§ 7. Mr. P. MEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he will consider the advisability of having a list published by the Department of Agriculture in Ireland giving the names of those applying for export licences for potatoes, the amount applied to be exported, the amount allowed to be exported, and the destination thereof?
§ 36. Captain DONELAN
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he will state the quantity of potatoes shipped from Ireland by each person or firm to whom a licence has been granted since the Order came into force?
§ Captain DONELAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I asked this question so far back as the 12th of last month, and I have never yet succeeded in obtaining a reply to it?
§ Mr. MOONEY
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of making some return of the amount shipped, in view of the fact that the state- 2123 ment appeared in the "Times" this morning that the Food Controller has been informed that there are 50,000 tons of potatoes in Ireland which could be shipped to England, whereas the opinion in Ireland is quite the contrary?
§ Mr. DUKE
That statement was published on the authority of a Member of this House. I confess, so far as my information goes, I could not make such a statement, and I have done my best to ascertain the conditions, but the hon. Member who is responsible for the statement is engaged in the trade, and no doubt has access to information in the trade which may supply particulars which are not given upon the census to those who collect for the census.
§ Mr. MOONEY
Is it not a fact that the hon. Member of this House, on whose authority that statement is made, is not only connected with the trade, but also holds a Government appointment in connection with potatoes; and can the right hon. Gentleman say on what ground he makes a statement which is entirely contrary to the opinion in Ireland?
§ 19. Mr. J. P. FARRELL
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland the reason which actuated the Local Government Board in fixing on Up-to-Date seed as the best potato for use in sowing this year's crop; whether he is aware that nearly all the public Boards in Ireland regard this seed as valueless for producing a good table or a keeping potato; and will he direct that Champion or Arran Chief seed be substituted?
§ Mr. LUNDON
Will the right hon. Gentleman instruct the Local Government Board to allow the local rural district council to purchase seeds locally if they find suitable ones?
§ Mr. DUKE
Well, Sir, that matter has been the subject of consideration owing to the question raised by the lion. Gentleman the Member for North Kerry. In any case where it is possible to give these facilities without disturbing the general operation of the tillage scheme it is desirable to give them.
§ 34. Captain DONELAN
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) the extent of the shortage of the present supply of potatoes in Ireland as compared with the supply at this period last year?
§ 35. Captain DONELAN
asked the quantity of potatoes exported from Ireland for the use of the military forces of the Crown since the Order was made prohibiting the shipment of potatoes from Ireland except under licence?
75. Mr.MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, in view of the fact that he has fixed an artificial price for potatoes irrespective of the ordinary operation of supply and demand, and that consumption is no longer regulated automatically by price, whether he has considered the possibility of the stock of potatoes being exhausted before the new crop is ready; and whether he proposes to establish a system of potato rations?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY Of FOOD CONTROL (Captain Bathurst)
The possibility that 2125 the stock of potatoes would be exhausted before the 1917 supplies are available has been taken into account, and an increased price was allowed for potatoes delivered after 31st March with the object of giving an inducement to growers not to throw the whole of their supplies upon the market at once. There is no present intention of establishing a system of compulsory rations in the case of potatoes.
§ Mr. FRANCE
How does the hon. Gentleman differentiate between holding up stocks for inducement of prices and holding up stocks against giving supplies to the public?
The supplies in the hands of the farmers are known to the Department, and are being carefully watched.
§ 77. Mr. RAFFAN
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, whether a number of retailers are refusing to supply potatoes at the stipulated price of 1½d. per lb. unless other vegetables are purchased at the same time; and, seeing that this practice entails hardship on the poor, whether immediate steps will be taken to render it illegal?
As I stated in reply to a similar question by the hon. Member for South West Ham yesterday, the practice described in the question is prohibited by the Potatoes 1916 Main Crop (Prices) Order, No. 2, which came into force last Saturday. I might perhaps add that several cases of alleged overcharging are being investigated and if substantiated proceedings will be at once taken.