§ 53. Mr. FORREST
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that all cereals and potatoes are approximately being sold at the prices current when agricultural labourers' wages were fixed at 25s. per week for longer hours than at present obtain; and whether he will take steps to meet the threatened crisis under which a vast number of acres will, unless relief is in some way brought to the farming industry, go out of cultivation?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir R. SANDERS (Lord of the Treasury)
I have been asked to reply to this question. Although it is true that barley and oats are now lower in price than in 1917, this is not the case with wheat and potatoes. The cost of labour must, moreover, be considered in relation to the prices obtained for all classes of agricultural produce. I am not aware that there is any serious threat of land going out of cultivation. The Government has made provision as far as possible for the maintenance of the arable area by the Agricultural Act, and the minimum prices fixed under that Act for wheat and oats will take into account any increase in the cost of production due to higher wages or other causes as compared with 1919.