In page 27, Schedule, line 38, to add at the end of Rule 2 the words:—
"This Rule, in so far as it applies or relates to beef, pork, or mutton, shall not come into operation until the expiration of a period of five years from the date fixed for that purpose by order of the Minister and during such period of five years Rule 3 hereof shall apply."
This is another effort to get the Minister to allow the industry to develop before he puts on an export tax. The Minister claimed very vehemently recently that all tariffs put on for the protection of industry fell heavily on farmers. In this Bill the Minister proposes to put a further tax on farmers, an export tax before the industry has been built up. Everyone knows that the export of fresh meat has not attained such a stage of development that it would stand an export tax. It will be time enough to tax it, if we are ever going to tax it, in five years. That is the object of the amendment. We failed in this on the last stage, but we are moving it again, as we do not believe that an export tax should be put on. If a tax is to be put on it should not be put on for five years. This is an export tax per capita on each beast exported as dressed meat. If the Minister were going to put on an export tax at all. I think it should be on the export of live meat in order to force exporters to kill it here, and give whatever employment that could be given in the dressing of meat. Speaking on 3rd December, 1929, the Minister, according to the “Irish Independent,” said:—
More than half the community are living directly out of agriculture, and in the nature of the case they must pay a big proportion of any levy which results from increased prices due to tariffs.
Again he said:—
It is obvious that agriculture cannot go on indefinitely making contributions towards the cost of developing non-agricultural industry without getting some immediate compensations in return.
We believe, of course, that an industrial tariff will give a return to the agricultural population, but the Minister referred to some immediate compensation in return. There will undoubtedly be a lag in the compensation which the farmers will get in most instances from tariffs on industrial products. For a certain time, until our industries are built up, the tariff will simply operate more or less as a revenue tax, and the farmers will have to pay a portion of that until the industry tariffed is built up and the amount collected in tariffs is reduced. The Minister realises the situation; these extracts which I have quoted go to show that he does realise the situation, and surely he should meet it in this case and allow the industry to be built up before putting an export tax on it. Purely from the point of view of administration it will be a very costly and a very difficult thing to carry out a per capita tax. A number of books will have to be kept and a number of returns will have to be made, there will have to be inspections and all that, and that will increase the cost of the operation of this Bill. If it is to be a success, and if we are not to have wasted our time in discussing it and getting it into shape, these difficulties of operation should be reduced to a minimum.
Several go-ahead concerns have tried this dead meat business and have found innumerable difficulties, both in the organisation of their industry here and in the organisation of their sales in England, and instead of putting impediments in their way we should encourage them by every means in our power. The levying of any per capita fees, however small, will discourage the further organisation of the industry, and the levying of per capita fees such as those proposed by the Minister will certainly operate as a great handicap. The Minister agreed with me just now that any per capita fees that are levied on an exporter will be deducted by the exporter from the price he pays to the farmer, and we all know from experience that not alone will these per capita fees be deducted, but that some additional amount will be deducted in order that the exporter may compensate himself for the trouble of paying these per capita fees. The Minister should realise that he ought to give the industry a chance for five years before he puts on this burden. Let it at least find its feet, and then we can discuss further whether it can bear an export tax or not.