HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1891-2
9. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if it was with his authority that a statement was issued by his Ministry recently to the effect that land restored after opencast coal mining produced better corn crops than before requisitioning; where such improvement has been noticed; what were the yields concerned acre for acre; and whether the Ministry of Agriculture was consulted before the statement was issued.

Mr. Gaitskell

I assume that the Question refers to a report of a statement made at a Press conference by one of my regional officers which appeared in the "Western Mail" on 17th December, 1947. The statement said that over the areas on which opencast operations have been carried out, farmland is on the average improved. I agree that this statement goes too far and that in the absence of properly supervised measurements over a lengthy period, there can be no reliable evidence on this point.

Major Legge-Bourke

Would the Minister bear in mind the fact that while the example he quoted was the one to which I was referring, it is by no means unique, and representatives of his Ministry have made similar statements elsewhere? Will he make it quite clear to them in future that if anybody is to express an opinion on this, it should be the Minister of Agriculture?

Mr. Gaitskell

I hope my answer will have done something to clarify the position.