§ SIR J. LENG (Dundee)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he can explain why the extensive imports of butter and eggs from foreign countries increased in the first two months of this year by 14 per cent, in the case of butter, and 36 per cent, in that of eggs; whether the Board have directed the attention of British farmers to the continued increase in the demand for Danish and other foreign butter; whether the methods adopted abroad to secure high standards of quality and packages of merchantable quantities are being adopted to any appreciable extent by agriculturists in this country; and whether there is a prospect of the native supplies of butter and eggs being so improved as to render unnecessary the present large importations from abroad?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. W. H. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
I am not aware of the cause of increase to which the honourable Member refers, and, in any case, it would be dangerous to draw conclusions from the figures for two months only. Thus, taking the figures for the whole year 1898, there was a slight diminution in our imports of butter as compared with 1897, and the increase in the case of eggs was 2.8 per cent. only. The facts as to the imports of butter are constantly brought to the notice of British farmers in the "Journal of the Board of Agriculture" and elsewhere, and we have reason to believe that the educational facilities which have been provided in recent years have resulted in a considerable improvement of the methods of butter-making at home. But I cannot anticipate that we shall ever be self-supporting in the matter of butter or eggs or of any items of food supply in such enormous demand.