HC Deb 17 February 1921 vol 138 cc261-3

asked the Prime Minister what instructions have been given to millers by the Food Controller and the Wheat Commission respectively in regard to the purchase, use, and distribution of home-grown supplies of wheat; and whether the instructions have been consistent with the spirit of the pledges given to farmers by His Majesty's Government in relation to the disposal of home-grown wheat?

30. Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

asked the Prime Minister what action will be taken to give effect to his promise that so long as wheat remained controlled the price of home-grown wheat harvested in 1920 would be the monthly average price of imported wheat of similar or comparable quality up to a maximum of 95s. per quarter?


(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether, as [...] result of his reception of a deputation of the National Farmers' Union yesterday on the subject of wheat prices, he has given any undertaking to meet the claims put forward by the farmers, and, if so, will he inform the House what the undertaking is and how he proposes to carry it out?


As hon. Members are no doubt aware, I received a deputation on this subject yesterday and made to its members a full statement as to the Government's interpretation of the pledge referred to. The machinery for giving effect to the promise is now under consideration, and an official statement on the subject will be issued as soon as possible.


Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake, if he has any proposals to make on the question, to give the information to the House first of all?


Will the promises to ex-service men also be redeemed in the same way?


I do not know whether that is a complaint on the part of my hon. and gallant Friend that I received a deputation from the farmers. If I received a deputation from the farmers I was bound to reply to them, and I think I did what the House of Commons would wish me to do when I explained to them what the views of the Government were on the subject. Of course, if an opportunity had been afforded in the course of the discussion on the Address before I had received them I should certainly have made the explanation in the first instance to the House, but I am sure no one representing a farmers' constituency will complain that I made a statement to the farmers.


Is it a fact that the country millers suspended milling operation in respect of English wheat through direct instructions from the Milling Control to mix a large percentage of bad Chinese flour with flour from overseas wheat, thereby destroying the market for home-grown wheat during the latter part of November and during the months of December and January?


That is not so. The farmers did not make that complaint yesterday. Quite a large percentage, if not the highest percentage, of the wheat ground in this country was homegrown wheat as compared with preceding years. I made a statement to the farmers yesterday that if the percentage were lower than the average, to that extent the Government would recognise that fact.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only a very short summary of what took place yesterday was published in the Press, and will he see that a full report of the proceedings is published?


It was left to the Farmers' Secretary and to the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture to send a report A full shorthand note was taken of the whole proceedings, and I was under the impression that the whole of the proceedings were published. I regret if that is not the case.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a statement was made yesterday that a full report will be given?


Instructions were given that a full statement of the farmers' case as well as the reply of the Government would be sent to the Press.

Forward to