Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Consultation with IDA.

52.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether the IDA were consulted about the possible effects on industrial development of the proposals contained in the Government's White Paper on Capital Taxation; and, if so, the date and result of such consultation.

The views of members of the executive board of the IDA were sought on a confidential basis when the proposals contained in the Government's White Paper on Capital Taxation were being drafted.

I do not think it would be proper for me to disclose the views conveyed to me in this way any more than I would disclose the views expressed by officers of my Department.

The Minister will presumably be aware that, on a previous occasion, when the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs substituted for him in replying to a question on these lines he volunteered the information that the IDA had been consulted. In fact, he implied they had indicated that they would have no problems. I am about to ask a question but I am explaining to the Minister that I put down this question because I thought he himself should answer it. Is he aware that the biggest weapon the IDA have is the tax free concession on exports? Is he also aware that, under the proposal in the White Paper on Capital Taxation, in certain cases firms could become liable to considerably higher taxation than they are being exempted from under the export tax relief programme? That being so, is he satisfied that the IDA can continue to do their job if these proposals are implemented?

The supplementary is a far cry from the original question. Deputy Colley is dealing with an extremely hypothetical case when he says that the possible taxation under systems of taxation proposed in the White Paper on Capital Taxation would exceed the amount for which firms receive examption under the export tax relief scheme. That sort of speculation, pending details, is possibly engendering disquiet in regard to industrial development. Any sort of speculation like that is possible but I can assure the Deputy that I am very much aware of the value of the export tax relief scheme. I have been a vigorous defender of it in the circumstances of our relationship with the Community. I recognise its importance and of course I would be concerned with balancing the right and the need for this country to tax capital on the one hand with the simultaneous right and need to guarantee our industrial development. These are things to be balanced and I think we will balance them successfully.

Having regard to the Minister's acceptance of the importance of the export tax relief, a view to which I also subscribe—and as a former Minister for Industry and Commerce I can confirm its value— am I right in assuming that, if members of the executive board of the IDA were consulted, one of the matters about which the Minister would have been consulting them, or they would have been referring to him, would be the possible effect of the proposals on firms and he would have been told that this was a possible effect on certain firms?

That would seem to be a separate question.

Is it not a fact that if that is so it is, to say the least of it, unfair of him to suggest that I am not helping the situation by asking the question? If that is so, the fault lies with those who introduced the White Paper without thinking of its consequences?