Control of Imports: Quota Orders. - Motions of Approval.

I move:—

That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 26) (Amendment) Order, 1936, made on the 26th day of June, 1936, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).

That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 26) (Amendment) Order, 1936, made on the 26th day of June, 1936, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).

That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 28) (Amendment) Order, 1936, made on the 26th day of June, 1936, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).

These three resolutions may, I think, be taken together. They are all three designed to effect the one purpose, which is to amend the quota orders applying to brushes for the purpose of excluding quill brushes from the restriction upon imports. The original quota orders, which apply to all classes of brushes, prohibited the importation into this country of the type of brushes which are known as quill brushes. It subsequently became clear that these brushes were not being made, and were not likely to be made, here and, consequently, the quota orders were amended so as to permit of their importation again without restriction. That is the purpose of these three Orders. One relates to household brushes; another to toilet brushes; and the third to general classes of brushes not covered by the other two Orders, and the three are designed to effect the same purpose.

Could it not have been ascertained before these restrictions were imposed on these brushes that they were not being made and were not likely to be made in this country?

There are quotas fixed under these Orders and a certain number of brushes are allowed to come in. It was originally contemplated, not merely in relation to these Orders, but in relation to all Orders, that the quota would be utilised by importers to bring in the classes of goods which are not procurable here and which have to be imported. In fact, importers do not use these quotas for that purpose at all, and, consequently, various changes have to be made. In this case, the obvious and easiest change was to exclude this class of brushes from the restriction altogether.

Question put and agreed to.

I move:—

That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 31) Order, 1936, made on the 27th day of August, 1936, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).

This quota order relates to certain classes of electric filament lamps. The description in the Orders is of a rather technical nature, but it means that the ordinary household lamp is made subject to quota restrictions, whereas other classes of electric lamps are not so restricted. Electric lamps were subject to import duty at the rate of 75 per cent. previously, but for various reasons which I shall mention it was found that the existing import duty was not sufficient to secure that a reasonable proportion of the market here would be secured for the company manufacturing electric lamps here. One of the main reasons why the import duty was not entirely effective was that many of the principal firms engaged in the distribution of electric lamps were either controlled by, or very closely associated with, the combination of foreign lamp manufacturers which previously supplied the market here, and Irish producers found very considerable difficulty in getting their products placed upon the market through existing distributors at all.

Furthermore, large quantities of lamps were imported previous to the imposition of the duty and, in fact, following the imposition of the duty, and considerable stocks were obviously being held in the country, with the result that the output from the Saorstát factory was considerably below its capacity. One of the results of the making of the quota order and the consequent provision to the company concerned of a secure market for their products was that the price of their product, which had previously been fixed at the same level as the price of the combine product, was reduced and, in fact, we look forward to and expect further reductions in the price of their lamps as their output increases. We do not think that expectation will be disappointed.

In 1935, approximately 1,250,000 lamps were imported. The first quota period is from 5th October, 1936, to 31st December, 1936, and during that period the quota is 120,000 lamps. That represents a reduction of approximately 50 per cent. on the imports during the corresponding period last year. It is considered that such a reduction need cause no difficulty to any distributor in obtaining supplies, firstly, because of the fact that there are large stocks in the country and, secondly, that the Free State concern is, in any event, capable of supplying the full requirements of the country. That quota has not yet been utilised in full, and there is a proportion of it still available for distribution under Section 9 (3) of the Control of Imports Act, should occasion ever arise for it. I think I can say that the quality of the lamps being produced at Bray is as good as can be reasonably expected. These lamps were submitted to very severe tests by the Government purchasing department and other semiofficial organisations, and they stood up to the tests very well. We have received from these sources information that the quality of the lamps is good, and having regard to the fact that their price has been reduced and that further reductions can be anticipated with increased production, there appears to us no reason why this measure of protection should not be afforded to the industry.

With reference to the Minister's statement about the Bray factory, I think it is admitted by purchasers of the electric bulbs made in Bray that there has been a tremendous improvement in recent months. It is quite understandable that girls who had to be trained there in the initial stages were not able to turn out the article until that training was completed. I would suggest that the tests, to which the Minister has referred, by the Government purchasing department and the Electricity Supply Board ought to be rigidly imposed on the factory. Unquestionably, the tests have brought about an improvement in the work of the local workers and have had the effect of securing the production of a satisfactory lamp. The reduction in price has been received, I am informed by the trade, with very great satisfaction. Previously, the lamp was inclined to blow rather easily, but now they have overcome that difficulty, and I think the Minister's statement here is quite true and will be borne out by those who have experience of these lamps. I am sure the Bray factory will ultimately extend so far as to be able to supply the whole country.

Question put and agreed to.

I move:—

That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 32) Order, 1936, made on the 27th day of August, 1936, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).

This resolution imposes restrictions upon the importation of marble chippings. For some considerable time past we have been endeavouring to secure an increased production of marble within the country. The position at the moment is that there appears to be no reason why all the requirements of the country in coloured marble for all purposes cannot be supplied from Irish quarries. In fact, no licences have been issued for the importation of marble other than white marble. The importation of white marble is of considerable importance, and some 600 workers are employed in this country working Italian white marble for various purposes. There is not yet available sufficient Irish white marble capable of supplying the requirements of that industry. A white marble quarry is being developed in County Galway, but it is not yet in a position to supply anything like the requirements of the industry, and it is not yet clear that, in any event, that quarry is capable of producing blocks of the size which the industry might require. There is a marble quarry at Dunlewey, in County Donegal, which is considered capable of producing white marble, both in sufficient quantity and in sufficient size of blocks, to meet all the requirements of the industry, but that quarry has not been developed as yet. I believe we shall be able to interest people in its development at a later stage, but for the present we must continue to import white marble for statutory purposes. There is no reason, however, why marble chippings for terrazzo work should be imported. The Galway quarry is capable of producing all the white marble chippings required for that work, and, of course, adequate supplies of coloured marble chippings are available from that and other quarries. The existing import duty on these chippings is of no avail, because the actual value of the marble is a small item in the cost of the terrazzo work in which it is used, and consequently this duty of 100 per cent. ad valorem is of practically no effect. It is considered necessary, therefore, to restrict the importation of these chippings under the Control of Imports Act. We believe that by doing so, we shall facilitate the development of the marble quarries by providing a market for those engaged in the working of the quarries, a work which is not unimportant, and which is growing in importance, and thus encourage them to proceed to the fuller development of these quarries in the production of marble for other purposes.

Motion put and agreed to.