HC Deb 04 August 1919 vol 119 cc9-10
25. Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether it had yet been decided that the price of hay and of feeding-stuffs for next year was to be controlled?

The MINISTER of FOOD (Mr. G. Roberts)

I have been asked to reply. The advisability of controlling the price of hay is now under the consideration of the Government. Arrangements have been made with the manufacturers of home-produced cakes and meals for these commodities to be available to farmers at fixed prices ex mill. Negotiations are proceeding with importers of foreign cakes and meals for the purpose of securing the importation of the largest possible supply at the lowest possible price. I will continue to control the price of millers' offals and of maize.


Can the right hon. Gentleman state when the decision will be arrived at, as the question of controlling the price of hay is pressing, and the uncertainty is very detrimental to agriculture?


I recognise the uncertainty and how prejudicial it is, and, therefore, will do my best to expedite a decision.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give the date?


The matter has to go before the Cabinet. It is utterly impossible for me to state the date exactly.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether the Army authorities had more than a year's supply of hay purchased; whether he was aware that owing to the light crop of this season hay buyers were offering £15 to £20 a ton, when the control price was now £10 a ton; and, in view of these facts, whether he would keep the control, on another twelve months, to allow the small consumer fair treatment?


I have been asked to reply to this question. As regards the first part, I am informed by the War Office that, while it is impossible to state accurately the length of time for which the supplies of hay held by the Army will last, owing to the uncertainty as to the number of horses that will be retained, the supplies will certainly not be sufficient to meet Army requirements for twelve months. I am aware that high prices are being offered for 1919 hay. I am not yet in a position to make any statement as to the Government's intentions with regard to future control.

Sir J. D. REES

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of the hay purchased last year is not yet paid for or removed?


No, Sir; I was not aware that it had not been paid for. I was aware some of it had not been removed.

Sir J. D. REES

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly expedite both operations in the interest of those concerned?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is always possible to get an advance of 75 per cent on the price?


Yes, I am aware of that. I will draw the attention of the Secretary of State for War to the matter.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture whether he was aware of the great dissatisfaction among farmers at the Regulations of the hay control; and whether he would take steps to have their interests protected, and this matter put on a more satisfactory footing without delay?


Yes, Sir. I am aware of the dissatisfaction referred to by my hon. Friend. The subject of the control of hay is at present under consideration by the Government.

63. Sir F. BLAKE

asked the Food Controller whether it is proposed to control this year's hay crop; and whether, if that is done, there will be a modification or abolition of the charges which were payable to the middlemen under the recent Orders and Regulations?


As already stated, this matter is under consideration. If it is decided to frame any scheme of control, the suggestion of the hon. Baronet will be borne in mind.

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