HC Deb 05 March 1917 vol 91 cc9-11
18. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the fact that Germany and Austria-Hungary imported into this country in the year 1913 26,000,000 cwts. of sugar of the value, approximately, of £15,000,000; whether he is aware that this sugar was bounty-fed; and whether he has any Reports showing that the soil in many parts of England is eminently suitable for the production of sugar beet?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Prothero)

The answer to the first two parts of the question is in the affirmative. The answer to the third part is that it has been proved by trials, of which the Board possesses Reports, that beet with a high sugar content, and giving yields equal to those obtained on the Continent, can be grown in many districts in this country. I shall be happy to show the hon. and gallant Member the evidence which the Board possesses on the subject.

19. Brigadier-General CROFT

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, having regard to the uncertainty which exists at the Board of Agriculture as to whether sugar beet can be conveniently manufactured into sugar at a profit in normal times in this country, the Board of Agriculture can see its way to guarantee immediately private enterprise against loss of the first few years in order that this field of industry may not be denied to British agriculturists, builders, bricklayers, bricklayers' labourers, and all those indirectly affected; and whether his attention has been called to the part that this industry would play in absorbing labour on demobilisation?


It has not yet been proved that sugar can be manufactured at a profit from home-grown beet after paying an adequate price to the grower. The experiment is impossible out of the Development Funds, because the Act only allows associations which do not trade for profit to obtain advances. The Board believes that the establishment of the industry would promote agricultural progress, create a valuable rural industry, and increase employment after the War, and is endeavouring to secure the means of making the experiment.

Brigadier-General CROFT

Having regard to the fact that the Board are of opinion that the growth of sugar in this country is possible, will the right hon. Gentleman use all his influence to endeavour to obtain some such Grant, owing to the fact that unless some such experiment is made now it will be too late?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that tobacco growing in Ireland has been a success, and why not sugar growing also?


Order, order! We are dealing with the growing of sugar beet in England now, not with tobacco growing in Ireland.


May I ask whether experiments made in the East of England have been abandoned?


The experiment in the East of England has been abandoned only for the time being, owing to the fact that they cannot obtain the seed from Holland. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member, we are using our best efforts to attempt the experiment, but, unfortunately, the war conditions preclude the buildings and machinery which will be necessary to carry it out.