Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Clothing and Wearing Apparel.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, with reference to the Customs Duties (Clothing and Wearing Apparel) Order, 1932, he will state (1) the number of the Saorstát firms engaged in the manufacture of the protected articles, the amount of capital invested therein, the number of persons employed therein and the value of their annual production; (2) the relative costs of production here and in Great Britain, (3) the cost of labour and rates of wages in this industry in the Saorstát as compared with such cost and rates in Great Britain; (4) the increase expected to result from the Order, in the number of firms engaging in the industry, in the invested capital, in the employment given, and in annual output; (5) to what extent consumers of the articles protected by the Order can have their requirements met by home manufacturers; (6) what benefit is expected to accrue to the Revenue of the Saorstát from the new duties and (7) if any application for aid, other than the tariff, has been made to him by any of the firms now engaged in the industry, or by any person or firm proposing to engage in the industry.

There are over 100 firms in the Saorstát engaged in the manufacture of men's and boys' suits and overcoats and women's garments. The total employment given by these firms on 1st September, 1931, was 3,858. There are about 32 firms engaged in the manufacture of hosiery which employed 1,237 workers and 43 firms in the shirt-making industry which employed 1,762 workers as at the above date. It is not possible to give figures showing the number of workers employed in the handicraft tailoring, dressmaking, millinery, etc., trades, as they are carried on in so many establishments, large and small, that comprehensive figures cannot easily be obtained. No official information is available as to the amount of capital invested in the industry. In most of the trades engaged in the manufacture of wearing apparel, wages are regulated by Trade Board rates which are on a level with, or only slightly higher than, the corresponding rates in Great Britain. In the case of men's and boys' clothing, the existing factories are in a position to produce the entire requirements of the country. In the case of certain branches of the women's clothing trade and the hosiery trade, the existing firms are not now in a position to cater for the total home requirements, but I anticipate that rapid developments will take place in these industries.

I am not at the moment in a position to give a final estimate of the benefit likely to accrue to the Revenue from the imposition of the duty. No application for assistance, other than the tariff, has been received by the Department from any firm or person engaged or proposing to engage in this industry.

Would the Minister give an estimate of the revenue that is likely to accrue from this tax?

Yes; about £150,000.

Could I have a segregation of that—how much is expected to accrue from the tax on women's clothing?

It would be very difficult to estimate that, as it would depend largely on the rate of development of the industry, which, it is expected, will be rapid.

Even as an estimate it is stated that £150,000 is expected to accrue to the revenue. It was also stated that in regard to men's and children's clothing, home requirements can be met early by the industry. Surely it would be possible to segregate the £150,000, so as to indicate the estimate for women's clothing and the estimate for men's and boys' clothing?

I cannot do it.

Arising out of that question, is the Minister aware that there are numbers of houses in Dublin and elsewhere, which are in this trade, which at present have big overdrafts from their banks and consequently are not in a position to pay spot cash for the duty that is quickly levied? I would like to help the Minister. There is great difficulty in the City arising out of this, and I know of houses dealing in this apparel, which is not being manufactured at present in the country. These firms have big overdrafts and are not in a position to pay, as I said, spot cash. Is the Minister aware of these matters?

I have no official information that such is the case, but I have reason to believe it is likely. That aspect of the whole matter is being examined at the moment.

Did the Minister discuss that aspect of the matter with the people who could speak on behalf of the trade?

Steps to consult them are being taken.

There was no consultation beforehand?

Not on that particular point. The matter was adverted to, but the method of meeting it was not discussed in detail.

Put on the tax first and surmount the difficulties afterwards.