HC Deb 09 May 1935 vol 301 cc1125-8

asked the Minister of Agriculture from what bodies he has received representations with regard to the recommendations of the Greene Committee on Sugar Beet; whether he intends to call for other opinions on this report; and if he can yet indicate whether it is intended to come to a decision with regard to future Government long-term policy with regard to sugar beet before the Summer Recess?


I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of bodies from whom representations have been received. I shall be prepared to receive and consider any opinions on this report, but I think it unnecessary to issue any specific invitations. In reply to the last part of the question, I am not at present able to make any statement as to when the Government will be in a position to announce their decision with regard to future long-term policy.


In view of the great amount of disquietude and feeling in the country over this report, will my right hon. Friend take advantage of the first opportunity of making some statement with regard to the Government's long-term policy in this matter?


There is a further question on the Paper about this matter.


Has the right hon. Gentleman received, any representations from bodies other than those interested in receiving these subsidies?


Oh, yes—railway companies and many others.

Following is the reply:

LIST OF BODIES from whom representations have been received with regard to the recommendations of the Greene Committee on the United Kingdom Sugar Industry.

Resolution passed at a meeting held on 12th April, 1935, at which were represented:

Royal Agricultural Society.

Representations have also been received from the following:


asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the estimated cost of the beet-sugar subsidy for this year, announced in his statement of 6th February, if the assumption be made that the average yield is the same as last year, together with the cost of the rebate of taxation on British produced sugar?


If it is assumed that 375,000 acres of sugar beet are grown this year, that the price of raw sugar is 4s. 6d. per cwt., and that the yield per acre and the rate of sugar extraction are the same as last year, the amount of subsidy at 5s. per cwt. (that is, ignoring any allowance for capital services) would be £2,859,562. On the same assumptions, and on the further assumption that the production of white and raw sugar will be approximately equal, the rebate of taxation would amount to £2,906,746. The question of appropriate allowances for capital services, to which I referred in my statement on 6th February, is under consideration.


Is not every country in Europe subsidising its sugar beet at a much higher rate than we are, and is not that why we have to pay so high a subsidy? If conditions were normal, you would have nothing to pay.

30. Sir H. SAMUEL

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the producers of sugar beet have been encouraged by his statement of 6th February to grow crops this year up to a limit of 375,000 acres in expectation of a subsidy for which there is yet no Parliamentary sanction; whether the Government have now considered the report of the Greene Committee; and when the legislation foreshadowed in his statement will be introduced?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, the Government are giving earnest consideration to the report of the Greene Committee and to the question of future sugar beet policy, but, as the right hon. Gentleman himself fully appreciates, grave issues are involved, and I am not in a position at present to make a statement on the subject, or to indicate when the legislation foreshadowed in my statement of 6th February will be introduced.


As the figures just given by my right hon. Friend in answer to the previous question indicate a rebate of taxation this year amounting to nearly £6,000,000, if my arithmetic is correct, will he remember that this matter is very urgent in view of the burden upon the public?

Viscountess ASTOR

And will my right hon. Friend ask the Government to bear in mind what a subsidy of £2,000,000 could do in the way of help and nourishment of children in open air schools?


Is not cheap sugar also to the benefit of the public?