HC Deb 20 February 1905 vol 141 cc618-9

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has found on investigation that, under the first Potato Seed Act, the whole interest on the loans then made to unions was defrayed from, the Imperial Exchequer; and if he will now follow this precedent, so as to permit of the £10,000 contributed, from exclusively Irish resources, by the Agricultural Department, being devoted to cheapen the cost of the new seed to the small occupiers; also, if the total amount of interest is about £3,000.


There is no parallel between the condition of Ireland now and at the time to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. When the Seed Supply Act of 1880 was passed the distress among the agricultural classes in all parts of Ireland was so great that a sum of nearly £2,000,000 was expended from public and private sources in relief of the distress, apart from the £500,000 advanced for seed. The remission of interest could, therefore, be regarded as a Relief Grant in 1880, but could not be so regarded this year, as seed is being supplied to parts of the country where it is not alleged that any abnormal distress exists, but where, owing to the bad seed on hand and the impossibility of procuring good seed locally, a change of seed is essential to the agricultural prosperity of the country. I cannot at present say what the total amount of interest will be.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of extending to those parts of Ireland where the distress is quite as acute as in 1880 the same conditions as then obtained?


I do not think there is sufficient reason for that at present.