HC Deb 06 May 1913 vol 52 cc1854-5

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether an application was made in 1911 by the committee of the Meteorological Office to the Development Commissioners for a Grant out of the Development Fund to effect the wider distribution by telegraph of the daily weather forecasts for the benefit of agriculturists; whether, although the advantage to farmers of such information was admitted, the Grant was refused by the Commissioners on the footing that the general public, and not merely the agricultural community, would benefit thereby; and, if so, under what Section of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act, 1909, do they seek to justify such objection?


The application of the Meteorological Office was refused by the Development Commissioners on the ground that a scheme which was tantamount to a general extension of the activities of that office, and had no special or essential reference to the agricultural or fishing industries, was not one which came within the scope of the Development and Road Improvement Funds Act. This view is based on the terms of Section 1 of the Act, where a list is given of the purposes to which the Development Fund may be applied. The scheme submitted by the Meteorological Office appeared to the Commissioners to fall within the description given above.


Do not the purposes specified in Section 1 include the general benefit of agriculture, and would not this therefore come within the scope of the Section, even although other industries might benefit by the expenditure of the money?


I can only give the reply of the Development Commissioners who are not in the least degree controlled by the Treasury. I have stated their interpretation of the Act.