Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price-fixing.

asked the Minister for Supplies whether he will eliminate from price-fixing orders provisos that prices charged at a prior date will continue to be charged after a standard price has been fixed, as in the flour price order.

I agree generally that fixing prices of commodities by reference to the prices charged at a particular date is not very satisfactory. Orders, however, fix maximum prices which tend to become minimum prices and cases occur in which through custom in a trade or through the more advantageous situation of certain traders lower prices obtain than the maximum fixed by order. The proviso mentioned by the Deputy is intended to maintain the lower prices as long as possible or until such time as developments in the price situation of a particular commodity warrant uniformity of price throughout the country.

Does the Minister realise that in certain country towns you had all the merchants of the town charging 1/8 a lb. for butter, with the exception of perhaps one merchant, who in an effort to keep prices down while prices were uncontrolled, charged the lowest that he could possibly afford 12 months ago, and that in the new situation the reward for his zeal in attempting to keep prices down is that all his rivals are entitled to get 1/8, while he is restricted to 1/7? Is the Minister also aware that a similar situation exists in regard to flour: that where one man got 3/1 while prices were uncontrolled, his rivals are now entitled to get 3/2 according to law, having charged up to 3/6 while prices were uncontrolled. But the man who sought to do his duty is now restricted to 3/1. That does not seem equitable or just.

I feel inclined to agree generally with the Deputy. I felt it was undesirable, in some cases, that the effect of the order fixing maximum prices should be to increase the price to some people. In my view, this arrangement of fixing prices in relation to prices charged previously, can best be all wiped out.

Will the Minister review the existing price order with that in mind?

That is the intention.