CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. ORAL ANSWERS. - PRICES OF FLOUR AND BREAD.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that flour prices have fallen considerably during the past three months, and quotations ruling at present are 42/- per sack; whether, as bakers are buying much lower than this figure at contract rates, as 94 loaves are baked from each sack of flour of 280lbs., and as the price of the 4lb. loaf to the consumer still remains as high as 11d. (delivered, or over counter) in many parts of the Saorstát, he will request the Master Bakers' Association to give an explanation for these apparently excessive charges to the consumer.

The prices of flour have tended to fall somewhat during the last three months, but according to my information the price quoted in the question is less than that at which the master bakers generally are able to obtain supplies. A substantial alteration in the price of flour, maintained for some time, is necessary to justify an alteration in the price of bread, and I do not consider that at the present moment a prima facie case exists of excessive charging against the master bakers. My Department will, however, continue to watch the price of bread in relation to the price of flour.

Arising out of the answer, in view of the findings of the Tribunal on Prices to the effect that excessive profit must have accrued to the master bakers in the Saorstát for the years 1926-27, owing to the decline in flour prices not being reflected quickly enough in the price of the loaf, and also that they were satisfied that there was urgent need for the early intervention on the part of the proposed Prices Board, will the Parliamentary Secretary say whether it is the intention of the Minister to set up such a Board in the near future?

The report of the Tribunal on Prices in relation to this matter pointed out that the reduction in the price of bread would necessarily lag behind the reduction in the price of flour owing to the fact that certain large stocks were in hand.

Do I understand that the Minister is satisfied with the price of bread at the present moment in relation to the price of flour?

It is not a question of whether I am satisfied with the price of bread in relation to the price of flour. The facts are as stated in my answer, that any alteration that takes place in the price of flour is a matter that is being watched by my Department, and it will continue to receive our attention. If there is a substantial reduction in the price of flour, which in our opinion ought to reduce the price of bread, we will take the necessary steps.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that it is not a question of whether he is satisfied or not, but is it not desirable that further consideration should be given to the recommendations of the Tribunal on Prices, that a permanent body should be set up to study prices and to make recommendations to the Minister?

That is a matter that is receiving the attention of the Department at the present time. It is receiving my personal consideration.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is aware that there has been a considerable reduction in the price of flour in the London market in the past few weeks?

I wish to give notice that I will raise this matter of the price of bread on the adjournment.

I take it that what Deputy Hennessy proposes to raise is the price of bread in relation to the price of flour, and to ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he can take any action in the matter?

I propose to raise the whole question of the price of flour in relation to the price of the loaf, and the recommendations of the Tribunal on Prices to set up a Prices Board to deal not only with the question of the price of flour but of all necessaries.

I would like to know whether we can have a vote on this question by resisting the motion for the adjournment?