That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 1) Order, 1934, made on the 31st day of August, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934)."
Vol. 54 No. 11
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 1) Order, 1934, made on the 31st day of August, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934)."
On a point of order, I want to point out that the Motion deals with a matter that cannot adequately be discussed unless the Dáil goes into Committee. I ask for a sympathetic understanding of the position by the Minister, and want to know if he intends to go into Committee for the discussion.
The Deputy is asking me to establish a precedent which I think is neither necessary nor desirable. The Control of Imports Act provides for the submission of a Resolution of this nature to the Dáil, and also provides that certain consequences should follow the failure of the Dáil to pass such a Resolution. I do not think it is desirable that this Motion should be discussed in Committee. The procedure contemplated in the Control of Imports Act is adequate for the purpose, having regard to the nature of the Resolution, and particularly as it has not the same effect as a Financial Resolution which imposes a charge.
Some of these Resolutions may have very important results.
They do not impose any charge.
Having heard the President's reply in regard to coal, can the Minister say that some of the Control of Imports Orders do not inflict very serious charges on the people of this country?
Not under the Control of Imports Orders.
The Minister considers that it would be creating a precedent if the House went into Committee to discuss this motion, whereas I am sure—certainly not by intent but by accident—that the Minister in dealing with an industrial matter is creating a precedent that this country never heard of before, and I doubt if any other country heard of it either. By an order which can only be discussed in this House on one simple resolution, on which a discussion is conducted in a Second Reading way, he can hold up the whole of the import of any particular article; he can either prevent its coming into the country or limit the amount to which it may come in; he can interfere with every single piece of distribution machinery in the country by licences and by allocations, and the more he squeezes the position with regard to the quota the more he can interfere with the distributors. On the Minister's own argument this Control of Imports Order is to develop industry in the country. The Minister intends each one of those—if we believe his protestations—to be directed to the building up anew, as in the case of Nos. 1 and 2, or the extension, as in the case of some of the others, of a particular industry in the country, and in respect of that industry he wants to deny this House any opportunity of discussing his vital proposal except on a Second Reading discussion. Again, I submit that it is a throttling of Parliament—a wiping of Parliament practically out of existence, in so far as its criticism could be in any way helpful or informative as regards industrial development in the country.
I suggest that Deputy Mulcahy is exaggerating the difference between the type of discussion contemplated by the Control of Imports Act and the type of discussion which he desires to have. Any Deputy who wants to make any recommendations, put forward any arguments, or make any statement concerning the order covered by any one of these resolutions, is at liberty to do so.
He can do so at any length as far as I know.
Now. The only difference between the type of discussion which the Deputy wants and the type of discussion which can now take place is that a Deputy has got to make his statement at one time; he cannot split it up into three or four parts. I am not sure that that is a hardship on any Deputy opposite. I think the Party to which Deputy Mulcahy belongs can find in its membership a sufficient number of people interested in this matter to make any case they want made, and to have that case fully discussed and argued here. The only conclusion one must come to from Deputy Mulcahy's assertion that a committee discussion is desirable, is that one or two members of the Party want to speak more than once in support of the case—a procedure which is entirely unnecessary.
In support of the case? Taking this particular Order No. 1; if a tyre-manufacturing industry is going to be set up in this country at some time, and if all imports are being controlled, and the distribution of tyres is being and has been controlled for some months past, and that is to be under discussion in this House, the Minister having defined and explained his policy, surely it is not astonishing that any Deputy interested in the subject would want to speak twice.
A Deputy may speak once on every resolution. I want to remind the Deputy that the policy of the Control of Imports Act has already been fully debated in this House, has been approved of by the Oireachtas and is enshrined in the Control of Imports Act. There is no point in going back over that measure. The measure is on the Statute Book and orders in consequence of it have been made. The only matters which can be discussed are matters appertaining to the particular orders dealt with in the resolution, and not to the general policy of controlling imports in this way.
Would I be in order in moving a resolution that the House go into committee for the consideration of this resolution?
The Chair is governed by the statute in this matter. Section 4 (2) of the relevant Act requires that these orders be approved by Resolution, that is a Resolution of both Houses, within a specified time. The Deputy has pleaded for sympathetic consideration, but if that request is not acceded to the Chair must take cognisance of the statutory regulation referred to.
Do I understand that I would not be in order in moving the resolution?
Such motion would not be accepted by the Chair.
Then I would ask the Minister if the particular clauses in the Control of Imports Act, on which he proposes to act now in having a Second Reading discussion, were deliberately inserted in the Act by him, and if it is his considered opinion that important industrial matters can be adequately dealt with by Parliament in this way?
That is my opinion. I have not heard anything in any statement now made by the Deputy which convinces me that a Committee Stage discussion is necessary on these resolutions. If, after hearing the discussion on any of these resolutions, it should appear necessary to have a second discussion, I will not raise any objection, but the Deputy has made no case for it as yet.
The No. 1 Order, and the No. 2 Order dealt with in the next resolution, prohibit the importation of pneumatic tyres for motor vehicles and cycles, with certain minor exceptions in respect of cycle tyres. No. 1 deals with tyres, outer covers and tubes for motor vehicles. The object of the order, of course, was to secure the whole of the Free State market in those commodities for the new factory for the manufacture of them which is being erected in Cork.
May I take it that Orders No. 1 and 2 deal with the same matter for different periods?
No. They deal with different classes of the same commodities. The reason I made reference to Order No. 2 is that the statement which I am making concerning No. 1 applies also to No. 2 and it will not be necessary to repeat it. The quotas which have been fixed in those orders provide for normal imports during the whole of the period until tyres from the new factory are available for sale. In fact, the development of the motor assembling industry and the development of the bicycle assembling industry have been such that the normal imports over recent years proved to be inadequate, and additional quota orders had to be made permitting increased imports of those classes of goods during the period. It is anticipated that the new factory in Cork will commence production somewhere about the middle of March, but it will make, I understand, only for stock for a period of two or three months, and its products will not be available in quantity for sale in the Saorstát until about the month of June. During the whole of that period imports will continue without any undue restriction in respect of numbers, but when the products of the new factory are available in quantity restrictions will be imposed, in respect of whatever classes are so available, so as to prevent imports. It may be necessary at some stage to alter the nature of this order. At present it applies to all motor tyre covers and tubes, but, in view of the fact that only particular classes of covers and tubes will be made in quantity at the beginning, it may be necessary to split up the order so as to have separate orders covering covers or particular classes of covers, and tubes or particular classes of tubes, but at present this order is adequate to secure the regulation of imports to the extent that it is necessary to undertake it now. The first quota period was for three months, and so also was the second quota period. The number of articles admitted under Order No. 1 during the first period was 26,000, and during the second period the number was 30,000. Since then an additional quota order for 25,000 has been made. The allocation of these quotas between the persons on the register of importers was made on the basis of their previous imports as shown in the returns submitted to the Department.
Here we have proof number one as to the necessity for discussing an Order which is intended to control tyre imports, and particularly to allow of the setting up here, and the development of the tyre-making industry. The Minister is setting out to develop the tyre-making industry in this country, and this is the presentation of the case that he is putting to the House.
This is what he tells the House with regard to the general consumption, the extent to which there is a necessity for the industry in the country and the extent to which there is an opening for it and what this will do to widen the foundation upon which Irish industry will be more soundly established here. We have heard from the Minister nothing good, bad or indifferent about the industry. Apart altogether from the questions that arise on the Order with regard to the distributing industry, the motor tyre industry itself is one that should be discussed by some other machinery than a Second Reading debate in order to drive the Minister to take the House seriously, to give it the information that it is entitled to get as to what the Minister's activities are in this particular matter.
The House is asked to discuss this matter on an Order that Deputies never saw. The Minister says that there was a copy of it placed on the Table of the House, but the subject matter of it has been dealt with by a number of subsequent orders since. When I asked the Minister to-day for particulars as to what the subsequent orders do his written answer simply says:—
"For particulars as to the dates of the preliminary period and first and second quota periods and as to the quotas for the first and second quota periods under the Control of Imports (Quota No. 1) Order, 1934, I would refer the Deputy to Control of Imports (Quota No. 1) Order, 1934; Control of Imports (Quota No. 1, Second Period) Order, 1934, and Control of Imports (Quota No. 1, Second Period), (Additional Quota), Order, 1935, made by the Executive Council on certain dates."
Not a single one of these various orders has been circulated to a Deputy or Senator, and when the Minister is asked in this House with regard to the effect of them his answer is:—
"The work which would be involved in the preparation of the detailed information asked for by the Deputy in connection with the issue of licences would be out of all proportion to the value of the information so obtained. Licences were issued in accordance with the provisions of Sections 8 and 9 of the Control of Imports Act, 1934, and on the general basis of the applicant's previous imports of the articles to which the quota order applied."
Now, when the Minister is dealing with this matter I submit to him that there are quite a large number of questions that are involved. In the first place, we are interested in knowing the general prospect for the tyre industry in this country and the conditions under which it is starting here. We are entitled to some information from the Minister who has been in consultation with various people in connection with it, but the Minister has given us no information. The Minister's first order was made some time in August last.
I asked the Minister to-day, in a question which I addressed to him, to give the number and location of the firms engaged in the manufacture of these articles—motor tyres—intended to be affected by the orders mentioned, and the answer was nil. When the Minister was asked what was the value of the imports of these articles during the last period of 12 months for which information was available, he stated in a written reply: "The goods covered by the remaining orders"—including 1 and 2—"are not required to be specifically entered on importation and accordingly the value of the imports of such goods cannot be stated." The Minister for Industry and Commerce is setting out to develop the motor tyre industry in this country, and yet he tells the House that he cannot give us any information as to the amount of the imports of these articles during the last 12 months.
Articles covered by the quota orders.
The Minister for Finance is not, apparently, fighting the same corner as the Minister for Industry and Commerce is. When asked to state the value of the articles to which Control of Imports (Quota Nos. 1 to 10) Orders, 1934, refer, imported during the year ended December, 1933, and the year ended December, 1934, and the total amount of Customs duties raised on the importation of these articles, the Minister for Finance is not fighting the same corner—at any rate, he is not fighting it in the same obstructive spirit—as the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Minister for Finance is able to tell us that the value of these imports for the year ended December, 1933, was £157,096 and that the duty collected on them was £35,878, and that for the year ended December, 1934, the value of imports was £177,775 and the amount of duty collected on them was £58,148.
There we have further proof that a matter of this importance requires to be discussed in committee. That is the attitude of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect to information that is at his command. Without that information the House cannot understand the extent to which this industry is capable of developing, or the worth of it if people have to suffer additional cost or additional dislocation in the distributing end. What value they are going to get for all that disturbance is deliberately hid from them by the Minister, although that information is perhaps more easily at his disposal than it is at the disposal of the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance gives the information when he is asked for it and the Minister for Industry and Commerce refuses. If the Minister for Industry and Commerce treats the House in that fashion in respect of such a fundamental item of information as that, then Deputies can understand the necessity for examining the further statements of the Minister when he comes to deal with questions that are put up to him in this regard. I think that the statement of the Minister, in introducing this resolution, as well as his denial of this information in such an explicit way, must afford conclusive proof to the House that this subject cannot be discussed by way of a Second Reading debate.
If the Minister wants to secure the confidence of members of the House in his work for the development of Irish industry and if he wants to give the people of the country confidence in what he is doing in connection with that development, then he should welcome the opportunity of explaining away, in a wider discussion than it is possible for us to have under the present procedure, the misconceptions that he is likely to create by the attitude that he takes up on some of these matters. The Minister has shut down the import of motor tyres into this country. He did that by his first quota except as regards people who go to him and get a licence to import. The Minister denies information to the House in a way in which it could be adequately and easily retained by members as to what was the first quota period, and the amount of his quota. He does the same with regard to the second quota period. In one brief passing statement he tells us that during the first quota period he agreed to admit 26,000 tyres into the country. He added an increase of duty during the next quota period—that is, the second period—and then on top of that, he puts a second quota of 30,000. The Minister then refuses to tell the House, in respect of his administration of this order, the total number of tyres for which he received applications in the preliminary stage of either the first or the second quota period. When the Minister shuts down on the import of these things except by licence, importers have to apply to him for permission to import, and, according to the nature of the total demand, he has either to give them their orders as they stand, or a percentage of their orders, or if the demand is bigger than his apparently very limited quota, he can distribute the orders any way he likes.
The Minister shakes his head. That is a matter on which I should like to have a few Committee remarks, but the position is that the Minister has so fixed his quota order in respect of these motor tyres that he can dish out his licences any way he likes. He is restricted in no way in the matter of percentages and he tells the House that he has distributed his licences according, I think he said, to a person's imports during the previous year. That bit of information is again a passing bit of information blowing through the air of this House. He declines to put it down in answer even to a written question and he goes further to hide his tracks. The Minister under this Act keeps a register of people who get licences and he distinguishes between Saorstát nationals with places of business in Saorstát Eireann; partnerships with more than half the capital nationally owned in a place of business in Saorstát Eireann; companies registered in Saorstát Eireann under the Companies Act; persons carrying on a manufacturing undertaking in Saorstát Eireann; and companies unregistered in Saorstát Eireann. He tells us that the total number of people who are so registered is 16 and when we ask the Minister to divide these 16 as between the various categories I mention—the Saorstát nationals, the partnerships, the companies, etc.—we are told that the work involved in segregating the various categories would not be justified and would not serve any useful purpose.
In watching the administration of these dictatorial orders by the Minister, it would serve no useful national purpose to know how licences were being distributed as between Saorstát nationals and companies that were not even registered in Saorstát Eireann or partnerships with more than half the capital nationally owned here and companies carrying on manufacturing undertakings. When we ask the Minister to say how these 16 are distributed in the country, that is, to what extent licences are being issued to persons of any category situated in the principal distributing centres of the county boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, we are told that the amount of work involved would not be justified. The whole distribution network in the country is taken in hand and controlled by the Minister when he imposes this order. He can dictate in his own sweet way, I submit to him, if he fixes his quota order small enough, enlarging it subsequently by an amending order, the distribution of his licences as to give them in any direction he wishes and the extent to which the ordinary distribution machinery in the country is interfered with is almost impossible to find out, because commercial people are so gripped by the Department of Industry and Commerce, as a result of these various orders, that they are afraid to open their mouths lest their applications will not be dealt with in the way in which the ordinary commercial man requires his business to be dealt with.
As a kind of corollary to this attempted setting up of an industry here, we are told nothing good, bad or indifferent about it by the Minister. All we are told is that he planned his arrangements for it in August last, and, as far as we know, not a sod has been turned in connection with the industry. He has not told us whether the site has been selected or whether there are any people working on it. He tells the House that we will get tyres into stock in about March next, but he told the House that they would get an industrial directory that would tell them something about these things in October 1922, and he said in April 1933—nearly two years ago—"Hold hard now; you are just getting it," but we have not seen it yet, and we get nearly as little information about that now as we do about the tyre factory to-day.
It is impossible in an adequate way and with information nearly thrown at us, or, rather, with information withheld from us at the last moment by the Minister, for the House to deal with these various matters, and if he wants confidence to be developed in this House or in the country, in the work he is doing, he should welcome it, and I again suggest to the Minister that he should go into Committee on some of these questions. He will then find out whether there are matters that can only satisfactorily be discussed in Committee. If he thinks that there is no case for continuing in Committee, he can go back to a discussion like this, but to anyone who wishes to see the Parliament either a place for the dissemination of information or for the exerting of control in such an important matter as the development of industry in this country, dealing with these important questions in the way in which they are being dealt with now must seem nothing but an utter farce.
I should like the Minister to tell us what is his method of guarding against excessive stocks in the hands of existing importers? Does he take their statements that they have only enough to keep them going for a certain length of time, or has he power of inspection? What is his method of ensuring that the distributors who are due to go out of existence now will not, through these quota orders, be able to pile up stocks that will keep them in existence and in competition with Irish production for perhaps two or three years? It is a possibility, of course, and if he were going merely on the imports of former years, he would, as he is no doubt aware, have to take into account the fact that the Dunlop Company were always by far the biggest importers and that they would be importing considerably ahead of their requirements. They would be piling up stocks. That would not be a requirement of theirs under present circumstances, and consequently, if his quota orders are strictly proportionate to former imports there is a danger, I suggest, that he is allowing certain distributors to create the situation to which I have referred. That is that they would have in hand very considerable stocks of tyres, and long after the Cork factory had begun to produce they would be competing with that factory.
Might I ask the Minister if he would say in his reply the number of people the Dunlop factory is expected to employ when in full production; also, if he has a guarantee as to the price that will be charged for Dunlop tyres here, or are they to be on the same level as the prices in England? Can the Minister give a guarantee that the tyres produced here will not be more expensive or of inferior quality?
It is, I think, desirable to point out that the resolution that we are discussing is one asking the Dáil to approve of the order made for the regulation of tyre imports into the Saorstát, and not with the arrangements made for the establishment of a particular factory in Cork for the manufacture of tyres. It is true that this is the first resolution of this kind to be discussed in this House. It is rather of a different nature from the others in so far as the order to which the resolution refers was made as a direct consequence of the arrangement for the establishment of that new factory here. Most of the other orders which will be dealt with by a resolution to-day relate to industries which are carried on by a number of companies. Many of them have been in existence here for a number of years.
It would be impossible for me, even if it were desirable, to give to the Deputy information as to the number of persons employed by any one of these companies, or other particulars of that kind concerning an individual firm. I admit that this particular resolution is different from some of the others and that Deputies can ask for information of that kind more properly in relation to this industry which has not yet been established here, than in relation to an industry that has been carried on for a number of years by a number of different firms. The number of persons who will be employed in this industry will, of course, vary from time to time. Production will commence, I understand, upon certain classes of tyres which are most commonly used and which are sold in the largest quantities. Production will be extended to cover every class of tyres sold. Other goods manufactured from rubber will be produced in the same factory. The employment to be given in the factory will not be employment on tyre production only. I understand that the company contemplate employing, in connection with the present plan of development, some 600 to 700 people. The company have informed us that their intention is to charge for tyres produced prices not more than 15 per cent. in excess of the British prices for the same class of tyres.
Not more than 15 per cent. in excess of the British prices, plus any Excise duty that may be imposed by the Government here. That price will, of course, vary according to fluctuations in the cost of production in respect to labour, distribution, raw materials and so forth. That 15 per cent. is based upon the assumption that there would be the same cost here in the production as in Great Britain. If certain additional charges for raw materials and so forth necessitate an increase in factory prices as compared with Great Britain——
What raw materials would be more expensive here than in Great Britain?
Quite a number of them might be more expensive. The large scale importation which is possible in Great Britain is not possible here. In any event, Deputies should know the fact that that means a reduction in the price of tyres. In any event they will get the tyres at a less price than they are paying for them now.
Will the Minister explain how the charge of 15 per cent. here in excess of the British prices for the same class of tyres is going to mean that the people here will get them cheaper than they are getting them now?
Because they are at present 33? per cent. in excess of the British prices.
Can the Minister explain that?
Certainly. One reason is the Customs duty in operation—a very good reason. I do not know what the intention of the Government will be in respect of revenue from tyres. But if the Government desire to maintain its present revenue from motor tyres there will be an excise duty on tyres manufactured here.
In order to keep up the 33? per cent.?
In that case tyres will be no dearer than at the moment. Plans for the erection of the factory have, I understand, been pushed ahead. Deputy Mulcahy does not know where the factory is to be.
We have not been told that the site has been selected.
The Deputy should ascertain that from the company. The Government is not running the factory, but I understand from the company that they have selected the site in Cork City. They have the machinery ready, and they will, I understand, commence production in March.
Will the Minister say what the Government Information Bureau is doing if it cannot tell the people where the site of the factory is to be?
The Government Bureau is not there for the purpose of disseminating information about a private firm.
What is it for?
For the purpose of disseminating information upon public affairs.
Do I understand then that we are now dealing here with private matters?
No. The Deputy is asking for information about a private firm.
No; I am asking the Minister to explain the whole case in which he asks us to agree with him in stopping, except under licence, the import of tyres into this country and creating the distribution position which he is creating. I asked where this industry is to be.
I forgot that I was speaking and in possession; I thought for the moment I was interrupting the Deputy. The whole case for the regulating of imports is that there is no reason why tyres should not be made in the country. The order is to restrict imports. If tyres are to be made here, and that is the case, we can get them made here equal in quality to any we are now importing and equal in price to any now in the market. We were fortunate in having an immediate response to the decision to secure the establishment of this industry in the form of a proposal from a world-renowned company with associations with this country to establish a factory for that purpose—the factory which is now being brought into production and which will enable several hundred Irish people to be employed. I think that if any measure of the Government since it came into office was completely and immediately justified by the results—this measure was justified.
Could the Minister not have induced that same company to come in by giving them the monopoly he is giving them without, in addition, making them a present of 15 per cent.?
And he says this is not a monopoly.
It is not a legal monopoly. They have no more a monopoly than Messrs. Jacobs have a monopoly.
Was the 33? per cent. not a sufficient inducement to make tyres here without any quota?
It had been in operation for ten years and did not produce any result.
If they are able to do it at a reduced price, as is alleged, the fact that they did not come in for ten years is inconsistent with the Minister's statement that they are now prepared to manufacture tyres at a price which is only 15 per cent. in advance of outside prices.
Nobody came in during these ten years. That may be due to the fact, of course, that they did not like the Government then in office. It was considered more desirable to effect protection for this industry by a quantitative regulation of imports than by an increase in the import duty.
In other words they want the duty of 33? per cent. and they want a monopoly.
We discussed the whole question of whether or not there should be a quantitative regulation of imports when the Control of Imports Bill was before the Dáil. The Dáil then approved of the measure, which corresponds in principle with other measures in every country in the world to-day.
Some of us might be prepared to accept the principle of a quantitative control of imports, and even the principle of something resembling a monopoly, but surely it is a reasonable condition to make that a firm which has been treated so generously here should charge no more here for its products than it charges in England.
I was satisfied that there are factors in relation to the factory of the size that could be established here, which would operate to raise the cost of production here by at least 15 per cent. more than the cost of production in the larger factories that are operating in Great Britain and elsewhere.
They have not a monopoly in England.
But they have a much larger factory there, and a larger market.
Is this not a justification for higher prices for other commodities in similar circumstances?
No. As a matter of fact in a number of other manufacturing industries it has led to a lower price than operated previously. Deputy Mulcahy tried to make some point out of a refusal on my part to supply him with information. That refusal to supply the Deputy with information arose out of the fact that the information desired is not available. The Minister for Finance did not give him the information he asked me to give him. He could not give it to him because he had not got it. He was asked for information as to the imports in previous years of the classes of tyres that are affected by the Control of Imports Order. That information could not be procured. The Deputy could get from the trade and shipping figures published by the Statistics Branch of the Department of Industry and Commerce, information as to the quantity of tyres of all kinds that were imported in any year in the past, but he cannot get information as to the quantities and values of the tyres of the particular classes that are the subject of this order. Neither can the Minister for Finance, for that matter.
The Deputy also endeavoured to make some point about my reply to his request that information should be given in respect to the persons whose names are on the register of importers and as to the categories under which they fell, arising out of Section 7 of the Control of Imports Acts. It would have meant very little trouble and very little expenditure of time, perhaps, to get all the information in relation to the 16 importers on the register prepared under No. 1 Order, but the Deputy asked that question in relation to the registers established under all the Orders. It would have necessitated turning all the energy and the time of the members of that section of the Department of Industry and Commerce for about a week or ten days to compiling that information and the information, when made available, might not be of the slightest assistance to anyone.
Now we understand the delay in the preparation of the Directory of Manufactures.
Perhaps we shall be able to deal with that in its appropriate place.
Will there be no more questions about it?
I would not promise that, nor would the Minister either.
The Deputy also tried to criticise the administration of the Order on the grounds that an additional quota had to be fixed during the second period. I explained, in the course of my remarks, why that additional quota arose. For the first three months a quota of 36,000 was fixed because, on examining the imports during that three months in previous years, it was considered that a quota of 36,000 was adequate to supply all the normal requirements of the country, and it proved to be so. In the second three months a quota of 30,000 was fixed, but during that three months various firms that were assembling cars for the purpose of supplying the market here brought into operation their production plans for 1935, and that necessitated a very large increase in the number of tyres that had to come in under the quota order. The Deputy should understand that tyres that are imported as part of a complete car are not subject to a quota order. Tyres which were imported in previous years attached to a complete car were not separately listed for statistical purposes. The fact that the motor assembling industry is now being developed meant a considerable increase in the number of tyres imported separately and consequently subject to the quota order. That was the reason that the additional quota was made. It was contemplated that such an additional quota would be necessary when the quota for the second period was being fixed. Nobody could fix it with any degree of accuracy until the plans of the various assembling firms had been ascertained. When they were ascertained an additional quota was fixed for them, on the basis necessary to supply the requirements of these firms.
Deputy Moore raised the only important point in the debate. He questioned the efficacy of the measures adopted by us to secure that the stocking-up of motor tyres was not taking place and suggested that the representations as to the necessity for an additional quota, for example, were mainly based upon a desire so to stock up, rather than to any necessity arising out of the situation. The procedure adopted is that all persons on the register, once the basis of allocation of the quota has been fixed on previous years' figures, are asked to submit evidence as to their imports during the selected period. It is very easy to check the total of the figures thus supplied with the total imports as shown in the trade and shipping statistics, and if there is any evidence that there has been a gross overstatement of previous imports in particular cases, then the firm or person concerned might be asked to produce a certificate from a qualified accountant who had been given an opportunity of inspecting the books and figures, as to the accuracy of the figures stated in the application. Generally speaking, the figures stated by persons on the register have been accurate enough, and it has been possible to use them as the basis of allocation, each importing firm getting that proportion of its application which the total quota will permit of. The Department is alive to the necessity of ensuring that stocking-up will not take place because, of course, the only effect of such stocking-up would be to delay the commencement of full production in the home concern and consequently to lessen the amount of employment which that concern will give.
I ask the Minister to take notice of the number of gaps in this discussion which, I suggest, warrant the House going into Committee on these resolutions.
I have not noticed any gaps except the gaps in the Deputy's arguments.
There were plenty of gaps from the point of view of the House. I shall challenge a division as a protest against the whole business.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 2) Order, 1934, made on the 31st day of August, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
The same case can be made for this resolution as was made for the previous one. The need for it arises out of the same decision, to procure the supply of tyres in this country for bicycles and motor bicycles as distinct from motor cars. The quota for the first period of three months was for 210,000; the quota for the second quota period of three months ended 31st March, as originally fixed was 150,000. It has since been increased by an additional quota of 100,000. The necessity for the increase arose out of the difficulty in connection with the statistics to which I made reference in respect to Order No. 1. These import figures showed only tyres and tubes imported separately and those imported with the complete machine were not recorded. The complete machines are not now imported, but the parts are imported for assembling here, and it was necessary in the second period, that the additional order should be made. Licences are issued on the basis of allowing full requirements to be imported until such time as the new concern in Cork is able to supply the requirements for the classes covered by the quota order.
It may be necessary, at the later stage, in respect of this case, to repeal this quota order and substitute separate orders in respect of tubes and covers. That, of course, will depend upon the production programme of the Dunlop Company when they start operations.
The Minister has in this case held up the importation of bicycle tyres except under licence issued by him. The position of distributors in regard to this is again interfered with by the Department of Industry and Commerce, as a result. The Minister said that to classify the people who are registered as distributors for the purpose of receiving licences to import, under the various orders, would take the staff he has on this work a week to deal with. The Minister told us, in reply to a written question, that there are 31 persons registered as persons importing bicycle tyres under licence. If we look at the whole position we will see the ground of the Minister's complaint. He told us there are 16 persons on the register in respect of motor tyres, 31 persons registered in respect of the import of bicycle tyres, 742 persons registered under Quota Order No. 3 in respect of the import of boots and shoes other than infants' shoes or other than rubber shoes. There are 335 persons registered under Quota Order No. 4 in respect of the import of infant's shoes and rubber shoes, 99 persons registered under Order No. 5 in respect of the import of sugar, 22 persons registered under Order No. 6 in respect of rubber clothes, 53 persons registered under Order No. 7 in respect of rubber materials, 43 persons registered under Order No. 8 in respect of motor car in bodies and shells, 30 persons in respect of Quota Order No. 9, chassis, and 26 persons registered under Quota Order No. 10, in respect of motor cars. He told the House that it would take the staff engaged upon these orders a week to let us know how many of these various people, registered as importers, are in the City of Cork, the City of Dublin, the City of Limerick and the City of Waterford. Their segregation under the different five heads under which they can be segregated according to the Act would take all this time in the view of the Minister; he says it would take a week to do all this; and he declines to give the information to the House in the particular manner in which we are considering this resolution. But again I direct attention to the spirit in which the Minister approaches these matters, by referring to his quota order in respect of the import of bicycle tyres. The Minister, when asked if he could state the value of the imports of those bicycle tyres intended to be affected by Quota Order No. 2, and imported during the last 12 months, said the costs are not required to be entered upon importation and the value, therefore, cannot be stated. The Minister for Finance, on the other hand, gave the information. He was asked if he would state the value of the articles to which the Control of Imports, Quota No. 2 Order, 1934, referred, imported into Saorstát Eireann during the years ended December, 1933 and 1934, and he replied:—
"Quota Order No. 2, 1934, relates to outer covers and inner tubes for motor cycles and pedal cycles. The only dutiable tyres and tubes covered by the order are for motor cycles, etc., and for these the relative import particulars are: value of those imported for 31st December, 1933, £1,391; duty, £265. Value of those imported 31st December, 1934, £1,024; duty, £346. As regards the non-dutiable articles it has been ascertained from the Department of Industry and Commerce that the figures were:-For the year ended 31st December, 1933, value, £54,559; for the year ended 31st December, 1934, value, £53,880."
So that, while the Minister, in the spirit which has characterised his approach to all questions in the Dáil dealing with his Department, says that he has not got the information, we could know, without the Minister for Finance telling us, that he must have the information; but we have the Minister for Finance giving us some kind of a figure that would help us to understand the extent to which there is room in this country for an industry of the kind that the Minister speaks of. Again, it is of importance to this House, when the commercial community are being upset by direct interference by a Minister here in the carrying on of their business, difficult as it is at the present moment, that that disturbance should be as small as possible and that the commercial community would have the protection of this House in saving them from unnecessary disturbance from which, in certain lines of goods, they undoubtedly have suffered very much. The Minister simply refuses to give us any information that would enable us to relieve the commercial community from the dangers of Ministerial interference from which they suffer at the present time, and, as I say, the commercial community themselves hesitate to expose themselves to being penalised by the Department for attempting to criticise the lines upon which they are conducting their business and interfering with them at the present time. They have had very many examples of what that may mean to them.
Accordingly, we cannot enter into any kind of a satisfactory discussion on the distribution of this business. The Minister simply declines to give us any information. Again, the Minister is planning to procure the manufacture of bicycle tyres in this country, but, again, he tells us nothing about prices. He tells us that we are going to get our motor tyres cheaper in this country than they are at the present moment as a result of their being manufactured in Cork, and he says that there is going to be, say, a 15 per cent. reduction or, at least, that the effect of the 33 per cent. tariff is going to disappear and that half of the extra cost that is put on tyres at the present moment is going to disappear when they are manufactured here. He has not told us what is going to be the position with regard to bicycle tyres. Is there going to be an increase in the price of bicycle tyres here? The Minister was asked, in connection with wages, in connection with the price of articles, and in connection with the control of alien workers, what steps he had taken, in his discussions with the persons establishing industry here, to secure that suitable wages would be paid, to protect the consuming people here against unnecessary prices, or to deal with the bringing in of aliens to take working places in the country. The Minister says:—
"Frequent meetings of the manufacturers or producers of the goods mentioned in the orders referred to are held in my Department at which all matters affecting the particular industries, including those mentioned in the questions, are discussed. Wherever possible, particularly arising out of applications under the Control of Manufactures Act, it is made a condition that Saorstát workers only should be employed. Such exceptions as are necessary for the purpose of training workers are made for strictly limited periods. In the matter of prices to be charged for goods which enjoy protection either by means of a tariff or by a quota order, it is the practice of the Department to have price understandings in the case of new industrial establishments wherever the Department is in a position to do so. No formal understandings or agreements are practicable in the matter of the wages to be paid in new industrial undertakings but in most cases there is a general understanding that local wages and conditions of labour will be observed."
The Minister was asked in the Seanad to address himself to the wages position in the Dunlop factory and he said—I am quoting from column 1004 of the Seanad Debates on the 16th January, 1935:—
"The only arrangement with the Dunlop Company involves the calculation of the price at which their commodities will be sold on the basis of a formula which presupposes the payment of wages here corresponding to those paid for similar work done in Great Britain. If the wages here are higher, then the price varies accordingly; if the wages are lower, the price will be lower accordingly. The intention, however, as far as I understand, is to pay what have been the recognised rates for these functions in Great Britain."
The Minister has had, then, certain discussions with regard to prices and wages with the people who are setting up the industry in Cork, and we should like to hear, somewhat more explicitly from the Minister than he has told us, whether the prices are going to be reduced and what are the wages that are going to be paid in Cork. What are they going to be? The Minister tells us here, as he told the Seanad, that the Cork factory was not being given a monopoly. He tells us that it is not being given a legal monopoly, but it is perfectly clear that the factory in Cork, if the Ministerial attitude of the quotas and tariffs is kept on, is going to have a monopoly, and I think it is also perfectly clear that before we have a disturbing factor brought into this country in the matter of increased cost of tyres, or an industry established in which there is likely to be disagreement in regard to wages, we should have some more detailed information from the Minister as to what kind of understanding he has entered into with the company on these two points.
Deputy Moore touched to some extent on the question of distribution, but there is one particular aspect of distribution that deserves some comment. Hitherto commercial firms have been able to take their place in a competitive world and to develop their industries, particularly by giving good value, and at competitive prices, to people who want something to buy. Every industry that is touched by one of these Quota Orders now, and every commercial concern, is being stabilised in some particular rut and there is going to be no question, apparently, of competitive prices between any of them in the matter of their distribution. A commercial concern that is progressive and go-ahead, serving the community in an up-to-date way and in a way that tends to give better service, is going to be prevented from developing in the way in which it had developed before. The Department have concerned themselves with the number of distributing places and with prices. I do not know whether or not the tendency to cut down distributors is going to be addressed simply to small shops—shops that might be called hucksters' shops—just as the Prices Commission have concerned themselves simply with bell-men and the prices these bell-men charge for their coal. I would like to hear Deputy Moore, who has a little more experience of that aspect of things than I have—I would like to hear him more courageously developing a discussion on the position that exists, because there is not only direct interference with the present position of distributors under these Orders, but there is a prejudice in regard to their future. The Minister can at least excuse himself that the difficulties that our farmers are labouring under are difficulties forced on the Ministry by people over whom they have no control; but they cannot offer any excuse that anyone other than themselves is interfering with the commercial community. I would like to hear Deputy Moore speaking more courageously on the subject of the difficulties of distributors under these Orders than when we heard him speaking earlier to-day.
Deputy Mulcahy pretends to be inspired in his utterances by curiosity and a desire for information. I think he has made it very obvious that the only feeling which spurred him on was one of intense disappointment that the Government has succeeded in securing the establishment of this industry. If this industry had been established five or six years ago, it would have been hailed as a great example of constructive statesmanship.
We are quite ready to hail the Minister for every industry that he firmly roots in this country.
If the hailing is anything of the type that we have just heard, then we would prefer to do without it.
The Minister comes in here with so little to say on this matter that we feel there must be a snag some place.
The fact that two Cork Deputies opposite voted against the establishment of the industry in Cork was some indication of the attitude that is being adopted.
As one of the Cork Deputies, may I say that there is not a shadow of foundation or truth in the Minister's statement and the Minister cannot but be aware of the fact.
The Deputy voted against the order which was enacted in order to make the establishment of this industry possible.
Let us at least veer towards the truth. This relates to the quota; it has nothing to do with the establishment of an industry.
What is Deputy Mulcahy talking about so?
This is simply a piece of administrative machinery which may be defective and which the Minister declared was defective according to the statistics he had.
The Minister has made a very definite charge. He can put his hand on our mouths in respect to that charge if he likes in the same way as he is doing with regard to this matter. But if he wants to hear what we are doing and why we voted against it we will let him hear it again.
You voted against it.
We voted against the passing of a resolution here which the Minister said would effect the setting up of an industry when he told us that he did not know from the records of his Department what that industry would involve, that he did not know what the imports of tyres were.
Because the Statistics Branch is unable to produce precise information in regard to certain things, Deputy Cosgrave, and Deputy Desmond, Cork Deputies, and Deputy Mulcahy say: "We don't want a factory at all." Supposing they got a majority and defeated the resolution, then they could go to Cork and explain to the 500 or 600 workers who would have been continued in idleness because of their successful opposition to the resolution, that the reason they opposed it was because the Statistics Branch did not produce the precise figures that they thought they required.
That is about as true as the other statements.
I daresay the same Deputies will vote against this resolution too.
There are 14 resolutions and I daresay they will vote against them all.
There are only ten. The Minister is not discussing Nos. 11 and 12, because we might hear more about coal.
We are going to hear a lot more about coal—Irish coal. At the moment we are talking about tyres.
We are supposed to be.
These tyres are going to be made in Cork.
I thought we were talking about quotas just now?
In order to enable tyres to be made in Cork, it is necessary to stop tyres being imported, and it is necessary to make an Order under the Control of Imports Act, and because of the Government's respect for democratic principles the Act provides that any such Order should be approved by resolution in this House. The motion for approval is now before us, and I dare say Deputy Cosgrave is going to vote against it.
It all depends. Make a case and do not be doing the schoolboy who does not know his lessons.
It is necessary to regulate the import of tyres in order that our manufacture may be successfully undertaken here.
Give us the figures.
Give us the figures of the total number in Cork who have licences to import tyres.
Will the Deputy explain precisely what he wants to know? He asks for the number of persons in Cork who have licences to import tyres. How valuable would that information be to him?
The Minister says that he is going to allow tyres into this country only on permit, and he arranges his quota in such a way that instead of distributing it on a percentage basis he distributes it on any kind of basis he likes. I want to know as a possible protection of the commercial community in what direction are the licences for the importation of these things going, and to what extent will they be divided as between the four principal ports.
The Deputy apparently has not read the Act, or he has failed to grasp what it provides for. As regards the register of importers, anybody can get on it.
If he has not imported previously can he get on it?
If he never imported anything previously, if he was born only yesterday, he can get on it. There is not even an age limit. But it does not follow that he will get a licence. The Deputy asked me for information about those on the register. There could be 2,999,000 people on the register. I do not know what he wants that particular information for. To get him all the information that he requires would take the whole section of my Department dealing with the control of imports a week or ten days doing nothing else, and the information, when available, would be of no value at all to anybody.
Slightly exaggerated again.
I told the Deputy already the total quotas fixed for each period.
You might tell us here now, but you refused to tell the members of the House on paper what they were. The Minister refused to put down on paper for the purpose of this discussion what the quotas were or what their periods were.
The periods are all fixed by Order and the quotas are fixed by Order.
The Minister declined to circulate copies of the Order and he would not give, for the information of the members, what the figures were.
The first quota period was the months of October, November and December.
The Minister will give the information in the course of discussion here, but he will not give it to Deputies so that they may have an opportunity of examining it.
The total quota for the period I have mentioned was 210,000. The second quota period was the first quarter of this year and the quota was 150,000, subsequently increased by 100,000. That period has not yet expired. During the first period 37 licences were issued for the importation of tyres. I cannot give the figure for the second period, because it is not over yet.
Has the Minister any complaints from traders about these?
No complaints of the nature which Deputy Mulcahy voiced, namely, that the Minister in his absolute discretion is distributing these licences in a manner unfair to some traders and unduly favourable to others. I have had no complaint of that kind. Let me point out that the only circumstance in which any element of discretion enters into the issuing of licences is where the total of the applications received exceeds the total quota fixed.
Exceeds 75 per cent?
Exceeds the total quota fixed. In that case, the Minister has got a discretion which under the Act he must exercise for the purpose of protecting the interests of those previously engaged in the business of importing the commodities concerned. Obviously, in these circumstances, everybody is going to get less than he applied for and, consequently, everybody to some extent will be dissatisfied.
Then it is a rule of thumb rather than an exact calculation?
The total imports for the previous period—the basic period whatever it may be—are ascertained. The total quota is related to that period, and every application is mathematically reduced by whatever proportion it should be reduced, and the licences are then distributed, subject to a 25 per cent. margin; a very useful safeguard, particularly during the earlier periods, because in respect of every quota order there were a number of persons who either failed to apply in time to get on the register, or being on the register, failed to apply in time for a licence, or having applied for a licence, failed in some other way to state their case properly. Their particular cases were met by an allocation from the 25 per cent. which under the Act the Minister may issue according to his discretion. That applied only in respect of the first quota period which we tried to make a short period in every case, anticipating such failures on the part of the importers concerned to realise clearly what they had to do in order to qualify for a licence. But in the second quota period the 25 per cent. in nearly every case was allocated in precisely the same manner as the 75 per cent., with certain exceptions, such as in the case of boots and shoes, where the 25 per cent. was allocated on a different basis. The 75 per cent. was allocated on the basis of imports in the previous year and the 25 per cent was allocated on the basis of purchases of Irish-made boots and shoes in the previous year. But, whatever basis is established, there is a uniform allocation as between all the importers. Each gets a proportion of the total quota available to which he is entitled and no element of Ministerial discretion comes into it at all.
Apart from that, I presume the Minister was in business at some time, while civil servants were not in business. The Minister is well aware of the fact that there are occasions on which in certain quarters of the year people allow their stocks to go down. A man may have purchased a small quantity of tyres during a certain quarter. He may have had practically no stock at the beginning of the quarter. The idea is, I should say, not so much an academical distribution according to the previous period, but rather an attempt on the part of the Department not to interfere with a man's business. If, in the normal case, a man during a particular quarter purchased very little, he might on the last week of the previous quarter have got in a big stock and, consequently, he would not require to purchase during the succeeding three months. It is in cases such as these, on the variation of business, and occasional demands not equated by a quarter in the previous year, that I think one finds civil servants scarcely alive to the fluctuations of business. I should like to know in these cases whether the Minister has taken any cognizance of the facts.
It is precisely to meet such cases that 25 per cent. of the quota need not be allocated at the beginning of the period.
I think the Minister has just told us that the 25 per cent. was distributed on the same basis as the 75 per cent.
I said the difficulties arose in respect of the first quota period. During that period the 25 per cent. was used in order to prevent these hardships arising, either through exceptional circumstances arising, or ignorance of the requirements of the Act on the part of importers. By the second quota period all these anomalies had been smoothed out, and it was generally possible immediately to allocate the 25 per cent., or some portion of it, upon a uniform basis, reserving only a small quantity to meet abnormal cases. In any event, there is another consideration which should be mentioned. It is only in respect of motor tyres that you have the situation that the industry has not yet been established. It is not possible for the importers to go to some home source to supply all the needs in that case. The period during which imports will be taking place at all is only a limited one. The Order was made last September. By next June, we hope that in respect of a large number of classes of tyres no imports will be taking place at all, and the retailer or the wholesaler, or the business man can get his supply, without Government regulation of any kind, from home sources. In respect of the other quotas —boots and shoes, hosiery, etc.—there is an alternative source of supply open to the trader, if he chooses to avail of it. The quota only applies to that proportion of the total trade which must still be met by imports and that we hope to eliminate as quickly as possible, so that the Government may bow itself out of that sphere of activity and allow traders, unrestricted by any regulations, to get supplies from home sources exclusively.
In the case of traders whose imports during that quarter were not equated to the normal flow of their sales in respect of the quarter, has consideration been given?
Very definitely. Take the case of a firm which was, say, only started within the year taken as the basic year in calculating the amount of the allocation to each person. In such cases, a full year's figures could not obviously be produced, but a reasonable calculation was made of the proportion of the total trade that trader might account for, and he was given a licence accordingly.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 3) Order, 1934, made on the 18th day of September, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
This Order regulates the import of boots and shoes of materials other than rubber and other than infant sizes. The object of the Order was to provide an outlet for the products of Irish factories, and also to stimulate home production and the establishment of new factories. In order to effect these objects it is proposed to reduce imports to figures which we estimate will be sufficient to meet all the requirements of the country, when combined with the production of the Irish factories. As production of the Irish factories increases the quotas will be reduced, with a view to the ultimate elimination of imported footwear, as far as that is possible. The boot and shoe industry has made very considerable progress in recent months, and it only requires the stimulus of this Order to secure its complete development, and the production here of all classes of boots and shoes required in the quantities needed. I should hope that with the increased production of existing factories, and the establishment of certain new factories in the course of this year, we can contemplate at a very early date the entire elimination of imports, except perhaps for odd sizes and numbers. The first quota period was for the last quarter of 1934. The quota fixed for the period was 270,000 pairs, which represented a reduction of 40 per cent. on the imports for the same period of 1933. For the second quota period, that is for the first quarter of this year, the quota was 462,500 pairs, representing a 50 per cent. reduction on the imports of the coresponding period 12 months earlier. The first quota was completely allocated, 269,375 pairs being imported under licence during the period. The number of licences issued was 808. The second quota period is, of course, still current, and licences are still being issued.
The Minister again says that the intention of these quota Orders in the case of boots and shoes is to develop his policy of extending the boot and shoe industry in the country to the point at which there will be no imports of the type of boots and shoes which are referred to under this quota Order. While he tells the House that, again he makes no attempt good, bad or indifferent, to tell us what is the position of the boot industry at the present time. In reply to questions this morning he said that there are 18 firms engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes. Their locations are: Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Sligo and Waterford, but he says that he has no information with regard to the number of persons employed, other than to refer us to the census of production figures such as were published some time ago. It has been possible and it has been the custom in the past to take a census every half-year of the employment in the boot and shoe industry, to reduce it to terms of the average number of persons fully employed over the whole year, and to let this House know what that figure was. Is the Minister's difficulty in finding that figure now the fact that so many persons in some of those boot factories have been on half time or on short time for so long?
We would expect the Minister, in asking the House to accept this motion, to tell us something about the condition of the boot industry at the present time. The Minister has completely failed to do so. We ask the Minister to give us some information as to what was happening as a result of these quota Orders. The Minister says he was not asked for certain information, but the Minister was asked to tell the House the extent to which application was made, during the preliminary period of this quota Order, to admit boots and shoes into the country. The Minister was asked to say the total amount in value of the articles in respect of which importation licences were sought during the preliminary period, the total number and value of the articles in respect of which such applications were refused, and the grounds for such refusal. The Minister has declined to tell the House what happened as regards the preliminary period during which this quota Order for boots and shoes operated. He was asked what were the commercial requirements in respect of the import of boots and shoes during that period, to what extent he met them, and if he failed to meet them to some extent what were the reasons for that failure? The Minister was further asked in respect of the first quota period to say the total number of articles in respect of which licences for importation were duly sought before the commencement of the first quota period, their percentage of the total quota, and on what basis licences were issued. The Minister has declined to tell the House what were the commercial needs, according to the people engaged in commerce, in respect of boots and shoes for the first quota period. He will not tell the House in writing what his quota is. He declined to do it in answer to a question this morning. He did not circulate the Orders to Deputies, and now he declines to tell us what the commercial community asked for in the shape of licences to import boots and shoes during the first period, or on what basis he allocated lots of various licences.
He has told us in respect of motor and cycle tyres that they were allocated on the basis of a person's previous imports. He would not tell us what the total number of applications was, but he implies in his answer that it was greater than the total amount which he fixed as a quota. In respect of boots and shoes he declines to say anything as to the basis on which the licences were allocated. When the previous Administration came into office one of the industries which they set aside to foster and develop when they were allowed to do so under any kind of reasonable circumstances was the boot and shoe industry. In close consultation with the Irish manufacturers of the time they put on a certain tariff. They increased the employment in the boot and shoe industry from about 250 on full time all over the year in 1924 to 1,205 on full time all over the year in respect of the last date for which the Minister has allowed the publication of figures in the year 1931. The boot and shoe industry developed under a medium sized tariff at that time. A higher tariff was not given because the Irish manufacturers thought that a higher tariff might, in the long run, prejudice their interests by bringing foreign companies in here. They were dependent to a very large extent on the good-will of a number of commercial houses throughout the country to foster the demand for Irish boots and shoes among the purchasing public. There are—no doubt well known to the Minister, and at any rate well known to the people in the country and to Irish boot manufacturers—a certain number of firms which concentrated to a very large extent on the sale of Irish boots and shoes, to the exclusion as far as they could of foreign articles. The Minister, I think, will not deny that on the basis on which his first quota was arranged he completely ignored that class of firm, which was the prop of the Irish boot and shoe manufacturers when they started to develop their industry between 1924 and 1931. When he fixed the quota, the more boots and shoes a person imported in the past the bigger quota he got. He will not deny that you had in this city, at any rate—whatever about elsewhere, and I am sure it also happened elsewhere—commercial firms which had stood by the Irish manufacturers in their fight to get demand for their boots and shoes on the part of the public were prejudiced by being cut down in the amount of necessary imports of boots and shoes and a preference given to those firms which had done nothing to support the Irish manufacturer. Trade has been lost to some of these firms and has gone from them to firms that imported the foreign manufactured article, simply because there are certain lines of boots and shoes purchased by the poorer classes, on the one hand, and by the better classes, on the other, that they had not been able to get because the administration of the licences by the Minister operated against them.
The Minister so conducts his answers to questions on these subjects that we get no chance of adequately protecting people of that type. He declines to give us any information that would enable us to judge the difficulties that, on the whole, the commercial community are put into. The Minister by his quota Order has cut down the imports of boots and shoes by 40 per cent. as compared with last year. Will the Minister consider the increase in the price of boots and shoes that that is bringing about in the country? Will he tell us that the boot and shoe manufacturers in the country are, during this year, meeting that restricted market by an increased output? Will he also tell us, when he speaks of the additional boot factories about to be set up in the country, whether he has considered the distribution of the present factories, the type and extent of the material they are turning out and what they are capable of? Is he doing anything to secure that we are not going to have an unregulated, unplanned and uncoordinated scheme of boot manufacturing machinery scattered throughout the country? Will he tell us if any of these 18 firms are restricted by any agreement to any particular output, or restricted by any agreement to any particular type of output, or whether they are all producing goods of all classes? Has anything been done to guide them so as to secure that there will be something differential in the type of production that they are concentrating on?
It does seem that, in the interests of Irish boot manufacturers, of those who have, comparatively recently, come in with their up-to-date equipment, something should be done to bring them together, to review the possibility of their co-ordinating their work with the idea of having here 18 sound boot manufacturing firms before the net is spread too wide, and before they find themselves, in the case of articles that require such specialised manufacture as boots and shoes, with a too-scattered equipment.
I do not quite know if this is the appropriate occasion upon which to state all the measures that have been taken from time to time in order to secure the development of the boot and shoe industry upon rational lines.
It would be a most excellent occasion to do it.
I am afraid that I cannot agree with the Deputy on that any more than on a number of other matters.
Is not the Minister's position this, that he is dodging every possible opportunity of making any kind of a real and complete statement on any aspect of industrial development here?
Can the Minister suggest any occasion on which it would be more suitable to deal with the boot and shoe industry as a whole than on this occasion when he is moving a resolution asking the House to stop completely—that is what the Minister's action implies—the importation of boots and shoes into this country.
Mr. Minch rose.
The Minister is in possession.
If the Deputy desires to come to the rescue of Deputy Mulcahy I am prepared to give way.
I think Deputy Mulcahy's point was that in the interests of the national economy it was desirable that the Minister should give the information asked for. This boot and shoe industry is a very important one, and Deputy Mulcahy's argument, as I understood it, was that if the Minister followed the lines he indicated there would be a saving from the national point of view.
I agree that this is an appropriate occasion to indicate the progress which has been made and which is contemplated in respect of the boot and shoe industry as a whole, but that is an entirely different matter from recounting the various measures taken in order to deal with that particular development. For example, Deputy Mulcahy asked if individual firms were subject to restriction of output of any kind, or were confined to the manufacture of particular classes of boots and shoes. I do not know that this is an appropriate occasion to deal with these matters. We have very little power to regulate——
The Minister can tell us whether they are or not.
If the Deputy will keep silent I will do the best I can. We have very little power to regulate in any way either the nature of the production of any industrial concern or its volume. It is only where firms are acting under a Control of Manufactures Act licence that powers of regulation exist, and such firms as have been established under such licences in the boot and shoe industry in the past two years are, in nearly every case so far as I can remember, subject to a maximum output. They are licensed to undertake a certain maximum output of boots and shoes in the course of a year, but the majority of firms which have been established did not require a licence. They were established with such a proportion of Saorstát capital as enabled them to operate without a licence, and they were, in consequence, subject to no restrictions whatever either in respect of output, quality or class of manufacture. Nevertheless, it was open to the Department to take various measures in order to facilitate development along the lines desired.
Very few of the new firms would contemplate the establishment of a boot and shoe factory in any town in the Saorstát where no such factory had ever existed before without certain facilities for the training of staff, the usual facility being the concession permissible under the Finance Act of 1932 to import for a period certain semi-manufactured parts. Every factory that was started got that concession in one form or another: the right to import free of duty semi-manufactured parts upon which local labour could be trained until the whole process of manufacture could be undertaken. The power to give or withhold that concession has been used to facilitate, first, the establishment of factories for the purpose of undertaking the production of the classes of boots and shoes that were not being produced in sufficient quantities in the country; and, secondly, the establishment of factories in areas in the country where we wished to see them set up.
The factories that existed here before this revival was initiated were, in the main, concentrating upon the production of the heavier types of boots and shoes. In the earlier years a number of factories were started that went into the lighter types of men's shoes, and then two or three factories concentrated upon ladies' shoes of the lighter type. A couple of new factories that were facilitated concentrate on children's shoes of the sizes which are affected by this particular Order. It is only within the past month or six weeks that a factory has been established for the production of infants' shoes of a size not covered by this Order but affected by the next Order on the paper.
There is still a deficiency in production, mainly in the lighter classes of ladies' and men's shoes and the facilities which the Department can give in the future will be made available mainly for such firms as are proposing to engage in the production of this class of shoes rather than any other class. At the same time, there is nothing to prevent any firm establishing itself in any part of the country for the manufacture of any class of boots and shoes, provided they are prepared to do so without the facilities which the Department might withhold from them. That has, in fact, happened here and there, in other industries as well as this. The new factories I hope to see established under this Order will be factories concentrating on the production of the lighter, finer and cheaper types of men's and women's shoes as well as infants' shoes.
The factories are quite capable of producing the quantity required to supplement the imports permitted under this Order. In fact, the possible production of these factories, as ascertained by an examination of their best week figures during the course of the past year, would be far in excess of the quantity required if importation was to continue at the same rate as has been permitted under quota Orders up to the present. We did not take the best week figures in determining our quota allocations, because we considered that there would be difficulty—physical difficulty in some cases and financial difficulty in other cases—in particular firms maintaining that best week figures for 52 weeks in the year, and so it was decided gradually to bring down imports to a point at which the quantity coming in would be sufficient only to supplement the possible production of existing factories, but by that time, we should hope that the productive capacity of some of these factories will have been increased and certain new factories established and that we will find that increased production taking place at an accelerating pace, so that, by quite an early date, we can eliminate imports altogether.
The progress made since the Order was made has been, I think, quite satisfactory. A number of the existing concerns have installed new machinery, built additions to their factories and increased their production considerably, and at least one new factory has come into operation, while another concern, which was operating a factory, has started what is, in effect, a second factory. There are a number of proposals at present before the Department for the establishment of new factories in different parts of the country, some of which, at any rate, will be proceeded with. If they were all to be proceeded with, we would have a considerable surplus of production which, from many points of view, would be undesirable. They will not, however, all be proceeded with because some are of a class which it is not necessary to encourage, having regard to the extent to which the market for the goods which they might produce is at present being supplied by existing concerns.
It was necessary to effect this regulation of imports because it was preferable to afford the additional protection which the industry now requires in its present stage in that way rather than by increasing the import duty, and the stimulus to production which we contemplated would follow the making of the Order has, in fact, been given, so that we can contemplate a fairly rapid reduction in the permitted imports in each quota period until we have eliminated them.
What has been the increase in employment by reason of these Quota Orders or total prohibitions?
I could not say.
I know it is not giving the Minister a chance of making a fair answer, but I should like to get down to the economy of the thing. Does the boot and shoe industry warrant all this expenditure at the present moment?
The Quota Order was only made last September and I could not say what increase in employment has taken place since then. Since the duty was increased in April, 1932, the number of concerns has been doubled and employment in the industry has about doubled, but there is still considerable scope for further progress, even in the existing concerns, if they keep up to full production all the year round.
Will the Minister watch the prices being charged in country shops for boots and shoes?
I have had no complaint whatever with regard to the prices charged for boots and shoes here. In fact, the existing factories have been very successful in producing boots and shoes at prices which stand comparison with the price of boots and shoes produced anywhere, except in the case of certain classes of Japanese goods. There has been no complaint of any serious nature from anybody with regard to the price of boots and shoes from Saorstát factories. The quality has been excellent in every way — something which is to be considered rather remarkable having regard to the fact that the biggest difficulty in the development of this industry is the training of the highly-skilled labour required in it. That has retarded its development to some extent, and even will still retard its rapid development in the future.
I wish to protest that the Minister has completely ignored the complaint I make about the outrageous treatment of certain concerns, who, in the formative years of the boot industry here, supported Irish manufacture.
I did not ignore it at all. The Deputy has, in fact, been reading from the Seanad debates when these resolutions were moved and if he had read them with any care at all, he would have seen that the matter was dealt with there. During the first period under the Boot and Shoe Quota Order, there was no possibility of allocating the licences on any other basis than the imports of previous years. It would have been impossible to carry out the investigation which would have been necessary in order to ascertain the purchases from Irish factories which particular firms had undertaken. A very large number of the people on the register had failed to apply in time; a much larger number had failed to appreciate that licences were being allocated in single boots and shoes, and not in pairs, and consequently, they were getting only half the quantity they should have been getting. Other firms had failed to register and generally, there was quite considerable difficulty in securing that the total quota would be properly utilised and distributed throughout the country.
We succeeded in doing that. It was only when the second period began to operate, when importers, appreciating what was required of them, understood the legal points, that we could contemplate any elaboration of the system of allocation and at that stage it was also possible to get the information on which the allocation of the proportion of the quota on a basis other than that of the previous year's imports could be made, and for this period, the greater portion of the 25 per cent. provided for in the Act is being allocated on the basis of purchases from Irish manufacturers in previous periods.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 3) (Amendment) Order, 1935, made on the 22nd day of January, 1935, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
The original Order (Quota No. 3) relating to boots and shoes did not cover infant sizes. Since the Order was made, however, arrangements have been made to commence the production of infants' boots and shoes in the Saorstát. Consequently, it was decided to amend the Order so as to bring them within its scope. In consequence of that amendment, it was necessary to increase the quota so as to permit the ordinary importation of these boots and shoes to continue until the home production has increased to the point when they can be eliminated. Additional quotas for 75,000 pairs were made in the present quota period, in consequence of the making of this amended Order. The first factory for the production of these infants' boots and shoes is being established at Clonmel. I cannot say precisely what stage it has reached, but I think production has been commenced. I am not sure that deliveries have commenced. Other arrangements are being made elsewhere also for the production of these boots and shoes and until production is sufficient to satisfy full requirements, imports will be allowed to continue.
We are asked to pass an Order that no one in this world has seen.
No one who has not a salary of £1,000 a year plus remission of income tax. The remarks the Minister has made on it have emphasised the difficulty of dealing with such an Order.
Why has not the Deputy seen it?
What a disgraceful thing it is to ask the House to pass this Order——
Why did not the Deputy make it his business to see it?
Where could I have seen it?
In the library.
Why should we have to go to the library to see it? We did not know it was there until we were told. Can the Minister say when the copy was put in the library?
The Order was tabled in the library.
Was a Deputy to come from Cork or Donegal to inspect this Order in the library? The Minister knows very well that no one in this House knew, or could know, anything about the Order until the President answered the question to-day and the President's answer to-day implied that Deputies could not get a copy. The Minister now tells us that the amending Order deals with certain quantities of infants' boots and shoes but, as far as the ordinary person can read it, Quota Order No. 3 deliberately excludes infants' boots and shoes. So that we are asked now to pass an Order that nobody in this House could ever have seen. So far as people have been able to see Quota Order No. 3 they cannot make head or tail of what the amendment means when the Minister brings in a reference to infants' boots and shoes.
If Deputy Mulcahy neglects his business as a Deputy that is a matter for himself and I think that the time of the House should not be wasted in this way. Other Deputies who were doing their business conscientiously went to the library and saw the Order.
I challenge the Minister to produce a Deputy who can say that he saw Quota No. 3 (Amendment) Order, 1935. Produce your Deputy now.
The Order was made available in the library for Deputy Mulcahy to see. All the people on the register, that is 808 people interested in the retail business, were circularised from the Department notifying them of the Order and of the additional quota made in consequence of it. The matter was published widely in the newspapers. If the Deputies opposite are all asleep, there is no reason why the business of the House should be wasted in consequence.
Will the Minister produce a Deputy who saw a copy of the Order and will he explain what this Order has to do with children's boots and shoes and rubber boots?
Order No. 3 excluded infants' boots and shoes from the quota. This is an Order which amends that Order by the inclusion of infants' boots and shoes.
Four months after the first Order was made?
A new factory was started in the meantime?
Will the Minister say about what time?
Some time about the beginning of the year.
Do you mean the Clonmel factory?
It is not started yet.
It is coming into production. It is started.
I ask the Minister again to say in what way the Amending Order to No. 3 brings in infants' boots and shoes.
Order No. 3 related to boots and shoes made of materials other than rubber and excluded infants' boots and shoes. Order No. 4 dealt with boots and shoes made of rubber and excluded infants' boots and shoes. Both Orders were amended, one by the Order referred to in item No. 20 on the Order Paper and the other by the Order referred to in item No. 22 on the Order Paper, so as to eliminate from these Orders the exclusion in favour of children's boots and shoes in order to make the prohibition of imports apply to these articles. In consequence of the extension of the scope of the Orders the quota was also increased. The matter was published in the newspapers, it was broadcast from the broadcasting station, and it was the subject of a circular sent to every retailer in the country. The Order was also placed on the table of the library for the information of Deputies.
On what date?
Some time ago.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 4) Order, 1934, made on the 18th day of September, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
Under Order No. 3 the imports of boots and shoes of leather were restricted. It was feared that such a restriction upon the imports of boots and shoes of leather would result in a very large increase in the imports of boots and shoes of rubber. Consequently, Order No. 4 was made to regulate the imports of boots and shoes of rubber. However, these goods are not being produced here, nor is there any immediate prospect of their being produced here, so that the quotas fixed under the Order are such as to allow normal quantities to be imported. The only purpose of the Order was to deal with the prospective danger of abnormal imports of this class of boots and shoes when leather boots and shoes were subject to regulation. Order No. 4 covers all boots and shoes of rubber except infants' boots and shoes but, by the next Resolution on the Paper, which amends Order No. 4, boots and shoes of rubber in infant sizes were also brought subject to regulation. The quantity imported in each of the quota periods was: For the first quota period —the last quarter of 1934—150,000 pairs; for the second quota period—a period of six months, expiring on the 30th June next—625,000 pairs. Even that number represents a very considerable increase in what would be regarded as the normal imports of this class of footwear some years ago. It is only in the last year or two that very large quantities began to come in, mainly from Japan. The quantities that will still continue to come in will be very large, and the sole purpose of the Order is to prevent them becoming so large as to interfere with our own boot and shoe industry.
To-day the Minister declined to tell us the number of applications made to him, during the preliminary period for allowing in boots of this kind under this Order. He implied, in his reply, that the number of boots of this kind for which applications were received during the first quota period was more than 100 per cent. of what he allowed. When asked to tell the House what the requirements for the first or second periods were, it was found that he could give no information with regard to rubber boots more than he gave in regard to anything else. Will the Minister say why he declines to give this information to the House?
The Deputy has all the information which can be procured without very considerable trouble. It is not possible to state precisely the numbers, or the value of the imports, during the preliminary period, which was a period of abnormality and was for the importation of goods in transit. It might be stated in quantities or value, but to go back over the whole and to relate them to one another, so as to get the total quantity, or value, would be a task of considerable trouble and of very little value. I do not see how the Deputy would be any wiser if he got that information. The information that the Deputy seeks would cause very considerable trouble to collect and would disorganise the work of the staff. They would have to concentrate upon working out information which really would be of no value to anybody when collected. If the Deputy could show what precise point of importance information would make clear, then, we might try to meet him at some period when the work of the Department is easier than it is at present. At present we could not possibly undertake this work. At another time we might undertake it if the information is of any value. Personally I am not in the least interested to know these figures, because I cannot see that they are of the slightest use to anybody.
I am interested to know. When the Minister exercises his power in making an Order like this it is right that we should at least know whether all the applications that were made for the importation of these things were granted, and, if not, why not? What the Minister seeks to establish is a position in which he can issue a Quota Order, and then hold up imports to any extent he likes, on people who made application in the preliminary period, and give no information at all as to the effects of his actions. I want to know the amount it was sought to bring in in the normal was during the preliminary period and the amount he refused people to bring in. Does the Minister think it is unreasonable for the House to want that information?
The preliminary period is a very short period indeed. The quantities allowed in in the quota period are stated.
The Minister has only given information as to what the quota was, and in some instances the actual amount allowed in. I ask him not to run away from the position in which the community finds itself when an Order like this hits them. The Minister has taken up the position that he is not going to give the information as to how these things were met in the preliminary period. He is not going to expose himself to criticism here for what he did in that period. When we raise the important question of the preliminary period he goes off to the quota period. If he faced the question of the preliminary period, we could then face the quota period.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 4) (Amendment) Order, 1935, made on the 22nd day of January, 1935, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
I explained the purpose of this Order in the discussion on the last resolution. It is similar in effect to resolution No. 20 except that it refers to rubber footwear in children's sizes. The additional quota fixed in consequence of making this Order for rubber footwear is 58,000.
This, again, is an Order which, like Quota NO. 3 (Amendment) Order affects children's boots and shoes. It affects them in respect of rubber boots and shoes. Again, it is an Order that no eye in this world has seen. The Minister says that Deputies had seen it. Again I challenge him, as I challenged him on Quota No. 3 (Amendment) Order, to produce a single Deputy here who has seen Quota No. 4 (Amendment) Order which we are discussing now——
Any one of them who reads the newspapers.
——or to produce a single Deputy who could have known where to get it or who had any opportunity of putting any question to the Minister about any aspect of it, even if the Minister were prepared to answer. Another Order, under the Emergency Imposition of Duties Act, put a duty of, I think, 30 per cent. on boots of the kind that it is now proposed to deal with under this amended Quota Order. We are dealing now with a class of boots and shoes not made in this country which, the Minister says, are going to be made in Clonmel; on which, nevertheless, a 30 per cent. tariff has been put——
Not by this resolution.
——not by this resolution, but within the last ten or 12 months—and in which the situation has been further squeezed in the matter of supply and in the matter of price by this Quota Order. The part of the community that is most affected by it are the poor class, and the poor class in respect of their children. The Minister, as I say, asks the House to deal with this, not only without any chance being given of seeing the Order but without telling the House anything about it. Again, I say it is a disgraceful way to treat industrial development here or to treat the people who have to provide themselves, out of very slender means, with the types of articles the Minister is dealing with in this Quota Order.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No.5) Order, 1934, made on the 5th day of October, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
This is an Order which regulates the imports of sugar exceeding 98 degrees polarisation. It has been estimated that the quantity of sugar required, of the kinds produced by the Irish Sugar Company and subject to the Quota Order, in excess of the Sugar Company's production, is about 500 tons a month and the quotas are fixed so as to permit of the imports taking place in the periods when the Sugar Company's production is not taking place and, to a limited extent, in the periods when production is taking place. The most of the sugar that is required is cube sugar, icing sugar and castor sugar and these are not being made in sufficient quantities by the Sugar Company, although in due course they will undertake their production also. The quotas have been varied from time to time according as the market conditions varied and considerable restrictions will be maintained until the end of the season, when the stocks of the Sugar Company will have been exhausted, when full imports will again be allowed to take place until the next season's campaign opens.
During the preliminary period licences were issued to all applicants; any person who applied for a licence to import sugar, and who was on the register of importers, receiving it for the full amount. When the quota period commenced, the quota was allocated on the basis of the previous year's importation amongst all applicants. That position is being maintained now. It is probable that the stocks of sugar produced during the present campaign in the four factories of the Sugar Company will carry the country up to some time in July. There will then be a gap from that until sugar from the next campaign is available during which full imports will take place.
The Minister asks the House to pass this Quota Order and does not go to the trouble of telling the House what amount of sugar came in during the preliminary period or what amount of sugar he is allowing in during the different quota periods. He gives a general statement that he will fit in his quotas more with the requirements of the Sugar Company than of the people of the country. Why does not the Minister tell us the amount of sugar coming during each quota period.
Does the Deputy want to know?
I do. The Minister refused to tell me in reply to a Parliamentary question to-day.
I told the Deputy where he could get the information—in the library of the House. For the first quota period, which was two months, it was 1,150 tons and for the second period of three months, 1,500 tons.
The Minister in introducing this motion did not think it worth while to tell the House that. This is a further attempt to squeeze the consumers of the country in the matter of payments for sugar. It has already been complained in the House that during the last calendar year the Government put an impost of £735,000 on the sugar consumers of this country. That does not pass into the revenue or come out in any way that can be publicly recorded. It goes across the counter from the person buying a bag of sugar to those who can take as much as they can out of it afterwards.
It is supposed to go to the farmers. We can look at the farmers' side of it. There is a sum of £735,000 due to a direct impost. There is a further squeezing of money out of the people's pockets as a result of reducing the amount of sugar available in the market, and the Minister tells us it goes to the farmers. Before the Dáil passes this Order it ought to examine to what extent the sugar industry in this country is worth squeezing the consumer in the way in which he is being squeezed and to what extent the farmer is getting anything out of it. The Minister knows the complaints of the farmers to-day with regard to the price they are getting for beet. Has the Minister looked to the position of the agricultural labourer? Wexford is the second highest beet-growing county and what is the position of the agricultural labourer in Wexford? Not only do they get subsidies for beet, but for wheat and tobacco in that county. This Quota Order is being put on to squeeze the sugar consumer in the interests of the farmer. I take it the agricultural labourer also has an interest in the matter. The County Committee of Agriculture in Wexford met about six weeks ago and, such was the condition of the agricultural labourers in Wexford, that the committee appealed to the Ministry to widen the terms of the Unemployment Assistance Act in order to give free beef to every one in the agricultural labourer class in the country. The Government took no notice of that. The committee met again a week or so ago to consider a resolution asking the Government to set up a committee to examine the question of the wages of agricultural labourers in Wexford, where there is so much of this beet-growing going on, with a view to seeing that agricultural labourers were assured of better wages from the industry. That motion was not carried, but a motion was carried asking the Government to subsidise the wages of agricultural labourers in Wexford, and again asking the Government to consider their appeal to extend the free beef scheme to agricultural labourers in Wexford because the average wages paid to agricultural labourers there were said to be 8/- per week plus food. These were the circumstances in which many married agricultural labourers found themselves in a county that is supposed to be one of the counties mostly prospering as a result of the sugar policy of the Government.
This quota is put on to encourage tillage. A sugar beet factory has been set up in Tuam to cater for Connacht. Will the Minister say that tillage has been increased in Connacht as the result of the establishing of that factory? In spite of the fact that 3,600 acres of beet have been grown in Connacht, the increase in tillage in Connacht last year as against 1931 was only 900 acres. So that the sugar policy of the Government, apparently, has not brought about increased tillage in the West, given the farmers of the Midlands a decent price for their industry, or given the agricultural labourers anything but a pittance. This House is asked, while being refused information as to the sugar requirements of our people as estimated by the commercial community, to sanction what the Minister has done in putting a ring round this country and preventing sugar coming except at his own sweet will. Before the Minister asks this House to agree with this resolution we should hear something about the sugar industry— why it is not increasing tillage in the West; why it is not paying farmers in the Midlands; and why in the counties presumably benefiting mostly by it and which are drawing most of the money from the consumers' pockets as a result of it, the agricultural labourers are in the position painted by the County Committee of Agriculture in Wexford.
I should like to support strongly the remarks of Deputy Mulcahy. The sugar industry is one where we get down to business, but this is the last place in the world to discuss it, because if you want to be sincere or to bring about a business proposition in administration you are accused in this House of having political motives. There is no political motive in the beet question in the Free State to-day. On the contrary, those who are in contact with farmers realise, after discussing the question with them, that on the present basis the offer made them does not represent an economic wage. I call it wage——
On a point of order, I do not think that the price of beet arises on this resolution to approve of the Control of Imports Order.
What are people being asked to do without sugar for?
I am asking a ruling from the Chair. If we are to discuss the price of beet we are going to widen the scope of the debate very much.
Would not justification of the whole policy come up for review in a resolution of this kind?
The whole policy was adequately discussed on the Act which established the sugar beet factories, and could properly be dealt with on the Minister's Estimate.
Could not the case for the imposition of this Order and the activity in connection with the production of sugar from beet the dealt with it as a practical proposition? Does it not depend entirely on the Quota Order?
Well, then there is no necessity for a Quota Order.
Except that it simplifies regulation of the control of imports which are subject to duty.
The simplification of imports is a matter on which the whole policy of the Government regarding sugar beet depends.
Then there is no case for the Quota Order at all, unless sugar is prohibited from coming into this country. As a Quota Order has been the means adopted, the success of the sugar factories goes by the board at once. I suggest that this matter is germane to the discussion.
I do not think Deputies can travel over the whole policy of the Government with regard to this question. If Deputy Minch is going into that I cannot allow him to do so. So far he has not done so. I did not pull him up, as I did not think he was travelling outside the scope of the debate. I do not think we can discuss the Government's policy with regard to the production of sugar or the establishment of beet factories, because that has been approved of already.
I thought Deputy Minch was going to develop an argument relating to the price of sugar, and I might point out that not merely does the price of beet not arise, but that matter is one for which no Minister is responsible.
I understand that.
Surely there is a difference between discussing generally the price of beet and going into details. The whole question of the price of sugar and the benefit going to arise to any section of the community, where there is restriction on sugar coming in, is not, I submit, out of order. The discussion has not gone outside that.
I am not raising this question as clever politics. It is purely one of cold economics, although the Minister has objected to my statement, believing that I am going beyond the subject dealt with in the resolution. It must be painful to him to listen to it and for that reason he wants to closure me. I am quite certain that the Minister understands that this is what might be called common or garden economics as it applies to sugar beet and as it applies to the farmers in the field on whose behalf I speak. What is their position to-day? Their position is this—that they are not being offered a living wage by this Government. I do not call it a living wage. I call it a wage. If one goes further into the question it will be found that those who are employed by farmers and who live up to their necks in muck when at this work, can only claim 10/- on task work on the basis of the Government's price. I want that to be taken into account by officials of the Department. The basic price farmers can pay amounts only to 10/-.
We cannot go into the prices paid on this motion. I am sure the Deputy realises that.
I am quite satisfied to stop and I am sorry if I have trespassed on the rules of the House.
I gather from the Minister's statement that this Quota Order is one that restricts the importation of sugar for two months to 1,250 tons, and for the following three months to 1,230 tons. What does that mean?
1,500 tons over three months, or 500 tons a month.
The Minister did not tell us if this Order is likely to be amended during the year. In other words, he did not say whether it is intended to increase the quota supplies as the year goes on or whether the average will be between 500 or 600 tons a month. Assuming that it was restricted to 500 tons a month, that means approximately 6,000 or 7,000 tons in the year. The total consumption is 80,000 tons, of which the Minister expects the factories here will produce 74,000 tons——
There will be a period of the year when no Irish sugar will be available.
We cannot take these figures as averages so.
I say that 500 tons a month represents the quantity required of classes of sugar which the company is not producing here, such as lump, icing, and castor sugars. That quantity will be allowed to come in while Irish sugar is available. When it ceases to be available the full quantity of all classes will have to be allowed in.
If my recollection is correct, I think I have seen lump sugar from the Carlow factory.
No; you will have it next year.
What price did the farmers get?
The best prices they got in recent years.
In the absence of yearly figures the House will find some difficulty in appraising the value of this motion. Assuming that the Carlow factory, when able to deal with 17,000 acres of beet, produced one-fifth of the quantity of sugar required for the whole country, and seeing that there are now 44,000 acres under beet, I presume we can get to the point where it may be claimed that we are in a position to produce five-eighths of the country's requirements from the four factories, according to the amount of beet sown last season. It follows from that, with these Quota. Orders, that it is difficult to evaluate the cost of sugar from the Carlow factory, because during the period that restriction of imports of sugar takes place, it is obvious when there is demand there will be supply.
As there is a demand, and there is only one supplier, the supplier is in a position to fix his price. The Minister, I think, did not give us any information as to what was likely to be the ruling price for sugar during the existence of this quota period. The present Customs rate on sugar—the Minister can correct me if I am wrong—is 16/4 per cwt. Assuming that the price for sugar on the quays would be 7/- per cwt., that brings the figure to about 23/-. Would the Minister tell the House whether the output of these factories, which are at present producing sugar, there being prohibition against its importation, will be available at a price which will not exceed that for the imported sugar which is subject to the 16/4 duty? This is a matter of some consequence, as we have read in the papers recently that those who were growing beet are not satisfied with the price, and I am quite sure that the factories were established on the basis of the particular price which they are getting at the moment. If then an increase has got to be made in the price of beet, which appears inevitable from this morning's newspapers, the cost of sugar is going to increase to the people. There is no competition while those Quota Orders are in operation. It would be better if the Government, when they have got to the period when there is no Carlow sugar available, would equate the Carlow supply with their quotas so as to have a definite quota per month. It ought not to be an impossibility. I can understand that the Minister's Department and other Departments of the State may be a little overtaxed, having regard to the multitude of orders, licences, etc., which have to be made by reason of their policy, but some consideration ought to be paid both to consumers and to business people in this connection.
The main point in regard to this quota at the moment is that the price of sugar was never, except during the war, higher than it is just now. Secondly, by reason of this particular move, on some occasions you may be consuming Carlow sugar, while on other occasions, perhaps, you will have to use the imported sugar, and there is no guarantee of the price. While the Quota Order is in existence, and there is no possibility of getting in any other sugar, is it not obvious that the sugar beet factories can put the price at any figure they wish while there is demand? It is one of the necessaries of life, so the price is almost bound to increase during the period, unless there is some corrective on the part of the Minister with regard to the matter.
I should just like to make a few remarks in regard to the beet growers of Leix area. Of course the Minister says that we are not to discuss those matters, but I do think that the farmers should be given a little consideration.
At the right time.
The Minister likes sugar in his tea as well as I do, but he would like me to grow the beet at a price which will suit him and not myself. At the present time I can tell the Minister that in Leix they grow 5,000 acres of beet. That is one of the biggest areas under beet in the Twenty-Six Counties. Wexford comes next. It is a good agricultural county. We were paid 64/- a ton for our beet. I got that myself in the Carlow factory.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce is not responsible in that matter. The House is discussing not the beet subsidy, but a quota Order.
Again on a point of order; the argument we make in regard to this quota is that we refuse to allow the sugar purchasing community to be squeezed by quota or any other Order in respect of a position which gives no satisfaction to the farmers, none to the agricultural labourers, and does not increase tillage in some parts of the country where the sugar beet industry has been established.
The Deputy has made a statement, and I presume he has explained his point, but the Minister is not responsible for the Department of Agriculture. The House is considering a quota Order for sugar. It is not in order to discuss the acreage under beet, the price which the farmer gets, nor the wages of farm labourers.
On a point of order, is it not the Minister's business to show this House that the whole thing is worth while?
That what is worth while?
I should like to know what the Deputy means by "worth while"? The Oireachtas has agreed to the beet sugar scheme, and it is not permissible to resume the debate which took place on the legislation relating to it.
No. We do not want any such thing, but the Minister must be able to show that there is good cause, and that it is worth while to do the particular thing which he is proposing. Our point is that it is not worth while in any way, and we are entitled to say that. Deputy Finlay's point is that it does not confer any benefits on the farmers who grow the beet, and that consequently it is not worth while.
I was very glad to see those factories erected, but if the farmers are to supply them with beet I should like to see them paid for it. There is a 30/- per ton rate for beet of 16 per cent. sugar content, which is the average content of the beet which any farmer in the Free State can grow. When we were getting 64/- a ton for beet our sugar cost in the local shops was 2½d. per lb. To-day we are getting 30/- per ton—a reduction of more than 50 per cent.—and we pay 3½d. a lb. for sugar. Although I may not really be in order I would ask the Minister to listen to me for a minute or two, and I will not detain him longer. I should like to see the farmer put in a position to grow sugar beet. Four factories have been erected, and I suppose we may say that it was the farmers who put them there; I do not see who will pay for them if it is not the farmers. On that ground I should like the present Government to come to the aid of the farmers, and support them in regard to the price of sugar beet. I am a member of the Thurles and Carlow factories and I am on a committee which meets to-morrow to settle the price of sugar. At yesterday's meeting in Thurles we turned down an offer of a flat rate for sugar, which would work out at about 1/- per ton over last year's price. I do not like agitating in this way, but I see the position which the farmers are in, and I see plainly that under present circumstances they cannot grow this crop. If we are to support the Government—which we will do—the Government must come to our aid. We asked the Minister for Agriculture to step in between both parties, and I believe he has refused. If Dr. Ryan were here I should like to tell him that I should be glad to see him take that step in his capacity as Minister for Agriculture. The labouring men——
The Deputy has, on his own admission, spoken out of order for three minutes. Having made his point, he must now confine himself to the Quota Order before the House. The price of beet and the farmer's return do not come within the scope of the Department of Industry and Commerce.
In this House apparently it does not matter what the farmer gets for anything. Anything he gets is good enough for him. Take it or leave it! I think that is the idea in this House. The farmer is the man who is running this country; there is only one man at the helm, and that is the farmer. I stand here to-night for the farmers. I stand on my own feet, and, thanks be to God, will continue to do so while I am in this House. I will not be contradicted by anybody. The Minister can smile at that, but he would not know beet if he saw it. Would he know a bullock from a sheep? It is terrible to have to listen to the sort of nonsense we hear in this House. I cannot see why a farmer cannot get a show here. Some time in the near future I may have an opportunity of expressing my views more fully on this, but I will conclude now by saying that the farmer is badly managed and badly handled.
Did you ever pull beet?
I pulled beet and topped it and delivered it, and I am not like the Deputy, who is good for nothing.
I promise the Deputy that when he does raise that question on the relevant occasion I shall have great pleasure in coming in to hear him make all his arguments. I do not know that any point has been raised which affects the making of this Order. An attempt was made to bring in the old question of the wisdom of the policy of developing the sugar beet industry in the country. That question does not arise now. The only question that arises is whether the control of the importation of sugar can best be effected by quantitative control rather than by a Customs duty. We have a Customs duty in operation because it is an essential part of the sugar beet scheme, but in order to ensure that the quantity of sugar coming in will be just the quantity required to supplement the home production this Order was made.
On the general question, we have succeeded in establishing three sugar beet factories on terms much more favourable to the people of this country than the Carlow factory was originally established on. Deputy Finlay forgets, when he talks of the price of beet in 1924, that there was paid by the taxpayers a subsidy of £300,000 in respect of that one factory, and that if we had to pay a similar subsidy in respect of the four factories now in operation, it would be an impossible task so far as the Exchequer is concerned. The farmers of this country in 1930 and 1931 were growing beet at 39s. per ton, a price which they then accepted as satisfactory. The price now offered to them, taking into account the free pulp that is also being given to them, is in excess of that price by at least 1s. 6d. or 2s. per ton. It is in excess of the price paid in 1931, allowing the equivalent of 3s. or 3s. 6d. per ton in the price of beet as corresponding with the benefit conferred in the free pulp.
There is very little in the free pulp. Has the Minister ever used it?
It can be sold in the open market at that price, and this year was exported at a higher price. Deputy Mulcahy raised some point about the acreage grown in the West. The acreage grown in the West, despite the difficulty of price—despite everything—is as high as was grown for the Carlow factory in the first year.
The acreage under tillage is down.
In due course the factory at Tuam will be just as successful as any of the others.
In the West, where 3,600 acres of beet has been grown, the increase in tillage there last year, as compared with 1931, was only 900 acres.
The area under tillage was increased, but if the Deputy will examine the records from 1921 to 1931 he will not find one year in which the area under tillage was increased in the West, the East, the South, or any other part of the country. For the first time since this State was established the area under tillage is up, and that is what is wrong with the Deputy—he is annoyed because we are succeeding.
If people are to be expected to grow beet they will have to get a price.
Would the Minister now address himself to the point about the agricultural labourers?
On the relevant occasion.
What will the position be in the in-between period? At what price will sugar come in?
Sugar will come in at the world price, plus the Customs duty.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 6) Order, 1934, made on the 12th day of October, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
The No. 6 Order was in a sense a consequence of No. 7 Order. No. 7 controlled the imports of rubber-proofed material and No. 6 controlled the imports of rubber-proofed garments. It was really necessary in order to prevent No. 7 being evaded. There is, in fact, very little import of rubber-proofed garments at all. A quota of 2,600 articles was fixed but was not utilised and everybody who applied for a licence got a licence, but very few, in fact, did so apply.
I am sure it will be news to the House to learn that this Order, which none of the members has seen, prevents the import, except under licence, of all articles of personal clothing or wearing apparel, whether completely or partially manufactured, made wholly or mainly of woven tissue which, in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners, has, for the purpose of proofing, been coated with rubber or rubber solution on one or both sides; all articles which are component parts, made wholly or mainly of such woven tissue as aforesaid, of any articles of personal clothing or wearing apparel; all articles of personal clothing or wearing apparel, whether completely or partially manufactured, made wholly or mainly from a composite cloth containing any woven tissue, any part of which, in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners, has, for the purpose of proofing been subjected to a process involving the use of rubber or rubber solution; and all articles which are component parts, made wholly or mainly from such composite cloth as aforesaid of any articles of personal clothing or wearing apparel. It excludes certain articles such as boots, shoes, goloshes, sandals and clogs.
The Minister, when asked to-day how many firms were engaged in the manufacture of these articles, replied that there are 14, situated in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Louth, and when he is asked the gross value of their annual production and the average number of persons employed in their manufacture throughout the year, he does not know anything about it. He makes no attempt to give the House that information. He declines to answer the question as to how many people are engaged in these 14 factories to provide these articles and what the gross value of their annual production is. He follows up that refusal by declining to allow the House to know what the requirements of the country are in the matter of imports judged by the opinion of the commercial community who have been importing these articles and who require to import them in future—in so far as they are not manufactured here. He has declined to say the total number of these articles in respect of which he received applications for imports during the preliminary period and whether he refused to allow these articles in or not.
I answered all these points. The Deputy must not have been listening.
The Minister told us that "the work which would be involved in the preparation of the detailed information asked for by the Deputy in connection with the issue of licences would be out of all proportion to the value of the information so obtained." That is what the Minister said in relation to the applications that reached him during the preliminary period and the quota period. He does not give us a suggestion that this Order is going to help the manufacture of these articles here to a greater extent than they have been manufactured in the past.
That will not affect it.
So that we are asked to keep out clothing of this particular kind and I do not know why.
I explained it.
The Minister might have another shot at it when he deals with the Quota Order No. 7. But in respect of this particular Order he has treated the House in the way he treated the Order.
I would like to say another word in regard to the whole quota question, whether it is a matter of wearing apparel, beef, sugar or anything else, connected with the national economy of the country. The Minister deserves credit in the working of the Department, but I want to say the main thing is this, that these quotas and these applications for licences all come down to one thing, namely, national economy. His national economy apparently is that different licences are to be required for different commodities that are manufactured here. It is a question of how much it is to cost the country. While we all believe that national industry should be worked up to its fullest pitch, we object to some disquieting facts. There is a case of an industry in which the wages paid amount to £25,000 and the cost to the country of the commodity manufactured —that is to say, the cost to the community as a whole—is nearly half a million. I would like the Minister to go into that matter and find out how much we are earning for the national economy by all these quotas and licences.
The Minister to conclude.
I explained in moving the resolution that Quota Order No. 6 would really answer, in case there is any considerable importation of rubber garments, to prevent the evasion of Quota Order No. 7. In fact, everybody who applied for licences got licences for the full number he required in his quota period. The quota for the first period was not utilised to much more than 50 per cent. Deputy Mulcahy will be particularly interested to hear that recently we received an application for a permit to import a large number of babies' bibs and that matter upset our calculation. That is a quota with respect to garments.
I am glad to hear from the Minister about the babies' bibs, and that he is keeping that matter in mind.
I thought I was concluding the debate.
I would like to ask the Minister this—because he gives information now which, in the most brutal and insolent way, he refused to give to-day by way of reply to a Parliamentary question. He says that everybody who applied for a permit under this Quota Order to import articles during the preliminary period got everything he asked for. He says now that everybody who applied during the first quota period got everything he asked for. Nevertheless, in reply to a Parliamentary question to-day when I asked if the Minister would give "the total amount and value of the articles in respect of which importation licences were sought during the preliminary period and the total number and value of the articles in respect of which such applications were refused and the grounds for such refusal"——
I am waiting for the question.
——"the total number of the articles fixed as the quota for the first quota period; and the total number of articles in respect of which licences for importation were sought," and so on, I was told by the Minister that "the work which would be involved in the preparation of the detailed information asked for by the Deputy in connection with the issue of licences would be out of all proportion to the value of the information so obtained."
When the Minister is called upon to conclude, the practice is that a Deputy may put a question in respect of something on which he requires information.
I want to know what the Minister means by answering a question like that in regard to this matter in the way in which he answered it just now; and why are Deputies to be treated in respect of Parliamentary questions in this way? How is any matter of business to be discussed in the House if that is the type of answer we get?
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 7) Order, 1934, made on the 12th day of October, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
The object of this Order was to regulate the importation of rubber-proofed piece goods in anticipation of the erection of the factory at Cork for their manufacture. At the present time, of course, manufacture is not taking place and there has been no reduction of imports. The quota was fixed on a basis which allowed the normal importation to take place. It is true that the previous year's figures in that connection did not prove to be of much value because we had not estimated the full extent of the effect of the development of the industry of manufacturing garments from rubber-proofed cloth and we had to fix an additional quota during the period when the Quota Order was in operation. The quota fixed for the first period was 358,000 square yards and for the second period 450,000 square yards. The production of this class of cloth will be undertaken by the Dunlop Company at thé Cork factory. No doubt they will be able to supply the requirements sometime in the course of the first half of this year, and when that situation arises, imports will be restricted merely to whatever quantity is required to supplement the production from the Dunlop factory, which will be a negligible figure.
The industry is one of some importance and will give a fair amount of employment. The conditions under which it has been established are probably the most favourable on which it could be established. The task is being undertaken by a company of first-class reputation, properly equipped to do the work in the most satisfactory manner. The Order was made to prevent any very large importations of rubber-proofed cloth in anticipation of Customs restrictions later, when the factory would come into production. No inconvenience is being caused to anybody in consequence of that. During the preliminary period, all applications for licences were granted and the quota is adequate to supply all the requirements of the country in the two periods. The second period is not yet completed.
The Minister has reached Order No. 7 without showing any sign that he has any conception of his obligations to the House. He is dealing in this case with what he expects will help to develop another type of manufacture in this country. The Quota Order refers to "all woven tissue in the piece which is not less than two and a half inches in width and, in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners, has, for the purpose of proofing, been coated with rubber or rubber solution on one or both sides," and (2) "all composite cloth in the piece which is not less than two and a half inches in width and contains a woven tissue which, or any part of which, in the opinion of the Revenue Commissioners, has, for the purpose of proofing, been subjected to a process involving the use of rubber or rubber solution." When the Minister was asked the amount of this material that is required, he declined to give information or to say what applications he got for the importation of this stuff during the preliminary period. He declined to say to what extent the stuff was allowed in. He declined to say, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, what the quota in respect of the first period is, although Deputies have not been furnished with the Order. He has declined to give any idea of the number of applications made for the importation of this stuff during the first quota period. He tells us that there is no firm in the country manufacturing it but that the Dunlop firm in Cork will manufacture it. Earlier to-day, he told us that the Dunlop firm had not begun to manufacture yet—so far as motor tyres were concerned—that they would probably begin about March, but that they would manufacture for stock. He appeared to leave the House under the impression just now that quantities of the rubber-coated material dealt with in this Order would be available from the factory before the end of the first half-year, that is to say, about June of this year. Because of that, he takes hold of the whole import and distributing machinery as from the 12th October last. The Minister has abstained from giving information on so many points in respect of these Orders and he has issued the Orders so long before some of the articles could possibly be manufactured that there appears to be, in his attitude, something more than a desire to help the manufacturing industry. I should like the Minister to say whether, in the advance issue of these Orders so long before production can take place —the Order in this case was issued, I understand, before the site for the factory had been selected—it is his intention not so much to take steps for the protection of the industry as to get a grip, for some purpose or other, of the machinery of distribution. Again, he has refused in this case to give the location of the firms who have registered as importers. Fifty-three persons are registered as importers, but the Minister will not say whether these people are in Dublin, Cork, Limerick or Waterford, or to what extent the trading is at these important centres of import. In the meantime, the Dáil is asked to give the Minister power to interfere with importers, to restrict everybody endeavouring to get in the stuff, and to affect prejudicially people engaged in the commercial handling of these articles. In view of the fact that the Minister has so glaringly refused information that the Minister for Finance made available, and that he made the answer that he did to a Parliamentary Question in respect of Quota Order No. 6, we should not be surprised at the attitude he takes up on this Order. However, I ask him to say on this Order what purpose is served by issuing in October an Order restricting the import of articles which will not, so far as we can judge from the Minister, be available for distribution from any factory in this country until June next.
The answer to the last question by the Deputy is that the purpose which was served by the making of the Order was the establishment of the factory. The making of these Orders was a necessary preliminary to getting the factory established.
Will the Minister say if, in his conversations with the people who are establishing the factory, he discussed the position of distributors and whether there is going to be any change — radical or otherwise — when the factory has been established? Are the people who are distributing, say, tyres, going to be disturbed when the factory is in operation?
In respect of this class of goods, the principal purchasers from the factory will be the manufacturers of garments from rubber-proofed materials. Arrangements have been made to ensure that their interests will be safeguarded.
Will the Minister say if the 53 persons who are importers of this material now are the manufacturers of rubber cloth?
Of whom there are only 14 in the country.
I move Order No. 8.
That Dáil Eireann hereby approves of Control of Imports (Quota No. 8) Order, 1934, made on the 19th day of October, 1934, by the Executive Council under the Control of Imports Act, 1934 (No. 12 of 1934).
Orders Nos. 8, 9 and 10 are all associated, and were enacted to stimulate the motor car assembly business in the Saorstát. In order to secure these objects the imports of completed motor cars were drastically reduced under Order No. 8. Similarly, under Order No. 9, the imports of complete chassis were drastically reduced, because there is little justification for the importation of complete chassis. As a temporary measure, the quota for bodies and body shells, in the No. 10 Order, was fixed at a rather high figure in order to facilitate the motor assemblers during the period of the change over. It is not yet easy to say what effect all these Orders will have on the development of the industry, but there seems to be every reason to anticipate that the motor assembling industry will progress rapidly during this coming year. A number of new makes of cars are either being assembled now or arrangements are being made to assemble them in the course of the coming months, and of course the makes now being assembled here are in sufficient variety to meet most tastes.
The industry has become an important one from many points of view. It has given employment to many hundreds of men, and, when developed, will employ in excess of 1,000, mainly skilled and reasonably highly-paid workers. The industry is, in the main, situated in Dublin and in Cork, and its successful establishment, we hope, will lead in turn to the establishment of a number of other subsidiary industries associated with the motor trade. The first quota period under Order No. 8 is still in operation, and was fixed for seven and one-sixth months, and the quota for complete cars during that period was fixed at 420, which is approximately 25 per cent. of the number imported during the same period in last year. During the preliminary period licences were issued only for cars actually in transit on the date upon which the Order was made. In respect of most of the other Quota Orders, licences were issued freely to most applicants during the preliminary period, and very few people were refused, but in respect of these Orders we adopted a rigid policy of issuing licences only in respect of cars in transit when the Order was made. Any cars on order but not despatched prior to the making of the Order had to be held over till the first period and then imported under licence. The obvious reason is that the quota is small and the value of the article concerned very high, and it was necessary to be much more rigid in relation to these articles than in relation to any of the other articles that were made subject to Quota Orders.
It is not possible to say to what extent we can decrease the quotas during the next period. That will depend very largely on the extent to which the industry is developed. One thing, however, should be clear, and that is that the quota for motor body shells, which was fixed at 500 for the first period, will be considerably reduced because our aim is to secure the assembly of these bodies from disassembled parts and we are facilitating the importation of the complete body for finishing here only as a transitory measure in order to facilitate firms that have not yet made arrangements for complete assembly work.
There are one or two questions that I should like to ask the Minister. In the first place, can he give the House an idea of what the effect of his policy in regard to motor cars has been on employment? Can he establish any comparison between the number of people that have been displaced by the changes and the number of people that have found employment as a result of the changes? Then, I should like to ask him if he can give us any idea of the ultimate effect of all this upon the Exchequer. We have been collecting substantial sums in the past on imported motor cars which, when this policy is completely successful, will cease to be imported altogether. Presumably, we will still go on collecting duties on certain parts of cars that will continue to be imported, but I should like to know if the Minister can give us any general idea of what the effect on the finances of the State will be after his policy has reached completion. I cannot help thinking that the end of this will be again a monopoly. I do not believe that these enterprises in the neighbourhood of Dublin that have been started will last. I do not believe it is possible that there will be a large enough market to make any of them pay their way. I think that in the long run there is not a single one of these newly-established motor car industries here that will not go to the wall except the Ford factory in Cork which is able to produce on a very much larger scale. I understand that the total consumption per annum of cars in Ireland is about 5,000.
Since Fianna Fáil came in.
That is a very modest output even for one make of car or for one factory. There is probably not a single manufacturer in England that would think himself justified in bringing out a type of car if he only expected to find a consumption of 5,000 of them per annum. Now, if we do end up in a monopoly, we are forced to consider very seriously again the question of price. The difference that exists even now between the prices paid for Ford models here and in Great Britain is considerable. Has the Minister any guarantee to give us that that difference will not increase considerably once Ford's Company find themselves in possession of a monopoly here? The Minister is a great enthusiast about establishing new industries. He has much more optimism about the effect of these changes on employment than I have, but whether he is right or wrong about that, I suggest that he should give— perhaps he has given—serious consideration to the position of the national treasury and the question of the prices paid by the consumer, and that he should take the House into his confidence in that regard.
The Minister considers that these Quota Orders are going to be an important help to industry here. Nevertheless, he asks the House, without any information at all, to pass them. Apparently, he has being watching the developments in assembling here and he thinks, apparently, that a satisfactory progress is being made. He is not prepared, however, to take the House into his confidence or to tell the House what can be seen in the development of this industry. Just in the same way as he will not reply to Parliamentary questions and tells Deputies that they can go and find it out in the library, his line in regard to the development of the motor industry here is that if anyone in this House wants to find out anything about it they can go and find it out for themselves. They can look around and visit the places where the industry is developed, but it is none of his function to be answering any inquiring questions with regard to the development of the industry. He is only the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The manufacturers are developing this industry; they have all the information about it and Deputies can go and ask them about it.
Again, in regard to this important industry, the Minister declines to give us any information as to what the commercial experts think are the requirements of the country in the matter of motor cars. The Fianna Fáil Government came into power with the idea as part of its hair-shirt policy that there were too many motor cars in the country and there were to be less. In fact, there were less because one of the first effects of the policy generally was to cut in half the import of motor cars. Now, when the Minister draws the wall of his import orders around what he says is a growing industry he declines to let us know what applications he received during the preliminary period to allow motor cars in. He said he allowed in all cars that were in transit, but all cars not in transit had to be fitted into the small quota number for the first quota period.
I should correct that by saying that in addition to cars in transit during the preliminary period the same proportion of the imports during the same period in previous years was allowed in as during the quota period, namely, 25 per cent.—in addition to the cars in transit.
To whom was that allowance made?
To those who had imported cars previously.
The Minister is prepared to tell us all this now, but he is not prepared to tell us the number of cars brought in during the period. He takes 25 per cent. over the preliminary period plus the quota period and allows that number of cars in, but the Minister is not prepared to indicate the number of applications he received to allow cars in during the first quota period, or how he distributed these. The Minister tells us there are 30 persons entered on the register of persons entitled to get licences. But again in this case he declines to say where these people are located, or what is their qualification. He endeavours to persuade the House that he is doing all this in order to develop the industry here. With regard to this industry, on the success of which Deputy MacDermot has thrown certain doubts, if there are doubts in anybody's mind in relation to the successful development of it in view of the capital invested and the employment it may be possible to give, it would be much more satisfactory and helpful to the industry itself if the Minister would frankly give the information he has at his disposal instead of treating the House in the way he has treated it.
There were one or two matters raised by Deputy MacDermot to which I would like to refer. He referred to the net effect on employment in the motor trade of the development of motor car assembly. The net effect has been to increase considerably the number of persons employed in the trade. It is true that certain persons, agents for foreign cars, who did not themselves arrange to have these cars assembled here have been affected. In fact, at one stage, certain persons tried to organise a combination of motor traders to prevent this policy of motor car assembly proceeding. They did disemploy some of their staffs and undoubtedly they will disemploy more when they go out of business entirely, as they must do now unless they arrange to sell cars that are assembled here. The position is that the motor trade, as a whole, has not suffered in consequence of this change. It is, in fact, standing to gain very considerably in consequence of the change.
The number of cars sold during 1933 was down. That was due to a number of causes, but the main cause was that certain traders, representing the manufacturers of the types of cars at that time most popular in the country, other than the Ford car, were deliberately shutting down on any attempt on behalf of their principals to assemble these cars here; and they hoped, in that way, to secure the defeat of the whole policy. The Quota Order changed that situation. These particular traders, and others in the same position, will in due course disappear entirely from the motor business unless they proceed to sell Irish-assembled cars. The number of persons engaged in the business of distribution and servicing cars will be no less in the future than in the past and the number engaged in manufacture will be a clear gain.
The effect on the Exchequer is not inconsiderable, but as matters are working out, the loss to the Exchequer really represents a gain to the purchasers of the cars. One of the measures adopted in order to encourage the industry was the remission of tax upon unassembled parts, which are now permitted free of duty, the remission of road tax on cars of a certain horse-power, and so forth. The consumer gets the direct benefit of these concessions. But the parts imported by firms assembling cars are subject to duty which is levied for revenue purposes.
I do not think there is the slightest possibility of this industry developing into a monopoly. It is true the Ford company have a large part of the market. They always had and always will have so long as they sell a type of car cheaper than anybody else. There is not the slightest possibility that they will get to a monopoly position. The concerns engaged in assembling these cars are doing so in a thoroughly economic manner. Deputy MacDermot is entirely incorrect when he states that an output of 5,000 cars a year is necessary in order to make the business economic. It must be remembered that none of these people are engaged in motor car manufacture. They are assembling cars from parts manufactured abroad and imported in an unassembled condition. An output of 400 or 500 a year is quite an economic thing for a firm engaged in that type of work. With the exception of Fords, there is not a firm that would undertake a larger output.
Can the Minister explain the difference between the price of a Ford car manufactured here and the price in England?
I am given to understand that in Great Britain for various reasons that particular car is being sold under cost price.
Like the cement here.
The price here is represented as being an economic price for the car. No doubt there are certain increased costs arising out of the assembling of the car here, but certainly it is not sufficient to justify that difference in price. Whether it can be justified for any other reason, I do not know.
Does the Minister propose to take steps to bring the price here to a more uniform level?
If the Deputy does not like that type of car he can purchase another type.
I cannot afford either.
I do not agree with that. There are numbers of makes of cars available, and a person desiring to buy is not confined to any one make, or even half a dozen makes.
Provided he has the money.
Or can get credit. The industry is an important one from every point of view, and will form the basis of other industries in due course, and I think we should very definitely encourage it. There is no reason whatever why a very considerable amount of the employment involved in the construction of motor cars should not be confined here. It only requires the establishment of the necessary workshops for that purpose. They are being established now, and once they are established there is no reason why the complete cars should be imported at all.
How many different makes of cars are being assembled here?
Quite a number.
Ten or 12.
Are they all American, or are there any English?
There are some English cars, a number of American cars, and some Continental cars.
Negotiations are being entered into to increase that?
Other makes of cars will be assembled.
Some of them, and some of them not.
Could the Minister answer the Deputy's question with regard to the effect on revenue?
I could not give precise figures because we do not know what the effect on the revenue will be. There will be some loss of revenue, however. That is clear, because the complete cars were imported subject to 22 2-9ths and 33 1-3rd duty, as the case may be, whereas the all-over average rate of duty now paid on the unassembled parts of a car is about 15 per cent., and that on a lower value. Since 1932, until the Quota Order was issued, there was not merely that percentage rate of duty chargeable on complete cars, but also a minimum duty of £40, which, of course, had a considerable effect on the revenue. The development of the assembly industry means a loss of revenue, in addition to the loss occasioned by the road tax concession.
Can the Minister say how much?
That will depend on the number of cars sold, and I cannot forecast that.