Major Sir B. FA LLE
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if the ploughing scheme of the Food Production Department of the Board of Agriculture, of which the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries was at one time director, has been dropped; if such scheme was a success, or if over £900,000 was lost in connection with the scheme; and if he can say what action has been, or is being taken, in respect of the plant and staff concerned in the scheme?
Sir A. BOSCAWEN
The ploughing scheme of the Food Production Department was started in the early months of 1917, and resulted in a total increase in the tillage area of nearly a million and a half acres. Following on the Armistice it was decided that the scheme, so far as the use of Government tractors was concerned, should be brought to an end as soon as possible after the conclusion of the spring ploughing, and the Tractor Organisation has been in process of liquidation since May last. To avoid hardship to individual farmers who had entered into contracts with the Board a small proportion of the tractors were retained at work until the end of September when operations ceased. So far as the objects of the Tractor Organisation were to got the 897W land cultivated and to produce food it was a great success but it was necessarily run at a loss, as already explained in the White Paper (Cmd. 304) issued in August last. The machinery and implements employed are being disposed on by the Board of Agriculture in conjunction with the Disposal Board. Already the greater part has been sold at favourable prices, and the money so received must be set off against the cost of the scheme. The staff has also been discharged with the exception of a small number engaged in the work of disposal and clearing up.