HC Deb 25 November 1946 vol 430 cc1259-60
58. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much home-grown wheat has been classed as non-millable in the past two months and what is the financial loss farmers have incurred by reason of the low selling price fixed for non-millable wheat.

Mr. T. Williams

The total quantity of wheat certified by local wheat committees as non-millable during September and October was nearly 32,000 tons. I do not accept the implication that the maximum price of non-millable wheat is unreasonably low. In any case it is quite impossible to give a figure for what the hon. Member refers to as "losses." Some part of the wheat crop is always certified as unmillable. Some part of the non-millable wheat is retained on the farm for feeding to livestock. Some of the non-millable wheat may be sold below the maximum price if in very poor condition.

Mr. Hurd

Can the Minister tell the House how the proportion of non-millable wheat sold in the past two months compares with the ordinary autumn season?

Mr. Williams

I am afraid that I cannot do so without notice.

59. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is satisfied that there will be sufficient threshing capacity available next spring to deal with all the wheat which farmers are holding in rick because of its poor condition; and if he will revise the scale of wheat prices to make it economical for farmers to thresh and drynon-millable wheat now.

Mr. Williams

I have no reason to suppose that the available threshing capacity will prove inadequate for the calls to be made upon it. The scale of wheat prices is not intended to encourage the marketing of non-millable wheat at one season of the year in preference to another, but to secure a reasonably uniform flow, and changes in the scale at short notice are generally to be deprecated.

Mr. J. H. Hare

Will not the Minister agree that, in view of the great shortage of feeding stuffs, some inducement should be given to make this non-millable wheat available at an early date?

Mr. Williams

I should imagine that the hon. Member knows that a goodly portion of the non-millable wheat can be kept on farms for feeding purposes.

Lieut.-Colonel Kingsmill

In view of the great difficulties which have been experienced by farmers this year, will the Minister say that there will not be a shortage next year?

Mr. Williams

We are doing our best to try to meet all requirements.