HC Deb 13 December 1950 vol 482 cc1155-7
60. Mr. Baldwin

asked the Minister of Food what was the amount paid to British farmers for fat cattle, sheep and pigs, respectively; and what were the numbers of each bought for the 12 months ended 31st March in each of the following years, 1944–45, 1946–47 and 1949–50.

Mr. Webb

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the information: The amounts paid to British farmers for fat cattle, calves, sheep and pigs and the numbers of each bought in the 12 months ended 31st March, 1945, 1947 and 1950 were as follows:

be carried out on a system of permits, giving access to the factories in turn—which has the full approval of the National Farmers' Union—and will be scrupulously adhered to. If there is any specific case of a local breakdown, I will look into it at once, if I am given details—but I repeat that no farmer need have any fear that his beet crop will not be used.

Mr. Smith

Is the Minister aware that when beet has been out of the ground for a certain time it loses much of its sugar content, especially in weather such as this, and that there has been a great loss of sugar already this year? Will he consider the building of further factories so that in other years the beet will not be lost?

Mr. Webb

Even if we built further factories, we should still have to have some beet coming in at the end of the season. If we built so many factories that they could deal with the beet in a few weeks, but remained idle for the rest of the year, that would be an uneconomic arrangement.

Mr. Edgar Granville

Will the Minister take into consideration the fact that the growers, who are at the end of the list, have to wait until last to be paid? Will he therefore consider making some payment on account?

Mr. Webb

I am quite prepared to leave the scheme of payments to be worked out by the National Farmers' Union. They do, in fact, look after cases of injustice.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the Minister look into the question of the King's Lynn factory because a considerable amount of sugar beet is being diverted from there to a factory elsewhere, resulting in a loss of sugar content?

Mr. Baldwin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the erection of a factory in the south of England would relieve the congestion of factories in the centre of England which, at present, are so congested that, as my hon. Friend says, there is a great loss of sugar beet by processing in January? Process should finish by the end of December.

Mr. Webb

We need so many things, including slaughterhouses and sugar factories; both those things have to take their turn in relation to the capital investment programme.