Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Withholding of Creamery Subsidy.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state (i) whether in 1944 subsidies were withheld from the Mitchelstown Creameries for coming to an arrangement with the Garryspillane Co-operative Creamery, County Limerick; (ii) the reason for this action; (iii) the amount, if any, of the subsidies involved, and (iv) the time for which they were withheld.

The events to which the Deputy refers took place in the year 1945. In that year the Mitchelstown and Garryspillane Societies decided to amalgamate, despite the fact that they were warned that the Minister for Agriculture was not prepared to give his consent or to grant the necessary licence under the Creamery Act, 1928. Having regard to the attitude of the two societies, the Minister decided to withhold production allowance on butter from the newly amalgamated society. Subsequently, the societies decided to split up again, and Garryspillane reverted to its former position as an independent creamery. Production allowance was withheld during the period from June, 1945, to January, 1946, and amounted to £18,240; it was ultimately paid when the two societies were again registered as separate societies under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts.

Is not the Minister aware that that agreement was a constitutional and legal agreement, and that it was under threat of retrospective legislation made by his predecessor, Dr. Ryan, that the agreement was broken? Would the Minister be prepared favourably to regard this agreement if it is arrived at again?

That aspect of the question has not received my consideration to date, but I am bound to say to the Deputy that, in principle, I do not approve of the expansion of co-operative societies to cover very wide areas of country and that, therefore, unless some very exceptional circumstance exists in respect of this proposed amalgamation, on general principle, I would be opposed to it.

asked the Minister for Agriculture whether any application for an export licence was made by the Mitchelstown Creameries to export cheese in 1946 and 1947.

No such application was made in 1946. During the year 1947 an inquiry in general terms was made by Mitchelstown Creameries as to whether licences for the export of cheese would be granted. The society was informed that the Minister was not prepared to grant licences.

Is the Minister aware that approximately 500 tons of cheese would have to be buried but for the advent of the inter-Party Government?

I understand that it is true that but for the fact that a licence to export cheese during 1948 was made available, Mitchelstown Creamery might have suffered serious loss. Fortunately, it was possible to afford them the opportunity of avoiding that loss and of selling the cheese at a remunerative price.