HC Deb 26 March 1923 vol 162 cc31-3

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many acres of arable land were under cultivation in the years 1913, 1920, and 1922; how many acres are under cultivation at present; and how many workers were engaged on the land during the same years and at present?


As the reply is in the form of a statistical statement, I propose, with the permission of the hon. Member, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The statement is as follows:

(a) Area of arable land in England and Wales, as returned by occupiers of agricultural holdings exceeding one acre in extent:

1913 11,058,233
1920 12,019,746
1922 11,310,515

Statistics for the present year will be collected on the 4th June.

(b) Numbers of workers employed on agricultural holdings of more than one acre in extent in England and Wales, as returned by the occupiers in June, 1913, and 1921:

at the earliest possible moment, on the question whether farmers on good land are justified by economic conditions in making these reductions?


I do not think that an inquiry of the kind suggested would be of service in the present circumstances. I may say, however, that I have suggested to both sides in the Norfolk dispute that they should agree to accept the decision of an independent arbitrator appointed by the two sides jointly.


In view of that answer, I beg to give notice that, at the close of questions, I shall, Mr. Speaker, ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House on matters connected with this question.

At the end of Questions


I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the danger of a disaster to British agriculture through the extension of the present strike, and the failure of the Government to use its influence with the Farmers' Union towards withdrawing the demand for a reduction of wages pending the holding of an official inquiry into the economic necessity for such reduction."


That is not a Motion which I can accept under Standing Order No. 10. There is no obligation on the Government to interfere in an industrial dispute. If I allowed this Motion in one case, it might be allowed in a good many others. I notice that my predecessor, on the 22nd July, 1912, gave a similar ruling in a similar case.