HC Deb 06 July 1883 vol 281 cc600-1

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Whether the Agricultural Department will obtain returns in December showing the estimated produce of grain for the year, and the number of the different kinds of live stock in the Country at that period; and, if so, whether he will give instructions that the Report of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council, which is now only obtained on application, shall be circulated with the December Agricultural Returns?


I quite agree with my hon. Friend as to the importance of obtaining not only a Return of grain produce, but of produce of other kinds; and several years ago I publicly called attention to the fact that Great Britain is, as I believe, the only country possessing a civilized agriculture which is destitute of such Returns. Since the Agricultural Department has been established, Lord Carlingford and myself have had the whole matter under our most careful consideration. But to obtain reliable grain statistics—and if we are to have Government statistics, they must be reliable—it will be necessary for the Government to begin to collect them very much earlier in the year than December, and I can hardly say that we could this year obtain satisfactory Returns. As regards the other part of the Question, that of obtaining Returns of the different kinds of live stock in the country in December, I should like to be satisfied as to the advantage of obtaining a second census of animals in the course of a year, as it would involve troubling occupiers with a second set of Schedules. Before committing myself to that, I should like to assure myself that it will be worth the trouble and expense it would involve. With regard to the latter part of the Question, I think the Report of the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council might usefully be circulated when it is issued; but I will make inquiries and see what can be done.