§ MR. READ
said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade, If he can inform the House how the collection of Agricultural Statistics is progressing, and when he expects the Returns to be published; and if he believes that anything like accuracy will be obtained from the present or any other voluntary Returns which are collected through a Department of the Government?
SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, in reply, that he understood the returns were in the course of progress, and in about a month they would be made up in as complete a state as could be expected, but they would take some time to be tabulated and printed. In the course of two months, probably, they would be available for distribution. In many cases it would be necessary to complete them by estimate, which of course would be more or less accurate. He regretted to say that an impression seemed to prevail among some farmers that the returns were connected with some system of taxation, and though they were entirely misled on that point, the impression naturally prevented them from making returns. He knew no reason why, in the course of a year or two, when the system was persevered with, and the farmers saw the objects and value of the returns, they should not be ready to give the experiment a fair trial, and he hoped that those who had influence with the farmers would induce them to send in the information, which would be used certainly not for their detriment but for their benefit.