Friday, 21 July 1933
Dáil Éireann Debate
As I explained yesterday, this amendment enables the Minister for Agriculture to go into the market in order to fill the quota where other methods have failed, and, as it might possibly involve the State in certain expenditure, it is considered desirable that the Minister for Finance should have some control over such trading.
Mr. Dillon: To the amendment. Some confusion arose in connection with it. When we were concerned with the Committee Stage the amendment it was proposed to move was not available, so that the Committee discussion was more or less postponed until to-day. With regard to the power the Minister is taking to fill these quotas, I want to ask whether he has decided in principle on the general allocation of quotas amongst producers, in regard to agricultural exports, where Great Britain requires these commodities to be exported under quota. For instance, I understand  that the Lane Fox Commission Report thinks that there will probably be a quota for bacon entering the British market, when the question will immediately arise for consideration, as to what rights individual bacon manufacturers will have in that market. It may be represented to the Minister that only those bacon manufacturers who have been exporting in recent years should be allowed to participate in the quota. Before this Bill passes, I should like to hear from the Minister that he will insist on every person concerned in the bacon manufacturing trade in this country having made available for him some part of the quota, in order that it will be possible to trade in external markets, and that he will not countenance any scheme laid before him which would restrict the entire quota to certain manufacturers, to the exclusion of others. The difficulties which the Minister proposes to meet with Section 3, that is the filling of the quota in any particular time, are well known to anyone familiar with trade. It may be represented that to give a fraction of the quota to every manufacturer would make the business of filling the quota regularly very difficult. Nevertheless it is of such vital importance to everyone engaged in trade to have access to a foreign market if he requires it, that I think the Minister should insist that every manufacturer of bacon or any other quota commodity should have made available for him a fraction of the quota.
Dr. Ryan: On the Second Reading I gave a rough outline of the procedure that would probably be adopted. There will be a consultative council set up under this section for each product to each country as the case may arise. We will take the example which Deputy Dillon has referred to, the export of bacon to Great Britain; there would be a consultative council of bacon exporters set up under this Bill, and in consultation with that council the Minister would allot the quotas. From my meetings with the men in the trade the fear was expressed that the quotas would not be taken up to the full. In  that case, of course, no complaint would arise such as Deputy Dillon has in mind, but in case exporters apply for more than the quota which we would be asked to fill from this country we would have to cut down the amounts that are applied for from each applicant. The matter was discussed with the members of the trade, and it was felt that in that case some quota should be allocated on the exports over the last two years. The question was then raised which Deputy Dillon has now raised, of a new factory coming into the business, and wanting to get a share of the exports of the country. All the existing exporters expressed themselves as willing to facilitate such an exporter coming into the market. I do not think that there will be any difficulty whatever upon that point. I should like, of course, as far as possible, as has always been the practice with those consultative councils, to accept their recommendations. I hope that their recommendations will be fair, but if it is considered that the existing exporters are trying to make a ring, or create a corner of any sort to keep new men out of business, I think the Minister would be justified in stepping in and giving the new factory or new exporter some quota, even though it might not exactly meet the wishes of the present men in the trade.
Mr. Dillon: All I want to do is to speak briefly in reference to what the Minister said. He referred to the fear that the quota would not be taken up. There is not the slightest fear of that if normal trading conditions are restored. At the present moment the  situation is that every consignment of bacon we export to Great Britain involves the exporter in a loss, in view of the economic war. The result is that at the present moment a certain difficulty might arise in finding people who are prepared to maintain the market connection in the hope of better days. As the Minister well knows, if the economic war came to an end, instead of having penal tariffs levied on our bacon we would have an advantage in the British market. The market provided for our bacon by this quota system would be invaluable, and there would be keen and eager competition on the part of bacon manufacturers in this country to get a share of the quota. I look forward with eager anticipation to the day when President de Valera will make a settlement of the economic war. That will be a great advantage to this country, and will secure for our agricultural products a material physical advantage in the British market. Undoubtedly there will then be keen and eager competition for a share of the quota.
The Minister spoke of new people coming into the trade. They should be considered, but over and above them there are the comparatively new business men who have come into the trade at the direct instigation of the Government, whose policy is to have small factories erected up and down the country. Some of those small factories that have come into the trade within the last year or so started business when it was economically impossible to export bacon to Great Britain at all. They had no connection before the economic war, and it was virtually impossible to establish a connection during the economic war. They are most anxious to secure that their position will be acknowledged and admitted, so that when the economic war ends—as it must sometime—they will get a share of the quota business. I thoroughly agree with the Minister that it is a desirable thing to have an Advisory Council, but I do not think we should admit the principle that the Advisory Council has any right to override the opinions of this House. It must be borne in mind that the Advisory Council consists exclusively— the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—of men who are engaged in the bacon-curing trade.
Mr. Dillon: I think that, while, giving all due consideration to the recommendations of a council constituted of experts in the business, this House ought to reserve most expressly to itself the right of deciding matters of principle. It is quite unsatisfactory, so far as I am concerned, to be told that existing exporters expressed themselves willing to facilitate new entrants to the trade. People who start up in trade do not want to be beholden to their competitors for the right to do business. They are prepared to take up the position, without any desire to be aggressive or offensive, that they want no concessions from their competitors. They are quite prepared to enter into competitive trade, fairly and above board, and do not want to be compelled to ask leave of their competitors to export or sell. It is for that reason that I ask the Minister to accept the principle that any company which is legitimately in the trade should be entitled to a share of our quota in the British market. It should be quite free to trade in that market without permission from any of its business rivals or without having to look for facilities. There will be this difficulty, that the Minister will have to reserve to himself some rights to fill a quota where a small factory is unable to do so. That question is present to my mind. I do not want to elaborate the whole quota difficulty at the present moment but I am most anxious that the Minister should accept the principle that every person legitimately engaged in the bacon-curing  trade will be assured the right, in his own right, to trade with the British market if and when he desires to do so.
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