Tuesday, 15 June 1948
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. MacEntee: I have not very much to add to what I said last Thursday when this section was under discussion. I was pointing out then to the House that the Minister for Education, speaking, I presume, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, had indicated that there were many other taxes which might have been chosen for the purpose of raising the money which would be raised by this tax; but that the Government—and I am sure the Minister for Finance was not an entirely free  agent in regard to this matter—had decided that they were going to raise the money required in this particular way. I think that is a very significant admission. I think that that admission of the Minister for Education ought to give us a great deal over which to ponder. There were many other taxes that might have been chosen instead of this one. There were, of course, the tax on beer, the tax on tobacco and the tax on entertainments. But, instead of choosing any one of these things, none of which fall upon what might be described as the primary necessaries of life, the Minister chose this tax—a tax upon production and upon distribution.
The amount of money to be raised by this tax is considerable. It is, I think, something over £500,000 a year. That £500,000 has to be got from somewhere. It certainly is not going to be drawn out of the pockets of those who produce goods, or who distribute goods, or who provide public transport. It is going to come out of the pockets of those who use public transport and who have to buy the goods that are produced and distributed. It is, in fact, going to increase the cost of living.
When I was speaking on the last occasion, I indicated that I thought the inevitable result of this tax would be to increase the cost of transport, particularly to those workers who have to live away from their work in the new housing districts which have sprung up around the City of Dublin under the aegis of the Fianna Fáil administration. It will increase the cost of transport to those people who are living in Kimmage and Crumlin, in the working-class houses built by the Dublin Corporation with the help and assistance afforded to them under the Housing Act of 1932, and with the encouragement and persuasion and inducement which they received from the previous Government.
Those of us who have studied the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Dublin Housing will recall that one of the aspects of this housing problem to which the commission directed particular attention was the fact that the cost of transport had  become an appreciable factor in the cost of living of the Dublin working classes. We built these housing estates around the City of Dublin and in many places those who live in them work miles from their homes. Day in and day out they have to find a certain fixed sum to cover the cost of transport to their work. The commission gave this problem a great deal of consideration. They pointed out, in fact, that the benefits which the workers might otherwise have enjoyed under the Housing Acts, by reason of the fact that they were living in decent houses at rents far below the economic rent, were being nullified because their savings on rent were being more than eaten up by the expenditure they had to incur on transport. It is undeniable that, as a result of this tax, transport costs for the working classes in the City of Dublin are going to be increased. When I was making that case here on the last day a number of Deputies sitting on the Government side of the House were incredulous. They refused to believe it. They said there was no possibility that transport costs would be increased by reason of the fact that the cost of fuel to the transport undertaking had been substantially increased.
Mr. MacEntee: I know what the Deputy said, and I ask the Deputy to go home now and ponder this matter in the calm atmosphere of his own fireside and then bring his commonsense to bear upon this problem and come into this House, if he dare, and tell me that when the cost of fuel for public vehicles goes up an increase in the cost of fares is not going to follow inevitably upon that increased cost of fuel——
Mr. MacEntee: ——particularly in present circumstances, because the transport undertaking, due to circumstances not under its control, suffered  heavy losses last year. Now, if there had been any doubt in the mind of Deputy Cowan or any other Deputy who now supports the Government and this proposal as to the truth of what I was saying on last Thursday, that doubt must have been removed by the statement which appears in this morning's public Press, that because of the financial circumstances in which the undertaking found itself, the stockholders in the national transport undertaking were being called together in order to consider its financial position.
If that is the position, how can that transport undertaking bear the cost of this new impost upon it and not raise fares to the public? I know, of course, that Deputy Cowan has said they will not be allowed to do so, but I do not know to what extent Deputy Cowan and his Party dominate the Coalition upon which the present Government is based. But if, in fact, he is in a position to give effect to that policy of not permitting Córas Iompair Éireann to increase its fares in order to compensate itself for this increase in the cost of its fuel, then I can see that there is only one—I cannot say alternative, because there is not—resort which can be availed of if public transport is to be maintained, and that is that the Government should take it over.
Mr. MacEntee: Of course we did, because we believed in private enterprise. I understand the 32 Deputies who are supporting the Coalition, who are the foundation of the Coalition, also believed in private enterprise. You closed down Aer Lingus because you said that private enterprise would not accept the burden of carrying it on.
Mr. MacEntee: We now have this revelation, that it is the policy of the Coalition to pursue a programme which will eventuate in the nationalisation of a number of public utilities, so that we are now back to the programme of Saor Éire, the I.R.A. and the Vanguard. It is well that the public should know that Deputy Cowan has not abandoned his earlier principles; that, despite all the political gyrations which he has accomplished during the past four or five years, he is still faithful, so to speak, to his earlier political love. I do not want to pursue that, although it is germane to the matter we are discussing. We now see that the policy of the Government is deliberately designed, according to Deputy Cowan, to make the operations of Córas Iompair Éireann unprofitable in order that they may extinguish the last vestige of private ownership which exists in regard to that undertaking. That, I take it, is the policy of the Government.
Mr. MacEntee: I am sorry I cannot say that I always enjoy Deputy Davin. Deputy Cowan, one of the key men in the set-up opposite, tells us that is his policy. Deputy Davin, one-time Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, says: “I say ditto to Deputy Cowan.” There you have ditto Davin and ditto Cowan. I would say that the present set-up is the most practicable one that could be devised, but I am not on the question of whether the present constitution of our national transport undertaking is a good one or not. What I am on is the fact that, as of deliberate policy, a tax is being devised, the inevitable consequences of which will be either to increase fares to the travelling public or else reduce our national transport  undertaking to such a financial condition that there will be no alternative except to nationalise it.
Mr. MacEntee: That is what Deputy Cowan says, and he might have got away with it if we had not before us, as a warning of what might happen when the policy of nationalisation of public utilities is embarked upon without due consideration, the experience of our friends on the other side of the water. There nationalisation has been signally disappointing.
Mr. MacEntee: I am merely pointing out that if this tax is imposed in this way, in order to make it easier for the Government to get away with a policy hitherto undeclared, the nationalisation of transport, the results which have accrued elsewhere from the nationalisation of public utilities have been signally disappointing. They were to produce more coal and better coal —
Mr. MacEntee: We are dealing with a tax on hydrocarbon light oil, which is an essential raw material, an essential fuel for national transport. If it will be too expensive for the national transport undertaking, then only one of two things can happen—either the cost of transport to the public, and in particular to the workers, will be increased, or else the national transport undertaking will be reduced to such a parlous financial condition that there will be no alternative unless the Government take it over.
Mr. MacEntee: I understood that the grievance the Deputy's Party had against the last Administration and against our predecessors was that nothing that had been touched was successful.  That applied particularly to our predecessors, when Deputy Cowan was supporting them as he is to-day. However, that is all by the way, and it is not of any great significance. I want to repeat that there can be no doubt in the mind of any Deputy who will vote for this section that the inevitable consequences of its provisions will be to increase the cost of transport to the workers of the City of Dublin and of every other part of Ireland, and the cost, too, of goods and commodities to every consumer in the country. Nobody is going to tell me that if a merchant finds he has to pay more in order to distribute his goods, whether he be a wholesaler or a retailer, he is not going to recoup himself for that additional expense in the price he charges to his customers. That is the inevitable result of this proposal, and, of course, it is on all fours with every other proposal in this Bill, which, in one way or another, increases the burden on the taxpayer and increases the cost of living to the consumer. That is the consequence of having in power as a Government people who went to the electorate and told them that if they were returned to power they would reduce taxation and reduce the cost of living. So far, they have signally failed to give effect to either of these pledges.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I do not know Deputy MacEntee's form sufficiently well to be quite definite about the reasons for his speech, but it does appear to me that he was activated by an effort to cause propaganda to permeate amongst his friends, the shareholders of Córas Iompair Éireann, in order to create a demand for increased fares as a result of this petrol tax. I hope I am wrong in what I think his motive was, because, if that did motivate his speech, it is perfectly clear that the speech is a very mischievous one. I realise that Deputy MacEntee and his Party are very hard pressed for an argument to counter the proposals in this Budget and this Finance Bill, and they would dearly love to see, as a result of this tax, an increase in transport charges, because it is perfectly  clear to Deputy MacEntee, and to all members of the House, if they are honest with themselves, that this tax on petrol is a tax which hits, in the main, those who can best afford to pay. It is a tax on the classes with money, on those particularly amongst Deputy MacEntee's friends who run large American cars costing a considerable amount to purchase and a considerable amount to run. It is a tax which is aimed chiefly at these people and for that reason is a proper tax for a Government whose policy is designed to prevent inflation to impose.
Petrol, as Deputy MacEntee has stressed, is a very important commodity in this country. It is very important from the point of view of our industrial effort and from the point of view of our agricultural effort, and we should, by our taxation policy, ensure that there will be as little consumption of petrol for pleasure purposes as possible. Anybody who has watched the traffic in this city within the past three or four years must realise that, in Dublin alone, quite apart from the country, the day of the little car has gone. The loose money which is lying around and which has been referred to in this House in recent weeks has been used to purchase large American, and indeed English, motor cars with a very high petrol consumption. The petrol used in these cars has been used purely for pleasure purposes. The case may be made in connection with the owners of some of these cars that they require a certain allowance for business purposes, but they can use that allowance in a smaller car with benefit to the State. This tax, inasmuch as it increases the price of petrol, helps to conserve the supply of petrol for this country, ensures that petrol will be used only for essential purposes and assists our international monetary position.
I was rather amused to hear Deputy MacEntee talking about the burden which this increase in petrol tax will impose on our industrial effort. He conveniently forgets that his Government, in 1941, imposed a tax of 1/3 per gallon on petrol, a tax which remained in operation until 1946, thus covering the period in which no petrol was used  for pleasure purposes by reason of regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act. That tax of 1/3 imposed by the previous Government was a tax purely on the industrial effort of the country and on a commodity which, under existing legislation, could be used only for industrial purposes. The tax now proposed is not as high as the Fianna Fáil tax and it is imposed in quite different circumstances, circumstances in which there is far too much petrol being used for purely pleasure purposes, in which we are in difficulties financially, and in which a determined Government effort is being made to prevent inflation, to conserve our dollar position and to ensure that our expenditure of dollars on commodities for which we have to pay dollars will be the very minimum. Any person, whether he be a motorist, a moneyed man or any other, viewing this tax calmly and dispassionately must come to the conclusion that it is a very proper tax to impose.
Needless to say, any tax, though it may be designed for a specific purpose, will throw a greater burden on people at whom it is not directly aimed. That is quite understandable, but the ordinary motorist, the owner of the small car, the ordinary citizen like most of the people in the country who owns and runs a car, who has to pay, as a result of Fianna Fáil legislation last year, an increased motor tax— against which increase there was no protest from Deputy MacEntee or anybody else on the Fianna Fáil side— will have to pay more for his petrol. He will have to pay an extra sum of around 4/- per month in his petrol bill, but he will have the consolation of knowing that, while he has to pay that small sum in increased tax, he pays less for his cigarettes and less for a drink, if he wants to have a drink, and is contributing to the stabilisation of the country's financial position.
I deprecate very much Deputy MacEntee's remarks about the transport position and I think his speech, so far as he dealt with that matter, was mischievous and made for the purpose of creating a problem which does not now exist. It was giving a pointer to the shareholders of Córas Iompair  Éireann that if they demand increased fares they will have the backing of Fianna Fáil. It was made in the hope that, as a result of the screaming headlines in the Irish Press to-morrow morning, a new problem will be created for this Government. My views on Deputy MacEntee's remarks about transport are far too general to be discussed on this particular section, but in so far as he has dealt with nationalisation, it does seem to me that the entire question of transport in this country must be considered by this Government; and that Córas Iompair Éireann, as it is constituted at present under the Transport Act, has not been a success. That is a matter which may be discussed by this House on another occasion, and I do not want to break any rules of order, like Deputy MacEntee, in following his statement here. But as far as he has dealt with any suggestion for an increase in fares, it seems to me that Córas Iompair Éireann would be better employed in putting their own house in order, by putting proper business methods into use regarding the duties imposed upon them by legislation, and if they do that we might reach a stage when we might have lower fares rather than increased fares.
Mr. Davin: Deputy MacEntee, who might now be regarded as the new apostle of private enterprise, made what he intended to make, a mischievous speech, but Deputy MacEntee was under a very wrong impression, which I hope will be removed in the immediate future, if he thought that instead of addressing a body of grownup men who know as much about the question as he does that he was  addressing a body of young schoolboys. He might talk for a very long time— he likes to be obstructionist—but the people sitting on this side of the House and who are backing this Bill are backing it as part, and only as part, of a general policy. Deputy MacEntee seems to forget that he seems definitely to have suggested that the tax imposed by the Minister for Finance was for the purpose of putting Córas Iompair Éireann into a bankrupt position and of forcing on this country a policy of nationalisation. I am surprised that he would not have consulted, before he lost his memory regarding the Fianna Fáil policy, with Deputy Lemass, who said repeatedly in 1930 and 1931, as everybody knows, that the Fianna Fáil policy on the question of transport was nationalisation of the road and rail systems of this country and municipalisation of the Dublin system of transport. He further stated, probably in the hearing of Deputy MacEntee, who has lost his memory or who has found it convenient to lose his memory, that if the 1933 Act failed nationalisation was the only alternative left to the Government of the country for solving this problem.
Mr. Davin: I bow to your ruling. But he said in your hearing, and it will go on record, that the short experience of nationalisation in Great Britain was a failure. During the period when Deputy MacEntee's Party was in office, the number of commercial motor vehicles increased as a result of their policy from about 8,000 to 18,000. If all of those vehicles were in full use or  if proper use or work was there for every one of them, it would mean a considerable increase in the consumption of petrol in this country, but everybody knows that the 18,000 vehicles which were registered under the Fianna Fáil régime could not find useful work or make that side of our transport system pay its way. Every Deputy in the House knows from personal experience that motor lorry owners are coming to every one of us to see what can be done in order to get them more work or to get them any work at all. If Córas Iompair Éireann has gone into the wrong road during the past couple of years and if it is in a state bordering on bankruptcy, it is simply because on occasion one system competed against another and it cannot survive very much longer under that policy. If and when the increased tax on petrol comes into operation, it will serve one useful purpose, by putting back on to the rail section of Córas Iompair Éireann some of the traffic that was irregularly taken from it by means of unlawful competition by the road section.
Mr. Davin: I am fully conscious of that. This tax is going to be used in the main in order to collect revenue, and to collect it at very little cost, from people who own high-powered cars. There is a considerable increase in the number of private motor cars in this country and particularly in the number of high-powered cars, and people who are in a position to pay £1,000, £1,500 and, in some cases, up to £2,000 for high-powered cars should be in a position to pay the small increase in the tax which the Minister for Finance asks us to support him for in this particular section.
Mr. McGrath: Listening to the last two Deputies, one would think that nothing except high-powered cars was being used in this country. The second  last speaker said that the ordinary people of this country were using small cars and that they used very little petrol. My opinion is that the ordinary people of this country use buses if they are travelling and that they cannot afford either a small car or a big car. I think that anyone will agree that buses and lorries carrying essential goods will use far more petrol than all these other vehicles put together.
I was approached by a deputation during the week-end from the taxi-owners of Cork, and they stated that their 100 gallon a month allowance costs them an extra £2 1s. 8d. a month, or £25 a year. That may be nothing to the man with the high-powered car, but it is a big amount to the man who is trying to earn a living on the public street. I do not know much about the conditions of taxi-drivers in Dublin, but as far as Cork is concerned, in my opinion, there are too many of them for the size of the city, and they are only eking out a bare living. They can very ill afford to pay £25 a year more, and I would ask the Minister to make some allowance for that class. Those people are out day and night trying to earn sufficient to feed their families and themselves. There was a lot of talk about this tax being well received and there being no opposition to it in the country. I should like to read what was said in a newspaper leading article about it:—
“It is, perhaps, not strictly correct to say that there is no new imposition. The addition of 5d. duty on petrol is no small levy. While it will hit private motorists and lorry owners very directly, it will also react on the general body of citizens. The Fianna Fáil Government cut the petrol duty by 6d., ostensibly to help the transport industry and to save the passenger from increased charges. That concession has been cancelled out by the new duty and the petrol company's recent increase of 1d. The new duty will bring in a very substantial revenue, and if it were not imposed, some other tax would have been necessary towards ‘bridging the gap’. Yet it is a disappointing development. Retaining the full duties on wines would have enabled the Minister to tax transport less, and people require transport more than wine.”
Mr. McGrath: I knew Deputy O'Higgins would ask for the name of the paper and that is why I did not give it at first. I think no one can say that the tax on petrol is not a tax on every-body—on the working-man and everybody else.
Mr. M. O'Higgins: I am glad Deputy McGrath seems determined to take his politics from the Cork Examiner in future instead of from the Irish Press. If he continues on these lines, he will be doing far better in the future than in the past.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: There seems to be a general assumption amongst opposition Deputies, who were led into this particular trap by Deputy MacEntee, that everyone who buys a gallon of petrol is, by virtue of that very fact, both a non-smoker and a teetotaller. It has been stated by opposition Deputies that, instead of the increased petrol tax, the Minister could have kept on or reimposed the taxes which were removed from beer, tobacco and entertainments, and that he might have gone even a little further and, not alone reimposed those taxes, but, if he wanted more money, increased them. I wonder whether Deputies who talk along these lines considered the effect of the removal of  those taxes on the one hand and the imposition of the increased petrol tax on the other, for example, on the owner of a ten-horse power pleasure car, leaving out of consideration for the moment the question of commercial vehicles. There are a great number of these cars in the country. As I said during the discussion on the Budget, I believe that the average motorist in this country drives a ten-horse power car. For that car he is permitted ten gallons of petrol per month. The increased petrol tax means to that individual that he pays 4/2 more at the end of the month than he did before this tax was imposed. If you carried out the Fianna Fáil plan and continued the increased taxes on tobacco, assuming that that motorist is a very moderate smoker and smokes ten cigarettes per day—I think Deputies will agree that that is moderate enough—he would be paying 4/2 less for his petrol at the end of the month but he would be paying 5/- more for his cigarettes or tobacco, as the case may be. If that man was criminal enough in the eyes of Deputy MacEntee to go to a cinema or theatre once or twice in the month, he would be adding another 10/- or so to his bill. Of course, if he had the nerve to drink a bottle of beer, it would lower him entirely in the Deputy's eyes.
Mr. M. O'Higgins: As I said, I am always willing to take my politics from or listen to the Cork Examiner, but not to all Cork men. It is sometimes rather difficult to follow them, anyhow. Therefore if you balance one against the other—we were invited to approach this section by balancing one against the other by Deputy Lemass and, I think, also by Deputy MacEntee last Thursday—you will find that the average motorist—and I think the Minister is right if he has approached this problem by thinking of the average motorist—is anything from 10/- to 20/- better off at the end of the month under the new arrangement than he would be if Fianna Fáil had been permitted to continue in power. At the end of the year that amounts to from £12 10s. 0d. to £25. I believe that that  is the way we should view this matter and I should like Deputy MacEntee and Deputy McGrath not to be codding themselves. Every motorist is not necessarily a non-smoker and tee-totaller, and if he is not he is entitled to his smoke.
Mr. Corry: There seems to be a lot of trouble here about the high-powered cars and the private cars. I am concerned with another section of the community altogether—the section that is asked to produce more with its back to the wall. If a farmer wants 50 or 60 tons of lime delivered to him by lorry there will be an extra 5d. per gallon on the petrol necessary to deliver it. In a portion of the country that Deputy O'Higgins should be fairly conversant with—I am sorry Deputy Seán Collins is not here—down in West Cork they draw a lot of sea-sand, and now they will have the pleasure of paying an extra 5d. per gallon on the petrol for drawing that.
There has been a great deal of discussion about Córas Iompair Éireann. Last year they put 20 per cent. on to the transport of beet. This year they are looking for 12½ per cent. more. There are roughly 2,000 tons of beet drawn by lorry and there is 5d. a gallon on to the cost of the petrol now. I suppose we will be told that there will be no increase in price or in the cost of transport. When the farmer threshes his harvest and sends his wheat, oats and barley to the mill, it is drawn by petrol and he has to pay an extra 5d. a gallon on that. All his seeds come in by lorry. Every lb. of artificial manures he puts out, and he is told to put out more and to produce more, involves him in an extra cost for petrol. An extra 5d. per gallon will be passed on to him in respect of all these things. If he delivers milk to the city twice a day with an eight or ten horse-powered motor van he will have to pay an extra 5d. per gallon on the petrol and he will be told by the Minister for Agriculture that he is already overpaid and cannot pass that increased cost on. If he milks his cows with the new milking machine provided by the Minister for Agriculture, he will use petrol. He will use petrol to cut  up his roots, to crush his grain, to move his live stock from the fairs. Then we are told by Deputy O'Higgins that he saves £1 a month by getting cheaper beer. Will he drink cheaper beer or will he have the satisfaction of knowing that there will be cheaper wines in the luxury hotels?
Mr. Corry: Deputy Corry will make his own case. I am dealing here with the agricultural community and with this tax on them, and the result of this tax on them. I reckon the cost of this tax on the ordinary farmer at roughly £100 a year. I do not think I would be far out in that. That is in order that the gents may have cheaper champagne.
I am not concerned with the owner of the high-powered motor car. There is a way of dealing with him without roping in commercial transport and without imposing an extra tax on the agricultural community. There is a very easy way, by increasing taxation according to the power of the car. There is no necessity to deal with it in this way. This is a crushing load, a crushing burden, clapped down on the ordinary working farmers. We are living in a mechanised age, an age when practically every operation on the farm is done by petrol. If one were to take the policy of our new Minister for Agriculture, he goes further and says——
Mr. Corry: And petrol. I do not wish to encroach on the amendment in the name of Deputy O'Higgins. He knows, apparently, the extra burden that the owner of the Ferguson tractor  has to bear now for every sod he ploughs in order to feed the people. We must face this issue. I consider it ill-advised to put an extra burden on people who cannot bear it, and the agricultural community at the present day cannot bear it. Anybody who has been here for the past month or so has seen the attitude of the Minister for Agriculture towards any attempt to arrive at the costs of production in agriculture at present. Apparently he considers agriculture so well off that he claims the right to give our food to Britain at less than we can get anywhere else for it.
Mr. Corry: It all relates to this burden on a large section of the community. Their backs are to the wall. They have had no increase. They cannot pass on the burden to anybody else. They are prevented from doing so. Last November we fixed the price of beet for the coming year. Since then there has been an increase in wages, a steep increase in rates and a demand from Córas Iompair Éireann for an extra 12½ per cent. on transport charges. That is all on a crop the price of which has been pared down to the bare bones, and this latest burden means that its production will be uneconomic this year.
That is our position. That is why I would ask the Minister for Finance to consider that point of view, to consider that aspect of the situation, and to see if he can devise any means by which the petrol to draw lime, sea-sand, farm produce an artificial manures, to work milking machines and root and grain crushers, and to drive milk vans to the city, will not be subject to this tax.
We have heard a lot of talk about the high-powered car. I am not concerned with the owner of the high-powered car but I am very much concerned with the misfortunate farmer who finds himself in a place called Castletownroche and who, if he goes on business to Cork City, has to stay there for the night and come back the following day.
Mr. Corry: “Macsmile” should stay quiet. I do not like interrupters. I am concerned with the man out there. He has to keep a car for the convenience of his family and to enable him to do his business in town. The farmer has not a 20- or a 22-horse power car. His is usually an old Ford 8 or a Ford 10. This tax will mean an extra burden on him. I consider that the Minister would be very ill-advised in placing any further burden on the agricultural community. This increase, if persisted in, would result in a severe burden. Practically everything that comes into a farm to-day for the purpose of carrying out farm operations and everything that leaves the farm is mulcted, and all that is done in order that cheaper wines may be provided for the hotels.
Mr. Corry: I have been accustomed, during my time here, to call a spade a spade and to tell the truth however unpalatable it may be. I am speaking for the agricultural community who now find that this latest increase is the last straw on them. I ask the Minister to consider the matter in that light, and see what relief he can give them either in the direction of exempting commercial vehicles from the tax or in exempting petrol used on a farm for agricultural production from the tax. If he wants to get more money under this heading, then he can increase the  tax per horse power on the high-powered cars and leave the others alone.
Captain Cowan: I just want to say a few words, and to say them because of the extraordinary suggestion made to the House by Deputy MacEntee when he resumed the debate this evening. He made the case that the object behind this particular increase in the tax on petrol is to enable this Government to bankrupt Córas Iompair Éireann so that we will be able to have our transport services nationalised. We all know, of course, that there is no conclusion beyond the logic of Deputy MacEntee's mind. I do not know how he has managed to work this out, but I take it that it is part of his own general plan, that plan that we see so much about in the newspapers from time to time. I should like to say that Deputy MacEntee can make all that he can out of the remark that I interjected when he was speaking. As far as I am concerned, I have always wanted to see our transport services nationalised.
Captain Cowan: I have always stood for, and wanted to see, our Dublin transport municipalised. If we had municipal transport in Dublin, the question of the increased fares that Deputy MacEntee is so worried about would never arise. If we had a municipal transport service in Dublin it would mean a considerable relief to the rates and fares would be much cheaper, but under Deputy MacEntee's Government the Dublin services were pooled with the other services of Córas Iompair Éireann in order to buttress them up and for no other purpose.
The Deputy talked about the increased fares the individual in Crumlin, Kimmage or Cabra may have to pay. Let us look at this from a realistic point of view. The Minister proposes to put an increased tax of 5d a gallon on petrol. I do not know how many miles a 60 h.p. bus will travel on one gallon of petrol. I do not think it is unreasonable to put it as low as three miles. Let us assume that a 60-seater bus will travel three miles on a gallon of petrol.
Captain Cowan: I have travelled in one 100 times. If the Deputy had as much experience as I have had of travelling in buses he would know that quite a number of our buses in the city are 60-seaters. Actually, they are 66-seater buses. What does the increase amount to at 5d per gallon for three miles? Let us make the figure 6d. That works out at 2d. per mile. Divide the 2d. per mile over 66 passengers and see what the increase will be. The thing is about the 1/33rd part of 1d. Therefore, Deputy MacEntee is not concerned with logic or commonsense. He is simply here in this House trying to destroy, if he can, the genuine efforts that are being made to put the country right after 16 years of Deputy MacEntee's form of Government.
Deputy MacEntee, for some inexplicable reason—inexplicable to some people—in the course of his speech, decided that it might be better politics if he could make some change in my name. I have no objection to him doing that if it is any fun to him. If it gives him any pleasure to refer to me as “Mr. Coen,” then he is perfectly entitled to the pleasure.
Mr. MacEntee: On that point, I should like now to disclaim any such intention. I have heard it pronounced so variously, but I have always referred to him as Deputy Cowan. That is, I am sure, his name.
Captain Cowan: Now that Deputy MacEntee is corrected I sincerely hope that I shall not have to refer to that matter again. Quite a considerable amount of nonsense is being spoken in this debate on this matter of the effect of the petrol tax. Deputy Corry must be in touch with the class of farmer of whom I know nothing whatsoever. I know the farmers in my native Cavan. I can assure Deputy Corry that even if the Minister were to put a tax of £1 a gallon on petrol it would not cause a loss of 2d. a week to the farmers of Cavan. I think, also, that I can speak of the farmers of the Midlands. If Deputy Corry will work out the number of miles that these lorries will do, the number of hours' work that the tractor will do, he will see that the case he is making against this increased tax on petrol is an exaggerated case. I am inclined to think that a case is being made in this House not on sound grounds but for purely political and Party political purposes. I do not think there is anything more that I need say except that, if we test the argument on the basis of increased cost per person or per mile, we will see that the case that is being made against this increase is not a good case.
In conclusion, I am perfectly certain that the increased tax will not mean increased fares on buses. I am informed that, before the change of Government, the directors of Córas  Iompair Éireann applied for permission to increase fares.
Captain Cowan: Well the director applied for permission to increase the fares and if there had not been a change of Government those increased fares would be in operation now. This present Government has not increased the fares. I wish to make it perfectly clear to Deputy MacEntee and to everybody else that I, for one, will not stand for permitting Córas Iompair Éireann, run as it is at the moment, to increase its fares on the general public.
Mr. Dockrell: It is always difficult to defend a tax because no tax is pleasing to the community. I think all taxes are unpalatable. Speaking as a business person representing a city constituency, I do not, naturally, like an increase in the tax on petrol. However, the State has to be run and the money has to be found somewhere. Any Government that approaches the question of taxation in a fair-minded way has to look for a tax which can be raised cheaply and which does not unduly hit any particular section of the community which the Government thinks should not be hit. On that basis of thought the increased taxation on petrol can stand four square with any other tax which the Minister could have put on. Deputy MacEntee sheds tears over people in various sections in Dublin—Crumlin, and so forth—who might find themselves paying an increased bus fare by virtue of this taxation. I would like to remind him that when his Government brought in the Transport Bill tying up the then Dublin Tramway Company with the Great Southern Railways, they put an increase on the citizens of Dublin. The profits of the Dublin transport system are being used inevitably to assist the weaker sections of the transport system of this country. One can argue in favour of that or one can argue against  it. As a Dublin person, representing a Dublin constituency, I do not like that and did not like it at the time and I pointed it out. But Deputy MacEntee, four years ago, never said a word about the increase in cost which would affect the citizens of Dublin. Deputy Corry was talking about the effect of this proposal on the farmers of Ireland who, he said, are standing with their backs to the wall. There may be some farmers standing with their backs to the wall but I think there are very many farmers who, if standing with their backs to the wall, are standing there with their pockets quite comfortably lined. I am very glad to see them in a state of reasonable prosperity. I do not wish to see them in any other condition. I do not think the farmers of Ireland will thank Deputy Corry for trying to suggest that they are in a highly impoverished condition when everybody knows that for the past eight or nine years—in fact, during the war years and afterwards— the agricultural industry has been doing quite well.
I should like to say that whilst, like everyone else, I do not welcome this tax—nobody welcomes a tax—it hits all sections of the community and that is a thing which a tax should do. A tax should be as general as the Government can make it. Deputy MacEntee said also that it was a tax on production and distribution. It would be very difficult to find any tax which is not somewhat a tax on production and distribution. I think the Minister for Finance will agree with me when I say that he would be at his wits' end to find any tax which would not interfere somewhat with production and distribution and also to find a tax which would not in some degree affect the cost of living. It is a question of degree and this tax does not overwhelmingly affect production and distribution, nor does it affect, to anything but a very slight degree, the cost of living.
One of the Deputies referred to the tax on wines. It has been stated again and again that the taxation on the wines was reduced in order to bring in an increased yield. If that tax had not been reduced perhaps the petrol tax  would have had to be 50 per cent. more than it is—or some other tax. Those are the facts of the matter. There is no point in letting any Deputy of the Opposition Party who makes a wild and very unfair and untrue statement— I mean untrue from a financial point of view—get away with it. Whilst I do not welcome a tax on petrol—no one does—I think that, in the circumstances in which the Minister for Finance found himself, namely, dealing with Estimates which he had not prepared himself and dealing with Government expenses which had been increased every year over the past 15 years, he did extremely well to limit his taxation to the extent he did. That is the way in which we must judge this tax as well as every other tax—we must look at the whole picture and consider it as a whole.
Mr. Derrig: It has to be remembered that the arguments of those who suggest that an offset by way of a reduction in the price of beer or cigarettes makes up to the community for the increase which may be passed on to them in respect of travel omit consideration of the whole position of transport in this country. Last year the Minister for Finance took £2,000,000 into the funds from the motor vehicle duties. In opposing the reimposition of the present heavy impost of 5d. per gallon—where the previous Government had taken off 6d. in order to reduce the burden upon industry and thereby contribute something towards preventing increases in the cost of living—we must have regard to the imposts that are placed upon industry generally. As well as the motor vehicle duties, you have the customs duties, which brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds during the past year. The ordinary workman may be dependent for a livelihood upon the vehicle which he is driving, and I have been informed that it may cost up to £50 per annum in the case of a man who has a large lorry drawing sand or some other commodity of that kind. One would imagine that there was a differentiation in the incidence of this tax, between those who were using petrol for pleasure and those who were using it for business.
 I think it will be agreed that, so far as our own nationals are concerned, only a very small proportion of the travel could be described as purely for pleasure purposes. It has been stated here in the House—and I have always understood that it was a correct figure —that 80 per cent. of our total cars belong to rural areas. Those who are familiar with conditions in Dublin and who do not seem to understand conditions in the country forget that the scattered population, the agricultural community, is depending to a very great extent on public transport. It has been said that Córas Iompair Éireann is being induced to increase its fares by speeches from this side of the House. We must remember the effect upon the national transport system of an imposition of this kind. There was a huge loss on that undertaking last year and the increases in respect of wages, materials and re-equipment must be very great. I wonder if Deputy Cowan, and those who think like him, will ever address themselves to the question of just how many millions of pounds it would take to enable Córas Iompair Éireann to modernise itself, to capitalise itself and to bring itself up to a really modern standard of equipment and service. Even as it is, it is admitted by those representing country constituencies that the services are very good indeed. I have heard visitors from outside this country say that the bus services are better than in America or Australia.
Mr. Derrig: Perhaps I did. I am talking of the services for rural areas. I believe that there is a good service and that it compares with those provided elsewhere and, perhaps, it is even better. In order to maintain that service, it is clear that we cannot permit costs to mount up on the undertaking. If we do, we will be driven, as Deputy MacEntee pointed out, to asking the taxpayer to bear the burden in another way, or the only resort left to us will be to ask those who are served by the transport system to pay an additional charge. If there was a case before the  change of Government for increasing fares on the basis of losses that have been sustained, apart altogether from the magnitude of the task of capitalising the system, of bringing it up to date, there is no doubt whatever but that the case for such increases must become greater, unless the Minister for Finance can show us that, in some mysterious way, this tax imposes no burden upon the company. It is not a question of the amount per bus. It is a question of the amount that this additional impost, added to all the other imposts, is going to create in the way of difficulties for the undertaking.
It is not the particular impost, perhaps, in this finance measure which is going to drive any particular firm or individual out of business, or make him feel that he is no longer able to meet his obligations and square his accounts. It is the addition of a particular imposition, even though it may be argued that it is small on the individual, that may make all the difference and, in the case of a big undertaking, it must surely be a very substantial burden indeed.
Transport is the economic life blood of a modern community. Our agriculture is carried on in a series of small units, many of which would be described as uneconomic; and it is only through the special circumstances of the present time that a great many of these units have succeeded in making themselves economic. We know that that state of affairs is not going to continue indefinitely. The Minister for Agriculture, as we have been reminded, told us that we are prepared to sell meat much cheaper to the British than to anybody else. I wonder is the Minister displaying any concern as to the results of the imposition of the petrol tax upon agriculture generally. There is no differentiation made between driving for pleasure and driving for production. If we are in earnest about increasing agricultural production, if we believe that modern methods ought to be applied in order to enable our small units to compete successfully outside this country in a market where they will be up against competitors from the other end of the globe, then it is surely necessary that everything that presses upon the producer  and upon the farmer in the way of costs ought to be carefully examined and ought to be carefully overhauled.
We happen to be at a stage when, as Deputy Corry said, those who are in a reasonably economic way of business in farming, those who have reasonably large farms, are turning more and more—and the difficulty of obtaining labour is not one of the least things that is driving them towards that course—towards mechanisation. We know that everything that is added to the farmer's overheads, whether it is by way of rates, by way of increased charges for labour or by way of increased charges for petrol or any other material required in the carrying on of the farmer's business, will have an effect upon the farmer's costings and upon his profits and will have a big say in the determination of the price which the community will be asked to pay for such necessities as wheat, beet, potatoes or meat, or whatever else it may be.
Inasmuch, therefore, as this tax will be a further imposition on the cost of living and inasmuch as, far from bringing about any reduction, the tendency will be to bring about an increase if steps are not taken to avoid any such increase upon the agricultural producers themselves, the net result of that, added to the other increased charges which agriculture has to meet, will certainly mean demands for increases in the cost of foodstuffs. Those making such demands will have before them the examples of other sections of the community who regarded themselves as being in a sufficiently strong strategical position to enforce their demands. No doubt they will feel that there is a moral in that for them.
Mr. P.D. Lehane: I cannot blame the Deputies opposite very much for trying to make all the capital they can out of this particular tax and for trying to make all the noise they can about this particular tax. It is the one thing upon which they can hang in their efforts to depreciate the value of the recent Budget to the community as a whole. The Budget, generally, has reduced taxation and, at the same time, the Minister has been in a position to  give increased social services. I think the Deputies opposite have been a little bit dishonest.
Deputy MacEntee has been irresponsible inasmuch as he has given an inducement and an invitation to the monopoly company set up by his Government to increase their charges. Deputy MacEntee says that because the cost of fuel is going up the cost of fares and the cost of the delivery of goods must likewise go up. When the cost of fuel went down in 1946 there was no decrease in fares and there was no decrease in transport charges. Deputy Corry is very worried about the agricultural community. Deputy Corry knew, long before this tax on petrol came into operation, that the general manager of Córas Iompair Éireann had said that he wanted a 20 per cent. increase in transport charges. Even though Deputy Corry was chairman of the Beet Growers' Association at that time he did nothing about that particular increase. He did not worry about it at all. When the Beet Growers' Association met Córas Iompair Éireann recently, in spite of the fact that the petrol tax has been increased, Córas Iompair Éireann are now only looking for a 10 per cent. increase. In fairness to himself I think Deputy Corry should have given that information to the House.
Transport charges to the farmer were not decreased in 1946 when the price of fuel went down. Deputy Derrig is delighted with the bus services that Córas Iompair Éireann are giving. I wonder was he listening to Deputy Corry when Deputy Corry told us that it would take him three or four days to get out to Castletownroche. This debate has lasted for a considerable number of days and I shall not delay the House much longer. I am in a position to speak on behalf of the farmers just as well as Deputy Corry, and I can assure the House that the farmers are not so worried about this tax as Deputy Corry would have us believe. I do not believe the farmers will have increased transport charges for their raw materials now any more than they received the benefit of a reduction in 1946.
Mr. Kissane: Deputy Lehane must be an optimist if he thinks that an increase in the price of petrol will not result in increased charges to the community generally, including the agricultural section of it.
Mr. Kissane: No, petrol. If Deputy Lehane and the other Deputies think that this extra payment will be met without passing it on to the community in general they do not understand what business methods are. I do not think anybody is prepared to bear that loss. I hope, however, that I am wrong.
Mr. Kissane: I do not recollect any social service having been improved since this Government took office, though the Deputies on the Government Benches advocated increases all round when they were at the Opposition side of the House. But Deputies it appears change their attitude when they move from one side of this House to the other.
Mr. Kissane: Reference has been made to the increase in the motor tax last year. I remember the Deputies on the Government Benches now going into the Lobby against an increase in motor tax and voicing terrible complaints in that regard. I hold that an increase in motor tax is more equitable than an increase in petrol. Several Deputies here to-day tried to persuade us that all people who use motor cars belong to the wealthy class. If you want to catch the wealthier classes you will catch them more easily by increasing the motor tax rather than by increasing the petrol tax. As Deputy Derrig has said, 80 per cent. of the cars in this country are used by people in the conduct of their business.
Mr. Kissane: The Deputies opposite, of course, committed themselves to a reduction in the cost of beer and tobacco and they now find themselves in somewhat straitened circumstances in their efforts to find the money. They evidently think that by imposing this increased tax on petrol they will be hitting that section of the community who do not count so much from a political point of view. But they are mistaken.
Mr. Kissane: The Minister must remember that wages have increased since 1946. Deputy Lehane usually professes great concern for the farming community. He should, therefore, oppose this tax. Is he optimistic enough to believe that this will not have any effect on them? I believe it will. People who run lorries and even cars for their livelihood are barely able to make ends meet. They do not make big profits as some people wrongly think, and I am afraid they will be compelled to pass on the increase to the general community. I am opposed to this tax.
Mr. C. Lehane: On one thing there is unanimity among the Deputies opposite and that is the complete unreality with which they have approached this question. Maybe I should say apparent unreality because, although they did seem to harp on references to luxury hotels and to farmers known only to Deputy Corry who conduct all their farming operations with the aid of motor spirit, at the same time at the back of their speeches there was a very definite purpose.
 I hope I will be permitted to assume the róle of a defender of Deputy MacEntee. When I heard my namesake on these benches referring to Deputy MacEntee's irresponsibility, I felt inclined to protest. I should like the country to realise that there is nothing irresponsible in the attitude of Deputies opposite in this matter. It is part of a definite plan to make government difficult here, part of a definite plan to try to make a case for the raising of transport costs, part of a definite plan to try to send up the cost of living, in spite of the efforts being made by this Government to reduce it.
References were made to luxury hotels. So far as I know, the Fianna Fáil Party was the parent of the luxury hotels. I challenge Deputies on the opposite benches to test in their own constituencies by any method they like—any Gallup poll they like—the feeling of the people as to whether they would prefer the £6,000,000 reduction in taxation that the Minister for Finance has brought us——
Mr. C. Lehane: There is a very definite reduction of £6,000,000 in taxation, and the Deputy knows it. I ask them to test the feeling of the people whether they would prefer that reduction or whether they would prefer to revert to the Fianna Fáil Party who taxed two semi-luxuries—they are almost necessaries—that the average worker in this city has. Deputy MacEntee is very fond of waving a leaflet in this House which was utilised by me in the election campaign in Dublin City Centre. It is a leaflet with the picture of a pint of porter on it.
I consider it a meritorious thing in favour of this Budget that it has reduced these little luxuries, these almost necessaries for the ordinary worker.  Deputies opposite know that public opinion demanded that these reductions in taxation should be made. The people are sensible enough to know that public services must be paid for and the money must be found. What infuriates Deputy MacEntee and his colleagues is that the Minister was able to hold out the prospect of a substantial increase in old age pensions while removing the burden in taxation which the Fianna Fáil Party placed upon the people.
There is one thing which, I think, is typical of the lack of honesty on the part of Deputies opposite to which I have become accustomed since I came into this House. Deputy Corry talked of the farmer whose position would be worsened to the extent of £2 a week by reason of the petrol and transport charges. I do not know what size of farm Deputy Corry has in mind, but I am prepared to wager a lot of money that he is not using 5,200 gallons of petrol per annum, which is the amount necessary in order to cover his figure of £2 a week. That is typical of the dishonest and unreal approach to this question by Deputies opposite.
I wish to remind the Fianna Fáil Party that any attempt by them to commence a campaign to increase transport charges to the ordinary people will certainly, as far as Clann na Poblachta are concerned, be met and the responsibility will be placed at the door of its authors, the Fianna Fáil Party.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I was surprised to hear a farmer Deputy welcoming the increase in the price of petrol. I have received a number of letters from people in County Dublin, Ferguson tractor owners, dairymen and lorry owners. One dairyman says that the increased tax on petrol will cost him approximately £240 a year.
Mr. P.J. Burke: The Deputy has referred to that often enough, and I think I have reason to say that his conduct is really out of bounds. He is continually interrupting. I am basing my case on facts and I will give the figures to the Deputy to make them up if he wishes to do so. Some of the lorry owners and market gardeners supplying Dublin market with vegetables have two Ferguson tractors and some have three and four lorries. The increase in their case is roughly £100 per year. In the case of another man, with four Ferguson tractors and four lorries, it represents about £150. The general policy of the inter-Party Government at the moment is to tax production. We have seen crocodile tears being shed here——
Mr. P.J. Burke: The Deputy reminds me of the seagull—continually interrupting. We have heard a good deal about the rural community and the depressed people in rural Ireland and about the necessity for doing something for them. I am interested in the people I represent in County Dublin, and I am trying to make the best case possible to see to it that they will not have to bear added burdens. The cost of production for dairy owners, lorry owners and Ferguson tractor owners has gone up. How are they to get back the increase? There is only one way—from the consumer. That is just too bad. I should like to see the cost of living going down even by 20 per cent., if not by the complete 30 per cent. promised during the election. The Minister has given us a promise that he will consider the position with regard to Ferguson tractor owners. There are a large number of these in County Dublin and I should like him to see what can be done for them.
Mr. P.J. Burke: We hear about increasing production. Can the inter-Party Government do nothing but tax production? The Minister spoke of people who had invested capital in Irish industry. We are a young country industrially and the potentialities of an industrial revival under Fianna Fáil were very rosy, but I am sorry to say that under this Government the outlook is very gloomy, because this Government's policy and the statements of Ministers here are anything but encouraging to Irish nationals and citizens to invest money in an effort to create employment.
Mr. P.J. Burke: That goes back to the point on which the Ceann Comhairle pulled me up. This man is an enterprising man who is putting money back into his business and creating employment. With regard to Deputy Lehane's remarks, a point was made about the reduction of taxation by £6,000,000. That reduction was brought about by scrapping the minerals exploration project, reducing civil aviation and causing general unemployment in the country. I wonder will the Deputy tell the people he represents that he backed those decisions for the purpose of causing unemployment and reducing production.
Mr. P.J. Burke: I gave the particulars in a question last week. I supplied the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Finance with particulars of the people who had been sacked by Fuel Importers, Limited.
Mr. P.J. Burke: It will be interesting for the lorry owners, Ferguson tractor owners, market gardeners and farmers generally in County Dublin to know that the inter-Party Government are very anxious to increase their costs of production, that that is how they propose to help agricultural production in County Dublin.
Mr. Lynch: In opening the debate on these amendments, Deputy Lemass told the House that he was introducing this amendment in the spirit of providing the House with an opportunity of discussing the impositions which this tax places on the community. I can assure the Government Deputies that that is the spirit in which it is approached by the Fianna Fáil Party.
The first Deputy O'Higgins who spoke said that we were advocating a campaign whereby the directors of Córas Iompair Eireann would have increased fares. I submit that it is a gross misrepresentation of our motives to attribute these aims to us. If the Deputy takes and reads the speeches of the Fianna Fáil Deputies—I referred to this question on the Budget debate— he will realise only too well that each member, or practically each member, of the Fianna Fáil Party, impressed upon the Minister the necessity of ensuring that this tax will not be passed on to the consumer. That the danger is there cannot be denied, but it is our desire, our hope that it will not be passed on.
Deputy O'Higgins also suggested that the day of the small car was gone and that we could see nothing around us now except big high-powered American cars. On the other hand, however, he said that the vast majority of motor-owners of this country drove small cars. Which argument he chooses to be accepted, I do not know, but he concentrated his argument on how the question affected Dublin, but as Deputy Derrig pointed out, 80 per cent. of the motor-owners of this country are in the rural areas and most of them use their  cars mostly for essential purposes and will necessarily feel the burden of the increased tax. It is with those ordinary people who will be subject to the tax in an indirect way that we are concerned and we do seriously hope that the tax will not be brought to bear on them in the form of bus fares, taxi fares, when the occasion arises, or transport charges.
Deputy Con Lehane accused this side of the House of introducing these amendments as part of a set plan to make government more difficult. I think that my remarks in reply to Deputy O'Higgins's assertion will answer that to a large extent, but I assure Deputy Con Lehane that as long as we are here we intend to co-operate with Government schemes in so far as they are for the benefit of the community and to point out defects as far as we can see defects in them. If Deputy Lehane thinks, however, that we are going to vacate these benches and let the Government carry on in one big happy inter-Party family he is making a big mistake. He accuses us of lack of honesty and in support of that quotes Deputy Corry in regard to the increased cost of running a farm as a result of the increased tax on petrol.
The Minister at one stage interrupted and said that his removal of the increased tax on wines will bring about an increased source of revenue, and were it not for that, it was suggested that the petrol tax would have to be more than doubled. The Minister must realise that the first reaction to all taxes on non-essential goods is a decrease in the volume of the consumption of these goods. He justifies largely the removal of the increased tax on wine by saying that it was not bringing in the revenue expected. Nobody expected that the consumption of wine would maintain its normal level as a result of the increased tax, but I put it seriously to the Minister that the consumption of wines would have reached its normal level and that the tax would have been justified. In support of this argument I would refer to the question of cigarettes.
Mr. Lynch: He referred to it in the course of the speech made by Deputy McGrath. But, Sir, if I might be permitted to develop my argument, I would conclude on this note. I would refer to the price of cigarettes pre-war when they cost 6d. for ten and 1/- for 20. Since then that price has gone up by practically 50 per cent. I would suggest seriously to the Minister that the result of the first impact of that increased tax was a reduction in the consumption of cigarettes but now, as far as my information goes, it is a fact that the increase in the consumption of tobacco is 110 per cent. of normal. As we can all see, the pre-war supply is not sufficient to meet the demand, for when there is sufficient public taste for a commodity public taste and public consumption will assert itself in spite of normal price increases and normal taxes. I might add that as far as the cost of cigarettes in this country and in other countries is concerned, I had occasion to visit the North last week and I paid 3/10½ for an ounce of tobacco which I would normally get in this part of the country for 1/10½. It shows that the increase in the tax on cigarettes was not an outrageous one at all.
In conclusion I would seriously suggest to the Minister and to the other supporters of the Finance Bill to ensure that the increase in this tax on petrol will not be passed on to people who are unable to bear it.
Mr. M. O'Reilly: I am not going to delay for very long. I just want to find out from the Minister what exactly is the attitude of the Party opposite. This tax amounts to almost £1,000,000 and the argument on the Government side is that the tax will not be passed on to the consumer; the argument on this side of the House is that it will be passed on. The Government—not the Minister but members of some of the Parties which compose the Government—stated that our attitude here was actually an inducement to Córas Iompair Éireann and to the transport companies to pass on this tax. Do they mean to insinuate that if nothing at all were said about it, it would not be passed on? Is that the attitude? I do not say that that is the attitude  of Fine Gael as represented by the Minister for Finance, but it certainly is the attitude of some of the other Parties. That would be very misfortunate, and I do not think that anybody has any business to try to argue that this £1,000,000 is going to be lost and that the transport companies are simply going to be out of pocket.
But there are a certain number of people here who will not be able to pass it on and they are perhaps the poorest and most struggling section of the community. For instance, in Meath there are a great number of milk producers composed of rather large farmers and quite a number of small farmers. As I understand their system, they get each month from the distributors here in Dublin a cheque for the milk supply and the cost of transport is deducted. I am quite sure, therefore, that the distributors here— I know something about them; they are pretty hard-headed business men— are certainly going to make that unfortunate producer pay.
With regard to that other section of the community who are expecting houses, we propose to build as many houses as possible in Meath. To-night or to-morrow we will have the Minister for Local Government here and he will be naturally doing his utmost, as every one of us will be, to try to relieve what is now a misfortune—the want of housing all over the country. I am sure the same applies to the City of Dublin. Everyone of us is anxious to get this thing done. In the course of going around my constituency I met some contractors. As Deputies know, if contractors are building labourers' cottages, which are distributed all over the country, they must use lorries. Everything has to be carried by lorry. The latest tender that I saw last week for a cottage in County Meath was £1,330. After all deductions, possibly the rent of that cottage will be 15/- per week. That is an impossible rent. It was said that this Government are trying to reduce the costs of production, when through this tax the are actually trying to put them up. I want to know from the Minister is it his attitude that that tax cannot be and will not be passed on.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Lynch asked me to see that this tax will not be passed on. Deputy O'Reilly wants to know will it be passed on. Deputy MacEntee says that inevitable it will be passed on. I am always subject to the superior mentality of Deputy MacEntee who says that it is inevitable that it will be. I want to ask these Deputies in return to answer me a few questions. What was passed on from 1941 to 1946? In 1941, the tax on petrol was raised to 1/3. I am putting it up to 1/2. It was raised by Fianna Fáil to 1/3. They kept it at that until 1946, five long years. There were houses being built in those days.
Mr. McGilligan: I suppose it would be regarded as a potential type of work. The work was potentially there. The people were going to be put into houses. Was the cost not being put up by the increase in the petrol tax for five years? As to the dairy people that Deputy Burke got letters from, did he get them in 1941?
Mr. McGilligan: I am making my comparison and I am entitled to do it. It is easy to weep tears over people whom you have savaged yourself. If your lamentations have any substance now, for five years you should have been lamenting that this tax was at the height of 1s. 3d., which was worse still.
Mr. McGilligan: Notwithstanding that, the tax was put up to 1s. 3d. and was held at 1s. 3d. for five years. I want Deputies to reconcile their attitude to-day with their attitude during those five years. Was it passed on then? I do not know. If these Deputies will answer that question, I will be able to answer the question posed to me. If it was not passed on, then there will be a way of escaping it now. If it was passed on then, apparently it was a tax on production. The  farmer had his back much closer to the wall in the years I am speaking of than he has now, and yet this tax was put on. The people who, it is said, are to have their bus fares increased apparently had them increased over the five years. Gentlemen, it is your own doing.
Mr. McGilligan: Certainly. But were they increased about the time the tax was taken off? What is the relationship in that? I want Deputies who are knowledgeable in regard to this matter to answer that—whether bus fares were increased in 1941 by the units that were eventually made into Córas Iompair Eireann. Were they increased in 1945 and 1946 by Córas Iompair Éireann? If not, there is every hope that they will not be increased now. The Córas Iompair Eireann part of this has been emphasised as if they were the only people bearing this tax. I thought the calculations I had were fairly accurate, but they have been disputed. But even the heaviest calculation against Córas Iompair Eireann would not impose more than one-tenth of this tax on them as their share of it. The other nine-tenths, so far as Córas Iompair Eireann is concerned, will be put on the people whom they allege to be in serious competition with them. Therefore, their competitors are to be hit quite hard, according to the Deputies. Córas Iompair Eireann always made the case that it is the private motorists and the private hauliers who are taking away their business from them. Do not forget the matter that emerged in the course of the debate—that Córas Iompair Eireann, before Fianna Fáil left office, had applied for and were given a promise of an increase in their charges. That was before the petrol tax was ever thought of.
Mr. McGilligan: Let us get the matter considered in a reasonable way. I certainly think the community will benefit by the exchange of a couple of  taxes that were going to cost £6,000,000 for this which will cost less than £1,000,000. I make that answer to anybody who says that the promise to reduce taxes was not kept. Taxes have been reduced. So far as taxes affect living costs, living costs have been reduced since the present Government took over. We remitted taxation amounting to £6,000,000 inside 14 days of coming into office and we are confirming that remission by this Bill. I think the community have benefited by the difference between the £6,000,000 effected by the impositions that Fianna Fáil left us and this £900,000 that is the only serious tax being imposed by the present Bill.
Deputy O'Reilly, in addition, must know that I have stated in the House that Córas Iompair Éireann as one group are being very handsomely treated because they have been allowed quite a considerable off-set on certain vehicles which they are importing, the import duty on which we have remitted. I have got calculations that, apparently, will have to be remade, but I do not think that I am going very far astray when I say that at least two-thirds of the extra petrol tax as put upon Córas Iompair Éireann will be met by the remission they have got from being allowed off certain import duties which they would have had to face otherwise. It has to be remembered also in this connection that, even although extra duties were put upon motor cars last autumn by Fianna Fáil, that did not put any halt to the great increase in the registration of motor cars.
The registrations in 1947 appeared to be about three times what they were in the previous year. I am speaking of first registrations. Even what Fianna Fáil did towards the end of last year had not the effect of retarding the sales of motor cars, or retarding the rate at which registrations were going on. Everybody knows quite well that for years back there was quite a profitable black market in petrol. I am proposing to take for the benefit of the State part of that. I believe that what I am taking in fact over the whole motoring community, though not so equally divided, was what was being spent by people who were anxious to  get petrol at any price and who paid fantastic prices for petrol. That, of course, in the way in which it was sold, would go into the hands of people illegally trafficking in petrol. Having raised the price of petrol to a price which will make it less profitable to be buying in the black market, we are proposing, in that particular situation, to get the £1,000,000 for the State. If the tax is to be justified, it could be justified on that ground alone.
Deputy MacEntee brings in this question of nationalisation. The question of nationalisation, I feel, will have to come before this House in connection with Córas Iompair Éireann but not because of the petrol tax or Córas Iompair Éireann's share of the tax. The situation had early developed to a point at which some very radical change would have had to be made in the whole position of Córas Iompair Éireann. I can hardly think that anybody nowadays looking at Córas Iompair Éireann would put it forward as an advertisement for private enterprise. It lacks a considerable number of the characteristics of private enterprise and, of course, the Deputy who brought it forward as a model of private enterprise also referred to the transatlantic air service as private enterprise—a scheme which was going to lose money from the start, and lose heavily. No real estimate that I saw, no estimate seriously taken, put the losses at less than £500,000 a year, which the taxpayer was to bear after paying the cost of the airfields and everything else. That, apparently, is spoken of as private enterprise. I wish I could engage in private enterprise of that kind.
Mr. McGilligan: In any event, it is apparently now agreed that it was a public enterprise. It was public in the sense that the losses were to be borne by the public. The only enterprise you can think of in that connection is that peculiar type of enterprise which consists of spending other people's moneys and not having to bear the losses out of any private capital. It is certainly a parody of private enterprise.
Deputy Corry, of course, is very anxious about the agricultural community. The driving of sand lorries and best lorries, the milking of cows, every operation, as somebody said, that the farmer in Deputy Corry's area now engages in, is in some way or another dependent on petrol and the cost of these operations and, therefore, the cost of production, will have to be raised. I would like to have asked him was this a development since 1946. If not, I would like to have found out did he make these protests to the previous Minister for Finance and whether the previous Minister received his protestations about the costs that were being put upon the farming community.
The last thing Deputy Corry mentioned was this question about wines. I only want to refer to it since he did. One does not ordinarily associate Deputy Corry with things like champagne, sauterne, burgundy, sherry or port.
Mr. McGilligan: In fact, I always thought the Deputy was fed on raw beef before he went to attack the people who drink wines of different types. Deputy Corry does not know that he was the pal of all the champagne drinkers for years. The men who drink sauterne, burgundy, sherry, port and champagne should have subscribed to Deputy Corry's election expenses because for years he kept them on an amazingly low rate of tax. Let us take champagne. From 1932 to 1946, the tax on a bottle was only 2/7. In 1946, Deputy Corry's Party raised it to 5/2.  I am quite sure Deputy Corry must have been one of the strong people wanting that increase in tax. He may be amazed to know that it is 6/5 now, even when I have reduced it, so that, if he is going to thank people for hitting the champagne drinkers hard, I will be at my office any day to receive whatever little tribute he can give me. I have put on 6/5d when the Government that he supported only raised it to 5/2 in 1946 and kept running along at an amazingly low level from 1932.
Mr. McGilligan: In 1930 it was 2/7. That is when I was last in Government. When the Deputy came in and put three sixpences on to the income-tax, in 1932, he left the bottle of champagne at 2/7. He was very soft with the champagne drinker. Of course, if that Party want to parade themselves as being against all these wine drinkers and are going to skin them, they did not do it for all those years.
Mr. McGilligan: I also want to say that I am getting £250,000 extra from all these wine drinkers by lowering the tax. It seems odd that that can be done but the only explanation for that peculiarity is that the last tax imposed was a foolish one, one that anybody who stopped to consider the matter would never have thought of imposing. By making the tax moderate now and yet leaving people in a position that they may drink these beverages if they  want them, we will get £250,000 extra. If I kept the tax at the rate at which it was I would have to put on another 1d. or 1½d. on petrol. I do not want to  do that. I would prefer to get it from wine and will get it.
Brennan, Joseph P.
Browne, Noel C.
Byrne, Alfred Patrick.
Connolly, Roderick J.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Sir John L.
Halliden, Patrick J.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Lehane, Patrick D.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Madden, David J.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, Timothy J.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.)
Palmer, Patrick W.
Pattison, James P.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Sheldon, William A. W.
Timoney, John J.
Childers, Erskine H.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Davern, Michael J.
De Valera, Vivion.
Gorry, Patrick J.
|Kennedy, Michael J.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttledge, Patrick J.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: I move amendment No. 8:—
Before Section 4 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) This section applies to tractors, agricultural tractors and agricultural engines—
(a) used solely on a farm and not liable to excise duty under Section 13 of the Finance Act, 1920, and the Second Schedule to that Act, as amended, or
(b) liable to duty under paragraph 4 of that Schedule, at the rate of 5s., or
(c) liable to duty, under that paragraph, at the rate of £6 or £10,
and also applies to—
(d) stationary engines used solely on a farm.
(2) Where a person proves to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners that—
(a) in August, 1948, or any subsequent month, he lawfully purchased motor spirit for use in a machine to which this section applies, and
(b) the motor spirit was so used while the machine was being used for agricultural purposes,
he shall be entitled to a repayment at the rate of 6d. a gallon in respect of the motor spirit duty paid on the motor spirit.
This amendment has been put down by Deputy Rooney and myself to cover the case of a man engaged in agriculture who has purchased, and uses for agricultural production only on his farm, tractors and other machinery. It seems to me that, at a time like this when under this Government we are intent upon getting greater agricultural production as soon as possible, we should not, by taxation or by any Government measure, create any obstacle that would hinder that greater production. I am of opinion that a tax on the petrol consumed by agricultural machinery, including tractors, would prove to be very heavy  on those using such machinery. Deputy Rooney and myself have, therefore, put down this amendment which, if accepted, will apply only to agricultural machinery and tractors on farms used solely for farming purposes. The amendment will provide that each farmer who has such piece of agricultural machinery and who purchases petrol for consumption in that machinery will be entitled to a repayment of the tax which he has paid. Our reason for suggesting a repayment is that it would appear that the difficulty of creating machinery whereby the petrol could be sold from the pump without the tax would be considerable. It would, therefore, be better to allow the petrol to be purchased in the ordinary way subject to tax and then, if the amendment is accepted, to allow a refund of the tax paid. Our reason in urging that this amendment be accepted by the Minister is that it will ensure that there will be no obstacle placed in the path of a farmer who wants, by efficient and modern methods, to make his farm a better producing unit. It will ensure that he will have the goodwill of the Government, and in so far as it might affect him, it should be waived and it should have no application.
Mr. Rooney: I desire to support Deputy T.F. O'Higgins (Junior) on this amendment. In recent times a great number of tractors, which are made in such a way that they are suitable only when used on petrol, have come into use amongst the farmers. They have come into use amongst the farmers for very good reasons—because these tractors are regarded by the purchasers as being capable of doing a greater amount of work in a shorter time while, at the same time, producing more power for the purpose of carrying out that work. This proposed tax of 5d. a gallon would operate unfavourably by against the farmers who, unfortunately, in the interests of economy and greater production effort, purchased petrol tractors. For that reason I am inclined to ask the Minister to consider the possibility of rebating the tax which has been imposed on all petrol purchased after it has been purchased by the tractor—owner when he  proves he has used it in this petrol-tractor or agricultural engine solely for farming purposes. It would be a heavy burden—far greater than the burden which has been instanced by the Opposition in a previous debate in respect of hauliers. These tractors are capable of using 15 gallons per day on a long day. In other words, they can use as many as 400 gallons in the month. That tax would be very substantial compared with the tax paid by the owner of a private car using his ration. We must remember that if the farmer is forced to economise by using less petrol he will be forced also to do less work and the possibility that food production might be interfered with must be considered. Therefore, it would be better to encourage the farmer as much as possible by relieving him in some respect of the tax imposed on petrol which he proposes to use in tractors. The Opposition have referred to this 5d. tax as applied to private motor cars and lorries and vans. We know that if a private car-owner uses his ration he will, on an average, pay 4/2 per month.
Of course, if he goes into the black market he cannot rightly say that he has a grievance. The Opposition Party have made no case for opposing the tax in respect of lorries, cars and vans. When we realise that there is a ration in respect of these vehicles we find that all goods lorries will be taxed to the extent of something like £10s. 10d. per month. That divided over the period amounts to something like 7d. a day. Then again we have hauliers' lorries— that would be approximately £2 4s. 0d. per month, and delivery vans something like 10/- per month. So the Opposition Party has not succeeded in convincing the Government, at any rate, that there is any case for reducing the extra duty imposed in respect of motor vehicles in general. It appears to be a campaign to create unrest but, if the Opposition Party desires to choose a topic for causing unrest amongst the community by making them believe that they have a grievance, they will have to find another subject. I will conclude by asking the Minister to consider this amendment in the light of these facts so that the food production drive will not be impaired and the farmers will be  encouraged in accordance with the policy of this Government to make an exportable agricultural surplus available.
Mr. M. O'Reilly: After the Minister introduced the Budget I called his attention to this question of Ferguson tractors. He did not then seem to know very much about them and I must confess that I did not know a whole lot about them except that I knew they were driven entirely on petrol. He promised then that he would look into the matter and see what he could do about it. I know he is faced with a very difficult problem. Since that period I have been making inquiries about the Ferguson and I have seen quite a number of them working. As far as the farmer is concerned, especially the small type of farmer, this Ferguson seems to be an extremely useful machine and a great deal of use is made of it. It hauls manure; it takes stuff to the station; it ploughs the lands. It is a comparatively light machine and in the heavier type of land in County Meatym it has not that fault which the heavier tractor has of packing the land too tightly: I take it, therefore, that it is a machine that is becoming very popular. I would request the Minister to give some concession, if at all possible, though I know it is a difficult matter. I notice that this tractor is used in County Meath on a lot of cottage gardens, mainly because it needs no headland and the elevator on it allows it to plough the whole garden. A number of cottage holders who have got that done have told me that it has given the greatest possible satisfaction, so I would ask the Minister to consider it as favourably as possible.
Major de Valera: I support the spirit of this amendment.
Mr. McGilligan: This amendment is being accepted, except that the Bill does not require amendment, as I have the power to do what is requested here.
Major de Valera: There is one point in the wording of the amendment as set down. There is a proposal that a rebate will be made to any person who  proves to the Revenue Commissioners certain things. It seems to me that this would involve a considerable amount of administration, even though, as the Deputy who moved the amendment said, it was couched in those terms in an effort to avoid such complications of administration. I would imagine that this tax is collected by the Government as an import tax, in other words, that it is the oil companies who pay the Government directly. In a case like that, would it not be possible by the issue of coupons specially for this purpose, to use the ordinary distribution machinery, to enable these coupons to go back to these companies and by furnishing them en bloc to the proper Government Department, to make to these companies and then make it incumbent on the companies to sell on those coupons at the reduced rate? Some scheme designed on that line would seem to me to get over the difficulties of administration and further encumbrances on the States machine.
Mr. McGilligan: Would the Deputy go into that in some detail? Does he want to give petrol to people to use in any way?
Major de Valera: No.
Mr. McGilligan: How does the Deputy propose to prove that they are going to use the petrol for agricultural purposes?
Major de Valera: I take it that the petrol rationing system continues. I suggest that the Minister could issue a certain number of coupons for each tractor for that particular purpose.
Mr. McGilligan: And whether they use it or not they get the remission?
Major de Valera: Surely the Minister would be faced in that case with, firstly, the great probability, which can generally be checked, that that tractor was going to be used for agricultural purposes, and if that tractor is in use it is going to require petrol. There may be a small proportion, but only a small proportion, of that petrol which in certain circumstances may go astray.  The Minister would have to look at that problem then, from the point of view of whether it is going to cost the Exchequer less to take the risk of a small proportion going astray as against the expenditure necessarily involved in a complicated administrative system designed to be absolutely watertight. I am merely suggesting this on the basis that some check will be there to see that a particular tractor for which coupons are issued is used for agricultural purposes to a proper extent. Provided that such a check is there, if the coupons are issued with regard to the probable requirements of the tractor for use, there can be only a small proportion of that petrol going astray, if any.
Then, by issuing special coupons, one can use the distribution machinery of the oil trade to collect the tax, by simply making the oil companies give the necessary reduction in respect of these coupons right down the line and then the State giving the reduction to these coupons. I am merely throwing out that suggestion. The Minister will appreciate that I have not the necessary knowledge of the details of the business to be very exact about it. Having regard to the way in which the terms of this amendment are couched, it seems to me that it will require certain additional complexity in administration, if you are going to give a rebate to every single person individually from the Exchequer and it is in an effort to avoid that that I make the suggestion. Otherwise, I would make it quite clear that, if the Minister is accepting the amendment, he is doing a very proper thing.
Mr. Allen: I am glad the Minister is accepting the principle of this amendment. Like Deputy de Valera, I suggest to him that he is opening up a new avenue for all kinds of trouble. There is only one type of tractor, so far as I know, in use that solely uses petrol and that is the Ferguson tractor. Why not issue a special coupon to the registered owner of a Ferguson tractor?
Mr. Corry: Oh, no.
Mr. Allen: There are other types of machines. Every tractor gets a certain  amount of petrol for priming purposes. The Minister will have to set up a new department and would probably need ten or 20 officials.
Mr. McGilligan: Why?
Mr. Allen: The Minister will probably find 100,000——
Mr. McGilligan: I am not going to give any remission on priming petrol.
Mr. Allen: A Ferguson tractor receives a priming allowance and every type of tractor receives a priming allowance to be used solely for agricultural purposes. In addition to that, there are hundreds of farmers who have stationary engines that they use for grinding corn and so on and they also get petrol, if running solely on petrol. Under this section, they are entitled to claim a remission also.
Mr. McGilligan: They will not get it.
Mr. Allen: They are entitled to it under this amendment.
Mr. McGilligan: They are not in tended to get it and I do not intend to cover them.
Mr. Allen: Not alone that, but people will be driven insane who will be claiming this remission and entitled to it.
Mr. McGilligan: I will rely on Deputies like Deputy Allen to tell them that they are not going to get it.
Mr. Allen: The farmer has enough to do, without setting out to prove that the 40 or 50 gallons he gets in a month for running the tractor have been used to the last drop to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners in ploughing his land and cultivating his crops. That goes on month after month and year after year, and the farmers will suffer in the end. It would be much better to have some simple kind of scheme——
Mr. McGilligan: Like?
Mr. Allen: ——under which you would issue special coupons, as Deputy de Valera suggested.
Mr. McGilligan: These people all have to get special coupons.
Mr. Allen: They have not. They are all the same. One tractor is the same as another.
Mr. McGilligan: They will have to get special coupons.
Mr. Allen: One tractor is the same as another. There are thousands of farmers and the coupons for petrol for agricultural purposes solely were issued before the Ferguson tractor came on the market at all. Each one will be entitled to claim.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy is making me afraid of this remission.
Mr. Allen: The Minister's Department will have the job of segregating them, to give the refund.
Mr. McGilligan: I will look into the point.
Mr. Allen: The question of a refund arose because of the fact that we have one type of tractor—I am speaking subject to correction—and one type only that uses petrol solely for propulsion.
Mr. Lynch: This amendment seeks to benefit the farming community and as such most Deputies in the House will agree with it. I wish to put before the Minister the views of the manufacturing firm, Henry Ford and Son, Limited, Cork, in regard to the effect that the removal of this tax will have on the manufacture of tractors by that firm. At the very outset I hope that I shall not be misrepresented in any degree, but I do say that I am in full agreement with the spirit of this amendment.
Mr. McGilligan: You are trying to do an impossible thing now.
Mr. Lynch: I know, but the Minister will appreciate my position.
Mr. McGilligan: It is very hard to.
Mr. T.F. O'Higgins: Are you speaking against the amendment?
Mr. Lynch: I am not speaking for the amendment.
Mr. Little: It is not adequate.
Mr. Lynch: The Minister will appreciate that I am doing my duty by putting my views before him now. I am sure he has already got that letter but I was asked to make the point and I am making it. I am not speaking against the amendment because I believe that an increased output in agricultural production is one of the best possible methods of reducing the cost of living. To some degree this amendment helps to increase agricultural production and I would not, therefore, be justified in speaking against it.
Fords have been producing tractors in this country for over 30 years. All their production machinery, their replacement machinery, their sales service and repair service in Cork and throughout the country are directed to the production and servicing of vaporising oil tractors. They feel that if discrimination is made against vaporising oil driven tractors that will tend to disrupt their organisation and have an adverse effect upon their output with consequential unemployment throughout the country. They point out that the total number of tractors up to March, 1948, was 8,162. Of that number they say that 6,842 were operating on tractor vaporising oil; the remainder of 1,320 were operating on petrol. Therefore 84 per cent. of the total number of tractors is driven on vaporising oil. In his Budget speech the Minister said that he anticipated that in giving petrol-driven tractors certain reliefs there might be administration difficulties and possibilities of evasion. I have not fully examined the various headings under which the reliefs are to be given in the amendment but I take it they are designed to allow the minimum evasion possible.
Mr. Rooney: Is the Deputy suggesting that the sale of Ford tractors will be affected? Is he suggesting that Ford will be unable to sell his tractors?
Mr. Lynch: I am making the point that Fords asked me to make, namely that it will affect the output of their tractors because of a discrimination against the Ford vaporising oil tractor.
Mr. Rooney: But if the amendment  is carried the position will be exactly the same as it was five weeks ago.
Mr. Lynch: The impression will be created abroad nevertheless that these petrol-driven tractors are cheaper than those produced by Ford. That will have an adverse effect on the tractors manufactured in Cork by Ford. They have suggested that, as a means of resolving their problem, it might be cheaper to convert petrol-driven tractors into vaporising oil tractors. They suggest that the approximate cost of that would be £14 to £15.
Mr. Rooney: That would keep Fords in business.
Mr. Lynch: I think it is a very good thing for this country to keep Fords in business and to keep men employed there. From the point of view of employment it is one of the most important factories in the country. Not only does it gives considerable employment in Cork but throughout the country numbers of men are employed in effecting repairs to Ford's products. I do not oppose this amendment but I urge upon the Minister the importance of Ford's case. I am suggesting that if there are concessions to be made the Minister should examine the situation in so far as it concerns Fords and that he will give to Fords the same concession as he is giving to oil-driven tractors at the present time.
Mr. P.D. Lehane: I would like to support this amendment. I think it is very necessary. I am amazed at the nerve of Messrs. Fords in approaching Deputy Lynch and other Deputies in this House to raise their case in this House and to ask that another firm should be prevented from getting concessions similar to those enjoyed by the Ford tractor at the moment. The Ferguson petrol tractor is the only one which has to pay this particular tax. That tax was only imposed or suggested within the last five weeks. Apparently Fords cannot compete with Ferguson under ordinary conditions. Deputy Lynch talks about discrimination. If there was any discrimination it would be brought about on behalf of Messrs. Ford if the suggestion made by Deputy Lynch were adopted.
 Another important point in connection with this matter is that Fordson tractors are tractors for which we would have to pay in dollars. We cannot afford these dollar commitments. At the moment Messrs. Fords are selling their products in this country at a considerably higher price than the same products in Great Britain even though there is a purchase tax in operation there. I am surprised that Fords should have approached Deputy Lynch and other Deputies in this matter and asked them to oppose this amendment.
Mr. Corry: I think some amplification of this amendment is needed in view of the Minister's statement. As Deputy de Valera has suggested, there is an easier way of meeting this than by paying for the petrol in the first instance and subsequently looking for a refund. All tractor owners get coupons for petrol. Those coupons bear an endorsement stating that they are for use only for agricultural tractors. There should be no difficulty, therefore, in a man getting the refund direct instead of first paying for his petrol and then coming back again to look for his refund. I think that is a nonsensical idea. The Ferguson tractor is liable to a tax at the rate of £6 or £10. That is the ordinary Ferguson tractor about which Deputy Lynch has spoken. If I pay £6 on a Ferguson tractor and use it on the road for hauling agricultural produce and I am entitled to 20 gallons of petrol per month——
Mr. Rooney: Twenty-four.
Mr. Corry: Am I then to get a rebate on that?
Mr. Rooney: But why do you want it?
Mr. Corry: Am I to get a rebate on that?
Mr. Rooney: Why would you want a rebate?
Mr. Corry: I certainly do want it.
Mr. Rooney: You have plenty of kerosene.
Mr. Corry: That is a point I wish to make. Judging by what the Minister has said, I do not know whether he will accept that or not.
Mr. McGilligan: Does your tractor use petrol?
Mr. Corry: If I am caught on the road with a Fordson tractor, using vaporising oil, I will be prosecuted. That is the law as it stands. If I take out a £6 tax, I am using that for agricultural purposes in the hauling of my manures and other things, and I am entitled to this rebate. I would like to know whether or not that statement is correct.
Mr. McGilligan: What statement?
Mr. Corry: The statement in the amendment—“(c) liable to duty, under that paragraph, at the rate of £6 or £10.”
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy will have to read the amendment altogether.
Mr. Corry: An ordinary tractor takes a 5/- licence. If I take that tractor on the road to haul my produce, my beet or wheat, and I get a £6 licence, as my colleague says, I will get 24 gallons of petrol a month. Will that be at the reduced rate?
Captain Cowan: The section says so —if used for agricultural purposes.
Mr. Corry: The Minister raised some doubt in my mind by his remark.
Mr. McGilligan: There will be a rebate, provided it is used for agricultural purposes.
Mr. Corry: I am quite satisfied. Will the £10 licence also carry the rebate?
Mr. McGilligan: Provided the vehicle is used for agricultural purposes.
Mr. Corry: Milking machines which are used solely for agricultural purposes are run on petrol and I have an old engine for crushing my corn and pulping my roots. Surely that would also be covered?
Mr. McGilligan: Is it stationary?
Mr. Corry: It cannot move.
Mr. McGilligan: Read the amendment.
Mr. Corry: What I want to point out is that each of those machines carries a special coupon with it. I apply to the Department for so much petrol for agricultural tractor number so-and-so. I apply for petrol for milking or crushing and I also apply for petrol for my engine. The coupons I get back each month carry the information that they are for agricultural tractor number so-and-so and for engine number so-and-so. When you hand the coupons to the garage you will be drawing petrol only for agricultural purposes. I can see no reason for the payment of extra money and having to look afterwards for a rebate from the Revenue Commissioners. Anyone who falls into their hands knows that even if there is only a bob there it will take a long time to get it out. I think the repayment should be made more simple. It could be done simply.
Mr. McGilligan: Simply, but perhaps not honestly.
Mr. Corry: There could be a direct refund. I am glad the Minister is going so far.
Mr. McGilligan: It is going further than you ever got any other Minister to go with you.
Mr. Corry: I do not know about that.
Mr. McGilligan: A new recruit for the coalition, apparently.
Mr. Corry: My only regret is that the Minister could not see his way to cover the other point I made to-day. Deputies were laughing when I spoke about the amount of money spent on petrol. They can sum up what Deputy Rooney said about one tractor— £99 12s. 6d. a year and 400 gallons a month.
Mr. Rooney: Other Deputies were advocating a remission of tax in respect of trucks, private cars and vans.
Mr. Corry: I was advocating a reduction in the price of petrol for taking  milk into Dublin and Cork and distributing it, for the lorries that draw my sea sand and my lime and the lorries that draw 400,000 tons of beet into the factories. With the kind of crowd we have, we must be thankful for small mercies.
Major de Valera: Is the Minister accepting this amendment?
Mr. McGilligan: There is no necessity for the amendment. I can do all this.
Major de Valera: Where do we stand with regard to the amendment? The Minister intimated to me that he would accept it. Will the amendment in Deputy O'Higgins's name now become part of the Bill, or is the Minister just accepting the spirit of it?
Mr. McGilligan: That is what I will be doing.
Major de Valera: Nothing will go into the Bill?
Mr. McGilligan: I hope not.
Major de Valera: Is the Minister giving an undertaking to see that agricultural machinery captured by the description set out in Deputy O'Higgins's amendment will get consideration?
Captain Cowan: Has the Minister any idea what this will cost?
Mr. McGilligan: It is very hard to say. Let us say £35,000 or £40,000. I put that as a minimum.
Captain Cowan: I was impressed by the difficulties mentioned by Deputy de Valera and Deputy Corry—difficulties of administration. I can see considerable difficulty in each farmer who has a tractor making application for a refund of 6d. on every gallon of petrol —I can see considerable administrative difficulty there. Perhaps the Minister would consider whether some simpler method could be adopted. I can see a system of special coloured coupons which the farmer would be entitled to hand in to his petrol supplier and obtain petrol at 6d. per gallon cheaper, the petrol supplier  then to receive in bulk from the Department the appropriate amount in respect of each gallon he gives out. I can see immense difficulties in carrying out inquiries as to whether petrol, lawfully supplied on coupons to a farmer, was properly used in the particular machine.
Mr. Corry: Another inspector would be required to deal with that.
Captain Cowan: That is what I do not want to see. I do not want a lot of new inspectors.
Mr. McGilligan: There will not be new inspectors.
Captain Cowan: I suggest that the point is a point of some importance, and, before this is put into full operation in August, it may be possible for him or his Department to devise a simpler system than that proposed here.
Major de Valera: I should like to follow up what I have just said to the Minister in this regard. The Minister has intimated that he is accepting this amendment. Nevertheless, he has been rather vague about it and he does not intend to incorporate the amendment, as such, in the Bill. The amendment contemplates a rebate of 6d. per gallon for tractors, agricultural tractors and agricultural engines used solely on a farm with certain liabilities in respect of duty in connection with the descriptions (b) and (c) and also stationary engines. That is a very wide class and I think the Minister should tell the House very definitely before we leave this section what class is embraced in his proposed exemption.
Mr. McGilligan: All these.
Major de Valera: In other words, we may take it as a basis for debate on this amendment that every engine or tractor coming within the description in paragraph (1) of this amendment will ultimately be catered for by the Minister, that every tractor, agricultural tractor and agricultural engine coming within the description in paragraph (1) will be provided for in the exemptions which the Minister will make. If the  Minister does not propose to cover that wide class completely, I think he should tell the House frankly the exact class he proposes to cover.
Captain Cowan: Has the Minister not said it several times? It is more difficult to give a benefit than to take a benefit away in this House.
Major de Valera: It is our duty to scrutinise a Bill going through and I am merely exercising the right of a Deputy to inquire precisely what is contemplated. The Minister says he has ample powers to do what is proposed by this amendment. I am glad to hear that, but I should like to know what he proposes to do, in case it should be necessary——
Mr. McGilligan: For the n-th time, I am going to do what is in the amendment.
Major de Valera: Without any restrictions on what is in the amendment?
Mr. McGilligan: When I say that I mean it to be taken precisely. I am going to do what is in the amendment.
Major de Valera: Without any restrictions on what is in the amendment?
Mr. McGilligan: I am accepting what is in the amendment, but I can do it otherwise.
Major de Valera: But you do not intend to incorporate it as part of the Bill?
Mr. McGilligan: I said no.
Major de Valera: There we are left with a certain amount of vagueness as regards interpretation.
Mr. McGilligan: What vagueness is there?
Major de Valera: However, if the Minister says he is accepting the amendment——
Mr. McGilligan: “If the Minister says”—I have said it.
Major de Valera: I take it that you are accepting all that is in the amendment?
Mr. McGilligan: There are some forked tongues that one can never get away from. I have said that I am going to take all that is in that amendment.
Major de Valera: I accept that.
Mr. McGilligan: You accept it, when? Now? Why did you not accept it when I said it the first time, except that the Deputy wanted to make a speech? I have power in this regard under the amended Act of 1931, which says:—
“Whenever the Minister for Finance, after consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce, so thinks proper, the Revenue Commissioners may repay to any particular person, subject to compliance with such conditions as they may think fit to impose, any duty, charged and levied under Section 1 of the Finance (Customs Duties) (No. 4) Act, 1931 (No. 43 of 1931)....”
That is the Act which first established this type of duty.
“...and paid on any particular articles on importation or on delivery from bonded warehouse.”
I have complete power to do what is suggested here. I discussed this general matter on Budget Resolutions and again on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill and eventually I got in touch with Deputies interested in the matter, with the result that this amendment was tabled. I am going to cover all the things that are there. Four types of vehicles are covered: tractors which are used solely on farms and which are not liable to exise duty—that is, the tractor which works only on land and never goes on the road and it is clearly covered; the tractor liable to the 5/- tax, the one referred to in (b)— the tractor used on land but which may go across a road and make various small journeys outside the land on which it is used; and tractors which are liable to the £6 and the £10 tax— tractors used for haulage so long as the haulage is solely in connection with agriculture. Petrol for these tractors is to be exempt.
In addition, there are stationary engines used on farms for either light  or power, no matter how the power is applied. These are also included, but I am going to include only such petrol as is used while the machine is used for agricultural purposes. That is the reason why this will have to be operated in conjunction with the rationing system operated by the Department of Industry and Commerce, under which special coupons are given out for petrol used for agricultural purposes. I do not propose to give the rebate immediately on the handing over of the petrol. There has to be proof— such satisfactory proof as the Revenue Commissioners decide upon—that the petrol was used while the machine was being used for agricultural purposes. I want to insist that whatever is rebated will be used for production in agriculture. That is what the amendment covers.
I do not think there will be such great difficulty in administering this. The number of petrol-driven tractors in the country is not very large—about 2,500. There are some coming on and there will be these stationary engines which may cause a little more trouble, but there is not such a very large number of vehicles to be covered that it will be a very heavy burden. I am a little afraid of evasion and I spoke of it already. I indicated on the Second Stage that I proposed to open with a concession which I think was quite a valuable concession, and I should like Deputies to understand, and Deputy Corry in particular, since he is in a happy mood, that I am remitting not merely the 5d. I am responsible for myself but another penny—the whole 6d. is being remitted.
Mr. Corry: Do not make two bites of the cherry.
Mr. McGilligan: It includes the penny which somebody else, not I, put on. There was a proposal that I should rebate the whole of the petrol tax in regard to these machines. I am starting off with 6d. and we can see, as it works during the year, whether it is open to very considerable evasion. If not, a more liberal attitude might be taken later on, but I want to start with this 6d., which I think is a considerable remission to the people concerned.
Mr. Lemass: Would the Minister say what type of proof he expects to have furnished that the petrol was used solely for the purpose for which it was obtained?
Mr. McGilligan: I cannot say what I expect in the way of proof in that respect.
Mr. Lemass: As, in fact, there can be no proof, as the coupons are issued by the Minister for Industry and Commerce for this specific purpose, would it not be much wiser and easier to issue the rebate with the coupons?
Mr. McGilligan: No, because I am not going to have them for that sole purpose. They will be used for other purposes. If at the end there is a balance of convenience and the cost is not as much, we may go back to the old way but at the moment I am not considering it.
Some Deputies spoke to me about some types of jeep. Ordinarily small jeeps would not come under this, but it is possible to have a jeep of a particular type so modified that it would rank for duty under Sections A and B and if so that jeep would come under this remission also, but only when it is modified and when certain changes have been made in the seating accommodation. It is possible therefore for a 16-horse-power jeep to get in under this as well as other vehicles.
With regard to Ford's, a complaint was made and circulated by a large number of Deputies and was spoken of by Deputy Lynch, but I do not think that Ford's have any complaint. I think that what Deputy Rooney said in answer to Deputy Lynch would be the fullest answer that they could be given. The position is that it has been reinstated between the tractor vaporising oil vehicle and the petrol vehicle as it was six weeks ago. Ford's have not raised any complaint as they are back to the same position in which they were then. Of the 6d., there is 5d. for which I am responsible and a penny which was put on by the petrol people. People with a vehicle using tractor vaporising oil have a very big advantage over people with a petrol vehicle. It is something like 10d. a gallon and I  think that is a sufficiently good differential in favour of the Ford people.
Somebody suggested that another way of approaching this problem might be to have the Ferguson tractor adapted in order to use vaporising oil. I might mention other tractors as well as the Ferguson, but I understand that there is a scheme on hand to sell an adaptation or something that can be fitted to the Ferguson tractor in order to enable it to be run on tractor vaporising oil and, if so, that can be done and they can use tractor vaporising oil. They will then be on the same level as other vehicles, but that is for the makers of the Ferguson tractor to attend to.
With regard to the amendment, I am guaranteeing what is in the amendment and I propose to operate the power which I have strictly in accordance with that amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
An Ceann Comhairle: I take it that amendment No. 10 may be discussed on the section.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.
Question proposed: “That Section 4 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. Lemass: Amendment No. 10, Sir, was put down for the purpose of having an opportunity of discussing this proposal of putting a tax on heavy oil. Whatever can be said in support of putting a tax on petrol on the grounds that petrol may be used occasionally for pleasure purposes or for nonessential travel, nothing whatever can be said for this tax which is imposed directly on the raw material of industry. The sole use of fuel oil in this country is either for transport or as an industrial fuel, so it would be as sensible to put a tax on coal or on electricity in industry as it is to put a tax on fuel oil. There can be no justification for it on any ground in so far as the tax will yield revenue to the Exchequer. It will do so only at a far greater cost to the country. Inevitably a higher cost of production in industry and higher charges for public transport will be paid for by the consumer and they will pay that to the Exchequer.  If the Minister needs additional money to such a great extent I would suggest that he should remove this tax and I suggest that he should get equal revenue from some other source. Nobody could attempt to justify on any grounds of economic policy putting a tax on fuel which is used, and which can be used, only for industrial purposes or for essential transport.
Mr. McGilligan: You put it on.
Mr. Lemass: And the Minister is increasing it.
Mr. McGilligan: You put it at 1/3.
Mr. Lemass: And we reduced it as soon as we could, as soon as supplies became more readily available.
Mr. McGilligan: You kept it on for six years.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister——
Mr. McGilligan: You kept it on while supplies were slack.
Mr. Lemass: On the contrary, the tax was increased when the supplies were slack in order to discourage its use and to make people consider the possibility of using something else.
Mr. McGilligan: You put the tax on industry.
Mr. Lemass: We put on the tax to discourage its use at a time of abnormal conditions when it was necessary to prevent people from using this type of fuel if they could find any other kind of fuel which would serve their purpose, but as soon as supplies became available and the ration was not so restricted, the tax was reduced. The tax on it at this stage will be a very considerable burden on a number of firms that converted to fuel oil last year. I admit that they did so under the mistaken view that supplies would be not only available but greater than they are, but it is unfair to burden them with this additional tax as well. There can be no justification for this apart from the revenue aspect of it and as a method of raising money it  is the worst thing possible, it is a direct charge.
Mr. McGilligan: If it is a direct charge now, it was a direct charge in 1941 and the direct charge was kept on by Deputy Lemass and his colleagues from 1941 until 1946. It brings me in £50,000 this year, £10,000 for every penny.
Notice taken that 20 Deputies were not present; House counted and 20 Deputies being present,
Question put and declared carried.
Question proposed: “That Section 5 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. MacEntee: Would the Minister be good enough to justify this section to the House?
Mr. McGilligan: This is a section which will get me £250,000 and that is a fairly good justification.
Mr. MacEntee: I hope the House has heard that justification. No doubt, some Deputies have received recently reminders from some temperance societies in Ireland that they are concerned about the use and abuse of alcoholic liquors in this country. I gather that the purpose of this section is to increase the consumption of alcohol.
Mr. McGilligan: No, it is not.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not know whether that is the primary or secondary purpose of it, but it must be one of them, because there cannot be any increase in revenue under the section unless there is an increase in the consumption of alcoholic liquors. I assume that even the Minister will not attempt to deny the logic of that. Therefore, as I have said, whether it is the primary or the secondary purpose, at least one purpose of the section is going to be that. I suppose at least the Minister is consistent. While we have been increasing the price of oatmeal, margarine, meat, and even bread to the consumer, one thing that this Government stands on is that alcohol  must be cheaper. That is the principle which is expressed in Sections 5, 6 and 7 of this Bill. Yet, while we have these provisions in the Bill, we have increased the standard rate of income-tax, have refused to increase the allowance payable in respect to children under the income-tax code, have refused to increase the personal allowance under that code, have refused to increase the limits of income which will be chargeable at the half rate. While we refuse to give these concessions which would benefit all sections of the people—those who drink, whether they drink in moderation or to excess, or those who are temperate and who abstain altogether—we single out for special consideration those who contribute to the revenue by consuming alcoholic liquors.
The distinguishing note of many of the speeches which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has made on the Financial Resolutions, in the Budget debate, and on the Second Stage and some of the sections of this Bill has been his venomous attack on the business people of the country. They have all come under his lash. He has held them up to the public as profiteers, as people who are battening upon the consumers, in terms which could not be surpassed, could not be exceeded by the most irresponsible labour agitator we have amongst us. He has given to every source of discontent and disaffection among the workers of this country ample justification for any propaganda that may be used to stimulate them to embark upon a class war. But, there is one section of this community engaged in business who are immune from his tongue. There is one section of the business people whom he does not dare to attack— those who are engaged in the licensed trade in Dublin and elsewhere. Eight good men and true, I suppose, from his point of view, sent out a circular before the election.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: That was only half the number you had; you had 16.
Mr. MacEntee: They sent out a circular before the election appealing for support for the Deputy and his Party. Before that circular went out, pledges  were given to them, as pledges were given to other sections of the community. Other sections of the community were told that taxation was going to be reduced. Other sections of the community were given pledges that the cost of living would be reduced. This particular section of the community were told that the price of the goods which they have to sell, and which many people in Ireland would be inclined to think were sometimes sold to excess, was going to be reduced. The one pledge which this Government has kept is the pledge that was given to the licensed trade of Dublin. That is the section of the community whose goods are cheaper to-day than they were before the general election. That is the section of the community who can now invite their customers to enter their premises in the secure knowledge that they will be able to buy more drink for whatever money they have to spend now than they could have done before February 18th last. On the other hand, those members of the community who go into grocers' shops or drapers' shops——
Mr. McAuliffe: What about the drapers' shops?
Mr. MacEntee: What about the drapers? I hope the Deputy read the report of a case which was tried in Dublin during last week. The Minister for Finance was very vocal about the drapers on the Budget Resolutions. However, that is a digression. I was saying that if members of the community want to buy food, if they want to buy clothes, if they want to buy boots, they have to pay more for them now than they did before the general election. If they happen to be clerical workers or typists in the City of Dublin, people who have to have their meals out, they have to pay more for these meals to-day than they had to pay for them before the Budget was introduced. All these things have happened, and the one section of the business community who are friends of the Minister and towards whom the Minister is friendly are the members of the licensed trade who are going to be benefited by Section 5 of this Bill.
Mr. McGilligan: One thing I should like to bring to the notice of Deputies opposite is that we promised the people of the country that we were going to reduce the taxes that they thought were very oppressive on tobacco and liquor of different types and we did that because we were responsive to public opinion. In fact, it was the public opinion that backed us in that that helped to bring about the very welcome change in Government. I want to say again that we gave away £6,000,000 in taxation, and anyone who wants to argue that there was failure to redeem the promise to reduce taxation will have to get over that fact. So far as taxes enter into the cost of living, I say that living costs have been reduced. By reducing certain duties, I am proposing to get £250,000 extra. It is not often a person is presented with that opportunity. There has to be what one Deputy behind me described as a piece of folly in taxation before you get that happy situation, where, by reducing a tax, you get more money. That is what is happening here. A piece of complete stupidity from the point of view of tax was operated last year. We are getting the benefit of that. If anybody wants to have the full realisation of who, so to speak, catered for those who like wines in this country, it was Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil should have got subscriptions from all the champagne drinkers. The drinkers of light wines, burgundy drinkers, the port and sherry drinkers should have subscribed to Fianna Fáil because, for years, Fianna Fáil treated these people better than they are being treated now.
I took the example before, and I repeat, the champagne drinker is held up to public odium and scorn as if he were a public enemy. From 1932, for 14 years, Fianna Fáil taxed that man 2/7 on his bottle of champagne. In 1946 they raised the tax to 5/2. It is now 6/5. Fianna Fáil over many years let that man off very lightly indeed. They catered for him. Certainly, I must say I feel deeply struck with the ingratitude of all these people who lived well on wines, if that is the category they are supposed to be in, that they did not support Fianna Fáil more strongly because Fianna Fáil did them  proud as far as they could in lightening taxation on them.
Mr. MacEntee: I do not want to prolong the debate but I think I cannot allow the Minister to mislead the House in the way in which he has endeavoured to do in relation to this tax on wines. The Minister has made plain, not only in his speech which he has just made but in an earlier statement, that in the year 1932 the duty on champagne was 2/7. That was the duty as we found it. The Minister has told us that we increased income-tax. We also in that year increased surtax.
Mr. McGilligan: You left champagne as it was.
Mr. MacEntee: As we were talking the taxation from the champagne drinker in the form of surtax, we were just and mild and did not feel it was necessary to do anything more than that. The Minister said, of course, that is the rate at which that tax remained during 14 years. For seven of those years, 1939 to 1946, there was very little opportunity of collecting any tax on champagne in this country or on foreign wines because, as the Minister knows, practically none of them came in and therefore, in so far as this might be regarded as a revenue-raising device, there was no justification from the point of view of effectiveness for increasing the rate of a tax which you could not collect.
When, however, the situation changed and wines began to come in and they became a real tax-producing commodity, then, as the Minister has told you, the tax on them was increased, but it was increased, of course, commensurate with the increases which were made in other taxes. We, at least, had a coherent and consistent and wellthought-out tax system. We did not create, as the Minister has done in his Budget, a lop-sided position in which the steady, industrious, thrifty members of the public are being heavily taxed in order that other people who do not feel the same responsibilities towards their families as these people do may be able to enjoy, as the Minister has put it, certain luxuries and certain convivial amusements.
 I make the Minister a present of what he can get out of the fact that in the year 1932, when the cost of living was a great deal lower than it is now, when the cost of these articles was a great deal lower than it is now, the tax which we imposed on them was pro rata and ad valorem a great deal higher than what the Minister proposes. A normal bottle of champagne in the year 1932 could be bought for about 10/-. The tax then at 2/7 a bottle was a great deal heavier than it is now. At the present moment the cost of the bottle of champagne is a great deal higher but the tax has not gone up proportionately. However, it is not a matter of very great importance. What is important is the intention that underlies this, the intention which the Minister has disclosed to the House. Of course, he endeavours to cover it up by saying that he reduced the tax in order to get an increased yield. What he really has done is, he has reduced the tax in order to increase the amount of drinking in the country.
Mr. McGilligan: I did not increase the rate of drinking but I am bringing it back to what was, apparently, the ideal level it had attained in the year 1946 when Fianna Fáil raised the tax a little bit. I do not think it is proper to found entirely on the champagne drinker. The port wine drinker was regarded as a good old aristocrat. He was the man any strong republican person would have been ready to do down as low as possible. The port wine drinker was charged 2/- a bottle by Fianna Fáil. They continued to charge him 2/- a bottle for 14 years and then they raised it to 4/-. We are making it 5/- now. We are going a little bit heavier on the gentleman who takes the bottle of port but, for 14 years, Fianna Fáil did that chap proud. Then for a few years they did not do him so well but they did him better than he is being done at the moment.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: “That Section 6 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. MacEntee: What is the use?  They have their machined majority over there.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: “That Section 7 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. MacEntee: This is the section which will give joy to the Deputy who appealed to the electors on the price of the pint. The House, no doubt, will remember that at previous stages of this discussion I produced a handbill displaying a rather ill-drawn picture which, I think, purported to represent a frothing pint.
Captain Cowan: I do not think you have any doubt about it.
Mr. MacEntee: We were told the price of this pint was so high because certain Offices of State had to be maintained, certain Ministers had to be paid and certain Deputies were drawing allowances. It was on that appeal to the public that Deputy Lehane secured election to this House. There is one thing at any rate: Fianna Fáil did not owe its majority at any time to the froth of a pint.
Captain Cowan: To a different kind of froth.
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8 and 9 agreed to.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 might be discussed together.
Mr. MacEntee: I move amendment No. 11:—
In sub-section (4), paragraph (b), page 8, to delete the word “patent” in line 33, and to add after the word “entertainment” in line 41 the words “and that the performances are given by artistes who are paid not less than the minimum rates prescribed by the Labour Court for such performances”.
The purpose of amendments Nos. 11 and 12 I should explain to the House  by reference to sub-section (4) on page 8 of the Bill. The amendments are intended to make general to those theatres which comply with certain conditions the tax concession which is given to a limited number of theatres in Dublin. Under the section as it stands, all theatres, except a small section which are known as patent theatres, are to pay entertainments duty at the full rate, irrespective of whether they provide what are known as personal performances or not. In regard to that particular tax concession the operative word is the word “patent”, which will be found first mentioned in line 33, page 8 of the Bill, in paragraph (b), which reads:
“Entertainments duty shall not be charged, levied or paid on any payments for admission, on or after the operative date, to any entertainment in a patent theatre where—
(i) the entertainment consists partly of a cinematographic exhibition and partly of a personal performance, and
(ii) the proprietor of such entertainment satisfies the Revenue Commissioners that such personal performance constitutes not less than 75 per cent. of the whole entertainment.”
The purpose of this amendment is, by deleting the word “patent” where it occurs in line 33, to make that exemption from entertainments duty applicable to all theatres where the entertainment consists partly “of a cinematographic exhibition and partly of a personal performance”, provided the other conditions which are set out in the amendment:
“(iii) and that the performances are given by artistes and/or musicians who have been paid not less than the minimum rates prescribed by the Labour Court for such performances”
are complied with. Now, the purpose of the exemption which was given in previous Finance Acts, passed under the Fianna Fáil Government to theatres where the entertainment consisted not merely of a cinematographic  exhibition but also of a personal performance was to encourage the proprietors of cinemas to provide what are known as personal performances or live entertainments.
Mr. McGilligan: Do you say that you brought that in?
Mr. MacEntee: We developed it. It was a feature of all the Finance Bills from 1932 on.
Mr. McGilligan: It was introduced in 1931.
Mr. MacEntee: It was developed by us. The purpose, as I have said, was to encourage the proprietors of cinemas to produce entertainments consisting of personal performances to the fullest extent that was practicable, and in that way to encourage native talent here: to give native performers an opportunity of earning a living. By the Financial Resolution, and in the Finance Bill as now introduced, the Minister proposes to abolish that tax exemption altogether except, as I have already told the House, in the case of the limited number of Dublin theatres which are in possession of a patent.
I can see no justification whatsoever for putting these Dublin theatres in that privileged position. I do not object to the exemption being given to them, but I do object to the exemption being given to them and refused to others. Surely, Cork artistes, artistes in Limerick, Galway and in all the towns throughout the country are entitled to have the same opportunity for employment as artistes in Dublin are. Surely every theatre in the country is entitled to be afforded the same sort of facility for employing these artistes as this limited number of theatres in Dublin is. I can see no justification, and I doubt if any Deputy representing other parts of Ireland can see any justification for a section in this Bill which would confine this tax exemption to this limited number of theatres—let me repeat it again—in the City of Dublin.
Admittedly, when the entertainments duty was increased under the Supplementary Budget an attempt was made, by taking advantage of the exemption  which was given in respect of personal performances, to evade the incidence of the tax altogether, but that is a sort of development which occurs when it becomes worth while to try and evade a tax, and it was a sort of development which could be very easily checked and overcome without abolishing, as the Minister has done, the principle of tax exemption altogether for personal performances. It would have been quite possible to have dealt with attempts at evading this tax by prescribing certain conditions. It would have been possible, for instance, to allow the Revenue Commissioners— though I am not suggesting this—to withhold the rebate where they were not satisfied that bona fide personal performances of sufficient merit had been given. The Revenue Commissioners, of course, exercise that sort of authority in relation to a great many taxes, and it would not have been creating a precedent to have asked them to do that in this instance.
I want to say at once that I know it is not the sort of device which they would favour, and it is not the sort of device which I would favour. We have, I think, found a way of ensuring that the engagement of persons to give personal performances will be bona fide engagements and will not be engagements made purely and solely for the purposes of evading the main incidence of the tax. For that reason we have suggested that an addendum should be made in the case of paragraph (b) to sub-section (2) so that sub-section (2) of paragraph (b) would read:
“... the proprietor of such entertainment satisfies the Revenue Commissioners that such personal performances constitute not less than 75 per cent. of the whole entertainment and that the performances are given by artistes who are paid not less than the minimum rates prescribed by the Labour Court for such performances.”
That relates, of course, to performances where the personal element constitutes not less than 75 per cent. of the whole entertainment. Under paragraph (c) of sub-section (4) provision is made for dealing with entertainments where the personal element is less than  75 per cent. and not less than 35 per cent. of the whole entertainment. That, I think, is, in fact, the general position. In most of the theatres that put on these mixed shows the programme is so arranged that something more than 35 per cent. of the whole entertainment consists of personal performances. We would propose, in the case of theatres where that is the general allocation as between the cinema and the personal performer, to apply exactly the same principle as to the entertainment covered by paragraph (b) of sub-section (4) and to ask again that the Revenue Commissioners should be satisfied that the personal performances have been contributed by artistes and/or musicians who are being paid not less than the minimum rates prescribed by the Labour Court for such performances. The purpose of that is to ensure that the artistes who are employed will be paid adequate salaries. If they are paid adequate salaries then we may be perfectly certain that the proprietor of the theatre is going to engage bona fide artistes and to ensure that the personal performances will be given by competent entertainers.
Mr. McGilligan: What is the minimum rate at the moment for a juggler?
Mr. MacEntee: That is not the point. We are saying that it is quite open, and the Minister knows that as well as I do. The Minister has——
Mr. McGilligan: Or an acrobat?
Mr. MacEntee: ——endeavoured to be witty or at all events to be amusing. He has asked me what the prevailing rate for a juggler is. So far as I am aware the Labour Court have not prescribed any rate of remuneration for a juggler. However, it would be quite open, I am sure, if this section were passed in this form, for an organisation here representing artistes, actors or musicians to apply to the Labour Court asking them to prescribe minimum rates of remuneration for performers appearing in certain specified theatres, in the cinemas or in concert halls. The Labour Court is fully competent to determine that—to receive their application, to consider it and to make a  determination on it—just as competent as it is to interfere in the case of, say, any one of the trades or professions which do occupy it from time to time. The Labour Court has decided questions of remuneration relating to electricians, railway workers, bricklayers— to people engaged in all sorts of industries and to people engaged in certain professions. It is not a question of having an expert knowledge of any one of these professions or of any one of these trades. It happens that the parties on both sides, the people who are concerned in the matter as employers and the people who are concerned in the matter as employees, go before the court as before an honest broker or arbitrator and make the case to the court.
The court, having heard both sides, comes to a decision on the matter very largely in the light of what the industry can afford to pay for the services which are rendered. The Labour Court does not at all take into consideration the technical merits of those who apply to it for an increase in their remuneration. What they do consider on the one hand is what is the customary rate of payment applied to that particular trade or profession and, on the other hand, what the employers say they can afford to pay, at the same time satisfying the reasonable demands of the public. Having heard the arguments on both sides in relation to the application the court comes to a decision purely on the basis of pounds, shillings and pence on what one applicant of the court is asking and what the other applicant says it can afford to pay. In that way we have had a number of standard rates prescribed for hundreds of trades and occupations in this country. It would be quite open for the Labour Court to do for the people who are engaged in the entertainment industry what they have done for those who are engaged in any of the other industries in the country. If Deputies do not think that is a practical way to do it——
Captain Cowan: That has nothing to do with this amendment, at all. This seems a Labour Court——
Mr. MacEntee: It has. The amendment says:—
“and that the performances are given by artistes who are paid not less than the minimum rates prescribed by the Labour Court for such performance.”
If Deputies think that is not the best way of prescribing minimum rates there is another way. There is at least one organisation in this country catering for persons who are engaged as actors, as musicians, as artistes in the theatrical profession. That organisation could, if you like, in discussion with the representatives of the cinema proprietors prescribe minimum rates. If they were prescribed the Revenue Commissioners would have some standard whereby they could determine whether in fact bona fide personal performances had been given or not. That, of course, is the difficulty of the matter. As I have already disclosed to the House, because of the fact that hitherto no standards had been prescribed for personal performances, when persons began to take advantage of the exemption provisions in the law as it stood prior to the introduction of this Finance Bill in order to evade the payment of tax, the Revenue Commissioners had nothing to go on and nothing to guide them. We are endeavouring to meet that situation by laying down as the standard the rates to be prescribed upon application by the Labour Court. If, however, that does not satisfy Deputies on the Government Benches they can get over that difficulty by adopting some other device.
Mr. C. Lehane: Will the Deputy tell us how many cinemas or theatres there are in the country who would benefit under this proposal?
Mr. MacEntee: There is a great number of them. I understand the Deputy has been engaged in the entertainment business from time to time. I hope he was much more successful there than he is here in the House.
Mr. C. Lehane: The Deputy is not a good historian.
Mr. MacEntee: The Deputy must know that there is now quite a number of towns in Ireland where the public are demanding entertainment that I  might describe as a mixed show—an entertainment consisting not merely of a cinema exhibition but also of personal performances.
Mr. McGilligan: Where is that happening?
Mr. MacEntee: That is happening in many towns in this country.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy mentioned Cork. Is that one of the places?
Mr. MacEntee: It does not matter whether it is happening or not. The real objection to this is that it creates a privileged class of theatres and that these theatres are to be found mainly in the City of Dublin. The main ground of objection to the section is that it singles out—and we used to hear a lot of talk about corruption— for special benefits a very limited class of theatre proprietors here in the City of Dublin. There are about six which would come within the category exempted under paragraph (c) of sub-section (4) of this section. I think that is highly objectionable.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy gave them that benefit for nearly 12 years.
Mr. MacEntee: We did not include the word “patent”. That has been introduced by the present Minister for Finance. Any theatre in the city of Dublin could have put on a live show and enjoyed exactly the same tax exemption as the Minister proposes to confine to the patent theatres now. Any theatre in the whole of Ireland could have conformed to the provisions of the entertainments duty as it existed prior to the introduction of this Bill and could have enjoyed the exemption. The Minister is ruling out at once every other theatre, except this very limited number located mainly in Dublin, and is saying to all the others: “It does not matter whether you put on a live show or not; you are not going to get the same exemption as the Theatre Royal or the Capital enjoy in Dublin” That is unjust and unfair and there is no member of the Government Party who can blink that fact. If they are going to vote for this and reject the amendment, they are voting for that exclusion and that favouritism.
 I do not object to the patent theatres getting this concession. I want that the other theatres will be entitled to get it also, provided that they comply with the conditions which we have inserted in the amendment, in order to ensure that the provisions relating to personal performances will not be availed of to evade the incidence of the entertainments duty. That is a reasonable and just provision and I am perfectly certain that, when it is brought home to all fair-minded members of the House, they will use their influence with the Minister for Finance to get him to accept in principle the proposal contained in the amendment.
We are not wedded to the prescription of the conditions of remuneration by the Labour Court. We are quite open to consider, and would welcome, any better device that can be designed to ensure that the incidence of the entertainments duty will not be evaded by people putting on bogus shows. We are interested from the point of view of trying to encourage native artistes, trying to give these people an opportunity of earning a living here in our own country, and we want so far as we can to secure an outlet in the towns outside the City of Dublin and outside the larger cities for the local talent which exists there. It can be done, I believe, by offering this sort of inducement to the cinema people. We are not compelling them to do anything which they do not want to do. I believe that the demand for this type of entertainment is increasing and if it was made worth the while of local cinema people to go out and get local talent and employ it in this country, they will try to get it.
Mr. McGilligan: There is more dishonesty attached to this section and the amendment put down to it than to any other section of the finance provisions. Deputy MacEntee has asserted that this is the first time “patent theatre” has come into a Bill.
Mr. MacEntee: No.
Mr. McGilligan: It first occurs in the 1936 Act, brought in by the Deputy. The patent theatre exemption was there first set down in 1936, in Section 11 of that Act.
Mr. MacEntee: Not in this form.
Mr. McGilligan: That was the first complete falsehood.
Mr. MacEntee: Not in this form.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy made no statement of reserve attach to it. He stated that this was the first time the words “patent theatre” were introduced.
Mr. MacEntee: In relation to the entertainment duty.
Mr. McGilligan: Let the Deputy go and read the 1936 Act and let him come back then with a true statement to this House. He also stated that the personal performance provision was first introduced by Fianna Fáil.
Mr. MacEntee: I did not say that.
Mr. McGilligan: I corrected him. I said it was first introduced in 1931. He went on to say it was modified and extended by them. The only extension done was that in 1935 Fianna Fáil put on higher rates on the cinema show. I do not know whether that can be called a development of the exemption for the show that was wholly or mainly personal. That was started in 1931 and was not changed by Fianna Fáil.
When this was first under discussion in this House, when the Budget resolutions were debated, Deputy MacEntee asserted quite boldly here that he knew of a cinema in the City of Dublin outside the patent theatres which had enjoyed a remission of tax because it had personal performances, and he added that he was told so by the proprietor. That looked definite as the Deputy was giving the basis of his authority, but when I questioned him about it I was told it was the Ritz Cinema. Later there was a lot of fumbling as to whether it was the Ritz or some other cinema in the Ringsend direction. There are only two. Neither ever had a cinema show. I would certainly like to see the proprietor faced with the statement that Deputy MacEntee made in the House and asked if he told the Deputy or if it was the Deputy himself who put it forward, so that we might see where the falsehood started. The  cinema had no show and could not have had one, because the Dublin Corporation has various regulations in regard to dressing-rooms, exits and other precautions, which would prevent these cinemas from coming within the regulations. If the proprietor of the Ritz told the Deputy that, he told something which was false, or else the Deputy told something in this House which was false. I do not know which of them is to blame, but it is between the two of them.
We are asked to give a certain benefit here to people who put on personal performances. Statements have been made in the debate on this amendment dealing with the situation in the patent theatres. There has been a differentiation for years in connection with patent theatres. There are seven theatres in the City of Dublin who have qualified for letters patent granted to them. In fact not all these seven patent theatres do give cine-variety performances. The Royal and Capitol do; they have done so for a number of years past. To a lesser extent the Queens and the Olympia do. They are four out of the seven. They are the only four who have ever really qualified by giving cine-variety shows. That position has continued for years and a special position was therefore quite properly given to these people. If anybody goes back far enough to the days before the 1914 war they will remember that the Theatre Royal then was mainly a variety house. It sometimes gave straight theatre but, in the main, it went in for ordinary drama in the nature of a variety show. It has a reputation and a very old tradition with regard to that. Since the Capitol was established it has gone in for a certain amount of variety. These theatres have a very special position but they have earned it. If this remission were not given to them they would abandon variety and this city would have nothing except the complete cinema show.
Since 1931 it was possible for any cinema in this country to obtain a remission of the whole of the tax by putting on shows that qualified for such remission by being wholly or mainly personal performances; the mainly was  adjudged to be variety lasting for more than half the time occupied or given over to personal performances. That was the position in this country since 1931. Only 11 theatres, 11 cinemas over the entire country felt that there was any demand on them. Any theatre could get the whole remission of the tax by having a minute more than half the time given over to the personal show. Only 11 cinemas prior to the period of evasion that set in after the October Supplementary Budget ever thought it worth their while to qualify.
Deputy MacEntee said that surely the citizens of Galway and Cork had a right to this privilege. It is rather significant that Cork never had a cinema which decided to go in for personal performances in order to get the entire remission. I am speaking always now with the reservation of what I call the “evasion” period that set in after the Supplementary Budget. Galway, I think, had a cinema that qualified. Out of the entire country there were only 11 cases.
I spoke here earlier and I pointed to these places and I said that anybody who knew the places and knew the little theatres in these places could scarcely contend that there was any big number of variety artistes given employment in these places. There is one in Lucan, one in Navan, one in Old-castle, one in Kilbeggan, one in Kildare, one in Naas, one in Baltinglass and one in Moville. That is only eight out of the 11. It is quite clear that those places that qualified were not employing professional artistes at all. They were employing local talent as it is called, and the amount of employment given was very small indeed. There is one big place in Drogheda, one in Portlaoighise and one in Limerick.
A small group of people thought it worth while, in order to escape the entire cinema tax, to put on personal performances lasting for more than half the show and that was the situation up to the putting on of the very heavy increased tax in the October Budget. After that a very big evasion took place, or an attempt at evasion, and quite a successful evasion it was indeed. These are the figures. Out of  360 cinemas 248 went over to what they called wholly or mainly personal performances from the time when the Supplementary Budget tax was put on, which was somewhere about the beginning of this year. Out of 360 cinemas 248 went over to cine-variety. In the majority of cases the method adopted was that the cinema show was advertised from eight to ten. The house was opened from six to ten. From six to eight a man went up on the stage and strummed a banjo or played a piano. That lasted for ten minutes more than the actual time taken for the picture. That was supposed to be a personal performance. It was, of course, a clear and successful evasion.
I would like to read to the House an account of an inspection that took place at one of these so-called cine-variety shows. I shall not mention where it is. The cinema on that particular night was showing The Citadel. I am sure the Deputies know the picture. The film lasted from 8.52 to 10.48. The house was opened at a minute or two to 6 o'clock.
When the inspector visited it the whole place was in darkness except that there was a light on a dais up beside the platform. On the stage there was a man playing a violin. He played the violin from six o'clock until five minutes past six. He was replaced at five minutes past six by a girl who played the piano until 6.37. At 6.37 the man made his reappearance with an accordion; the girl stayed on at the piano and accompanied the accordion player and they carried on in that way until two minutes past seven. At that point of time four girls tripped out and sang a song accompanied by the pianist. That lasted until ten minutes past seven. Three minutes after the girl resumed her place at the piano and strummed away there from 7.13 to 7.35. At 7.35 five girls came out—the original four with one addition—and they sang on the stage until 7.55. From 7.55 to 8 o'clock their numbers were reduced to three and the three sang for five minutes. The girl took up at the piano at 7.35 and played to 7.43, and from that she sang accompanying herself. At 7.50 the man came back again with the accordion and played the accordion accompanied  by the girl at the piano until three minutes past eight. The show was opened at six. At six o'clock, there was nobody in the theatre; at 6.30 there were three people; at 7.30 there were still three people; at 7.45 there were five people; at 7.58 the number had swollen to 13 and at 8 o'clock, when the show proper was about to start, there were 20 people. Eventually the house filled up and in the end there were about 120 people there. That was for the cinema. That is what happened. That is the way evasion was going on. That is what the Opposition Deputies are now trying to prove was a really vital factor in Irish theatrical performances. Inspections were carried out more than once and very much the same situation prevailed.
A rather interesting situation arose out of that. Because this theatre was able to get the whole tax remitted it was able to pull down the prices of admission. The 2/2 seats were reduced to 2/-, the 1/8 were reduced to 1/6, the 1/- were reduced to 9d. and the 4d. were kept at 4d. Prior to that the proprietor had to give away a tax of 10d. on the 2/2, a tax of 7½d. on the 1/8 and a tax of 4d. on the 1/-. Then, he retained all this and put it in his pocket. The entire cast was the lady at the piano, the man who played the accordion and seven girls. They were all local talent and all completely inexperienced. At the end there was in this amateur show a man and a girl who came on with an xylophone and an accordion. They apparently were professionals. They played from 8.37 to 8.52. They were the only people who really counted in the entire show.
That is the basis for this foolish resolution. I suggest that there is nothing in it. The proper way to look at this is by taking the situation that existed prior to the evasion. Only 11 cinemas thought it was worth their while to avoid the entire tax by putting on a show that was either wholly or mainly personal. We want to get away from the situation that existed during the evasion period, and I suggest that the section I have drafted is a suitable section for that purpose. If people want a personal performance and if  they have it wholly personal they get a complete remission of the tax. The only other remission is in favour of the patent theatres, in favour of those people who have always had these shows. The Theatre Royal in particular has always had a tradition where variety shows are concerned, and it is only proper to continue it to them. The argument advanced by the Opposition that a number of talented Irish artistes are done out of employment does not stand examination on the facts I have given.
Mr. C. Lehane: We do not intend to support this amendment because, in our opinion, it is not an honestly conceived amendment. My only reason for rising is to ask the Minister, if possible, to give such consideration as he can to those theatres and cinemas in the provinces where it is or may become apparent to him that opportunities for employment for professional artistes could be given. I suggest that if the Minister does see fit to take the powers necessary in order to enable him to meet a situation like that, he should do so, coupling such powers or provisions with an overriding proviso that will benefit native artistes, and I suggest that no tax remission be allowed in cases where a substantial portion of the performers or artistes engaged are non-nationals. We in these benches have every sympathy with native artistes, actors and musicians. I should like to see them given every opportunity to earn a living in their own country and, in so far as the Minister can meet us in that respect, we appeal to him to do so. He should not do anything that might be calculated further to encourage the importation of non-native artistes to earn here a livelihood that might be denied to a native performer.
Mr. Little: I think the Minister has not really argued against our amendment, because it suggests in principle that there should be some real test as to whether artistes are experts or not. We never did stand over the abuses that have taken place in the country. It has been stated by those intimately connected with the profession that artistes numbering 300 to 500 people will be put out of employment unless  some amendment such as ours is accepted. There are some theatres that have been reconstructed in order to put in stages so as to have ordinary performances.
Mr. McGilligan: There would not be 300 to 500 people involved.
Mr. Little: Those are the figures given to me by people interested in the profession.
Mr. McGilligan: They are obviously wrong.
Mr. Little: Mr. O'Donovan made a statement in reference to that matter and he knows the profession well.
Mr. McGilligan: He has never given any list comprising 300 to 500 artistes.
Mr. Little: That would be a matter for the organisations that cater for actors, artistes and musicians. If the Minister accepts the amendment in principle, any restrictions he or the Revenue Commissioners impose will be accepted here. There are numbers of people who will be thrown out of employment. We would like to see more native artistes employed as musicians, actors or artistes in these places where the profession is regarded seriously. Even the Minister's argument that there are only a few places concerned would mean that the actual effect of the remission of the tax will not affect the revenue at all. He could easily make the experiment without any danger of a huge loss of revenue.
Captain Cowan: I understand that at the moment there are either nine or 11 theatres outside Dublin in which genuine live shows are put on. Unfortunately, I have not the list with me, but I know that Mullingar and Athlone are included.
Mr. McGilligan: I got a statement about Mullingar, but I do not accept what they say.
Captain Cowan: What about Drogheda and Dundalk?
Mr. McGilligan: Dundalk and Drogheda are two of the places, I know.
Mr. C. Lehane: Is Wexford one?
Mr. McGilligan: Not one of the 11.
Captain Cowan: I am informed that either nine or 11 theatres outside Dublin have genuine stage shows. If that is so, if they employ decent artistes, and if those artistes look to those theatres for part of their livelihood, I would join with Deputy Lehane in asking the Minister not at this stage to close the door completely against that small number of theatres. If we can satisfy the Minister that these theatres have been carrying on live shows in a genuine way and have employed genuine artistes, paying them properly, and if we can show that, so far as the areas affected are concerned, they are getting decent, live shows, then I trust the Minister will leave the matter over and take appropriate action at another stage to give a rebate to those theatres. If that were done, I understand that the very thing the professional artistes want will be available for them and it would not be necessary to accept this amendment moved by Deputy MacEntee.
On one occasion I have come across a theatre where the charge for admission to the cinema was 2d. It is a pretty decent theatre, with extensive advertisements and very good shows. The arrangement there is that you pay 2d. for admission and when you get in you give a subscription to the people who run the show. I do not know whether the Minister has come across that, but it is another of the methods of evasion in one county that I know of.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Cowan asked me about Dundalk. Dundalk was not on the list of the 11 which did give cinema-variety performances prior to 1st October, 1947. I take that date as the Supplementary Budget came in in October, although the tax did not come into operation until January: but the warning was there. I took the places which were giving cine-variety shows prior to 1st October, 1947. There was a cinema in Drogheda, but none in Dundalk. There was later in Dundalk the Adelphi, which opened cine-variety, but inquiries were made about the end of April, prior to the Budget being brought in, in respect of certain cinemas giving variety shows and  samples were taken. Amongst those was a theatre in Dundalk. The definite statement was then made by the manager that cine-variety would continue for some time longer but he would not say that it was intended to be permanent. He had only started in November last year and was clearly getting ready for the worsened situation.
Captain Cowan: Is Navan included?
Mr. McGilligan: Yes, Navan is one of what I might describe as the “old-timers” and in fact would be one of the oldest. They did start many years ago, but what they did was to run cine-variety on Sundays and for eight full weeks in the year, but only for that limited period. I can assure the House that a fairly detailed survey was made in regard to these places to see what was the extent of the employment likely to have been given in them. It was not very much. In the case of a number of places—I am not speaking of the 11 theatres which were genuine ones, prior to October, 1947—inquiries were made and they said they were going to let certain contracts expire and were never going to take on cine-variety again. We did not think there was any real problem.
Captain Cowan: What about Mullingar?
Mr. McGilligan: The case of one house in Mullingar, the Coliseum, was raised with me as a rather special matter. They did not open until 19th December, 1947, and they did give duty-free cine-variety shows, excepting always at certain matinees, and they continued that up to 19th April this year, and then abandoned cine-variety. What their intention was, I do not know —they opened so late. It was a house which had been lately built and I was a little doubtful with regard to it, because it had not got a record of running prior to this date in December, 1947, so that it is not possible to say whether they had the intention to have real cine-variety shows or to go over to cinematograph shows. In their favour, it must be said that they had certain arrangements made with regard  to dressing-rooms which would give an indication that they intended genuinely to go in for cine-variety.
Deputy Lehane has made the suggestion that cases might be considered where an opportunity for native professional artistes could be provided. All I can promise is to have that investigated, so that I can get some idea of what the problem is and what the opportunities for giving employment of this type would be. I am sure that Deputies would not ask to remove my tax or give a big remission, if only a very limited employment was to be given. I can have the matter examined, and, in the meantime, I ask that the law be made as I have it in the Bill.
Captain Cowan: Would the Minister consider taking the power I spoke of for use in proper cases?
Mr. McGilligan: I would prefer to leave it for the time being. In the meantime, I can get some investigation made. If the investigation shows that there is a problem, we can deal with it, because this Bill has to go elsewhere.
Mr. MacEntee: One thing emerges as a result of this discussion, that is, that there were at least 11 theatres outside the City of Dublin which were running cine-variety shows and giving employment to, I presume, native Irish artistes.
Mr. McGilligan: I would not say there was a fulltime professional engaged.
Mr. MacEntee: When this section becomes law, as it is going to become law with the support of the Clann na Poblachta Deputies, cine-variety entertainments in these houses will cease. There will be no opening for this talent, whether amateur or professional, Irish or otherwise.
Mr. M. O'Higgins: The Deputy did not hear what the Minister had to say about it.
Mr. MacEntee: The reason that is being done is that the Minister is concerned, again with the support of the Party of no privilege, the Republican and Democratic Party, as we were told  it was during the election, to create a privileged position here for a small number of theatres in the City of Dublin.
Captain Cowan: This is repetition.
Mr. MacEntee: That is the position.
Mr. C. Lehane: That is not so.
Mr. MacEntee: That is the position. Deputy Lehane has announced that he and his Party are not prepared to accept this amendment, even in principle. They are not prepared to press it on the Minister. They have been trying to get the Minister to dole them out a spoonful or two of whitewash by making a plea on behalf of certain special privileged people. Deputy Lehane has mildly suggested that the Minister, when in a more amiable mood, will consider whether something cannot be done to encourage native talent, and Deputy Cowan has made a similar plea. The time to encourage native talent is now, by asking the Minister to extend to every other cinema proprietor who is prepared to take advantage of it the same sort of privilege as he is prepared, under the section as it stands, to confer on seven patent theatres in Dublin.
Mr. C. Lehane: Experience has shown that they do not avail of it.
Mr. MacEntee: Of these seven patent theatres, four, in fact, give cinema performances. That is the net position and Deputy Lehane and Deputy Cowan belong to a Party who went to the electorate proclaiming that they wanted to give the fullest opportunity to all Irishmen to develop the talents that were in them. That was their plea. Everybody who has any knowledge of the history of the development in the cinema industry over the past 25 years knows how at one time cinemas afforded a great deal of employment to musicians, not only in the City of Dublin but throughout the Twenty-six Counties. Everybody knows that there was not a cinema which had not its musicians—trio, quartette or octette.
Captain Cowan: What changed that?
Mr. MacEntee: Deputy Cowan asks what changed that. The advent of the talkie changed it and drove personal performers out of the cinema and created, as perhaps the Deputy will remember, very serious economic problems for these performers. Over the years prior to the introduction of the talkie, people had been educating themselves as musicians, because they had had the opportunities offered to them of securing employment in cinemas, and we know that there were a great many more people who would call themselves professional musicians prior to the advent of the talkie than there have been since. The advent of the talkie practically wiped out that class.
Mr. C. Lehane: On a point of order: can a discussion of the history of what happened in the cinema business prior to the advent of talking pictures be relevant to this amendment?
An Ceann Comhairle: I am waiting for the Deputy to develop his argument and for the conclusion he is drawing from it.
Mr. MacEntee: The amendment relates to performances given by musicians:—“Where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that such personal performance has been contributed by artistes and/or musicians...” I am trying to point out to Deputy Lehane, who apparently does not want the public to know, and does not want to be reminded of it, who does not care for the plight of artistes and musicians here in Dublin and who, in fact, is endeavouring to closure the discussion——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy, within his rights, raised a point of order. I want to see what the Minister is coming to.
Mr. MacEntee: The Deputy, Sir, unfortunately. If it were as you put it, this problem would not exist and there would be an opening and encouragement given to cinema proprietors to find employment for native talent. Formerly employment  in picture theatres offered a reasonable livelihood to a great many musicians in the City of Dublin. That was killed by the advent of the talkie. That position reached a climax in 1931 and in that year it was the then Opposition, Fianna Fáil, who induced the then Government to give some concession in order to encourage cinemas to continue to employ musicians and artistes. We pressed that principle upon the Government, then we accepted and gave effect to it. We are sorry that with Clann na Poblachta forming an important element in the constitution of the Government that principle is going to be abandoned. It is no use appealing to the Minister——
Mr. C. Lehane: Can the Deputy say how many people will actually be disemployed? That is an awkward question.
Mr. MacEntee: During the war period, because of the circumstances which then existed, a great deal of employment was given to native artistes in various theatres here in Dublin and elsewhere, but with a change in those circumstances and an influx of artistes from across the water native artistes who formerly had secured engagements had those engagements terminated, and are now without employment. Surely in these circumstances we ought to try to find some other opening, some other avenues of employment for them. That is the reason why the amendment was put down and it does not matter whether Deputy Lehane or others who are supporting this are sincere or not.
The artistes outside who have read this amendment know at least that we want to give them an opening, and that the opening which we on these benches want to provide is not getting support from those other Deputies on the other side of the House who profess to support the artistes. With their support, the section will go through this House as it stands, privileged classes of theatres will be created in the city and other theatres which might be prepared to give the opening to artistes which the artistes want so badly will be denied the opportunity of doing so.  That is what we want changed. You are all-powerful. I do not know whether it is you or the Labour Party who hold the Government in the hollow of your hand, but you are all-powerful. If you add your voices to ours the amendment can be carried.
Mr. C. Lehane: It is not an honest amendment.
Mr. MacEntee: Carry it and see whether it is honest or not.
Mr. C. Lehane: We prefer to accept the Minister's assurance.
Mr. Little: Where is the dishonesty?
Mr. MacEntee: The final charge of sincerity or otherwise will be whether Deputies support this amendment or reject it, and it will not be my word or Deputy Lehane's word.
Mr. Cosgrave: How many people are affected?
Mr. Little: About 500.
Mr. MacEntee: The only thing that will carry conviction with the people outside is when they see that when the opportunity was given to Deputy Lehane and his colleagues and the Labour Party and their colleagues to do something for this class which is being so badly hit by the change of circumstances, they refused to do so, and for only one reason, the reason they have already given for condoning the destruction of the short-wave broadcasting station, that it was a Fianna Fáil——
An Ceann Comhairle: Now the destruction of the short-wave broadcasting station does not arise.
Mr. MacEntee: I have said that the only reason——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy said what is not in order. He was introducing extraneous and contentious matter.
Mr. MacEntee: The reason they refused to do this was the reason that they supported so many other things which were objectionable. The destructive campaign they supported was concerned  with sabotaging ventures and undertakings that Fianna Fáil set on foot. Because this is a Fianna Fáil proposal, they are prepared to set it down, notwithstanding the fact that others are going to be affected by their decision.
Mr. Corry: When the Budget was before the House we were told that no one would lose their employment over this matter. Over the past fortnight I have received notice from Cobh that six musicians in the cinema there were under notice on account of this. I do not know whether the Cobh theatre is on this famous list or not.
Mr. Cosgrave: It is not.
Mr. Corry: It should be. I am only concerned with the six persons in Cobh who were drawing something over £20 a week in the cinema there and who are now out of employment or who are about to be out of employment. I am interested to know what action the Minister is going to take in that particular matter. That is all that concerns me in this Bill. We have enough unemployment and we do not want to see more.
Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”
The Committee divided: Tá, 69; Níl, 50.
Brennan, Joseph P.
Browne, Noel C.
Byrne, Alfred Patrick.
Connolly, Roderick J.
Costello, John A.
Crotty, Patrick J.
Dillon, James M.
Dockrell, Maurice E.
Doyle, Peadar S.
Esmonde, Sir John L.
Halliden, Patrick J.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Lehane, Patrick D.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Madden, David J.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, Timothy J.
O'Higgins, Michael J.
O'Higgins, Thomas F.
O'Higgins, Thomas F. (Jun.)
Palmer, Patrick W.
Pattison, James P.
Redmond, Bridget M.
Timoney, John J.
Buckley, Seán. Flyan, Stephen.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Kennedy, Michael J.
Kitt, Michael F.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick J.
Lydon, Michael F.
Childers, Erskine H.
Collins, James J.
Corry, Martin J.
Crowley, Honor Mary.
Davern, Michael J.
De Valera, Vivion. McGrath, Patrick.
O Briain, Donnchadh.
Rice, Bridget M.
Ruttiedge, Patrick J.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies P. S. Doyle and Keyes; Níl: Deputies Kissane and Kennedy.
Question declared carried.
Amendment No. 12 not moved.
Mr. Little: I move amendment No. 13:—
In sub-section (4) after line 58 to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(i) entertainments duty has been paid for admission, on or after the operative date, to an entertainment which consisted either solely of a cinematographic exhibition or partly of a cinematographic exhibition and partly of a personal performance and
(ii) such duty was charged on the basis of certified returns of such payments furnished by the person or persons responsible for producing and/or portraying such entertainments, to the Revenue Commissioners and
(iii) such cinematographic exhibition is provided by or projected from a cinematographic apparatus using a 16-millimetre non-inflammable film and
(iv) where it has been shown to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners that (a) not less than 25 per cent. of such cinematographic entertainment was of a cultural and/or educational character, and (b) such entertainment was given in a premises or hall whereto persons in excess of 350 are not admitted and such hall or premises is not situated in an urban area or other place of more than 2,500 inhabitants, the Revenue Commissioners shall pay to the person or persons responsible for producing and/or portraying such entertainment an amount equal to the amount of the duty charged.
I imagine the Minister will have no difficulty in accepting the amendment.
Mr. McGilligan: I would have considerable difficulty.
Mr. Little: Perhaps the Minister will accept it in principle.
Mr. McGilligan: No. The principle is entirely wrong, I think.
Mr. Little: The possibilities of the development of this 16-millimetre film are very great indeed. The efforts that are being made in certain villages with a purely public-spirited motive and which have been rendered very difficult by the present taxation would be helped very considerably by an amendment of the section. It would help to develop an enterprise which has been carried on hitherto in rather a small way. Some of the difficulties that these people are faced with are that at present the renters charge either a flat rate, which has been found exorbitant, or 50 per cent. of the takings. The Revenue Commissioners, according to a circular of theirs, are empowered by law to repay the amount of duty paid in the case of any entertainment where they are satisfied that the whole of the net proceeds of the entertainment are devoted and will be applied to educational, philanthropic or charitable purposes  and that the expenses of the entertainment did not exceed 30 per cent. of the takings. But, the people who take the renters' films at 50 per cent. are excluded from the benefit. The simplest form of amendment that could be accepted would be that they would exclude the 50 per cent. paid to the renters and then keep the limit of the other expenses at 30 per cent. That is one way in which the matter could be approached.
The amount of money these people make is generally about from £4 to £8 on the small enterprises and they have a very remarkable effect in some places. For instance, in Kilmuckridge, where the people contributed to the enterprise by buying the plant, every class in the community, workers and farmers, subscribed, and the enterprise was a success, but it will be a failure now because of the duty, which affects them so much. They cannot carry on. In other places they want to use the money to build a hall or to pay off their debts, and so on. I could hardly imagine anything which would get more to the roots of one of the evils in this country, namely, the demoralisation which has set in in many cases, people leaving the land, lack of attraction in villages, for which this supplies the need. If one wanted to quote as an example to show that the value of this is appreciated elsewhere, one has only to refer to the British Finance Act where in the present Act—it operates also in Northern Ireland—exemption from tax has been given. In introducing it, Sir Stafford Cripps said in his Budget speech:—
“I am also anxious, for the sake of our agricultural communities, to encourage all types of entertainment in rural areas, including such things as cinema shows. I propose, therefore, to grant complete exemption from duty in the case of all entertainments in buildings situated in places in rural areas where the population does not exceed 2,000 and the seating capacity of the building does not exceed 200. I hope this will enable more entertainment to be taken to the rural areas and that we may thus help to counter the tendency towards their depopulation in favour of urban districts.”
 It also encourages people to make their own films. It is impossible at present for anybody in Ireland to make a 3 m.m. film because it is such an expen thing and expense is incurred, but in the case of the 16 m.m. film, people can make their own films in their own areas. Entertainments with a local interest are very much more attractive to the people than imported entertainments and they give an opportunity to people interested in Gaelic culture generally. The young farmers' clubs use these films for instructional films on questions of agriculture, and so on. All these matters are developed in certain areas and if in principle some exemption were adopted it would be really the beginning of a very valuable factor in the life of our people.
As to the objections that are raised to it, the big cinemas do not object to these because they have their own rules as it is. They do not rent our these small films to areas in or around two miles and probably they will make that three miles. That stipulation could be included in the amendment, if necessary, making it three miles from the nearest cinema, and the numbers stipulated for in a particular locality could be 2,500. We are not attached to any particular figure so long as the principle of this encouragement is accepted and an exemption of some sort is given.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Cosgrave): This amendment proposes to grant exemption to 16 m.m. films. As Deputies are aware, the standard width of cinematograph films is 35 m.ms. and the 16 m.m. film is a smaller one that has become more common in recent years and which in many parts of the country, as Deputy Little said, is shown by travelling shows which are hired out to people in local halls or are brought around by the hirer companies and shown in small halls or to private audiences, as the case may be, for hire. If this amendment were accepted it would provide that these people should get exemption from tax. At the moment, wherever these smaller films are shown there is an agreement with the existing cinemas in an area not to show them within a certain limited radius.
 There is nothing to prevent cinemas, this exemption was granted, relinquishing their objections and consequently to have cinemas, possibly smaller cinemas, erected in smaller areas where these films would be shown. I do not see how a case can be argued in regard to what in fact is an ordinary commercial undertaking that where a smaller film is shown it should get a certain exemption. I think, in fact, it might amount to a subsidy to the smaller type of film.
It is true that films of an educational character are granted exemption where the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied on production of a report from the Film Censor that they can get exemption. That is possible where these films are shown in fairly large towns or in regular cinemas where inspectors from the Revenue Commissioners attend but that allows for 25 per cent. of the show being of an educational or cultural character. If these films are shown in remote rural parts, it would not be possible to check up on that and there is no guarantee that 25 per cent. would be either of a cultural or educational character. With the possible exception of certain specific cases, where a society or organisation hires out a film of this kind, in general, I think they are not either of a cultural or educational character.
Mr. Little: Would the Parliamentary Secretary direct his mind to the present regulation made by the Revenue Commissioners, that they are empowered by law to repay the amount of duty paid in the case of any entertainment where they are satisfied that the whole of the net proceeds of the entertainment are devoted and will be applied to educational, philanthropic and charitable purposes and that the expenses of the entertainment did not exceed 30 per cent. of the takings? I dealt with that case. The Parliamentary Secretary might be able to avoid the abuses which he has mentioned if he were merely to exclude the 50 per cent. paid to the renters from the takings, and then calculate the 30 per cent. expenses.
Mr. Cosgrave: There is nothing in  the amendment about limiting it to charitable purposes.
Mr. Little: I am taking that as an alternative to the amendment. If I can get the principle accepted that will satisfy me.
Mr. Cosgrave: I do not think it would be possible to make the alteration which the Deputy suggests.
Mr. MacEntee: The Minister for Finance, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce speaking on his behalf, indicated that this amendment was not acceptable in principle. I do not know that that is a valid argument because the principle of this amendment has already been accepted in the case of certain societies, that is to say that, where the entertainment is given by a society for the development of the cultural cinema, such an entertainment is not liable to the entertainments duty. That is the position in connection with the Film Society of Ireland. I happen to know because when I was Minister for Finance I granted them that concession. I cannot see any very great distinction between a society of that sort, operating in the City of Dublin and, say, a local parish committee running a parish hall, and exhibiting those sub-standard 16-millimetre films for parochial purposes.
I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the amendment. We know how limited are the opportunities which the people living in the rural areas have for entertainments of this sort and how they are drawn into the towns to cinema shows. I think there is a great deal to be said for the amendment from the point of view of making the conditions in rural Ireland more acceptable to rural dwellers and more conformable to what are now generally regarded as being the standards of urban existence. What we are proposing could not possibly involve the revenue in any very great loss. I have no doubt that the Revenue Commissioners could devise means whereby the avenues of evasion, such as the Parliamentary Secretary has mentioned, could be stopped. It could, for instance, be provided that exemption would only be given in the case of a recognised parish hall.
 Speaking subject to correction, the county councils, I think, now have the power to make provision for the erection of parish halls and for the constitution of parish councils. It certainly could be provided that this exemption would not be given except in the case of a body which had been recognised as a parish council or that it would not be given unless the entertainment was given in a recognised or licensed parish hall.
I understand that, in so far as these entertainments are given purely for cultural purposes, they are exempt already. What we are seeking here is to combine both the entertainment aspect of the exhibition with the cultural and educational so as to give to parish audiences the same sort of programme as the cinema audiences in the towns are accustomed to. As I have said, I cannot understand the Minister objecting to this in principle, because the principle has already been accepted in the case of societies of a certain kind, and these societies, I would like to emphasise, are not confined to exhibiting only pictures of a cultural and educational kind. They can and, in fact, they do generally exhibit at their shows films which would generally be regarded as feature films in the ordinary commercial cinema. Therefore, what we want to do is to give the parish committees the same sort of facilities for providing this form of entertainment for their communities as the film societies enjoy. The only distinction we are making is that, whereas the film societies show the same sort of film as is shown in the ordinary commercial cinema, we want to confine the exemption here to exhibitions of sub-standard films to limited audiences.
Mr. Cosgrave: As the law stands at the moment there is nothing to prevent a film being shown such as the Deputy suggests, if 25 per cent. of it is of a cultural or educational character. In that case, the exemption applies. If the amendment were accepted it would entitle hiring companies to show the 16 millimetre films in halls themselves or by agreement with the owners of the halls, or to show  them in more remote areas, and get exemption from a tax which the 35 millimetre film carries. I do not think the House should subscribe to the view that, merely because the size of the film shown varies, the tax should either be reduced or, as in this case, that an exemption should be granted.
Mr. MacEntee: First of all, I would like to make it quite clear that we are not asking the House to subscribe to the view that because a film is a sub-standard film it will not be subject to tax. We are asking the House to subscribe to the view that, where a film, which cannot be described as the ordinary standard film of a commercial cinema, is shown in rural places to limited audiences, it will not be subject to tax, and, further, that it should be shown under the auspices of some sort of a recognised parish committee. We are accepting that reservation. It is true, as the Parliamentary Secretary has said, that the Revenue Commissioners are empowered by law to repay the amount of duty paid in the case of certain entertainments, but they have to be satisfied that the whole of the net proceeds of the entertainment will be applied to educational, philantrophic or charitable purposes and that the expenses of the entertainment do not exceed 30 per cent. of the takings.
I think that, in order to meet the position which we have in mind, one can say this: that if, for instance, a parish hall had been built and that cinema shows were being run for the purpose of raising funds to defray the cost of the building of it, I do not think it would come within any of the purposes provided for exemption. I do not think you could describe it as educational, philantrophic——
Mr. Cosgrave: Of course you could.
Mr. MacEntee: ——or charitable. I do not think you could. Then there is the point that the expenses are not to exceed 30 per cent. of the takings. Suppose a show were put on on a Sunday night and that it was not a popular one—one that would not appeal as would probably be the case if one were, say to accentuate the cultural or educational element in it—then it is quite possible that the expenses would exceed 30 per cent. of the  takings. In that case the Revenue Commissioners could not give the exemption at all. If the Parliamentary Secretary, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, would promise to look into the matter from the aspect which we are putting to him, I do not suppose we need press the amendment.
Mr. Allen: I desire to support the principle of this amendment. For some few years past there has been a big demand from purely rural areas for some easement of the burden in regard to small projectors. In an effort to keep the people who live far away from the towns from being discontented, many people all over the country are trying to provide them with cinema entertainment that they can afford. Many parish committees are trying to get the projector on the hire purchase system. I know a number of them who have made every effort—not for the purpose of making any profit whatever but simply for the purpose of giving entertainment in their own areas. By the time they rent the projector—they buy it on the hire purchase system— and pay for the films they find that the scheme is uneconomic and they cannot continue. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will persuade the Minister for Finance that very urgent action is necessary. Two years ago I was on a deputation to the Revenue Commissioners in this connection. As Deputy MacEntee has pointed out, the provision that exists in some old Finance Act on this subject has been tried and found wanting. It is of no advantage whatever to these purely rural areas. It does not give them the exemption to which they are entitled. My suggestion is that, instead of having a tax, there should be a provision to the effect that there would be a licence charge of, say, £10 a year in respect of this 16 mm. projector where it operated so many miles away from a town of 1,000 or 2,000 persons. If there is a population of 1,000 or 2,000 persons, that population is well able to maintain a large-sized cinema. In a country parish where probably the population will not exceed 500 or 600 persons, it is not possible to make the thing pay. Many parish committees  who some years ago hired those projectors have found that they had to abandon them and return them to the hirers.
If the Minister for Finance were to bring in a provision to have an annual charge of, say, £5, £10, £15 or whatever sum might be decided it would save the Revenue Commissioners the task of collecting and supervising all these small cinemas all over the country. It must cost a considerable amount of money to ensure that there is no evasion of the tax and a simple licensing provision for the payment of a fixed sum annually would be much more feasible and much more easily collected. The Revenue Commissioners would not lose under such an arrangement. In fact, the revenue on a licensing provision would probably be more. Such a provision would, at the same time, help to create enjoyment for the people who live in those rural areas and who have no other means of obtaining a cinema for themselves. It is a well-known fact that many people have made every possible effort in regard to such entertainment and have subsidised it out of their own funds. There are many rural areas where parish committees have subsidised the running of cinemas in order to keep them going. That state of affairs cannot continue indefinitely. There is a case to be made for these 16 mm. noninflammable films when shown in purely rural areas away from towns and cities.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach (Mr. Cosgrave): First of all I should like to point out that the Deputy's suggestion does not appear in the amendment. It would obviously mean a considerable concession to certain people if there were a general licensing provision for a sum of, say, £10. This amendment says nothing about parish halls. It is well known that in certain areas parish committees do sometimes show films of this kind at a loss but it is equally well known that in certain other areas parish committees are running cinemas at a profit. It involves a distinction between a cinema show which is being run commercially and a cinema show which is operated by a parish committee in a  rural area for charitable purposes or in order to provide amusement in the area.
Mr. Allen: It depends all the time on the population.
Mr. Cosgrave: Yes, but even in comparatively small towns they are being run at a profit.
Mr. Allen: They can be run at a profit in a town which has a population of 1,000 persons or more.
Mr. Cosgrave: The suggestion that exemption should be granted in the case of cinema shows which are run by parish committees for amusement could not, I think, stand. No matter how it is looked at it is a commercial undertaking. It is run for a profit and for amusement. It may be run by a local committee who have a machine themselves or who have hired it from a hiring company. The fact is that it is being run as a commercial undertaking. I think that the principle that because a smaller film than the usual one is used it should be given exemption could not be accepted.
Mr. Little: It is getting exemption in Northern Ireland. The Parliamentary Secretary has not met my point about getting the 50 per cent. which is paid on the film excluded from the expenses. Perhaps it would be better if I were to withdraw the amendment now and reintroduce it on the Report Stage. That would give the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister an opportunity of examining that aspect of the matter.
Amendment No. 13, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 10 to 12 agreed to.
Mr. Derrig: I move amendment No. 14:—
Before Section 13 to insert a new section as follows:—
Subparagraph (bb) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of Section 11 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1947 (Number 33 of 1947), is hereby amended by the insertion of the word “bier” before the word “machine” wherever it occurs in the subparagraph.
 Representations have been made to the Minister for Finance from the appropriate organisations regarding the present basis of taxation of a motor hearse. It has been brought to my notice that a large number of motor hearse owners who are dependent either wholly or to a very large extent upon the profits they derive from running these vehicles for hire find themselves almost crushed at present by the weight of taxation.
The motor vehicle taxes have increased considerably and I do not think it could be suggested that, under the appropriate paragraph 6 (c) of the 1926 Finance Act, where the basis of taxation of different types of motor vehicles is set out, it was really intended or could now be suggested after such a long period of time, that motor hearses are classed properly either with private cars, which cannot in fact be hired out as the law stands under the definition of private car, or with commercial vehicles, which normally means vehicles in operation everyday on hire for profit and carrying goods. That is obviously more remunerative than a motor hearse, which can only be used for a particular purpose and must be restricted to that particular purpose. It cannot be used, I think, as a public service vehicle, though there may have been attempts to do that and they may have succeeded. As the definition stands at present, it would seem that it is invariably the case that a motor hearse is taxed either under the category appropriate to private cars or to commercial vehicles. The type of owner in whom I am interested is one who purchased this expensive vehicle for use in rural areas and is wholly dependent upon it for a livelihood.
Mr. S. Collins: Who increased the taxes on them?
Mr. Derrig: The distances which such a person would travel with his vehicle would often be limited. In particular cases I know of, the distances are short, and, of course, it may happen that for a period of a week or more the vehicle may not be in use at all. At the same time, it is paying taxation every day. The Department of  Industry and Commerce does not recognise a motor hearse as being entitled even to a basic allowance of petrol at the present time, whereas the Department of Finance apparently considered that it should be classed as a commercial vehicle. In the Finance (No. 2) Act of last year, certain exemptions were granted in respect of certain classes of vehicles and while these may not be completely analogous to the position of motor hearses, nevertheless it is a clear proof that exemption from that particular duty has been granted in a particular instance.
Moreover, I understand that the matter of review is proceeding. It has been stated to me, in reply to a Dáil question, that the matter of the complete review of the existing basis of taxation on all these vehicles is to come up for consideration. I am not in a position to put down an amendment which would set out specifically the basis of taxation for motor hearses, but I think the House will agree that it is not quite fair that they should be taxed as the ordinary commercial vehicle. The exemption has been granted in particular cases and I would ask the Minister, through the Parliamentary Secretary, to consider whether, between this and the Report Stage, he might not take some steps to alleviate the very heavy burdens which are imposed at present by the existing system of taxation, upon owners of motor hearses in rural areas.
Mr. Cosgrave: This amendment is put down to Section 11 (1) (b) of the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947, which was consequential on the Supplementary Budget. Deputies generally are aware that the Supplementary Budget increased the cost of living, but apparently it also increased the cost of dying, since hearses were the only type of motor vehicle affected by the Supplementary Budget last year. It is an extraordinary thing that the Deputy now brings in an amendment to alter it back to the position previous to the introduction of the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947. I do not think it is desirable to alter the rate of taxation on motor  vehicles piecemeal and, pending a general review, it is not possible to accept this amendment.
Mr. Derrig: I have no fault to find with the Parliamentary Secretary's brief reply, except to say that there is nothing extraordinary about an attempt to rectify what was either an omission or something that has caused a disability on a particular class of the community. There is no reason whatever why, at any time, an effort should not be made; and if I were on the other side of the House I would make precisely the same effort, in whatever capacity I might be in, as I am now making to get that done.
Mr. Allen: Is it not true that the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947 changed the basis of taxation on motor hearses? It brought them into a category that they were not in previous to that.
Mr. S. Collins: Yes, it raised them.
Mr. Allen: I know it raised them 50 per cent. but, in addition, it changed the basis of taxation. It brought them into a class, for some reason or another that they were not in before. They had certain exemptions previous to the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947, but it actually had the effect of more than doubling the tax on these vehicles.
Mr. S. Collins: Why did that not worry Deputy Allen at that time?
Mr. Cosgrave: It was raised from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent.
Mr. Allen: It was not intended that a different basis of rating should exist, in addition to increasing the tax by 50 per cent. The Act did not intend to alter the basis of rating in respect of motor hearses and did not do so in respect of any other vehicle.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. MacEntee: I move amendment No. 15:—
In lines 18 and 19 to delete the words “three hundred thousand” and substitute therefor the words “one hundred thousand”.
The purpose of this amendment is to retain in the Road Fund all the moneys that are raised by the motor vehicles duties, with the exception of £100,000. The section as it stands provides:
“With a view to providing moneys to meet general charges which will fall upon the Central Fund, the sum of £300,000 pounds shall be transferred and paid from the Road Fund to the Exchequer at such time or times in the financial year ending on the 31st day of March, 1949, and in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall direct.”
The Road Fund was established under statute, to provide specifically for financing road works the cost of which was to be defrayed out of motor taxation. In other years, but particularly in the years from 1932 onwards, it was customary—in view of the large sums which were appropriated for the Vote to provide employment, amounting in general to about £1,500,000 in the year, a very large portion of which was spent in improving roads in certain districts in the country where unemployment was regarded as being serious—to appropriate for that purpose the sum of £100,000 from the Road Fund. That was taken out of the Road Fund as a contribution towards the cost of improving roads in the congested areas and in other areas where employment conditions warranted such works being carried out. The principle that underlay these appropriations at that time was that they were a contribution towards the moneys which were being spent on roads. In this year the revenue of the Road Fund will amount to £2,000,000 odd. The estimated expenditure which will be required in order to maintain the roads and prevent them from deteriorating seriously will be a sum of £3,450,000. As I have already explained to the House in the debate on the Estimate for Local Government, the Fianna Fáil Administration had agreed that in order to enable this road work to be done, not merely would the £2,000,000, which was the estimated income of the Road Fund, be made available for that purpose, but, in addition, this money would be supplemented by a free grant from the Exchequer of the balance required to defray the cost of the maintenance work for which the roads were calling.
The proposal in Section 13 of the  Bill is, I think, unwarranted by reason of the fact that the Road Fund is not in a position to meet the burdens which will fall upon it arising out of the ordinary programme of road repair and maintenance in the country. I know that the Minister for Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary may say that in the Supplementary Budget it was proposed to appropriate from the Road Fund to the general purposes of the Exchequer the sum of £200,000. Admittedly that is perhaps an argument against the Deputy who is pressing the amendment, but the circumstances were different at that time. The Government was facing up to a situation which bid fair to become a seriously inflationary one. The cost of living was presumed to be rising and heavy demands were being made upon employers by their workers for increases in wages. If these increases had been granted the inevitable consequences would follow that the cost of the commodities which the workers were producing would be similarly increased and there would be a further rise in the cost of living. In order to deal with that problem the last Government had devised a special programme under which an attempt would be made to stabilise the cost of living by providing substantial subsidies for bread, for butter, for tea and for sugar. The cost of these subsidies, as the House is no doubt aware or, if they are not aware, they can ascertain them for themselves by turning to the Vote dealing with subsidies, was something in the order of £16,000,000 a year. The policy which we had intended to pursue has been abandoned. We had intended, if we could, to stabilise the cost of living and to induce the workers to refrain from pressing their claims for extra remuneration. In these circumstances I was prepared as Minister for Local Government—and, indeed I did agree—to the appropriation from the Road Fund of the sum of £200,000 for the general purposes of the Exchequer to enable it to deal with that special problem. But the programme and the policy which my agreement was designed to meet has been abandoned.
There is no longer any attempt made to stabilise the cost of living by subsidising  essential commodities on the one hand and by inducing the workers to abandon their claims for additional remuneration on the other. In fact we have seen a situation arise here in the City of Dublin whereby workers have succeeded in securing additional remuneration as a consequence of which the cost of bread is going up; at least the cost of bread is not going to be made the object of a Government subsidy.
In these circumstances, with the abandonment of the policy which it was originally intended to finance in part by a grant from the Road Fund, I think that the Minister for Local Government is no longer justified in agreeing to the proposal contained in Section 13. He is no longer justified in doing that because he has commitments to users of motor vehicles and to those who provide the taxation out of which the Road Fund is built up. These motor vehicle duties were imposed originally for the purpose of improving roads and enabling roads to be maintained in a fit condition for motor vehicles to travel. The programme of road maintenance and repair which was envisaged is going to cost, according to the statement of the Minister for Local Government, the sum of £3,450,000. The estimated revenue from motor vehicle duties is only £2,000,000.
In these circumstances I cannot see how the Minister for Finance can appropriate a sum of no less than £300,000 from the Road Fund. I have already explained to the House that previously, in view of the large expenditure on employment schemes, a large part of which was spent upon improving certain roads, it was customary to appropriate the sum of £100,000 from the Road Fund for the general purposes of the Exchequer as a contribution towards these employment schemes. That position obtains no longer and I, therefore, put down this amendment accepting the original principle of some contribution from the Road Fund towards the employment scheme but asking the House to reject the proposal which is in section 13 of the Bill.
Mr. Cosgrave: Section 13 enables the proceeds of the increased motor vehicle  duties imposed by the Finance (No. 2) Act of 1947 to be utilised for general exchequer purposes. Last year the Deputy's colleague utilised a sum of £200,000 which was his estimate under the Supplementary Budget of the sum that would be required. This year it is proposed to utilise £300,000 and, as far back as 1931-1932 when the revenue of the fund was much smaller than it is now, a sum of £250,000 was diverted from the Road Fund to the Unemployment Relief Act, 1931, and paid into a special account.
I think, in the altered circumstances, a sum of £300,000 is by no means excessive. So far as road repairs and maintenance are concerned, the Deputy can deal with that again; it will be dealt with adequately on the Estimate for the Department of Local Government. Looking at the sums which were taken every year, with the exception of 1938-39, 1945-46 and 1946-47, when, of course, the sums from the Road Fund were greatly reduced as a result of emergency conditions, these varied between £100,000 and £250,000. In the year 1947-48 the amount was £200,000. I think, in the circumstances, the appropriation of £300,000 this year is quite reasonable.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Sections 13 and 14 agreed to.
Question proposed: “That Section 15 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. MacEntee: On this section, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will let us know what is the present state of the Transition Development Fund?
Mr. Cosgrave: This fund was established under Section 30 of the Finance Act, 1946, with a capital of £5,000,000. The amount expended to date is £645,987, leaving a balance of £4,354,013.
Mr. MacEntee: Could you give me a figure for the commitments of the fund —the actual expenditure?
Mr. Cosgrave: I am sorry that I cannot give it to you at the moment.
Mr. MacEntee: I had intended to raise a matter on that, but it will do later.
 Question agreed to.
Sections 16 to 19, inclusive, the Schedules, and the Title, put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Report Stage fixed for Wednesday, 23rd June, 1948.
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