HC Deb 17 March 1937 vol 321 cc2066-8
60. Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether any of his committees have considered the extent to which potatoes and other substitutes for wheat could be used in our bread supply so that in time of war the import of wheat could be reduced to a minimum; and whether any steps have been taken to issue instructions on the subject?

Sir T. Inskip

Yes, Sir. Our object is to ensure the best use of all our resources, but I do not think that any instructions of this kind are necessary at the present time.

61. Mr. Maxwell

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence what steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to ensure that in the event of hostilities breaking out a sufficient number of young and able-bodied men are left in agricultural employment to ensure the safety and adequacy of home food production?

Sir T. Inskip

The question of the number of men that will be required to be left in agricultural employment for the purpose of home food production in the event of hostilities is one of the matters which is receiving the attention of His Majesty's Government. The hon. Member may rest assured that the importance of the matter is fully realised.

Mr. Maxwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that if the rural population is allowed to decrease he may find difficulty in getting the increased production which he will desire when the time comes?

Sir T. Inskip

Yes, Sir, I am aware of that position.

Mr. Macquisten

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if we have more of these marketing boards put on to agriculture it will die out?

63. Captain Heilgers

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence whether, in view of the danger of the complete destruction or contamination of growing crops and livestock by hostile air action in the event of war, he is taking steps to protect them from such risks?

Sir T. Inskip

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) on 17th February.

64. Colonel Sir Edward Ruggles-Brise

asked the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence the number of merchant vessels used and of naval vessels employed as escort in conveying foodstuffs to the United Kingdom in 1918; and how many in each category were British or foreign?

Sir T. Inskip

It would not be possible, without prolonged investigation, to give figures for vessels conveying foodstuffs as opposed to other imports. As regards the employment of naval vessels on escort work, the number varied considerably during 1918. In September of that year approximately 300 cruisers and armed merchant cruisers, destroyers and sloops were employed in convoy and escort duties in the North Atlantic and home waters, and of these approximately 40 were foreign. In a dditoin, there was a large number of small auxiliary craft employed in the approaches to ports. The ships engaged on trade protection work all operated under covering support afforded by the Grand Fleet.

Sir E. Ruggles-Brise

Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to the last part of the question?

Sir T. Inskip

I answered that by saying that approximately 40 were foreign.

Sir E. Ruggles-Brise

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that at present there is a sufficient tonnage of merchant vessels available, and also a sufficient number of naval vessels for escort purposes?

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