HC Deb 29 July 1949 vol 467 cc191-2W
Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

asked the Minister of Food when the Queensland British Food Corporation, in which three-quarters of the capital is held by the British Government, is likely to issue a report; and if he will make a further statement on the results of the work to date.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

asked the Minister of Food (I) whether he will issue a White Paper dealing with the plans of the Food Corporation's scheme to produce sorghum and meat in Queensland; and giving all relevant particulars;

(2) whether he will give particulars of the Queensland meat and sorghum project, stating what capital expenditure is involved both in this country and in Australia; what area is covered; and how far the plans for this experiment have proceeded;

(3) what expenditure by the United Kingdom Government is involved in the Queensland meat and sorghum scheme; when it is expected that supplies will be available; and in what quantity.

Mr. J. Strachey

The United Kingdom Government's financial interest in the Queensland sorghum and meat scheme is an indirect one through the Overseas Food Corporation. The Queensland British Food Corporation, which operates the scheme, is financed jointly by the Overseas Food Corporation and the Queensland Government, the former contributing three parts and the latter one part of the advances required, with a limit of £500,000 (Australian) as the maximum contribution from the Queensland Government. The ultimate size of the scheme will depend entirely on the results achieved. Advances from the Overseas Food Corporation to date amount to £371,649 (sterling).

The Queensland British Food Corporation, which was established on the 8th April, 1948, has purchased, or is in process of purchasing, some 490,000 acres of land, of which approximately 58 per cent. is arable. For the latest information about the first year's sorghum harvest, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Crawley) on 25th July. It will, of course, be necessary to retain part of the harvest in Australia for reserve stock and for seed, but I am informed that approximately 5,000 tons will be available for export to the United Kingdom by the end of this year. Several thousand head of cattle have been purchased for grazing on the sorghum stubble and on land not suitable for cultivation, and experiments in pig breeding have already begun. If these pilot pig rearing projects prove successful they will be expanded into large-scale units, the agricultural side of the project providing the necessary feedingstuffs. Meat should be available for export next year, 1950, but it is not possible at this stage to estimate the quantity likely to be available.

The Report and Accounts of the Queensland British Food Corporation will be included in the Report and Accounts of the Overseas Food Corporation which will be laid before the House later this year. Since this will give hon. Members full information on the progress of the scheme and the opportunity to discuss it, I do not consider the publication of a White Paper on the subject to be necessary. I am sending him a copy of the original document of the scheme and other relevant papers.