From Our Special Correspondent
The news thai the government, in con-• sideration of the heavy burden inflicted on the poor because of the severe winter, had decided to remit the five shillings revenue tax on coal came as a great relief to everyone in the Free State. It was with general surprise it was learned more than a year ago that in spite of the signing of the coal-cattle pact, giving Great Britain a monopoly of the Irish coal market, the British were to continue the tariff on Irish cattle and the Irish the tariff on British coal.
At last the Free State government has taken the first move and remitted the coaltax. This is received by many as a promise of further arrangements between the two governments, and in spite of Mr. de
,Valera's emphatic denials of rumours of a settlement, these rumours continue to grow. It is widely expected that the British tariff on Irish cattle will be reduced. Otherwise the Free State government to continue the bounties on cattle will be forced to look elsewhere for the halfmillion pounds hitherto collected from coal, and the last state of the taxpayer will be little better than the former. The Free State coal market is of real value to England and it ought to he easy to secure valuable concessions in return for it.
A New Settlement Awaited There is widespread discontent with the English coal exporters who are taking advantage of their present monopoly to send over inferior coals and charge more highly than ever before. A new settlement is eagerly awaited which would give cheaper and better coal to Irish users and at the same time give Irish cattle exporters snore equitable conditions in the British markets.
it is gratifying to note that the Irish Live-Stock Traders' and Exporters' Association was able to report an improved year's trading, and the reason set down for this was the partial agreement with Great Britain. Store cattle trade particularly had improved, but the fat cattle trade was still hampered by a complicated system of export licences. The exporters consider that in spite of the improvements the position is not yet either normal or healthy, and look forward to an extended trade agreement as a solution of their difficulties. There is no reason to suppose that the cattle can flourish only at the expense of industry or agriculture. There is ample room in the country for all these activities to flourish side by side.
Strong Position of Industry That industry has now got well beyoreN the stage where it is merely something to be "revived" is fully demonstrated by the annual report of the Federation of Saorstat Industries, an association linking up the various industrial interests of the entire Free State. It is strong both in numbers and finance and is accepted by the government as the representative body where Irish industry is concerned.
Most of the federation's suggested amendments to the Conditions of Employ ment bill were embodied in the final draft.
The report complained of the incompleteness of the present control of manufactures. There are still too many loopholes in it and it is easy to circumvent its provisions. Compliance to the strictly legal requirements of the act does not necessarily mean a nationally-controlled industry. In many firms the national directors are mere dummies and, although the majority, have not even the power to sign a cheque, not to speak of appointing a Saorstat representative. Their only function is to transmit the instructions issued by an external controlling head office.
The federation insists on a change in such cases, and its officials have been busy during the past year in collecting data to draw up amendments to the act which will ensure that legal compliance will mean more than business equivocation.
Naturally the question of deciding whether a firm is national or non-national will often be a very ticklish one, and it is of vital importance that no abuse is permitted of a decision on which so much depends. The federation suggests the appointment of a consultative council of national manufacturers to advise on all industrial matters.
Trade Figures Improve
Official trade figures just issued show a drop of £3,789,125 in the adverse trade balance for 1935, as compared with 1934. That for 1935 is £17,407,871.
Free State exports to Great Britain rose from £14,230,020 in 1934 to £16,031,100 for the twelve months of 1935, an increase of £1,801,080. Exports to Northern Ireland and all other countries were £3,583,538, compared with £3,343,672. Altogether exports were up by over two million pounds and imports down by one and three-quarter millions.
The total external trade of the Free State was £57,247,995, an increase of roughly £200,000 on the preceding year.
Cattle exports improved by over a million pounds. The import of wheaten flour, sugar and various manufactured articles shows a decrease in relation to the increasing productive capacity of the Free State. The importation of equipment for factories and materials for building schemes continues on a large scale, though it was not so great as in 1934. Other items indicate the progress being made in indus trial development. In 1931 the Free State imported almost a million pounds worth of touring cars and over £200,000 worth of commercial vehicles. In 1935 only £81,919 worth of touring cars was imported, and the importation of commercial vehicles is negligible. There was increase correspondingly in the imports of parts of motor vehicles as a result of the building up of an assembling industry. Imports of wearing apparel, which were £3,000,000 in 1933, are now only £1,929,081.
In the course of his presidential address before the Federation of Saorstat Industries, Mr. J. Milroy said that the industrialists of the country shared in the general anxiety of the experiment of a single chamber, and hoped that with the passing of the Senate a chamber would be set up on vocational lines with some power of restricting legislation of a revolutionary character.
New Loan Stock for Building
The Dublin Corporation approved last week the issue of new loan stock to the nominal value of one million pounds at 98 and bearing interest at 4 per cent. This will provide money for the erection of 2,225 houses in continuance of the corporation's steady programme of slumclearance. Nearly 13,000 corporation houses have already been built and occupied in the city, and private enterprise accounts for the erection of a slightly larger number than the corporation annu
ally. The corporation programme proposes the erection of a thousand houses in each of the coming three years.