HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc35-7W
50. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures showing the level of milk production in the country as a whole and in the county of Essex during the current year and in the com parable months of 1950; if he is aware that some dairy-herds in Essex are now being dispersed and that there is a substantial increase in the number of cow-heifers sold for slaughter; and what steps he is taking to guard against a shortage of milk later this year and in the years to come.

Mr. T. Williams

I am aware that there has recently been an increase in the sales in Essex of cow-heifers for slaughter as compared with those in the early months of 1950. This is due, in my view, to the late arrival of normal spring weather and the shortage of feed.

As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 9th May by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers).

Following are the figures:

January to March 1950 1951
Essex 8.45 8.15
England and Wales 400 377

51. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures showing how the present production of eggs, in the country as a whole and in the county of Essex, compares with production a year ago; and what steps he is taking to maintain the supply of home-produced eggs.

Mr. T. Williams

County figures for egg production are not available. I am, however, circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT statistics of the numbers of eggs sent to licensed packing stations in Great Britain during each of the two years and each of the two quarters ending 31st March, 1950, and 31st March, 1951.

The range of seasonal prices, particulars of which are announced in the Press today, is designed to encourage an appreiable expansion of home produced supplies of eggs in the autumn and winter.

Following are the figures:

Year ending 31st March, 1950 3,190,635,720
Year ending 31st March, 1951 4,191,376,320
1st January to 31st March, 1950 1,115,348,760
1st January to 31st March, 1951 1,085,348,880

56. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture why, in view of the short supply of eggs, both home-produced and imported, he has told farmers that the Government want to check the rate of expansion in egg production.

Mr. T. Williams

As is made clear in the recent White Paper on the Annual Review and Fixing of Farm Prices, 1951, it is desired to check the rate of expansion of egg production in Spring and early summer, but there is room for appreciable expansion in the autumn and winter. The shortage of supplies this spring has been due largely to bad weather which has affected imported as well as home supplies, and I see no reason for any change of policy on this account.

59. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the award of 1½d. per gallon for milk by the February Price Review is but half the ascertained increased cost of 3d. per gallon agreed with his Department, and that producers, particularly the small men, will be unable to afford the essential high priced feedingstuffs and fertilisers; and what he proposes to do to remedy this situation.

Mr. T. Williams

The figures quoted by the hon. Member are approximately correct, as far as they go, but he has overlooked the substantial price increases for fat cows and veal calves which will benefit milk producers. The reduction in milk producers' profits, therefore, should not be serious. The special position of the small milk producer has been recognised by an increase in the production bonus, as a component of the average price increase of 1½d. Further, assistance in suitable cases is available under the Marginal Production Scheme.

1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950
'000 '000 '000 '000 '000 '000
Horses used for agricultural purposes:—
Mares (including those kept for breeding) 925.0 980.6 788.9 682.8 541.4 170.2
Geldings 118.8
Unbroken horses one year old and over:—
Light 265.1 (a)248.7 228.6 84.8 107.4 16.6
Heavy 13.2
Horses under one year old:—
Light 115.4 112.6 97.3 37.9 13.4 6.3
Heavy 30.7 4.0
Stallions for service:—
Light (b) (c) 6.9 3.3 3.3 1.0
Heavy (b) (c) 0.6
All other horses (b) (b) 244.0 152.5 123.5 86.7
TOTAL 1,305.6 1,341.8 1,365.7 961.4 819.6 417.5
(a) Includes stallions.
(b) Not separately collected.
(c) Included under unbroken horses.