HC Deb 01 February 1940 vol 356 cc1265-7
49. Mr. White

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the agricultural committees, in deciding which land is to be ploughed out, act on the principle of securing the best land for the purpose or on the principle of equality of sacrifice between farmer and farmer?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The War Agricultural Executive Committees have been given complete discretion in their selection of grassland to be ploughed up in their respective counties. In many cases the task of selection has been made easier by the fact that farmers have offered to plough up grassland voluntarily and, in such uses, the service of ploughing directions has been no more than a necessary formality. Where committees have had to select the land to he ploughed, the primary consideration has been to select land that would produce a crop for this year's harvest, but the latitude allowed to farmers in the choice of the crop to be grown is such that there may not be any question of sacrifice. This is particularly the case when a stock farmer ploughs up grassland for the purpose of growing a fodder crop, thus becoming less dependent on purchased feeding-stuffs.

Mr. Wilfrid Roberts

Is it not a fact that most county committees have applied a somewhat rigid rule of 10 per cent. of the grassland on each farm?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I would not accept that figure.

Mr. T. Williams

May we take it that all farmers with grassland available are being treated equitably by the district committees?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Each farmer is supposed to make his contribution to the scheme.

Mr. Thorne

With the large number of people taking up plots of land can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman do anything to prevent the rapid increase in the price of seed potatoes?

50. Mr. J. Morgan

asked the Minister of Agriculture, who serves as the district representative for the parish of Sibson, in Leicestershire, on the county war agricultural committee; what acreage he is required to plough up on his own farm; the total acreage of grassland under ploughing-up orders for the parish of Sibson as a whole; and the particular acreage under order for ploughing-up on the farm attached to the Natsopa Homes, Sibson, Leicestershire?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

There is no representative of the parish of Sibson on the County War Agricultural Executive Committee, nor has the Market Bosworth and Hinckley District Sub-Committee appointed any parish or district representatives. As regards the third and fourth parts of the Question, ploughing-up orders have been served so far in respect of 554 acres in the parish of Sheepy, including 83 acres on the Natsopa Homes Farm.

Mr. Morgan

The Question asked who serves as the representative of that area, for I understand that there is one. Will the Minister inquire whether a disproportionate amount of land has been asked from this institution and whether any political prejudice has been allowed to enter into the matter?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Yes, Sir.