asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, if he is aware that the cost of magazines, books and periodicals imported into Ireland from Britain is approximately 50 per cent higher here than in Britain; if he considers that this extra cost is excessive in view of the fact that there is a 10 per cent VAT charge and that even allowing for the rate of exchange between the IR£ and sterling this margin is far too high; if he has had this matter investigated; if so, if he will outline the results of his investigations; and the action, if any, he proposes to alleviate the problem.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Literature Import Costs.
I am aware that the price of magazines, books and periodicals imported into Ireland from Britain is higher here than in Britain, because of the appreciation in value of sterling and the 10 per cent VAT on such products.
A rate of surcharge, which is adjusted each month, is imposed in agreement with the National Prices Commission. The rapid appreciation of sterling has necessitated an addition to the amount of surcharge warranted by current exchange rates in order to recoup losses already incurred by importers on the operation of the surcharge. The National Prices Commission are carrying out a detailed examination into the present system of levying the surcharge and I am expecting their report on the matter shortly.
When does the Minister expect this report will be available to him?
I am expecting the report in the very near future. I should like to add that the 50 per cent to which the Deputy referred in his question is not factual; it is much nearer 21 per cent. The Deputy has compared the price in sterling with that in Irish pounds. That is why the question is inaccurate.
When did the National Prices Commission initiate this report? What was the date on which they commenced this investigation?
All of this surcharge is an ongoing thing.
Do I take it that the investigation was commenced when this question was put down? Would that not be a more factual admission on the part of the Minister? Can the Minister give me a date?
The question put down was not accurate—it stated 50 per cent which is way out.
I cannot allow a debate on this matter.
I am asking a legitimate supplementary.
A straight, simple question please.
When did the National Prices Commission initiate the investigation to which the Minister referred?
That was way back. It is an ongoing situation anyway.
Can the Minister give me a date? The Minister is now awaiting the result of this investigation——
This is totally disorderly.
I am awaiting their report, yes.
How many reports has the Minister got?
On the occasion of every increase sought there is a report.
If the Minister would not mind, he is replying to disorderly questions.
They are not disorderly.
They are disorderly if I do not call the Deputy. Deputy Keating.
In view of the fact that the Minister indicated that the National Prices Commission monthly report agrees with the imposition of a surcharge to take account of the difference between sterling and the IR£, do I take it that the surcharge manages now and again to reduce the price of such magazines? When, therefore, did the last reduction happen to take account of the fluctuation in the value of the IR£?
It takes place almost every time there is a fluctuation in currencies. This is an ongoing thing. It is not something in regard to which one can say emphatically "yes" or "no".
My point simply is this: if the fluctuation relates to the rise and fall of sterling is it not reasonable then to conclude that the prices sometimes fall? When last did they fall?
I have not got that precisely now.
Then I would suggest to the Minister that it is a lot of nonsense, that the prices never came down on even one occasion and that he knows that as well as I do.
Question No. 6.