Private Business. - Finance Bill, 1930—Committee Stage.

The Seanad went into Committee.

Cathaoirleach

This Bill has been certified as a Money Bill.

The following recommendation stood in the name of Senator Counihan:—

Section 1. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

"(4) On and from the 6th day of April, 1930, the profits derived from the occupation of agricultural land shall not be assessable to income tax."

Since I put down this recommendation on the Order Paper I had an opportunity of discussing the matter with the Minister. He has given me an assurance, which he is to repeat on the Final Stage of the Bill, that he will accept a more modified form of accounts from farmers, something on the lines which are being accepted at the present time from ordinary traders. In view of that assurance, I do not wish to press the recommendation.

Recommendation not moved.
Sections 1 to 16, inclusive, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Before passing from Section 17, I would like to ask the Minister what is the present position that is sought to be amended and what are the restrictions that have to be removed? The section says that "the Minister may from time to time, as and when he thinks fit, invest any moneys for the time being standing to the credit of the Exchequer Account in any bonds, bills, notes, or other securities issued by or on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and maturing within twelve months from the issue thereof and carrying the direct obligation of the said Government in respect of both principal and interest." Is he debarred to-day from investing money in that way?

Yes. The present position is that the money must be held in the account in the bank. We have been generally able to arrange a special rate of interest for money we hold on account in the bank. It was thought that there might be occasions when we might get a better rate of interest or earn a better rate.

I want to ask the Minister why he should not take wider powers to invest in securities other than British securities? Why does he not take power to invest in American securities if he thinks they are better, as he is doing in the Currency Bill? I am not objecting at all to this section, but I think that the Minister should take power to invest in whatever securities he thinks proper.

These will be short-term investments. It is simply proposed that when we issue a loan, or in certain other circumstances when the State is in possession of a large sum in the Exchequer Account, we will be able to invest the money. The Currency Note Fund Account is on a different footing, as there will be much bigger sums always there. When you are dealing with short-term investments you do not want to invest in American securities, because there is the question of the exchange to be considered, and you do not want to be in a position in which you may be involved in a capital loss. It is because we think that in short-term securities there will not be any loss involved in the capital position that this proposal is made.

How does the Minister know there will not be a loss? They might fall five points in a week.

If they mature within twelve months we will get our money on them.

I am glad to hear the Minister speak so much about investments, because we have heard so much about these investments on the London Stock Exchange and the gamblings and losses involved that it is a consolation to know that in future the Minister is going to have proper supervision.

Sections 17 to 22 and the Title ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill ordered to be reported without amendment.

The Seanad went out of Committee.

Bill reported without amendment.
Report Stage fixed for Wednesday, 2nd July.