HC Deb 15 February 1937 vol 320 cc826-9
24. Captain Macnamara

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider seeking powers to prevent any but British Isles' eggs being marked new laid?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply I gave on Monday, 8th February, to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chatham (Captain Plugge), of which I am sending him a copy.

25. Captain Macnamara

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is yet in a position to say what are his proposals for protecting the poultry industry of this country?

26. Sir Gifford Fox

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the serious plight of many poultry farmers in Oxfordshire; and whether he is making any investigations into the state of the industry as a whole?

29. Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the serious condition of the poultry industry in Hertfordshire; whether he can now make a definite statement on what steps he proposes to take to ameliorate the distress amongst the poultry farmers of the country; and whether he will treat this matter as being very urgent?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the difficulties that are at present being encountered by poultry farmers throughout the country, but regret that there is nothing I can usefully add to the replies that have been given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and myself to recent questions on this subject.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the position now is critical, and that unless some very drastic steps are taken catastrophe may overwhelm the poultry industry?

Sir Francis Acland

In view of the great interest taken by Members representing agricultural constituencies and others in all parts of the House, will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to meet the representatives of agricultural constituencies, without reference to party, to discuss this matter, because it is very serious, and it is quite clear that we cannot get any further by question and answer in the House?

Mr. Morrison

I gladly accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, and shall be glad to discuss this matter, which is very serious, with those representing agricultural divisions at any time.

Sir John Haslam

Does not the Minister of Agriculture realise that Members representing industrial areas are equally interested, and that it would be very hard to confine the discussion to agricultural Members?

Mr. Lawson

In any action that may be taken will the right hon. Gentleman see that it does not punish industrial districts?

Mr. Henderson Stewart

In view of the importance of this matter will the right hon. Gentleman represent to the Prime Minister the desirability of giving a short time for the House to discuss the matter publicly?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that an hon. Member has given notice to raise this matter on the Adjournment, and it is not a matter, as the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) has said, that can be usefully discussed by way of question and answer. It is much too complex for that.

Mr. Hardie

Will the Government take into consideration the increase in the price of foodstuffs, which is practically ruining the poultry farmer as well as other people?

Mr. Morrison

All these factors, which are important, will be discussed and are being seriously considered by the Government at the moment.

Mr. Hardie

Would it not be possible to take off the food taxes?

30. Mr. Hall-Caine

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any of the experimental farms coming under the purview of his Department are now making a profit on the sale of eggs under the present conditions regarding the prices of foodstuffs and eggs, respectively; and, if so, whether he will make a statement as to how this is being achieved?

Mr. Morrison

I presume that my hon. Friend has in mind the farms attached to farm institutes administered by local authorities for educational purposes and to agricultural colleges. The accounts in respect of these undertakings are not sufficiently recent to enable conclusions to be drawn applicable to present conditions in the poultry industry. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the farming activities of these institutions are planned for the purpose of giving instruction to students and that any results obtained are not strictly comparable with those of commercial undertakings.

Mr. George Griffiths

Would it not be wise for the Minister of Agriculture to issue a notice to the hens not to lay too many eggs?

27. Sir G. Fox

asked the Minister of Agriculture the wholesale and retail prices of new laid eggs in Oxfordshire during the last six months and the relative prices of feeding stuffs for poultry over the same period?

Monthly Average Wholesale Prices of Eggs and Feeding Stuffs from August 1936 to January 1937, inclusive.
Description. Unit. August. September. October. November. December. January.
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Eggs 1st Quality at Salisbury. dozen. 1 1 2 2 1 10¾ 1 3
Eggs, 2nd Quality at Salisbury. dozen. 1 6 1 7 2 1 11½ 1 8 1
Eggs, 1st Quality at Swindon. dozen. 1 8 1 2 2 2 1 1 4
Eggs, 2nd Quality at Swindon. dozen. 1 7 1 2 4 2 1 11 1
Wheat (a) cwt. 7 8 7 4 8 5 8 7 8 8 9 9
Oats (a) cwt. 6 10 6 7 6 10 6 10 7 1 8 2
Maize, Argentine (b) 480 lb. 1 6 8 1 5 1 1 4 4 1 2 8 1 4 7 1 5 6
Bran, British (b) ton (2,240 lb.) 6 9 0 6 13 0 6 16 0 7 2 6 8 0 0 8 9 6
Weatings (b) ton (2,240 lb.) 7 4 0 7 4 6 7 8 0 7 11 0 8 3 0 8 12 6
Fish Meal (b) ton (2,240 lb.) 15 0 0 15 3 6 15 3 6 15 3 6 15 5 0 15 6 0
(a) Average prices returned at markets scheduled under the Corn Returns Act, 1882 and the Corn Sales Act, 1931.
(b) Average of prices at wholesale markets at Bristol, Hull, Liverpool and London. Prices are ex mill or store and, for bran, weatings and fish meal relate to quantities of not less than 2 tons.