HC Deb 24 June 1937 vol 325 cc1375-7
61. Mr. De Chair

asked the Minister of Agriculture what was the total tonnage of sugar-beet estimated for this year and how many tons have been contracted for to date?

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

The total acreage of sugar beet in Great Britain contracted for supply in the 1937 season is 334,208 acres. It is too early to make any reliable estimate of the tonnage of beet which this area will produce.

62. Mr. De Chair

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has seen the report of the first year's accounts of the Sugar Beet Corporation, which reveals a trading profit of approximately 25 per cent.; and, seeing this healthy state of the Corporation's finances is by no means shared by those who grow the beet, whether he will recommend the payment of a bonus to growers to supplement the low contract prices for beet which are especially inadequate in view of unfavourable recent weather conditions?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware that the first year's accounts of the British Sugar Corporation showed a substantial trading profit. The directors point out that this is due to exceptional circumstances, and that it cannot be assumed that so favourable a result is likely to be repeated. I regret that I am unable to adopt the suggestion in the last part of the question. The price payable for sugar beet grown this year was fixed, in accordance with the Act, by an independent Commission after careful consideration of all relevant factors

Mr. De Chair

This favourable state of affairs is not shared by the producer of beet. Could not my right hon. Friend consider some alteration?

Mr. Morrison

The result, though favourable on the balance sheet at the moment, is not one that is likely to be repeated. It arises largely from the circumstances that this is the first year of working of the Act.

Mr. T. Williams

In view of the fact that 25 per cent. is an unreasonable profit, will the Chancellor of the Exchequer take this unreasonable profit into consideration when he decides what are reasonable profits in future years?

Mr. Morrison

The rate of Exchequer assistance for 1936 had to be fixed in July, 1935, before the economies resulting from the amalgamations had taken effect. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that all relevant financial considerations will be taken into account next year.

Mr. Louis Smith

Seeing that my right hon. Friend is well known as the friend of the farmers, will he next year consider seeing that the farmers have perhaps a somewhat better deal?

Mr. Morrison

The corporation and the farmers in agreement have to fix the price, and if there is no agreement they have an appeal to the Commission. I have no doubt that the Commission will be guided by the experience of this year in dealing with the problem next year.

Mr. Davidson

Will 25 per cent. trading profit be kept in mind for future subsidies?

Mr. Morrison

I have already answered that question.