' cottages, and in the cost of practically every public work that is undertaken as a result of a vote of this House. I ask the Minister to abolish this 5/- licence fee and to do away with the whole system of licensing these imports. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has made the case that he had to have this power in order to accustom the people of this country gradually to the fact that, when cement is being manufactured in this country, it is going to be a great deal more expensive than ever before. I do not think the people will be at all grateful to him for his solicitude for their feelings in that connection. I think the attitude of the people would be that they would rather have cheap supplies, so long as they could get them, than to have to bear the burden of home-made cement when we have to bear it.

There is an old saying, that you should not bid the devil good morrow until you meet him. I can assure the devil that he is no more welcome when he does arrive, even if he is being heralded by several couriers who run in front of him. The Minister's only defence of this arrangement is that it is a kind of herald announcing the arrival of worse times when cement is manufactured here. The Minister for Industry and Commerce admitted that the burdens on cement at present are altogether excessive, and he indicated that he thought a strong case might be made for reducing the licence fee substantially. I urge the Minister for Finance to abolish it completely, and to allow the people to have the benefit of whatever the price of cement may be in the market of the world.

I should like to be sure of your ruling in this matter, Sir. I understand your ruling is that in reference to this 5/- we cannot refer to other duties on cement. I understand that you have also ruled against reference to the quota.

What I ruled on was reference to the quota or to the administration of the Cement Act, except in so far as the amendment touched it.

I do not wish to refer to the Cement Act, and I think I can get on without the quota when endeavouring to make my case clear. I am sure, Sir, you will call me to order if I transgress. We do not know the position in which we are left in the cement trade. There is at present a licence fee of 5/-, and there was an emergency duty of 20 per cent., but that was reduced to 10 per cent. under the coal-cattle pact, which allowed one-third of our cement requirements to the British. What I am anxious to find out is, how far all reference to cement has been taken out of the coal-cattle pact. Has the 10 per cent. gone, and are we back again to the 20 per cent.? That is one point I wish the Minister to deal with. I do not know if I can refer to the fact that taking one set of trade from one country and giving it to another, and then having to hand it back again when there is a strike, and when expenses have been increased, can only lead to increased prices.

That is administration under Industry and Commerce.

I would like the Minister to deal with the present position.

With the duty on cement.

And with the present duty as affected by the quota order. I do not know if the duty which was reduced to 10 per cent. can be taken as unilateral action. Perhaps that is outside the scope of this question.

I understood that one reason why a duty of 5/- was put on was that at the time cement could bear it, and that it was a matter of revenue. As the duty is now being continued I think it is most unfair. The Minister for Industry and Commerce stated that it was quite possible the duty would continue until the Irish factories were established. Is this a cloak to keep on the 5/- so that the Irish people and those who use cement will not get a shock by having this 5/- duty brought to their attention? The Minister for Industry and Commerce said that possibly cement could be made here as cheaply as any place else. Let there be a start made in that direction by taking off the 5/- duty. Then we can see where we are and consumers should be prepared to pay something extra for the Irish product. At the time the duty was put on in November, 1934, Continental cement was delivered in the West of Ireland for £2 2s a ton. In 1935, it was £2 7s., and in February, 1936, £2 12s. 6d. Does the Minister not consider it an injustice to keep on the 5/- duty now, seeing that he started that the duty was only put on when cement could bear it? Can cement bear the 5/- duty now that the price has gone up by 10/6 a ton? When dealing with the British cement quota Deputy Mulcahy said that there had been an increase in the price of Portland cement by 8/6 a ton since 18th June. If the Minister for Finance happens to become good friends again in the course of a month with the British and if we have a new arrangement, what will happen to the 8/6 a ton plus the duty? We were told by the Minister and by Deputies on the Government Benches that the little advance does not affect building. I know that the Minister for Finance does not know much about the building industry, but it may enlighten him to know that cement that previously cost £2 2s., delivered in the West of Ireland, now costs £3 5s. a ton.

The only advance in question here is the 5/- duty.

Mr. Brodrick

The 5/- is included in each case.

Possibly, but the 5/- duty is relevant now.

Mr. Brodrick

I appeal to the Minister to consider this matter. The advance in prices is sufficient without having to pay the duty. The advance in the price of cement necessary to build a labourer's cottage, including the duty, represents about £10 10s. on each cottage. If the 5/- duty was taken off, there would certainly be a reduction in prices there. It is certainly most unfair to people who are paying all the time, to people who are building, to have to pay an excessive price for cement. As building work is going on on new land holdings, on labour schemes, and on out-offices, it is unfair that the duty has to be paid. The argument of the Minister for Industry and Commerce was that it was put on when cement could bear the duty. Now that it cannot bear it, it should be taken off.

Will the Minister take off the 5/- duty?

We ought to have some answer from the Minister.

Mr. Brodrick

I found when I got lorry loads of cement that one lot cost 46/6, the next lot of Portland cement 52/6, and the next day some other cement came along at a different price. Can we get British Portland cement or Continental cement as we wish?

That is not relevant to this question.

The last refuge that a Parliamentary Opposition has, if a Minister declines to give information, is to divide. I admit that it wastes Parliamentary time, and it is a course that we do not wish to be taken except when absolutely necessary. Where Ministers are prepared to give full information, we have no desire to press for a division, but where they remain silent, and refuse to give justification, we will challenge a division every time.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 41.

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Finlay, John.
  • Haslett, Alexander.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lavery, Cecil.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, James Edward.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Reilly, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Bennett and O'Leary; Níl: Deputies Smith and Moylan.
Amendment declared lost.
Section 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Progress reported. Committee to sit again to-morrow.