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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 5 Jun 1980

Vol. 321 No. 11

Finance Bill, 1980: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 28a:
In page 27, before section 23, to insert the following section:
23.—(1) In this section—
"farming" has the same meaning as in Chapter II of Part I of the Finance Act, 1974;
"specific machinery or plant" means machinery or plant in use or intended for use for the purposes of a trade of farming but not including fixed machinery and fixed plant designed to be used exclusively in a farm building and which is in use or is intended to be used in such a building;
"specified provisions" means section 251 of the Income Tax Act, 1967, section 11 of the Finance Act, 1967 and section 26 of the Finance Act, 1971.
(2) In determining what capital allowances fall to be made to a person for any chargeable period commencing on or after the 6th day of April, 1980, in taxing a trade of farming—
(a) in a case where the aggregate of the capital allowances which would fall to be so made to the person for the chargeable period if the specified provisions did not apply or have effect for that chargeable period in relation to specified machinery or plant, or the expenditure on the provision thereof, amounts to or exceeds 30 per cent of the amount of the profits or gains from farming on which the person is chargeable to tax for that chargeable period, the said specified provisions shall not apply or have effect in the case of that person for that chargeable period in relation to specified machinery or plant, and
(b) in any other case the amount or the aggregate amount of—
(i) any capital allowance or allowances given under any of the specified provisions, and
(ii) any amount or amounts by which any capital allowance or allowances may be increased under any of the specified provisions, shall be limited to the maximum amount which will secure that the aggregate of the capital allowances falling to be made to the person for the chargeable period in taxing the trade of farming shall not exceed 30 per cent of the profits or gains from farming on which the person is chargeable to tax for the chargeable period.".
—(Minister for Finance.)

I had concluded all I wanted to say for the moment. There is only one other factor I would like to add in relation to the scheme of allowances. Opposition Deputies queried a statement that was made by the Government last year. I indicated to them what that statement involved. I will recap at this point. It provided for a reduction of the capital allowances across a range of activities in the farming area, in the first instance on farm works and development, farm buildings and farm plant and machinery. That was the scheme as announced last year to be implemented this year. In the event the modifications on that scheme culminating in what I have announced now in this amendment yesterday are very significant. In my budget statement I indicated that I did not intend to proceed with the restrictions on capital allowances for farm buildings or for farm development works generally in the interests of promoting the development of agriculture to the maximum extent. Deputies will know now the remaining restriction relating to farm plant and machinery and, as a consequence of the discussions which I have had with leaders of farm organisations, I have decided also in respect of that remaining restriction to exclude from that farm plant and machinery which is fixed in farm buildings. It might be, as I indicated, that freedom of manoeuvre in this area is limited by not just the attitude of farmers but the attitude of others towards farm taxation. The House should be aware of that.

I am trying to steer a middle course in the interests of equity between the various sectors and at the same time to respond to the development potential of farmers. I think that what I have done here strikes that balance, and the revenue implications of this in a full year, as distinct from what would have been available to the revenue had the original package as announced been proceeded with this year, will be a reduction of something of the order of £2.5 million. I mention this particularly to those Deputies—there were some and there is no point in personalising this too much either in respect of me or of Deputies on the other side—who chose to say that I show no sensitivity to the farm sector and that this Government are not concerned, although whether those Deputies believe that is another matter. The discussions that we have had culminating in this amendment illustrate the understanding and agreement that we have reached with the farmers in what is a difficult time in which one has to balance and be seen to balance the revenue needs also, as between the various sectors. I will, as I have indicated, be introducing another amendment later in respect of stock relief which will reduce the incidence of tax on crops by anything up to about £2.5 million per year. That is the measure of the importance that I attach to agricultural development, and I hope it will be seen as such.

We are accepting the amendment because we think it is an improvement on the section but we disapprove strongly of the section as a whole.

Amendment No. 28 is agreed and a new section is inserted into the Bill. This new section involves the deletion of section 23 of the present Bill. Section 23 of the present Bill is deleted and this new section replaces it.

We are objecting in principle to this limiting of tax-free allowances to the farmers but we are not objecting to the relaxation of that as announced by the Minister yesterday. It appears to us that if we agree to the deletion of section 23 we have no means of objecting to the principle while accepting the relaxation of that principle.

I understood that the amendment was accepted, and it was explained.

This seems to be a legislative trick to prevent us voting on the issue. If you introduce a section and then introduce an amendment to that section it is really to prevent any vote on the original section.

We can vote on the amendment by all means. The original section is gone if the amendment is accepted. I explained that when we started to debate this matter.

It is no trick. It is simply a response to the consultations I have had. I would not put it except on that basis.

We cannot debate it now.

I must withdraw my agreement to the amendment on the basis that we cannot agree to farmers being treated differently from others.

Can I raise a point of order or a point of explanation?

Is it order or explanation? Sometimes there seems to be confusion in this House as to which is which.


Does this section cover the lifestock allowances?

The debate is concluded.

I am asking the Minister that question.

The Deputy cannot ask any question once the debate is concluded. The amendment was accepted but it appears it may have been accepted in error.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 32.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Kit.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Andrews, Niall.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Cogan, Barry.
  • Colley, George.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin South Central).
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • French, Seán.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Gibbons, Jim.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kileen, Tim.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Murphy, Ciarán P.
  • O'Donoghue, Martin.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Paddy.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.


  • Barry, Myra.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, Michael J.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Deasy, Martin A.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Treacy, Seán.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Moore and Briscoe; Níl, Deputy L'Estrange and M. Cosgrave.
Amendment declared carried.
Section 23 deleted.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 27, before section 24, to insert the following section—

"24.—As respects expenditure incurred on or after the 6th day of April, 1980, section 22 (inserted by the Corporation Tax Act, 1976) of the Finance Act, 1974, is hereby amended by the substitution for subsection (2) of the following subsection:

‘(2) Where a person to whom this section applies incurs, for the purpose of a trade of farming land occupied by him, any capital expenditure on the construction of farmhouses, farm buildings, cottages, fences or other works, there shall be made to him during a writing-down period of ten years beginning with the chargeable period related to that expenditure, writing down allowances (in this section referred to as "‘farm buildings allowances'") in respect of that expenditure and such allowances shall be made in taxing the trade:

Provided that—

(a) the farm buildings allowance to be granted for any chargeable period shall, subject to paragraph (b), be increased by such amount as is specified by the person to whom the allowance is to be made in making his claim for the allowance and, in relation to a case in which this proviso has had effect, any reference in the Tax Acts to a farm buildings allowance made under this section shall be construed as a reference to that allowance as increased under this proviso, and

(b) the maximum farm buildings allowance to be made for any chargeable period shall not exceed three-tenths of the capital expenditure to which the said farm buildings allowance relates.'".

The purpose of this amendment is to revise the capital allowance grant in respect of farm buildings. At present the available allowances comprise, first, an initial allowance of 20 per cent of expenditure and, second, and an annual allowance of 10 per cent of the expenditure. On that basis the cost of a farm building may be written off over a period of eight years, that is, 30 per cent for the first year plus 10 per cent per annum thereafter. As a result of this proposed amendment, which again will be welcomed by the farm sector, persons engaged in farming will now be able to claim in any year, in addition to the basic allowance of 10 per cent, an additional amount up to a total of 30 per cent of the cost of a farm building. In effect it means that the cost of a farm building may now be written off after four years or, at the farmer's discretion, over a period of up to ten years.

I would like to raise a query about this amendment. I notice that it refers to the construction of farmhouses, farm buildings, cottages, fences or other works. My understanding is that under section 14 of the 1977 Finance Act the cost of fences could be written off as to 100 per cent in the first year. Therefore it would appear that this section is not giving something but is restricting something, so far as fencing is concerned, if it will now be possible to write off only 40 per cent of the cost of fencing in the first year and the remainder at a rate of 10 per cent a year until the full 100 per cent is exhausted. I would have thought that this is not the Minister's intention. Perhaps he could explain how this has arisen.

Under the existing provisions a farmer, if he wishes, can claim the initial allowance in the first year but he has to claim the full 20 per cent in addition to the basic 10 per cent. This could mean in fact the non-use of his personal allowance if the 30 per cent allowance reduced his farm profits sufficiently. Under the new provision he would be entitled to claim any amount specified by him over the 10 per cent basic allowance, subject to a maximum of 30 per cent, so that he will now be able to claim in any year a total of 15 per cent, 20 per cent, 25 per cent or 30 per cent, as it suits him, until the full cost is written off. Therefore, in effect, it is giving greater flexibility to the farmer over a period as to how he would write off his costs.

I am asking specifically about fencing and not about the general issue. Perhaps I misunderstand it, but to the best of my knowledge free depreciation could be claimed for capital expenditure after 5 April 1977 under section 14 of the 1977 Act on fences, roadways, holding yards, drains or land reclamation. Now we have a situation where fences are being brought in under this section and, as I understand it, this is not giving full free depreciation but only allowing a claim of 40 per cent in the first year in toto. That would appear therefore, in the case of fences specifically, to be a retreat from the previous more generous provision.

It is not. The free depreciation under section 14 of the original 1977 Act stays.

Why is there a need to put fences in here if they are covered by section 14 of the 1977 Act?

We are reproducing the original section.

The original section concerns fences, roadways, holding yards, drains and land reclamation. Roadways, holding yards, drains and land reclamation are not contained here in this at all. It is all about buildings.

I am informed that the 1977 Act, which is the one that Deputy has been referring to, still applies. There is no limitation here in respect of the application of the 1977 Act. What is being done here is in relation to the initial allowances and the annual allowances which, apart from the provisions of the 1977 Act, could up to this time be written off over a period of eight years and now, as I have indicated, these can be written off after four years. But it does not affect the application of the section the Deputy refers to.

My understanding was that in the case of fences it was possible up to now to write off the cost in one year.

That is so.

The Minister has said, however, that the material contained in the section was material the cost of which could hitherto only be written off over eight years but he is admitting in the case of fences alone that it was possible to write off the cost in one year. So what is the point of giving a concession in relation to fences when the concession already provided is more generous?

That is in respect of farm buildings. The purpose of this one is to revise the capital allowances in respect of farm buildings. I indicated what these allowances are and how they are applied.

Is there a distinction between fences around buildings and fences around fields?

No. I am told that the 1974 Act provides the structure of the allowances which are now being increased. The 1977 Act then allows, in relation to fences, the specification of whatever additional amount is required and we are retaining the structure of the 1974 Act. But what we are doing here is to ensure that what the 1977 Act provides is being extended in this section.

The 1977 Act gave free depreciation. I am a bit at sea. I am not an accountant and I am not involved in this, so perhaps I may be wasting time. But until we all understand exactly what we are talking about, it is better not to pass on. My understanding of free depreciation is that one is entitled to claim the full amount of the expenditure in the first year.

That is correct.

My understanding is that the 1977 Act gave complete free depreciation in respect of fencing, roadways, holding yards, drains or land reclamation. The Minister is now bringing in a new section which I understand changes the previous position which applied to farm buildings where one could write off their cost not over one year but over eight years and he is bringing that down now to five years. What I am worried about is that by including fences in this section one is going to apply a more restrictive regime to fences than applied up to this under the 1977 Act where they were covered by free depreciation. Obviously, the most recent piece of legislation is the one that is effective. The 1980 Bill will supersede the 1977 Bill. The point I am raising has been drawn to my attention by people who are more expert than I am in this area, people who are concerned with tax matters, particularly on behalf of the farming community. These people were alarmed at the inclusion of the word "fences" here. They did not understand it. In these circumstances, the Minister should explain a little more what is involved.

I understand that this is in the 1974 provisions but if we turn to section 14 of the Finance Act 1977, we find the provision that the allowance to be granted for the chargeable period related to the expenditure or any subsequent chargeable period shall be increased by such amount as is specified by the person to whom the allowance is to be made. Therefore, the 1977 Act provides for an increase in the allowances specified in the 1974 Act.

But for an indefinite increase.

That is so.

That is equivalent to free depreciation, to bringing the figure up to 100 per cent.

Because the 1974 Act makes reference to the basic, we must ensure in order to provide for these increases now, that fences are included also. However, I may be able to explain this more satisfactorily on Report Stage and after I have had time to consider it in more detail, but I can assure the Deputy that there is no question of a reduction of the provision in respect of fencing in particular or of anything else, for that matter. The amendment is solely to provide for a revision of the allowances in respect of farm buildings and I am informed that it is necessary to include in this the 1974 provisions.

Although not understanding what the Minister has said and I am not sure that even he understands what he has said, I am prepared to accept his explanation as being sufficient to get us through this stage of the Bill. However, I will be seeking to raise the matter on Report Stage but in the meantime I will be discussing it with the people who raised it with me in order to ascertain whether the Minister's explanation satisfies them.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 30.

In page 27, before section 24, to insert the following section—

"25.—(1) Where, in computing profits from the trade of farming, a deduction allowed by virtue of section 12 of the Finance Act, 1976, has effect for the year 1980-81—

(a) section 31 (4) (a) of the Finance Act, 1975 (as applied by section 12 (2) (a) of the Finance Act, 1976) shall apply and have effect as if the reference to 20 per cent were a reference to 10 per cent, and

(b) the said section 12 shall have effect as if subsection (2) (c) (inserted by the Finance Act, 1979) had not been enacted.

(2) Where a deduction falls to be made under section 31A (2) (inserted by the Finance Act, 1976) of the Finance Act, 1975, in relation to the trade of farming, the said section 31A shall have effect as respects any accounting period which ends on or after the 6th day of April, 1979, as if—

(i) in subsection (4) (a) the reference to 20 per cent were a reference to 10 per cent, and

(ii) paragraph (iii) (inserted by the Finance Act, 1979) of the proviso to the said subsection (4) (a) had not been enacted.".

This amendment relates to stock reliefs. It is one of the easements designed to provide an incentive for farmers. The decision to make this amendment was made following discussions and consultations with the farming community.

As the House will be aware, stock relief is a temporary relief that is available to manufacturing and construction industries as well as to the agricultural industry. It is subject to certain restrictions. It applies to increases in stock values which exceed 20 per cent of the profits. In the 1979 Finance Act provision was made for the continuation of the relief for another year but the amount of relief to be granted was restricted to 75 per cent of the amount which otherwise would have applied.

Section 45 of this Bill provides for the continuation of the relief for a further year, subject to existing restrictions but because of what the Government recognise as being the special need to increase livestock numbers, we decided to modify these restrictions further so as to provide the necessary incentive in this regard. Accordingly, stock relief, in so far as it relates to the trade of farming, will operate at the rate of 100 per cent instead of 75 per cent and will apply to increases in stock values which exceed 10 per cent of the profits instead of 20 per cent.

I am confident that this measure will be welcomed by farmers and that it will encourage them to increase livestock numbers. I have given some indication already of the cost of adjustments generally in this area. Deputies will appreciate that this is a delicate area. The cost in this case would probably not exceed £500,000 in a full year but it is fair to say that depending on the extent to which farmers will increase their herds, the cost could be higher. I am sure that the amendment will commend itself to the House.

We welcome this amendment but we regard it as an indication of a great contradiction between what the Government are doing here and what they did in a previous amendment. They are now attempting to treat farmers even better in this regard than industry is being treated. In this connection when we reach section 48 in which there is provision for a restriction to 75 per cent in respect of the allowance available to industry, I shall be moving an amendment to increase the figure to 100 per cent. I am not objecting to what the Government are doing here in relation to farmers. The principle behind the amendment is correct but why did the same principle not apply in relation to the amendment on which we voted earlier today and which was ably defended last evening by Deputy Crinion, much against the interest of his peers?

We must not go back to a previous amendment.

There seems to be a contradiction in the attitude of the Government in respect of two instances relating to the one body of people. I find this extraordinary.

I, too, welcome the amendment. However, there are a couple of points I should like to raise in regard to it. I understand that under this provision farmers will not have to pay any income tax on what is not an income, namely, on the increase in the value of their stocks, and that whatever tax will fall to be paid will be paid when stocks are sold. Absence of such relief up to now has operated as a disencentive particularly to dairying. This is because of there not being any intention on the part of dairy farmers to sell valuable stocks. I understand that there is a problem in regard to this provision in that if one claims stock relief during two or three years and then sells the animals concerned, tax would have to be paid in one lot on the increased value to the extent that it would have been paid during two or three years if the stock relief had not been claimed.

That would appear to be fair enough where the decision to claim stock relief and the subsequent decision to sell were voluntary decisions but a particular case arises in farming as a result of disease eradication where farmers might because of an outbreak of, say, brucellosis on the farm, be forced to sell their stock all at once, having claimed stock relief. If, on top of being put out of business—which would be the case if they were dairymen—they had to pay a lot of back tax in the form of tax on stock value increases which they had not paid because of having claimed stock relief in good faith, feeling that they would never have had to sell out the herd, this would add to their problems at a time when they had acute problems because of having to sell out in the first place. I am not sure that the Minister has met that case.

Another point being made here is that in most cases, I am led to believe, there is a terminal date at the end of which the stock relief claimed cannot be clawed back. In most countries the stock relief claimed cannot be clawed back after six years. As I understand it, in this provision there is no such time limit on clawback for the Revenue Commissioners. Has the Minister received representations about having a terminal date?

This section is particularly welcome to dairy farmers who are increasing in numbers, particularly young farmers. It will be a good incentive to young dairy farmers building up their herds and to anyone building up stock numbers. A few farmers, particularly in our county, still do summer grazing, buying cattle in before 31 March not having wintered them. They get stock relief, as well, which is welcome. We must get higher productivity and that usually means higher cattle numbers. This section will help to encourage farmers to go ahead with confidence and increase their cattle numbers. This increase in stock is essential now, because we are obtaining only normal increases in price from Brussels and no longer can rely, as we did over the last six or seven years, on the green £. That day is over. Increased production is the only way that farmers can improve their livelihood from the land. It is that confidence which is rather difficult to build up that we must put back into farming.

I join in saying that I am glad that the Minister modified this section. In the Second Reading speech it was pointed out to the Minister that this scheme as regards stock relief could not be operated as it was presented to the Dáil in the budget speech.

Under the notional system, people had a way of avoiding stock appreciation but now that this system has been removed, everyone will come into the stock appreciation tax situation. This is not completely free appreciation. You modified the situation, Minister, but did practically nothing——

I did not expect you to say anything else.

As you proposed this, Minister, it could not be operated.

Surprise me sometime, Deputy.

I shall surprise you sometime.

Both the Minister and the Deputy should address the Chair.

The Minister mentioned the question of incentives. I ask him to spell out clearly to this House what exactly the position is. In a situation where a farmer with 20 cows at the beginning of the year 1980 decides at the end of that year, to build up his herd to 40 cows, the Revenue Commissioners will look for stock appreciation of approximately £10,000, or £500 per cow. What will be the tax liability on that £10,000 of appreciation in value?

I can foresee another difficulty. Take an example of a person with a large herd of cows. At the beginning of his tax year, his inventory shows ten to 15 cows and over a period of years he has built that herd up to, perhaps, 60 cows. If it happens that he wishes to change his system of farming, has he built up a tax liability when he goes to sell those cows in the public market, the herd of 45, 50 or 60 cows he has built up? Has he also built up a tax liability as far as stock relief is concerned? These are important matters to which people want to know the answer.

Will the same situation apply to a widow whose husband has built up his herd from, perhaps, ten to 70 cows? Something might happen the husband and the widow may be forced to sell the cows. Has her husband built up a tax liability over that period of years as far as stock relief is concerned? Those things should be spelled out clearly. The Minister has modified the scheme, as he was forced to, because it could not be operated. He had no option. Thanks, Minister.

Thanks for nothing is what the Deputy is saying because I have no option. The day that Deputy D'Arcy recognises that I make any move——

Answer the question, Minister.

I am entitled to speak in my terms if the Deputy wants to speak in his. Some day he may be surprised, but we may have to wait a long time for that.

We shall surprise the Minister as far as the resource tax is concerned.

It might be more a question for Deputy D'Arcy to consider whom he is reaching and whom he is persuading. Perhaps he is persuading somebody. Some people like to get things off their chests and that is the way things are going to be.

I wish to make some general comments on some other aspects. Where one makes a concession it is always open to anybody to say "Ah, yes, you have made a concession here, but that is in contrast with the concession you did not make on some other matters." or "you have made a concession, but how far exactly does this concession extend? Can you tell us precisely how far it extends and why it does not extend further in your proposal?" These are positions that can be taken up on any concession made. That is the position taken up now by Deputy Barry. He says I have made a concession here but contrasts that with what I have not done in the other area. I am treating agriculture in this instance at least as well as I am treating industry. He says it is the other way round as regards farm allowances, but that debate is over.

With respect to the allowances, it is already on the record that the farm industry is not being treated in a disadvantaged way by comparison with industry generally—far from it. In fact, the evidence is the other way around, but we cannot go back over that debate.

It would be a help to recognise, and this will come up later on, that where one tries to introduce provisions which are appropriate to a particular sector—and this is a particular sector, as has been recognised by the Opposition—it surely cannot be criticised on the basis that it was not being treated the same as everthing else, whatever that might mean. Everything else is not the same as farming. That is the important thing. If it were, if the manufacturing process was exactly the same as the farming process we would not have any distinctions at all. But, of course, they are not the same and there is no point in suggesting they are. Therefore, in each case one must introduce appropriate incentives, regulations, or whatever to match the potential in each area, allowing always for endeavouring to apply generally the same principles. I am not sympathetic to the case that asks: "Why do not you treat this, that and the other thing the same all along the line?" The short answer to that is that it is not possible to do so because they are not exactly the same.

Having made those general comments perhaps I might reply now to a couple of precise points made, particularly by Deputy Bruton. Here it may be evident that if one makes a precise point in relation to an important detail, as did Deputy Bruton in relation to disease eradication, I hope I can demonstrate that my ears are not closed because I have been having consultations in this area also. This point has been made to me already. In fact I intend to introduce an amendment on Report Stage providing that there will be no clawback of stock relief in cases where stock values have fallen as a result of disease. Deputy Bruton has properly argued this case. In any event, it is one I recognise. When one examines the various exemptions I have been introducing here in relation to stock relief generally, in what I announced yesterday and again this morning, it is fairly evident that this is a very significant recognition not only of the potential of farming but also of cases where there are special problems, such as we now acknowledge in relation to the eradication of disease, and that I am taking account of them. In my representative capacity as Deputy, and perhaps more importantly in my capacity as Minister, I have been made aware of this. That is the reason I have been able to introduce these amendments and I shall, on Report Stage, introduce another to deal with the question of disease eradication.

Deputy D'Arcy asked some precise questions when he was talking about increases in stock. I think he mentioned a case of £10,000. I should say that the increase in stock in such a case as a result of this amendment will not creat additional tax liability if the farmer decides to claim stock relief. The disposal of the stock without effecting their replacement by the purchase of new livestock could result in profits liable to tax. But the extent of the charge would depend on the amount received in comparison with the cost of the animals and on the extent to which stock relief has been claimed on the build-up of the herd. The important thing is that the increase in the stocks here will not create any additional tax liability. The disposal of stocks without their replacement by the purchase of new livestock could result in profits liable to tax, but even then that will be affected by the provision I have introduced this morning. That has existed in any event, but I have effected a very significant extension of the provision of stock relief. I know, even in advance, because there have been consultations on this question, that this is in line with the request made to us by the farm leaders.

The Minister is correct in this. When a farmer goes out of milk production because of the incidence of brucellosis he does not cease farming; immediately he goes out and buys bullocks and re-stocks his land. In nine cases out of ten he will spend whatever money he has received for the cows and by way of grant from the Department in stocking his land. He does not like having idle money and in that way there will be no build up—all of the money he has received for his cattle will be used for stocking the land. However, he will lose in income because his income from milk production would have been higher than what he would receive for his cattle. I have seen numerous cases of people who have had to go out of milk production because of brucellosis going immediately to the market place, the marts, and restocking their land with the money they have received for their cows.

I asked the Minister about the time limit on the clawback.

This issue has been raised from time to time. As Deputies will be aware, stock relief generally was introduced in 1975 as a temporary measure designed to meet the situation obtaining then when a number of manufacturing firms were experiencing liquidity problems. Subsequently it was extended to farming. I hope I do not over-simplify the issue when I say that what Deputy Bruton seems to be suggesting is that this temporary relief be converted into permanent relief after a certain number of years. From time to time this proposal has been put forward by representatives of manufacturing industry. It has not been accepted. It is fair to say also that the cut-off point in relation to livestock has been raised by the farm organisations. I can say that discussions are proceeding on this matter between officials of my Department and the representatives of those organisations.

Having said that, let me say quite openly that any relief of this nature, which defers the payment of tax, raises the question that it must be paid at some later date. There is no question about that.

If it is actual income.

Then the trouble is that when the tax does come to be paid naturally people do not want to pay it at that point. This raises the question of whether it is practical at any stage to introduce a provision providing for the deferment of tax. I do not want to put words into Deputy Bruton's mouth because he is well capable of expressing his opinions, but one could maintain that what is being suggested here is that the stock relief provision ought not have been continued year after year because, as it continues, at some point later it raises the question of liability. Consideration is being given to this problem to ascertain the best way of dealing with it. There is no immediate, easy and final solution. If one is dealing with deferment of tax, then, when it comes to be paid, the question of payment becomes the issue. I am particularly anxious to maintain a balance between equity and the development needs of farmers, and these discussions are progressing.

I have indicated to the farm organisations that the unit of my Department concerned with economic planning are arranging to have regular consultations with the farm leaders informally, and formally, as the case may be. It is fair to say that we can get hung up to a certain extent on the tax issues, so we have made considerable concessions here. The real issues are the bigger ones of development programmes. In all of these areas, and the one on which I am touching now, we will remain in regular consultation with them. We shall not resolve all of the issues at any one time but the direction in which we are moving should be fairly clear from the concessions now being announced.

I just want to clear one point with the Minister. I am not absolutely clear on the question of build-up of tax liabilities in a herd of cattle that can affect either a widow or a farmer who is diversifying his system of farming from milk to tillage when he sells his herd. It seems that such a person could aggregate liability over a number of years. Would the Minister elaborate on this important point?

I have said that the disposal of livestock without replacement by the purchase of new livestock, or a change to a new area of activity, could result in profits, which of course would be liable to tax. The extent of the change would depend on the amount received by comparison with the amount spent. Each case must be judged of its merits.

Amendment agreed to.

The new section is hereby inserted.


Amendments Nos. 31, 32 and 33 are related and can be debated together.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 28, to delete lines 1 and 2 and to substitute the following:—

"the individual does not have the use of that farm land and his wife—

(i) has the use of that farm land, or

(ii) is chargeable to tax under Case V of Schedule D on payments received in respect of the occupation of that farm land and those payments are not less than the payments which, having regard to values prevailing at the time, are not less than the payments which could have been obtained in respect of that land on the basis that negotiations for the payments had been at arm's length".

Section 24 as it appears in the Bill amends the provision in the 1974 Act under which farm land owned and occupied by the wife is deemed for tax purposes to be held by the farmer. Obviously section 24 of the Bill was intended to exclude a case where the wife owned and occupied the land. However, it would bring in cases where the wife had let the land to a third party. The amendment will ensure that land so let will not be added to the farmer's own farm land in judging whether he is over the threshold of the £40 valuation. This applies only where there is a genuine case of letting by the wife.

The other two amendments together make it clear that the deeming provisions in the 1974 Act operate for the purpose of the threshold only, for tax purposes. We want to ensure that joint ownership may not be used as a device unfairly to obtain marginal relief from income and resource taxes. The section will now make the deeming provisions of the 1974 Act, section 17, conform with the Supreme Court decision on assessment of husbands and wives, because the section will exclude from the deeming provisions the two types of cases most likely to offend. In each case the wife will be dealing with her own land to the exclusion of the husband. It is important to retain the integrity of such provisions and to amend them only where appropriate and necessary. The second and third amendments specify that the provisions in the section regarding joint ownership will be applied in deciding the threshold for income and resource taxes.

I want clarification on a number of points dealing with husband and wife liability in regard to the threshold for entering the tax system. First, what is the position where the husband and wife have separate titles to separate farms whose joint valuation is £70, each farm, with separate title, having a valuation of £35? What is the situation when the husband is registered and rated for one of these farms and the wife for the other?

Second, what is the situation, again in the case of a total valuation of £70, where the husband and wife are registered as joint owners of the total, as joint tenants without the survivorship principle? Third, what is the situation where you have again a valuation of £70 and the husband and wife are registered jointly as tenants in common? Fourth, taking again a total valuation of £70, what is the position where you have the husband as owner of one half of the farm and the other part is held in trust by the wife or the wife and the family? What would be the position in relation to the tax threshold in all four cases?

The Deputy will appreciate there could be a complete variation of arrangements in relation to any joint tenancy, tenancies in common, where each owner has an absolute right to half. I am not making an adjudication now in regard to any particular case. This section has been drawn up on a generous and accommodating basis and the facts in each case remain to be determined. Anything I am saying now cannot be taken as a final decision in respect of any particular case. Where the farms are separately owned and occupied, and that is for determination in each case, for the purposes of thresholds at £40, £70 or any other amount, they will be deemed to be separate. This would apply to the two farms of £35 valuation each mentioned by the Deputy. The intention may be quite clear but it may not always be proved by rateable valuation and there must be separate ownership and occupation.

What does "separate occupation" mean?

It does not mean living apart. It means having independent ownership, use, occupation and direction of the farm. That is what is intended. Otherwise it is not separate.

In relation to joint ownership the position is that it is taken as being one unit, when one is talking about liability at the threshold of £40 or £70 for resource tax. For threshold purposes it will be judged as one unit but the distinction is that in respect of the liability for tax it will be halved between the two.

They would get that anyway.

I accept that, but I am answering the Deputy's questions. There is a range of distinctions here but I do not think there is any distinction for threshold purposes.

They are definitely over the threshold?

Yes, they are. I am subject to correction on this because this is a legal matter, but there is a distinction between joint ownership and tenancy in common for this purpose. As far as the Revenue Commissioners are concerned—it has different consequences on death—at that point they are joint owners liable to be jointly assessed, but when it comes to assessing their actual liability it is divided by two.

The Deputy rised a third point. He asked about a farm where half is owned beneficially by the owner and the other half is held in trust for wife and family. If the part held in trust is separately owned and occupied, paragraph (i) applies. If the benefit of the trust can be applied, whether it is a matter of separate ownership or occupation or joint ownership or occupation, the test would have to be into which category the trust would fall It is understandable that these questions were raised. I tried to give a general guide but it must be remembered that the final determination will have to await the actual decision in each case.

We should try to get the amendments agreed first. These questions appear to be slightly off beam.

I thank the Minister for his response, and this is my last question. In regard to separate titles, where there is a possibility of a husband and wife having a total valuation of over £40 but under £40 each, there is a requirement that the units be run independently to enable them to claim, because they are both below the threshold. If the Department of Agriculture declined to allocate separate herd numbers and both units had to operate under the same herd number, would that affect the case? This is a very practical point because normally the Department will not allow herd owners, such as husband and wife or parents and children, separate herd numbers.

This may be a point that can be taken into account. Obviously the Department of Agriculture have a different function from the revenue Commissioners.

Would it be sufficient if there were two bank accounts and——

We must not deal with bank accounts on this amendment.

Some people have four or five bank accounts.

I agree, but that matter must be teased out elsewhere.

It is a very serious matter.

The Minister has always been careful not to wear two hats and he will certainly not do so now.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 28, line 4, to delete "this Chapter" and to substitute "section 15 (3) and of section 25 (1) of the Finance Act, 1980".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 28, lines 8 and 9, to delete "(but not for the purpose of determining the amount of tax payable)".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 24, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 25 stand part of the Bill."

The introduction of this tax is the final thumbing of the nose by the Fianna Fáil Party at the farmers. They wooed, cajoled and courted them during the years when they were in Opposition and told them about the damage being done by their being brought into the tax net, by objecting on their behalf to the wealth tax and talking about the notional system. They made extravagant promises during the 1977 election compaign about what they would do for farmers if returned to power. Every year since they have taken the opportunity to go back on what farmers took to be the word of the Fianna Fáil Party. I can cite many examples such as the dropping of the thresholds, the levy imposed last year, the abandonment yesterday in an earlier section of this Bill of the notional system, and now the imposition of this resource tax at a time when farmers are least able to bear such a tax. They had a poor year in 1979 and incomes dropped by 10 per cent or 12 per cent. A similar if not greater reduction is forecast for this year, yet under section 25 of this Bill those with valuations over £70 will have to pay £3.50 per £ valuation. This tax must be paid whether a farmer can afford it or not, no matter how high his overdraft or the rate he is paying on borrowings.

When this measure was first announced the farmers objected and arranged deputations to meet the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Agriculture and the Taoiseach. They were given the soft answer by the Taoiseach that it was a temporary measure and that the Government did not envisage its continuation forever. There are a number of amendments to this Bill from the Minister for Finance but none of them limits the application of this resource tax. It is clearly stated in this section that it applies to the year 1980-81 and any subsequent year and there is no amendment to give statutory effect to the promise made by the Taoiseach that this was a temporary measure. If the Minister assures us that it is meant to be temporary, I will ask him to put his words on paper and promise to introduce on Report Stage an amendment limiting it to 12 months.

Although we will be opposing this section it is obvious that it will become law. This will be the case unless Deputy Crinion and his colleagues do what they would like to do, and what they have been advised by their neighbours and friends to do, and vote against this imposition. Of course, they will not do so and the result will be an imposition on the farmers, no matter how badly off they may be. I have no faith in the connivers on the fifth floor of this building doing any more than grumbling.

Are all the connivers on the fifth floor?

There are connivers on every floor but there are more of them on the fifth floor than anywhere else.

It would be wiser not to use terms of that kind.

There are some connivers on the second floor.


The injustice of this tax is clear to every farmer and every Deputy. Some farmers may even have to borrow money in order to pay it. When Fianna Fáil were in Opposition we heard much about the damage which would be done by a wealth tax, but they are now introducing a wealth tax which does not take account of ability to pay. Despite the Taoiseach's soft words there is nothing to indicate that this is intended as a temporary measure. We will be voting against its imposition.

We will also vote against the imposition of this tax. The Government's handling of this issue has been highly inconsistent. They refuse to impose an equitable wealth tax while simultaneously they want to impose a resource tax on farmers at a time of unparalleled difficulty in that industry. The principle is one which, in circumstances of fair handling of the entire taxation issue, we would support. At a later stage we have put down an amendment asking for the imposition of a wealth tax and the Minister has made it clear that he will be opposing that amendment. Fair handling of the whole tax issue is the only means by which community stability can be restored. The imagination boggles at the way the Government mete out one kind of treatment to Irish business and an entirely different type of treatment to Irish farming.

Another reason for our opposition to the introduction of this tax is that the valuation system is chaotic. Unless there is reform in that area we cannot see the resource tax operating fairly. There are many cases of adjoining farms having different valuations and it defies one to understand the different criteria adopted. Far from being fair the imposition of this tax would be the reverse, and it is to expose the Government's inconsistency in this matter that we are opposing it.

This resource tax is completely unfair because it is wrong to single out one section of the community and say they should have to pay a wealth tax. I have argued that this tax is unconstitutional in that it is discriminatory and contrary to Article 40 of the Constitution, which says that all people should be treated equally under the law. I cited in support of his argument the decision of the Chief Justice in the case of de Burca versus the Attorney-General. It was found contrary to Article 40 of the Constitution that one section of property holders owning rated property were deemed liable to jury service but other property holders were not considered to be so liable. This tax discriminates against a particular type of property and I believe it is unconstitutional. If an industry has a valuation in excess of £70 there is no provision for having to pay a resource tax. The resource tax will be levied only in the case of a farm and this is most certainly a discriminatory provision under Article 40 which I believe will be overturned in the courts.

I must confess to being very puzzled about the way in which this tax was introduced. The Minister said on budget day that a resource tax was being introduced and the suggestion was that it would be a tax which would continue indefinitely, but the following morning the Taoiseach of his own accord announced in this House that it was only a temporary measure. I should like to know what transpired between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance in those 24 hours or indeed before the tax was introduced. I understand the Taoiseach had discussions subsequently with farming organisations about this matter and the impression given was that the Taoiseach had nothing to do with it. It was something that appeared on budget day and when he discovered that he rushed here the following morning to tell us the tax could not continue.

The Deputy spoke about the Taoiseach having discussions with farming organisations. I think he means the Taoiseach with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture.

I do not know; I was not at the discussions. Certainly the impression was given by the Taoiseach that it had nothing to do with him. It was somewhat of a Pontius Pilate act and when he discovered what was in the budget he had to say the following day that it was only a temporary measure. There is a lot of substance in what I am saying and, so far as the cohesive operations of the Government are concerned, it is a serious matter. That a tax could be introduced as a permanent feature of our tax code and the following day the leader of the Government tells us to forget about it, that it is only a temporary measure, is not a matter that can be swept aside easily. It is as though the Government do not know where they are going so far as the tax position is concerned.

The resource tax is a misnomer. The Government chose that term deliberately to try to pretend that the tax was similar to something suggested by the NESC in an earlier report. The Government tried to give the impression that this is the same tax as that recommended by that esteemed body but it is radically different. The NESC recommended a tax that would apply but in the event that farmers increased their production subsequently they could get back the tax. It was to be a means of encouraging increased production.

There is no such provision for farmers to claim back their tax here if they show they have increased production and that omission makes this provision fundamentally different from anything recommended to the Government by the NESC or anybody else. This resource tax is simply a revenue measure dreamed up to get the maximum amount of money in the simplest and quickest way from the farmers. It is not because the Government believed the farmers were not paying their fair share but because the Government wanted to convince others that farmers were paying their share. The Government knew that farmers on full accounts and paying rates were paying fair taxation.

Anybody who does an analysis of the situation of a farmer with a valuation of £80 on full accounts knows that he is paying the same income tax as any other businessman but because there is a kind of prejudice in the population generally against the farming community, instead of doing what any self-respecting Government would do, namely, to point out the facts, the Government decided to impose a resource tax even though they knew farmers were paying their fair share. It was simply a case of collapsing in the face of majority prejudice regardless of whether it was valid or not. Indeed, the very words used by the Minister in the budget displayed what I would describe as a weak-kneed attitude. He did not say, "I believe farmers are not paying their fair share of taxation". He said, "there is a feeling that the farmers are not paying their share." It was not something he would be prepared to endorse but as the feeling existed in the community the Minister was prepared to impose the tax on the spurious grounds that farmers were not paying their fair share.

I have done a careful analysis with the assistance of reputable economists which shows that at any given level of income, taking into account rates, income tax and average acreage, a married farmer with two children is paying somewhat more tax than is a person in the PAYE sector on the same income. The gap is largest in the case of the smallest of farmers who are in the tax net, namely, those with valuations between £40 and £60. At no point does a farmer pay less on an equivalent income than a person in the PAYE sector.

There is no case whatever for imposing a resource tax on the grounds that farmers are not being taxed enough and I think the Minister has conceded that. If he thought that was the case he would have made provision for it in the budget. His case entirely rested on the fact that he believed there was feeling throughout the country that farmers were not paying their fair share. It was simply a question of his conceding to outside prejudice without regard to the facts. When the Taoiseach realised what had happened, the day following the budget he said it was only a temporary measure. I am convinced the Taoiseach did not read the budget statement before it was issued or if he did he was rather inattentive and thinking of something else. If he had known about it, obviously he would have ensured that the budget speech would make it clear that it was only temporary. It may have been that it was never the intention for the tax to be temporary but that when the Taoiseach heard about it he decided it would be temporary or else the Government forgot their intention to make the measure temporary and did not put it in the budget statement.

One way or another it is all very mysterious. Any Minister for Finance wants to put the best face on a budget and if he introduces a tax that is only temporary he will say so in the budget statement in order to get the minimum amount of flak. All Ministers for Finance get flak on budget day no matter what they do and any Minister will try to put the best face on it. If this was a temporary tax the Minister would have said so in the budget. Presumably when the Taoiseach heard the speech on the following day he took fright and decided that this had better be a temporary tax. If the Government can change their minds in 24 hours on a matter of fundamental importance they can certainly change it again within a year. There is nothing to stop the Government saying next year that they will renew this for another year and so on. When income tax was introduced it was only introduced for one year and was renewed each year for about 100 years afterwards in the Finance Bill. It is only recently that income tax has become a permanent tax in law. Even if the Minister said that resource tax was temporary, it does not mean very much because there is nothing in the Bill, as Deputy Barry pointed out, to suggest that the resource tax is temporary and that is what is important. If it is temporary the Minister should introduce an amendment to that effect.

This year many farmers who will not be liable for income tax will have to pay resource tax. Any tax which is not related to earnings is highly objectionable. I am against the principle of taxing any section of the community other than on the basis of what they earn. I do not trust the Taoiseach when he says that this is only a temporary tax. The Taoiseach may intend it to be a temporary tax now but he may change his mind again in a year.

I assure the Deputy that I have spoken at meetings around the country defending this tax. I know that a new tax is not welcomed but we must remember that the budget statement of 1979 mentioned that there would be a resource tax in 1980. The farmers got a year's warning about this tax.

That was a great help to them.

It was better than what the Coalition Government did in 1974.


Did the Deputy hear Professor Sheehy last night saying that the farmers' income is lower than it was in 1974, that it was down 25 per cent last year and 25 per cent this year?

Deputy L'Estrange will be called when his time comes, he does not need to make a speech for Deputy Crinion.

The Deputy is battling valiantly to defend the indefensible.

Are Deputies insinuating that the Taoiseach did not read the budget speech? The Taoiseach was sitting there listening to it and he had already discussed it fully.

Why not announce it then?

The Taoiseach has said that it is a temporary measure.

The Taoiseach is keeping his options open for a general election, the same as with the school transport.

Deputy L'Estrange is not keeping his options open at the moment.

If the Deputy keeps interrupting he will not have any option.

This resource tax had been mentioned the previous year and the Taoiseach said that it is a temporary measure that will be reviewed. With any tax we must see it operating before we make a definite decision to withdraw it. However, the Taoiseach has definitely given the commitment that it is a temporary measure that will be reviewed. That is the important aspect. I have told farmers——

That there will be no tax after 1977 if you are returned.

I did not, but I was able to point out to——

Deputy Crinion is entitled to make his statement without interruption.

——one of the Opposition supporters——

It is different from the one the Deputy made in 1977.

That may be so but that does not make any difference now.

One of the Opposition supporters was under the impression that if he signed over his land to his three sons he would have to pay £63,000 capital gains tax. I was able to point out in our leaflet that we would amend that section of the 1974 Act. We did that in 1978.


I have the leaflet to show that we had the work done beforehand. I told farmers that it is better to be seen this year——

In the poorhouse—that is where a lot of them will be.

Deputy L'Estrange, please. The Deputy will end up outside of this House whatever other house he will end up in.

——to be seen this year paying their tax. If that happens the Minister will review this tax and it will be easy for him to abolish it. We all feel that we should pay tax on incomes but many large farmers are evading tax, one well known person is a great supporter of the Fine Gael Party in Louth and it was possibly one of the cases mentioned. This man who is one of the biggest farmers in Louth went out of his way to tell everybody that he had paid no tax for the past five years and he maddened the whole countryside.


The Deputies should ask Deputy Donegan about it and he will say who it is. In that area we used to get the backwash from that.

The Deputy will get a queer backwash the next time.

We must come down on these people who have not been paying their tax. There were quite a number of these people who through one way or another avoided paying tax. Even on television a man with 350 acres of land admitted that he had paid no tax.

How much did that man owe the bank? The man hardly owned the farm with what he owed the banks.

Deputy Crinion will make a speech without answering any questions from the other side of the House. They are not in order and they are not relevant.

The Deputy is being very provocative.

I am just stating the plain facts.

The Deputy is consistent in his inconsistencies, from 1977 anyway.

If Deputy L'Estrange wants to go to Ballinrobe I will let him off. Deputy Crinion, please.

Everybody should be seen to be paying tax and then we will get on to income tax. A certain number of large farmers, including the man in Louth, made themselves well known for this instead of keeping their mouths shut if they were getting away with anything, and that maddened the country. Even if that person who appeared on television was allowed £15,000 interest he was also paying back principal and he should have been taxed on that. This man set himself up as a tax consultant as well. I hope that the inspector of taxes will deal properly with him next year because he annoyed everybody.

We should not deal with identifiable people outside the House even if he did make himself very clear on television.

The other side of the House compared wealth tax to the resource tax and I will just give a few figures on that. I assure Deputies that we are not going back to wealth tax.

Fianna Fáil are introducing it here again.

We definitely are not.


I will make a comparison between what the Coalition's wealth tax was doing and what this provision would mean even for this year. A farmer will be paying in resource tax exactly half what he would have paid in wealth tax based on 1974 valuation.

What farm is this?

Any farm.

The Deputy is entitled to make his statement.

Farmers, therefore, are only paying half their wealth tax this year.

No, that is not what I said. I said it would be half the wealth tax he would have paid on 1974 valution. The value of land between 1974 and now has gone up four times.


Deputy L'Estrange and others will probably get in in due course.

There are very few farmers who are making that type of money. They are nearly all making £1,500 to £2,000.

How many farms cannot be sold?

I know that some of them are very hard to sell since the credit restrictions were imposed. A lot of people outside agriculture have been the cause of increasing the price of farms. If farmers were still under the Coalition Government they would be paying from eight to 12 times as much in taxes as they will be paying this year under the resource tax. If it is seen that a reasonable share of tax is being paid by farmers this year it will be easy for the Minister to review the matter and withdraw it. It was because of the people who were evading paying tax that it was necessary to introduce this tax. The Taoiseach said it was a temporary measure. It has to be reviewed like any tax and that is what will happen.

The statements made by the previous speaker are as far-fetched as those he made yesterday concerning farm machinery. Subsection (1) of this section states:

This section applies to any person who at any time during a year of assessment (being the year 1980-81 or any subsequent year of assessment) occupies, or is deemed to occupy, farm land the rateable valuation of which amounts to £70 or more.

Could anything be more permanent than that? The guarantees given by the Fianna Fáil Government, the Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture are treated as a sick joke. Their guarantees to the farming organisations and other people that this will only be a temporary measure will be treated as a sick joke. Deputy Crinion should take note of that.

We have heard it said very often that a strong agricultural industry is basic to the needs of the nation. Any tax levied should reflect the ability of the people to pay. In agriculture at the moment there is a predetermined tax of approximately £100 million. This is made up of £63 million from rates, £7 million from resource tax, £10 million from levies, and approximately £33 million from income tax. This means that two-thirds of the taxes paid by farmers are levies and there is no reflection whatever on the ability of the person to pay. The resource tax introduced this year after the famous 2 per cent level last year has created great uncertainty and lack of confidence in the agricultural industry. This is reflected very clearly in the sales of artificial manure, lime and feedstuffs. The Minister has clearly indicators there which he can read.

In 1979 there was a reduction in the actual income of farmers of 15 per cent. Figures have been bandied around about this, some people quoting one figure and others another. I believe we can accept a figure of around 15 per cent. Is there any section of the community who is less than two years have suffered a reduction in their real income of around one-third and at the same time are asked to pay £66 million in taxes which bear no relation to the actual income of these people? Is there any other section of the community who are levied in that way?

The Finance Bill has a specially designed tax system for agriculture. The 2 per cent levy did great damage to this industry and the resource tax will continue to carry on the Fianna Fáil policy in its true colours, deceiving the people. Deception is the correct word to use as far as the Fianna Fáil manifesto is concerned.

It is a word which is not used in the House and must be withdrawn.

Surely there are 24 or 25 points in the Fianna Fáil manifesto which have deceived everybody, including the farmers?

It is a very mild word.

You cannot take exception when it is true.

We do not accuse people of deceiving anybody deliberately.

I am accusing the Fianna Fáil manifesto of deceiving the people.

We cannot accuse individuals.

I said that Fianna Fáil were coming out in their true colours and that, as far as the manifesto was concerned, it was a complete deception of the people. The Minister has collective responsibility for those issues. Has he any interest in the growth of agriculture? Will the Government continue to hamper the people engaged in agriculture by consistent attacks with specially designed taxes and specially designed conditions which will damage the confidence of the people in that industry? Last year we had the export of agricultural production amounting to £11,000 million and any increases, even by 1 per cent, will mean a further £11 million in exports of agricultural production. That is what it means to this country. The finances of the State are in difficulty. The Central Bank in their report claim that agriculture will increase by about 4 per cent. I claim that it will not.

We are getting away from the section with which we are dealing. It deals with nothing but the resource tax.

I am dealing with the damage the section will do the agricultural industry.

We cannot do that. We are not having a debate on agriculture.

I finish by saying that the Minister accused me yesterday of stating that we were destroying the agricultural industry. I accuse the Fianna Fáil party of destroying the agricultural industry. These measures will strangle it further.

It is proper to say that the introduction of the resource tax by this Government amounts to the delivery of a knockout blow to the farming community who are already reeling under a succession of body punches. At present there is an unparalleled loss of confidence amongst the agricultural community in this country, and this has been contributed to in no small way by the policies of the present administration. It is adding insult to injury that at this stage an additional burden should be placed on the groaning backs of that community. A case could be made for seeking tax from the farming community if proof could be produced here that the farmers of this country were on a bonanza, that they were doing so well that they could afford to make the exceptional contribution to the economy and the running of the Exchequer, but the reverse is the situation. Because of the policies of this Government, farmers have never been worse off. They are now even talking in terms of their situation being as bad as it was during the economic war of the thirties. This situation is not going to improve. We have the Minister and his Government coming back from Brussels waving triumphantly a foreign package which is going to put a seal on farm incomes being reduced by at least 15 per cent in the current year because the increases they are getting of not more than 5 per cent will be offset by an increase in input of at least 20 per cent. Therefore, we have this Government presiding over a further reduction of farm incomes in the current year and at the same time, without any thought of the inability of the farming community to pay, loading on another tax totally unrelated to their income. This tax is being applied only to the farming sector. You can call a rose by any other name, but this is a selective wealth tax which is being applied to the agricultural sector only. The big business, fat cat supporters of the Fianna Fáil Party are, as usual, being exempted. This is solely for the farmer, and whether he makes a shilling or loses an enormous amount, right through he will have to pay this extra tax which cannot be allowed in computing his income profits or losses for the purpose of the Tax Acts. It is an additional burden.

Now the farmer—who is going to suffer a loss of income this year and who is suffering already from the various levies and increases in rates which in some cases have doubled his rates bill with quite small farmers paying twice the rates they were paying last year—is expected to pay this additional tax. One could not select a more inappropriate time for the introduction of any such new type of tax as the Minister and his Government have done. Because of the credit squeeze, farmers will not even be able to borrow the money to pay this tax and in many cases probably they will have to sell off stock, the seed corn as it were, to satisfy the rapacious demands of this Government. This tax is totally uncalled for and in the context of the crocodile tears wept by the members of this Government in years gone by when it was suggested that very big farmers should have to make some contribution to income tax, it is really the wheel turned full circle. It exposes the entire hypocrisy of the Fianna Fáil Party. Even at this late stage I call on the Minister to repent of his sins and remove this resource tax entirely from the present Finance Bill.

This resource tax is another anti-farmer piece of legislation, another Fianna Fáil fraud perpetrated on the agricultural community. It is unfair, it is unjust, it is iniquitous type of taxation and it is unconstitutional, just as the 2 per cent levy was last year. Any tax that does not take into consideration the ability of the people to pay is unfair and unjust, and this tax does not do that. Also, a tax based on the poor law valuation is most unfair because the valuations are over 120 years old and we all know that a holding of 75 acres of land in one part of a county may be valued at nearly £100 and a holding of similar land in another part of the county can be valued at £50 or £60. Therefore, it is most unfair and unjust also from that point of view.

Another very annoying feature is that castles and mansions are de-rated while the farmers with no facilities who are now paying high taxes and rates and have not even roads to travel on, or the roads have potholes, have to pay this unfair tax. The farmers are entitled to be annoyed at the double talk and the double thinking of the Fianna Fáil Party in relation to taxation and to taxing the farming community and the smear campaign that that party carried out so successfully against the National Coalition who had only income tax on farmers of over £75 PLV prior to the 1977 general election. I am sorry that Deputy Crinion is not here. Farmers were told by Deputy Keegan—as I heard from a deputation from the NFA in my own county—that they would not lower the threshold, that any other type of taxation would not be imposed on the farmers and if Fianna Fáil were returned to power farmer taxation would be reduced greatly. That is what they told the farmers' deputation at that time.

They claimed that we were anti-farmer, that we were out to tax the farmers out of existence, while Fianna Fáil were the farmers' friends. As the previous speaker said, Fianna Fáil Deputies shed crocodile tears. In Opposition they say one thing, and in Government they do the very opposite. Looking back over their history, they have been consistent in their inconsistency. It might be no harm if I quoted what Deputy Power, now Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, said as reported at column 1727 of the Official Report of 4 April 1974. He was interested in the large farmers. He said:

It appears to me that the big farmer has been singled out in this exercise. We are told 9,000 people are involved. I look upon this as a socialistic onslaught on very rich people.

What has the Minister to say about that statement made by a member of his own Party, a man who now sits in the Cabinet with him? If it was a socialistic onslaught on very rich people then, we can now claim it is a socialistic onslaught on people who are very poor and whose incomes are being reduced by the Government.

Others were interested then in the big farmers. A former friend of the Minister's, Deputy Lynch, who was then leader of the Opposition said, as reported at column 1515 of the Official Report of 4 April 1974——

Where is he now?

I said he was a former friend.

We are getting away from the resource tax.

Times have changed.

Deputy L'Estrange on the section before the House.

I am quite in order. Deputy Crinion mentioned——


When the Chair tells somebody he is not in order Deputy Begley wants to assure him that he is in order. That is not Deputy Begley's job.

I am entitled to say——

The Deputy is entitled to speak on the resource tax.

Yes, on the resource tax and its implications for large farmers. I want to say how interested the Government were in them when they were in Opposition and how they have lost that interest since they took office and are now trying to tax them out of existence. The then Leader of the Opposition said:

Now that the Minister has his toe in the door he will push it more and more. Obviously, they anticipate and fear that the £100 norm of land valuation—according to a completely outdated criterion, incidentally, the Griffith valuation some 100 years old now—will be reduced according as the Minister feels it necessary and, of course, as the Revenue Commissioners advise.

They were anxious about their welfare at that time. What has happened since? They have not been so anxious since they took office. They have done exactly what they accused us of trying to do but which we did not do. We did not put the figure lower than £75 at that time.

Another man wept crocodile tears, Deputy Crowley. As reported at column 1639 of the same Volume he said:

We now find ourselves in a country in which the backbone of our economy, the farmers, are beginning to be taxed——

I doubt that he thought farmers with poor law valuations as low as £40 would be taxed by a Fianna Fáil Government. As the previous speaker said, the farmers are being ground down by ever-increasing taxation, rates and the 2 per cent levy last year which has now gone, while their overheads are increasing by 20 or 25 per cent and their prices are falling.

Professor Sheehy is not interested in one political party or another, and last night he said their farmers' incomes fell last year by 25 per cent and will fall this year by a further 25 per cent. Those are the people this Government, perhaps at the behest of certain people in certain trade unions, are bringing in under the resource tax. Unfortunately many farmers are becoming punch drunk. They are losing initiative and confidence at a vital moment in our history. The country is moving towards the edge of the precipice.

Never in our history was it more important that farmers should have confidence and display initiative and make full use of their land. They cannot plough back money into the land to increase production and to help us out of the crisis we are in today, because that money is being taken from them by the Government through this resource tax and other taxes. We are facing national crisis. How the farmers use their land is of paramount importance to each and every one of us. There may be 150,000 employed before the end of the year.

The Deputy should get back to the resource tax. There is nothing before the House except the section of the Finance Bill dealing with the resource tax.

Yes, but the effect——

The Deputy is dealing with everything under the sun except the resource tax.

As long as the resource tax is there——

The Deputy cannot hang everything on the two words "resource tax". If he wants to deal with unemployment and the whole agricultural situation he will have an opportunity to do so.

He is looking into his crystal ball.

I told Deputy Begley before that he should not lecture the Chair.

It would be hard to lecture you.

That is not good enough.

It is rough all right.

If Deputy Begley does not stop interrupting he should leave the House.

Could we have a quorum?

We are adjourning for an hour.

I am asking for a House since you are so smart.

Deputy Begley is being smart. It is now 1 o'clock and we will adjourn for an hour by agreement of the House.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.