49. Mr. De la Bère
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to strengthening the domestic economy of this country and improving the health of the people, he will now authorise the spending of Marshall Aid dollars in purchasing feedingstuffs for livestock, since the present shortage is retarding increased home food production.
§ The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)
Supplies of animal feedingstuffs from non-dollar sources have so far proved sufficient to meet the requirements of the livestock rationing scheme at current ration levels, including the extension of the scheme to include new entrants to pig and poultry keeping and the special bonus issues for pigs and poultry announced in November, 1948. Negotiations for the sterling purchase of feedingstuffs are now proceeding. If it should become necessary at a later date to consider the purchase of feedingstuffs from North America for dollars owing to their non-availability in other markets for sterling, we shall be prepared to contemplate the possibility of using some dollars for that purpose. The possibility of making further improvements in ration scales is dependent on the longer term prospects of supplies of feedingstuffs from all sources, including home production.
Mr. De la Bère
Does the hon. Gentleman really think it right to give an answer of that sort to the House? Is he not fully aware that every farmer in the country knows that the difficulty of producing more beef and pork and of keeping livestock is the shortage of feedingstuffs? In view of the shortage 1445 of food throughout the country, is it not time that Ministers who make remarks like that should be asked to resign forthwith? The hon. Gentleman has no right to give an answer like that.
§ Mr. Jay
I think that the hon. Member does not quite realise that if we can buy additional feedingstuffs with sterling, we shall not be in a position to buy less food as a result. If we spend more dollars on feedingstuffs we shall have less food—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and in those circumstances it is more sensible to try to buy feedingstuffs for sterling first.
§ Mr. Mathers
Does my hon. Friend's answer mean that requests for feedingstuffs which have recently been refused will now be granted?
§ Earl Winterton
Can the hon. Gentleman say, in view of the fact that he stated that there is no demand for this, why it is that every branch of the National Farmers' Union and every branch of the Central Landowners' Association is complaining of the lack of feedingstuffs? Are they right, or is he?
§ Mr. Turton
Has the hon. Gentleman read the reply of the Minister of Food saying that he is having to store feedingstuffs at the present time, and that no more is coming in for some considerable time? Will the hon. Gentleman check up between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food to find out what has happened to the feedingstuffs?
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
Is the hon. Gentleman really going to suggest to the House and the country that anyone is satisfied with the present rationing scales? Is he suggesting that the present rationing scales are sacrosanct and ought not to be increased if we can get more feedingstuffs?