Exchange Control Bill, 1954—Second Stage.

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

As members of the Seanad will be aware, when this Bill was circulated to the members of the Dáil a fairly full White Paper, by way of memorandum, was circulated at the same time. In that memorandum the provisions of this Bill were explained in some detail. I think, therefore, that with that memorandum before the members of the Seanad, as well as a record of the discussion that there was in the Dáil on the Bill, it will not be necessary for me at this stage to enter into any very long exposition of the terms of the Bill.

The memorandum that was circulated also indicated the circumstances why it is necessary that this Bill be now enacted. Senators are aware that it was considered desirable, as far as possible, to provide that more permanent legislation would be introduced to cover those matters which were formerly dealt with under the Supplies and Services Act which has been reenacted every year for some years past. That Act was, of course, as its very title indicated, a temporary Act. It is better and more desirable, however, that the work involved under it should be enacted in another form, and for that reason this Exchange Control Bill, together with other Bills of a similar nature, are being brought before the Oireachtas.

The Exchange Control Bill now before the House is modelled on the Order that was made first of all under the Emergency Powers Acts, and then under the Supplies and Services Act. In so far as the framework of this Bill is concerned, it has been drafted on the basis that it is desirable to take less power than there was under the previous Order, if that were possible. The Bill, therefore, does not include any power that was not in the previous Order made under the old Act. In fact, certain powers that were in that Order have now been dropped. There was, under the Act, and there is still at present until this Bill is enacted and until the old Order is revoked, power to acquire gold coin, bullion and securities. That power has been abandoned, and is not included in this Bill. The other changes which are being made are minor changes and are introduced for the purpose of facilitating administration. They certainly do not include any new restrictions.

Senators will have noticed that this Bill expires in 1958. It is so expressed because the Government feel it is desirable to show on the face of the Bill that it is not a measure which we hope will be permanently necessary. No one can tell at this stage whether it will be possible to end exchange control before that date or not, but the House may rest assured that, at the earliest possible opportunity, it will be the desire of the Government to end that control. I must, however, make it clear that the present indications are that such an event as the ending of control on both capital as well as on current account, and the free convertibility of sterling, are not likely to occur for some years.

The Bill, as Senators will have noticed, is framed as an enabling Bill so that detailed administration can be carried out by Order. The necessity for that arises because we hope to ease controls bit by bit and it would, obviously, be impossible to come to the Oireachtas every time it was feasible to ease some little control. Therefore, it is better to arrange for the enabling provisions which are set out in this Bill in order to be able to carry out detailed administration by the Orders made under it. I think that what I have said covers the general scope of the Bill. Having regard to the memorandum that has been circulated, and the discussions which have taken place in the other House, it is not desirable for me I think at this stage to take up the time of the Seanad by going into any further detail as regards the provisions of the Bill. Of course, if any member of the House wishes to get an explanation of any provision in the Bill, I shall be happy to afford such explanation as it is in my power to give.

Maidir leis an mBille seo, is fianaise é nach bhfuil an tsíocháin idirnáisiúnta fós ar fáil. Ní hamháin go gciallaíonn sé nach bhfuil an tsíocháin ar fáil maidir le cúrsaí polaitíochta ach ciallaíonn sé go bhfuilimid tamall fada ó réiteach maidir le cúrsaí trádála idirnáisiúnta. Tá súil agam ón méid adúirt an tAire agus ón méid atá sa mBille agus sa meamram nach mbeidh an Bille seo i bhfeidhm níos fuíde nó cheithre mbliain. Dhá bhliain nó cheithre bliana tá siad fada go leor, ach do bheimis buíoch dá mbeadh an tsíocháin ann maidir le cúrsaí polaitíochta agus trádála faoi cheann an achair sin.

Chomh fada agus is féidir linn a dhéanamh amach, tá dhá phríomhchuspóir ag an mBille seo agus is deacair gan aontú leo. Déanann an Bille iarracht ar chosc a chur le onnmhuiriú mí-dhlistineach rachmais na tíre. Tá fhios againn go ndéantar iarrachtaí ó am go ham ar nithe den tsaghas seo a dhéanamh agus is riachtanach go mbeadh an chumhacht ag an Aire agus ag an Aireacht cose a chur le himeachtaí den tsórt sin. Is dóigh liom gur ceart go bhfaigheadh an tAire an chumhacht sin.

Thairis sin, déanann an Bille seo cumhacht a thabhairt don Aire an t-airgead atá saothruithe nó dlite don tír, a riaradh ar mhaithe le leas na tíre. Tá rudaí eile sa mBille agus dá mbeadh fonn ar dhuine díospóireacht fhada a dhéanamh bheadh cuid mhaith scóip ann chuige sin. Tá ann earnála a bhfuil baint acu le hionaistríocht airgid. Ceapann daoine go mbeidh gach rud ceart an lá a mbeidh ionaistríocht ann. Ansin is ea a thosnaíonn an trioblóid. Níl aon dream is mó a thuigeas an baol ar hionaistríochta a chur i bhfeidhm ná na Sasanaigh. Ní cuspóir ann féin é ionaistríocht "convertibility". Dá mbeadh sé indéanta amárach ní hionann sin is a rá go mbeadh gach rud ina cheart. Dá mbeadh an ionaistríocht indéanta maidin amárach níl aon dabht ná go mbeadh baol ann go gcuirfeadh sé tús le trioblóid, i dtaobh na trádála coigchriche—go mór mhór i gcás tíre mar Shasana. De bharr an ceangail trádála atá againn le trádáil Sasana níl aon dabht ná go mothóimis é dá mbeadh aon trioblóid trádála a cur as do Sasana.

Sé an trua go gcuireann an Bille seo isteach ar chearta pearsanta an duine. Níl aon dabht ná go ndéanann an Bille é sin ach ar mhaithe leis an tír is dóigh liom gur cheart duinn géilleadh agus na ceartanna sin a thabhairt suas ar feadh tamaill bhig. Tabharfaimid an Bille don Aire.

I was sorry I had to leave the House for a few moments while the Minister was introducing the Bill. On that account, the matter I am about to deal with was possibly raised in my absence. In Part 5 of this Bill conditions for the export of goods outside scheduled areas are laid down. They are also mentioned in the White Paper. It seems to me that those nonscheduled areas comprise the most of Europe, countries such as Holland, Denmark, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries. These are countries in which those of us who are industrialists are trying at the present moment to find an export market. What reaction will Part 5, Section 17 (1) have on these industrialists? It says:—

"The exportation of goods of any class or description to a destination in any territory, other than the scheduled territories, is hereby prohibited, except with the permission of the Minister, unless—

(a) (i) there is produced to the Revenue Commissioners the prescribed evidence that payment for the goods in such manner as may be prescribed in relation to goods of that class or description exported to a destination in that territory has been made to a person in the State, and

(ii) the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that the amount of the payment that has been made is such as to represent a return for the goods which is, in all the circumstances, adequate,"

I know the Revenue Commissioners are omniscient but I do not know how they will decide what the word "adequate" means in relation to payment for these goods, unless they accept the amount stated by the exporter. Surely we are not going to arrive at a point where the Revenue Commissioners say that in their opinion the payment is not adequate. I raise this only for interpretation. I may have misinterpreted it myself.

I know everyone is anxious to see exports develop and that any section that might retard exports would have serious consequences for us. It may be that there was some ulterior motive in the draftsman's mind, not known to the man in the street. Because of my complete ignorance, I ask for an assurance from the Minister that there will be no complete prohibition of export of any goods to territories other than those in the Schedule, if manufacturers here desire to find a market, and, furthermore, that no test of adequacy will be required other than the usual ones and the certificate of origin from the manufacturers.

Is it true that we have no exchange rate for our currency and therefore no control over it? I would like the Minister to expand on that and give us an idea as to future legislation. I understand we have no exchange rate. Is it in the interest of the £ sterling we are dealing, when we talk about exchange control?

As Senator Ó Buachalla indicated, this is a Bill which is necessary in the circumstances of the time and which will be necessary until there is complete convertibility between the currency of one country and that of another. We must accept the factual position. It is to provide for that factual position that the Bill is necessary. Senator O'Donnell referred to Section 17, which deals with payments for exports. This section was discussed at some length in the other House and, as the Senator may have noticed from the report of the Debates, the original word in the Bill as drafted was not "adequate". The wording was changed to "adequate" following objections and representations in the Dáil by Deputy MacBride. The section does not give the Revenue Commissioners any overriding powers. The Minister remains the determining person on exchange control, as he is at present. In fact, Senators will see that the powers given to the Revenue Commissioners are powers to deal with cases where permission has not been granted by the Minister. Therefore, it is merely the detailed prevention, where the consent of the Minister has not been obtained, that is dealt with in Section 17.

This Government—as, of course, every Government—is particularly anxious that every effort be made by our industrialists to expand exports. Nobody need have any apprehension that there is anything in this section that would affect or prejudice or operate to prevent any genuine export of goods. The section is necessary to prevent what is not a genuine transaction. If it were not there, it would be possible for a person to export his capital by way of goods, bringing no payment back to this country at all for those goods. For example, in the case of goods to the value of, say, £10,000, it might not be possible under the existing exchange facilities of the time, to permit a person to transfer £10,000 worth of capital in terms of money into dollars to send to America and an application for a dollar credit to transfer it may not be within the exchange facilities of the particular period. If this section were not there, that person could buy goods here to the value of £10,000, send them to America and get no money back, and by that device he would have the dollars in America in a way that was not intended or desired. Exporters can rest absolutely assured that no genuine transaction will be prevented under this section. On the contrary, the Revenue Commissioners and my Department will be only too anxious to facilitate any desire to expand exports to any other country. The section is necessary purely to ensure that a non-genuine exportation can be prevented by the Revenue Commissioners, who are in control of our frontiers from the point of view of smuggling. The export of goods could be used as a smuggling device, if I may so phrase it, to get over exchange control.

Senator Hickey raised a point that I think is outside the ambit of this Bill. This is a machinery Bill, to enable us to operate in existing circumstances. I feel the Senator will forgive me if I say I do not think he really expected me to enter, on this Exchange Control Bill, into a long discussion on the link with sterling. Some other time we may have that pleasure.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 1st December.