HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc887-8
34. Mr. Turton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the principle of the accumulation by householders in peace time of small reserves of suitable foodstuffs, advocated by the President of the Board of Trade, is equally applicable in the case of feeding-stuffs for livestock; and, if so, whether fanners will accordingly be encouraged to accumulate a reserve of feeding-stuffs for use in an emergency period?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

There are, of course, considerable supplies of feeding- stuffs in the country and in the event of a grave emergency arising the Government would take steps to control supply and distribution. It will be appreciated, however, that there might be difficulties in distribution in the initial period and farmers would therefore be serving not only their own but also the national interest, if, with due regard to the nature and extent of their normal requirements they created and maintained a small reserve of feeding-stuffs to supplement available supplies over the first few weeks of an emergency period. Since it is probable that all wheat will be required for human consumption, any stocks of wheat held by farmers should not be regarded as available for feeding purposes, but temporary provision for the early stages of an emergency period could with advantage be made by keeping larger stocks of, say, barley, oats and maize, whether as grain or as meal, oilseed cakes and manufactured concentrates, according to individual needs. Such a reserve would not only form a useful addition to the total stocks of feeding-stuffs held in the country, but would obviate any immediate shortage in individual cases as the result of undue strain on distribution in the early days of a war. I should emphasise, however, that if farmers decide to create reserves, they should do so while conditions are normal and not wait until a serious crisis develops. Hurried purchases of feeding-stuffs in time of crisis would embarrass and not assist the authorities.

Mr. Turton

Will the Minister take steps to secure that the farmers know of this announcement by giving it publicity?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Yes, Sir.

Mr. John Morgan

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this is a considered reply, related to the communication of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to me that joint consultation with the Minister of Agriculture would take place, and whether the farmers are to be given any kind of financial assistance, such as the bakers are to receive, in storing such feeding-stuffs?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

That is another question. On this matter, my answer was a considered reply.

Mr. Morgan

In consultation with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

That is another question.

Mr. De la Bère

Will the Minister ask the British Broadcasting Corporation to broadcast his reply?

Forward to