§ 55. Captain P. MACDONALD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the growing practice among farmers of selling hop quotas to one another and thus receiving large sums of money for abstaining from growing hops; and whether, in view of the fact that hops have still to be imported into this country, he will consider whether the existing scheme can be improved in the interests of all concerned?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Elliot)
As regards the first part of the question, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for the Mile End Division (Dr. O'Donovan) on 8th November, of which I am sending him a copy. The arrangements for the transfer of annual selling quotas is designed to give the scheme reasonable flexibility. As regards the second part of the question, my hon. and gallant Friend is probably aware that certain varieties of imported hops are in demand for the brewing of special beers, and that the Brewers' Society have agreed with the Hops Marketing Board as to the importation of a quantity, not exceeding 15 per cent. of the total market demand, to meet this 386 requirement. The working arrangements are constantly under review by a body consisting of representatives of the Brewers' Society and of the Hops Marketing Board, with three impartial members, one of whom is chairman. The area under hops in this country has increased by 1,500 acres, or almost 10 per cent., since 1932. The quantity of hops tendered to the Hops Marketing Board by registered producers this season was 239,000 cwt., and the total market demand, as estimated by the Joint Hops Committee, is 215,000 cwt.
§ Captain MACDONALD
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the transferring or selling of hops quotas is being grossly abused at the present time, and will he take steps to deal with the matter?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am not willing to admit that it is being grossly abused at the present time, but, in any case, it is under the review of a Committee on which the producers and the public are represented.