asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the total tonnage and value of South African fruit and vegetables for which licences have been issued for importation into this country since October 1986; the number of licences issued; the persons or firms to which each licence was issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - South African Imports.
An import licence was issued to one firm for a total of 1,815 tonnes of oranges and lemons for the period 1 October to 31 December 1986. Information regarding the value is not available in my Department. The licence was issued because the firm concerned met the conditions laid down for the granting of licences during the period mentioned.
It is not normal practice to issue information with respect to the commercial activities of individual firms.
In view of the fact that the relevant regulations were introduced at the end of a very long and singularly commendable struggle by the employees on strike in Dunnes Stores, will the Minister say whether his Department have any means of policing the regulations to ensure that no companies in this country are seeking to circumvent those regulations? Information to hand would suggest there are many more companies than the one the Minister has indicated bringing in foodstuffs under different labels and indications of country of origin, companies that are in flagrant breach of the spirit of the resolution passed by the previous Government?
I would remind the Deputy that from 1 January 1987 licences could be issued only where the Minister was satisfied that the system under which prisoners or parolees are sent to serve their sentences working on privately-owned farms had ceased to operate in South Africa. This condition could not be met. Therefore, in effect, it constituted a ban on such imports from 1 January 1987.
Has the Minister or his Department any form of active policing to ensure that not only the spirit but the actual letter of the regulations are fully implemented as far as this country is concerned? Will the Minister indicate whether his Department have any intention of extending the area of food sanctions against imports from South Africa? Furthermore, will he agree that his Department are severely restricted, by reason of our membership of the EC and the rules imposed by the EC, in terms of our imposing sanctions as an independent State against South Africa?
The Department of Agriculture and Food who have been monitoring the position are not aware of any breaches of the ban the Deputy has mentioned. Customs and Excise authorities are responsible for ensuring that the ban is enforced.
I take it, then, that the Department have no means of policing of their own but rather must rely on another agency to advise them?
The Department of Agriculture and Food are dependent on Customs and Excise authorities and on the Department of Foreign Affairs for information in this regard.
Question No. 16.
A Cheann Comhairle, this is a rather important aspect in view of the fine gesture by the young people, the employees, of Dunnes Stores. It is important for all of us that these regulations are seen to be working——
Has the Deputy a question?
I had asked the Minister if he would comment on whether his Government have any proposal to extend the method of sanction against imports of other foodstuffs or produce from South Africa, if he has such plans and to what extent he or his Department are impeded by reason of rule from Brussels?
That is a separate question.
I asked for a statement on the matter.
I am calling Question No. 16.