Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 21 Apr 1927

Vol. 19 No. 13


I move:—

(1) That the new import duties which were first imposed by Section 12 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, and were (with the exception of the duty on records and other means of reproducing music and the duty on blank film on which no picture has been impressed) continued up to the 1st day of May, 1927, by Section 11 of the Finance Act, 1926 (No. 35 of 1926) shall, with the exceptions aforesaid, continue to be charged, levied, and paid on and from the said 1st day of May, 1927, up to the 1st day of May, 1928.

(2) That whenever the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that any cinematograph film imported into Saorstát Eireann is of an educational character, they shall, subject to compliance with such conditions as they think fit to impose, exempt such film from the payment of the duty on cinematograph films included in the duties mentioned in this resolution.

(3) That the provisions of Section 8 of the Finance Act, 1919, shall apply to the duties mentioned in this resolution with the substitution of the expression "Saorstát Eireann" for the expression "Great Britain and Ireland."

(4) It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act. 1927 (No. 7 of 1927).

This resolution deals with what are known as the McKenna duties which we took over and have reimposed every year since. The duty on cinematograph films gave a revenue in 1926-27 of £12,920; that on clocks and watches about £18,000; that on motor vehicles £251,500, and on musical instruments about £20,000.

I want to keep in line with previous statements which I made with regard to the import duty on motor vehicles, and to put in what is practically a form of protest against its reimposition. I take the point of view that this is really not a luxury tax at all, but a tax on articles of necessity. In view of certain developments in this country, and particularly in view of tourist development, it is a pity that the Minister has seen fit to continue the imposition of this duty. With the exception of Ford cars, all the motors used in this country are imported, and they cost a very much larger sum than similar cars in England and a still greater sum than in the United States. Cars which cost close on £200 here are advertised in America at slightly over £100. The Chevrolet car is advertised in the American papers at something over £100. Citizens of the United States, which is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and where motors are so commonly used, can get a car for nearly half the price at which it is sold here. The tax might be justified if it could be regarded as a luxury one, but I do not so regard it. I regard the bulk of motor cars used here as being almost absolutely necessary in connection with business development. The number of cars used for pleasure must be very small. Motor cars enter into tourist development to a great extent. For transit purposes they are being used to a very considerable extent, and with the improvement of the roads their use will be considerably increased. I can quite understand that it is quite out of the question for the Minister, in view of the way in which he proposes to use his surplus, to take off this tax at present, but he appears to regard it practically as a permanent imposition which he can always rely upon. That is a wrong outlook, and I think he ought to change his outlook in that regard.

I also wish to refer to the difficulty experienced in importing small parts of motor cars and bicycles through the customs, owing to the 2/6 minimum tax. On small parts which may be only value for 6d. this minimum tax of 2/6 has to be paid. Not only is the tax excessive, but it is the cause of great inconvenience and delay. I cannot say if the delay is anything like what it used to be, as things may have improved, but there were grave complaints in the past. I have heard of cases where men had to wait for three weeks or a month for small repair parts. I suggest to the Minister that there ought to be some means found by which small parts for repair purposes would be allowed in without tax.

I do not know if the Minister differentiated between the amount derived from the tax on motor cars as a whole and that on parts. If he did not, I would ask him to let us have the amount which is derived from cars as a whole and from such parts as were referred to by Deputy Heffernan. I presume that the revenue derived from the latter must be very much smaller than from that on cars. I should like to know if it would be possible to give relief in this respect, because what Deputy Heffernan has said everyone knows to be the case—that not only is there considerable delay but it is a most irksome though small tax. It is extremely annoying when parts have to be imported that this tax has to be paid, with the result that sometimes weeks are spent for one reason or another in getting those small parts through the customs.

I asked the Minister last year if he could give separate figures for cars and parts, so that we could make a comparison. One of the reasons put forward for retaining this tax on parts is that if it were removed a whole car could be imported in sections and reassembled here. I think that is too far-fetched and that it would be almost impossible. I cannot emphasise too strongly the case that has been put up as to the vexatiousness of this tax, what trouble it gives to people in the trade and what staffs they have to employ running from the garages to the ports in order to get these parts out of the clearing-house. It causes endless trouble, and the amount of money derived is so small that the Minister would be well advised to do away with it. I am speaking as a Party of one—I have no affiliation with anybody else.

On this resolution, which includes the import and customs duty on imported vehicles, I want to give notice that this matter will have to be discussed when we have more time and have been able to give more consideration to the matter in relation to excise duties—the variation in the tax last year upon Ford cars made in this country, and the differentiation between new and old Fords. I think the relations between this customs duty upon imported cars and the excise duty is one that has to be taken into account. I am just calling attention to the necessity for considering the effect of last year's duties upon the owners and drivers of old Ford cars. I take it there will not be any resolution this year with regard to excise duty, and, consequently, we shall have to find an opportunity of discussing the question before the matter gets very much further. I am merely giving notice that that will be done, if we can find a way of doing it.

I am with the Deputy there.

I think I gave figures last year with reference to the proportions derived from parts and whole cars, but I do not remember them now.

The revenue from parts was very small.

I think it was fairly considerable. Of course, it is a thing that would grow. I mean that certain parts of cars would be detached, if you admitted parts free, for the purpose of escaping duty and reducing the value of the car as a whole which was liable to duty. As a matter of fact, it would cause a great deal of difficulty and probably a great deal of expense, which would have to be added to the loss of revenue. A great deal of the talk that we hear about delays is exaggerated.

There are no delays on the part of the Customs. Wherever there are delays now, and, in fact, almost since the beginning, they are due to mistakes and refusals to comply with the regulations of the importers or the clearing agents. This matter was investigated by a Committee on which there were two representatives of the motor agents, and they were satisfied that there were not any delays on the part of the Customs, and there are not any delays. Any trouble that arises could be obviated if people would simply exercise their intelligence when importing parts.

On previous occasions the plea was made that the Minister should consider the abolition of the duty on musical instruments, and in view of the small amount involved I think there is a ease for that abolition. I think it would be well worth while for the State to sacrifice £20,000 in the cultivation and the spread of music. It would make life brighter for the people and from the cultural aspect I think it is the duty of the State to endeavour to foster a taste for music and the ability to use musical instruments. I think this duty limits to some extent the number of people who purchase and make use of such instruments, and in view of the small amount involved the Minister should consider its abolition.

I might say, for the information of Deputies who are complaining of the importation of these parts for motor cars and motor bicycles, that a firm has been established lately here in Dublin for the manufacture of them. The firm has been started in my constituency. It has most elaborate machinery, so that before very long people will be able to get these parts at home, and thus save themselves paying any Customs tax on imported parts. If desired, I can give the name of the firm to Deputies.

Does the Deputy mean that parts for every type of motor car can be procured here?

This firm claims that they can make most of the parts required for motor cars.

Is it intended that they shall evade the patent law? Very many of these parts are patented. I take it that this particular firm will only be allowed to manufacture those parts by permission?

Undoubtedly the cost of remitting the tax on musical instruments would not be high, but I do not think it is one of the remissions that is urgently called for, and particularly as it was not done in other years when we were giving a variety of reliefs, I do not think it should be done now. The position, as Deputy Baxter himself saw, is that with the income-tax relief which is proposed this year, it is not really possible to give any other relief. If we did reduce some of the other taxes we would have to consider in what way we would procure the additional revenue that would be lost.

Motion put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 6.30 and resumed at 7.15.,