asked the Minister for Finance whether contracts for mail bag cloth, cotton and union drills have recently been placed by the Contract Board with manufacturers outside the Saorstát; whether Irish manufacturers also tendered, and will the Minister give the reasons which actuated the Contract Board in this matter.

Contracts for the supply of

(a) canvas for making mail bags,

(b) light cotton, and

(c) heavy cotton

have recently been placed by the Government Contracts Committee with manufacturers outside the Saorstát. In the case of the first two named contracts, tenders were received from Saorstát firms, but as the prices quoted were so much in excess of those offered by the non-Saorstát firms, the Committee had no option but to award the contracts to the latter. No Saorstát firm tendered for the contract for the supply of heavy cotton.

Could the Minister inform us what was the difference between the prices?

I will mention one case—35 per cent.

Could the Minister say what preference, if any, is given to Irish manufacturers?

It would not be desirable to state exactly what preference is given, but a substantial preference is given. If we stated the exact amount tenders would not be put in which would require less than that margin.