HC Deb 12 April 1948 vol 449 cc616-8
53. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the continued shortage of fertilisers in the county of Norfolk, particularly potash, nitrogen and super-phosphate; and, in view of the importance of these fertilisers to the sugar beet and potato crops in this country, what steps he is taking to ensure that more adequate supplies are made available.

Mr. T. Williams

I am informed by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that Norfolk is receiving a full share of the increased quantities of fertilisers available this year. Imports of raw materials for fertiliser manufacture are continuing at a high level and everything possible is being done to expedite further supplies.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Minister aware that the shortage is, nevertheless, very marked and is handicapping the farmers in their efforts to grow the maximum amount of food? Will he do all he can to help us in this matter?

Mr. Williams

We certainly have done so. I shall be replying to a later Question indicating the increases we have obtained in potash and the rest of the fertilisers this year.

57. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture to what extent supplies of fertilisers, particularly phosphates and potash, have fallen short of farmers requirements this spring.

71. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the acute shortage of fertilisers now prevailing in the county of Hampshire; what action he proposes taking to deal with this shortage; and why adequate arrangements were not made in advance to deal with the substantially increased demand for fertilisers which was bound to develop as a result of the food expansion programme that has been launched.

72. Mr. David Renton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that in recent weeks supplies of potato manure containing potash have been insufficient to meet the demand and that as a result many farmers have been unable to take the fullest possible advantage of the favourable weather conditions this spring for growing potatoes; and what immediate steps will be taken to provide adequate supplies to farmers of such manure.

Mr. T. Williams

Owing to the early season, farmers in some parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of fertilisers, particularly compounds containing potash, but up to the end of March of this year considerably more fertilisers of all kinds had been distributed than for the same period last year. I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table giving details of actual supplies to the end of March this year as compared with a similar period last year.

Mr. Hurd

But how does it happen that the Government were not prepared for an early season? The farmer has to prepare for an early season. How did these imports of raw materials for the manufacture of fertilisers fall so far behind?

Mr. Williams

My hon. Friend must be aware that between July and March of this year we have imported 50 per cent. more potash than for the same period of the previous year.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Will those figures show how much of that potash has come from the Palestine area?

Mr. Williams

Not separately.

Following is the table:

Estimated supplies available 1st July, 1947, to 31st March, 1948. Actual supplies available 1st July, 1946, to 31st March, 1947.
Nitrogen 152,000 tons N. 133,000 tons N.
Phosphates 296,000 tons P2O5 272,000 tons P2O5
Potash 145,000 tons K2O 90,000 Ions K2O
Compounds (excluding C.C.F.). 1,102,000 tons 840,000 tons

Forward to