Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cream Sales.

12.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will consider making arrangements to have responsibility for cream sales and exports transferred to An Bord Bainne.

Responsibility for the sale of cream on the export market has been assigned to An Bord Bainne since 1964.

Are we to understand that the allegations contained in current Press reports that the sale of fresh cream is still in the hands of the old Cream Exporters Association are mistaken and that the Cream Exporters Association has been wound up and its affairs transferred to An Bord Bainne?

Under the Dairy Produce (Marketing) Act of 1961, the Minister assigned to An Bord Bainne with effect as from 1st March, 1964, the function of exporting cream. That is the actual situation.

Surely the Minister is aware that there has been in existence, with the approval of the Ministers for Agriculture, an association of creameries with a committee which have functioned as the sole exporters of fresh cream from this country to Great Britain? As far as I am aware, that body continued to function until the very recent past and An Bord Bainne did not concern itself with the export of fresh cream. It has been alleged in public that this is the reason why our producers have failed to retain their fair share of an expanding market for fresh cream in Great Britain. Has the Minister's attention been directed recently to this?

The actual answer to the question is that there is a longer story connected with this and perhaps another question on the lines suggested by the Deputy in his supplementaries might be put down and then I shall give the full information. The reply to the question here is, as I have said, that the responsibility has rested with An Bord Bainne since 1964.

I am sure the Minister does not wish in any way to mislead us but is it not a fact that whatever responsibilities may have been placed on An Bord Bainne, An Bord Bainne have, in fact, delegated to this existing body the function of handling cream exports? Surely the tenor of this question is really designed to elicit from the Minister a statement of policy as to whether he regards the continued delegation of these powers as a desirable user of the general responsibility with which An Bord Bainne is charged?

The fact is that I have given the reply to the question as asked by Deputy Clinton which was whether I would consider making arrangements for responsibility for cream sales and exports to be transferred to An Bord Bainne. The factual position is that since 1964 this has been the case. The allegation is a matter that I feel would be much more explicitly dealt with here by way of a reply if a question on those lines were to be put down next week or some other time.

I take it that if the Minister is asked if he is aware of this delegation by An Bord Bainne and if he will make a statement on it, he will feel free to deal more comprehensively and, perhaps, less disingenuously with the matter?

This is a matter of opinion which we can only get around to after the event. Yes, I would welcome such a question.