§ 11. Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
asked the Prime Minister whether, in the event of the Government deciding to provide, by legislation or otherwise, some financial inducement to farmers to retain upon their premises their stocks of wheat now being harvested, or sow this autumn a larger area than usual of their land with cereals, he will, without delay, make a public announcement to the above effect in order to avoid the premature marketing of this year's grain and to encourage the early sowing of grain for next year's harvest and the immediate preparation of the land for such purpose'
§ Mr. CHARLES LEACH
asked the Home Secretary what steps are being taken to secure a larger crop of grain during the War?
§ Mr. HUNT
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that on account of the War the wheat crop of the world must be short next year, he could give the fanners of the United Kingdom a guarantee that for all wheat suitable for making bread, reaped next year and sold in the United Kingdom after next year's harvest, the Government would, if necessary, make the price up to 35s. a quarter; and is he aware that the matter is urgent on account of the necessary preparation of the land?
§ Sir H. VERNEY
The Prime Minister has asked me to answer these questions. The retention of this year's wheat crop in stack until next summer would admittedly result in loss, through vermin and other causes, of a large percentage of the grain, besides depriving farmers of the use of the straw, and I am glad to be able to announce that the Government, after minute examination of the position, are satisfied that there is no necessity for them to take any action of the kind suggested in the first part of the question put by the hon. Member for Wilton. With regard to next year's cereal crop, the Government have carefully considered all the available information; it is a highly technical question, and, after consulting expert opinion, they have arrived at the conclusion that they would not be justified in holding out a financial inducement to farmers to increase their acreage of cereals. At the same time the Board adhere to the advice which they issued to farmers recently, with the concurrence of the Consultative Committee, that wheat appears likely to be a profitable crop next year.
§ Sir H. VERNEY
The hon. Member will realise that all these matters have been taken into consideration. The question of how much more wheat would be grown is a matter of opinion.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Is the hon. Baronet aware that, owing to the trampling by troops and the destruction of crops by the field armies in central Europe, there will be an enormous demand for outside supplies on the part of those countries next year which will result in a large proportion of the food which England gets from overseas being deflected? Has that fact been taken into consideration?