It is not strictly a finance measure. The position is that the Executive Council, desiring to restrict the imports of any classes of goods can, if the Bill is passed, proceed by one of two methods: either to operate under this Bill, or to operate under finance proposals by imposing prohibitive customs duties in the licensing clauses. On the one hand, if it operates under this Bill it will be subject to the restrictions imposed by it and will be compelled to issue licences in accordance with the provisions set out in the different sections, and generally to confine its discretion in the manner in which the Bill provides. If it proceeds by the other method of customs duty and open licensing clause, which we have been using heretofore, the Executive Council will be subject to none of these restrictions whatever. Under these Emergency Orders and Finance Resolutions containing licensing clauses passed by the Dáil it is given to one Minister, or one Minister in consultation with another, to exercise an absolute discretion as to the issue of licences in respect of quantity or time or in any other way. Under this Bill, when a quota order is made, every person eligible to be registered on the register of importers is entitled to apply for a licence and to get a licence for a quantity of the goods subject to the quota order. Under the finance procedure now in operation, there is absolute discretion in the Minister, if he so thinks fit, to refuse one person a licence and to give it to another or to give one person a licence for all he applies for and to give another person a licence for only half what he applies for. That is undesirable. It is largely because we felt it was so undesirable that this measure was introduced. I do not want to be taken as saying that that is the manner in which these powers are being exercised. On the contrary, the powers are being exercised in a manner similar to that which is set out in the various provisions of this Bill. It is, however, clear that occasions will arise on which an Executive Council—it does not matter what Executive Council or what Party is in power—will be tempted to proceed by way of finance measure rather than under this Bill if it anticipates any difficulty in operating the different sections of this Bill. That is one consideration and it is a consideration which I think is not without weight.
I referred to another consideration on Second Reading. There are many industrial projects in course of formulation, all of which are dependent for fulfilment on the adoption of some measure for the regulation of imports of certain classes of goods during the initial and development stages of these projects. A certain firm may con template engaging in the manufacture of a particular article here. It would, probably, be necessary during the construction of the works or factory that the imports of these articles should be kept down to normal level, so that there would be no forestalling of protective measures or stocking of imported goods in anticipation of restricted supplies from abroad. During the initial stages, after construction of the factory or works, it may be necessary to limit imports in quantity to the amount required to supplement the output of the factory until that output has been brought to the point at which it corresponds with the requirements of the country. It is proposed to use the powers under this Bill to achieve that regulation of imports, in the first instance, and regular reduction of imports, in the second instance. The prospect of these projects being proceeded with depends very largely on these powers being acquired. It is true we might proceed by Finance Resolution, but the making of an order under this Bill carries with it a certain amount of security which other measures may not offer, and the persons concerned in these projects may be dubious about going ahead until it is quite clear that the position will be safeguarded for them. They can get assurance on the question of Government policy. They know that if Government policy is subject, in this connection, to ratification in the Dail only, the Government commands a majority in the Dáil. It is, as I said, always going to be a matter of chance whether any Government is in a position to command a majority here. That is in no sense a reflection on this House. On the contrary, it might be regarded as a compliment to the House, because it was always intended that ordinary Party divisions would not operate here. But the fact that that Order would cease to be operative, and that an industry, brought into existence, might be stripped of protection following an adverse vote here, would make those who are expected to invest their money here doubtful about proceeding until all reasonable causes of apprehension as to difficulties of that kind arising had been removed. Considerations of that kind will almost inevitably force a Government, when such issues arise, to proceed by way of Finance Resolution rather than under a Bill of this kind, if the element of doubt is maintained. It was to prevent that element of doubt operating that the section was drafted so as to require that the Order should be submitted for review in the Dáil only. The Dáil is given power to hold up an Order or to refuse to pass it. In the event of such refusal, power is given the Executive Council to make a similar Order again. If similar power is to be given to the Seanad, I do not say it will destroy the utility of the measure, but it will lessen its utility and, in various ways, necessitate proceeding by Finance Resolution rather than under this measure. I think that that is undesirable, having regard to the various factors arising in that connection.