HC Deb 28 February 1912 vol 34 cc1361-2

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland), whether any special facilities were afforded by his Department to occupiers of labourers' cottages for the provision of seeds, plants, and fruit trees, if so, could he state the nature of these facilities; what steps were taken to bring the knowledge of them to the labourers; how many availed, last year, of the advantages conferred by the Department in this respect; and what was the cost out of public funds?


The Department do not afford special facilities for the provision of seeds, plants, or trees to occupiers of labourers' cottages or other applicants. Under the County Horticultural Scheme, however, county committees of agriculture are empowered to make arrangements whereby any resident in the county, which includes a labourer, can procure fruit and other trees at specially reduced prices. This privilege is brought by the local authorities concerned to the knowledge of the residents through advertisements and through their instructors. The Department have also published a special pamphlet dealing with the cultivation and management of labourers' plots and cottage gardens. This pamphlet gives full directions as to the manner in which labourers can avail themselves of the benefits of the several county schemes. The Department have no information as to the number of labourers who took advantage of this arrangement. It is not possible to separate from other expenditure incurred by county committees the amount properly chargeable to this section of the Horticultural Scheme. It may be stated, however, that the arrangements for the sale of trees above referred to do not involve any loss of funds to the local authority.


asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) whether he had any official information showing that 60 per cent. of the agricultural seeds sold in Ireland were adulterated or unfit for use by farmers; and, if so, why the vendors had not been black-listed, as he was empowered to do under the Weeds and Agricultural Seeds Act; whether one offender only had been black-listed; and what steps were taken to show small farmers who were the vendors of adulterated seeds if the Act was not put into force?


The Department have official information showing that nearly 60 per cent. of the agricultural seeds in Ireland, so far as they have been sampled, were unsatisfactory, in varying degrees, for use by farmers. Many of the vendors were unaware of the nature of the seeds they were selling, and in most cases the farmers were themselves to blame in demanding seed at very low prices. For these reasons, and the further fact that a promise was made that the Act would not be harshly administered at the outset, the Department have refrained from publishing the results, and in the meantime have been giving instruction, both to farmers and to seed vendors, as to the qualities which make agricultural seed of real value for sowing purposes. Only in one instance, where persistent warnings were neglected, were the Department compelled to publish the names of a wholesale trader and a retail trader who continued to offer seed of a very inferior description.