6. Captain CRAIG
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether his attention has been called to the widespread agitation over the Government control of flax; and whether it is proposed to take any and, if so, what action in the matter?
§ 7. Mr. T. W. BROWN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether his attention has been drawn to the widespread agitation in Ireland for the complete decontrol of flax; and whether he is taking any and, if so, what steps to deal with the matter?
§ 47. Mr. LYNN
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the continued control of flax in Ireland is causing dissatisfaction; and whether he is in a position to say when the Government intends to withdraw that control?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. Bridgeman)
I have been asked to answer these questions. The facts are, that in continuance of a policy adopted during the war and to induce Irish farmers to grow flax for the maintenance of the important linen industry of Belfast, the Government announced at the beginning of last year that any flax sown at the 1019 sowings would be purchased at prices which it appeared possible at that time might involve the Government in a loss. Subsequently at the instance of the Ulster Farmers' Union and the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society the Government purchase prices were increased, and the representatives of the two organisations mentioned undertook 196 to use their best endeavours to secure the success of the scheme. I am aware that in some quarters there is now dissatisfaction expressed owing to the possibility of obtaining higher prices if the market were open, but inasmuch as more than one half of the Irish crop has been delivered to the Government at the fixed prices, the abandonment of the scheme as regards the remainder would, obviously, be extremely unfair to those farmers who have delivered their crops to the Government. It is not proposed to apply the scheme to the 1920 crops.