§ 55. Professor Savory
asked the Minister of Agriculture why he has instructed the county war agricultural committees to ignore all sales of cereals made before 1st February, 1941, when calculating the number of cereal coupons which shall be issued to farmers; and on what grounds a farmer who sold his crops of cereals before 1st February should be penalised?
Every farmer is entitled to coupons to supplement his own resources so as to enable him to provide at least the rations for his stock on the scale laid down in the scheme. Sales of cereals before 1st February are taken into account in calculating the number of coupons to be issued to a farmer to the extent that they may liquidate a surplus 1523 produced on his farm. They are not regarded, however, as establishing a credit against which the farmer can draw in the future.
§ Professor Savory
Would my right hon. Friend inform the executive officer of the war agricultural committee of Berkshire that the Minister's instructions have been misunderstood, because that officer has given to local farmers who have applied to him instructions in the sense which I have indicated in my Question?
If my hon. Friend will let me have particulars, I will see what I can do, but I doubt very much whether the officer has misinterpreted my instructions.
§ Professor Savory
Is my right hon. Friend aware that last Saturday, in Reading, at a large protest meeting of Berkshire farmers, it was stated that, of the 4,000 farmers in Berkshire, the vast majority would have to appeal because they were not receiving the coupons to which they were entitled, according to the pamphlet distributed by my right hon. Friend?
This rationing scheme is bound, unfortunately, to be very complicated, but it is essential, in our view, because of the extremely serious position in regard to feeding-stuffs. There is, inevitably, a large number of appeals, and the county committees will no doubt deal with them as quickly as possible.
§ 56. Professor Savory
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that a farmer who grew no cereals on his farm has received his full number of coupons, whereas a farmer who has grown and sold his wheat and barley for human consumption has not received the coupons to which he is entitled under the scheme; and, as this is totally at variance with the details of the scheme as expounded in the Grow-More leaflet, No. 52, he will revise these instructions to the county war agricultural committees, which are causing the greatest inconvenience to farmers, who are compelled to make appeals in order to obtain the actual number of coupons to which they are entitled?
I am aware of the difference referred to by my hon. Friend. 1524 A grain-growing farmer who had adequate supplies of cereals on his farm but has sold them, can obtain coupons only when he has satisfied his county war agricultural executive committee that the grain that he has left on the farm is inadequate to provide the basic rations for his livestock, according to the scale laid down. The feeding-stuffs supply position is such that further feeding-stuffs cannot be afforded to those who do not need them.
§ 57. Professor Savory
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has any estimate of the number of appeals with reference to coupons and the time it will take before they are all dealt with?
It is not yet possible to make an estimate of the number of applications for additional coupons that committees have received, or will receive under the animal feeding-stuffs rationing scheme. The county war agricultural executive committees are dealing with applications as rapidly as possible, and interim arrangements have been made under which an applicant may be supplied with coupons to carry him through February, pending consideration of his application.
§ Professor Savory
Why should innumerable farmers be obliged to appeal in order to obtain the coupons to which they are entitled and which are apparently now in the possession of county war agricultural committees?
As I said in answer to my hon. Friend's earlier Supplementary Question, the position is extremely complicated, and very elaborate calculations have to be made by the committees. Special steps are being taken to assist farmers while appeals are under consideration.