HC Deb 24 February 1943 vol 387 cc162-3
51. Dr. Little

asked the Minister of Supply whether, as a larger supply of flax is indispensable for the successful prosecution of the war, he will encourage the farmers of Northern Ireland to grow more flax by increasing the price of the 1943 crop in proportion to the increased cost of production; and whether, in the case of scutched flax, he will fix no more than three grades of fibre with a difference of 1s. per stone between each grade?

The Minister of Supply (Sir Andrew Duncan)

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." As announced last October, the price for 1943 is being substantially increased over that for 1942 by the addition of an acreage subsidy. As regards the second part, the existing grades are designed to meet the spinning requirements and it would not be desirable to reduce their number.

Dr. Little

I am greatly disturbed by the number of farmers who have told me that they are ceasing to grow flax, and I would like to ask whether my right hon. Friend is aware that after consultation with the farmers the Ulster Fanners' Union have reached the conclusion, which they have pressed on the Minister of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, that owing to the increased cost of production flax cannot be produced at less than 35s. or 40s. per stone; and that there is a strong feeling that there should be fewer grades?

Sir A. Duncan

We are in the closest possible touch with the Ministry of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, and our arrangements are all made in association with them.

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