CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - CUSTOMS REGULATIONS AND EGG EXPORTS.

asked the Minister for Lands and Agriculture if he is aware of a regulation in force at the Saorstát Customs border post in Donegal whereby farmers are prevented from bringing more than five dozen of eggs for sale into Derry City in the one day, and, if so, if he will undertake to relax or abolish this rule so as to permit of a free exchange of trade in eggs with Derry City, having regard to the usual Customs regulations.

Under the Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act, 1924, all eggs exported from Saorstát Eireann must be tested, graded and packed in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Act and in the regulations made thereunder, upon premises registered in the Register of Exporters, and must be exported direct from the registered premises upon which they were packed.

Exceptions to this are, however—

(1) eggs sent by means of the parcel post;

(2) eggs sent in any consignment the total gross weight of which does not exceed the maximum weight for the time being allowed to be sent by parcel post.

Eggs, therefore, in any consignment weighing less than 11 lbs. (i.e., five or six dozen approximately) may be taken across the border at any time or exported by rail or boat, or sent through the parcel post.

I do not see my way to introduce any amendment of the regulations in this matter. Any relaxation of the provisions of the Act would tend to nullify the great improvement which has already been effected in the egg export trade.

Is the Minister aware that the eggs that are being taken from the Saorstát into Derry City are sold to licensed dealers under the Northern Government? The eggs are brought in by farmers' wives to Derry City and are then sold to licensed dealers.

Mr. HOGAN

I am quite sure the eggs are being sold to somebody. The Deputy asks me to remove a regulation made under the Act and allow eggs to be exported without any testing, grading or packing, in accordance with the provisions laid down. The Deputy is asking me to repeal the Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act.

Is the Minister aware that there is considerable trouble in securing observance of the law under this Act along the border?

Mr. HOGAN

I daresay there is; naturally there would be. Eggs must not be exported from the Saorstát without complying with the regulations. We make certain small exceptions. It is a rather difficult duty for the customs officers to see that the consignments of eggs which go out under these exceptions are the sort of consignments that they should allow out.

Does the Minister hold that eggs are exported when they are taken by farmers' wives into Derry City on a market day and sold to licensed dealers?

Mr. HOGAN

Eggs are exported from the Saorstát once they cross the border. For the sake of convenience we allow small packages of eggs to be exported without complying with any of the regulations. If we extend that right we will simply be repealing the Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act.

Our own people have been hit the hardest.

Can the Minister state what quantity of eggs will be allowed out without complying with the regulations?

Mr. HOGAN

Eggs sent by means of the parcel post are so allowed out. The postal regulations provide for the weight that is permitted through the medium of the parcel post. The regulations do not apply to eggs sent in any consignment the total gross weight of which does not exceed the maximum weight for the time being allowed to be sent by parcel post. About five or six dozen eggs, approximately, may be taken across the border at any time. It all depends on the weight. Six dozen large eggs would exceed the weight; six dozen small eggs would not. I should say about five dozen eggs would be the average.

Is the Minister aware that small dealers, or what are known as hucksters, are going around the country on motor lorries, buying eggs at a lower price than what eggs are sold for in Derry City, and then selling them in Derry to licensed traders?

Mr. HOGAN

Any hucksters, as Deputy White terms them, who purchase motor lorries or hire them for the sake of taking five or six dozen eggs across the border, are perfectly welcome to do so if they think they can make a profit.

These persons buy the eggs at the farmers' houses. They buy them in large quantities and then sell them to licensed traders in Derry City. That is a different question altogether.

I think it should be made a separate question.