§ Mr. M'GUFFIN
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) what was the acreage under flax in Ireland in 1913 as compared with 1920, their respective yields per acre, and selling price per stone; and how much flax was imported in 1913 as compared with 1920, and the approximate amount of flax in Ireland at present, both scutched and unscutched?
§ Mr. HENRY
The area under flax in Ireland was 59,305 acres in 1913 and 127,198 acres in 1920. The quantity of flax imported in 1913 was 40,982 tons and in 1920, 9,858 tons. The average selling price for flax in 1913 was 7s. 2¼d. per stone, and in 1920, 39s. 5d. per stone. The yield in 1913 was at the rate of 34.1 stones per statute acre. It is not possible to estimate accurately the yield per acre for 1920, as less than half of last year's crop has as yet been marketed. It is not expected to average morn than 22 stones per acre. The Department of Agriculture are not in a position to state the approximate amount of flax at present in Ireland, as they have no information as to the quantities in manufacturing stores. The Irish crop of 1920 will, it is estimated, give a total yield of from 16,000 to 18,000 tons.
§ Mr. M'GUFFIN
asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) if he is aware of the serious and precarious position of the linen trade in Ulster by reason of the decision of the farmers as a whole not to put any acreage under flax this year in the absence of a subsidy to secure them against actual loss in the prices for 1922; whether he is aware of the necessity for immediately dealing with this matter, as there is only a week or two until the sowing of this season's crop must be begun; and whether, considering the disaster that must result to the linen trade, employing over 100,000 workers, if flax is not sown, he is prepared to receive 2023W a deputation of the Farmers' Union to hear their views and make what arrangements are possible to deal with this important crisis?
§ Mr. HENRY
My right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture is fully aware of the difficulty of the linen trade in Ulster and of the hesitation of farmers, owing to the fall in price, to sow a large acreage of flax in 1921. The Department believe, however, that most farmers realising the importance of flax to the spinning industry and the probability of this crop being as remunerative as any other next year, will again sow a considerable acreage with this crop. The Department are quite prepared to receive a deputation from the Farmers' Union and hear their views on the subject.