asked the Minister for Labour if he is concerned about the continued uncertainty of employment in the footwear and textile industry; and if the necessary steps will be taken to preserve the continuity of employment.
Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers. - Footwear and Textile Industry.
The Government as a whole are concerned about the employment situation in these industries. I am aware that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who has primary responsibility in this area, has been doing everything possible to preserve employment in the industries.
After persistent pressure on the EEC Commission, the Minister for Industry and Commerce secured protective measures for the footwear industry against low cost imports from third countries. A condition of the grant of protection was that Ireland would produce a rationalisation plan for the industry and the Minister has had such a plan prepared. The Dumping Commission are currently investigating allegations of dumping.
In the case of the clothing and textile industry, the Minister for Industry and Commerce has secured, through the EEC, restraints on imports of shirts from Korea. Ireland was the first member state to invoke the EEC emergency procedures for this problem. The Minister maintains quota restrictions against imports from 16 low cost countries and his Department participated in discussions which resulted in agreements between the EEC and certain third countries to regulate trade in clothing and footwear. Following an investigation by the Dumping Commission, the Minister imposed anti-dumping duties on certain clothing imports.
Would the Minister accept that the limited steps taken by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this regard were taken rather too late——
——and that he resisted efforts from this side of the House far too long and let so many workers become unemployed? Regarding the footwear industry, could the Minister be more specific regarding the restrictions now imposed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce?
I am afraid I do not have data about those. A question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce would elicit the data.
Would the Minister comment on the effectiveness of the efforts of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to the footwear industry, particularly in view of the fact that the imports for this year will be higher than the total home consumption?
The record shows that the Minister for Industry and Commerce is consistently and continuously concerned about this problem. He has made no less than five approaches to the Commission seeking protective measures, and his concern about this is a continuing one.
Could I ask the Minister——
This must be a final supplementary.
——whether he proposes the introduction of an import deposit scheme in the footwear and textile sector similar to that operated by the Italian authorities over a wide area of trade?
There may be difficulties about such a scheme, but I shall certainly see that the Deputy's suggestion is brought to the attention of the relevant Minister.
One final supplementary. In view of the fact that the British are considering at the moment imposing import duties on imports from low cost countries, could the Minister state if the Minister for Industry and Commerce has had a consultation with the British Government or if he is aware of what the British Government propose to do in regard to this matter?
Again, a question to the Minister for Industry and Commerce would be appropriate here. I am answering questions on behalf of the Minister for Labour in an area which partly overlaps and I have given the Deputies such information as I have.