Wednesday, 26 April 1950
Seanad Éireann Debate
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Cosgrave): These four Orders are made under Section 4 (2) of the Control of Imports Act, 1934. Before the war, cotton piece goods were subject to a duty of 60 per cent. full, 40 per cent. preferential and as an alternative to review of these duties by the Prices Commission in accordance with the terms of the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement of 1938, the Irish and British cotton industries entered into an agreement whereby the Irish market would be reserved for the Irish cotton mills in those types of cloths which they were fully equipped to make. To implement this agreement, the Government in June, 1940, made four Orders under the Control of Imports Acts restricting the importation of all classes of piece goods containing more than 60 per cent. by weight of cotton and not exceeding 10 ozs. in weight per square yard. These quotas were suspended shortly afterwards owing to conditions arising out of the war.
When normal conditions returned regarding supplies of cotton yarns and cotton piece goods, representations were made by the cotton manufacturers here, as well as their workers for the restoration of protection to the cotton industry. It was urged that protection be given by making new quota Orders in accordance with a revised agreement arrived at between the British and Irish manufacturers of cotton piece goods. This agreement, which was supplementary to the agreement made in 1939, provided for an extension in the range of cloths to be reserved to Irish manufacturers, while, at the same time, ensuring that a substantial part of the balance of the market would be available  for goods manufactured in Britain.
The production of cotton piece goods by the Irish mills in 1949 was at the rate of approximately 12,000,000 square yards annually. This figure represented only one half of the capacity of the mills and even at that rate of production stocks were accumulating. Because of the continued suspension of the protection afforded to the cotton industry, employment in the Irish mills was being adversely affected by imports which continued to take place at a high level. Imports in 1947 amounted to 40,000,000 square yards, in 1948 to 24,500,000 square yards, and in 1949 to 33,500,000 square yards. The protection sought by the industry would, it was stated, have the effect of enabling production to be increased to approximately 25,000,000 square yards of cloth annually and would give additional employment to about 500 more workers.
In December, 1949, the Government made four quota Orders prohibiting, except under licence, the importation of woven cotton piece goods containing more than 60 per cent. by weight of cotton. The Orders took effect as from the 1st January, 1950.
It is too early yet to gauge the actual effect of these controls on employment, but the number of operatives should be very considerably increased when the mills are operating and producing for the country's full requirements in the type of fabrics to which protection is being afforded. The period beginning 11th January this year and ending on the 31st May was appointed to be the first quota period under each of the four quota orders. The total quantity of all these goods which can be imported is 14,650,000 square yards. The quantities set aside for importation from the various countries were determined in relation to the trade in cotton piece goods carried on with these countries during the year 1949. That year was adopted as the most normal and up-to-date period that could be selected, having regard to the dislocation of trade during the war years and the gradual easement of the supply position in the post-war period.
Mr. M. Hayes: We might adjourn now until next Wednesday, when we will have the concluding stages of the Transport Bill, and the Second Reading of the Land Bill, which we have now received from the Dáil.
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