I should like to find out from the Minister what is the value to the country and to the export trade of the parts imported here partially manufactured, and having sustained a further process of manufacture here, re-exported. It seems to me, as far as I can judge, that the trade in that particular line is very small, and I am wondering whether it is worth while that these remissions should be given. I am not against the theory of remission, but I do say if the value of the trade is very small you are going to impose a burden upon the taxpayer, and you are going to complicate the system of account keeping. For instance, you are going to put up the cost of collection of revenue under those heads, because I believe you will have to maintain a larger staff, not necessarily very large, but a larger staff to keep the increased accounts which your resolution must impose on you. You cannot give a rebate without keeping full particulars of the imported article. You will have to verify that the article is re-exported and that nothing else is substituted for it. That, I say, is going to put a very great amount of work upon the revenue collection department, and is it worth while to impose this extra cost upon the Saorstát for, perhaps, a few hundred pairs of boots partially manufactured and imported into this country and re-exported? The Minister, of course, can give us some definite figures to show whether this remission ought to be granted and whether it is worth while. I agree, I repeat, with the theory of it, because, after all, any boot industry in this country must build up an export trade if it is to succeed.
I agree with Deputy Sir James Craig in what he said in condemnation of the boot tax. At the present time, in my opinion, it is about the cruellest tax you could inflict upon the community, and particularly upon a community depending upon agriculture, most of whom are small proprietors with large families. I say that it is striking at the health and the vigour of the country to have this manifestly unjust tax upon boots imposed. As a matter of fact, as a protection, as has been very well pointed out, it is not an effective tax. The British boot manufacturers are able to cut in here, to jump over the barrier, without any difficulty whatever. The reason is because they have a big export trade, and while your boot manufacturers have, perhaps, only two or three lines the manufacturers in Great Britain have, perhaps, two hundred lines of trade. In the days before the duty was imposed our boot manufacturers only turned out, perhaps, one kind of boot—a farm boot. They never went in for a high-class trade. They had not the machinery nor the capital to turn out the other boots imported into the country. Of course, on the face of it, it would be absurd and utterly wrong to impose a tariff upon the lines analogous to the boots manufactured here—that is to say, imported farm boots. It seems to me to be absolutely absurd. That £270,000, I say again, is levied off some of the poorest people in the country. It is levied off your semi-starved peasants in the West of Ireland, off the people in Connemara, the people in Achill, the people in Donegal and parts of Glare, Cork and Kerry, where the families are very large and where they can receive no contingent benefit from the imposition of the tax. I say this boot tax must be fought and must be repealed. It is inimical to the health and the weal of the country.