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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 20 Jul 1949

Vol. 36 No. 20

Imposition of Duties (Confirmation of Orders) (No. 2) Bill, 1949 ( Certified Money Bill )— Second and Subsequent Stages.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of this Bill is to confirm a number of Orders which were made by the Government under the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act imposing certain duties and varying certain existing duties. I am afraid I cannot suggest to Senators that the Bill explains itself, because it is all contained in the Schedule, where the Orders are set out, and it does not give very much information as to their purpose and meaning.

I should like to give certain detailed particulars regarding each of the six duties set out there. The first deals with corrugated paper and board and certain printing and writing papers. I should explain that the Emergency Imposition of Duties (No. 237) Order, 1949, was made by the Government on the 4th January, 1949, and imposed a duty of 45 per cent. full and 28? per cent. preferential on corrugated paper and corrugated board and modified the scope of the duties on certain writing and printing papers. The duties on the writing and printing papers which had been suspended from 1st July, 1943, were reimposed by an Order made by the Government on the same date.

The manufacture of corrugated paper and board commenced in June, 1947, and in December, 1948, additional machinery was installed specially to produce corrugated paper for the chocolate trade. I am glad to say that as a result of the imposition of the duty the rate of production has doubled and the firm in question is now able to meet the country's full requirements of corrugated paper and corrugated board. Employment in the industry has also increased and as a result of the increased production an appreciable reduction has been made in the prices.

There are four mills engaged in the manufacture of paper, but only one of these made writing and printing papers pre-war. A second mill commenced this manufacture recently. The production capacity of these mills had increased to a point which would more than satisfy the entire home demand for the types of paper produced by the Irish mills, but owing to the suspension of the duties the mills were not in a position to work to anything like their capacity.

Representations were made to me by the Paper Mills and the Printers' Association to have the duties restored. There was also the point that certain types of paper costing 3d. or less per lb. and another type costing 3¼d. or less per lb. were specifically excluded from the pre-war duties. The interests concerned submitted a joint recommendation that these exemption limits be raised to 8d. and 8¾d., respectively, to keep in line with the increased prices of paper generally. I accepted this recommendation and the amendments were effected by the Order now before the Seanad.

It is well known that the paper mills were in a very difficult position prior to the granting of this degree of protection. As a result of the duties one mill which had laid off about one-third of its employees resumed full production immediately and there has been a general increase in employment in the industry.

The next reference relates to woven artificial silk fabrics. The purpose of this duty on certain woven artificial silk fabrics was principally to protect Irish manufacturers of artificial silk linings. These manufacturers obtained their requirements of artificial silk yarns mainly from Britain and are being charged an export premium of about 33? per cent. above the British domestic price. Efforts were made by the interests here to reach agreement with the British Federation to eliminate this price differential but without avail.

This, I might say, is a rather difficult duty to administer and the definition which had to be adopted for administration purposes covers some plain fabrics other than linings. Provision was, therefore, made for the admission, free of duty, of fabrics not made here and for any requirements of the home market in excess of the capacity of the Irish manufacturers. A small committee of the trade was established to advise on the types of fabrics for which duty-free licences should be recommended.

I am glad to say that, in this case also, home production has shown a marked improvement since the imposition of these duties and the employment position has also improved very considerably.

The third reference relates to aluminium hollow-ware. This duty was imposed in 1937 to protect an Irish manufacturer of aluminium hollow-ware for domestic or household use. There are now two other firms engaged in this line.

The original duty did not apply to partly finished hollow-ware or to component parts. It was found, however, that advantage was being taken of this exemption and that aluminium utensils were being imported without handles, the only further process of manufacture required here being the riveting on of the handles. This practice caused the existing Irish manufacturer the loss of 40 per cent. of his market. There was an obvious case for amendment of the duty, and the required amendment of the tariff definition was made in the Order now before the House.

The next reference relates to men's and boys' woven outerclothing. This duty applies to men's and boys' overcoats, coats, suits, jackets, waistcoats and trousers.

Pre-war an ad valorem duty of 60 per cent. applied to these articles and there were, in addition, certain minimum rates of duty. From 1942 the reduced rates of duty—37½ per cent. full and 25 per cent. preferential—operated, but this was entirely suspended throughout 1947. In January, 1948, this suspension was revoked and, accordingly, the reduced rate of duty operated until the Government imposed the new duties at the rate of 75 per cent. full and 50 per cent. preferential as from 11th May, 1949. The minimum duties were restored on the same date. The effective rate in this case is the preferential rate of 50 per cent. as the bulk of imports are from Britain.

Before the war, under the existing rate of protection, Irish clothing factories supplied practically the entire home market. In 1938 there were 64 factories making men's and boys' ready-made clothing and employing almost 4,600 persons. Prior to the increase in the duties it was represented to me that there was considerable unemployment and short-time working in the industry. Imports, excluding the parcel post, had increased from £32,568 in 1938 to no less than £251,581 in 1948.

Prices of Irish-made clothing are, as far as the medium and dearer end of the trade is concerned, no higher than those of imported articles and in many cases below the latter. With regard to the cheaper end of the trade, evidence was produced showing that boys' suits were being sold here from Britain at prices not only below those at which they could be made here but below production costs, without profit, of similar articles made in Belfast.

As the increased duties have been in operation for only a short time, it is too early to assess their effect. We expect, however, that the clothing industry here should recover the position it held before the war. The large number of factories engaged in this production should preserve sufficient internal competition to safeguard prices and qualities.

Reference No. 5 relates to iron and steel chains and manufacturers thereof. This Order was made to enable an Irish manufacturer of electrically-welded steel chains to secure a reasonable share of the home market. The protection here is limited to the types and sizes of chains manufactured by the Irish firm which has a capacity adequate to the needs of the home market.

The prices of the Irish and British products are approximately equal though raw material costs to the Irish manufacturer were much higher, at any rate until very recently. The Irish firm's failure to secure a reasonable share of the home market was considered to be due not to any question of price and quality but to the longer established connections of Irish purchasers with English manufacturers and distributors. It is estimated that 60 per cent. of the chains of the sizes to which protection applies are used by farmers. The remainder would be distributed over hauling, timber, engineering, etc. There will be no increase in costs to these industries by reason of the use of Irish-made chains.

With regard to Reference No. 6— linen piece goods—this duty which was imposed from 28th June, 1949, is at the rate of 40 per cent. full, 20 per cent. preferential on piece goods containing more than 60 per cent. by weight of linen. There is a provision under which the Revenue Commissioners will admit, free of duty, certain types of fabric such as printed linens, curtaining, upholstery and bookbinding cloths, etc. A duty at the same rate previously applied but was suspended in March 1943. The former duty applied to clothes which were wholly linen. Fabrics made partly of linen and partly of some other fibre were liable to duty as "union piece goods". As this latter duty is suspended it was necessary to make the new duty apply to piece goods with more than 60 per cent. linen content. The preferential rate of 20 per cent. is that agreed for linen piece goods under the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement of 1938.

Before the war Irish mills produced about 2,400,000 square yards of linen or linen-type fabrics, of which about half were exported. Last year about 750,000 square yards were exported. The possibility of expanding linen sales abroad depends on production at the lowest possible price and, accordingly, it is necessary for the mills to get maximum production so that costs can be kept at a minimum. The reservation of the home market for linen fabrics will give the mills scope for the extra production which will enable them to market their goods abroad competitively. This is doubly necessary now, as they cannot get licences for the sale of their goods in Britain, where, before the war, they sold substantial quantities.

In conclusion, I should indicate to the House that in accordance with Government policy the more important of the protective measures I have outlined will be subject to constant review to ensure that the purpose for which they were imposed will be achieved and that the consumers' interests will be adequately safeguarded. It was only after the fullest possible examination that these duties were imposed, and from the necessarily brief outline I have given I feel that the House will agree that the protective measures were necessary in the interests of Irish industry and employment.

I welcome the statement by the Minister for two reasons. He has given us a detailed explanation of the circumstances that led up to the reimposition of the duties and their effect. We have had in this country and in this House from time to time various people crying out against the imposition of such duties. I think the statement made by the Minister justifies the action taken from the point of view which he was able to put before us in more than one instance of where it led to increase in employment and at the same time reduction in the cost to the consumer of the article produced.

In Bills of this kind the most unpopular speaker of all is the person who voices the claims of the consumer, although no matter what we produce we are all consumers. The Minister, as Senator Hawkins has said, has gone to the trouble of explaining to us the type of duties in question, how they are applied and the reasons for them. One aspect of the new duties is rather discouraging—for instance, the duties on wearing apparel. Pre-war, when our factories quite obviously were not nearly so well-developed nor, I presume, so well-equipped as they are at the present time, the highest tariff imposed was 60 per cent., with 40 per cent. preferential. Now, in 1949, the Minister finds it necessary to raise these tariffs to 75 per cent. and 50 per cent., respectively. That surely means that in relation to competition from outside we are in a weaker position industrially to-day than we were 11 or 12 years ago.

I notice that the Minister has stated the case put up to him by the manufacturers that goods were being dumped here. As the Minister for Finance on the Finance Bill admitted, all competition is referred to as "dumping". It is extraordinary the number of people from outside who can dump goods here and sell them allegedly at less than the costs of production whilst we never seem to be able to do that in the reverse direction no matter what we turn out. The Minister says that the highest-priced wearing apparel is as cheap or cheaper here than elsewhere. That may be so. However, that is not the sort of wearing apparel we are really concerned with. We are concerned with boys' cheaper suits and the cheaper suits that the average workers and the small farmer and people of that type buy. Has it been made clear to the Department that the cheaper suits the average worker and small farmer buy are being sold as cheaply as they could be got elsewhere where wages are at least a high as they are here? I am all for giving the whole Irish market to our manufacturers to the extent that they can supply it at a price that the people can pay, and quality for quality, and give the same return as workers drawing the same wages elsewhere get for their money; but to the extent that they get the market and are not able to fulfil those requirements, they are imposing an intolerable burden on the community.

I hope the Department will see that this very ready imposition of increased tariffs and embargoes, nearly always at the first time of asking, will not be availed of for the purpose of avoiding proper equipment and greater efficiency than obtains at present in some factories. New industries require protection and we must be prepared to pay somewhat higher for the Irish-produced article, because of the employment it gives and because of the industry and technique it develops. But that surely must not go on indefinitely, as if it did we should have a very low standard of life, or wages and prices so high as to be equivalent to a low standard of life. We cannot hope for reductions in costs if we are paying higher than the world price for every commodity we manufacture ourselves. I daresay that new developments which have taken place, and the appointment of the new Industrial Development Authority may result in a check on this tendency to substitute protective tariffs for greater efficiency. We are blistered in many directions by high prices. It is time we worked towards getting down the prices of materials to something in the region of the level that obtains in countries where wages are at least as high and, in many cases, higher than they are here.

I would like to make it absolutely clear that I welcome this protection for our Irish industries under this Bill and I support full encouragement being given to Irish enterprise. However, I would like to add the very important condition that it should be done without unnecessary hardship on the consumer or other people in the community. Protection is given after examination, and the factors that are considered, I presume, are the employment situation, the ability to fulfil the requirements of the market, the quality of the goods, the supply of a reasonable variety of goods to the consumer, and, of course, the price. Before any protection is given a case has to be put up by the person who wishes to be protected. I am not satisfied that heretofore all the factors of the situation were properly considered. I know from experience that even in regard to some of the cases being considered to-day the case was made that Irish manufacturers could supply certain needs when it was only too apparent that they could not supply the market to the degree of the control given over imports. In regard to the new Industrial Authority, I feel that the consumer should be much more considered than he has been in the past. The difficulty is to get someone to defend him, and I am going to propose perhaps a rather inadequate advocate, about which some people may be rather sceptical. I propose the distributor. Some people may think he would not have the highest motives, but I say he is the only person who knows what the consumer wants and he has got the skilled interest in the consumer's needs and the technical knowledge. You cannot take consumers off the streets and get them to make a case. The person to make the case is the distributor. When a man is looking for protection for his industry, the person to answer the case —the devil's advocate, as it were— should be the distributor. If the manufacturer has a good case he has only to produce his facts and figures and the Minister or the authority can sit in judicial capacity and decide how far his case is made and how far the distributor is making the case for the consumer.

Finally, there is the interest of the distributor himself and the interests of other types of manufacturers. When tariffs and protective measures are put into force to protect one specific thing, a variety of other interests are immediately affected—not only distributors but makers-up of all kinds and, ultimately, of course, the consumer. I feel that the employment content of a particular industry being protected is not the only employment that has to be taken into consideration. There is the employment in subsidiary industries and in distributive trades to be considered. That is not a small thing. In the distributive trades there is a very good type of worker required. Unfortunately, manufacturing industries all over the world are inclined to be mechanised—the operation and work is carried out by mechanical means and, therefore, does not require such a good type of worker. On the other hand, in the distributive trade—especially when there is a buyer's market—a very high type is required for salesmanship and they have to be well paid. It has been found out, even in Socialist England, that it was all right as long as there was a seller's market, when all you had to do was produce in factories and ignore the distributors, but now, when it is a buyer's market, it has been found by the manufacturers that one of the most important factors is the distributor, who is placing the goods on the market. Therefore, I suggest that consideration be given to employment in the distributive trade and also to the necessity for keeping up sales. That is where I want to stress the hardship you impose unnecessarily on other trades, just to protect one industry that cannot do anything like supply the market for which it is supposed to be manufacturing.

I also am in favour of the imposition of duties for the protection of Irish manufacturers and I am glad that the Minister gave us the assurance that the protection here will not be used as a means of getting unduly rich with undue haste: but that the interest of the community will be safeguarded. We had got a definite assurance in the case of steel chains, which very few of us want, and which the manufacturers undertook to produce at competitive prices, but I am not so sure that all other protected industries have kept their promises and produced goods at the prices at which they should be marketed. I think Senator McGuire has made a very good case and that there are other interests to be considered when imposing duties of this kind. Senator McGuire has made a clear and definite case for the distributors. I can imagine that the distributor's job might be made far more difficult under a high protection system than it would be under a competitive system, because if you allow a few manufacturers a monopoly of the home market they know that whatever they produce they will be selling without competition, and the problem of persuading the public to take the goods, which is bound up with questions of price, quality, style and pattern, is thus passed on to the retailer and it may take the retailer a long time to make a sale and he may never have a satisfied customer.

That is another argument in favour of some sort of reorganisation of our society here which would give every section of the community a voice in matters of this sort. Naturally we are all interested in employment and want to see as much as we can manage given in this country, and we want to see it as well paid as possible. We want to see a good quality work and if possible to have the material going into the clothing, particularly in the case of boys' and men's wear, turned out here. If we buy from abroad we hire foreign labour not merely in the manufacture of the particular garments such as a suit of clothes but also in the woven cloth. We should ensure that the cloths as far as possible for men's and boys' clothing are made from Irish tweeds. There has been some difficulty at the moment and for some time past in disposing of tweeds, and a lot of the readymade clothing firms in this country—I am not saying all of them—show a preference for the use of British shoddy material in making up these clothes and then selling these for Irish-made garments. If we put an import duty on this cloth high enough it would prevent them from doing that.

I hope some Minister will take his courage into his hands and see how he can get Irish women to wear Irish cloth. I know that the bulk of women do not like heavy material for two reasons. The first one is that they want a fine material and they like variety, and the second one is that the local papers are always setting before them what the film stars are wearing, and women will always copy women. I think something should be done to ensure that if the mills in this country are going to get protection that they should devote some attention to producing finer materials and varied designs. There is at present too much tendency when looms are set up to go ahead with the same old tweeds and threads from beginning to end. There should be some attempt made to design cloths in this country and more attention should be paid to texture, pattern as well as quality of the cloth and dyeing.

It is always easy to generalise in regard to tariffs and I think, personally, it is always a mistake. The last speaker appears to be unaware of the fact that only a short time ago the Government changed the basis of restrictive quotas in regard to woollen texture goods, reducing them from 7 to 4½ ozs. I am not interested in that particular matter except as a distributor but I assume the object of that was to enable or encourage Irish manufacturers to make a lighter type of cloth.

There is something in what Senator S. O'Farrell said in regard to the matter of design, but I think we will have to face up to the fact that a country of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 cannot get the same variety of designs from the manufacturers making for a home market as you can get from a country of 48,000,000 or 50,000,000. You can get a wide variety of designs if you are catering for a wide market, and if you have substantial production.

I am not interested, again except as a distributor, in the question of men's and boys' clothing, but I think I can say definitely that, in that particular case, I believe that the material supplied in that trade at home compares in the vast majority of cases with anything that could be imported. In businesses which I know, they have not imported material of that type for many years and have no intention of doing so.

It is a mistake to assume that the only reason why goods are imported by distributors is that the prices are lower. That is not necessarily the case. A distributor must always look to providing variety and if he can buy from all over the world he can get better variety. Therefore, as long as you have a free market the distributor, when he can get something different, will always import it even in cases where the home prices are not any higher.

With regard to the price of a number of cotton and linen and some rayon textiles in which I am interested, speaking as a person with some personal knowledge, I spend a good deal of my time comparing the home prices and prices of goods offered from abroad. As a distributor, goods are offered to me from the other side and I go to a good deal of trouble comparing the prices. At the present time there is very little if any difference in the case of the majority of cotton piece goods that are being supplied here. In the case of certain types of rayon and linen goods, namely those made from continuous filament, there are higher prices here. That is mainly due to the fact that the Irish manufacturer has to import continuous filament yarn from Great Britain. There is a special system there which I think will not last indefinitely but which is still in force. An arrangement is made by the Government by which the home manufacturers obtain supplies at approximately two-thirds of the price at which they are able to export it. I do not believe that it will continue indefinitely. It is, I think, an abnormal situation.

While I am mentioning that, I think it rather important to mention one thing which did not strictly arise and was not mentioned by the Minister. There is an impression that all rayon cloths are subject to duty but that is not the case. A large proportion of rayon cloth is made from spun rayon and is not subject to duty or any restriction. There is considerably increased development both in the spinning of spun yarn and the weaving of cloths and I have no doubt that will have to be considered.

I have sympathy with what Senator J.T. O'Farrell said and with much of what Senator McGuire said, but I think I should say that, although I am a distributor, I am not satisfied that it would be desirable to bring in the distributor to a consultation about a prospective tariff before action is taken. I think it places those consulted in an almost impossible position. Those consulted would hear officially of the proposals intended—I do not think the position would be abused by anyone— but the news would get out and their competitors would buy outside. We had that in the past. For that reason I would rather not know because I would feel debarred from using such information and that would create a difficult situation. I do think that the Government, that is I presume the new authority, should keep in close consultation with the distributors from the time the duty is enforced and have periodic reports from individual distributors because they can give more effective information as to prices and the probable effect of the tariff on the consumer than probably anybody else could. For that reason I agree with Senator McGuire that use should be made of the distributor to assist the Government, but I do not think it would be practical politics in the case of a preliminary investigation, certainly in the case of a proposed new duty. That is mere detail but my main reason for speaking is that I am sure that certain industries here have reasons, sometimes justified and sometimes not, why the Irish prices are higher.

With regard to industries of which I have knowledge as a distributor, I would say that at the present time there is less differentiation between the Irish price and the price in England than there has ever been in my lifetime. In many cases the difference is very small. In the case of cotton goods, which are in very wide use, the other day I was offered a quite substantial quantity by a well-known English firm. I examined them carefully—and I think I can claim some knowledge—and the Irish article was 6d. or 8d. cheaper and definitely better value. It may be an isolated case, but it is a case which deals with goods in general use. I would like to make it clear that I agree with Senator J.T. O'Farrell that prices must be watched and that here in Ireland a very good reason or explanation should be given. Sometimes the reason is good and can be given, sometimes not, but I do not think that the impression should go abroad now that goods of Irish manufacture are in anything like all cases dearer than the English. We must remember the changes that there have been in Britain and standards are more on a par here now than they were immediately before the war.

One factor which must be borne in mind by the Industrial Authority and the Government is that in any small country with a small number of manufacturers, but particularly where there is only one or two, you have to keep your eyes very wide open for the possible effect of abnormal conditions in a neighbouring country. I was told, probably inaccurately—this does not refer to articles in which I am interested —that as a result of the dock strike in England the price of a certain type of fruit offered here was lower because if it had been left until the strike had ended it would have fetched nothing. That is one type of abnormal conditions. Another is that if a British manufacturer with whom we compete were to find a sudden drop in his export market—he must follow Government regulations with regard to exports—it would pay him, if not immediately, in the long run, to divert a quantity of goods here at prices not fairly competitive. I do not believe in general in the talk of dumping. To think of it in every case is ridiculous, but it is equally absurd not to recognise that there could be at certain times abnormal imports. It all requires watching and is of considerable difficulty. I am very hopeful that the action of the Government in creating a body of men whose whole-time job is to watch the situation and who will not be concerned with other Department activities will result, as they get experience, in most matters being dealt with more quickly.

I would like to say just one or two words. There has been a great deal of discussion and a fair amount of criticism on the policy of tariffs over the years. I made some contribution to it myself. We are all wiser and have more knowledge and practical experience of the result of a tariff policy, an extravagant policy and a cautious policy, and now we are to have the Minister's approach which is new. We have reached a situation when there is no very animated controversy as to the wisdom and necessity of building up Irish industries. We want to see successful Irish industries. How is that going to be achieved? Not, we hope, at the expense of consumers. If Irish industry is to succeed that is going to be done by management and workers being adequately and efficiently equipped. Sometimes we have criticism of managements and at other times of workers. It may be said that managements expect too much out of an industry in too short a space of time. It is argued, on the other hand, that the output of workers is not so good as it might be. It is sometimes said also that our industries are not adequately capitalised, and that machinery is not sufficiently up to date to give best results. The whole situation should be faced fairly and squarely. We cannot get maximum output from industry any more than we can get it out of the land at lowest cost, unless there is proper equipment. That should be the aim of the new body which the Minister had the wisdom to bring together and from which it is hoped there will be major results.

Another aspect is this, that there was no reason why Irish men and women should not be able to provide goods required by our people. I think that on the whole we are not less competent or less intelligent than other people. Perhaps we are disposed to take things rather easily. I must say now that I commend speeches that the Minister has made on that aspect of our industrial policy. It is refreshing to have a Minister who has the courage to come out—coming as he does from the Labour side of our society—telling people that the way to succeed in building up successful Irish industries is by everybody working harder. That should be the persistent call of all who want to see Irish industries successful. None should hear that call louder than those engaged in industries and those managing them.

Managements cannot expect to get output from workers unless the latter are convinced that the managements are playing their part. There is necessity for a spirit of all round cooperation. There is, no doubt, a necessity for an attitude of pride in Irish industry, as well as a desire to make it a success, as well as a conviction on the part of the people that Irish workers and Irish managements are as good as those to be found anywhere; that they are capable of giving a decent output, at a reasonable price, and meeting competitors and, in many respects, beating them. Physically our people are as good as their neighbours.

The one thing lacking to make Irish industries even more successful than those operated by our competitors is the spirit to make them successful. If we put our backs to that work rather than have frequent complaints about unsatisfactory products, we will be able to take pride in the development of Irish industries. We will then have the welcome situation brought about where managements and workers combine to give our consumers the best possible products at prices at which none can cavil. This Bill gives a chance to do that and we should make such an approach to the problem. The fact that the Minister is asking for high tariffs, for which he is to get authority under this Bill, is something to make us ponder. We hope that that is not a situation which will have to be continued indefinitely. If there is a change those engaged in Irish industry must face up to their job with a resolution that some of us feel has been lacking previously.

While tariffs on items such as paper may appear small in their own way, they really affect everybody. Small overhead charges on business are often overlooked by the Departments of State when there are no organised bodies to raise such questions. I wish the Department to keep that aspect in mind.

I did not intend to speak but, after Senator Baxter's speech, in which he took advantage on a simple Bill like this to lecture Irish industry I had to intervene. I am diffident in intervening in agricultural matters but I take this opportunity to say that no matter how efficient Irish industry is—and thank God most of our industries are efficient—it must be remembered that we are dealing with a domestic market for 3,000,000, not 50,000,000 as in Great Britain or hundreds of millions in America and the Continent. Every Senator knows that in order to make us in some degree independent of outside sources of supply many industries had been created, and are being deliberately maintained, that would not be called economic industries. They are here because they are more important than the mere economic return. They are here because they serve the community with a vital need, with something that the community needed in a national emergency. I make no apology for Irish industry in that respect.

I think it is time carping criticism should cease. We want to establish the fact that we have in a varying degree industries which are necessary for the common good. Irish industries proved that they catered for the common good and for our people when they were anxious to get goods irrespective of price. If Irish manufacturers could not answer at that period, then Senator Baxter would have been left without a shirt to his back or a shoe to his foot. I think we should give up discussions of this kind on simple Bills. People should have a little more appreciation of the important role that Irish manufacturers played, and continue to play in our national economy, despite what is said about lack of efficiency. Managements and workers are playing a very good part in the development of Irish industries.

The worst possible spokesman for Irish industry could not make a speech like that.

I am obliged to the Seanad for the manner in which it discussed this Bill, and for the approach and the helpful way in which Senators directed their remarks to it. Two fears were expressed: one, as to whether we were paying sufficient attention to the interests of consumers and two, whether we were giving a greater degree of protection than was absolutely necessary. Senator J.T. O'Farrell said that one of the things that he did not like about tariffs was that they were so rigidly imposed almost at first asking. I can assure him that in respect of every one of the six items in the Schedule, I have been accused of delay, of procrastination, and of raising all sorts of queer points, by asking questions that were alleged to have nothing to do with these proposals.

I can assure the Seanad that every one of the six items set out in the Schedule was very carefully and very fully considered and that they were imposed only when the Government were absolutely satisfied that it was not merely desirable but necessary in the public interest that they should be imposed.

I mentioned in respect of one or two of the industries which got this protection that not only had there been a stepping up in employment and production but there had been a reduction in prices. I think I should go further and say that in no case covered by this Bill where protection was given have I got any evidence, or even a suggestion, that there was any attempt to increase prices. I should like to say also that one of my main concerns is the protection of the consumer and every effort of mine and of the Department has been used to keep the cost of living at the lowest possible point and to secure reductions in costs, wherever they could be secured.

I do not want on this Bill to enter into any discussion of the general merits or demerits of protection or of Irish industry—its competence and the quality and price of the articles produced. We will have another opportunity of doing that later on when we get the Industrial Development Authority Bill before the Seanad. I think, however, that some of us are inclined to talk as if this country were the only country in which tariffs, quotas and other forms of protection have been, are being and will be imposed. In practically every country in the world, there are restrictions put up by the respective Governments to protect their own citizens, to protect the development of their country and the manufactures which have been started there. We find it very difficult in most cases, and in some cases entirely impossible, to get one ounce of what we produce here inside the door of that particular extern market. I should like to assure Senators that, so far as I am concerned, only that measure of protection which is necessary to enable a particular industry to get a fair chance of getting on its feet and a fair chance of competing will be afforded.

It is only fair that I should say that Irish industry is at the moment, and has been for some considerable time, subjected to a form of unfair competition, particularly form Great Britain. We have evidence that certain British commodities are being put into this market at a wholly uneconomic price. I can quote as an example a case which was brought to my notice some couple of months ago where a particular article was imported here, the duty on it being 1/-. It was offered for sale retail in the shops in Dublin at 10½d., although the actual duty charged and paid on it was 1/-. I should also say, in fairness to some of our manufacturers, that in many cases—one was mentioned in the course of this debate, but there is quite a range of others— they are compelled to pay anything from 25 per cent. to 40 per cent. more for their raw material than their British competitor has to pay. These are all factors which we have to take into consideration.

I am satisfied that, generally speaking, Irish manufacturers are doing a good job. I believe that, with the protection and increased security we are giving them, they will do a much better job, because the more of the market we can conserve for them, the more we stabilise their position and the more confidence we give them, the more inclined they will be to get more up-to-date machinery and to adopt more efficient methods. Having a greater and a more efficient output, they will, I think, be able to lower their prices. I think I can safely ask the Seanad to pass the Second Reading of this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill passed through Committee, reported without recommendation, received for final consideration, and ordered to be returned to the Dáil.
Business suspended at 6.5 p. m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.