I beg to move:
1. That a customs duty of an amount equal to twenty per cent. of the value of the article shall be charged, levied, and paid on all quilts of which the covers consist wholly or partly of silk or of artificial silk and which contain down or feathers and imported into Saorstát Eireann on or within five years after the 8th day of November, 1929.
2. That a customs duty of an amount equal to twenty per cent. of the value of the article shall be charged, levied, and paid on all unfilled quilt covers which consist wholly or partly of silk or of artificial silk and are imported into Saorstát Eireann on or within five years after the 8th day of November, 1929.
3. That the provisions of Section 8 of the Finance Act, 1919, shall apply to the duties mentioned in this section in like manner as if quilts of which the covers consist wholly or partly of silk or of artificial silk and which contain down or feathers and also unfilled quilt covers which consist wholly or partly of silk or of artificial silk were respectively mentioned in the Second Schedule to that Act as goods to which five-sixths of the full rate is made applicable as a preferential rate but with the substitution in the said section of the expression "Saorstát Eireann" for the expression "Great Britain and Ireland."
4. That the value of any article shall for all the purposes of this Resolution be taken to be the price which an importer would give for the article if the article were delivered, freight and insurance paid, in bond at the place of importation, and duty shall be paid on that value as fixed by the Revenue Commissioners.
5. 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 is proposed in consequence of the submission of a report by the Tariff Commission. The Tariff Commission has had an application for a protective tariff on down quilts under consideration for some time. The report has been received and I hope to have it in the hands of Deputies to-morrow, or perhaps even this evening.
Along with the report upon down quilts, a report was presented on the application for a tariff on fish barrels. The application for a tariff on fish barrels was reported against by the Tariff Commission. That report, however, will also be in the hands of Deputies to-morrow, or if not to-morrow, the day after. The down quilt tariff is really a very small matter. Down quilts are manufactured only by one firm in the Saorstát, by the firm of Messrs. Booth and Fox of Cork. The down quilt in its present form was patented by this firm in 1841, and as a result of their patent the firm had practically a monopoly of the manufacture of down quilts for a considerable time, and consequently they built up a foreign market. With the lapse of their patent, however, competitors came in and gradually the foreign market was lost. The present difficulty in which the firm finds itself arises from the British Finance Act of 1925 which imposed a customs duty on silk and artificial silk and on articles made partly or wholly of these materials, with the consequence that the British market was cut off; it became unprofitable to manufacture here and export to Great Britain quilts in which silk or artificial silk was used. In consequence this firm, which owns factories in England, has recently been compelled to manufacture quilts for the English market in its English factories.
Generally, the position is that the industry is in grave danger of going out here. It can really continue only if it is given a monopoly of the Irish market. The Tariff Commission, after careful consideration, after visiting factories and carrying out all the investigation that was possible, recommended the tariff I have indicated in the Resolution. The Tariff Commission propose that the tariff shall apply only to silk-covered quilts, not to quilts which may be covered with cotton, mercerised cotton, or other materials, which, as a matter of fact, are not subject to the British tariff and in respect of the manufacture of which the firm is in the same position as it was prior to 1925.
The industry is a small one. The number of people engaged in it recently has been about 40 or 50, and the Tariff Commission is of opinion that if a tariff is imposed the maximum additional number that will be employed will be about 60. In fact, the Tariff Commission does not believe that as large a number as 60 will be employed; that is the maximum figure, but the Tariff Commission does not believe that it will be reached. Owing to the lack of statistics the Tariff Commission has found it difficult to come to a conclusion as to what is the annual value of the import of the goods which are now to be taxed. It is, possibly, somewhere between £15,000 and £20,000.
As I have said, this is an old-established firm which was able to manufacture efficiently and to maintain an export trade until that export trade was cut off by the tariff of another country. The Tariff Commission is satisfied that it will be possible to manufacture goods efficiently here and to sell them as cheaply as they are being sold, and that, broadly speaking, no increase will fall on the consumer as a result of the tariff. It is not anticipated that any revenue will be collected on account of the tariff, because it is believed that this 20 per cent. will give this particular firm a monopoly of the market here and will enable them to overcome, by giving them the output which is necessary, the difficulties under which they have been labouring up to the present.
The opposition to the tariff came from one firm, the Cork firm of Messrs. Nolan and Sons, which is engaged in the extraction of down from feathers. I will read an extract from the report so far as it affects the opposition to the tariff. The opponent firm stated that:—
As purchasers of approximately one-half of the poulterers' goose feathers produced in the Saorstát, they believed that the presence of their factory in Cork helped to keep prices at a profitable level for producers, especially as they were able to offer better prices than dealers. Messrs. Nolan's witness instanced disadvantages which his firm already suffered in comparison with their English competitors. He opposed the imposition of a tariff on down quilts mainly on the ground that it would have an adverse effect on their trade.
The Tariff Commissioners say:—
We do not think it advisable to set out in detail their contention, which, in our opinion, is not likely to be borne out to the extent anticipated by Messrs. Nolan. We have, however, given full consideration to the objections which they have offered to the proposed tariff, and have had due regard to the fact that they employ a greater number of persons in the preparation and export of down and feathers than the Cork factory of Messrs. Booth and Fox employs in the preparation of down and the manufacture of quilts.
I do not think that there is any other matter I need mention at present. Deputies will have the report in their hands before the Report Stage of the Resolution is taken. I have nothing further to say, except to repeat that this is a small matter, but that the industry is an old-established one, which is in danger of disappearing, not through any fault of those who are conducting it, but because of the imposition of a tariff outside. It can be saved, in the opinion of the Commission, without expense to the consumer, and it seems desirable that it should be so saved.