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