MINISTERIAL MOTIONS. - BILL FOR THE PROTECTION OF IRISH INDUSTRIES.

Friday, 17 September 1920

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. F No. 17

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The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE moved his Bill for the Protection of Irish Industries, and explained its provisions.

The following is the proposed

WHEREAS it is impossible at the present juncture to establish a customs tariff and impose regular duties upon foreign goods on their entry into Ireland, and in consequence the protection of Irish Industries must take the form chiefly of discrimination by individual citizens in favour of Irish products, WHEREAS for the Dáil to call upon the people of Ireland to buy Irish goods without stipulation as to value, labour conditions, or allegiance of the firms producing them, might lead to the most loyal citizens of the Republic being taxed out of proportion to their means or to their being improperly and need lessly taxed, AND WHEREAS failure on the part of retailers to stock Irish goods would seriously impede the effort of consumers to give a constant preference to Irish manufacture.

IT IS HEREBY DECREED

(Schedule of Irish Goods).

1. The Department of Trade and Commerce shall compile a schedule of Irish goods which it shall be the duty of citizens of the Irish Republic to purchase, to the exclusion of similar articles of foreign origin.

2. The name and address of the maker of every article on the schedule shall be stated.

3. (1) No article shall be put upon the schedule unless the Minister for Trade and Commerce on the advice of competent technical and commercial experts is satisfied that its price is not more than 5 per cent. greater than that of any closely similar foreign-made article of equal quality readily procurable in Ireland.

(2) The price considered shall be that charged to the consumer, but if the selling price does not allow a reasonable percentage of profit to the retailer, due addition shall be made to such price in deciding whether the article shall be put on the schedule. It shall not be held that a retailer is in any particular case entitled to the same profit on Irish goods as on competing foreign-made goods, but only to a reasonable profit.

(3) Committees representative of various trades shall be set up to advise the Department of Trade and Commerce as to what profits may be regarded as reasonable for the purposes of this section on all classes of goods.

4. Any article may be omitted or removed from the schedule:—

(a) If it is produced by sweated labour.

[230] (b) If it is made by a foreign firm in Ireland or by a firm avowedly hostile to the national interests.

(c) If its makers do not themselves give reasonable support to Irish Industry.

(d) If the supply is insufficient and there does not appear to be a probability of its being immediately increased.

(e) If its makers refuse to brand it with their name or a registered mark.

5. The schedule shall be re-issued and revised from time to time as the Minister for Trade and Commerce may consider necessary.

6. The Minister for Trade and Commerce shall have power, if he thinks proper, to fix a fee to be paid by each manufacturer in respect of each class of article made by him and listed on the schedule.

(The Stocking of Irish Goods).

7. (1) Every retailer stocking foreign goods of a class which is made in Ireland shall also stock one or more scheduled makes of goods of the same class.

(2) Any retailer failing to comply with this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £5 in respect of each class of goods which he fails to stock.

The penalty may be imposed for every day the offence is wilfully continued.

There shall be no conviction if it be shown that the retailer has taken all reasonable care to procure scheduled goods in good time and sufficient quantity.

8. (1) Every retailer shall display prominently in his shop an accurate list of the Irish goods stocked by him. The list shall show the name and address of the manufacturer of each article.

(2) Any retailer failing to comply with this section shall be liable to a fine of £5 for the first offence and £20 for every subsequent offence.

9. In the case of any retailer who has been twice convicted for non-compliance with the requirements of this Decree and has refused to pay the fines inflicted on him, the President of a District Court may certify to the Department of Trade and Commerce that such retailer has deliberately refused obedience to this Decree. The Minister for Trade and Commerce with the concurrence of the President may, thereupon, by proclamation put the shop of such retailer under embargo.

10. Any person found trading in a shop under embargo shall be liable to a fine of £1 for each offence.

11. (1) When the Minister for Trade and Commerce is satisfied in the case of any particular class of goods that the scheduled makes are produced in sufficient quantity to meet the demand, that there is sufficient variety as to quality and type, and that a monopoly would not thereby be created, he may with the concurrence of the President prohibit retailers from taking into stock any foreign makes of such goods.

(2) The penalty for continuing to take into stock prohibited foreign goods shall be, on the first conviction not exceeding £20, and on every subsequent conviction not exceeding £100.

The penalty may be imposed in respect of each class of goods set out separately in the prohibition, but shall not be imposed twice in respect of the same lot of goods. A retailer refusing to pay fines imposed under this section may be put under embargo.

12. The Minister for Trade and Commerce may empower individuals, Sinn Fein Clubs, Industrial Development Associations, or other bodies to institute proceedings under this Decree before District Courts or [231] other Courts authorised by Dáil Eireann.

The SECRETARY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT seconded the motion.

JOSEPH MACBRIDE (Mayo, West) looked upon the system of control outlined in the Bill as an abomination. Traders should not be coerced. Under the proposed Bill foreign firms established in Ireland would be ruled out, with the result that trade could not be carried on. Clause 4 (d) would result in the wiping out of small manufacturers, who could not turn out sufficient supplies. It was rather a harsh proceeding to make retailers who failed to supply Irish goods liable to a fine of £5.

R.M. SWEETMAN (Wexford, North) agreed with the Deputy for Mayo, West. He had never come across any scheme giving inducements to retailers to stock Irish goods, and they were now propounding a system of fines for those very people.

J.J. WALSH (Cork City) contended that the retailer would stock whatever there was a demand for. The Irish public were asleep as regards their duty to support Irish manufacture. A big campaign in favour of Irish Industries should be organised.

J. MACDONAGH (Tipperary, North), moved as an amendment:—

“That Clauses 4 (d), 6, 8 (2), 9, 10, 11 (1), and 11 (2) be deleted from the Bill.”

He thought that the remainder of the Bill was very good. The effect of accepting the Bill in globo would be to restrict trade to such an extent that shopkeepers would be inclined to oppose the whole scheme.

COUNTESS DE MARKIEVICZ (St. Patrick's, Dublin) believed that if customers could not get the goods they required from their local retailers they would procure them by post from London. This Bill by prohibiting the stocking of foreign goods, placed a premium on one of the worst forms of trading, viz., shopping by post. She admitted on the other hand that there were many retailers who would not stock Irish-made goods unless they were forced to do so.

M. STAINES (St. Michan's, Dublin) suggested that the Bill be postponed to the next Session so that the Members might have a chance of studying it. The measure was a very important and a very drastic one. While Clause 4 (d) might adversely affect small manufacturers he knew of large manufacturers in Dublin who would be enabled by its operation to double their staffs.

The DIRECTOR OF TRADE AND COMMERCE expressed his willingness to postpone the Bill to the next Session and confer with interested parties in the meantime.

On the motion of the ACTING-PRESIDENT, seconded by J. MACBRIDE (Mayo, West), the Bill was taken as read the first time.

On the motion of PADRAIG O MAILLE (Connemara), seconded by R.M. SWEETMAN (Wexford, North), the following were appointed a Committee to discuss the Bill, Clause by Clause, and report to the next Session:—

Cathal Brugha, Domhnall O Buachalla, Seamus Breathnach, J. MacBride, M.P. Colivet, J. MacGrath, J. MacGuinness, J. O'Mahony, M. Staines, P. O'Keeffe, P.O Maille, Count Plunkett, J. MacDonagh, and J.N. Dolan.


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