Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Retail Grocery Trade.

21.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he is aware of the near monopoly situation which is at present developing in the retail grocery trade with particular reference to the recent involvement of a large British-based chain store group in this area; the steps he proposes to take to redress this situation to protect existing trades and small retail family businesses.

I do not accept that a near monopoly situation is developing in the retail grocery trade. In particular none of the existing multiple groups could be regarded as moving towards a monopoly position. The Mergers, Take-overs and Monopolies (Control) Act, 1978, enables me to exercise control over any proposed mergers or take-overs to which the Act applies and I can assure the Deputy that any proposals notified to me under that Act will be subjected to thorough investigation. I can also assure the Deputy that if a monopoly situation is ever achieved, by whatever means, I shall not hesitate to employ the powers available to me to deal with abuses under the Mergers, Takeovers and Monopolies (Control) Act, including the power to break up a monopoly.

Would the Minister of State define the word "monopoly"?

The word "monopoly" as defined under the Mergers, Takeovers and Monopolies (Control) Act, 1978, is defined as "an enterprise which supply or provide or to which is supplied or provided not less than one-half of goods or services of a particular kind supplied or provided in the State in a particular year". The relevant part is the 50 per cent.

What percentage is now being supplied by the company referred to in the question? What percentage of total retail trade is involved in this country in the light of their intention to establish six further retail outlets in the near future?

There is a separate question on that.

The question refers to a near monopoly situation.

They have 2 per cent of the overall business of the country.

That figure is very much at variance with the Minister's own figure.