FINANCE BILL, 1926.—THIRD STAGE.

Sections 1 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.

The following recommendation appears on the Orders of the Day in my name:—

"Section 7. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section (2) as follows:—

(2) No import duty shall be charged on furniture required to replace furniture maliciously destroyed."

The object of my recommendation, and I think the Minister will appreciate it, is to call attention to a great hardship that his policy has inflicted on those whose furniture was burned in recent years and for which awards were given. These awards were based, at least in a great many cases, on values previous to the imposition of the duty. Since then decrees have been given, but a duty of 33? per cent. has been put on, and that limits the market in which these people have to buy new furniture. In many cases it is tantamount to an addition of 33? per cent. to the cost of replacing the furniture that was destroyed. I think that is a great hardship, and I am asking the Minister if something cannot be done for those affected.

I should like to support what Senator Sir John Keane has said. The Senator's house and mine were burned and we lost furniture. We may require to replace that furniture or to furnish new houses, and if we do so, under this Bill we will have to pay an additional 33? per cent.

This is a matter that it would be extremely difficult to deal with. A great many of these cases have been decided since the duty of 33? per cent. was imposed. In other cases we have added 10 per cent. to certain awards as the result of a recent Bill. Certainly that should remove any grievance anyone might have in regard to furniture duty. On the whole, in connection with the furniture duty, there would be extreme difficulty in deciding what furniture might be imported. A very great administrative difficulty might exist. You might have people who are not going to replace the furniture getting in furniture for friends. Difficulties would arise if that occurred. You would also have people who feel strongly about protection saying that we were practically obliging people to buy furniture outside the country if such a concession were given. On the whole, it would be very difficult to meet the case of people who have lost furniture. Their case is not really harder than people who have had to replace furniture and who got no such advantage. People may have had furniture destroyed by fire and they have to pay higher prices to replace it. In the case of people who took large quantities of tea out of bond before the duty was abolished and who lost, we did not recoup the losses. The position generally is that when changes in taxation are effected, people must take the rough with the smooth. Some gain and some lose. We could not prevent inequalities falling on someone.

I should like to ask the Minister if the Customs authorities have allowed furniture, which was removed from this country to England, fearing that it might be destroyed, to be brought back without paying the duty?

That is so.

Would not the other cases be similar?

In the other cases the furniture was destroyed and could not be replaced. I see the Minister's difficulty, but I do not think it is insuperable. I do not think the number of cases is very large and, as a compromise, I would suggest that the increase allowed should be, say, 15 per cent. These are all hard cases, but this is a specific case where great injustice has been suffered.

Could it not be arranged that these people who are buying furniture to replace destroyed furniture should be allowed to get in their furniture free of taxation?

That is the proposal.

CATHAOIRLEACH

That is what we are at. That is the amendment.

I do not think that it would be a very hard thing to grant in the case of people who have suffered and who want to replace the furniture. I know that the furniture that was burned cannot be replaced, for that furniture was ten times more valuable than any new furniture.

CATHAOIRLEACH

I think that the recommendation would require to be altered.

I appreciate that. I only drafted it to raise a discussion.

CATHAOIRLEACH

There is a point here that would have to be attended to. "Furniture maliciously destroyed" would include furniture in respect of which no claim for compensation has been made. Therefore, it should be limited to "furniture in respect of which compensation has been paid or claimed." Otherwise it would be open to anyone to say that his furniture was destroyed but that it was not worth his while to make a claim, and in that way he may evade paying the duty.

I do not want the Senators to understand that I am accepting this recommendation or promising to introduce an amendment, but what I would undertake to the Senate is that I would look into it again.

I am quite satisfied with that.

Recommendation, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 7 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.

I beg to move my recommendation:—

Section 23, sub-section (1). After the word "bets," in line 49, to insert the words "(with the exception hereinafter mentioned)" and to insert before sub-section (2) a new sub-section as follows:—

"Bets entered into at any coursing meeting in Saorstát Eireann in respect of any greyhound competing thereat shall be exempt from the duty prescribed by sub-section (1) of this section."

I wish to press the point in connection with greyhound coursing. The Minister made a concession in the Dáil; he removed the amusement tax on coursing. As one who has spent a lifetime in the country and who has followed that particular line of sport, I appeal very strongly to the Minister to scrap this tax altogether, to take off the betting tax on greyhound coursing. It is within the knowledge of everyone in the Seanad and in the country that greyhound coursing is followed by a class of people who deserve consideration. Coursing has a very ancient history attached to it. For years and years there was no such thing as betting at all attached to it. It was simply a matter of sport. The people who kept greyhounds and preserved their land went out of their way to keep up coursing. One of the chief motives that induced them to go to all this trouble was so as to be able to invite their friends and give them a day's coursing. It was looked upon as a great treat by their friends who had greyhounds. It gave them a day's amusement. At first it used to be open coursing. I do not know whether the Minister ever attended such a function as an open coursing meeting. I have attended very many of them. Apart altogether from any other consideration, the collection of this tax will be a very difficult thing. In the first place, coursing meetings are held in a country district. You have first to get your hare before you course him. At these meetings you have beaters and, bookmakers, and anyone who has been at a coursing meeting will know the noise and the clamour that goes on, and it would be almost impossible to hear the betting. As a rule when there are two dogs running the betting is generally 3 to 1 on some favourite and nothing at all on the other. I never made a bet myself, but the most I ever saw put on at a coursing meeting was one pound or so. This coursing concerns a class of people who are really out for sport. The Minister would be well advised to take off the tax altogether. Such a thing would be well received by the country. It is for the country I am speaking in this matter. It would be a gracious act on the part of the Government, who have many more lucrative ways of raising taxation than by taxing coursing. They might leave that sport alone. It is going too far and I appeal in the most earnest manner I can to the Minister, who has been so good as not to enforce the amusement tax, to leave this betting tax out altogether as far as coursing is concerned. Everybody would look upon his doing so as a most gracious act. Coursing is followed by a class of people who have not a very large income, but who keep up this sport simply and solely from voluntary contributions amongst themselves. There is very little money in it, and it promotes healthy sport in the country. I would ask the Minister, for the sake of the goodwill of the people who are so much interested in this, to agree to the recommendation.

I had a good many discussions with representatives of coursing, and with a member of the Dáil who is interested in this matter, and it was really as a result of the discussions I had with them that I and they realised the importance of excepting coursing from the entertainment tax. I realised that the incidence of the betting tax would fall unduly heavily on coursing, and consequently I agreed to except it from the entertainment tax. If we allow exceptions in the case of any tax the difficulties of collection would be increased out of all proportion to the importance of the concession. As the matter stands at present no bookmaker can take any bet that is not liable to taxation. If you allow him to have bets on which he is not compelled to put a stamped betting slip you give opportunities for bets that are not bets on coursing, but are really for some event that takes place elsewhere, so that the expense of supervising the people who are not paying any taxes would be much greater than supervising those who are paying them. The representatives of coursing did recognise that I had met them fairly when I agreed to the remission of the entertainment duty.

Recommendation, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 23 to 38, inclusive, agreed to.

The following recommendation stands in my name:—

Section 39, sub-section (1). To delete in line 5 the words "(including a collector of income tax)."

This is a comparatively small matter. I do not think the income tax collector is a suitable person to make an affidavit in regard to assessments. These collectors are men sometimes of a very limited education. They are usually local people. They are able to deal with the lists sent to them by the inspector and add up his figures, but this matter of an assessment is one of great importance. Collectors have no firsthand knowledge of the assessment. They have to get particulars from the inspector's office. I think some alteration is necessary in this respect.

I think there is some misapprehension in relation to this matter. I do not know whether there has been fault in the drafting, but it is not intended that the collector should make an affidavit in respect to assessment, because that is a matter of which he has no knowledge. His affidavit would be to the effect that a demand for payment was made. He would make an affidavit that the tax had not been paid and that a demand was made. He could not swear anything about the assessment because he would have no knowledge of it.

CATHAOIRLEACH

The Senator is right. Under the section as it stands the collector is authorised to do it. "... an officer of the Revenue Commissioners (including a collector of income tax) deposing to any of the following matters, that is to say:—(a) That the assessment of such tax or duty was duly made ..." That is one of the things a collector is expressly authorised to make an affidavit on.

He could hardly make an affidavit on something that he does not know.

CATHAOIRLEACH

Yes, he could. That is a very common phrase in an affidavit: "I, So-and-So, swear upon information and belief ..." Many statements are based on information and belief and are not based on personal knowledge. If it is not intended that a collector of income tax can do anything more than prove that the demand was made, the section can be altered by saying: "Provided always a collector of income tax shall be entitled only to make an affidavit in regard to ...." As the section stands at present the collector is duly authorised to make affidavits.

Perhaps the Seanad would pass a recommendation that the income tax collector should be confined to (c) and (d). We need not trouble about the drafting, and the matter can be set right in the Dáil.

CATHAOIRLEACH

It can be so worded that where the affidavit was made by the income tax collector, it shall be confined to (c) and (d).

Agreed to.

Recommendation, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 39 to 43, inclusive, Schedules and Title agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
The Seanad went out of Committee.
Bill reported.