HC Deb 25 November 1964 vol 702 cc1271-2
32. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the researches of the Meteorological Office into the climatological trends and cycles in the British climate; and if he will give due weight to these in his future plans for British agriculture.

Mr. George Mackie

We are aware of this interesting research. The hon. Member will be glad to know that in this as in other fields of meteorology there is the closest co-operation between agricultural scientists and the Agricultural Meteorological Branch of the Meteorological Office. I should agree that we should take trends in climate into account in planning British agriculture, but I am advised that research has not yet reached the point at which it is possible to make reliable forecasts of future trends.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that some evidence seems to be building up that the British climate, and, indeed, other climates, go in cycles and that we may be in for a period of long, cold Victorian winters? If that is the case, would the hon. Gentleman not agree that it would have an effect on marginal and hill farming, and even on the tree line, and that bodies like the Forestry Commission should take this research very seriously into account?

Mr. Mackie

Yes, I think so, but if the hon. Gentleman will look at the geography of Great Britain he will see that this is a long, narrow island. In the north of Scotland at the moment we have a long winter and a short summer. If that weather moves down, the tactics of farming will move down, too. We are in a very good position to follow what has been done in the north of Scotland.

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