HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc701-3
46. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture if, in view of the limit now set to the expansion of the poultry industry, he expects that the home production of eggs in the coming year will be adequate, with the imports likely to be available, to meet consumers' requirements in full.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Thomas Williams)

Given a normal season, I expect that home produced egg supplies, together with probable imports, will be sufficient to meet consumers' requirements during the spring and summer of next year. There is still room for an appreciable expansion of home egg production in the autumn and winter.

Mr. Hurd

Will the Minister take another opportunity of clearing up misunderstandings and telling farmers and smallholders that all the eggs they can produce will be wanted?

Mr. Williams

We shall certainly require all the home produced eggs we can obtain for the autumn and winter periods, and that is why, in the seasonal spread, advantage is given for the autumn and winter months.

51. Mr. Turton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will review his declared policy of discouraging excessive production of milk and eggs in the spring and early summer, in view of the fact that it has not been found possible to deration eggs and of his prohibition of the use of milk for the manufacture of cream after 30th June.

Mr. T. Williams

These matters will be examined from time to time in the ordin- ary course of implementing the policy of Part I of the Agriculture Act, 1947. The reductions in supplies of milk and eggs to which the hon. Member particularly refers are largely caused by exceptional weather conditions, and I see no need for any special reconsideration at this time.

Mr. Turton

Will the Minister now reconsider paragraph 13 of his February Price Review, in view of the fact that we are not getting the milk and eggs which we require?

Mr. Williams

The hon. Member must be aware that at least 1,000 million eggs more went to the packing stations for the year ending 31st March, 1951, than for the previous year, and that for the first quarter of 1951 there was only three-fifths of one egg per person fewer than for the first three months of last year.

Major Sir Thomas Dugdale

Does not the Minister realise that since paragraph 13 was written poultry keepers have been killing off their stock, and that the same thing has happened with dairy herds? That is not entirely due to the weather, but is largely due to the Minister's policy of active discouragement.

Mr. Williams

The hon. and gallant Member is not strictly accurate. It is true that there has been some slaughter of heifers and poultry this spring, largely due to weather conditions and the absence of suitable feedingstuffs—[Laughter]— well, if hon. Members can make some feedingstuffs we shall be happy to use it.

53. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, having regard to the increase in cost of production of both milk and eggs, he will confer with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Food to adjust the awards given in the price review and to ensure full encouragement being given to the home producer.

Mr. T. Williams

No, Sir. The increased costs of production of milk and eggs were taken into account at the Price Review and are not a new factor. I see no reason to re-open the matter.

Mr. De la Bère

Why not make an all-out effort to produce more food? Is not the best way to do this to give a real price incentive and a fair deal?

Mr. Williams

If the hon. Member had noted the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) he would recall that there have been 1,000 million more eggs sent to the packing station this year than for the previous year.

Mr. Turton

Is not the Minister aware that the Minister of Food said that not enough eggs have been produced in this country and would he therefore communicate with his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Williams

I am also aware that we are now producing 30 per cent. more eggs than before the war.

Mr. Dye

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is more essential to have both milk and eggs in greater quantities during the winter months than during the spring months? Will he therefore maintain his policy?

Mr. Williams

Certainly, Sir; and that is why we have provided a very high price incentive for the autumn and winter months.