HC Deb 18 January 1940 vol 356 cc220-1
52. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate supplies of seed oats for spring planting are available in all counties?

67. Mr. W. Roberts

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the grave danger of a shortage of seed oats to sow the increased acreage of land, he will immediately purchase supplies so that their equitable distribution may be assured?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The situation has been, and is being, kept under close review by the Ministry's Seeds Advisory Committee and it was after consultation with that body that the decision was taken and announced on 12th January to leave the market for seed oats free as regards price. The National Association of Corn and Agricultural Merchants and the Agricultural Seed Trade Association have given an assurance that they will use their good offices generally to ensure a free flow and an adequate supply of seed oats at a reasonable price and, in particular, that they will co-operate with the agricultural departments and the National Farmers' Unions of England and Wales and of Scotland in taking steps to relieve the situation in any area where prices are found to be disproportionately high. Owing to delays in threshing, large quantities of oats suitable for seed are in stacks on farms. County war agricultural executive committees have been asked to take steps to expedite the threshing of oats in their areas and I have no reason to anticipate that sufficient quantities of oats to meet all requirements for seed will not now be forthcoming. At the same time, as a measure of insurance, arrangements have been made for the purchase from overseas of a moderate quantity of oats suitable for seed which will be held in reserve.

Mr. Roberts

Is not that the sort of way that the feeding-stuffs positron was handled until it became very acute? Is there not some way of securing adequate supplies of oats so that the Government can purchase the supplies and have them available? Otherwise they are going to be used up for feeding purposes before seeding time.

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I would not agree with that. I think a great deal of harm might be done if the Government now tried to enter the seed market.

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