§ 33. Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that by wasting 2 cwts. Of extractable sugar in every 102 cwts. of molasses under the present sugar subsidy scales factories are enabled to make a net gain of 410s. 5d. per 102 cwts. of molasses, taking into account both sides of the production; and whether it is proposed by the Government to alter the scales of subsidy to prevent this?
I am aware that molasses may contain a small proportion of extractable sugar which if recovered would reduce the rate of subsidy on the remaining molasses, but for the reasons given in my reply to the hon. Member for Blackburn on the 17th May last, I am not prepared to consider any alteration in the scales of subsidy on molasses.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to go on facing a loss of 5s. 5d. per cwt. to the Exchequer?
I am not prepared to accept the hon. Member's definition of molasses as waste, because it is applied to many useful purposes.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I want to ask if there is this difference between one and the other why the Government cannot take steps now in the treatment of molasses to make power alcohol?
These scales of subsidies are very complicated. They were very carefully discussed when Parliament passed the Subsidy Bill, and I am not 882 prepared to reopen the question of subsidies now as between sugar and molasses.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Why cannot we have an answer to a question so plainly put? Are we to understand that the Government, in giving the subsidy, have made no provision for the treatment of molasses for the production of power alcohol which would give a big profit to the industry?
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether his attention has been called to the statement to the effect that German factories have increased their extraction from beet by 7½ per cent. by improved scientific methods, and does he not think that some method ought to be used to compel British manufacturers to rise to that standard as a condition of obtaining the subsidy?
Certain processes of extraction yield in this country a greater sugar content in the molasses than others, but on the whole I do not think the present scale works inadequately, and I do not propose to alter it.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say the amount of alcohol yielded by each gallon of molasses?
Molasses varies very much in their sugar content, but if the hon. Member wants any information as to the polarisation perhaps he will put down a question.