Wednesday, 4 March 1942
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Dillon: asked the Minister for Finance whether he is aware that the influx of money from Great Britain, coupled with the diminution of supplies of consumer goods, is creating an increasingly rapid inflation in Ireland, and whether he will take steps to relieve the resulting hardship to poor people with fixed incomes, and fathers of large families in the lower income group.
Minister for Finance (Mr. O Ceallaigh): As the Deputy suggests, there is at present an abnormal influx of money from Great Britain, and there is also a diminution in the supplies of consumer goods. The increased flow of money from Great Britain has, however, been offset by substantial contractions in receipts from other sources. Although the available quantities of consumer goods have diminished, I am not aware that avoidable increases in prices have taken place on any large scale. There are other factors at work in producing an inflationary rise in prices, besides the two mentioned by the Deputy, such as increased prices of our imports in the countries of origin, and higher freight and insurance charges.
With regard to the second part of the question, I may point out that hardship resulting from the scarcity of goods cannot be remedied by steps of a merely financial character. I have,  however, endeavoured, by the food voucher scheme introduced in my last Budget, to meet cases of hardship amongst the poorer sections of the community. This scheme provides these people with what they most want —commodities, not cash. In addition, by a system of rationing, subsidisation of commodities and control of prices, my colleague, the Minister for Supplies, also tries to secure an equitable distribution of available goods. The possibility of further steps being taken in this direction is under review. It has been and remains the policy of the Government to combat any serious inflationary tendencies that may manifest themselves.
Mr. Dillon: Is the Minister aware that the price of a workman's boots has gone up from 21/- to 35/-, of a workman's shirt from 5/- to 9/-, of a workman's cotton vest from 3/- to 5/-, of long cloth from 8d. to 1/3 per yard, of flannelette from 1/6 to 2/- a yard, and that these prices are still rising? In the light of these facts, will the Minister consider the desirability of increasing the allowance made to old people who depend on small fixed incomes for subsistence and the question of making available family allowances to those persons who have large families and fixed incomes and who are now finding it impossible to feed and clothe their children?
Mr. O Ceallaigh: I know there have been increases in prices, perhaps of the amount mentioned by the Deputy, but I am not sure of the details with regard to that. But this question, as I said in my reply, is constantly under review and the Government are always anxious to try to meet the situation so far as their resources allow. The question of family allowances is under active consideration.
Mr. Dillon: Does the Minister advert to the fact that, while it may be true that we have not got as many poor people as we had last year, those who are still poor are much poorer as a result of the inflation than anybody was last year, because that is certainly true?
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