Report of Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation. - Agricultural Produce (Cereals) (Amendment) Bill, 1933—Money Resolution.

I move:—

That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas of any expenses incurred under any Act of the present Session to amend the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Act, 1933, and to provide for the better control and regulation of the sale of wheat for seed, and for the imposing of a levy on wheat sold for seed, and for other matters relating to the matters aforesaid.

Before we pass from this I would like to ask a question. Would the Minister state whether he is going to show any bias in the coming season for hard wheat as against soft wheat?

Dr. Ryan

No.

Is the Minister not aware that last season strong wheat was successfully grown with a yield equal to the most prolific soft wheat grown in this country. In these circumstances I would like to know if the Minister proposes to give a sort of preference in his scheme to meet the need of strong wheat. We have produced strong wheat in this country that will meet the requirements of the country, and will have the effect of strengthening the market that exists. So far as soft wheats are concerned we were always able to complete our requirements, but in strong wheat we always failed, and we will continue to fail if the Minister does not offer some inducement for the growing of strong wheat. Whether in the form of subsidies or bounties the Minister should offer a special preference if he wants to capture the growers of strong wheat.

Dr. Ryan

There is no distinction made in the scheme between strong and weak wheats. The same subsidy will be given in both cases. The Deputy is quite wrong in saying that the market requires strong wheat. Our flour goes two-thirds for household and one-third for bakers. Up to two-thirds comes from soft wheat, and 40 per cent. of the flour that goes to bakers is from strong wheat. We want 13 parts weak wheat to two parts strong wheat. We want 650,000 acres of weak wheat before we touch strong wheat at all. There is a small proportion of strong wheat growing, and if we preserve the same proportion our total requirements in strong wheat would be supplied.

What does the Minister mean by imposing a levy on wheat sold for seed? I have sold wheat for seed myself.

Dr. Ryan

Of course this Money Resolution refers to a clause, and the clause has only to do with registered flour millers and registered dealers who sell wheat for seed. It refers of course to a clause in the Bill.

The Minister has raised some matters in relation to the general wheat question on which I should like him to elaborate.

The general question of wheat growing may not be debated on this Bill.

I do not for a moment propose to go into anything beyond what the Minister has actually referred to. The Minister spoke of the percentage of soft wheat that was required by Irish millers. Am I not correct in saying that, so far, all the Irish mills have undertaken to do is to substitute Irish wheat for the European wheats, which they had heretofore been using in household flours? Four per cent. is the required percentage this year I think?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

That will be somewhat less than the amount of European flour which the Irish mills have been in the habit of using so far. Is not that so?

Dr. Ryan

I suppose so. I do not know.

Oh, the Minister does not know that? It is of importance to know that in order to be able to judge of the ultimate effect of a larger percentage of Irish wheat being incorporated in bakers' and household flour. The second question which I should like to ask, arising out of what the Minister has said, is whether he is in a position to inform the House now or hereafter what the average increase in the price of bakers' and household flour has been in the Saorstát since the Cereals Act came into force, and how much higher the price in the Saorstát for those two classes of flour has been, on the average, as compared with Great Britain or Northern Ireland? I readily appreciate that those figures would not be at the Minister's hand at the moment, but I think it would be of interest and of value that that question should be opened and examined on the Report Stage of the Bill for the purposes of which this Financial Resolution is moved.

I want to clearly understand the Minister's answer to my query. I understood him to say that in the coming season he did not intend to give any more encouragement to the growing of hard wheats than to the growing of soft wheats. Is that the policy of the Minister? I agree with the Ceann Comhairle's ruling that this is not the time to discuss the wheat policy. I have only to say, as regards the other statements of the Minister, that I do not agree with them, and do not think they square with the facts of the situation, but as this is not the time to debate them I do not want to say any more. I only want to be clear on the answer of the Minister, and my interpretation of his answer is that he is going to give some measure of encouragement to the growing of wheat in the coming season, but he does not propose to give any greater encouragement to the growing of hard wheats than to the growing of soft wheats. If that is the Minister's reply I am finished.

A Chinn-Comhairle, I want to ask the Minister a question, with your permission. I should like to know from him whether he would allow imported seed wheat into the country free of duty. In my own experience of the growing of wheat for a number of years I found that a better and more productive crop could be derived by the sowing of foreign wheat. That is the reason I am anxious to know whether, in the coming season, the Minister would see his way to allow the importation of seed wheat free of duty. I think it would be a great benefit to the farmers of the country.

Dr. Ryan

There is no duty on imported seed wheat.

No duty?

Dr. Ryan

No.

I am glad to hear that.

Dr. Ryan

I did try to make it clear, in response to Deputy Belton's question, that there was no difference being made between any classes of wheat. Of course the miller who buys the wheat can make a difference if he wishes. He may possibly give a little more for hard wheat.

Dr. Ryan

If he thinks it is more valuable.

But is it not the fact that it is more valuable?

Dr. Ryan

If he thinks it is more valuable he can give more for it.

Is not the whole trouble that we cannot grow strong wheats here?

Dr. Ryan

As a matter of fact the Deputy says we could grow hard wheat. He wanted me to encourage it. I say, too, that they can be grown here, but we do not want them for another few years, until we have 650,000 acres under soft wheat.

What would you do with the 650,000 acres? Feed pigs?

Dr. Ryan

In the Deputy's whole diet he does not eat more than 2 per cent. of hard wheat in the day. He does not know what he is talking about. Deputy Dillon raised a question about European wheat. European wheat, as a class, is the same as the Pacific and other wheats that come from America, the Argentine, Australia and other places—all those soft wheats that come in for household flour. As far as we are concerned it does not matter whether it comes from Europe or those other places. Four per cent. was fixed because, in our opinion, it was as high a percentage as would absorb the wheat of the country this year. If the acreage is doubled next year we will make it 8 per cent. The percentage is fixed in reference to the wheat we have on hands. It has no reference whatever to the imported wheat from any particular country.

Nor to the quality of the flour?

Dr. Ryan

The quality of the wheat we grow ourselves only.

The blend of the wheat affects the quality of the flour?

Dr. Ryan

Certainly.

Has the Minister any regard for the quality of the flour which the people will use?

Dr. Ryan

Of course.

If you have 4 per cent. of any sort of wheat you will dump it into the mixture, and if you have 10 per cent. you will dump it in?

Dr. Ryan

Home-grown wheat.

Do you maintain that you will have the same quality of flour if you dump in inferior wheat to the extent of 10, 15 or 20 per cent.? Will you have a uniform quality of flour? You can talk to the marines but you should not come in here and tell us that.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy should try and get over this inferiority complex he has since he went into that Party. Before he went in he thought Irish wheat was the best in the world. Now he thinks it is the worst.

Where did I say it was the best in the world?

Dr. Ryan

I heard you say so.

Go and take a look at the recommendations of the Grain Conference of 1925, and you will find on record what I said when you were in the wilderness sowing wild oats.

Dr. Ryan

You have ruined yourself by going into that Party.

You have ruined yourself by becoming Minister for Agriculture when you know nothing about it.

The Deputy must admit that he got considerable scope to ask his question, and he should not now interrupt the Minister. The Chair has no power to compel a Minister to accept a Deputy's viewpoint on any matter or vice versa. A realisation of this fact will conduce to an agreement to differ.

I agree, a Chinn Comhairle, but I hope you do not take my questions as interruptions. I wanted information on the subject—a most important subject to this country.

The Chair is under the impression that the Deputy has made several rebutting statements, which could not be regarded as questions put to elicit information.

Is the Minister aware that there is more double standard seed wheat in Scottish imported wheat than in any others?

Dr. Ryan

I did not catch the question. What does the Deputy claim for Scotch imported wheat? He claims that it is the best?

Question put and agreed to.