asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in view of a decision at a recent meeting of the tea wholesalers' association and of the availability of supplies of cheaper tea, he is now prepared to allow tea imports from any source.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tea Imports.
The question with which the Wholesale Tea Dealers' Association were concerned was whether imports of tea from the countries of origin should be made through a central purchasing organisation or by individual merchants. The views they conveyed to me are under consideration. I had informed the association that they must proceed on the assumption that it would continue to be the policy to obtain our supplies of tea directly from countries of origin and I am not prepared to depart from that policy. I do not accept the Deputy's suggestion that supplies of cheaper tea would be available if imports from any source were to be permitted.
Is it not a fact that it is possible to get cheaper tea at the moment in Britain than is available here—cheaper by as much as 1/2 per lb.?
It is not possible to import tea into Great Britain at the moment cheaper than it is possible to import it here.
If that is so, how is it possible to get tea in Britain substantially cheaper than it is available here?
One of the reasons is the 7,000,000 lb. of tea which I found in stock when I came into office.
That stock has been liquidated.
Then there was stockpiling. We were told there was none.
Was it unwise to have a stock of tea in case of emergency? I am glad the Minister for Finance has again committed himself to a foolish statement.
There was not an emergency.