§ Major O'NEILL
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether certain restrictions have recently been introduced in connection with the purchase of pork at the Ballymena Market in county Antrim; whether it has been the custom to issue licences to the pork buyers entitling them to a certain quota of pigs each month; whether this system has recently been changed, and farmers ordered to distribute their pigs under instructions from the police without any explanation as to the reason for the change; if so, why these new methods have been employed at the market; whether they are of local or general application; and how long it is intended to retain them?
The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. I am informed that numerous complaints were received by the Irish Food Control Committee to the effect that pork buyers in Ballymena Market were paying bonuses to the farmers in addition to the legal maximum price of pigs. After investigation the Food Control Committee directed the local executive officer, who is also the district inspector of police, to distribute supplies of pigs at Ballymena Market to buyers in strict proportion to the numbers to which they were entitled under their licences. It has not been found necessary to introduce this system at any other market, but it is proposed to continue it in Ballymena until local conditions justify its withdrawal. I may add that the principal local buyers have expressed approval of the measures adopted to secure equitable distribution at controlled prices.