Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 7 Feb 1979

Vol. 311 No. 4

Financial Resolution No. 5: Excise—Beer.

I move:

(1) That in this Resolution—

"the Order of 1975" means the Imposition of Duties (No. 221) (Excise Duties) Order, 1975 (S.I. No. 307 of 1975);

"the Act of 1976" means the Finance Act, 1976 (No. 16 of 1976).

(2) That the duty of excise on beer imposed by paragraph 7 (1) of the Order of 1975 shall be charged, levied and paid, as on and from the 8th day of February, 1979, at the rate of £67.976 for, in the case of all beer brewed within the State, every 36 gallons of worts of a specific gravity of 1,055 degrees, and, in the case of all imported beer, every 36 gallons of beer of which the worts were before fermetation of a specific gravity of 1,055 degrees, in lieu of the rates mentioned in section 36 (1) of the Act of 1976.

(3) That the drawback on beer provided for in paragraph 7 (3) of the Order of 1975 shall, as on and from the 8th day of February, 1979, be calculated according to the original specific gravity of the beer at the rate of £67.976 on every 36 gallons of beer of which the original specific gravity was 1,055 degrees in lieu of the rate mentioned in section 46 of the Finance Act, 1977 (No. 18 of 1977).

(4) It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1927 (No. 7 of 1927).

It is a mistake at this time to increase taxation on beer and stout. At least 90 per cent of beer and stout is home-produced and this creates a great amount of employment here. This taxation will have implications for the tourist industry in that it will make holidays here so much more expensive. It is quite likely that the publicans will be suffering in that their trade will be affected adversely by such an increase. We should have left the price of beer and stout alone. It would be much wiser to have——

Does the Deputy wish to ask any question of the Minister?

I do. It would have been wiser not to have increased the price of this commodity. The Minister should have left a wider gap between the price of spirits and the price of beer because the vast majority of ordinary working people drink beer. There should be some attraction towards the drinking of beer rather than the drinking of spirits.

The Opposition have quoted against the increase in the price of spirits.

Order, please.

The situation is much better, I believe.

The Deputy wants us to reduce taxation on beer.

It would be desirable to have left the price of beer alone. There is not a sufficient gap between the price of beer and the price of spirits. The tax imposition is a mistake.

I should like the Minister to tell the House the old tax rate on a pint of beer and the new rate.

The duty element pre-budget is 14.92p per pint of stout, the VAT element 3.91p, making a total of 18.83p out of a retail price of 43p. The proposed increase of 2p would be distributed as follows: the duty element would rise to 16.74p, the VAT element to 4.09p, making a total of 20.83p an increase of 2p on the retail price from 43p to 45p per pint.

It is no harm for people who drink beer or spirits to know what they pay to the State when they order drinks. Their contribution of 18.83p is quite adequate. As Deputy Enright pointed out, beer and stout drinking is mainly confined to those in the lower income group, the non-professional people. It is most inappropriate for the Government to impose this additional tax of 2p on beer at a time when we are trying to get co-operation from all sectors with regard to wage agreements and with regard to formulating policies that would be generally advantageous. I do not think there was any need for this tax. When this resolution is passed, if a man buys two pints of beer it will cost him almost £1. We are leaning too heavily on this kind of tax and I am sure many people will be quite indignant about it. The Minister thinks that in two or three months it will be forgotten.

I want to tell those people who drink that, according to the Minister's own figures, when this resolution is passed the State will be collecting 20.83p on every pint of beer. It is as though they handed it over directly to the Exchequer. The cost of collection is negligible because the publicans and the breweries look after that aspect. People are handing over 41.6p in respect of tobacco and the tax in respect of a glass of spirits will be 42.4p. The figures for cigarettes, beer and tobacco——

We are not having a general debate. We are dealing with just one resolution and the Deputy has given his reasons for opposing it.

The State is imposing too heavy a burden. The well-to-do will not have any difficulty in paying the extra tax but we must think of the ordinary man and woman. They will be paying additional taxation that I, as a public representative for quite a number of years, do not consider is justified. I was in agreement with the Licensed Vintners' Association when they made a strong appeal to the Minister for Finance not to impose additional taxation on beer or whiskey.

It may be that there will be a reduction in comsumption, something not foreseen by the Minister for Finance. I would say that would be highly desirable but it will not have the effect the Minister hopes it will have, namely, to increase the revenue. Many people depend on this industry for their livelihood and the State depends on it to keep the wheels rolling. I protest vehemently against the increase in the price of beer and stout.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I should like to give my reasons for voting against the proposal to increase the price of beer. Recently the Taoiseach appealed to the country for restraint and, in particular, he appealed to the workforce to exercise restraint in wage demands. I did not hear him but I understand the Minister for Economic Planning and Development was on the radio last Sunday and that he gave the general impression that the Government's job-creation target could be achieved if we were a nation of archangels and if everyone behaved perfectly and acted as he thought they should act. This budget is an invitation——

Resolution No. 8 is a general resolution and the Deputy may speak on it for as long as he wishes.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I shall speak on that also. However, I am now speaking on the resolution proposing an increase in the price of beer. This proposal is yet another invitation to the working man to be what the Minister for Economic Planning and Development would regard as unreasonable. The food subsidies have been removed. The price of food has increased; the price of cigarettes has increased as has the price of beer——

I have told the Deputy that Resolution No. 8 is a general resolution.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I know, but this is the straw that broke the camel's back.

It does not matter. The Chair is concerned about irrelevancy. The Chair will not be circumvented.

(Cavan-Monaghan): The increase in the price of beer in addition to the other increases that have been trotted out in this budget, as well as the increases that have occurred between Christmas and New Year's Day, are an invitation to the workforce to take measures to indemnify themselves against the actions of the Government. It is particularly unfortunate that the Government who profess to have a target of job creation should be so unreasonable in their proposals in the budget. No reasonable Member of this House should support the increase in the price of beer.

I have a different view to express on this. We have a high percentage of people on the verge of becoming alcoholics and our mental hospitals are crammed with alcoholics. In view of this and the seriousness of the problem would the Minister for Economic Planning and Development in consultation with the Minister for Finance agree to devote completely the money that will be collected as a result of this resolution, together with that which will be collected as a result of the resolution already passed in relation to spirits, to the provision of centres throughout the country for the treatment of alcoholics?

That is not relevant to the resolution. It is a question of imposing excise revenue on beer.

Will the Minister agree that whatever additional duty is collected as a result of this resolution will be spent to bring about an improvement or a cure in a vast number of alcoholics, rather than have it devoted to the usual State purposes. If we take in money as a result of tax on beer we should employ it to cure alcoholics. The State has not provided adequate finance to treat this disastrous disease which is brought about through the consumption of alcohol, and they have a duty if they take money from the people who drink beer and spirits to devote it to providing suitable homes and centres for the treatment of alcoholics.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 50.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Kit
  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Andrews, Niall.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Cogan, Barry.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Conaghan, Hugh.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin
  • South-Central).
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Gibbons, Jim.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Killeen, Tim.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Loughnane, William.
  • Lynch, Jack.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Murphy, Ciarán P.
  • Nolan, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connor, Timothy C.
  • O'Donoghue, Martin.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Boland, John.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Clinton, Mark.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Cosgrave, Michael J.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • D'Arcy, Michael J.
  • Deasy, Martin A.
  • Donnellan, John F.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Paddy.
  • Horgan, John.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lipper, Mick.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Mannion, John M.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Toole, Paddy.
  • Pattison, Seámus.
  • Quinn, Ruairi.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies P. Lalor and Briscoe; Nil, Deputies McMahon and Horgan.
Question declared carried.