§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if the Local Government Board will consider the desirability of having the Seed Potatoes Acts revised and amended, with a view to 1480W enabling boards of guardians to supply seed at cheaper rates next spring to labourers and small holders who are affected by the present prices?
§ Mr. SCANLAN
asked (1) in what proportion the Irish potato crop is short for this year as compared with last year, and also the amount of potatoes exported from Ireland of this year's crop; whether potatoes are still being exported from Ireland; whether the Government are giving any consideration to the needs of Ireland and to the possible sufferings of the poor through the continued exportation of potatoes from Ireland under present circumstances; and (2) whether any and, if so, what steps the Irish Office, the Department of Agriculture, and the Board of Trade have taken to secure that the poor of Ireland will not be reduced to famine conditions by the continued shipment and exportation of potatoes from Ireland?
§ Mr. HACKETT
asked what steps have been taken by the Department of Agriculture to ensure a supply of potatoes at prices within the power of the poorer classes in the urban districts in Ireland?
§ Mr. DUKE
I will answer these questions together. The estimated total production of potatoes in Ireland for 1916 was 2,433,000 tons, as compared with 3,710,000 tons for 1015, a decrease of 34.4 per cent. Last year's crop was, however, an exceptional one, and the decrease as compared with the average annual production for the ten years ending 1915 is only 22.3 per cent. The total quantity of potatoes exported from Ireland in October and November of this year was 29,808 tons, as compared with 32,817 tons in the corresponding months of last year. Potatoes are still being exported from Ireland; but the Board of Trade have issued an Order, which comes into operation to-morrow, prohibiting the export of potatoes from Ireland save under licence. Potatoes will thus be kept in the country and this will presumably tend to keep down prices.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the hon. Member for North Derry has been appointed to a position as adviser to the Government on the subject of the exportation of potatoes from Ireland; when and by whom he was appointed; and whether he is aware of the fact that the hon Member for North Derry 1481W is himself a potato merchant largely interested in the exportation of potatoes from Ireland?