asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that the concession obtained by growers of home-grown tobacco in having the crop free from duty for one year has been of immense value to them in fostering its growth; and, whether, in view of the fact that cessation of this relief would now be fatal to this industry struggling for its existence, he will consider extending the period in which the crop may be grown duty free to five years, or to such earlier period as it would have passed its experimental stage and become generally grown; and, furthermore, if he will make an early announcement of his intentions in the matter, as it will be of great importance to those about to sow this year's crop, and to the future of tobacco growing in the Saorstát.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Duty on Home-Grown Tobacco.
I am satisfied that the facilities afforded last year to tobacco growers which enabled them to grow tobacco free of duty and without the normal restrictions were sufficient to demonstrate the feasibility of growing tobacco of good quality in widely different areas in Saorstát Eireann. There is, therefore, no necessity this year for a continuance of these concessions. It is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation immediately providing for control of the growing and re-handling of tobacco, and for the absorption of all home grown tobacco at prices which will afford a reasonable return to growers.
Arising out of that reply, I would like to know if the Minister is aware that this crop takes very great care on behalf of the growers, and that it would be impossible for persons growing a half an acre of the crop to do so at less than half-a-crown a pound. I would suggest to the Minister that he should give the growers a concession sufficient to enable them to grow their crop and secure a price that would pay them for their labour.
Arising out of the Minister's reply, I would like to know whether when he referred to an economic price for the grower, he referred to the figure of 1/3 mentioned by him in a public speech recently. If that be so, does the Minister think it reasonable to ask Irish labourers to produce tobacco at the same price that negro labour is producing it in America at the present time? Bearing in mind that foreign tobacco is landed at the port of Dublin at 1/1 and 1/2 per lb, does he think that 1/3 is a fair price for tobacco produced by Irish labour? Secondly, will he say, in view of the fact that he proposes a preferential duty of 6/4 on Irish tobacco, as opposed to 9/4 on foreign tobacco, what is going to become of the 3/- preference rate, if the result is to be no better price for the grower than 1/3 per lb?
That is a completely different question.