HC Deb 08 October 1942 vol 383 cc1359-60
46. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that many farmers have installed expensive baling equipment, including the modern pick-up baler for straw and, in many cases, are unable to dispose of the straw at any price; and whether he will consider some scheme for providing an outlet and utilising the large quantities of straw which exist throughout the country?

48. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the large supplies of surplus straw in the country, he is recommending to farmers its disposal to help the war effort in any branches of specialised activity, such as paper-making?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. R. S. Hudson)

The demand for straw for paper-making and other industrial requirements is limited and would in any case absorb only a small proportion of the available supply. Moreover, the need for economy in transport will restrict the area from which supplies for such purposes will be drawn. I am anxious that the largest possible quantities of straw should be returned to the land either direct or through stock in the interests of the maintenance of fertility, and farmers are being advised how to make greater use of straw for this purpose. I am sending my hon. Friends a copy of a memorandum recently sent to County War Agricultural Executive Committees dealing with this matter. Subject to the considerations stated I am prepared to examine proposals for the use of straw for non-farm activities.

Mr. De la Bère

Notwithstanding what my right hon. Friend has said does he not appreciate that some further outlet for the utilisation of straw is required, and would he give sympathetic consideration to any authoritative scheme put forward and really give proper attention to this problem whatever possible uses for straw he may be visualising?

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is it a commercial proposition to deal with straw by means of chemicals and otherwise in the same manner, for instance, as garden refuse can be dealt with in a small way and converted into manure?

Mr. Hudson

Perhaps if my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the circular I am sending him he will find the answer.