Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drink Prices.

24.

asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy the wholesale delivered price of: a can of coke, a public bar bottle of drink mixer and a 25 fl. ozs. supermarket bottle of soft drink, if he is aware that these are being retailed in some instances to the public at 25 pence, 18 pence and 36 pence respectively, and if he will introduce effective retail price control in this area.

The manufacturers' prices for the products mentioned by the Deputy, in so far as they are available for certain brands, are confidential to my Department as they are received in conjunction with price increase applications. Because of the number of different wholesalers and types of wholesale outlet through which these products might pass, and, in the case of the drink mixer and large size soft drink, the variety of brands available, it is not possible to give one specific wholesale delivered price for each of the products.

I understand that the National Prices Commission will be examining the question of statutory retail price control for soft drinks in the near future. In the meanwhile, however, if the Deputy would care to give full particulars, the prices inspectorate will investigate any case of suspected overcharging.

Would the Minister expedite the examination by the NPC of the soft drinks trade? When compared with known wholesale list prices, the retail prices charged for soft drinks are outrageous and are nothing less than a massive rip-off of the consumer.

This is argument. The Deputy should ask the question in the shortest possible form.

The wholesale price of a can of coke is 12p or 13p. Would not the Minister agree that it is outrageous to charge 25p or 28p for the same item?

In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, the Deputy will be delighted to hear that discussions on this matter are going on at this time within the NPC.