HC Deb 02 March 1909 vol 1 cc1393-4W

asked whether attention has been called to the alleged existence of an understanding or agreement amongst flax buyers in Ulster with the object of keeping down the prices paid to farmers for Home-grown flax; whether he is aware that a specific instance in support of this allegation can be given; whether he can state the quantity of flax raised in Ulster during the past year, and the average as compared with the previous ten years; the average price per stone realised for Home-grown flax during the past year, and the average price per stone paid for Foreign-grown flax; and the total quantity of the latter imported into Ireland this year, and the average import for last year as compared with the last ten years?


Complaints from flax growers alleging the existence of an arrangement of the nature referred to have been received by the Department, but the Department have no record of any specific instance of such an arrangement. The acreage under flax in Ulster in 1908 was 46,675. The estimated produce (stones of 14 lbs., scutched flax) was 1,258,927. The average acreage under flax in Ulster in the years 1898–1907 was 46,855. The estimated average produce (stones of 14 lbs., scutched flax) was 1,604,895. The average price for Home-grown flax in 1908 is estimated at 6s. 4½d. per stone. The average price of flax imported into the United Kingdom in 1908; as calculated from the monthly statements of Trade and Navigation, was 4s. 9¾d. per 14 lbs.; the average price of imports from Russia being 3s. 8½d. per 14 lbs., and from Belgium 8s. 8d. per 14 lbs. The total quantity of flax imported into Belfast in 1908 amounted to 28,680 tons. The average of the imports into Belfast for the past ten years, 1898–1907, was 30,468 tons. Only a small quantity of flax is imported into Ireland outside Belfast, and comparable figures as regards the total import into Ireland for 1908 and the preceding ten years are not available.