Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Turf in Dublin.

asked the Minister for Supplies if he will state whether he is now in a position to state, in relation to the fixed maximum price of 64/- per ton for turf for Dublin, the calculated (1) price received per ton by the original producer, (2) the cost of carriage per ton by railway, canal or other transport machinery, (3) cost of its distribution per ton by Dublin wholesale distributors, (4) profits per ton of Dublin wholesale distributors, (5) cost per ton of its retail distribution, and (6) profits per ton of retail distributors; and, if not, whether in view of the urgency for fixing an equitable price and securing an equitable distribution of this amount, he will state what steps he is taking to complete his examination of this matter and when he proposes to present the details to the Dáil.

Data is now available in my Department in respect of a representative quantity of turf purchased by Fuel Importers (Éire), Ltd., and delivered to various centres throughout the non-turf area. This data shows that the average cost of the turf in question to that company is as follows:—

Free on rail at loading point or ex bog

24/3

per ton

Freight

18/6

,,,,

Handling charges

8/9

,,,,

Total cost

51/6

,,,,

In these costs no provision is made for overhead costs and administration charges of Fuel Importers (Éire), Ltd., nor is any provision made for loss due to pilferage or shrinkage of the turf.

The overhead expenses of the company have been estimated at 4/6 per ton. It will be appreciated that this figure can only be an estimate as it is not possible at this stage to say what total quantities of fuel will ultimately be handled by the company.

The cost to be borne by the company for shrinkage of turf has been estimated at a minimum of 20 per cent. On this minimum it is estimated that the company will suffer an added cost of approximately 12/6 per ton under this head. This figure is, of course, purely an estimate as a number of varying factors affect this cost.

It is estimated that the average price which Fuel Importers (Éire) Ltd. will realise on sales of turf at present prices is 50/6 per ton. It will thus be seen that without having any regard to the company's overhead costs and administrative expenses or of turf shrinkage the company will suffer a loss of 1/- per ton on this price.

Dublin wholesale distributors are allowed a margin of 6d. per ton on their wholesale sales and retailers are allowed a margin of 16/- per ton on their sales. The 16/- margin is based on the ascertained costs of Dublin coal merchants for distributing coal, and on the basis of the information at present available to me I am satisfied that this margin will not yield an excessive profit to these merchants.

The wholesale and the retail merchants have not been handling turf in the present quantities for a sufficiently long period to allow for a detailed examination of their costs of distribution of turf.

When the Minister speaks of a 20 per cent. shrinkage of turf, will he say between what point of time the shrinkage is supposed to take place?

Between the point at which Fuel Importers Ltd. receive the turf and the point at which they release it for sale. Some of that turf may have been in storage for quite a long time.

Does the shrinkage stop when the turf reaches the householder?

I have not investigated that question.

Will the Minister investigate it?

Has the Minister at his disposal the separate charges by rail, canal and road?

No. I have given the average cost of distribution.

Is the Minister aware that in the City of Dublin the Master Carriers' Association charge 6/- per ton for collection and delivery work, and if so——

From where?

In Dublin, inside the city boundary, and will he try to relate that figure to the figure of 16/- which he is allowing to the distributors of turf in the City of Dublin?

The 16/- is based on the known cost of distributing coal.

There is 10/- to be accounted for.