Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bags for Export of Shell-Fish.

Mr. Lynch

asked the Minister for Supplies whether he has refused to grant licences for the export of mussels and winkles in sacks to South Kerry exporters even when these sacks were imported some time ago and stored by exporters who have been in this business for nearly half a century; and whether he is aware that these sacks are small in size and extremely porous and unsuited or badly suited for any other internal commercial purpose; and whether in view of these circumstances and of the plight of the mussel and winkle fishermen of South Kerry he will now issue licences for the use of these bags for the export of shell-fish.

Mr. Lynch

asked the Minister for Supplies whether he refuses to grant licences for the export of mussels or other shell-fish in bags unless bags for the purpose are specially sent over to this country by the British importers of the shell-fish, and whether he is aware that this is killing the industry here both because of the delays (in the customs and otherwise) in the delivery of these bags and because the exporters here are at the mercy, in the matter of prices, of the importers who send the bags across.

I propose to reply to numbers 21 and 22 together. Having regard to the present scarcity of sacks and bags and to the necessity for conserving stocks in the country for essential purposes I have found it necessary to refuse to grant licences generally for the export of sacks or bags containing mussels or winkles except in cases where satisfactory evidence has been produced that the containers have been specially imported at recent dates for the purpose of the export trade. The prohibition on exports is not, of course, confined to sacks containing mussels and winkles. I am aware of the nature of the sacks used in the particular trade to which the Deputy refers, but the supply position is such that internal commercial users may have to lower the standard of their requirements and avail of bags which would not normally be regarded as suitable for their purposes. I am prepared now, as I always have been, to grant licences to facilitate this export trade, where satisfactory evidence is produced to me that an arrangement has been made for the return to this country of the empty bags or where a licensed sack and bag merchant certifies that the bags to be exported are unfit for any other purpose. I regret that I cannot exercise any control over the price charged externally for sacks or bags to be imported into this country.

Mr. Lynch

Do I gather from the Minister that he is now prepared to allow the export of sacks containing mussels and winkles if he gets some assurance—I did not catch the nature of the assurance—that the bags will be returned?

If I get satisfactory evidence that they will be returned.

Mr. Lynch

Would the Minister say what type of evidence would be satisfactory?

I would not like to say that now. The Deputy will understand what is required. There are importing organisations of repute, and an assurance from them that the bags will be returned, accompanied by an intimation from the British Board of Trade that export licences will be forthcoming, would be satisfactory.