Financial Resolutions. - Resolution No. 9—Totalisator Excise Duty.

I move:—

(1) That in this Resolution the word "totalisator" has the same meaning as it has in the Totalisator Act, 1929 (No. 22 of 1929).

(2) That there shall be charged and levied on every sum which, on or after the 1st day of July, 1941, is staked by means of a totalisator a duty of excise (in this Resolution referred to as totalisator excise duty) at a rate equal to two and one-half per cent. of such sum and the said duty shall be paid by the holder of the licence granted in relation to such totalisator under the Totalisator Act, 1929, and for the time being in force.

(3) That totalisator excise duty shall be charged, levied, and paid notwithstanding anything contained in the Totalisator Act, 1929, or any licence granted or regulations made under that Act.

(4) That totalisator excise duty shall not be charged or levied on any sum which, in accordance with the regulations for the time being in force under the Totalisator Act, 1929, is repayable in full to the holder of the ticket issued from or by the relevant totalisator to the person by whom such sum was staked.

(5) That the Revenue Commissioners may make regulations for securing and collecting totalisator excise duty and may by those regulations apply to the said duty any enactment for the time being in force relating to any duty of excise or to persons carrying on any trade or business which is for the time being subject to the law of excise.

(6) That if any person contravenes (whether by act or omission) any regulation made by the Revenue Commissioners under the next preceding paragraph of this Resolution, he shall be guilty of an offence under this paragraph and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to an excise penalty of five hundred pounds and any article in respect of which such offence is committed shall be forfeited.

(7) That any officer of the Revenue Commissioners may at any reasonable time enter any premises or place where a totalisator is worked or where any business in connection with the working of a totalisator is conducted or is believed by such officer to be conducted with a view to seeing whether the provisions of this Resolution or any regulations made in pursuance of those provisions are being complied with and, if any person prevents or obstructs such entry, such person shall be guilty of an offence under this paragraph and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to an excise penalty of one hundred pounds.

(8) It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927 (No. 7 of 1927).

Resolutions Nos. 9 and 10 deal, one might say, with the same tax, though they affect separate sets of individuals. I should like the Minister to go more deeply into the merits of this particular proposal. According to his statement this afternoon, he hopes to get £33,000 out of this tax for the remainder of the financial year. I presume the total sum that might be expected in the full year would be £50,000.

This tax is going to be put upon Irish racing, which can ill afford it at the present moment. I do not know whether the Minister has ever gone into the question, but I am aware that a few years ago there were something like 1,500 horses in training in this country, and they ran for stakes worth about £70,000 or £80,000, which meant an average of £50 for each horse. The people who wager on an Irish racecourse are mainly those engaged in the horse-breeding industry, in the training of horses, or who own horses. From all I can gather, there is not much money in it and, from the information I have, it cannot afford this particular impost.

I noticed in the financial returns for last year and the year before that there was a very considerable drop in the betting duty. The duty which is collected in turf accountants' offices throughout the State is largely on English racing and occasionally on Irish racing; the majority of the bets would be on English racing. The tax there would not upset the racing economy of the country, generally speaking. It would be simply a tax on certain people who follow racing, principally in England, and it would not interfere at all with the prosperity of the industry, as it is called, here.

If this proposal is carried into effect the Minister will hear during the next 12 months about the damage that it will do. It was our experience, up to 1931, that a very strong case could be made for having this duty remitted. A relatively small number of people would be asked to contribute this amount. From the information that was conveyed to me about it, some of them would wager as much as £25,000 or £50,000 in the year, not being more than £500 or £1,000 out in the whole transaction. How that is done, I am not going to explain, because I do not know; in fact, I do not know that it would be possible for anybody to get precise information. One can see, however, that there will be a very considerable impost upon those persons.

The keeping and training of numbers of horses afford a considerable amount of employment. It is not, perhaps, one of the industries that would appeal to men like Henry Ford, or the type of man who writes about finance— Keynes. It is a type of activity, the interruption of which would throw many people out of employment. Will the Minister consider, between this and the time the Finance Bill is introduced, increasing the betting duty, as such? That would not—interfere with Irish racing as much as would this proposal. We were given to understand some years ago that this would interfere with Irish racing. The duty upon an ordinary wager on an English race might be 5 per cent. or 7½ per cent. It could certainly bear 7½ per cent. much better than the course betting here could bear 2½ per cent. Perhaps the Minister will consider the matter and take advice from persons who have more experience than I have? He may then be disposed to alter this particular tax.

A similar provision was embodied in the Budget in 1932 and 1933, but was withdrawn by the Minister during the course of a discussion on the Financial Resolution. It was explained that Irish racing was, in fact, suffering by the imposition of a racecourse betting tax and the Minister was sufficiently impressed to withdraw the proposal. The position of Irish racing is as bad now, if not worse, than it was at that period, owing to causes arising out of the war and by the recent restrictions on the movement of animals due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The amount that will be raised by this tax on Irish racing will not be considerable. It is expected that it will be only £33,000. I suggest to the Minister that he might look into the matter with a view to endeavouring to amend the proposal, so as to exempt betting on Irish racecourses, whatever may be done in respect of betting in bookmakers' offices on races run in England.

One matter escaped my attention when I was speaking, concerning oats, which form a considerable part of trainers' expenses. The cost is now twice what it was in 1930 or 1931. In addition, Irish trainers have had to withstand an invasion from other places. There has been less racing in England and consequently greater competition for prizes here. In the circumstances, the proposal might be reconsidered.

I suppose any Minister for Finance in circumstances like the present has to concern himself with what might be called industries or amusements. I suppose racing could be called an amusement and also an industry, and if I had to tax it, and tax it heavily, I suppose I would be regarded as a kill-joy. I would hate to be regarded in that light. I do not know very much about racing. I do not know anything like what Deputy Cosgrave knows about it, or maybe Deputy Norton, who comes from a racing constituency. He may know something about the stables and maybe he gets "an odd good thing" from the horse's mouth. I am quite willing to adopt the suggestion of Deputy Cosgrave to reconsider the matter but I would like to get the money. If the suggestion the Deputy made would give anything approaching what I hope to get from the present proposal I would be happy. I do not want to hurt Irish racing or to hurt any other Irish industry but the money has to be got.

Question put and agreed to.