Finance Bill, 1964—Money Resolution.

I move:—

That for the purpose of any Act of the present session to charge and impose certain duties of customs and inland revenue (including excise), to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provisions in connection with finance it is expedient to authorise that to redeem borrowings and interest thereon in respect of capital services, there shall be charged annually on the Central Fund or the growing produce thereof a sum of £1,384,304 in the twenty-nine successive financial years and a sum of £1,588,036 in the thirty successive financial years commencing in each case with the financial year ending on the 31st day of March, 1965.

This is necessary because there is a charge on public funds in the redemption of debt.

I have something to say in relation to the new law on stamp duties which has recently been prepared and published. The Minister will appreciate I am speaking without having had an opportunity of reading it in detail. I must confess that after all the queries I raised with the Minister in this House with reference to it by way of question and by way of speech on various Budgets and Finance Bills, I thought it would have been a nice little gesture if the Minister had sent me one when it was published and then I would have had more opportunity of reading it. He did not, and it was only last night I realised it had been published and I got it this morning. Therefore I have not had the opportunity of considering it in the detail I should like before making certain remarks.

This is a most comprehensive document and one in respect of which the Revenue Commissioners are to be congratulated. The manner of publication by a loose-leaf system so that one can take out pages as they become obsolete and replace them with other pages has everything to commend it. However, it is a pity, and I mention this not in any way to denigrate the value of this but for the purpose of considering it in relation to the get-up of similar documents in the future, that in the actual printing of these loose-leaf documents of this sort, something is not done to show on the head of each page the date up to which it brings the law. There will be a difficulty in future as new pages are put in and we will not know the date on which these books are made out. I mention it not, as I say, in any way to denigrate the value of this because it is one of the best things done by the Revenue Commissioners in a long time. I understand it is proposed to do it on the same basis and I should like to keep it on a system that is clear.

I have had only a short time to examine it, but I cannot see anything to show me the date up to which the law has been included in the volume. We have the Finance Act, 1963, and, therefore, we know it is an accurate statement of the law as it is up to 30th July, 1963. Obviously, it was with the printers for a long time and, for that reason, it does not include the Finance Act which was passed at the end of 1963, so it cannot be the calendar year 1963. Personally, I should like something at the top of each page to show 1963 issue or 1964 issue, or whatever it may be. This is something which will go on for many years and it will be very helpful if we could know the years in which a particular page has been issued.

I am sorry the Deputy had not the opportunity of putting this more minutely before now. If he looks at the preface, he will see that the volume contains both those Acts with amendments effected by the statutes enacted in the period ending with the commencement of the Finance Act, 1963. It goes on to say:

Unless the contrary intention has been expressed, the provisions of the various Acts, which have been included, operated as from the dates of passing of those Acts.

The intention is that any future amendments that will be sent for insertion in the book will bear the date in each case.

Does that statement mean that the Acts will be scheduled? I am aware that the various Finance Acts are scheduled. I saw that, but it did not state that it is the law up to 30th July, 1963. Is that what is intended?

It says that unless there is a note to the contrary, the Acts are still in operation.

Did the Finance Act of 1963 contain anything that hung or waited on an operative date?

It includes the law, if a statute were passed.

Therefore, it includes all the law up to 30th July?

The Minister may have seen these various stock exchange cards that are issued from time to time by the various agencies dealing with them—Exchange Telegraph and Moodie are two I know. In each case it is attempted to add more frequent changes but with the intention of putting them into a folder, and in each case there is on the corner of each page the date of issue—in this case the date of operation. It is desirable, if we are to do this in relation to customs, and in relation to death duties, to have on the corner of each page the date, say, 30/7/63, when they were issued. Everybody would know it was the law as of 30th July, 1963.

It is the intention if this Act is passed by the Dáil and Seanad to have a number of sheets issued which will be dated.

Will they follow the same paging?

They will, and the Companies Act will be included.

It will be a matter of tearing this up and putting in the new one.

A matter has been brought to my attention and I am not sure on which section of the Bill it is appropriate. Had the matter been drawn to my attention earlier, I would have framed an amendment. I want to bring the matter before the Minister at this stage. It might be possible to draft an amendment for the Report Stage. The matter to which I refer deals with industrial buildings allowances. These allowances, as the Minister is probably aware, were first given in the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1956, and provide for relief against tax in respect of all industrial buildings. Hotels were specifically included.

At that time let property was taxed under Schedule A. The Finance Act of last year brought all such property under Schedule D. The letting of houses and provisions of flats were in that respect recognised as an industry. I understand the Revenue authorities do not allow the industrial buildings allowances to be set off in respect of the capital expenditure on flats. It might be easier to give a specific example.

I have in mind a case where a house was purchased for a sum of £4,500. At least the expenditure on it would be £4,500. Of this sum, £3,000 approximately represented the amount required to recondition the house and a sum of £1,500 was regarded as the amount required to convert it into flats. The first figure, that is the sum of £3,000 or the amount spent on reconditioning the house, has been disallowed in total by the Exchequer. The second amount of £1,500 should, I think, be eligible for an industrial buildings allowance but, I understand, that the Exchequer do not regard it as so.

I might add that Schedule A tax on the property is £20, but the total tax under Schedule D is approximately £200. As the Minister is aware, under legislation passed in recent years, there has been a very considerable conversion, particularly of old houses, into flats or multiple dwellings. To that extent, it has made a contribution towards alleviating the housing problems as well as reconstructing old and large houses into dwellings of a more habitable and suitable size to meet present requirements.

I suggest that the question of considering the industrial building allowances might be widened in scope to include the type of work I have mentioned, which is at present outside the ambit of that relief. Expenditure in relation to this work is naturally considerable and the persons concerned, as well as bearing the increase in taxation which has occurred, have also to face the problem of meeting the greater expenditure involved in the conversion of these houses.

It has been suggested to me that the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1956, should be extended in order to cover the type of cases involved in the example I have mentioned and which, to a very considerable extent, involve not merely capital expenditure but a form of investment which is of a desirable character and a form of expenditure which has many advantages, not least the one which I have mentioned—assisting in the provision of dwellings for those in need of them.

I take it the Deputy's suggestion is that we should extend the provisions of the Industrial Buildings Act to cover business premises and perhaps even flats. That, of course, has been considered. I discussed the matter with deputations of traders but did not find it possible to adopt it. It may be done some time, but we have not yet reached the stage where we can do more than consider it. It would have to be done on a different basis from that suggested by the Deputy, as I feel most Deputies will agree.

A factory, because of the shaking it gets from machinery, does not last as long as a building used for purely commercial purposes, or as long as a building converted into flats, because of the different conditions obtaining. I can assure the Deputy we have considered the problem on a number of occasions but have not found it possible to move in the direction he suggests.

Hotels are dealt with specifically in existing legislation.

They are in a special category.

Has the Minister any idea of what this relief will cost? It there any estimate?

The cost would be very high. I should not like to mention a figure.

Would the Minister not give a figure "of the order of"? Would he not give an approximation?

It would be more than £1 million.

Question put and agreed to.
Resolution reported and agreed to.