asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the correspondence that has passed between Mr. Richard A. Balfe, of Dublin, and the Director for Army Supplies re a supply of cement for work in Dublin which includes the Tarraght Aerodrome and Dublin destroyed area, for all of which a licence has been issued; is he aware that Mr. Balfe has sent several letters and telegrams prepaid to which he cannot get a reply; that all the buildings have had to be stopped in consequence of a satisfactory arrangement not having been come to; and whether he will take action in the matter?
§ Mr. FORSTER
I am aware of the correspondence referred to by the hon. Member, but I understand that the statement that Mr. Balfe is supplying cement for the Tarraght Aerodrome is not confirmed by the Air Ministry's representative in Ireland. The correspondence with Mr. Balfe commenced early in June last, and both in that month and in July he was informed that, owing to the very heavy demands for war work of the first importance, it was necessary to limit the use of cement in Ireland to essential military and naval purposes. Further telegrams were later received from Mr. Balfe, but, owing to the large number of similar applications then being received, and to the wording of the telegrams not being such as to enable the case to be readily identified, the reply to them was delayed. On the 2nd instant, however, a permit for a small quantity of cement was sent to him, and this was followed on the 3rd instant by a letter explaining the delay. Arrangements have recently been notified to cement manufacturers under which they are permitted to supply to merchants, to be used for approved purposes, one-third of the quantity sold to them by the manufacturers in 1917, and it should thus now be possible for Mr. Balfe to obtain his essential requirements.