The purpose of the Bill, as set out in the explanatory memorandum which I have circulated to Senators, is to confirm 13 Orders made by the Government under the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act, 1932. The commodities covered by the Orders are as follows:—
(1) fabric gloves, (2) slashers or slash hooks, (3) artificial silk fabrics, (4) underfelt, (5) flexible mirror glass, (6) knitted woollen gloves, (7) artificial textile and union fabrics, (8) display shapes and stands, (9) storage water heaters, (10) angle iron fencing posts, (11) milk cans, (12) iron and steel bolts, (13) margarine.
The Orders dealing with fabric gloves and knitted woollen gloves arose out of a threat to the glovemaking industry from low priced gloves manufactured in the Far East. The existingad valorem customs duties were inadequate to protect the industry against imports of such gloves and it was necessary to impose specific duties at rates sufficient to ensure the continuance of production and employment. A feature of the knitted woollen glove industry is that it is located almost exclusively in County Donegal.
The danger of substantial imports of low priced fabrics from the Far East was also an important factor which led to the making of the Orders dealing with artificial silk fabrics and with artificial textile and union fabrics. A position had arisen where the output of the firms engaged in the production of bag making cloth, linings, lingerie cloth and dress cloth was being seriously threatened by imports from the Far East and elsewhere at low prices which bore no comparison to normal costs of production.
The duty on slashers or slash hooks was reduced from 25 per cent. to 20 per cent.ad valorem in respect of imports of United Kingdom or Canadian origin. The British Board of Trade asked for a review of this duty in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement of 1938. The review was carried out by the Industrial Development Authority who recommended that the duty should be reduced from 25 per cent. to 20 per cent. ad valorem.
The manufacture of underfelt was commenced within the past year or so and the duty was imposed in order to afford a measure of protection for the industry. Underfelt is a textile material primarily used as an underlay for carpets. It is also used as trimming and flooring in motor cars.
The manufacture of flexible mirror glass is a small but interesting development in the glass trade and it was decided to afford it a measure of protection. Flexible mirror glass consists of ordinary mirror glass cut into small rectangles and fixed to a textile backing which can be formed into various shapes and used for shop window dressing and display purposes.
The Orders dealing with display shapes and stands and with angle iron fencing posts revoked the duties hitherto chargeable on these goods. The duties were originally intended to be protective duties but the manufacture of the goods in question did not develop satisfactorily and no useful purpose was being served by allowing the duties to remain in operation.
The manufacture of copper boilers and cylinders for use in hot water systems has been carried on satisfactorily here for many years and has been protected by customs duty. This protection did not extend to what are known as indirect cylinders and calorifiers which are ordinary cylinders with hot water or steam carrying coils inside them. Indirect cylinders are used mainly in central heating units and calorifiers are similarly used in large premises where steam is generated. The Irish firms are equipped to meet the full demand. It was accordingly decided to extend protection to the manufacture of indirect cylinders and calorifiers.
Early in 1954 a customs duty of 15 per cent. (full rate), 10 per cent. (preferential rate)ad valorem was imposed on milk cans up to 12 gallons capacity as a measure of protection for the manufacture of these goods which had recommenced after a lapse of some years. The industry producing the milk cans is equipped to turn out the full requirements of the country in cans up to 12 gallons capacity. Although the home-produced cans were competitive in price with the normal or list prices of similar imported cans there was evidence that exporters in other countries were manipulating prices to bring them down to or below Irish prices notwithstanding the duty payable. It was considered necessary therefore to increase the rate of duty to 37½ per cent. (full) 25 per cent. (preferential) to afford the home industry adequate protection.
There was a customs duty on certain iron and steel bolts not less than ? inches in diameter. Bolts which were only fractionally less than ? inches in diameter were being imported free of the duty to the serious detriment of the firms who manufacture bolts here. It was, accordingly, necessary to close this loophole in the duty.
Since 1927 there has been a customs duty of 3d. per lb. on margarine. When this duty was originally imposed it was equivalent to anad valorem rate of 50 per cent., and under this protection the industry developed to the point where the full requirements of the market were being supplied by the Irish manufacturers. During 1954 importation of continental margarine commenced and developed to a point where it was necessary to bring the specific duty of 3d. per lb. imposed in 1927 into line with current money values to keep the industry adequately protected. It was decided to convert the specific duty into an ad valorem duty at the rate of 50 per cent. (full), 33? per cent. (United Kingdom and Canada).