HC Deb 27 January 1947 vol 432 cc603-4
54. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the urgent demands of farmers for baling wire have yet been met; and whether, in view of the urgent plight of the farmers in Hampshire whose allocation was in 1946 reduced to 295 tons, although 595 tons were required, he will make this wire available immediately in order to avert a crisis.

Mr. T. Williams

I regret that supply is still considerably below demand, and I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply that he fears it is likely to remain so for some time. Hampshire's allocation for 1946 was 379 tons, not 295, which was about three-quarters of the estimated requirements of 520 tons. Total available supplies for the first quarter of 1947 have now been allocated. Hampshire's share could only be increased at the expense of other counties, and this, I am afraid, I cannot do.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, under present conditions, there is a far greater demand by users of combined harvesters and others for baling wire than formerly, and will he give this matter attention, not only as regards Hampshire, but all counties?

Mr. Williams

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I have already been in contact with the Ministry of Supply. It is a question of shortage of labour and raw materials which limits us to our present figure.

Mr. Lipson

On what principle is allocation made to counties? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that farmers in Gloucestershire are complaining that they have had much less than they ought to have had in the circumstances?

Mr. Williams

The allocations are made strictly on the basis of the produce in any particular county.

Major Sir Thomas Dugdale

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that exports of baling wire will be prohibited until a sufficient supply can be produced for British farmers?

Mr. Williams

I am not sure that any baling wire is being exported.

Mr. Dye

Can the allocation of baling wire be related to the actual number of balers working in each particular county?

Mr. Williams

I have already explained that the allocations are based strictly on the productivity of any particular county.