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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 1 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 3

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Supply of Drinking Glasses.


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state in respect of each of the last five years the quantity of common drinking glasses manufactured in Ireland.


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if having regard to the immense difficulties being experienced by the hardware trade in obtaining from Irish manufacturers sufficient supplies of common drinking glasses and the acknowledged inability of the manufacturers to produce such glasses in adequate quantities, he will now issue duty free licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 43 together.

There are only two firms manufacturing common drinking glasses here and I cannot indicate the quantity manufactured as this would disclose information about the output of individual firms.

I am aware that some difficulties were experienced towards the end of last year with regard to the supply of glasses from the two Irish firms. The problems involved were discussed with the customers and I understand that the supply position has since improved. I could not agree to the grant of licences for the importation, free of duty, of drinking glasses as I am satisfied that the grant of these facilities could jeopardise the employment of the workers engaged in this industry.

Does the Minister recall that about 18 months ago I asked questions similar to these as a result of which I received similar replies? Subsequently the necessary licences were given for the importation of glassware. Would the Minister consider doing the same on this occasion particularly in view of the fact that, contrary to the information which the Minister has given the House, in the months of January, February, March and April of this year the Irish manufacturers have informed the hardware traders that they were unable to fulfil the orders placed with them by the traders and that throughout most of last year hardware traders received notices from the same manufacturers saying they could not fulfil their orders? Notwithstanding these repeated notifications of inability to fulfil orders for common drinking glasses the Minister persisted in refusing to give duty free import licences although the Irish manufacturers admitted on their own notepaper that they were unable to fulfil the orders.

The information available to the Minister is that the position has improved and that the wholesalers appreciate the position. It was not a clear cut position but a fluid trading position. Steps are being taken to improve the position further. In view of information available to the Minister for Industry and Commerce from the trade and manufacturers he decided that he would not be justified in granting these duty free licences.

Am I right in saying that the Department of Industry and Commerce recently received a memorandum from the Hardware Traders' Associations, or one of them, setting out the difficulties? If he has not got it, the Minister can expect to receive it in the near future. Could I urge the Minister to make further inquiries, and I think he will find that what I say is true and, having regard to the anticipated requirements over the next six or eight months, particularly in relation to the Christmas trade which must be planned for now, would the Minister issue the licences if the manufacturers are unable to give a specific guarantee to manufacture all quantities required between now and next September or October?

I gather the matter is a question of the tempo with which the orders were placed with the home firms and also a question of the competition with importing firms. The information available here to me is that with the duty on them the balance of competition seems to be about right. Giving duty free licences would upset the balance and certainly interfere with employment.

Would the Minister now consider giving a duty free licence in any particular case where the wholesaler produces a letter from the manufacturer saying that the manufacturer is unable to fulfil the orders? If a manufacturer rejects an order placed I would urge that in such a case a duty free licence should be given. That would be one way of encouraging manufacturers to build up supplies.

As I said, the decision taken by the Minister was taken with all the information available to him that he could gather from the trade and from the manufacturers. I will bring the suggestions to the Minister's notice.