§ Mr. STEWART
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture 734W he will publish a statement on the Flax Production scheme of the Board, referring particularly to the objects of the scheme, the financial position, and the probable future course of this industry in Great Britain
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The Flax Production scheme of the Board was initiated during the War with the primary object of increasing the home production of flax. Flax production is a most important industry, for flax products are the essential material in the manufacture of aeroplane wings, and are required for many other purposes of vital importance to the nation both in war and in peace. Before the War between 70 per cent. and 80 per cent. of the flax required in the United Kingdom came from Russia. The supply from this source having been much reduced there is a very serious shortage of raw material, both at the present time and in prospect for the spinners in the United Kingdom. A secondary object of the scheme was to develop experiments begun before the War with great promise of success with a view to the re-establishment of the flax industry in the rural economy of Great Britain. The financial position in round figures is as follows:
Capital expenditure on land, buildings, and factory equipment £750,000 Other expenditure to date, including cost of propaganda, the training of workers and experiments £850,000 Estimated further expenditure to complete scotching of 1918 and 1919 crops £900,000 Revenue to date £300,000 Estimated further revenue from stocks in hand £1,300,000
The Board are now considering offers for the purchase of the whole undertaking, and are confident that under sound commercial management the industry has every prospect of success now that the initial difficulties of starting a new industry are overcome.