§ 42. Mr. WISE
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will include barley within the scope of the proposed scheme for a grain imports board with monopoly powers of import, but will limit the operations of the board to feeding barleys so as to stop the further import of barley required for brewing and distilling purposes?
§ Mr. N. BUXTON
The scheme referred to by my hon. Friend is being investigated by my Department. Pending the results of this investigation I am not in a position to give any undertaking?
In view of the fundamental importance to the country of this scheme, will the right hon. Gentleman give us any indication when he will be in a position to announce whether or not the Government have adopted the hon. Member's scheme?
§ Mr. BUXTON
That question hardly arises on the question on the Paper. If the Noble Lord will put a question down, I will give him an answer.
§ 43. Mr. WISE
asked the Minister of Agriculture what was the total quantity of barley imported into this country during the last completed year; what amount of this, and what amount of home-produced barley, was used for malting purposes; and whether he has any figures showing to what extent the cost of production of beer would be increased if only home-produced barley were used?
§ Mr. BUXTON
The imports of barley into the United Kingdom during the 12 months ended November, 1929, amounted to 611,412 tons. On the average, imports furnish about 45 per cent, of the total supplies of barley available for consumption in this country apart from seed requirements. Statistics are not obtained as to the proportion of imports or of the home crop used for malting in any particular year, but in a report which will shortly be published by the Ministry on the Agricultural Output and the Food Supplies of Great Britain, it is estimated that "on the average slightly less than one-half of the total home crop of barley and approximately one-half of the net imports are malted." I am quite unable to estimate to what extent, if at all, the cost of production of beer would be increased if only home-produced barley was available.