§ 56. Mr. Randall
asked the Minister of Agriculture if his attention has been called to the grave disquiet felt among Lancashire farmers regarding the hay shortage aggravated by the abnormally wet summer of 1946 and the present severe winter; if he is aware that demands from farmers will be abnormally heavy, stacks of hay held by merchants and prospects of delivery of sufficient quantities poor; that 31 the lack of rail facilities and shortage of baling wire are serious obstacles to merchants getting delivery; and if he will do everything possible to effect an immediate remedy.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I am aware of the heavy demand for hay from those parts of the country which have suffered most from the weather conditions last summer and this winter and of the anxiety of farmers in Lancashire and elsewhere regarding hay supplies. The information so far reaching me suggests that the problem is one of transport rather than of national shortage. All possible priority is being given to the transport of hay from surplus to deficit areas, and merchants who have difficulty in obtaining delivery of particular consignments should approach the Assistant Divisional Food Officer (Transport). Lancashire has already received large quantities of hay from the south, and further supplies are on the way.
In regard to baling wire, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 3rd February by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply to the hon. Member for the New Forest and Christchurch.
§ Mr. Randall
Is the Minister aware that the Lancashire County Executive Committee recently circularised the hay merchants in Lancashire, that the replies that have come in indicate that a very serious situation is developing in Lancashire, and will he take further steps to deal with this matter?
§ Mr. Williams
I can assure my hon. Friend that we have this problem clearly in mind all the time, and we are definitely encouraging agricultural executive committees in the North, South, East and West, in surplus areas, to help as much as they can.
§ Mr. Assheton
Does not the use of hay for sheep, due to the severe weather, make a great additional demand at the present time, and will the Minister give careful attention to that matter?