Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Licences for Tobacco Growing.

asked the Minister for Finance if he will state whether the Revenue Commissioners have received applications for provisional licences for tobacco growing for this year; whether any such licences have been issued; whether it is proposed to reply to the applications that have been made in sufficient time to enable the seedlings to be planted by the 1st March; whether in the issue of any licences any reduction has been made or is contemplated in the area applied for, and, if so, whether such reductions have been made, or will be made, on a pro rata basis.

The Revenue Commissioners have received numerous applications for licences to grow tobacco during the coming season. In each case they have provisionally approved the growing of tobacco on the area specified in the application. Each applicant has been notified that the area is approved subject to the condition that such approval may be revoked or modified as a result of future legislation providing for the regulation and control of tobacco growing in Saorstát Eireann. It is not possible to state at present whether the area applied for will or will not be finally approved.

Will the Minister say that provisional approval was given in these cases?

Almost immediately on receipt.

Almost immediately on receipt! My information is that approval was refused—at all events it has not been received yet.

The Deputy must have been misinformed.

The applicant was misinformed. He did not get approval.

If the Deputy will give me particulars of instances in which applications for licences have been rejected I will be glad to give him information about such cases.

Not rejected—not answered, the Minister means. There was neither approval nor disapproval.

Well, it is possible that the applicant may not have made application within sufficient time to enable the Commissioners to deal with it.

In view of the Minister's reply, I want to know whether it is likely that in the coming year these provisional permits will be cut down.

I am not prepared to say. The applicants were asked to make their applications before the 1st March. Until that date arrives and until we know how many applications are received, we will not be able to say, in view of the area which will then have to be fixed, how many applications will be granted.

Is the position this, that though the 1st March is the sowing date for tobacco, the prospective growers will not know until the 1st March or, perhaps, some time after, whether they can go ahead or not?

As a matter of fact, the 1st of March is not the sowing date for tobacco.

What is the sowing date?

It is sufficiently later to enable applicants who have got their licences to proceed with the sowing in time.

Is the Minister aware that the people who are in the tobacco growing business already and who are familiar with the matter assure us that the 1st of March is the date for sowing tobacco?

I am aware that people just as fully acquainted with tobacco growing have informed me that the date is much later than the 1st March.

It so happens that no person on the Government Benches has grown tobacco and the person who has asked us to put the question tells us that the 1st March is the proper time for sowing tobacco seed.

That is not true.

The Minister knows very well that the 1st of March is the right date for sowing tobacco.