HC Deb 18 October 1916 vol 86 cc543-5
66. Major HUNT

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that the Government expect wheat to keep up to a price well above 45s. a quarter, he will now reconsider the decision not to guarantee 45s. a quarter for all wheat fit for bread-making till next October; and whether he is aware that the certainty of getting not less than this price would be a great encouragement to farmers to grow a larger amount of wheat?


I do not think that the hon. and gallant Member is doing a good service to British farmers in suggesting that their efforts to grow a large wheat crop depend upon the Government guaranteeing a minimum price. The business acumen and the patriotism which farmers possess will lead them to put the greatest possible area under wheat that their resources permit of, and I have every reason to believe that this as a matter of fact is being done and will continue to be done.

Major HUNT

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that farmers consider that the Government have treated them very badly on the question of wool, and that a large lumber of them will not grow wheat unless they have a Government guarantee; and is he aware that home-grown wheat requires no ships to carry it and no warships to defend it, and is it not therefore common sense to encourage the farmer to grow wheat in our own country?


The hon. and gallant Member's question is merely a repetition of that on the Paper to which he has received an answer.

68. Mr. LOUGH

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether the proposed Royal Commission to deal with the supply and distribution of wheat will proceed by examining competent witnesses, considering evidence as to traders' difficulties and reporting to Parliament, or whether it will set to work without inquiry on the model of the Sugar Commission; and, having regard to the importance of the proposal, whether this House will have an opportunity of discussing it before the Government monopoly is established?


The Wheat Commission has had before it a large number of representatives of the interests immediately affected and, in exercising the powers entrusted to it, will give careful consideration to the difficulties of traders. It is not taking formal or official evidence but is inquiring carefully into the various aspects of the problem. The Commission has commenced operations but a discussion of its proceedings would, in the public interest, not be advisable. I think that the public generally is willing to trust the Commission to carry out an extremely difficult task in a manner satisfactory to all the interests concerned; and I doubt whether there is at present any general feeling that at the present stage even a discussion by this House would give them material assistance.


Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that a report of the proceedings will be laid before Parliament at any definite period?


I cannot say as to a definite period, as I do not know how its operations will proceed or when they will terminate; but I will represent the right hon. Gentleman's desire to the Commission.

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