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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 15 Apr 1943

Vol. 89 No. 16

Committee on Finance. - Vote 69—Supplies (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:—
That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration. —(Deputy Mulcahy.)

Before I moved the adjournment of the debate on this motion I was suggesting to the Minister that the present system of centralising his Department in the City of Dublin does not make for efficiency in the distribution of essential supplies. What I suggest, in order to bring this branch of administration into closer contact with the ordinary people in the country, is that every Gárda Síochána sub-district should be regarded as an administrative area for the Minister's Department. I suggest, further, that one member of the Gárda in each sub-district should be appointed as a director of supplies and be held entirely responsible for the distribution of essential supplies and the enforcement of the various regulations.

Last week the Minister for Justice, referring to an observation that too much work is being thrown on to the Gárda, said that the tendency to increase the work of the Gárda would be greater, if anything, and that the policy in future would be to off-set it by increasing the number of the Gárda. I think that is sound policy. I think that members of the Gárda Síochána, being in close contact with the people in each sub-district, would be better qualified to carry out the functions of the Minister's Department than the inspectors who are sent down there from headquarters, men unknown in the district, men who do not know the district and have no personal contact with the people there. It might be urged that the Gárda Síochána could not afford to lose the services even of one man in each sub-district for this purpose. Against that it could be suggested that the Gárda could be supplemented by the L.S.F. during the emergency, as this is purely an emergency service. At any rate, the present system is not working satisfactorily.

Last week the Taoiseach referred, in a rather melancholy tone, to the fact that the number of craftsmen in our towns and villages has been steadily declining. Of course, one of the effects of the regulations issued by the Minister is to wipe out whatever craftsmen we have in our towns and villages. For instance, in villages which are not electrically lighted, tailors and shoemakers have not adequate lighting facilities. Again, it is now proposed to limit the distribution of piece goods and this will restrict the activities of tailors, dressmakers and others. There are numbers of people in other trades who are being put out of business. During the past few years blacksmiths have been finding it almost impossible to carry on their business. The Minister has indicated that the manufacture of steel and iron is about to be undertaken. It is to be hoped that these products will be distributed equitably and that the smiths in the small villages will get a reasonable proportion of their requirements, particularly for horse-shoeing purposes.

The Minister stated that this country has to rely entirely upon home produced wool for all its woollen goods. As one of the Minister's functions is to regulate prices, I should like to know how he compares the price which producers of wool have been receiving during the past year with the price woollen merchants are obtaining at the present time from the mills. I understand wool is being supplied to the mills at over 3/- per lb., although it was purchased from the farmers for less than 1/5. That seems to be too great a margin of profit for people who have practically nothing to do with the wool, who merely have gathered it from the farmers. It does not seem justifiable that those people should get a larger amount by way of profit than what is obtained by the producers of the wool.

The Minister foreshadowed that the price of potatoes would be controlled. I do not know for what purpose this regulation is being made. I should like to make it clear to the Minister that if potatoes are in short supply, that is due to very abnormal circumstances over which the producers had no control. In the first place, the crop was unsatisfactory, and in the second place there was a good deal of decay and loss. I think that if there is any price-fixing, the producers should be assured of a price which will compensate them for the low average yield of last year, and for the losses which they sustained in trying to hold over the crop during the past nine months. It may be that the Minister intends the price fixation to apply only to next season's crop, but, if he is dealing with last season's crop, he should consider that the producers have suffered great loss through a disease in the crop.

So far as transport is concerned, I think the whole position has been mishandled. There should have been a much greater production of gas-producers and the fuel for those producers in the early stages of the emergency and since. I think the production has not been on such a scale as the circumstances demand. If it is part of the functions of the Minister for Supplies to deal with the licensing of private lorries, I think he should be very slow to adopt the policy which has been put into operation in Mayo of putting private lorry owners off the road. In my opinion the private lorry owner can utilise whatever petrol is available to much greater advantage than a public company can.

I can speak of the experience of a private lorry owner who has been pulled up by the Department of Supplies for conveying goods with his lorry on a return journey. He was supplying wheat to a mill and on the return journey brought pigs back in the lorry. For doing so he has been pulled up by the Department. I think its action is quite unjustifiable. There is no reason why a lorry should be obliged to travel back idle when it could be employed conveying supplies to a bacon factory. To compel it to return idle does not seem to be a good way of economising fuel.

On the whole, I think the Minister has failed badly. In the first place, he failed in the early stages of the emergency to procure essential requirements which could then be imported. He failed to procure shipping which could have been got in the early stages of the emergency. He has failed to insist on the production of sufficient food within the country, and on the provision of adequate capital for the expansion of tillage and of food production.

Deputy Dillon, in the course of his speech paid a tribute to the officials of the Department. I have had a fair amount to do with the officials of the Department. I have spoken to a number of Deputies of all Parties, and I can say this: that there is nothing but a full recognition on all their parts of the courtesy and helpfulness of the different members of the Department. Certainly, that holds true of any one of them with whom I have come into contact. They are perfectly loyal to the policy of the Government, perfectly loyal to the Government, but, within the limitations that have been imposed upon them from the top, they are anxious, as far as I can see from a fairly extensive experience, to be helpful to the consumer and helpful to those who bring cases before them. Any criticisms, therefore, that I have to make fall completely and solely on the Minister. The Deputy who has just spoken referred to his failure. His failure in many respects is spectacular. Unfortunately also for the country it is catastrophic. But it is more than failure. From anything that I have heard from various merchants all over the country who have been accustomed to import various supplies, he has not only failed to be helpful: he has been decidedly obstructive over the years of the crisis.

The problem of supplies presents two aspects: the lack of useful, and even essential commodities in the country, and the distribution of whatever supplies there are. So far as providing the country with a sufficiency of supplies goes, the Minister has completely and wholly broken down. He has, from the various things that I have heard, even prevented by his regulations and otherwise those who, through private enterprise, might have introduced a sufficiency of supplies to the country, from doing so. I do not think there was anything more cynical on the part of the head of the Government than to re-appoint a Minister with such a record of failure in the Department of Supplies to another important Ministry, namely, the Department of Industry and Commerce, while allowing him to keep in control of the Department of Supplies. With such a record, the only justification that I can see on the part of the Taoiseach for doing that was that he hoped that whatever the Minister's activities would be in the Department of Industry and Commerce they might keep him away for some time from the Department of Supplies, and then it might get on.

Whatever the general opinion of the country may be as to the politics and the policy of the different Parties, every Deputy must be aware of the opinion—it is not by any means confined to one Party—that prevails in the country as to the way in which the Minister has carried on and has performed his duties as Minister for Supplies. We are often, of course, met with this particular argument: "What can he do? He has only a certain amount of commodities at his disposal and he has to do the best he can with these." What we complain of is that it is largely, I do not say wholly, his own fault that he is presented with that unfortunate situation, namely, that supplies are so limited. The only foresight that I have seen recently on the part of any member of the Government was displayed in the last half-hour by the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, when he introduced a Bill to provide what might happen in six years' time, namely, a Bill to extend the life of the next Parliament from five to six years. That is the only kind of foresight that I have seen displayed on the part of the Government.

Year after year in discussing this Estimate since the crisis arose one thing has had to be pointed out and that is lack of foresight. I admit that on each occasion one was faced with the problem: "Well, what do you propose to do now?" The obvious thing was that the man who was lacking in foresight in the first year of the crisis could not be trusted not to be lacking in foresight in the second, the third or fourth year of the crisis. It makes me shiver when I hear that particular Minister say that he has plans for the future. God help the country if he has. He has failed to solve, or even to attack, the major portion of its problem.

When we come to the other side of the question—distribution—I think it will be generally acknowledged that it is not an easy task. I fully admit the difficulties and the intricacies of the problems that were bound to face any Department in a time like this. With the plethora of Orders which it has been considered necessary to issue, I often wonder whether it is possible for people carrying on business here not to be driven out of their minds by these particular Orders.

Every Deputy is aware that hardly a day passes on which we are not presented with what is practically a new Act of Parliament, because that is what these Orders amount to. Now, many of these are due to lack of foresight. The Minister hastily adopts a certain measure. I do not know whether at any period, even in his more vigorous days when the Government first came into power some ten years ago, he ever did examine in any detail the implications of his policy or certain lines of his policy. He certainly does not do it now. Both Deputy Mulcahy and Deputy Dillon have stressed the undesirable, shall I say, social effects that are bound to follow from some of the measures which the Minister proposes; that is in connection with the ordinary making of clothes by those in the country who have to live in that particular manner. It may not be the most economic way, it may not even satisfy the Minister's aethetic taste as regards clothes, but socially— and remember the social aspect is very important—it is probably much more desirable to have a number of independent craftsmen of that kind than to have those rich, big manufactories. I am not saying that it is the most economic way, but undoubtedly it is a thing the destruction of which should be regretted from the social point of view. I doubt whether the Minister even considered that particular aspect of the case—the distress that he would cause in the country.

Again and again various things have been put up to the Minister. There are two members of that Front Bench who pay not the slightest attention to any argument put up in this House, no matter from what side of the House. One is the Taoiseach. The more you argue with him, though he might agree with you in the beginning, the more you find that he is dead against you. That is his particular method of reaction. The Minister, with whom we are dealing now, shuts his mind to any suggestion. He will listen to nothing, he will learn neither from what people say nor from the experience of the people of the country.

To a large extent, therefore, in dealing with either of these Ministers—the Taoiseach himself or the Minister for Supplies—it is largely a waste of breath. Now and then the Minister comes into the public Press and makes public pronouncements. One of the Deputies to-day was rather shocked at the contradictions that appeared between the different statements of the Minister. I doubt if there is anybody in the country at present who really expects a statement of the Minister to have any foundation in fact, whether his statement is pessimistic or optimistic. I think he is quite incapable of presenting facts as they are. I do not say by any means that he is deliberately misleading the people. But certainly nobody in the country could take his statement on Government policy, on the position of supplies, on the position of any particular commodity, as something on which that person could build his conduct for one month ahead. There is really no relation between the Minister's statements and facts. When it came to supplies, the main duty of the Minister during those years was to have got in an adequate supply when it was still possible to do so, or to see that an adequate supply was got in. Leaving that on one side, when you come to the actual distribution and to the various Orders with which he has felt it necessary to flood the country, there were two ways in which he might have acted. I remember a time when, dealing with tariffs and other things, if you suggested to the Minister that a certain amount of supervision was necessary to see that manufacturers who got all the benefit of tariffs did not profiteer at the expense of the country, the Minister got most indignant. The suggestion that there was any necessity for watching over these people was a slur on the good Irish character of these manufacturers. But, if you are to take the line adopted by the Minister at present, it is the assumption that every shopkeeper, unless he is rigidly watched, is trying to profiteer, to deal in the black market, or, in one or another way, to cheat. As I said, there were two methods of approaching the very difficult problem—I admit it is a very difficult problem—of the proper distribution of supplies in this country. He could have got into friendly relations with people—it would be a troublesome way, I admit; it would require thinking the matter out—he could have consulted people, even listened to them—which, apparently, is the thing he finds most difficult—and got their good will. But I think it is apparent, not merely from what he says, but from what is being done, that he was convinced that the most effective way to deal with this situation was the big stick; to get as much repressive legislation as possible.

I remember—I do not think my memory is playing me false—when we were discussing this or allied problems before, the Minister took up this particular line so far as defaulting distributors were concerned: It might seem an absurd thing, or it might seem unjust, or it might seem unwise, because a person was found to have charged a halfpenny more than the scheduled price for matches, or butter or anything else, that he should have a heavy fine imposed upon him. But his argument was this: "We must assume that only one in every 100, possibly one in every 1,000, cases of overcharging comes to the notice of the Minister and, therefore, it is necessary to come down extremely harshly or very ruthlessly on those particular cases that we can prove." I think that was the policy of the Minister, and I think the Taoiseach gave his cachet to that particular policy on that occasion and used a similar argument. Now that has to be looked at from two points of view. I grasp the argument of the Minister, but I put it to him, and I put it to the Dáil, that it might involve a violation of justice. There have been cases in which officials in the discharge of their duty have gone into shops, looked through the books of the shopkeepers, and found out a few cases of slight over-charges. I do not say that all over-charges were slight. It is the policy of the Minister, as I understood him to say previously in this House, that these people must be prosecuted and fined heavily. I am not quite clear why that should be. Is it the assumption that these people have been guilty on many other occasions, but that they were not caught? There is no evidence of that. We probably all know of people who have been caught in one or two cases of overcharging where there was no suspicion or no evidence that they were continually or frequently guilty of any such overcharges, even small overcharges. I put it that merely to teach a lesson to others—because that can be the only justification for it—it is unjust to punish people beyond what is fair for their offence. It has been pointed out —and again, in this instance, we have a further violation of justice—that such a case is dealt with by the court and the court has the evidence before it. It may be said that the court only considers the two small offences but I must say, judging by the fines imposed —I do not want to exaggerate in the slightest—these particular fines certainly are not justified by the two small offences that may come before the court. They are substantial fines. In other words, as far as I can see, the courts do take into account the existence of these malpractices and the justices inflict a fine that they think is adequate to meet not merely the two small violations of the law, but the general malpractice. Is it fair, in that particular case, that the Minister should do what amounts to inflicting another penalty, a much more severe penalty, namely, withdrawal of a permit?

The Minister, on a rather celebrated occasion, speaking in this House, took up the line that the giving of certain permits is a matter of discretion for the Minister. He was dealing with a particular matter, but, apparently, we must assume by his conduct that what held in that particular case of a petrol permit should be applied all round, that is, that it is a matter of discretion for the Minister to give or to withdraw permits—a privilege to the trader. I do not think that ought to be the case —it is quite wrong. I think it ought not to be a matter of discretion for the Minister that, because he thinks a certain person is not a desirable trader, he can withdraw the permit from him. The court has already dealt with that man. What the Minister is doing is, using the verdict of the court as a proof that the bad character—in the commercial sense—of that man has been established. I suggest that that is not just. Let the fines be sufficient.

There are cases against over 1,000 people outstanding at the present moment, I think. That does not suggest that there is any laxity on the part of the officials of the Department of Supplies in finding out these offences. There is another thing that has been stressed. I think it is inevitable—and the Minister ought, therefore, guard against it, because the tendency of any Department, no matter how excellent, would be in that direction—that a civil servant is inclined to assume—and very often the better civil servant he is the more he is inclined to assume it—that an ordinary business man in the country must run his business like the Civil Service. The Revenue Commissioners do the same. I used to be amazed— and my amazement, I may say, goes back 20 years; I am not saying it is all confined to the period of office of the present Government—at the naiveté of the Revenue authorities in assuming that ordinary business men in the country had an accurate knowledge of how much they were making, and how much they were losing per year. I know something about business men in the country, and the last thing I would credit them with is a knowledge of that kind. It is no slur on the Civil Service; it is inherent in the very character, so to speak, of that body, but you must guard against it. That is all I say.

I think there is here also too great rigidity. Owing to the desire of the Minister to put down black marketing, there is too great a tendency to be too rigid in the application or in the working out of these particular rules. No allowance is made for the ordinary business failures—or whatever you like to call them—of the ordinary people in the country. It is a serious matter. There are Deputies in the House who know business people in every town and village in this country, and they must know perfectly well the extent to which a large number of these business men and women are practically driven off their head by orders, super orders, counter orders and amendments of orders. You cannot get from the people in the country that apple pie system that you would expect from a Civil Service Department. If you got it, probably the business in which it was attempted to be tried out would be bankrupt in a couple of years. That, again, is no slur on the Civil Service. They are two different kinds of activity, but I suggest it is the business of the Minister—it is why Ministers are there as distinct from heads of Departments—to control that, to see that it does not work unjustly and to see that it does not work detrimentally to the general interests of the community. I do not think he has done that.

Reference has been made—I think by the last speaker—to the difficulty there is in getting certain things. I was speaking a few weeks ago to a village carpenter. I asked him "What is the price of bands for cart wheels at the present time?" He said: "First of all, you cannot get them at all.""Well." I said, "when you can get them?" I have heard different prices mentioned by different people. His price was £12 a pair. I asked him, "What is the price of the ordinary cart, complete with bands and everything else?" He said, £30.

Was it necessary that there should be a scarcity of these things? We all remember—I think I referred to it before—the great campaign there was for the saving of paper. I never saw any such effort to collect scrap-iron. I do not know whether it was even considered or not. It may be said that it would be too costly to collect, but there was a time—at least so I was assured— when there was a scarcity of iron for ordinary purposes such as horseshoes and bands for carts.

Surely, an effort might have been made to collect all that scrap iron. There is hardly a house I know where the people would not be glad if somebody would call and take away the scrap iron. The amount of scrap in any house might not be very great but the amount in a street might be considerable. I was told by a smith that he could only shoe horses if those who brought them to him brought iron with them. That shortage obtains practically everywhere. While that shortage exists and while carts are the price I was told they were, farmers are asked to put their last ounce of energy into production. As was frequently pointed out, there must be a measure of co-operation on both sides. The Minister demands from shopkeepers, farmers and others full co-operation. I suggest that many of the measures for which he is responsible and the way he has insisted upon these measures being carried out has made co-operation impossible and has made—I am sorry to say it—goodwill difficult. That was one of the great failures of the Minister.

One never knows where he is with any statement by the Minister. At one period, there was a shortage of flour in the Dingle Peninsula. I approached the Department, was met with the customary politeness there and everything that was possible was done. A short time after that, there seemed to be an over-supply of flour. I never heard what the explanation of that was. I remember having to take up with the Department the supply of kerosene in the same Peninsula. I have nothing but praise for the politeness with which I was met in the Department. I am not referring to the recent shortage in respect of which an explanation was given to Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney by the Minister. I am referring to the winter months of 1941, when the people were left in darkness. When the attention of the Department was drawn to the matter, they did what they could. I ask the Minister to consider specially the cases of very poor districts. I am speaking for a district that has never voted very strongly for me. Deputy Kissane will bear that out. The people there are very poor and lead a hard life. The fishermen, particularly, deserve special attention as regards a supply of kerosene for their boats. I am not finding fault with the sub-department that deals with that. They have to make the best of what they have got. I am only pleading for a little more generosity in what they do get from the general supply.

Reference has been made to the lack of artificial manures. Some reference was also made to the small quantity which had recently been introduced here from the United States. It may be that our shipping space for bringing things into the country is limited but have we utilised that shipping to the best advantage? Why is it that, at a time when there was so strong a drive for increased agricultural production, we got in no artificial manures? Do not tell me that they were not there. Twelve months ago or more, I heard the Minister for Agriculture in England speaking over the radio and thanking the American Government for the considerable help they had given to his particular industry—agriculture—by the amount of artificial manures they had sent into the country. What effort was made, and with what success, by our Government to get a share of these artificial manures—absolutely essential,. as everybody knows, if the drive for increased production is to be successful? I cannot find that the Ministry made the efforts it should have made in the matter. I am not dealing now with the members of the Department. I think that they did their best in a very difficult situation. I am dealing merely with the failure of the Minister and I am anxious to identify the policy of the Minister, as it has appeared in the past four years, with the policy of the Government. Cynical Deputies, if there are any in the House, may suggest that I want to damage the Taoiseach. Leave that reason aside. He is responsible and the Government is responsible for the failure of this Department. This Department and the Department of Agriculture are our two most important Departments and I doubt if, in any other instance, the Ministers have so completely fallen down on their jobs as these two Ministers. Nobody in the Government can escape responsibility for that. It is the responsibility not merely of these two Ministers but of the Government as a whole. Whether one has regard to the Minister's failure to secure an adequate supply of essential commodities or the way in which he has harried and persecuted a large portion of the population, I say that the Minister responsible for this Vote has failed, and lamentably failed.

Chonnaic mé i gceann de na páipéir nuaidheachta go raibh an tAire ag cuimhniú ar na déantuis teallaigh a chur faoi rialú. Tá súil agam nach fíor é sin mar, más fíor, déanfa sé an-dochar do na déantuis seo.

Faoi láthair tá lucht déanta bréidín ag saothrú pighinn réasúnta. Tá níos mó ban ag cárdáil is ag sníomhachán ná bhí le fada fada an lá agus níos mó túirní ag obair. Tá feidhm níos mó á bhaint as dathanna nádúra na tíre—ón scraith-chloch go dtí an neanntóg— agus figheadóirí ag obair ó oíche go maidin; chuile ghné den obair thábhachtach seo á ndéanamh ar lic an teallaigh, agus cá'il an fhuaim is ceolmhaire ná ceol an túirne nuair atá daoine ann atá i ndon é oibriú? Tá neart ban i gConamara i ndon é oibriú; sin tréith a bhí ag rith leo ariamh. Tá súil agam nach ndéanfaidh an tAire, ná Aire ar bith eile, rud ar bith a chuirfeadh stop leis an deágh-obair seo.

Maidir leis na lorries phríobháideacha, nach mór an t-iongantas gur thosuigh an tAire le áit mar thuaisceart Mhuigheo agus iarthar na Gaillimhe, áit nach bhfuil aon bhóthariarainn ná a leitheide? An bóthar iarainn a bhí againn, tugadh uainn é idir chorp is chleite. Anois tá sé ag tógáil na lorries phríobháideacha uainn agus ag tabhairt na hoibre don bhóthair iarainn. Ní ceart ná cóir é sin. Is iomdha duine bocht a chuaidh thar a bhionda ag ceannacht ceann de na lorries seo agus nach raibh de shlí bheatha aige ach é. Tá caint mhór ar cheadúnas a bhaint de lucht na siopaí faoi go leor rudaí, ach nach measa go mór fada ceadúnas a bhaint d'fhear lorry nach bhfuil idir é is an t-ocras ach an gléas iompuir sin?

Is eol dom fear a raibh ar lorry fháil, lá, le riar ar a chuid cuistiméirí. Marach na lorries phríobháideacha seo is iomdha duine i gConamara a mbeadh ocras air. Tá me cinnte go gcaitheann lorries an bhóthair iarainn i bhfad níos mó petrol ná a chaitheann fear a bhíos ag tiomáint a lorry fhéin mar bíonn sé níos bairrinnighe ar an ola. Lobhfaidh na lorries seo mara gcaitheann lorries an bhóthair iarainn cheart a shlí bheatha a bhaint de dhuine ar bith gan rud eicínt a thabhairt dó ina áit.

Is eol dom daoine a cheannuigh crainnte coille. Bhí cuid de lucht an tighe ag gearradh na coille agus duine eile den mhuirighín ag tiomáint an lorry leis an adhmad a dhíol. Má dhéanann an tAire an rud atá ar intinn aige cuirfear go leor daoine as obair sa tír agus sna bailte móra. Daoine bochta eile a bhí ag saothrú a mbeatha le lorries bheaga, ag díol éise in áiteacha nach bhfeicfear iasc aríst go dteighe na lorries phríobháideacha ag obair.

I notice that the Department of Supplies is costing the State a very large sum annually, including £126,000 for salaries, £17,000 for ration books, and £14,000 for travelling expenses. I am able to state that the staff is a very efficient one, but with such a highly-paid and efficient staff there ought to be better results. I consider that the Department is working against the stream, and is trying to bring about order out of chaotic conditions. The chaotic conditions that I find existing there are, in my opinion, due to a lack of system for which the Minister must be held responsible. It is a terrible state of affairs to have a staff dealing with complaints that should never have arisen if there had been system at the starting of the Department. I have no idea, and I do not know if the Minister has any idea, of the number of complaints that reach the Department daily. There is hardly one person that I know in West Cavan who is not writing once a week to the Department. If the staff were ten times as large as it is, how could it be expected to deal with such correspondence? It would be out of the question. The Department can never make headway until there is some sort of system there. It started by dealing with the flour question. I know parts of Cavan where whole districts could not get a grain of flour. It was supposed to be rationed at the time, yet there appeared to be no regulation of supplies. There is plenty of flour to be had now, thank goodness. After flour, the Department went on to deal with tea and paraffin oil. During the darkest months of the winter there was not a drop of oil to be got by half the population in Cavan. Not a drop of oil was to be had during the month of December. Why was not an arrangement made by which a gallon of oil would be available during the month of December, and another gallon or less in January? If oil was rationed, why was it not possible for those controlling supplies to see that it was distributed? What is the use of issuing licences to retailers and wholesalers, and registering customers, if the Department is not able to see to it that supplies are distributed amongst those for whom they are intended? There should be very little difficulty in doing that in a country like this.

I was talking to a man from another part of Ireland, and when I asked him how they managed to ration so many articles amongst the people, he explained that there was no trouble about doing so, as there was an official in each area who took control over that area, and dealt with any question that arose. If anything went wrong, he was on the spot, and was able to put it right. Here a great deal of correspondence is involved from day to day, and from one section of the Department to another. It seems as if it were impossible to have order, simply because a start was not made in a systematic way. Not having started in the right way I think the Department cannot make any headway. For instance, at the time that the tea shortage arose, Deputies on these and on other benches asked that rationing should be introduced. The Minister did not introduce rationing, but stated that tea was going to be scarce, and advised everybody who could do so to get in supplies. Unfortunately too many people took him at his word. They took advantage of the information and laid in stores of tea, and, as a result, we have the black market. There is plenty of tea to be had at 20/- or 25/- a lb. That is due to the hint that the Minister gave. The black market people are only carrying out his instructions, and he cannot say a word to them. They are not to blame so much as the Minister.

At the present time, while there is a shortage of sugar here, tons of sugar are going across into Northern Ireland. I know three restaurants in the town of Ballyconnell, and in the allocation of sugar to those restaurants no allowance is made for the people who come in there for refreshments on fair days, market days, and so on, although those houses have been in the habit of supplying refreshments to such people for the past 20 years. I have been writing and they have been writing to the Department in regard to it, forms have been filled up and returned, but still nothing is done. But the sugar is going across the Border. How is it that the Department are not able to control that sugar? They have control of it at the source. Everybody is registered, the manufacturers, the wholesalers, the retailers and the consumers. How is it that they cannot control it? Is it not obvious that there is some lack of system there? It is for the Minister to look into the matter and put it right; he is the head of the Department, and he has a very efficient staff.

I know the serious difficulties there are in regard to supplies of petrol, but, notwithstanding those difficulties, I have in mind the case of a man who, in my opinion, has been very harshly treated. At the present time he is looking for petrol for a lorry with which to carry on his usual trade of dealing in bonhams. County Cavan is noted for the rearing of more bonhams than they require for their own use. Districts in North Leitrim and other counties are in the habit of getting their supplies from West Cavan. If this man is not supplied with petrol for his lorry he cannot carry on his trade at all, because it would not be practicable for him to hire lorries and keep them waiting for an indefinite period while he made his sales. If the Minister does not wish to see that trade in bonhams completely disorganised, he should make an allocation of petrol to this man. That facility has already been given to another man in East Cavan who is carrying on the same trade.

With regard to oats and wheat, the fixing of prices for those commodities has been completely disregarded by the people, because the prices fixed were not sufficient. If the people had to abide by the Minister's fixed prices——

Is the price fixed by the Minister for Supplies?

I am not sure.

I do not think it is.

I will get away from it then. I suppose the Minister for Agriculture controls the price of oats. I am not sure which of the Ministers is supposed to control the price of potatoes, but I think it is the Minister for Supplies. If the Minister is going to control the price of potatoes I would warn him to be careful, because if he wants to have cheap potatoes the best thing to do is to guarantee a minimum price to the producer, and so ensure that plenty of potatoes will be grown. I remember warning the Minister for Agriculture more than a year ago that if he did not encourage the growing of potatoes there would be a shortage not only of potatoes but of pigs.

Unfortunately, that shortage has since become apparent. The experience that the Minister for Agriculture had with regard to the production of wheat should be a lesson both to him and to the Minister for Supplies. We all remember the shortage of wheat and the shortage of flour which occurred last year. What was the cause of that? It was because the Minister haggled over a few shillings in the price of wheat, and did not give enough for growing it. He increased the price when it was too late to sow the wheat, and consequently there was a shortage that year. The same thing can happen with regard to potatoes if the Minister controls the price. If he wants to put on a maximum price, say, in the City of Dublin, that is all right, but it would be advisable to guarantee a minimum price to the growers. If plenty of potatoes are grown there will be plenty of them sold at a reasonable price. Competition will regulate the price if the supply is good, but the Minister ought to know better than anybody else that he cannot control the price if the supply is short. I hope that before he takes such a step he will consider what the consequences of it would be.

A number of Deputies have referred to the strong action which the Minister has taken against individuals who happen to have committed some slight offence. I do not believe there is a citizen in this State who is not inadvertently breaking some law. A lawyer admitted to me that he does not know half the law. Surely then, no ordinary citizen can be expected to know it. Surely, no ordinary citizen knows the law, and yet people are deprived of their living if they commit an offence which they hardly thought was an offence at the time.

I have one particular case in mind, of a man who was brought to court in connection with the sale of sugar. He had been in the business of selling sugar. He lives on the Border and had been selling to some people on both sides up to 1939, or whatever was the standard year. Because of that, he got a larger quota than, perhaps, he was entitled to and, of course, he sold it, but he was taken into court. The court, having regard to all the circumstances, and having considered all the evidence, decided that it was a very slight offence and imposed a nominal fine. Yet the Minister threatened to take away his licence, not only for the commodity in connection with which he was penalised by the court—the sugar—but also for tea. All this was because he sold a few pounds or a few stones of sugar, which he got and was not entitled to get. It was not his fault: perhaps it was through some slackness of the Minister's Department that he got so much—I do not pretend to know. In any case, if the court thought it was a matter worthy of a fine of 10/-, it cannot have been serious enough to deprive a man of his means of living—a man who had been in that trade all his life and who had a certain number of customers. This matter has been dealt with by many other Deputies and I do not want to press it, but I think the Minister should try to put his own house in order and not take such extreme measures with others who, at least, have as well ordered a house.

If the Minister could establish some sort of systematic order in his own Department, the staff he has there would be able to conduct it and carry out his directions. I think the Minister makes too many Orders, that he takes on too much work and does not see it through. It was pointed out here to-day that, if the Minister would deal with fewer commodities and deal with them more effectively, taking more time to examine them and consider how he would make a success of them, there would be very little difficulty about making a success of the whole problem. They have all the information at the headquarters in Ballsbridge; they have everybody's name registered; they know the number of people who are getting tea and sugar and lamp oil from every registered distributor of these commodities. What difficulty should they have in seeing that each retailer has customers enough for the supplies he is getting, or in seeing that those who have more customers than supplies get extra by way of transfer from one to another? It is only a matter of a little bit of book-keeping, and the staff is large enough to deal with it. If an inspector with proper authority were located in each county, he could deal with the cases on the spot, and half the staff working at Ballsbridge to deal with complaints would not be necessary. A few men in a central position could get in touch on the spot and deal with complaints, and then there would be very few complaints. I hope the Minister will introduce some kind of order in the Department and that things will go better in the future.

The Deputies who have spoken in this debate seem to be satisfied that the civil servants were very agreeable and gave every assistance to any Deputy who had occasion to go to the Department of Supplies. I certainly say the same myself. Every morning I receive numerous complaints from people in my constituency regarding the Department of Supplies. They are made more or less on the basis that the people do not understand the regulations which come into operation from day to day. Each time I went to the Department to investigate a case, the officials were most agreeable and gave every possible assistance in dealing with the complaint. However, every Deputy who has spoken seemed to feel that the complaints in general were to be attributed more or less to the head, so far as the Department is concerned.

I wonder if I am correct in saying that, in introducing the Estimate yesterday, the Minister said that our normal supply of sulphate of copper was 3,200 tons and that the available supply this year will be 800 tons. If that is correct, it represents a very serious position. Every Deputy coming from the rural areas knows the necessity for good potato and wheat crops. If they failed, there would be nearly a famine. Seeing that the available supply of sulphate of copper is only 800 tons, as against 3,200 tons—roughly a fourth—and seeing that there is increased production of potatoes—it means that there is only sufficient to spread over one acre out of every four and a half.

That is a very serious situation. It is also serious, from the point of view of the shortage of manures, in connection with the fertility of the land— especially the poorer land in the poorer counties. That land seems to be decaying a lot in the last two or three years and as a result the crops are not as early, so sulphate of copper is more necessary than ever. There is a custom of spraying twice, and people are now getting the habit of spraying three times, which makes the shortage of sulphate of copper more serious. I am sure the Minister did his best as regards the quantity available, but I would impress on him the necessity to make every possible effort to obtain more supplies. If sulphate of copper is not made available and the potato crop fails, the situation in the rural areas will be very serious, as the potato there is on a level with wheat as a food.

To consider another aspect of the matter, the more potatoes you grow, the more bacon, eggs and wheat you will produce. If the acreage under potatoes is reduced, because of the difficulty of obtaining sulphate of copper for spraying, you will be afterwards confronted with a shortage of bacon, eggs and wheat. That is a very serious situation to contemplate, and one that calls for immediate attention. I would also suggest to the Minister that if there are only 800 tons available, he should have the price of sulphate of copper immediately fixed so as to prevent the creation of a black market in this commodity. In my opinion it is necessary to fix a price for sulphate of copper immediately.

The Minister has announced that the tea ration will be reduced to three-quarters of an ounce per head for the summer period, with the intention of restoring the ration to an ounce per head during the winter. In that connection the Minister should bear in mind that in rural areas tea is a very essential article of diet during the summer. It forms, in fact, the dinner ration. People in rural areas have sometimes to travel three, four or five miles to carry on tillage operations, and the only food they can take with them is bread and tea. It may suit certain urban areas to have a larger ration of tea in winter than in summer, but you are depriving agricultural areas of the larger ration at a time when it is most urgently needed.

I should also like to refer to the hardship endured by people in rural areas owing to the impossibility of getting an adequate ration of paraffin. They have to attend to pigs and cattle during the long winter evenings and that work usually does not start before 5 p.m., and continues up to about 10 p.m. Then if there happens to be illness in a country house it is a great hardship not to have a sufficient supply of paraffin. In the area which I represent a large number of people got practically no paraffin oil for the greater part of January and very little for either February or March. I consider it a very serious state of affairs that some provision should not be made to ensure that at least portion of the quantity available for distribution would be allocated to each consumer in rural areas.

In the broadcast announcements, the people were informed that the paraffin ration for November was to be half a gallon and a gallon for December. Portion of that December paraffin was not delivered until the middle of the month. Some people succeeded in getting their ration in December, but many more could not get their December ration until January. Practically half of the consumers did not receive the December ration until January. In January consumers expected that they would get another gallon in respect of that month, but when half of that ration was delivered, the other half was cancelled. In February there was a broadcast announcement to the effect that the ration would be half a gallon for that month, but I know many people who got no paraffin at all in respect of that month. Taking the whole period of December, January and February the people on an average received only one and a half gallons per head—a very poor ration for an agricultural area.

I was disappointed to hear the Minister's statement in regard to the price of turf. It is astonishing to hear that allowing for depreciation, freight and all expenses, turf in Dublin costs as much as 87/6 per ton. I would point out to the House that when the price of turf was first fixed for Dublin, the figure was only 50/- per ton. Then it advanced to 64/- and now we are told that it costs 87/6. It seems to me extraordinary that turf which is produced at a comparatively low figure in the country should cost so much here in Dublin. In Mayo, you have one of the finest turf areas in any part of the country, but the Department last year took turf only from some of these areas. They did not go into the backward areas such as Erris, or Achill. I think that when they require good quality turf they should give preference to areas where that turf is to be found in abundance, areas in which people live on the bogs and know how to produce turf properly. If preference were given to those areas, I believe that turf would be produced at a much cheaper rate than that at which it is being produced in Kildare. I admit that the difficulty of transport is a big factor, but there are plenty of lorries in the country and there seems to be a reasonable amount of petrol available for distribution. The turf in those areas is produced at a very reasonable price. I believe that in the greater part of Mayo turf is being produced at 15/- per ton delivered at the side of the bog. That at any rate is all the producer is getting. I know that some turf was produced and put on rail at Ballina by private lorry owners at 25/- per ton. When one considers the big difference between 25/- and 87/6, one can only come to the conclusion that the producers in the turf areas are not getting a fair share of the 87/6.

I should like to refer briefly to the question of tea and sugar licences. The Minister has stated that there are 1,114 prosecutions pending and that the licences of 32 traders have already been withdrawn. I think that it is a very drastic step to withdraw a trader's licence. As far as I am concerned, I oppose very strongly any dealing in the black market and I am prepared to give any assistance in stamping out illegal trading of that description, but I still consider that that can be done without inflicting this drastic punishment on traders for what in many cases are trivial offences. I am informed that four traders in my area have lost their licences. The offences were committed so far back as January, 1942. The cases were not tried until September, 1942, and the licences were withdrawn in February. In none of these cases was the offence serious but each of the offenders was fined fairly heavily in court. I feel that the fine in court should have been sufficient to purge the offence without resorting to the extreme penalty of withdrawing the licence. I think that penalty is altogether too extreme.

Two of these traders who got notices asked me to make representations to the Department on their behalf. I made inquiries at the Department and was told exactly how matters stood. I went back to the traders and said to them: "It is a very serious offence and I am afraid that, unless something is done, there is a danger of your losing your licences." I then said to them: "Make out a written statement of how it happened, giving the history from beginning to end, and give a guarantee that no such thing will occur again." They did so and I posted the two letters to the Department. I never received any reply, and I was then informed that the inspectors were in Ballina taking the licences from these people. The licences were taken up, and, although I got in touch with the Department the following week, I was told that nothing could be done as the decision had been come to. I think that was very extreme action.

Another point is that the offences took place at a period when a large number of traders in my area had not sufficient tea to meet their customers' cards. I received numerous letters from people saying that they wanted 15 lbs., 30 lbs., 70 lbs. and 100 lbs. of tea in the month for their customers and a big number of them were in the position that they had 25 per cent. less tea than they required for their registered customers. In January, 1942, when the offences took place, things were not so tightened up and were not looked on with the same seriousness as was the case a year later. I feel that if the Minister would depend more on the business people and on the co-operation of the public in general, both parties would be very helpful to him.

Furthermore, customers who have their tea cards with particular traders—and business people and traders are very helpful to the public from the point of view of giving credit and so on—are very annoyed by the taking away of their tea cards from these cases was the offence serious but other traders. I feel that the Minister and civil servants do not really understand how business is done in the small towns and in the rural areas. People are customers of particular houses for years and years, and, if the records were traced back, it would be found that some customers are dealing with particular shops for upwards of 50 years. They naturally do not want to leave these places, and I feel that it is very extreme to revoke licences for very trivial offences, committed at a time when matters were not regarded as being as serious as they are now.

The Minister should reconsider the whole business and should fix a particular date from which the price of particular articles will be fixed—let it be 1st of January, 1st of December or 1st of November—and let the public be informed that if there is any violation of the law, licences will be automatically revoked. Nobody will have any sympathy with, or make any representations on behalf of, any people who do not comply with the regulations. I suggest that the Minister might consider some kind of advisory committee consisting of three members of the trade, three consumers, three members of the House and three civil servants. I believe that at a round table conference the different views would be very helpful to the Minister and would have the effect of removing all these complaints.

With regard to the importation of 5,000 tons of oats in January last, I have to complain that we in County Mayo did not get any of that oats. Mayo was always an oats-buying county and there was always a certain shortage of oats in that county, which is a very big bacon and eggs producing district. None of that oats came into Mayo, and, as a matter of fact, practically none of it came into Connaught. I believe a small proportion came into Ballinasloe and a big proportion went to Donegal, which is an oats-growing district. I think the Minister treated Co. Mayo very badly in not giving the county an allocation. This oats was subsidised oats, and, being subsidised by the general taxpayer, each county should have got a fair proportion.

Finally, I urge the Minister to forget about some of the things which have happened, leading to the prosecutions which are now pending and to the withdrawal of a number of licences, and to set a certain date from which fixed prices will operate. Let him then caution the public with regard to them, and he will find that these complaints will not arise and that everything will be plain sailing, to the benefit and advantage both of the Department and the people generally.

It is only natural that, when the demand is greater than the supply, the Minister for Supplies should come in for much criticism and should be asked to explain why the public are not in a position to get what they want. One or two factors are responsible for much of the criticism which has been levelled against the Department. One is the fact that, by our tradition and our history, we have been trained to do everything more or less contrary to the Government's ideas. That has been the tradition of the Irish people. We have not been trained and disciplined into obeying the law. Another factor is that the people have become somewhat disillusioned as to the exact position in which they find themselves. Some years ago, members of the Fianna Fáil Party, with heads erect, said that this country could carry on serenely oblivious of what happened outside. We have got a rude awakening during the last year or two and possibly that awakening will be very good for us from the point of view not only of the present but of the future.

Up to a point, I sympathise very much with the Minister, and, being one who would naturally like to help him in his difficulties and one who has not got an eye on what will happen at the general election, I should like to make a few suggestions to him which may possibly make his work and the work of his officials somewhat lighter. If he would take his courage in his hands and remove many of the irritating tariffs or duties that are imposed at the moment on articles that are not, never were, and never will be produced in this country, it would be a very good thing. Only last week I had occasion to call the Department in regard to the release of what is known as twine for the making of salmon nets. A fisherman in Blackrock, County Louth, was enterprising enough to import that particular twine into this country on his own initiative, and I think that that bears out the statements that have been made here for the last four or five years to the effect that if the businessmen had been given the opportunity they could have imported much larger supplies than has been possible under the Department. At any rate, this man got the twine imported, and he was in a hurry to get the nets made in time for the fishing season. Everybody who knows anything about that particular matter knows that these nets have to be made by hand. When this man called to the railway station he was notified that the twine was there, but that he could not get it unless he paid a duty of 33? per cent. It is only right to mention that when the Minister for Agriculture visited Dundalk, he gave encouragement to the fishermen, and promised that he would do all he possibly could in connection with providing twine for nets. Yet, this man had to pay 33? per cent., and had to get a licence to import the twine. He was granted the licence, but not for a week or two. If he had got the twine in time, he would have his nets manufactured now, but he lost almost a fortnight. That is an example of the sort of irritations that people are suffering under as a result of the operations of the Department, and I think they should be removed lock, stock and barrel. These things cannot be produced here, and their importation will not interfere with any industry existing here at the moment. This is a special kind of twine which is not manufactured here at all, and, therefore, its import could not interfere with any industry here.

There is another matter which seems to have given rise to a lot of the criticism that has been levelled against the Department, and that is the question of the supply of butter. Deputies such as I who have to mix with the ordinary people cannot understand the position in regard to butter rationing as it exists at present in this country. One week you read where the Minister made a statement, in answer to a question by the leader of the Labour Party, that the supplies of butter on the market at the moment were very little below normal supplies. Well, if English means anything "normal supplies" would mean the same supplies of butter as were on the market in pre-war days. The Minister said that there was very little less. Now, if that is so, surely people should be entitled to get at least a ½ lb. of butter per head per week, but when you go around and meet people, as we have to do, they tell you that they are dealing in a certain shop and cannot get any butter. I go down to the shop, and the shopkeeper says to me: "Mr. Coburn, I have 400 customers and I am quite willing to give them a ½ lb. of butter per head per week, but I cannot get it myself. All the butter I receive is 126 lbs., delivered fortnightly from the creameries, which means 63 lbs. a week, and how am I to divide that so as to be able to give a ½ lb. of butter per week to 400 customers?" Well, all I can say is that any man who could do that would be very welcome in this country.

As I have said, I cannot understand the position in regard to butter. I am not one of those who want to get in a rap at the Government. I have no need to do it, and the Minister knows it. I am doing my best to make things easy for the Minister, and I have told these people that, possibly, in a few weeks' time there will be plenty of butter, as there is always a shortage of butter at this time of the year, but what are you going to tell the people when the shopkeeper tells you that the only gets 126 lbs. fortnightly from the creameries to supply 400 customers?

I put it to the Minister for Agriculture on a previous occasion: can it be that some of the creamery managers think it possible to say to these shopkeepers "I can only give you so much butter this week," and then send butter surreptitiously to another district where they can get a better price for it? Could that happen? Is it possible that an unscrupulous creamery manager could load up a lorry with a certain amount of butter, and then get rid of it at a bigger price and put the profit in his pocket? I can find no other explanation. We hear a lot of talk about the black market and so on, and the activities of traders in connection with it, but I am here to defend the traders. It is not the traders' fault. I was in a shop recently where people were trying to get butter. I am only a customer myself but, being a T.D., the people thought that I could get away with it. All I am getting, however, is two pounds of butter a week, and last week the shopkeeper told me that I would be lucky to get one and a half pounds or even a pound. As far as I can see, it is almost impossible to explain that position away. The Minister says that the supplies of butter are only slightly below normal, but the fact is that the people cannot get butter.

I know families in the country, and I am not exaggerating—I am leaving out the towns now—who find it impossible to get butter. I know, for instance, of cases of men working very hard in quarries, lifting sand, who ride on their bicycles, sometimes four or five miles to their work, who have gone without butter for the last two months so that their children might have some. To the credit of these men it must be said that they reserve whatever small quantity they get for their children. I have been an eye-witness to that. I went through the mill myself, and I am sure that anyone can visualise the position of a man working hard in a quarry with only dry bread to eat.

I am not now exaggerating the position; I would be the last man in the House to do that, for political purposes or otherwise. Definitely, that is the position in regard to butter, and I suggest to the Minister that there must be something wrong and he, in consultation with the officials of the Department of Agriculture, should have a through examination of the butter position, having special regard to the time it leaves the creameries, and even before it leaves the creameries. He should see to it that the retailers of butter in our towns and villages will be able to get something approaching the quantity they require if the needs of their customers are to be met. If, as has been stated by the Minister on several occasions—and no one doubts his word—that people are entitled to half a pound of butter per week, the Government should so arrange that this supply will be given them. The situation should not be such as in the example I have given, where people did not receive even a quarter of a pound of butter. That is one of the things that has caused a great deal of criticism to be levelled against the Minister and his Department.

There is another matter that I think is creating great confusion amongst traders, and possibly it explains the lack of that co-operation that should exist in times like these between the retailers, the Department of Supplies and the consuming public. I refer to the revocation of the licences of traders whenever they are found guilty of infringing the conditions laid down when these licences are issued. I know the Minister and his Department have a very difficult duty to perform. I know they feel that everybody is out more or less to "do" the Department. But there are always exceptions to the general rule. I know a few traders in Dundalk who were fined recently for, as alleged, selling tea in a manner contrary to the regulations. When the inspectors called on those traders they had not the stocks they should have had and it is only natural to assume that the Department formed the opinion that the traders were disposing of the tea in the black market. I suppose it is only natural to assume that the traders in Border towns are inclined to deal in the black market, simply because they live along the Border.

I think it would be a grave injustice if the licences were taken from those traders. I know them personally and I am aware that one or two of them certainly would give the last ounce of tea and the last grain of sugar to people they considered in need of it, and would do without it themselves. In this case it was not a question of making money. The people who will feel most aggrieved if these licences are revoked are the customers who are dealing with these traders. The traders have not made a penny piece extra in the sale of the tea or sugar that the inspectors found was not in stock. One trader, in particular, said that he could not refuse the tea to the customers and he did not charge a penny extra for it. "I could not refuse to give it in the circumstances," he said. I think it would be a great hardship if, in addition to fining those people, their licences were revoked. It would mean that the businesses, towards the establishment of which they devoted their lives, would be crippled.

Let me make a comparison with a licensed trader. A publican who infringes the law once is fined. If he continues to do it there will be an endorsement and there might be a second and possibly a third endorsement, but he would want to be a very careless man altogether who would lose his licence. The ordinary trader, in addition to being fined heavily, is likely to lose his licence because of some technical offence. I believe that that is overdoing it and I respectfully suggest to the Minister that he should stay his hand and tell these people that if they were found guilty again of a similar offence he would have to revoke their licences.

I am not a person who would support the black market. I live near the Border and I hear a lot of talk about black marketing. I think there is nothing to justify a lot of the talk about the black market and its depredations. We hear a lot of talk about So-and-so going across the Border into Northern Ireland, but we seldom hear of the people who travel the other way. It is a matter of opinion whether the value of our imports over the Border would not be greater than our exports. I think some people should not talk too bog when they are referring to the Border.

We heard the Minister referring to the millions of gallons of petrol and the millions of gallons of fuel oil and kerosene that were brought into this country. One has not to think very hard to realise what position we would be in if these millions of gallons of oil were stopped. I can visualise many of our countrymen going out with spades to dig up the fields if we had not the tractors and the motor ploughs. I can visualise the vast amount of manual labour that would be involved in harvesting if we had not the petrol and fuel oil for the machines that now do that work. When people talk about the Border they should not forget those things. It would be well for them to recollect that we get a great many things across that are very useful to us.

With regard to the revocation of licences, I suggest that the Minister is displaying a tendency to overdo things. I was greatly surprised when I heard that this procedure was being practised, that, merely because of some technical offence in relation to tea or sugar, licences were being taken away. To add to the grievance I should like to point out that in most cases the customers of these traders have been transferred to multiple shops. The Minister must be aware that there is no such thing as credit in the multiple shops, that all transactions are ready money transactions. In contrast with that; the traders from whom these customers are transferred gave long-term credit. Many of the working-class people would be in a bad position were it not that the traders gave long-term credits. I think if the members of the Labour Party were here they could vouch for that.

In certain trade disputes that lasted for two or three months, some of the traders gave credits amounting to thousands of pounds and they had to wait for months and sometimes years before they got their money back. In some cases where traders' licences were taken the customers were transferred to multiple shops owned for the most part by people who are not citizens of this country. I think the Minister ought to be very slow in taking away the licences from these traders; especially when it was proved that the offence was of a very technical character. That was indicated by the very small fine imposed by the district justice.

I should like to refer, in passing, to the materials required by saddlers and shoemakers. There are many articles incidental to the repair of boots and, if the tariffs were taken off, a good deal of raw materials which would be very useful could be imported by the people engaged in that business. The Minister would be well advised to remove many of those tariffs which at the moment do no good and, in fact, in the present emergency, do a great deal of harm and are the means of making conditions more difficult, especially for people engaged in such trades as boot-making. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 16th April.