asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the number of fully assembled motor cars imported into Ireland last year; and the number assembled in Ireland in the same period.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Car Assembly Industry.
The number of new motor cars imported in fully assembled condition in 1968 was 5,067. Approximately 49,500 motor cars were assembled locally in that year.
As I indicated in reply to a question by the Deputy on 6th February last, facilities for the importation of built-up vehicles, at reduced duty rates, are being afforded in return for assurances by the firms concerned as to the maintenance of the assembly industry on a long-term basis.
Has the Minister any figures for previous years?
No, but I can tell the Deputy that the number assembled here last year was the highest ever. There was an increase of 13 per cent on the numbers assembled in 1965, which is the base year.
Has the Minister any figures for the importation of fully assembled cars?
No, I have not.
How did the figures for last year compare with those for the previous year?
I could not say, offhand.
Would there be an increase of 50 per cent?
I would not be able to say, offhand. The figure I have given is similar to the percentage which I gave the Deputy some time ago. The imports represent about ten per cent of the amount assembled.
The Minister will admit that there is a large increase in the number of cars which are imported in a fully-assembled condition?
It is to be expected that there would be a substantial increase when we provide facilities for this. The real question is whether there is a reduction in the scale of operation of our own assembly industry. As I have indicated to the Deputy, the scale of operation is higher than it ever was. There was an increase of 13 per cent last year.
The Minister mentioned conditions in respect of licences issued to car assemblers. Perhaps the Minister will tell us whether these conditions have been fulfilled in every case, and whether he has any figures in regard to the numbers imported in the motor assembly industry in this country compared with figures for the previous year?
With regard to the second part of the question, I must say that I do not have the figures here to answer it. I understand the figures have increased over those of the previous year. I do not quite understand the first part of the supplementary question which refers to conditions to be complied with.
The Minister said that certain licences were given for the importation of cars to certain assemblers in this country provided they did certain things.
The basis of the agreement was that they would maintain the assembly industry on a long-term basis in relation to the base year, which was 1965.
So the Minister is saying, in fact, that the Irish Free Trade Agreement has had no effect yet on the numbers employed in the motor car assembly industry?
It has not, but the Deputy will appreciate that this agreement that we arrived at is outside the terms of the Free Trade Area Agreement, in fact.
Will that have any bearing on the situation?
Will which have any bearing?
The Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area Agreement.
May I explain to the Deputy that the agreement which was concluded in relation to the motor assembly industry was especially concluded outside and was in substitution for what would have been the relevant provisions of the Free Trade Area Agreement.
The remaining Questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.
Will the Minister for Industry and Commerce not finish his questions, Sir, there are only a few.
I do not mind.