HC Deb 02 December 1946 vol 431 cc26-7
48. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Agriculture the amount of sugar beet that has been grown in excess of the amount the factories can take.

Mr. T. Williams

The beet sugar factories can take all the sugar beet grown during the present campaign provided it is delivered in good condition and is suitable for sugar manufacture. Assuming that the beet crops are harvested in good time, stored in a clean condition in large heaps and protected from frost, it should be possible for the factories to deal with the entire crop

Sir W. Smithers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my information is directly contrary to his answer?

Mr. Osborne

Is the Minister aware that in North Lincolnshire farmers cannot get their beet from the farms to the factory, because of the shortage of large tyres? Will he do his best to get tyres sent to them?

Mr. Williams

I am not aware of the problem which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, but if he will bring to my notice any specific cases, I will look into them.

51. Mr. Somerville Hastings

asked the Minister of Agriculture what proportion of the sugar beet crop of England and Wales is still in the ground; and what precautions he is taking to make certain that this crop is harvested without injury by frost.

Mr. T. Williams

Approximately 35 per cent. is still in the ground. It is the growers' responsibility to protect their beet from frost damage, but my Department and the British Sugar Corporation have recently issued broadcast and Press warnings and advice to farmers on this subject.

Mr. Hastings

Cannot my right hon. Friend take steps to see that this valuable crop is not wasted, a crop which has already taken so much labour to produce?

Mr. Williams

Yes, Sir, but my hon. Friend will be aware that I have no responsibility either for lifting or preserving the beet on the roadside, when lifted, in readiness for the day when the factory can absorb it. The absorbing capacity of the factories determines the rate at which they can accept sugar beet. I can assure my hon. Friend that they are working overtime to do their best to deal with what is, after all, a record crop in this country.

Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown

Can the Minister say what real steps have been taken in order to try to hurry up the use of Polish troops? They seem to be doing nothing now except sit down.

Mr. Speaker

That is another question altogether.