§ 27. Mr. GRAHAM
asked the Chief Secretary if he is aware that about three years ago a. Mr. Keller was sent down by the Department of 719 Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland to induce the farmers of the Kilcormac and Killyargey parishes to sow tobacco; whether they were informed that the tobacco when put on the market would fetch from 8d. to 10d. per pound, and that any profits the handlers made out of the tobacco supplied by the growers would be divided amongst them; whether he is aware that the growers for the past two years did not receive more than half the price stated, and that those who refused to sow tobacco this year were not paid the division of last year's bonus; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture,) Ireland
The Department did not send Mr. Keller, their tobacco expert, to Kilcormac or Killyargey parishes, as stated in the question. On the inception of a scheme of experiments in tobacco growing, Mr. Keller, at the request of the rehandler, who had undertaken the experiment, visited the parishes named for the purpose of assisting the experimenter in explaining to prospective growers the conditions under which a Grant would be payable to the rehandler. The Department have no knowledge that the prospective growers were led to believe that they would receive the price per pound named, and they are satisfied that the tobacco for the past two years has been valued according to the current market prices. The division of profits is a matter entirely between the rehandler and the growers, and is not one that concerns the Department. The entire responsibility in connection with the carrying out of the experiments rests with the rehandler.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a State Grant has been given to encourage tobacco growing in Ireland; and is there no supervision by the Departments as to arrangements made by the handlers; and is it not the duty of the Department to see that the growers get the benefit of the Grant?
§ Mr. RUSSELL
It is the duty of the Department to see that the arrangement between the handlers and the Treasury is carried out.