Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Timber for Egg Cases.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that the use of native timber in cubicle egg cases has resulted in catastrophic losses to egg merchants who placed Irish eggs in cold store in Great Britain; and if he will make representation to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to have the duty recently imposed on component parts of egg boxes removed.

Dr. Ryan

The reply to both parts of the question is in the negative.

Arising out of the reply I would ask the Minister if he has been informed by the trade in Scotland that out of a total quantity of 120,000 cases of eggs, a minimum of 2,500 were marked by the local authority of Glasgow for total destruction, and that out of 500 cases consigned by one exporter an average of 12 dozen eggs in cubicle egg cases were destroyed as unfit for human consumption; whether he was informed that the Committee of the Scottish Egg and Provision Trade had sat and reported unanimously that the eggs were to be destroyed as a result of contamination because of the unsuitable timber used in the making of egg cases here in Ireland.

Is that the way to advertise Irish eggs?

Dr. Ryan

The facts are not as the Deputy has stated.

Arising out of that reply, I addressed a question to the Minister as to whether this information has reached him or not; whether he is aware that eggs in an unsatisfactory condition were going into the Scotch market as they came out of cold storage in cases into which they had to be packed through the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and that they were described as unfit for human consumption. If these facts are not so, will the Minister inform the House of the true state of affairs? Is he prepared to contradict the statement that 2,500 cases of eggs were destroyed by the public authority in Glasgow as unfit for human consumption because they were spoiled by the timber of the cases in which they were packed?

Dr. Ryan

My enquiries have gone so far as to establish that the Public Health authority of Glasgow did not interfere in this matter, and the Deputy should consider the desirability of getting proper information about this matter before making speeches attacking Irish eggs being sent abroad.

I foresaw that an attempt would be made to misrepresent what I would say, and to describe it as an attack upon Irish eggs. I have pointed out repeatedly that the eggs are the best going into the British market, and that it was as a result of the incompetence of the Minister that they were sent out in unsuitable cases by which they got blue mould from the unsuitable timber.

Is the Deputy asking a question?

I am asking your permission to explain my position. There was a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what I said. The Minister said that I was making an attack upon Irish eggs and Irish produce entering the British market. I did not do anything of the kind. I am making an attack upon the Minister's incompetence——

Which cannot be done at question time.

Surely I am entitled to rebut the suggestion that I was attacking Irish eggs. Provided I make it clear that my attack is made on the timber which the Minister for Agriculture compelled us to use in exporting eggs and not upon the eggs themselves, I am quite content.

You are a bad egg yourself.