HC Deb 01 February 1955 vol 536 cc891-2
14. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of breeding ewes in Scotland in December, 1954; and how this figure compares with previous years.

Mr. Snadden

The provisional figure for breeding ewes in Scotland in December, 1954, is 2,552,000, compared with final figures of 2,549,000 in December, 1953, and 2,707,000 in December, 1940—the latter being the earliest figure for breeding ewes available from the December returns.

Captain Duncan

Is it not obvious, therefore, that the reduction of 300,000 in the total number of sheep is due to the fact that lambs were slaughtered earlier this year, that there will be no ill-effect on the breeding stocks for next season, and that Scottish farmers can look forward with confidence to providing more lambs for the British housewife next season?

Mr. Snadden

My hon. and gallant Friend will realise that the figures I have given show an increase in the permanent sheep stocks. The fall in the number of sheep is largely due, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, to the earlier slaughtering of lambs, which was really brought about by the housewife demanding smaller joints.

Mr. Woodburn

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether any cognisance has been taken of the possible losses in the recent storms, and are these figures supposed to cover those losses?

Mr. Snadden

No, Sir. The figures I have quoted relate to the year previously, but I can give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance that my information so far is that the losses in the north have been small.