§ 58. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) what research and experiments have been carried out in Ireland, and by whom, in bacterised peat as a fertiliser in the interest of increased food production; and what the Department is doing towards making Irish bogs the chief source of this new fertiliser for, at least, the United Kingdom?
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Birrell)
The Department have carried out experiments with bacterised peat, but the results of these experiments cannot be finally determined until the crops have matured.
§ 59. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) the total cost of the Irish Committee on Food Production; if he can specify any service rendered by the Committee to the cause of increased food production that was not within the duty and competence of the Department and county committees without any food committee; and will he explain why the distribution of the grass ranches, the greatest potential source of food in Ireland, was withheld from the Committee?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The expenditure incurred by the Department to date in connection with the Committee on Food Production in Ireland is £184. Much of the greatly enlarged interest in the question of increased tillage in Ireland has been 1196 undoubtedly due to the proceedings and Report of the Committee. If the hon. Member consults the terms of reference he will see that these terms were of a comprehensive nature, and did not preclude from the Committee's consideration any subject which could be regarded as bearing upon the question of the maintenance and increase of the present production of food in Ireland.
§ Mr. GINNELL
Can the right hon. Gentleman say why evidence offered in connection with the distribution of the ranch land was not availed of by the Committee?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I suppose the Committee thought for their purpose the evidence would not have been of any use.
§ 60. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) what are the principal unused, or inadequately used, sources of food production found by the Irish Committee on that subject to exist in Ireland; and what steps are to be taken now to make them available?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Committee on Food Production in Ireland reported that there are in Ireland some millions of acres of second and third-rate grass land which at present produce little, but which if tilled would give good crops. There are, in the Department's opinion, good reasons for believing that the steps now being taken through the agency of the Press, the platform, and by similar educational methods, will result in an increase in tillage in Ireland still greater than that which has taken place this season.