§ CAPTAIN DONELAN (Cork, E.)
I big to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, (1) whether ho is aware that, owing to the fall in the price of oats since the last harvest, Irish corn merchants hold large stocks of old oats which are unsaleable except much under cost, and that consequently the price of new oats is likely to fall considerably below the lowest point touched for the past 25 years; and (2) whether in view of this event occurring, he will take any steps to give temporary relief to Irish farmers?
§ * THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR) Leeds Central
There is no official information available showing that merchants have larger stocks of old oats on hand than is usual, and any statement such as is made at the end of the first paragraph must be purely speculative at present. Only very small samples of new oats have come into the markets as yet, and as they must have been cut in bad weather the grain was naturally soft and immature, and thus realised small prices. Should the weather improve the corn will come into the markets in better condition and will, it is believed, yield a better price.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN
asked if the right hon. Gentleman was aware that he founded his question on a statement contained in a letter sent to him by the senior partner in the first firm of oats exporters in the South of Ireland, whose name he would be happy to give to him? As this was a matter of vital consequence to Irish farmers, perhaps the House would permit him to read an extract. [Ministerial dissent.]
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member can only do so with the entire consent of the House, which it does not appear to have.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN
asked the Chief Secretary whether he was aware 782 that the price of oats, instead of improving, as expected by the Irish Land Commission in their Report just issued, had steadily fallen, and that the average now stood at 5½d. per stone instead of 6d., as on Thursday last?
§ * Mr. GERALD BALFOUR
I am not aware of the fact the hon. Member has brought to my notice, but I may say there is nothing to justify the legislation he proposes. ["Hear hear!"]