HC Deb 04 July 1923 vol 166 cc459-60W

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has received any request from hop growers in the country to cancel the proposed restriction of the 1923 hop crop; whether his attention has been called to the injury which would be inflicted by such restriction on a large number of growers whose whole capital is invested in the industry, as well as upon many branches of labour and trade associated therewith; and whether he will consider the desirability of cancelling the order for restriction?


I am aware that the call to restrict the 1923 hop crop has been very unwelcome to many hop growers who have been replanting the acreage which had been compulsorily grubbed in 1917, but I think that most growers recognise that no other course was possible, on consideration of the fact that the consumption of beer has fallen far below that which was anticipated by those in closest touch with the trade. As I have already explained, should an average crop be produced and picked on the acreage under hops which obtained at the beginning of the year, a very large surplus over requirements would result. The Hop Controller would be unable to take this surplus from growers as he would have no prospect of selling it. Growers were therefore advised of the situation in January last in a notice issued from the Ministry, and they were recommended to arrange to restrict their production in the coming season. It was suggested that this might be undertaken this year as a temporary measure by a careful overhauling of the gardens, weeding out old and worn out plants, etc., and without resorting to permanent grubbing, until the position of the hop industry, which ultimately depends on the consumption of beer, could be more clearly foreseen. The answer to the last part of the question is therefore in the negative.