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Irish Local Government Drug Contracts

Volume 91: debated on Monday 25 March 1901

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I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Irish firms competing for the Supply of Local Government Board's prescribed lists of medicines are compelled to offer a discount off the scheduled prices; and that the Apothecaries Hall of Ireland, which holds a Royal charter, occupying a semi-official position, tenders for those contracts under cost price; whether any of the members of the Apothecaries Hall hold Government appointments; and whether a system will be adopted to enable private firms to enter into competition for those, contracts.

All firms tender upon precisely the same terms (and offer an abatement upon the gross cost of the articles purchased during the year). The Apothecaries Hall enjoys no privilege in connection with these contracts. It holds a charter for instruction in medicine, but the commercial branch transacts business for the benefit of the shareholders in the same way as any other firm. Private firms already compete for these contracts, and appear to secure about 96 per cent, of the contracts, and the Apothecaries Hall about 4 per cent. No change is proposed to be made in the system. I have no information on the second paragraph.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the second paragraph?