Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Price of Bread.

32.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether, further to his statement on 6th December last that he had not yet completed his investigation into the rise in the price of bread, he will state whether he has now completed this investigation; and, if so, what were its results.

33.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce whether he is aware that, since his statement on 6th December last on the subject of the rise in the price of bread, yet another increase in the price of bread has occurred; and if in view of the fact that such increases in the price of an essential foodstuff cause great hardship to the lower income groups he will hold a public inquiry into these increases.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 33 together.

The investigations which I have made have satisfied me that the recent increases in the price of bread were accounted for by increases in costs, particularly in the cost of labour. I do not consider that a public inquiry is necessary.

Again, the Minister may be satisfied in his own judgement, but to allay public anxiety about the three or four increases in the price of bread in the past two years, does he not think that in the public interest, it is desirable to have a public inquiry into the recent increases?

The Deputy ought to be aware that the major cause of one of the recent increases was an increase in wages rates. That increase, according to my examination, discloses that it costs in respect of a sack of flour baked by a baker, 9/6½d. The increase effected as a result of the three farthings per loaf is 10/3d.

Those figures are all right. Everybody knows that the cost of labour has gone up. What the public want to know is whether or not the increase in bread prices is justified in relation to the increase in labour costs.

A public inquiry will produce no more than the figures I have disclosed.

Let the increase be related to the increase in labour.

In view of the Minister's refusal to hold a public inquiry into either insurance rates or into the price of bread, does he not think it is time to repeal the Prices Act? That is a complete fraud. It has not been used at all since it was enacted and it is only cluttering up the Statute Book.