I beg to second that.
ADAPTATION OF BRITISH ENACTMENTS BILL. - ADAPTATION OF CUSTOMS ACTS TO A LAND FRONTIER.
I rise to a point of order respecting all the words after "necessary," and I desire to ask whether these are an adaptation strictly within the meaning of the Bill, and whether it is in order to bring this forward at the fourth stage. It is a very important matter, indeed.
I notice in paragraph (b) of this appended “in particular,” it is assumed we shall have duties imposed on imported goods, and if we adopt that assumption we may afterwards find reason to change our mind, so I would suggest putting in words to read “duty if any.”
The question of order was raised first. I have had no opportunity of finding out what is in the Customs Act.
I may say that the points raised seemed to me so silly and childish that I did not think it was worth while answering them. Here is the position. We have a new boundary, and if ever there was a case for adaptation it is here in this particular clause.
Surely it comes under the heading "Adaptation and Interpretation of existing Acts." That is why I have to apologise to you, sir, for not noticing the point of order and proceeding to the amendment.
It certainly should have occurred on the Committee stage.
I submit all after the word "necessary" cannot be claimed to be in accordance with the Bill as originally presented. I accept the view that "the Minister for Finance may make regulations to apply to the Importation and Exportation of any goods into and from the Irish Free State by land, and of the provisions of the Customs Act, subject to such modifications as may be necessary." That, I admit, is covered within the terms of the Bill as originally presented, and that is a reasonable amendment so far as it goes, to come on at the Fourth Stage, but then to emphasise particulars, and in those particulars practically to make a case for the regulating of the routes, and to give powers to regulate the routes and the methods of entry, and the fixing of penalties and so on is an enlargement of the powers of the Department, and is not an adaptation of the present Act.
Under what Customs Act are routes regulated in this fashion? I think that the point Deputy Johnson has raised is a very important point, indeed. It is not a sufficient and adequate answer when a point is put forward by a Deputy, and I suggest it is a very disorderly form of answer, to say that the point is silly and childish, especially as the argument has been put forward in a reasonable way. It is not a very impressive form of debate, and, besides, it is a very discourteous form.
It is a very true one. The fact that the very same thing is done in another place shows that we have to take some precaution, and really some of the criticisms made and some of the suggestions made here, having regard to the circumstances of the times, would try the patience of a gentleman named Job, who had a very exemplary form of temper. We are to make regulations to prescribe routes. What is the suggestion? Are we to open all roads and take no precaution, and make no regulations, and so on? There is a time when one can point out the demerits of effective Government, and point out the mistakes, but this is not the time. We want to get on with the business, and the business is the same here as in every other place, and the regulations are the same as made in every other country.
The President misses the point entirely——
This is the Report stage, and a Deputy is not entitled to speak more than once.
The President has spoken three times.
Here we find that with less than five minutes' notice an amendment of this kind is presented to the Dáil on the Fourth Stage, and we are told that the same thing is being done in another place. I am perfectly certain, and I am prepared to eat my head if I am wrong, that such a thing is not done, and that legislation is not dealt with in this trifling manner. There they conform to all the forms, and they present a Bill as it is intended to be passed before it reaches a stage corresponding to the fourth stage here. I do not believe there is a legislature in the world which would attempt to pass Acts like this in this manner. We have what practically amounts to a fiscal reform measure put before us in this casual manner after two minutes' preparation, and because we attempt to criticise it, the President resents our action. I certainly resent that.
The point whether this is adaptation or interpretation is very difficult for a layman, but I think it should have been put into the original draft of the Bill, and discussed in Committee. This is not the stage at which it should have been introduced.
I cannot see that any new powers are given here. Are there not Customs barriers set up between different countries and regulations made? Otherwise we could send all the goods we liked into the North, and they could send out all the goods they liked to us without paying any duty. I think it is quite reasonable that exciseable duty should be paid on goods exported and imported, and I think it is right that that should be continued now, unless it is suggested that we should wait for twelve months and then go over the whole thing again.
With regard to the statement which has been made as to fiscal changes, there are no fiscal changes made here. There is no imposition of any duty on any goods that has not been imposed so far. This simply regulates the manner and the area of the duty, and how it should be done.
I suggest the objection applies more to the penalty clause and that we might omit that.
The whole question involved here, it seems to me, is whether this is a legislature or not. The President on the Fourth Stage is asking us to take his word for certain things, and that is the whole matter. Quite obviously many of the things Deputy Hughes has said are true, but it is still more obvious that these things should come along in their proper place, and that they should be put into the Bill as originally drafted, or if not, that they should have been put in on the Committee Stage. This is not the Stage for it at all, and this Assembly is not being treated as a Legislative Body at all. There is no reason that I can see why this amendment could not have come up last evening, when with five or ten or fifteen minutes' discussion we might have disposed of the whole thing. It is now brought forward and no explanation given except what is dragged out of the Ministry.
Will we refer this new clause back to Committee and get a discussion upon it?
I do not think it serves any useful purpose. If Deputies would only read the Clauses and the Bill they would see how simple the matter is. I agree that perhaps we should have put them in at the previous Stage. I accept that criticism, but I do object to a misinterpretation being put upon our action in this matter.
Is the Bill re-committed?
No. The proposal is not to re-commit the Bill. The proposal is to go into Committee on these new Clauses of the Bill.
Personally, I do not see any great reason for going into committee. There is no objection to the substance of the Clause, and I think it is really a loss of time. If there is no argument against the substance of the amendment I propose we should adopt it.
I second that.
I must press my point of order.
The adoption of the amendment has been moved already, so there is no need to move it again.
Well, then I support the adoption of the amendment.
We are willing to go into Committee upon this Clause.
Very well, then, the Dáil will now go into Committee.