HC Deb 12 October 1916 vol 86 cc210-1W

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware that Irish farmers are not receiving the full Government price for their hay, as the farmers have to defray the cost of the coal, the cost of labour baling the hay, and the freight to Dublin out of the price to be paid; if he is aware that payment is not made by the Government on delivery; whether the full price will in future be paid, and paid in cash, within fourteen days from delivery; and, if not paid within fourteen days, whether interest will be allowed at existing bank rates on the cash price?


Where hay is bought for delivery to a given centre or port the price paid is in excess of that paid where these services are not undertaken by the seller by an amount equal to the average cost of these services. As regards the latter part of the question, the position is that payment of 50 per cent. of the amount is made at the time when the purchase is made. The balance, plus interest at 5 per cent. from the 31st October, or from the date of purchase if that date is subsequent to the 31st October, is paid directly delivery is taken.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he is aware of the dissatisfaction amongst Irish farmers owing to the discrimination in fixing the prices of hay in Ireland below the prices fixed for Scotland and England; if he is aware that farmers are losing considerably owing to being unable to sell as formerly in the open market; if he is aware that only a small percentage of the Irish crop is being purchased by the Government; and whether, under the circumstances, steps will be taken to allow the hay not required for Government purposes to be sold in the open market without restriction?


I am not aware that there is general dissatisfaction. I have received one or two complaints, but I am informed that Irish farmers prefer to sell their hay to the War Department. There is no restriction on hay released by the military authorities beyond one of price. It would be unjust to take the best hay from one farmer and allow his neighbour to sell an inferior quality at a higher price.


asked the Secretary of State for War when he expects to be able to give a final reply to the case made by and on behalf of the county of Dublin farmers regarding the conditions on which hay is purchased by the military authorities in that county?


I have already sent to my hon. Friend a letter dealing fully with the points raised by, and on behalf of the Dublin farmers, and I have nothing to add to what I then said.