asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he read the record of the proceedings in the Central Criminal Court when two directors of Messrs. L. Jordan and Co., Ltd., Ennis, i.e., Walter Chapman and Ted Town, were prosecuted for conspiracy, fraudulent conversion and the uttering of forged documents, etc.; whether he is aware that the two men concerned pleaded guilty to one of the 24 charges preferred against them and on that charge were convicted; whether, subsequently, Messrs. L. Jordan, Ltd., refused to accept the resignation of Mr. Chapman from the position of managing director and decided to retain him in that office, and whether, arising out of this decision the firm dismissed from their employment the secretary of the company, who was mainly responsible for bringing to light the fraudulent practices of which Messrs. Chapman and Town were convicted, and, whether, in view of these facts, he will cause an inquiry to be held into the circumstances under which Messrs. L. Jordan, Ltd., obtained, and still retain, a manufacturers' licence which has the effect of conferring on that firm a valuable monopoly.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ennis Company's Affairs.
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state whether he has caused any inquiries to be made concerning the number of workers employed by Messrs. L. Jordan and Co., Ltd., Ennis, the number of juvenile workers employed and the average rate of wages paid to (a) the juvenile workers, and (b) the adult workers employed by this company and, if so, whether he will furnish this information to the Dáil, and whether, if such inquiries have not been made, he will consider taking steps to ascertain the conditions under which this firm, which enjoys a valuable monopoly, employs its workers.
I propose to answer Questions Nos. 26 and 27 together. I am aware of the proceedings referred to in the Questions. The company concerned do not hold a new manufacture licence under the Control of Manufactures Acts. A licence granted to the company on the 15th November, 1934, was revoked at the company's request on the 9th October, 1939, following a public issue of shares, when the company became qualified under the Control of Manufactures Acts to engage in manufacturing operations without a licence.
No monopoly has been granted to this company. While it is correct that, in respect of some of the lines of goods manufactured by the company, there is at present no alternative source of supply, it is, and always has been, open to any Irish firm to enter into the production of these goods.
So far as the wages and conditions of its workers, whether juvenile or adult, are concerned, these, I understand, are regulated in the ordinary way by agreements between the firm and the trade unions concerned, subject, of course, to the existing law and regulations relating generally to industrial employment. The last inspection of this firm within a comparatively recent period did not indicate any breach of the general regulations governing such employment. This company, like other industrial concerns, furnishes to the Department at regular intervals and on a strictly confidential basis figures of the numbers of its employees, indicating the numbers of boys, girls and adult males and females. As these figures, however, are obtained, as in the case of all other industrial concerns, on a confidential basis, I am not at liberty to disclose them.
Has this firm not, in fact, a monopoly because it is the only firm manufacturing these particular commodities at the moment?
That is what, I think, I said.
It has no competitor in this market and, in view of the charges preferred against two directors of the company by the Attorney-General, in view of the admission that a profit of £43,500 was made in one year on a capital less than that figure, and in view of the request of some of the directors of the firm to have an inquiry instituted into the working of the concern, will the Minister take steps to have a public inquiry held into the working of this firm so that the public may know the manner in which it is operating and the manner in which they have been fleeced?
And the reason why the Minister gave it 100 per cent. tariff.
Does the Minister propose to institute the inquiry to which I have referred?
There is no reference to such an inquiry in the question on the Paper.
Will the Minister say whether he has made any representations to this firm or administered any remonstrance to it for dismissal of the secretary of the company——
——on whose information the charges of fraud, conspiracy and forgery were based and does not the Minister feel bound to take some action to ensure that a person who, according to the trial judge, performed his duty honestly and in a public-spirited manner, will not be made a victim of vengeance by these two directors? Does the Minister propose to do anything in that direction?
The Deputy, in the question on the Paper, asks if an inquiry will be held.
If the Deputy will read down the question, he will find that that relates to a different matter.
The Minister knows that there is very grave public concern about this matter, that every dog in the street is agitated about it and has the Minister not made up his mind yet that the circumstances call for a sworn public inquiry into the affairs of the company?
I have made up my mind and I have already spoken in public on the matter. I am now answering Parliamentary questions and I must confine myself to the questions asked. If the Deputy forgot to ask the question which he intended to ask, that is not my fault.
The Minister has given no intimation that he proposes to hold a sworn inquiry.
The Minister was not asked any question of that nature.
Then, I shall put down a specific question on the matter.
It is quite obvious that the Minister does not want a sworn inquiry.
The Deputy's only concern is for misrepresentation and making whatever political propaganda he can out of the whole matter.
The misrepresentation is on the Minister's part. His fingers have been badly burned.
asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that directors of Messrs. L. Jordan and Company, Limited, Ennis, have associations as directors with other concerns deriving advantage from State policy in regard to tariffs, quotas and trade loans; and, if so, whether he will state if it is the intention of the Government to reconsider their attitude towards such concerns following the recent disclosures in the Central Criminal Court arising out of the prosecution of Messrs. Chapman and Town and the action of the directors of Messrs L. Jordan and Company, Limited, in dismissing the secretary of the company who gave evidence at the trial on behalf of the State.
I do not propose to recommend to the Government the course of action suggested by the Deputy.
Then they are to be allowed to do everything they like after that?
Is not that the position?
As usual, the Deputies are wrong.