Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Prices of Hides.

16.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if the improvement in the quality of hides as a result of the eradication of warbles has been reflected in increased prices for hides.

The prices obtainable for Irish hides are ruled entirely by prices on the export market. Clean hides naturally fetch better prices than warbled hides and my information is that the present price margin in favour of clean hides ranges from 1½d to 4¼d per lb.

Is it a fact that the present price for hides is approximately half what it was about two years ago? Would the Minister mind looking into this to see if there is any reason, other than competition, why this should be so because there are large numbers of people quite perturbed about the fact; they took the Minister's advice, eradicated the warbles and are now getting half the price for hides.

That is the typical Fine Gael approach. There is no doubt about it. This is the negative sort of thing we get from Fine Gael on all sides, at all times.

Is it not the truth?

Is not the inference to be drawn from that stupid statement that it pays better to have warble fly affected hides than clean hides?

You proved to be the most stupid Minister.

Can the Minister not answer a civil question?

I can and I do, but I will not answer a question with an implication such as that.

There is no implication except what the Minister reads into the question. If the Minister will listen——

I have listened.

I have told the Minister that the price of hides has dropped to half and have asked him to say if there is any other reason besides competition as to why that is so. The people have been disappointed, having gone to the trouble, that this is the result. I know only too well that this was a worthwhile scheme.

I am delighted to hear that that is the view. In so far as the price of hides is concerned, as I have already said in reply to the question, it is entirely ruled by the prices for hides on other markets. Up to May, 1966, the price of hides continued to rise to a very high level indeed. Since then, the price has been dropping and is at a low level at the moment but, again, is related to and reflected in the price obtaining on international markets.

I am suggesting to the Minister that this is not the total cause and am asking him to investigate it. That is the reason for putting down the question.

If the Deputy has any information to back up his assertion, I would be very glad to have it.