HC Deb 15 April 1937 vol 322 cc1182-3
72. Mr. Liddall

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the hardship being caused to many small farmers by the restrictions imposed by the Potato Marketing Board; that potatoes are, in some instances, the only possible follow-on crop; and, in the interests of the nation's food supplies as well as of the small farmer, will he make representations to the Potato Marketing Board that where an application for an increased allocation is shown to be reasonable and practical it should be granted without a penalty?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

In general, the basic acreages of producers registered under the Potato Marketing Scheme were based on the area of land under potatoes in 1933, which was exceptionally high. The scheme provides, moreover, that in any case of exceptional hardship or unusual circumstances the board may allot such basic acreage as they think proper. I have no reason to believe that the board are exercising their powers in an unreasonable manner and the growers to whom my hon. Friend refers might be advised to put their cases to the board.

74. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider the advisability of suspending the fine of £5 per acre now being imposed on British farmers who produce potatoes over the quota permitted to them, in view of the increasing prices and shortage of potato crops now being met by heavy imports?

Mr. Morrison

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 8th April to questions on this subject.

Mr. Mander

In view of the serious effects which the increase in the cost of potatoes is having on the food of the poor, particularly in the fish-and-chip shops throughout the country, will not the right hon. Gentleman consider taking action, by legislation or otherwise, to remove this penal legislation?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Member seems to imagine that the acreage under cultivation is the prime factor in determining productivity. As a matter of fact, if the basic acreage were now employed, the yield would be 4,680,000 tons as com- pared with the actual production of 3,800,000 tons. The real question is the productivity. I would remind the hon. Member also that nothing the board can do at this stage can affect the main crop of potatoes for 1936.