HC Deb 21 October 1915 vol 74 cc2005-6
44. Mr. KING

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether the Board of Agriculture has declined to take action, and still refuses to act, in developing the discovery of Professor Bottomley of the use of bacterised peat as a plant stimulant; and whether he has any statement to make on the subject?


I have had the pleasure of meeting Professor Bottomley, and understand from him that he does not desire to suggest in anything which he said in his recent lectures, either that any report of his recent work had been made to the Board of Agriculture, or that arising out of this work any request or application had been made to the Board for their assistance in developing the production of bacterised peat. There is, therefore, in the present position no question of the Board declining or refusing to take action. On the contrary, in addition to the Grant which the Board has already made this year and last year, to assist the scientific work which is being done at King's College, the Board would be willing to do their best to arrange for trials of humogen in garden and agricultural work under the best conditions, if they were asked to do so. With regard to plant production on a limited scale, the use of humogen in fairly large productions has already produced remarkable results in stimulating plant growth, and the Board and Professor Bottomley are entirely in agreement in their desire to have its utility tested and proved upon a larger scale.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not an offer was made for this humogen by a German professor on behalf of the German Board of Agriculture, and in view of that will he secure it for this country?


Professor Bottomley's efforts and discoveries are, I am glad to say, at the disposal of this country.


Does the Department wait until it is asked, and could it not take the initiative in this important matter?


It is very difficult for a public Department to take the initiative to develop a private patented process. All the assistance that we could give in the scientific investigation that underlies this process has been given and will continue to be most willingly given.