As members of the Seanad are no doubt aware, Orders made under the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act are valid only for a period of eight months unless confirmed by resolutions passed in each House of the Oireachtas. A number of these Orders are made from time to time, and periodically Bills of this character are brought forward for the purpose of having Orders confirmed. This Bill is, therefore, in the usual form. The Orders, which it is proposed to confirm, relate to a variety of commodities. Emergency Imposition of Duties Order No. 131, at reference No. 1 in the Schedule, amends the duty upon woven piece goods. Heretofore, the duty on these woven piece goods of cotton or linen, or a union of cotton and linen, included a number of exceptions. Certain of these exceptions were removed by this Order, and the duty was increased to 40 per cent. ad valorem, with a minimum duty of 4d. per square yard on these woven goods which include dungarees, ticking, bed-sheeting and terry cloths. A variation of the duty was considered necessary for the purpose of ensuring the development of the industry here, consequent upon certain increased charges imposed on it, first, in consequence of the enactment of the Conditions of Employment Act, and, secondly, following a variation of the rates of wages paid as a result of an award given by a wages tribunal established in 1937 under the Industrial Courts Act. Since the Order was made, of course, the Agreement with the United Kingdom necessitated a reduction of the duty upon linen cloths from 40 per cent. to 20 per cent. That has been effected by the Order.
Emergency Imposition of Duties Orders 132 and 133, set out at reference Nos. 2 and 3 in the Schedule, were consequential upon Order 131. The variation in the duty upon these woven piece goods involved consequential changes in the duties applying to articles manufactured from these goods. Emergency Imposition of Duty Order 134, at reference No. 4, is of minor consequence. It imposed a duty on heads for hoes. Emergency Imposition of Duties Order 135, at reference No. 5, altered the duty upon enamelled hollow ware. The manufacture of enamelled hollow ware has been proceeding in this country for some time. It was found that the existing duty was not sufficient to secure a substantial part of the market for the Irish made goods. Consequently, a variation of the duty was considered necessary, and that variation was effected by the Order. Emergency Imposition of Duties Order 136, at reference No. 6, has reference to the imposition of a duty upon certain woven tissues. Previously only woollen cloth exceeding a weight of 7 ounces per square yard was liable to the duty. Recently, the manufacture of cloths of a lighter weight was undertaken here, and, consequently, a variation in the scope of the duty was found necessary. The duty now applies to cloths exceeding a weight of 4½ ounces per square yard.
Emergency Imposition of Duties Order 137, at reference No. 7, is only of minor importance. It imposed a duty on certain component parts of sparking plugs. The duty previously applied to component parts made of metal. This extends the duty to component parts made of porcelain. Emergency Imposition of Duties Order No. 138, at reference No. 8, imposed a duty upon certain electrical apparatus. Arrangements having been made for the manufacture of electrical apparatus in this country, the duty was imposed early this year, and the Order imposing that duty has to be confirmed by this Bill. The classes of electrical apparatus referred to are: electrical heaters, fire radiators, tubular heaters, hot water radiators, smoothing irons, toasters and kettles, cooking rings and certain other apparatus of minor importance. Emergency Imposition of Duties Order 139, at reference No. 9, altered the duty upon certain glazed clay articles. The manufacture of domestic pottery was undertaken here by two firms, but during the course of 1937 it was found that a considerable inroad upon their market was being made in consequence of a substantial increase in the importation of articles of pottery from Japan and also from Great Britain. It was found that articles of low price and inferior quality were being imported in considerable numbers. These importations increased to such an extent as to cause a very serious position for the industry here the larger of the two factories to which I have referred actually having to close down for a period. It was considered desirable to give the industries an opportunity of expanding their production. They are well equipped to produce efficiently the requirements of the country to which this duty applies, and in order to enable them to do so properly it is considered that they should be secured a larger proportion of the market so that their equipment can be properly utilised on a larger output.
Emergency Imposition of Duties Order No. 142, at reference No. 10, effects only a minor change in the duty which applies to non-rubber dolls. The change involved is the insertion of a licensing provision. This enables a licence to be issued for the importation of these articles duty free, wherever it is clear that the home manufacturers are unable to supply the requirements. I do not know whether or not the Seanad desires to discuss these duties in any detail. If Senators so desire, perhaps it would be more appropriate to have that discussion on the Committee Stage. The Second Reading Stage of a measure of this kind must very largely be a formal matter, as no principle is involved except whatever principle was approved of when the power to impose duties by these orders was first conferred. That power has been utilised from time to time, and these Bills have appeared quite frequently before the Dáil and Seanad. They will, perhaps, appear equally frequent in the future. A suggestion was made at one time that, in the new circumstances, the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act should be repealed. I would not agree to that. I think that our circumstances—the size of our market and our proximity to Great Britain—make it necessary for us to have power to deal expeditiously with matters of this kind. What would be regarded as a normal consignment of goods in a much larger country might easily be sufficient to flood the market here and make internal production impossible. It is very difficult for us effectively to secure that, when new industrial projects are mooted, information concerning them will not reach members of the public who might be interested in forestalling a possible duty by bringing in consignments of the goods concerned.
Consequently, whatever form the power may take or whatever title may attach to the legislation under which the power is conferred, it will always be necessary for this country to have the means to impose customs duties with expedition at periods of the year when the Dáil is not meeting or when the nature of the Dáil programme does not permit of the more formal procedure of financial resolutions being adopted. It has always been the practice to keep for the annual Finance Bill any of these customs changes which could be kept over but circumstances frequently arise which make it impossible to adopt that course. That was the situation in relation to the Orders now before the Seanad. I mentioned that these orders run for a period of eight months before they have to be confirmed by the Dáil but, in respect of all but the first of these Orders, that eight-months period has still a long time to run. The only one of these Orders that is urgent is the first, which has to be confirmed before the 6th August, but we took advantage of this Bill to bring all the Orders pending before the Oireachtas so that both Houses would have the fullest opportunity of considering them.