HC Deb 03 April 1939 vol 345 cc2434-5
29. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider taking steps to prevent the further closing down of existing country mills capable of dealing with English wheat?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Since the Wheat Act, 1932, came into operation the number of mills owned by quota-paying millers has increased from 557 to 563. I see no reason, therefore, to consider taking any action on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the big mill combines have been buying up private mills throughout the country; that it is very detrimental to stockraising farmers and poultry feeders; and will he take some action to see that the practice is stopped in the future?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I understand that the number of mills has gone up.

Mr. John Morgan

Do the figures refer to country mills? The Minister called them quota mills, but are they necessarily country mills, or are they quota mills?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Sometimes it is a country mill and sometimes a quota mill, I have only the figures for the number of mills in the country.

Mr. Morgan

The question relates to country mills, and is not it the fact that country mills are closed down in order to create opportunities for quota mills?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The fact is that country mills have been helped by the Wheat Act inasmuch as they have continued as provender mills and have had a lot more wheat with which to deal, and, as far as I can see, they have increased in number.