I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.
The purpose of this Bill is to confirm three Orders made during 1962 under the Imposition of Duties Act, 1957 which provides that Orders made by the Government under that Act, imposing or amending duties, must be confirmed in the calendar year following that in which they are made.
The Orders are:
(1) Imposition of Duties (No. 128) (Customs Duties and Form of Customs Tariff) Order, 1962.
(2) Imposition of Duties (No. 130) (Customs Duties and Form of Customs Tariff) Order, 1962.
(3) Imposition of Duties (No. 131) (Reduction of Rates of Customs Duties) Order, 1962.
Order No. 128 (Customs Duties and Form of Customs Tariff) prescribed a new form of customs tariff based on the internationally-agreed Brussels nomenclature for use in classifying goods for customs purposes; it also revoked all then existing customs duties, except those on tobacco, beer, spirits, certain hydrocarbon oils, and wine which were excluded because of the number of consequential legislative changes which their inclusion would have involved, and re-imposed these duties, with certain modifications, within the nomenclature classification. This Order was made to bring our tariff code into conformity with the classification generally adopted by European countries, including those which are members of the European Economic Community.
Order No. 130 (Customs Duties and Form of Customs Tariff) made a number of necessary amendments of a minor nature to Order No. 128 which I have just referred to and also revoked, and re-imposed, in accordance with the new tariff classification, a customs duty on wheat.
Order No. 131 (Reduction of Rates of Customs Duties) reduced by ten per cent all customs duties, with the exception of certain revenue and agricultural duties, as part of the movement towards freer trade conditions, and in anticipation of our entry into the European Economic Community.
One of the effects of Orders No. 128 and 130 is to re-impose in their new form a number of customs duties which has been amended or imposed previously by way of separate Orders. There are seven such Orders in question, all of which were made in the year 1962.
The first of these Orders, Order No. 121 (Braid), reduced the ad valorem rate of customs duty on braid (other than braid suitable for the manufacture of laces) from 100 per cent (flat), to 60 per cent (full), 40 per cent (UK and Canada), and was made in accordance with the recommendation of the Industrial Development Authority, after a tariff review under our Trade Agreements with Great Britain.
The second Order, Order No. 122—Iron and Steel Files—reduced the customs duty on iron and steel files from 75 per cent (full), 50 per cent preferential (UK and Canada), ad valorem with an additional customs duty of 1/6d (full), 1/- preferential (UK and Canada), the article, to 60 per cent (full), 40 per cent preferential (UK and Canada), ad valorem, with an additional customs duty of 1/1½d (full), 9d. (UK and Canada), the article. This tariff reduction was also made in accordance with the recommendation of the Industrial Development Authority after a Review under our Trade Agreements with Great Britain.
The next Order—Order No. 124— Overcoats for Men or Boys—amended the customs duty on overcoats for men or boys so as to provide for minimum rates of 75/- (full), 50/- (UK and Canada), the article. This change was made because the existing ad valorem rates were found to be inadequate to give protection against imports of low priced goods.
Order No. 125—Knitted Undergarments—amended the customs duty on certain knitted undergarments so as to provide for minimum rates of 2/-(full), 1/4d (UK and Canada), the article. The existing ad valorem rates proved to be inadequate to give protection against imports of low-priced goods and a specific duty had to be imposed to protect the domestic producers.
Order No. 126—Knitted Fabric— amended the customs duty on knitted synthetic fabrics to provide for minimum specific rates of 1/9d. (full), 1/2d. (preferential), per square yard. Here again excessive competition from low-cost producers threatened the interests of the Irish manufacturers and made it necessary to provide more effective protection for the industry.
Order No. 127—Miscellaneous Customs Duties—made some minor amendments to the Imposition of Duties (No. 114) (Miscellaneous Customs Duties) Order, 1961. This latter Order is the Order which provided higher tariff protection for goods, imports of which are subject to quantitative restrictions, so that, in a situation such as would arise on this country's adhesion to the Common Market, when these quantitative restrictions would have to be removed at once, an alternative form of protection would exist.
The last of these Orders—Order No. 129 (Wheat)—imposed a customs duty of 70/- (flat), per ton, on imported milling wheat. The purpose of this Order was to appropriate, for the benefit of the Exchequer, certain surplus profit which would accrue to millers due to the above-normal use of cheap imported wheat following the bad harvest of 1962. The Exchequer incurred heavy expense in coming to the assistance of wheat growers as a result of the poor 1962 harvest.
An explanatory memorandum has been circulated for the information of Deputies. I shall be glad to give any further information that is required. I may say, in respect of the three Orders which were made increasing the tariff protection, these were made as a result of unduly low-cost imports coming in here from low-cost countries. They did not in any way tend to increase, or in effect did they increase, the prices of these commodities as prevailing on the home market up to then. The main purpose was to protect the employment already being given in these three industries.