HC Deb 25 January 1937 vol 319 cc561-2
29. Mr. Sandys

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps have been taken in the interests of national defence to increase the home production of cereals and meat?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

From 1931 to 1936 the production in the United Kingdom of beef and veal increased by 19 per cent. and that of pigmeat by 41 per cent. In the same period the wheat acreage increased by 44 per cent. These increases are, in large measure, attributable to the steps that have been taken by the Government to promote the well-being of these branches of agriculture and to maintain the productivity of the industry in the national interests.

Mr. Sandys

In view of the fact that this question was originally addessed to the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, who is responsible for food storage, and was transferred by him to my right hon. Friend, may I ask whether it is really satisfactory to divide between two Ministers the responsibility for ensuring adequate supplies of foodstuffs in time of war?

Sir W. Davison

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, is it not a fact that there are some 5,000,000 fewer acres now under arable cultivation in this country than there were 50 years ago?

Mr. Morrison

I should require to have notice of the second supplementary question, because I am not sure of the figure, and I should not like to give an inaccurate one. As regards the first supplementary question, I would say that the part which agriculture can play in this country in time of peace and in time of war is a matter of agricultural policy, and the policy of His Majesty's Government is framed to ensure that it will play its part in this country under any conditions. Every question affecting supplies in war, which involves more than British agriculture, is at present under the active consideration of His Majesty's Government.