Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Restrictive Trade Practices.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that firms enjoying a protective tariff of as much as 60 per cent. and engaged in the manufacture of copper piping are refusing to supply firms of builders' providers who are not members of the Builders' Providers' Association, and if, in view of the fact that he has in the past deplored the continuance of these restrictive practices, he will take such steps as are necessary to point out to manufacturers enjoying the benefit of high protective tariffs, that they must co-operate in implementing the express desire of the Minister to have such restrictive practices ended.

Complaints have been made to my Department that the distribution of copper piping by the manufacturers is subject to the restriction to which the Deputy has referred in the first part of his question, but the manufacturers have assured my Department that this is not so. If the Deputy will be so good as to furnish me with details of any particular cases be has in mind, I will have them investigated in consultation with the manufacturers.

With regard to the second part of the Deputy's question, I think manufacturers in general must be well aware of the attitude of the Minister for Industry and Commerce towards the whole question of restrictive practices in trade. It has already been stated in reply to questions in Dáil Éireann that a full examination was made of the extent to which such restrictive practices are being operated, and that the consideration of the measures that might be taken to deal with the matter has reached an advanced stage. I would refer the Deputy, in particular, to the answer given to a question on this subject in the Dáil on 15th March, 1951.

This matter has been referred to time and again in the Dáil and we have been told that it is under consideration. Will the Minister not agree that it is scandalous that a concern enjoying the benefit of a protective tariff of 60 per cent. should be engaged in these restrictive practices, which are contrary to public policy and which have been deplored by the Minister and his predecessor? Would a threat that the protective tariff would be examined be efficacious in this matter?

All these restrictive practices in trade and business are deplorable. They open up a very broad front and you cannot just deal with one little section of that front. without dealing with the broad front. We know that even in the professions there are restrictive practices, and, when we are all living in glasshouses, we should all be careful about throwing stones.

There are very few of us enjoying a protective tariff of 60 per cent.