HC Deb 17 October 1972 vol 843 cc13-4
6. Sir D. Renton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how the area under cereals at June, 1972, compared with the total a year earlier.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

The June census results show that the area under cereals at June, 1972, in the United Kingdom was very slightly lower than a year previously—9.40 million acres compared with 9.42 million.

Sir D. Renton

To what extent do the greatly increased yields at the harvest in my part of the country make up for the slightly lower acreage of cereals which has been grown?

Mr. Stodart

The output of the 1971 harvest was 14¾ million tons. It is expected that, thanks to an increase in the barley yield of 3 cwt. an acre in particular, the overall yield this year will be about 15¼ million tons, which is ½ million tons higher.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

In the evangelical peroration of his speech to the Conservative Party Conference the Minister of Agriculture claimed credit for fields heavy with corn. Is he aware that his claim to an understanding with Divine Providence must be regarded with scepticism in view of his total failure to provide the multitudes with loaves and fishes at reasonable prices?

Mr. Stodart

I thought that my right hon. Friend's utterances were highly apostolic and I would certainly venture to think that at each of the last three harvests the Almighty has shown remarkable Conservative colours.

Mr. Stanbrook

Can my hon. Friend say what has caused the drop in acreage?

Mr. Stodart

The drop is almost entirely due to the fall in the acreage of oats.

Mr. Mark Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman kindly inform the House why his published figures of the general census show an increase to 9.438 million acres as against 9.421 million? Is he aware that I feel sad for his having to apologise for a decrease which his own published figures do not appear to bear out?

Mr. Stodart

I will if I may investigate this apparent discrepancy and let the hon. Gentleman know about it.

Forward to