Tobacco Bill, 1934—Report.


Government amendment No. 1:—

Section 28, sub-section (1). Before paragraph (n) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

(n) the making by holders of rehandlers' licences of payments on account for tobacco purchased by them from growers or curers.

I move the amendment.

This amendment was drafted to meet the point raised by Senator Staines on Committee Stage. Section 28 gives the Minister power to make regulations in relation to certain matters, and the effect of this amendment will be that the Minister may, by order, make regulations in relation to the making, by holders of rehandlers' licences, of payments on account for tobacco purchased by them from growers or curers. I think that it is the only way it could be dealt with, because to try to deal with it in any hard and fast way, such as on a 50 per cent. or a 66 per cent. basis, would be impossible. With a little experience, however, we may be able to make regulations in accordance with the wishes of the Seanad. This year a number of rehandlers are making offers of a certain advance of cash, and I think it would amount to more than 50 per cent. all round.

I do not intend to move my amendment.

Amendment No. 1 agreed to.
Amendment No. 2, by leave, withdrawn.


Government amendment No. 3:—

Section 39, sub-section (1). To delete in lines 32 to 34 the words and figures "the 1st day of September in the year 1934 and every subsequent year, send to the Minister for Industry and Commerce" and to substitute therefor the words and figures "such date as may be prescribed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to the year 1934 and not later than the 1st day of September in the year 1935 and every subsequent year, send to that Minister".

When the Bill was being drafted it was hoped to have it through by the 1st September. That date is mentioned here as the date before which manufacturers shall make returns. It is proposed to alter that until "such date as may be prescribed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce."

Amendment agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I just wish to ask the Minister to consider the matter of the price. I have had a great deal of correspondence with tobacco growers and I think I might use it in order to call attention to this matter before the Bill becomes law. These letters are from tobacco growers who are very dissatisfied with the prices offered by the Government. With your permission, Sir, I should like to read for the House a resolution passed at a meeting of tobacco growers representative of the Counties of Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Leix and Wicklow. The resolution reads as follows:—

"That this meeting of tobacco growers ... hereby respectfully request the Government to reconsider the question of the price to be paid for the 1934 crop. We consider it inadequate for the following reasons:—

(1) The price is based on last year's crop and extremely favourable year.

(2) This year's crop, being stunted in June and July by the severe drought, is at least one-third less in yield than last year's crop.

(3) The storm and gale of last Sunday night—

this was about three weeks ago—

and Monday has done irreparable damage to all our crops, some of which are completely lost.

For these reasons the price stated in your Tobacco Bill is entirely inadequate and will militate seriously against a new industry which should be fostered and supported."

I have an extract here also from a newspaper. It refers to tobacco growing in England. The extract is as follows:—

"English soil is not ideal for tobacco growing, but surprisingly good results have been obtained from it none the less. A successful grower is Mr. A.J. Brandon, of Church Crookham, Hampshire, who has been engaged on the work for a number of years. At present he has six acres under cultivation and expects a result of from 700 to 800 lbs. an acre. He gives it as his opinion that the price paid there would not repay the cost of cultivation and he urges the Government to remit the duty on home-grown tobacco or a portion of it, pointing out that if this were done some thousands of acres which have gone out of cultivation could be profitably planted again."

The Irish tobacco growers also ask that the Government should remit the duty or enough of it to make the crop pay, otherwise they are afraid that they cannot continue to cultivate the crop at all. They say that the average crop here was also about 800 lbs. an acre and that it will be at least one-third less. They also say that the cost of growing which was given in the Dáil was not accurate. The figure given in the Dáil was £32 and they maintain that it costs considerably more than £32 an acre to grow tobacco. They consider that a price of less than 2/6 would not pay them and that they would not be able to grow tobacco at that price. The opinions I have given are the opinions of practical tobacco growers. Some of them have been pioneer tobacco growers in Ireland—people who have taken every opportunity to foster the growing of tobacco. They are not new-comers into the business of growing tobacco. They are not people who have rushed in with enthusiasm, who know nothing about it. They are people of experience and these are their considered opinions.

I think that Senator Miss Browne and others who are interested in this matter of tobacco growing and who have the interest of the farmers at heart ought really to be thankful to the Government for introducing a Bill of this kind which ensures to the growers a minimum price. There is a tobacco growing industry amongst Canadian agriculturists and a recent inquiry has been held by the Ministry under the chairmanship of the Conservative Minister for Trade and Commerce in the Federal Government. I propose to read just an extract or two from his report dealing with the tobacco industry. He said:—

"The tobacco industry in Canada has passed into the control of one big institution which takes 80 per cent. of all production. The Imperial Tobacco Company had a total cash investment of 14,000,000 dollars. To-day it is worth 100,000,000 dollars. In 1930, they paid 33 cents a pound for flue-cured tobacco. In 1931, they brought a man up from the United States and they cut down the rates they paid the grower from 33 cents to 19 cents."

He goes on to explain that the normal time of opening the market was about the 6th October but that they held off until the 26th October, and as they had practically control of the market, the growers were waiting, as he says, "sweating for a solid month, with their tobacco hanging in kilns, waiting for someone to come and buy, waiting for the market to open up. They had paid out their wages, they had gone into debt for fertiliser and implements. They were hard pressed by their creditors. The market got so panicky that they sold their tobacco for 16 or 17 cents, and," he says, "last year they had a similar result."

He goes on to say that notwithstanding that experience it was the same the following year, and he blames this upon the Imperial Tobacco Company because they were the chief buyers in the market and were able to control the price. I do not know whether the Canadian industry would be prepared to take a leaf out of the book of the Free State Government that is now introducing this Bill, but I am quite sure that the Canadian farmers would be very glad if the Canadian Government would come along with a Bill, couched somewhat in the terms of this Bill, which would ensure at least a price not dependent upon the desire of the Imperial Tobacco Company to get the raw material at the lowest price they thought it possible to be grown. The illustration is interesting because it shows that the tobacco industry, which is quite considerable in that country, has become one dependent upon a big buying organisation where there was no State intervention to protect the grower. In our case the business is in the experimental stages, but through this Bill the State is coming forward to protect the grower against the machinations of any powerful company. I think that the farmers here ought to be reassured at least that there is somebody to look after their interests.

In reply to what Senator Johnson said——


You have already spoken, Senator, and you cannot make a second speech on the Final Stage.

I would like to know what country Senator Johnson was referring to.

If it costs the State 2/6 per lb. to enable farmers to grow tobacco leaf, they might as well, I think, give no more for wheat and oats.

I think that 2/6 is a ridiculous price. It would be just as well for any farmer who cannot grow for less than 2/6 to know that he is not going to get that, and let him drop out. There are several farmers who are prepared to grow at the present price. We had the experience of having to reject 80 per cent. of the applications this year.

They thought they were going to get last year's price.

They were told at the time the price they were going to get. In fact, they got an additional twopence in the Budget. That is to say, they have got twopence more than they were prepared to accept. We have given them a little more than we promised at the beginning. I think it is a good principle to go on.

Since we discussed this Bill on the last occasion I have experimented in the smoking of Irish tobacco, and I have discovered that occasionally a good thing does come out of Wexford. I must say that the tobacco produced by Father Sweetman in the County Wexford has given me the utmost satisfaction. I have no qualms whatever about the introduction of Irish-grown tobacco. I would, however, like to compel certain members of this House to smoke it or use it. The growing of Irish tobacco will be a general benefit to the community. I cannot understand Senator Miss Browne's attitude towards this Bill.

It is not mine. It is the attitude of the tobacco growers.

The Senator is always wishing and hoping that every measure introduced by this Government will fail. This is a Bill that, I hope, will result in a big smoke all over the country.

Question put and agreed to.