Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Issue of Turf Licence.

Mr. Byrne

asked the Minister for Finance if he will cause inquiries to be made into the claim of Timothy Dunne of the Turf Bank, Percy Place, Dublin, for a turf licence; if he is aware that for a period of 60 years this family was in the turf trade, and if he is aware that the effect of the refusal to grant the licence is to drive him out of business and deprive the family of their living; further, if he will state the reasons for refusing licences to persons in Dublin who have been engaged in the business for many years.

Inquiries have been made into the claim of Timothy Dunne of Turf Bank, Percy Place, Dublin, for the issue of a licence. Licences were granted to Mr. Dunne on 26th July and 20th August, 1941, for the removal of 130 tons of turf from Pullough, Offaly, and the Minister is informed that no grounds exist for the issue of a further licence, or for any increase in the quantity of turf for which licences have already been issued.

The prohibition on the removal of turf from the scheduled turf areas, except under licence, was part of the policy decided on by the Government, as explained to the Dáil by me in the debate on the Adjournment on 30th October, 1941.

Mr. Byrne

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say on what grounds the Minister is satisfied that there is no need to give this man a licence to continue in the business in which he and his family have earned their living for the past 60 years, while at the same time he allows strangers into the business who do not know how to handle turf at all? Why drive out this man and others like him, such as Mr. Gordon of Harold's Cross? These are two old Dublin traders who have been engaged all their lifetime in the business. Why drive them out?

This trader is treated precisely the same as every other trader in the same circumstances and in accordance with the policy declared.

Mr. Byrne

Will the Minister not alter the circumstances and allow old Dublin traders who have been all their lives in the business to continue? Why drive them out and allow others, coal importers, who know nothing about turf, to take the trade of the old Dublin turf traders—Gordon of Harold's Cross and this man of Percy Place, Dublin?

This man will be allowed to import turf under precisely the same circumstances as other fuel importers. He is under no disability of any sort, kind or description.

Mr. Byrne

Why has he been refused a licence? What are the circumstances under which coal importers who were never in the business can get turf licences while this man is refused a licence and is driven out of business? He has been refused a licence by the Parliamentary Secretary's Department, as has Mr. Gordon, of Harold's Cross. Both these gentleman did good work in that neighbourhood selling turf to people who called to the turf bank and took it away. It is in a very populous part of Dublin where the people are not able to buy large quantities of fuel, and these two gentlemen supplied these small consumers.

They must have been selling it at a reasonable price.

Surely the Parliamentary Secretary will tell the House why a man who has been for 60 years in a legitimate trade finds himself now unable to get a licence to carry on in that trade. Surely it is not beyond the courtesy of the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House what is the reason for withholding a licence from a man so circumstanced.

The licence which has been withheld is not a licence to sell turf, but a licence to import turf. He can get turf under precisely the same conditions as anybody else.

Mr. Byrne

But he has been refused. What are "precisely the same conditions," if he cannot get a licence and is not allowed to trade?

He is asking for a licence to import turf as an individual into the non-turf areas from the turf areas. He will get it under precisely the same circumstances as everybody else. He will not get it under any other circumstances.

Is the reason for his being refused permission to import turf from the non-turf areas that he would import it and sell it at such a price as would expose the incompetency and futility of the Government?

That is a separate question.

asked the Minister for Supplies if his attention was directed to the evidence given in the Central Criminal Court when Messrs. Chapman and Town, two directors of Messrs. L. Jordan and Co., Ltd., Ennis, were charged with conspiracy, fraudulent conversion and the uttering of forged documents, etc., to the effect that the profits of the firm in question, in particular instances, amounted to 80 per cent. and, whether, in view of the monopoly character of the business in which the firm is engaged, he will take steps to restrict the making of excessive profits in this instance; and, if so, whether he will announce the measures which he proposes to take to prevent monopoly concerns of this character exploiting the public.

I have seen the reports of the court proceedings in this case, but I am not aware that it was stated in evidence that the profits of the firm in question amounted to 80 per cent. As regards the second part of the question the aim of price control is to ensure, as far as practicable, that prices charged for goods to consumers in this country are not excessive. The profits earned by any firm may be influenced by factors other than prices charged to consumers here. In the case of this particular firm I am at present considering what further steps are necessary and practicable to control prices charged for its various lines of products. I can assure the Deputy that in the case of every concern, where there is any evidence to justify charges of conspiracy, fraudulent conversion or uttering of forged documents, criminal proceedings will be instituted without hesitation; and in this connection I should mention that the criminal proceedings to which the Deputy refers were instituted as a result of information which came to the notice of my Department and which was promptly furnished to the Attorney-General. I may add that, apart from any question of irregularity, it has always been the practice of my Department to devote special attention to the accounts of concerns which are in the position of being sole suppliers of goods of a particular class.

Damn little good your special attention has been for the last eight years.

Is the Minister aware that it was admitted in court that this firm, through Mr. Chapman's ingenuity, made a profit of £45,300 during the year 1939-40, and when he relates that profit to the capital of the company as announced by the Minister for Finance, does he consider it right and proper that the public should be held up to a ransom of that kind as a result of the granting of a monopoly licence to this firm——

Are they not all doing it?

——and will the Minister take steps to ensure that this firm will now be brought within the scope of Emergency Powers Order, No. 83, in the same way as that order is applied in all its viciousness to the underpaid workers employed by the firm?

Is this not what Deputy Dowdall said was being done——

No Deputies have a special licence to interrupt.

The answer to all parts of the Deputy's question, so far as I can understand it, is in the negative. I think the Deputy's information is incorrect.

Was the Minister consulted by the Attorney-General before the charges referred to the Attorney-General by the Minister were withdrawn in court?

Is the Minister aware that the Irish Press of 11th November contains this statement:

"His (Chapman's) interest was in the Ennis factory and it was through his efforts that the company had been able to make £45,300 profit during 1939-40."

That statement is contained in a paper published under the slogan of "Truth in the News." Even if truth does not get into the editorial articles, it sometimes gets into the news. There is a statement to the effect that this firm made a profit of £45,300 in 1939-40. I say that is downright racketeering at the public expense, and I want to know if the Minister is going to do anything about it.

If that firm can make that amount out of boot laces, what must the millers be making?

That is a very logical deduction.