Committee on Finance. - Imposition of Duties (Confirmation of Orders) (No. 2) Bill, 1934—Final Stages.
Tuesday, 18 December 1934
Dáil Éireann Debate
General Mulcahy: We had a considerable amount of discussion on the Committee Stage of this Bill. The general burden of the discussion on the one side was that here we had a considerable increase of Customs duties, the alleged idea being to develop Irish industries. The effect, so far as some of us argued here, was to raise appreciably the cost of these articles to the people and to set up industries, where that did occur, under unsatisfactory circumstances. From the Government Benches there was no general statement on the industries that they were to set up, no general statement as to what they were doing to secure that a rise in prices would not take place. Their attitude generally was the attitude of people who introduce an order imposing a duty, who had not examined the situation beforehand and thought it too soon to lift the lid and see what was happening as a result of the imposition of the duty. The experience of the House during the discussion of this particular Bill will, I hope, have been such that in various directions and in various ways the Minister will be impressed and that both himself and the Minister for Industry and Commerce will deal with measures of this kind in a somewhat different way in the future. There is no Party in the House anxious to create difficulties either for the Minister for Industry and Commerce or the Minister for Finance in dealing with industrial affairs; there is no party in the House who wishes to snipe them in any way, who wants to examine too closely into any of their proposals or who wants to stand too closely over them in doing their work, but we do expect that they will make some kind of a reasonable presentation to us of what their hopes are, and that they will give us some indication that they have given a fair examination to the general circumstances before they imposed these duties and ask this House, even in a certain amount of darkness, to pass them.
One of the duties pointed to here was the Excise duty on sugar. I have charged the Minister for Finance and his Government with doing this, in  the sugar business, since February last taking in a concealed way from the pockets of the Irish people, by means of their Customs duty and their Excise duty, approximately £730,000 additional per year for sugar. The Minister shakes his head, as he did before, and says that they are not doing it. He even says to us that they are going to get less money into the Revenue from Customs duties, but what I am telling the Minister is that he is going to make the people pay out of their pockets, for sugar, £735,000 additional, whether it gets into the Revenue or not. When we were dealing with the butter business in 1932 I put it up to the Minister for Agriculture that he was taking steps in that respect that were going to cost the people, in additional demands, £1,400,000 a year. My figures were wrong according to the Minister. They had worked it out carefully at £400,000 odd and the Minister gave, as his outside figure, £600,000. The Minister was telling us the other day what implied that the people are paying £1,200,000 out of their pockets in the increased price for butter as a result of the Minister's legislation.
What is happening in a concealed way with regard to butter is now going to happen in a concealed way annually as regards sugar, just as, in a different way, it would be happening as a result of some of the other industries, in cases in which they do succeed in starting industries, which are not capable of battling for themselves or standing in a fair way against competition from other people working under similar circumstances. Again, I challenge the Minister that he is, in taking this Bill away from the House, taking away the final act which draws from the pockets of the people to the extent of an additional £750,000 a year for sugar.
Mr. MacEntee: I could not allow this debate to conclude, I would not feel that I was doing my duty, if I were to acquiesce in the statements which have been made by Deputy Mulcahy. Every proposal to which an Emergency Order relates is carefully considered by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in the first case; by the Minister for  Finance in the second case, and by the Executive Council, as a whole, in the third case. The effect of that Emergency Order is considered both on the cost of commodities and on the budgetary position, and I may say that, from the budgetary point of view, I have derived little satisfaction from any one of these Orders, because they have prevented the flow of revenue into the Exchequer, but if they have done that, they have what I think is a considerable compensation in that every one of them, or most of them— those of them that relate to industrial commodities—is going to result in the establishment of a new industry in this country.
In the debate on the Emergency Orders, as much information as could be reasonably expected was given by the Ministers who were responsible for the Orders, but there are certain things which it is not fit should be discussed in this House. I have heard it when Deputy McGilligan was Minister for Industry and Commerce and I have heard Deputy Mulcahy himself deprecate the discussion of the personal affairs of private individuals in this House, and short of publishing the names—and the names were forthcoming elsewhere, all those who were interested in this development—short of giving confidential information in relation to their business costs, all the information that could be given, all the information that could properly be asked for and be given, was given during the course of the debate.
Now, on the question of the present position of the dairying industry and the sugar industry, to which Deputy Mulcahy referred, I thought it was rather significant that, when he was speaking, Deputy Bennett, who is generally very vocal where the interests of the dairy farmers of Limerick are concerned, was absent and there was nobody on the benches opposite, with the exception possibly of Deputy Finlay, who was interested at all in the mixed farming and tillage counties of the Saorstat. We are challenged because butter cost us too much, because it cost the ordinary urban consumer more. Why does it cost us more? It costs us more because we are  providing, or we are going, as far as we can at any rate, to provide a satisfactory price for the dairy farmer for his milk. That is why it costs us more, and if Deputy Mulcahy objects to that, I suggest that he should raise it at the next meeting of his Party and fight the matter out with Deputy Bennett and those who sit for constituencies like Limerick and Tipperary in the Dáil.
Again, in regard to sugar, we did not for a moment conceal from the people, when we were introducing the Sugar Manufacture Bill last year, the fact that if we were to make our own sugar here it was going to cost us more to do it than it would cost us to buy foreign sugar. We told them that it would mean an increase of a halfpenny to three farthings in the lb. in the cost of sugar, but, if it is, who is getting the benefit and advantage of that?—the people who sowed thousands of acres of beet in the district around Tuam, in the district around Mallow, in the district around Thurles, and in the district around Carlow. It is for their benefit and their advantage that the rest of the community are paying a higher price for their sugar, and it is not for the benefit or advantage of the Exchequer. As was stated on the last occasion, the actual fact is that this year, from tea and sugar, we expect to get, and, I am afraid, we will get, something like £200,000 or £250,000 less than our predecessors got from the tax upon sugar alone in the year which closed on 31st March, 1932. That is the position. Not merely are the consumers of this country making some sacrifice in order to develop the sugar-making industry in this country——
Mr. MacEntee: ——but the Exchequer is losing considerably as well. The proposal which we are now debating is the Emergency Order which imposed an Excise duty of a farthing a lb. on home-manufactured sugar and a corresponding Customs duty of a farthing a lb. on imported sugar. The only duty which Irish manufactured sugar bears at the present moment is a duty  of a farthing a lb. In the year 1931-'32, the Excise duty on home-manufactured sugar was just twice that. It was 4/8 a cwt., and to-day it is 2/4 a cwt. That shows how far we have gone to help the sugar-making industry and how far we have gone to keep down the price of sugar to the consumer, all the time bearing in mind that an increase in price, on the basis on which these factories were constructed and on the basis of costs, as we know them, was unavoidable, once we began to make it ourselves.
General Mulcahy: And the Minister, who shakes his head several times, completely avoids addressing himself to that point—that of his twelve months' operations that is the final effect on the people and their expenditure on sugar.
De Valera, Eamon.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
|Kelly, James Patrick.
Little, Patrick John.
Lynch, James B.
Maguire, Conor Alexander.
Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
Pearse, Margaret Mary.
Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
|Bennett, George Cecil.
Burke, James Michael.
Cosgrave, William T.
Costello, John Aloysius.
Doyle, Peadar S.
McGuire, James Ivan.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, Bridget Mary.
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