Dáil Éireann - Volume 277 - 06 February, 1975

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Petrol Price.

35. Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central) asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he considers that the high price of petrol will, in 1975, considerably reduce the number of tourists who normally bring their cars on touring holidays to this country.

Mr. P. Barry: The price of petrol in Ireland still compares favourably with that in other European countries. While petrol prices are probably likely to slow down the growth of motoring tourism for all countries, Bord Fáilte have received no indications of any lessening of interest in touring holidays in Ireland.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central): I understand the Irish Hotels Federation has been in touch with the Minister regarding this matter.

Mr. P. Barry: They have, yes.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central): Does the Minister intend giving their application sympathetic [1961] consideration? The Minister will agree that with the price of petrol today it is quite obvious that touring holidays will become one of the most expensive types of holidays. Would the Minister not agree that there will be a reduction in that particular type of holiday person coming to the country?

Mr. P. Barry: I do not agree. The price of petrol in Belgium is 73.5p; in France it is 81p; in Germany it is 74p; in Greece, 110p; in Ireland, 71.7p —that is the cheapest so far—in Italy it is 90p; Netherlands, 76p; Norway 80p; Portugal 95p; Spain 97p; Ireland is the cheapest of all those countries.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Haughey: Could the Minister indicate if this proposal for the special rate of petrol for tourists has the full support of Bord Fáilte?

Mr. P. Barry: No, they have made no representation to me at all. The only representations I have had in this regard have come from the National Tourism Council and from the Irish Hotels Federation.

Mr. Haughey: Are not Bord Fáilte a member of the National Tourism Council?

Mr. P. Barry: Yes.

Mr. Haughey: In that way have they not supported this request to the Minister?

Mr. P. Barry: I suppose, inasmuch as their individual member is on the board, yes. But Bord Fáilte, as I said in my reply, have received no lessening of interest in touring holidays in Ireland.

Mr. Haughey: The Minister has not deliberately but, I am afraid, inadvertently misled the House. Might I ask him if the proposal put forward by the Irish Hotels Federation has the full support of the National Tourism Council of which Bord Fáilte are a member and, therefore, in that way, they have fully supported the proposal by the Irish Hotels Federation?

Mr. P. Barry: The Irish Hotels [1962] Federation are members also of the National Tourism Council. They came to me and made their representations separate from the tourism council. Bord Fáilte did not do that.

Mr. Haughey: Arising out of the Minister's last point——

An Ceann Comhairle: Let us not enter into the realm of argument.

Mr. Haughey: The situation is that this proposal was put forward initially by the Irish Hotels Federation but it has the full support of the National Tourism Council and of Bord Fáilte.

Mr. P. Barry: No, it has not the full support of Bord Fáilte. The Deputy is deliberately twisting hairs.

Mr. Cunningham: Are they against it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Davern.

Mr. P. Barry: The hotels federation came to me separately and I understand I will have a deputation the week after next when another member of the National Tourism Council will make the same point. But Bord Fáilte have not made the point. Indeed, as I have said, their advice is that Bord Fáilte have received no indication of any lessening of interest in touring holidays in Ireland.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Davern.

Mr. Brennan: It is increases we are looking for.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. P. Barry: The price of petrol in England is 72.5p per gallon.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair must be obeyed. I have called Deputy Davern on a number of occasions.

Mr. Davern: Is the Minister aware that other countries are now advertising on the basis of what their petrol costs are in comparison with ours? They are advertising very heavily in [1963] the English papers. One of the largest advertisements was for petrol at 52p per gallon. Is the Minister aware of that type of advertising taking place?

Mr. P. Barry: No.

Mr. Davern: And the obvious effect it will have on our tourism in regard to the petrol situation?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. P. Barry: I should be interested if the Deputy could give me a copy of it. I have not seen it.

Mr. Davern: I think the Minister got a copy of it yesterday.

Mr. P. Barry: Not personally.

Mr. Davern: Oh, then the Minister did not meet the deputation from the hotels federation?

Mr. P. Barry: I did, yes.

Mr. Davern: I think they circularised many Deputies and that advertisement was included in their file.

An Ceann Comhairle: This is leading to debate.

Mr. Haughey: I saw an advertisement by Morocco advertising their petrol for tourists at 52p.

Mr. Brennan: Would the Minister not agree that cheaper petrol would be the greatest incentive we could offer to increase tourism?

Mr. P. Barry: I would agree that cheap petrol would be an incentive but there is a level below which we cannot go. If the Minister for Finance agreed to give cheap petrol for tourism, it could legitimately be said that workers would be entitled to it also, or that doctors, nurses and some other groups in the country would also be entitled to it.

Mr. Cunningham: So they are.

Mr. Brennan: Give it to them all.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 36. I have called the next question.

[1964] Mr. R.P. Burke: Would the Minister not agree that extra tourists brought into the country by the incentive of cheap petrol would provide extra jobs and bring in extra revenue?

Mr. P. Belton: Cheaper hotels would be better.

Mr. P. Barry: If that could be quantified, I suppose, yes. There are no figures to support that and I do not know how many extra tourists would come in as a result. One can only get that information from experience.

36. Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central) asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he will consider introducing a two-tier price system for petrol.

Mr. P. Barry: I have no proposals at present for the introduction of a two-tier price system for petrol. As the Deputy will appreciate, the introduction of such a system would require costly administrative and enforcement arrangements and I do not consider that they would be justified in present circumstances.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central): Petrol is very dear. The Minister for Finance increased the price in December. He said he was doing so to preserve supplies and reduce the consumption of petrol——

An Ceann Comhairle: A question, Deputy, please.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central): —— and that it was not for revenue purposes. In all fairness I think at least a quota should be allowed at a lower price for the average working man who has to use his car to and from his work.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has not yet come to a question.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin Central): Then, if you had a two-tier price, you could charge any price——

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is continuing to make a speech and to argue.

[1965] Mr. P. Barry: I think if the Deputy thinks about that he will see it is a fallacy because one would have to give a basic ration, at one price, to every motorist in the country and anything over that would be at a very much higher price. Therefore, the person using his car at the week-end to go to the sea-side for pleasure trips and so on would be getting the benefit of the cheap petrol, whereas the man who would use a lot of petrol during the week for his job, as a doctor, or a vet or to drive to work, would have to pay the increased amount. In fact, this would operate against the working man.

Mr. Cunningham: The Minister said that was the system that should be operated.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 37.