HC Deb 26 February 1906 vol 152 c794

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he is aware that during the five years 1900–4 the average acreage under flax in Ireland was only 48,000, and the estimated produce was returned at 10,533 tons, whereas in 1880–4 the average acreage was 121,000 and the estimated produce 21,688 tons; and what measures are being adopted by the Department of Agriculture to encourage the cultivation of flax, particularly in Ulster, where the conditions are the most suitable for the growth of this crop.


The figures are as stated, but it should be observed that they indicate an increased production per acre. In the period 1880–4 the average yield of flax per acre was 28¾ stones, while in the later period it was 34¾ stones. Since 1901 the Department, with the assistance of an Ulster Advisory Committee, have adopted a scheme for encouraging improved cultivation of flax. The means taken to achieve this end include experiments in the manuring and manipulation of flax, and with different varieties of seed; the offering of prizes for well scutched flax and for growing flax; assistance in the formation of co-operative flax growing and scutching societies; the dissemination of information as to the quality of Dutch and Russian flax seed available each year for sowing; instruction in improved methods of dealing with the crop; measures for bringing the Irish flax grower into direct contact with the methods of their competitors in Belgium; improvement of marketing facilities; and other measures.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman would consider the expediency of offering a small bonus to cultivators in the North of Ireland.


That Question raises large issues. Of course any suggestion made with a view of encouraging the cultivator will have careful consideration.