§ 40. Captain WRIGHT
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that frequent representations have been made to the Food Production Department by the Derbyshire War Agricultural Executive Committee on the present shortage of threshing machines available for use owing to various reasons in that country, and asking that the committee may be given control of such 1540 machines and the engines necessary to drive them, and putting forward a scheme for that purpose; and whether, in view of those representations and the necessity, apart from the present shortage, of an increased number of these machines for the 1918 crop, he has taken any, and what, action?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Prothero)
Representations were received from the Derbyshire Agricultural Executive Committee on the 22nd and 31st October as to the shortage of threshing machines and engines in the county. Additional machines have been supplied so far as practicable by the Food Production Department, and the committee have been authorised to supplement this supply by hiring traction engines locally. With regard to the local control of threshing tackle, a general scheme with this object was approved and issued to all county committees on the 16th November last, of which a copy is being sent to my hon. Friend.
The shortage of machines and engines, which is mainly due to the urgent war requirements of other Government Departments, has been engaging the anxious consideration of the Food Production Department, and all possible steps have been taken to increase the supply. Over a hundred additional threshing machines have already been supplied to county committees, and further large orders have been placed for machines to deal with the 1918 crop. Arrangements have also been made between the Military Authorities and the Food Production Department, by which a large number of traction engines will be released by the Forage Department at once, and a still larger number early in September. By this and other means, and by improved organisation in the counties I anticipate that the threshing facilities available in the country will be increased sufficiently to cope with the 1918 crop.
§ Captain WRIGHT
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that before these threshing machines were allowed to the committee the bulk of engines privately owned which were available are being used by the Forage Department?
§ Mr. PROTHERO
It is certainly true that a considerable number of private engines are being used by the Forage Committee, and that is the reason why I stated that arrangements are being made to release as many of them as possible.