HC Deb 05 April 1951 vol 486 cc376-7
46. Mr. Turton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the weather conditions that have prevented work on the land in recent months, he will postpone the discontinuance of the subsidy towards the cost of spreading lime from 31st March, 1951, to 31st May, 1951.

Mr. T. Williams

No, but I would remind the hon. Member that the spreading contribution will be paid in respect of lime that was delivered to farms by the 31st March, 1951, and to that extent postponement of the actual spreading owing to the weather conditions will not have affected the amount of subsidy payable.

Mr. Turton

Is the Minister aware that in the method of spreading by contract the lime is not brought on to the farm until the spreading operations begin, and that it is estimated that 200,000 tons of lime under contract have not been spread owing to the exceptional weather conditions?

Mr. Williams

Unfortunately, we could not foresee what the weather conditions were likely to be when the Order was made on 23rd March, 1951.

Mr. M. Philips Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that farmers who placed orders for lime as far back as last autumn have been unable to do anything with it owing to the state of the ground?

Mr. Williams

That is very unfortunate, and I am as sorry about it as anybody else.

Major Sir Thomas Dugdale

That is just the point. Cannot the Minister ease the problem so that the farmers will get the lime on to the farms as soon as weather permits?

Mr. Williams

That was beyond my power as soon as the Order was made by the House on 25th March.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Could not the right hon. Gentleman make a new Order?

Mr. Turton

Is the Minister aware that if he does not amend the Order it will cause uncertainty and confusion to a great many contracts, and that on 23rd March when he made the Order, the effects of the weather were quite apparent to everyone in the country?