Before we go on with the Committee Stage of this Bill, might I ask your indulgence, Sir, and the indulgence of the House, to say that I made use of some remarks yesterday in reply to Deputy Hughes that I think were improper and should not have been made? I regret having made them, and I should like that they would be withdrawn. They cannot be withdrawn, as they were spoken, but so far as they can be, I would be happy to consider that they would be withdrawn.
Finance Bill, 1943—Committee and Final Stages.
What is the purport of Section 6?
The new National Health Insurance Society—Cumann an Arachais Naisiúnta ar Shláinte—it was discovered was not, according to the strict interpretation of the Act, an approved society like the other societies that went to make up this society, and it has not the benefit of the income-tax reliefs that these approved societies were entitled to. This gives to the new amalgamated society the benefits of the Act with regard to income-tax.
Before Section 10 to insert a new section as follows:—
The Finance (1909-10) Act, 1910, is hereby amended by the deletion in the First Schedule, Table CI, of the words in the second column, opposite reference No. 1 (Spirits (Publican's Licence) ) and the substitution therefor of the following words:—
"A duty equal to one-half the annual value of the licensed premises where the premises are situate in a county borough and a duty equal to one-quarter the annual value of the licensed premises where the premises are situated in an area outside a county borough or are situated in that part of the Dublin County borough which was formerly the Howth Urban Area."
The purpose of this amendment is to draw attention to a couple of points at what appears to be an opportune time. The principle of the amendment appears to be just—that there should be some connection between the valuation of a licensed house and the duty which the licensee is compelled to pay. It is a matter of interest to recall that no less a person than Mr. Winston Churchill accepted that principle in Great Britain when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, but, with the change of Government, it was not accepted by his successor. I think some years ago a Minister for Finance was considering something of this kind. In view of the serious loss that districts outside the county borough areas have suffered as a result of the recent Intoxicating Liquor Act, I think this is a small concession to a trade which has lost trading hours and has lost very heavily financially also. It has been suggested that this concession would only cost about £20,000, and that would be a slight concession to a trade which is contributing about £5,000,000 a year in taxation.
I do not propose to accept the amendment. I should like to say, in reply to the Deputy, that from my information I think the trade should consider itself lucky that these licences have not been increased, and considerably increased, in the last 30 years. I know that since I became Minister for Finance the matter has come before me for consideration on more than one occasion and I again repeat that the members of the trade were lucky that they escaped with the duty as it is. This proposes to reduce the licence duty paid by publicans in Howth and in all areas outside the county boroughs by 50 per cent. I do not see any reason for agreeing to such a suggestion in present circumstances. There are perhaps some— not many—who may have lost something in trade owing to the recent legislation. It is not easy to know, even now, for certain whether they will have lost much or little when it comes to the end of the year. It is too soon to know that, to judge the effect of the recent Intoxicating Liquor Act passed by the Oireachtas. It may be that for the first few weeks there has been a change in the custom of people who visit certain hostelries, but before the year is out it may prove in the end that these people, with the changes that have been made, taking them all in all, have lost little or nothing. Whether they lost or gained, whether they lost little or much, I think it is too soon to put up a proposition of this kind. Whether it be late or soon, I do not feel inclined to accept the proposition as things stand at present.
This is a Money Bill within the meaning of Article 22 of the Constitution.