Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Customs Duties.—Boots and Shoes.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, with reference to the Customs Duties (Boots and Shoes) (Provisional Variations) Order, 1932, he will state (1) the number of the Saorstát firms engaged in the manufacture of the protected articles, the amount of capital invested therein, the number of persons employed therein and the value of their annual production; (2) the relative costs of production here and in Great Britain; (3) the cost of labour and rates of wages in this industry in the Saorstát as compared with such cost and rates in Great Britain; (4) the increase, expected to result from the Order, in the number of firms engaging in the industry, in the invested capital, in the employment given, and in annual output; (5) to what extent consumers of the articles protected by the Order can have their requirements met by home manufacturers; (6) what benefit is expected to accrue to the revenue of the Saorstát from the new duties; and (7) if any application for aid, other than the tariff, has been made to him by any of the firms now engaged in the industry, or by any person or firm proposing to engage in the industry.

There are nine factories in the Saorstát engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes in addition to a large number of smaller firms making boots and shoes by hand. No information is available as to the amount of capital invested in this industry. The number of persons employed in the nine factories referred to in 1929 was 729 (as at February 16th), 1,026 (as at August 24th), and 1,080 (as at November 16th), and the value of the annual production in the year 1929 was £339,197. The number employed as at 1st September, 1931, was 1,205. The rates of wages paid in this industry are approximately the same as in Great Britain.

It will necessarily be some time before the probable rate and extent of expansion in this industry as a result of the Order can be accurately stated. For the same reason, it is difficult at this stage to estimate the benefit to the revenue of the Saorstát from the new duties. I am of opinion, however, that the proportion of Saorstát requirements supplied by the home manufacturers will rapidly increase.

No application has been made to me for aid, other than the tariff, by way of the firms now engaged in the industry or by any person or firm proposing to engage in the industry.