HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc570-1
52. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the in creasing slaughter of poultry by poultry keepers in many parts of the country, consequent on the high cost of feeding- stuffs and the uneconomic price obtained for eggs, he will now consider taking action to ensure that the number of birds kept in Great Britain will not decline by more than 20 per cent. in 1951 as com pared with 1950.

Mr. T. Williams

Some poultry keepers are now apparently slaughtering a number of the laying birds, which they would otherwise have kept until the late summer, because of the present high prices for table poultry. They are also appreciating that it is more profitable to concentrate their energies and the available supplies of feedingstuffs on increased winter production of eggs. I do not expect any marked change in the total poultry population, and the second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the disastrous consequences of Government policy, in not recouping poultry keepers for the increased cost of production? Surely we want every egg we can get

Mr. Williams

What I am sure about is that according to the March return we have two million more poultry in England than we had in 1950.

Mr. Dye

Is it not a fact that in recent weeks there has been a falling off in the number of eggs that have been coming to the collecting centres? Is it not more important that we should maintain the supply of fresh eggs for home consumption?

Mr. Williams

I agree, but as my hon. Friend is aware the weather will have had something to do with that.

Mr. De la Bère

Thoroughly unsatisfactory.

Mr. Nabarro

Can the right hon. Gentleman anticipate any increase in the ration of one egg per person per week, to which the unfortunate consumer was doomed last winter?

Mr. Williams

With great confidence.

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