Dáil Éireann - Volume 139 - 16 June, 1953

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Bonus Scheme Terms.

Mr. Rooney asked the Minister for Agriculture if he will state why he did not publish the terms of a bonus scheme announced by the British Ministry of Food to him through the daily newspapers instead of informing the executive of the Irish Live-stock Traders Association by letter setting out the bonus scale which drops each week from 6d. per lb. up to 15th June to 1½d. per lb. ceasing 13th July next.

Mr. Walsh: No general announcement was made, as the bonus arrangement in question is a provisional one subject to review and is of limited application only. As I indicated in reply to the Deputy's question on 7th May, an announcement will be made in due course, following completion of the proposed new annex to the 1948 Trade Agreement, regarding the prices for live stock and meat exported to Britain.

Mr. Dillon: Is it conceivably possible that dealers and meat packers have been getting a bonus of 6d. per lb. on lamb since the 8th of June, that farmers who were selling their lambs at the fairs for the last fortnight were not aware of it and have, consequently, sold their lambs £1 cheaper?

Mr. Walsh: The Deputy should not be displaying so much ignorance with regard to agriculture.

Mr. Sweetman: That is an ignorant remark from an ignorant little man.

Mr. Dillon: I want to ask this question. Is it true that, as from the 8th June, anyone who sent a lamb dead or alive to London got the current price, plus a bonus of 6d. per lb.? Is [1262] it true that that information was furnished to the live-stock exporters and to the packers? Is it true that they put men out buying lambs on the fairs and in the fields from farmers who had no knowledge of that bonus and, consequently, sold their lambs £1 cheaper? There is about 40 lb. of meat to the lamb and 6d. per lb. was being paid in respect of that lamb meat in London, and no farmer in Ireland had any knowledge of it.

Mr. Walsh: Of course the farmers have knowledge of it.

Mr. Dillon: They had not. Every packer and dealer in Ireland had knowledge of it. I know one packer who had ten men out buying lambs for the last ten days and I did not know what he was up to. I only found out to-day what he knew and what I did not know. He knew what small farmers down the country did not know when he was coming to take the lambs off their land. If I do not get an opportunity of discussing this matter on the Estimate I will ask leave to raise it on the Adjournment. It is really beastly and scandalous.

General Mulcahy: Would the Minister say for what reasons no Government announcement was made on this matter?

Mr. Walsh: There was no Government announcement made on this matter; no announcement was published in the papers. The farmers knew it, the meat packers knew it and the shippers knew it.

Mr. Dillon: How did they know it?

Mr. Walsh: It is reflected in the prices at the fairs.

Mr. Dillon: Go to blazes.

Mr. Sweetman: He just wanted to tip the wink to his pals.

Mr. Walsh: It was not this year or last year but every year the farmers knew.

Mr. Dillon: The 6d. bonus was given?

Mr. Walsh: Yes.

Mr. Sweetman: It is a disgrace.

[1263] An Ceann Comhairle: To ask the Minister for Agriculture to go to blazes is surely unparliamentary and should be withdrawn.

Mr. Dillon: If it is unparliamentary, I have not the slightest hesitation in withdrawing it.

Mr. Walsh: That is what you would expect from the Deputy.

Mr. Dillon: The expression “go to blazes” will not hurt anybody. The Minister is getting very tender and delicate.