HC Deb 04 April 1940 vol 359 cc314-5
48. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, as any substantial increase in the number of horses available for transport in the near future in this country would involve importation of horses, and as the expansion of agriculture now proceeding is likely to cause a demand for an increased number of horses for transport purposes for many years to come, he will reinstate the system of grants to encourage horse breeding?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to him on 14th March, to which I have nothing to add.

Sir J. Lucas

In view of the fact that it has been just announced that the French Government are subsidising horse-breeding and stud farms, thus reversing the policy of the last war, would not the Minister also be strong-minded and reverse his decision, as the amount is only £8,000?

49. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, before coming to a decision about the support to be given by his Department for the breeding of horses for use in agriculture, he will set up an expert inquiry into the relative costs of horse and mechanical transport for various agricultural operations and into the relative merits of such transport from a national point of view, taking into account that mechanical transport requires the import both of fuel and of materials for the manufacture of the vehicle whereas horses are reproductive, consume home-produced fodder, and also provide useful by-products?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

No, Sir. The question has already been fully considered, and although I appreciate the value of horses for agricultural work, I have reached the conclusion that, in present conditions, we must rely almost entirely upon the use of mechanical power in our campaign to bring about the desired increase in food production. As was explained to my hon. and gallant Friend in reply to his Question on 14th March on the subject, breeding in this and subsequent seasons is not likely to have any effect upon supplies of agricultural horses for some time to come.