Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bread Prices.

70.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will enforce the Bread Prices Order to control the weight of the sliced and wrapped loaf at the point of sale, as is done in the case of other packaged goods.

71.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware that sliced and wrapped bread in the Cork area is being sold at the controlled price, but is 4 to 5 oz per loaf underweight; and the action he proposes to take in the matter to protect the housewife.

72.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will clarify the Bread Prices Order in relation to the weight of the loaf of bread sold to the housewife.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 70, 71 and 72 together.

I am aware that lightweight bread is to some extent on sale. The position under the Maximum Prices (Bread) (No. 2) Order, 1974 is that a retailer, and this includes a baker selling bread from door-to-door or from his own retail outlet, can be prosecuted for selling underweight bread. Inspections are currently being carried out by prices inspectors with a view to appropriate action being taken where infringements of the order are detected.

Would the Minister agree that the tabling of these questions inspired him to introduce the Maximum Prices (Bread) (No. 2) Order in order to eliminate the anomalies created by the (Bread) (No. 1) Order and is he aware that in Cork—I can only speak for Cork—a very large amount of money has been paid for non-existent bread, for underweight bread, and that but for the introduction of the Maximum Prices (Bread) (No. 2) Order the cost to the housewives of Cork in a year would be about £351,000? That would be for bread that never existed.

I have no way of knowing the validity of the figures the Deputy has quoted and I cannot comment on them. The inspections which first brought to light the short weight both in Cork and in Limerick took place some weeks before the Deputy's questions. When I say that, I would also say that a question of this kind serves a very useful purpose and I am glad the Deputy put it down. What has been revealed, without going into detail or naming names, which would be improper in this place, is that some bakeries are behaving correctly and impeccably and I do not want the impression to be given that all of the bakeries either of Cork or Limerick are behaving improperly. On the other hand, some are and we are anxious to use the law to the full, we are anxious to protect the public to the full. Undoubtedly an abuse has been occurring. I am happy that I have been given the opportunity by the Deputy's question to say this in public and I would be very happy to receive such information from other parts of the country if such abuse is taking place and to use the full weight of the law to end it.

Mr. G. FitzGerald

I fully agree with the Minister that only some bakeries are doing this. That is one of the reasons for my questions. I am speaking in the interests of the honest people and there was some inflation of prices as a result of this naturally. Can we now take it that as a result of the Price Control order applying at point of sale inspectors will be in a position to and will examine the bread at point of sale? They were debarred from that under Order No. 1.

Such inspections are currently being carried out by prices inspectors with a view to appropriate action being taken where infringements of the order are detected.