asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of his statement that the recent importation of timber by direct steamer from Russia was necessitated by the fact that similar kinds of timber were not in stock, he will state if he satisfied himself that the kind of timber imported on the occasion under review was absolutely essential, as reliable assertions have been made that Finnish and Swedish timbers of comparable varieties and qualities are available.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Importation of Timber.
No imports of Russian timber have taken place for several months. As regards such imports, my information is that essential timber of the same kind could not have been bought as cheaply in any alternative market. It was on that basis which accorded with a direction given by our predecessors, that exchange control approval for the payments issued.
In relation to the direction to which I have referred, I feel that the Deputy will be interested in the fact that inJune, 1948, when the then Minister for Finance, Deputy McGilligan, sought a direction from the Coalition Government as to whether, as a matter of policy, purchases should be made from Czechoslovakia, it was decided that purchases should be made in the cheapest market, whether or not these be in Communist countries. Similarly, when the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, sought a further direction as to whether, in view of its Communist affiliation, food should be sold to Czechoslovakia, the Coalition Government decided in the affirmative.
In connection with all this I should, perhaps, remind the Deputy that under the Communist régime His Grace the Archbishop of Prague, which is the capital of Czechoslovakia, would appear to have been forcibly deported from his see and that his fate is unknown. Furthermore, I would add that, though I have been unable to find any evidence that the Deputy raised these matters when our immediate predecessors allocated currency to the extent of £200,000 for the purchase of timber from Russia, nevertheless should he require any further enlightenment on this issue I shall gladly hold myself at his disposal.
Will the Minister tell us where is the new country that he mentioned? Perhaps he may be able to get some help from the Minister for Justice.
Ask your neighbour. He will tell you all about it.
You were there.
So was he.
I was not.
That happens to be untrue.
Would the Minister tell us about the jewels and who bought them?
Order! Deputy Flanagan.
May I ask the Minister for Finance if the records in the Department of Industry and Commerce and in the Department of Finance vouch for the fact that this timber was imported from Russia as a result of correspondence received from colleagues of the Minister for Justice in Russia?
Question No. 27.