HC Deb 22 October 1945 vol 414 cc1680-2
69. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that in the fourth quarter of this year the Soviet production of various agricultural machinery will increase, in comparison with the first quarter of this year, for instance tractor-ploughs, five-fold and tractor-cultivators, 30-fold, he will investigate the possibilities of obtaining such machinery for British agriculture from the four new agricultural machinery plants opened, during the war, in Russia.

Mr. T. Williams

I anticipate that the development of the agricultural engineering industry in the United Kingdom will provide sufficient supplies for our own needs and leave a substantial surplus for export. The question of obtaining such machinery from Russia does not therefore arise.

Major Legge-Bourke

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his answer, may I ask whether it is not about time that we ceased to be the only nation to provide reverse Lend-Lease?

Mr. Williams

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would clarify his question.

Mr. Charles Williams

Is it not about time that Russia gave something under Lend-Lease?

71. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has investigated complaints that agricultural machinery now being produced in this country is inferior to American machinery in design, workmanship and material; and whether he has any statement to make.

Mr. T. Williams

As the answer is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Turton

Arising out of that reply, I hope the Minister will not let it be said that British machinery is inferior to American machinery.

Following is the answer:

The excellence and popularity of many American types of agricultural machinery, and the great help that we obtained during the war from the United States, Canada and Australia in meeting our urgent needs machinery manufacturers, on whom we have relied for about two-thirds of our total requirements during the war, despite a multitude of war-time difficulties, particularly in regard to labour and materials. The agricultural engineering industry in this country is paying considerable attention to the development both of new and of improved machines, but they are still handicapped by acute shortage of designers and of labour in the factories. My Department is constantly endeavouring to foster the development of the industry and of its products. It is being assisted by the advice of the Agricultural Machinery Development Board, which has presented a detailed report on the development and specification of implements required in British agriculture, now under consideration by the interests concerned.

77. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether arrangements have been made to make available a sufficient supply of spare parts for caterpillar tractors and other agricultural machinery imported from the U.S.A.

Mr. T. Williams

Yes, Sir.