Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Flour Quotas and Subsidies.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if any restrictions still exist on the quotas of flour to mills and bakeries.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will make a full statement indicating how the removal of the flour and bread subsidy will affect the operation of the milling and bakery trades, and, in particular, how the purchase of native wheat will be ensured; whether quotas will be enforced for mills or bakeries; and how competition will be assured.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 11 together.

The normal operations of the milling and bakery trades should not be affected by the removal of the flour subsidy. No change is contemplated in the machinery established under the Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Acts, 1933-1956, whereby each flour mill has assigned to it a quota expressed in terms of barrels of wheat. Each mill is required, under the Acts, to purchase each year a quantity of native wheat equal to a prescribed percentage of its quota. The Acts also prescribe certain fines or penalties for concerns which mill less than 90 per cent. or more than 100 per cent. of their quota.

Competition between mills is ensured by fixing the global quota for all mills at such a level that millers are free to produce somewhat more flour than the estimated total market requirements. In view of the decline in the consumption of flour and bread in recent years, I propose to consider carefully, in consultation with the Milling Advisory Committee, the level at which quotas should be fixed for the cereal year commencing on 1st September next.

No subsidy has been payable on bread as such, nor has any restriction been applied in regard to the purchase of home produced flour by bakeries.