§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRI-CULTURE and FISHERIES (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
My Lords, in moving the approval of this Order, in case there are any noble Lords who may doubt the need for the power conferred thereunder on the Minister perhaps I ought briefly to say why we are asking the House for authority to renew it for a period of twelve months. The purpose of this Order, and a similar Order to be moved by my noble friend Lord Morrison which applies to Scotland, is to enable the Minister, through the county agricultural executive committees, to continue to direct farmers to limit the amount of land they keep under grass. In this way they can be obliged to plough up pasture that could be better used for corn crops. There are two reasons why the need for this power of direction is at present even more urgent, if anything, than it was when the Order was originally made in 1948. The present international situation and the rearmament programme make it more than ever necessary for us to grow more food at home, so that less has to be imported from other countries. The shortage of coarse grains, of which your Lordships are fully cognisant, makes it extremely important to grow more oats and barley in order to maintain and increase our livestock population, I need hardly add that the great majority of farmers co-operate splendidly in the provision of what is required in the national interest, or that this power of direction is not used until every source of persuasion has been exhausted. But we have found a number of cases in which compulsion has been necessary, and there may well be other cases of farmers who would not fall into line if they did not know that they could be compelled in the last resort to do so. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Agriculture (Special Directions) (Maximum Area of Pasture) Extension of Period Order, 1950, reported from the Special Orders Committee on Wednesday last, be approved. (The Earl of Listowel)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.