HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2075-6W

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether any Department of the English Government in Ireland has received resolutions from Cork County Council and other representative bodies in Ireland on Government traffic in Irish wool at the expense of Irish farmers; will he state the quantity of Irish wool commandeered or taken compulsorily last year, the average price and total amount paid for it, and the average price paid for English wool similarly acquired; how much of the Irish wool was subsequently sold at an enhanced price; the amount of profit thus made; whether this is to be returned to the vendors or devoted to any Irish purpose; and whether the system of commandeering wool in Ireland for profit is to be followed this year?


Since the scheme for the purchase of Irish wool has been in operation the only resolution of protest received by the War Office from representative bodies in Ireland is a resolution of the Cork County Council, received two or three days ago. Hardly any complaints have been received from Irish farmers and the Irish Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of Irish farmers, wool merchants, and manufacturers, have loyally co-operated with the Department and have expressed their gratification at the ease with which the scheme has worked. Irish wool has not been commandeered from farmers, but has been purchased through the usual channels, in accordance with a schedule of prices, which yield a fixed price to the farmer of 35 per cent, over the average prices realised in June and July, 1914. English wool was purchased on the same basis. The total quantity of Irish wool purchased by the Government is, approximately, 12,000,000 lbs., and the expenditure to date is, approximately, £800,000. About 10 per cent. of the Irish clip has been sold for other than military purposes. Any profit effected by the sale of wool unsuitable for military purposes in the open market will be set off against the enhanced cost of clothing the Army due to the abnormal rise in the price of wool caused by the War. The price at which the Government is prepared to buy Irish wool during 1917 is at present under consideration, and an announcement will be made in the course of a few days.