HC Deb 31 July 1916 vol 84 cc2095-7W

asked the Secretary of State for War if he realises that in consequence of the commandeering of all the hay and straw belonging to British farmers it is not only impossible for a farmer having an excess of either to sell it to one who has a deficiency, but that also in the event of stacks of hay and straw on the premises of an outgoing tenant being commandeered in the late summer or autumn the incoming tenant may find himself incapable of wintering any live stock without purchasing from outside his holding cattle-cake and other manufactured feeding stuff at prevailing high prices; and whether, in order to prevent the restriction thereby of home food production, he will modify the present system ol commandeering these commodities in such cases?


I am afraid that my hon. and gallant Friend has been misinformed. It is not intended to remove from any farm hay which is required forbond fide consumption by stock on the farm, nor do the regulations prescribing the procedure for dealing in hay prevent a farmer who holds a surplus disposing of it to one who has a deficiency, provided he obtains the necessary authority from the District Purchasing Officer of Supplies.


asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he will state if English hay suitable for Army purposes has been this year subjected to analysis for moisture, by whom tested, and with what result; and whether Irish hay of similar growth has been subjected to a similar test, by whom tested, and with what result?


The answer is in the negative.


asked upon what authority it is held that Irsh hay contains more moisture than English hay and that therefore a lower rate of purchase has been fixed for the Irish product?


The authority under which it is stated that Irish hay contains more moisture than that of English hay is that of the trade in Ireland, supported and endorsed by the Irish Advisory Committee.


asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of last year's hay crop grown in Ireland was purchased by the Government; if he is aware that under the new military hay-trade restrictions farmers are prevented from selling their hay on the public market and that no trading is permitted except under licence and no one can either buy or sell hay without the permission of the military; if he is aware that the sale of small quantities of hay is the first relief that small farmers have at this season; and, seeing that the Government had no difficulty in obtaining a sufficient supply of hay from Ireland last year without such restrictions, will he take immediate steps to have them removed?


The average hay crop in Ireland is about 5,000,000 tons. The quantity purchased last year by the War Office was actually 83,000 tons. The restrictions this year are much the same as last year. I have every reason to hope that the system will work as smoothly as last year. I have been making arrangements to secure that the methods adopted are made as widely known to Farmers as possible.