HC Deb 26 July 1944 vol 402 cc757-8
43. Dr. Little

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the reduction in the acreage of wheat by 250,000 and the increase in the acreage of barley by 150,000 for 1944, the increase in the acreage of barley is for the purpose of maintaining at pre-war standard the supply of cereals to brewers; and by how much the reduction in the acreage of wheat will necessitate more wheat being imported.

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

No, Sir. The changes in the respective acreages under wheat and barley have arisen through the necessity of a return to more normal farming practice after the abnormal cropping with wheat in previous years.

Dr. Little

Did not that arise through the enhanced price brewers are willing to pay for barley? Has my right hon. Friend noted that, owing to the large grant of cereals to brewers, the production of beer has been increased by 16 per cent. since the war started to 30th September last, and is still increasing while, on the other hand, the fowl population of the country has decreased in the same period from 72,000,000 to 12,000,000 through lack of cereals? What will he do about this alarming decline?

Mr. Molson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is still a serious shortage of beer in the country, and could he increase supplies to brewers?