HC Deb 18 January 1940 vol 356 cc222-4
55. Sir Adrian Baillie

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now make any further statement on the provision of foodstuffs for poultry keepers and pig producers; and what percentage of normal crops it is intended such producers shall receive?

57. Sir William Wayland

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can now give any definite information as to what the poultry industry may hope to obtain in the matter of feeding-stuffs up to the end of April next?

61. Mr. T. Williams

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps have been taken to ensure that specialist poultry-keepers are receiving a fair share of available supplies of feeding-stuffs?

69. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the widespread shortage of feeding-stuffs for poultry; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the situation, which is causing ruin among poultry farmers?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The Government announced on 22nd November that in view of the primary importance of maintaining milk and meat supplies and of the value of cattle and sheep in preserving the fertility of the soil, the economies in imported feeding stuffs necessitated by the demands on our shipping for essential war materials would have to be secured in the main by a reduction in the supplies of feeding stuffs available for the pig and poultry industries. I am well aware that in the period of shortage through which we have passed these industries—especially those producers who grow little or none of their feeding stuff requirements—have suffered very considerable hardship. I am happy to say that there is a material improvement in the supply position which is likely to be maintained during the next two or three months. Every effort is being made by the Government to ensure equitable distribution of the available supplies throughout the country, notwithstanding the difficulties arising from diversion of cargoes, and in particular arrangements are being made which will enable special consideration to be given to cases where acute shortage might result in the reduction of foundation poultry breeding stock. Some hardship, I am afraid, is inevitable, but every possible effort is being made to mitigate it.

Mr. T. Williams

May I suggest that as there are so many thousands of ex-service specialist poultry dealers in this country, unless the Ministry are prepared to take steps to ensure that they receive a fair share of available supplies arable farmers will produce some of their own feeding stuffs and leave the specialist poultry dealers without feeding stocks at all?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

We are taking all possible steps regarding the allocation of supplies and everything is being done to see that they get a fair crack of the whip in accordance with the Government's policy.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

Is it true that preference in the matter of supplies is being given to members of the accredited poultry breeding scheme while reputable breeders who are not members of the scheme do not receive this favourable treatment?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

A request was made to the chairman of the county feeding stuffs committee and the Ministry of Food that they should do all practicable to ensure that there are supplies of food for poultry stocks, and their attention was drawn to the accredited scheme since members participating in that scheme were only breeders of whom the Ministry have definite and comprehensive records as possessing sound breeding stock. The arrangements I have indicated in my reply as regards cases of shortage will apply generally to breeders of sound foundation stock and will not be limited to accredited breeders.

Sir W. Wayland

What percentage of reduction does the Minister consider will be necessary in regard to poultry producers during the next two or three months? That will give some indication as to the number of birds they will be able to feed.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

It is impossible to give an accurate estimate because of certain things that might happen at sea. It might be very misleading to try and give a more definite figure than I gave in my statement.

Sir T. Moore

How are poultry keepers to know what birds to keep alive? That is the position to-day.