§ 85. Mr. T. Henderson
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the views expressed by the Food Council in their Annual Report that the serious reduction of acreage under potatoes in 1936, as against 1933, makes it advisable to consider the suspension of the levy of £5 per acre on plantings in excess of each producer's basic acreage; and whether he proposes to take any action thereon?
§ 81. Colonel Burton
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the diminishing number of 359 acres being cultivated for potatoes; and whether it is his intention to request the Potato Marketing Board to suspend penalties upon potato growers who are willing to increase their output?
I am aware that the acreage under potatoes in Great Britain in the last three years has declined from the exceptionally high figure of 1933, when producers' prices were very low. The aggregate of the basic acreage of producers registered under the Potato Marketing Scheme is 646,000 acres, an area more than sufficient, with an average yield and allowing for the production of unregistered producers, to supply normal requirements of home-produced potatoes. I have no doubt that the Potato Marketing Board will give due consideration to the views recently expressed by the Food Council in regard to this matter when considering their policy for the current year.
§ Mr. A. V. Alexander
Is not the Minister aware that included in the present acreage is land which is being used by farmers for other purposes, and will he tell us why, if there is a shortage, other people who are willing to grow potatoes should not be allowed to do so?
I do not admit that there is a shortage. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I would point out to the House that the yield of potatoes is more important than the acreage. The figures of acreage do not give a proper picture of what is taking place. If the right hon. Gentleman desires, I will send him the acreage and tonnage figures for recent years, and I think he will find that the same acreage has now a very different yield.
§ Mr. Alexander
Is the Minister not aware that King Edward potatoes are being charged for at £10 a ton, and that many of the poorer classes of people cannot buy potatoes?
§ Mr. Sandys
In considering agricultural policy will the Government bear in mind that the recent report of the Advisory Committee on Nutrition advocated increased consumption of potatoes?
§ Mr. Thorne
Will the right hon. Gentleman consult his wife when he gets home and ask her what she has to pay for potatoes?