HC Deb 14 March 1917 vol 91 cc1087-9

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the War Office, in order to simplify the distribution of forage, will fix a price to the consumer for all forage released from Army requirements without interfering with the relations between producers, distributors, and consumers?


I am afraid that the adoption of this suggestion with regard to the 1916 crop would operate inequitably for those who have already sold under existing Regulations. The suggestion will be borne in mind in relation to the 1917 crop.


asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the area administrator in Scotland for the purchase of forage has refused to receive complaints from the organisation representing farmers with reference to the grievances in regard to the purchase and distribution of forage; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?


I am assured by the officer in question that every complaint brought to his notice has received full consideration and attention. Perhaps the hon. Member will give me particulars of any case which he has in mind, when I will cause inquiries to be made.


Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that there is a great deal of discontent because this officer will not accept complaints from a society representing the farmers, and that these farmers have to go to the expense of making individual complaints?


I was not aware of that, and perhaps my hon. Friend will give me particulars.

68. Colonel Sir CHARLES SEELY

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will inquire into the refusal of the administrator of the Western Area Forage Committee to leave hay for the incoming tenant at Lady Day next on a big pasture farm at Stowey, in Somerset?


The hay in question was purchased by voluntary arrangement between the tenant and the War Office on 24th October of last year, namely, three stacks at 120s. per ton, on which a deposit of £189 was immediately paid. There were five haystacks on the farm at the time, so that two were left behind for the agreed needs of the farm. Of these two stacks a substantial quantity is stated to have been sold by the outgoing tenant, and it is also stated that 3 tons now remain. When the Army hay has been baled, it is estimated that 8 tons of second quality will be left behind, so that 11 tons in all appear to be available for the farm. If this is not sufficient to meet the incoming tenant's needs, it is submitted that the latter should purchase some of the 5,000 tons of hay now standing in his county, which has been released by the Army Council, but which is reported to remain still unsold.


May I ask whether when it was pointed out that the tenant had no power to sell his hay when he was going out under his agreement the War Office authorities then stated that they would commandeer it—that is the explanation I have received otherwise he would not have sold his hay and left the incoming tenant without a proper supply?


Would it not be more economical and save transport if some portion of this hay purchased by the War Office authorities were allowed to the incoming tenant?


The administration of this matter did not fall within my province. I will make the suggestion that it would be preferable to leave an amount of hay to the incoming tenant. I was not aware that the facts stated by the hon. Baronet in the question were the case, but I will inquire and let him know.