Wednesday, 26 March 1947
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Keyes: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the difficulties experienced by working-class families, particularly in small towns, in securing supplies of jams and dried fruit, which are now so necessary owing to scarcity of butter and margarine; and if he will introduce a scheme of rationing for those commodities to ensure a fair and equitable distribution.
Mr. Lemass: I am aware that difficulties are experienced from time to time in getting supplies of jam and dried fruit from retailers. The amount of jam now being produced by the manufacturers is very much greater than the normal production and efforts are being made to obtain further supplies from abroad. The demand has, however, increased considerably because of the butter shortage and the reduction of home jam-making owing to the smaller sugar ration. Distribution of jam through the trade is on a quota basis. While these quotas are not subject to official regulation, I have no reason to believe that they are not operated fairly by the manufacturers and wholesalers concerned. Retailers are expected to distribute supplies on the most equitable basis possible between their customers. I have given consideration to the desirability of introducing a formal rationing scheme for jam. I consider, however, that it should, if possible, be avoided. The consumption of jam per head is not uniform and rationing on a per capita basis might operate to reduce the quantities available to families which ordinarily use more jam than others. While I will keep the position under examination, I hope that increased jam supplies, together with a higher butter ration, will make it unnecessary.
In the case of dried fruits, it is anticipated that the quantities which will be available this year will be equivalent to a full normal year's supply, and I do not consider that the introduction of a rationing scheme is necessary or desirable.
Mr. Norton: The Minister indicates that, with a possible increase in butter supplies, the existing arrangements will be satisfactory. Could he indicate when the increased butter supplies are likely to be available?
Mr. Everett: Is it correct that, not-withstanding the fact that some of the manufacturers are supplying 40 per cent. more than the wholesalers received in 1939, in towns and villages there is no jam except what is under the counter for certain people?
Mr. Lemass: The output of jam by manufacturers is more than 40 per cent. above 1939, but I have received no complaints from retailers that manufacturers or wholesalers are not distributing the supplies equitably between them.
Mr. Everett: What I am suggesting is that the manufacturers are supplying wholesalers with 40 per cent. more than they formerly received, but that the wholesalers are not giving these supplies to customers. They are giving them to hotels and restaurants at black market prices.
Mr. Spring: Is the Minister aware that people who have lodged their tea, sugar and butter coupons with particular retailers cannot get a pot of jam, while a 2-lb. pot of jam can be bought in a village in my county at the black market price of 3/8?
Mr. Lemass: There was, of course, a hiatus in jam deliveries in consequence of the curtailment of manufacture following upon the sugar strike, but production is now back to what it was before that strike. It may be that individual retailers are not equitably distributing supplies, but if particulars of  such cases are sent to me I will have them investigated.
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