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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meat Prices in Dublin.

Thursday, 13 October 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 9

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14.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state, having regard to the persistent statement of representatives of the farming community that the price of cattle has been considerably reduced within recent months, why such a reduction has not been reflected in the price of meat offered for sale in butchers' shops in Dublin; and what action he proposes to take, or has taken, in connection with this matter.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Colley): Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley A Prices Advisory Committee made an inquiry into prices of fresh meat towards the end of last year. They concluded that the prices charged were fair and reasonable and that the methods of marketing did not contribute unnecessarily to the cost to the consumer.

The information available to me from official and other sources indicates that reductions in the retail price of beef have occurred in Dublin and elsewhere since cattle prices began to fall about May last. The consumer price index at mid-August, 1966, showed that meat prices were less than in mid-May, 1966, and also generally less than in mid-August, 1965.

I do not contemplate action about meat prices at present.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen Could the Minister give us the sources of his information that the price of meat had adjusted since the fall in the price of cattle?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley The Central Statistics Office is the source of the information.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen Those people must be living in the clouds. I would ask the [1319] Minister to have another look at the matter.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley The figures available show a consistent drop in the price of most cuts of meat.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen In what parts of the city?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley This is an average price obtained on inquiry in Dublin and Dún Laoghaire.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Would the Minister be able to give us the price of cattle and meat this year and the corresponding price at the same period last year?

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley I would, but——

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan ——you would not like to.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley ——the figures involved bear out what I have said.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Minister has no figures.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley I have.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Give them to us. Give us the price of cattle and meat this year as compared with the price at the same period last year.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton That is not fair.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley In mid-August, 1965, the average price of prime heifers was 155/- per cwt. as against 137/6d per cwt. in mid-August, 1966. The average price for round steak at that period was 5/9½d.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne What is the price now?

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Prime bullocks.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney We eat heifer beef.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley The average price this year was 135/- to 140/- and the price of round steak was 5/8¾d.

Deputies: Oh.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley Hold on, now.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Just stick to that type of meat first. Tell us about this one.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley I can give the House [1320] others, too. We must take the various cuts.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish Let the Minister give us the same cuts. He told us that in 1965 the price of cattle was between 155/- and 137/6d per cwt. and that steak was 5/9½d a lb.

Mr. O'Malley: You cannot take that cut. It is like the differential rents system.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey Zoom on Frank Cluskey As applied by you.

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The price of this particular cut has been reduced by only 1d a lb.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley Yes, but you must take the whole lot. Does the Deputy not want the other figures? Sirloin steak, 7/3¼d as against 7/0¾d; rib, 4/1¾d as against 3/11d; shoulder, 3/9¼d as against 3/7d; neck, 3/7½d as against 3/5½d; and corned brisket, 2/1½d as against 2/0¼d. I should add, too, that it has been established as a result of inquiries made by the Prices Advisory Body, and similarly in 1956 when I think there was an inquiry into this matter, that, generally, what happens is that when the price of cattle goes up substantially, the price of meat will rise but not in proportion to the rise in the price of cattle, that is, it will rise to a lesser proportion. When the price of cattle goes down, then the price of meat will go down but, again, not in proportion. In other words, they carry some of the increase and they recover it, then, when the price of cattle goes down.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne That is all very simple.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen Would the Minister not agree that the figures he has read out indicate clearly that the finer cuts of beef had a bigger reduction than the rougher cuts and that, while some people can well afford to buy the finer cuts of meat——

The Taoiseach: Information on Seán F. Lemass Zoom on Seán F. Lemass I knew the Deputy would find a grievance somewhere.

Mr. Mullen: Information on Michael Mullen Zoom on Michael Mullen Why is this advantage extended to the people who are in a position to pay for and consume the finer cuts of meat?

[1321]Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley Zoom on George Colley I do not think the Deputy's mathematics are sound.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne A far more interesting thing to discover would be the names of the butcher shops from which the Minister got his figures.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney That would be a commercial.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne Where do the officials deal?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan When we send the bulls to Spain, will the price of meat be reduced accordingly?


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