§ 7.14 p.m.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I beg to ask the second question standing in the name of my noble friend Lord De La Warr.
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government what steps arc being taken to ensure supplies of machinery and equipment, either home produced or imported, on a scale that will justify their statement that agricultural land must be "not only properly farmed, but properly managed and equipped."]
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, in reply to the noble Earl, Earl De La Warr's second question, I should like to say that supplies of agricultural machinery on farms have increased very considerably during the war. There are still certain shortages, but as more labour and factory capacity become available, most of these should be rapidly made good. Despite labour and other wartime difficulties, manufacturers in this country have provided about two-thirds of the machinery supplied during the war period. It will not be possible for us to purchase agricultural machinery from overseas on the scale on which it was supplied during the war under Lease-Lend and mutual aid arrangements, and manufacture in this country of a full range of the machinery required by British agriculture is being actively encouraged. Considerable attention is being paid by the British agricultural engineering Indus- 143 try to development both of new and improved machines, though progress may be slower than could be desired while the present acute shortage of designers and of labour in the factories persists. The Agricultural Departments are keeping in close touch with these developments, which they are constantly endeavouring to foster.
With regard to other forms of equipment, it is proposed that the powers under which assistance has been given during the war in respect of schemes of ditching and mole and tile draining and the installation of farm water supplies shall be extended until December 31, 1947, under the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill. The Report of a Farm Buildings Committee made during the lifetime of the last Government will shortly be published and will contain a number of important recommendations regarding the equipment of farms with adequate and suitable buildings, the provision of advice to farmers, the carrying out of research and investigation and other matters. Fuller details of the Government's intentions on this matter will be announced after the Report has been published. It has been estimated that, before the war, some £6,000,000 a year was spent on the maintenance of farm buildings. An efficient agriculture would certainly require expenditure on a much larger scale than this.