Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Egg Prices.

asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware that poultry flock owners received 1/6 per dozen for eggs sold by them on the 11th February; that the average price paid by wholesalers to egg merchants at the same time was 1/9 per dozen and that consumers were at that time paying 3/6 per dozen for eggs purchased from retailers; and, if so, if he will state what steps he intends to take to prevent in future the exploitation of both producer and consumer.

Mr. Walsh

I am aware that a price of 1/6 per dozen for eggs was paid to producers in certain districts on the 11th February, but the price has improved since that date with a stronger demand for eggs in Britain. I presume by the expression "egg merchants" the Deputy means registered egg dealers. I am not aware that the egg dealers who paid 1/6 per dozen received 1/9 per dozen from the wholesalers. I would consider a dealer's margin of 3d. per dozen excessive, and if the Deputy will be good enough to send me full particulars of any cases in which that margin was taken, I will have them investigated.

I do not accept the statement that consumers in general were paying as much as 3/6 per dozen for eggs at the time to which the Deputy refers. My information is that eggs were then selling in Dublin shops at as low as 2/3 per dozen.

Mr. Walsh

As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Deputy Thomas F. O'Higgins on the 11th February.

I can assure the Minister that in Dublin they were paying 2/6 and 3/9.

Nonsense.

If the Minister is not aware, will he make inquiries as to whether or not egg producers on the borders of his own constituency and Laoighis were paid as little as 1/3 per dozen last week? Will the Minister not agree that this is the result of his action in wiping out Eggsports?

Mr. Walsh

Eggsports have nothing to do with it, except in the mind of the Deputy. Ask Deputy Dillon.

I would like to ask the Minister this. Inasmuch as he himself declared that the egg producers of this country were being exploited, what steps did he take or is he taking to prevent that exploitation?

Mr. Walsh

The price has improved.

Go and tell them that.

Make inquiries among them.