The Minister expressed a doubt on an earlier stage as to whether or not this scheme would definitely terminate at the end of August. I think it is important for those engaged in the cereals industry, in its various forms, to know definitely and at an early date as to whether or not the scheme in operation will be suspended at the end of August.
Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1939—Committee and Final Stages.
On the Second Reading I asked the Minister about the duties in force on certain cakes and whether he was prepared to reconsider the matter. As regards certain important cakes, such as groundnut, cotton and linseed, there is a considerable discrepancy in the prices charged here and in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain. For example, groundnut cake is quoted at £6 15s. per ton in Liverpool while the price here is £8 2s 6d. This is a matter that, I think, ought to be cleared up by the Minister. I take it that the purpose of this Bill is to make available for farmers cheap feeding stuffs. The Minister understands that it is important for the farmer to balance his feed with cake of a high albuminoid content. You get that in groundnut and in linseed cake. The purchasers of these cakes here have to pay a considerably higher price for them than farmers in Northern Ireland or in England. I suggest to the Minister that he should take that matter into consideration on this Bill.
The tariff on these cakes has been imposed, I imagine, for the purpose of helping labour in the city. I do not know that the labour content employed in the manufacture of cake is very high. The operation of this increased price on cake and on feeding stuffs generally is of considerable importance to the farmer, especially when one bears in mind that he has to sell in a competitive market and at a competitive price. If he cannot buy his raw materials as cheaply as his competitors, then he is going to be seriously handicapped and his production is going to fall.
With regard to the first point raised by Deputy McMenamin, I quite recognise the importance of giving adequate notice to all those who are engaged in the cereals business as importers, millers or whatever else they may be. The Deputy may take it that they will get good notice of the termination of the scheme.
The time is getting short now.
I have already met the representatives of the millers, and we intend to meet again towards the end of July. They know the position, and they are satisfied that they will be told towards the end of July what our intentions are. I do not think the Deputy need have any worries about the people engaged in the cereals business because they will get adequate notice.
With regard to the point raised by Deputy Hughes as to the price of cake —linseed, cocoanut, palm kernel, and some others—part of our cake requirements is being turned out in Drogheda by the factory operating there. The agreement which we have with the Drogheda factory is that they will sell the cake at the same price as that at which the cake could be landed at a port here from Great Britain. That is to say, that if cake could be landed at the port of Cork at a certain price, they will sell their cake to the importers of Cork at the same price. If they are not doing that, then of course they are not carrying out their undertaking with us.
I could give the Minister quotations to show that they are not.
I should be glad to get any information like that. We do get complaints from time to time, and we investigate them whenever we think the Drogheda factory is not carrying out the undertaking and get them to do what they should do. There is not any tariff on cake coming in. The cake is prohibited under the original Act, but a certain amount is allowed in under licence. Whatever amount of cake is allowed in it comes in free of duty. In fact, if the agreement is being worked properly, there should be no increase in price at all here.
May I avail of this opportunity to refer to a statement I made on the Second Reading of the Bill which appears in the Official Report. Certain questions were put to me by Deputy Bennett and Deputy Hughes, and I think I may have left both the Deputies under a wrong impression. I said—at least I am reported to have said, and I think perhaps I did say it —that this Bill had the effect of making a change in the import of compound feeding stuffs, and that the effect of that change would be that medicines would be allowed in without any restriction whatever. I was wrong in making that statement. I should have said, with regard to the import of compound feeding stuffs and of proprietary medicines, that the original Act is not changed. In other words, they are on the prohibited list, but they can, of course, be allowed in under licence wherever we think they are necessary for our farmers, or good value. A definite change is being made in the manufacture at home of compound feeding stuffs and of proprietary medicines. The change made is that proprietary medicines have gone outside of control now and are free, and, as regards compound feeding stuffs, that there will no longer be a necessity for manufacturers to report with regard to the formula and price. They will be permitted to manufacture and sell compound feeding stuffs in the future, subject to the production of the analysis where the analysis is asked for.