HC Deb 06 December 1922 vol 159 cc1814-5W

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the two sugar beet factories at Kelham and Cantley are both in actual use; what has been, to date, the amount of direct Government assistance to each; how many acres have been under sugar beet cultivation this year; what is the number of men employed and their average weekly wage as compared with the respective figures in 1921; and how much the Government loses annually by the remission of the Excise Duty in respect of our own cultivation of sugar beet?


In accordance with working arrangements which have been entered into with a view to the future amalgamation of the Kelham and Cantley Sugar Beet Schemes, it has been arranged for the sugar beet crops of the Kelham growers to be worked at the Cantley factory this year. By dealing with the total acreage of beet now being grown in this country at one factory so that that factory can work at its full capacity, it i3 hoped to secure the lowest economic cost of sugar production for future guidance. In the meantime, proposals for extending and improving the Kelham sugar beet factory are under consideration. The Cantley undertaking has received no financial assistance from the Government. The Government subscribed for shares in the Kelham undertaking to the value of £250,000, and, subject to certain conditions, it has guaranteed interest at the rate of 5 per cent, on the 250,000 shares subscribed by the public for a period of 10 years ending on 31st March, 1930. The Government has also advanced to the company a loan of £125,000 on a third mortgage. The area at present under cultivation is as follows:

Kelham 3,776
Cantley 4,180
Total 7,956

The Cantley factory, which as I have already stated is working both crops this year, employs 600 men. The average weekly wage is about £2 14s. 8d. Last year, when both factories were working, 800 men were employed and were paid an average weekly wage of about £3 0s. 8d. The actual amount of Excise Duty paid by both factories last year was £122,000. The decision of the late Government to remit the Excise Duty has not involved any direct loss to the Exchequer since, had it not been for that decision, the factories would have been closed.

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