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Agriculture

Volume 237: debated on Monday 24 March 1930

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Credits

63.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the annual liability falling upon his Department or upon the Treasury to meet public expenses in connection with the Agricultural Credits Act, 1928; and what is the amount of public money that has been expended to date?

The only annual liability is a contribution to the cost of administration of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation amounting to –10,000 per annum for the first 10 years. This is borne on the Vote of the Ministry of Agriculture and up to n ow –10,000 has been paid. The Treasury has made an advance to the Corporation, of –650,000 free of interest, for a maximum period of 60 years. It has also paid the underwriting expenses, amounting to –62,500, in respect of the issue of –5,000,000 debentures by the Corporation.

Unemployment

64.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has yet received from his outdoor officers reports as to the extent of unemployment among farm workers in their respective areas?

The reports referred to in my reply to the hon. Member on the 30th January have now been received and are under consideration.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when they will be published and made available for Member?

They will not be able to provide exact statistical information, but I will see if anything can be done in the way of a general report.

Will they be put in such a form that it will be easy to see the way in which the unemployment has increased during the last six or eight months?

I am not able to commit myself to publication, but as far as the facts have been secured that information will be given.

Milk Prices

65.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the average wholesale price of milk as sold to the combines, both summer and winter, for the past three years?

PRICES (Per gallon) received by producers from distributors as arranged under the National Agreement of the Permanent Joint Milk Committee.
1927.1928.1929.
A.B.C.A.B.C.A.B.C.
d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.d.
January16½14½816½14½81716
February16½14½16½14½1716
March16½14½16½14½1615
April1211712111211
May1211121191211
June1211121191211
July1211121112118
August1211*12111615
September121112111615
October16½14½91615

16

15
November16½14½1716

16⅓

15⅓14⅓
December16½14½1716

17

1615
A. Price for milk delivered to buyer's station.
B. Price for milk delivered to creameries but subject to deduction of actual railway carriage.
C. Price for milk surplus to contract quantity at sender's station.

* In months where a blank is shown the full delivery was accepted.

† Three classes are provided under the agreement for 1929–1930, and the prices shown above are the mean of those for the three classes.

with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will the report which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to circulate contain the prices given in respect of Grade "A" and T.T. milk?

The figures are very ample, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will study the answer which has been given.

Following is the reply:

Prices paid to producers for milk are for the most part in accordance with the terms agreed by the Permanent Joint Milk Committee on which the organisations of producers and distributors are represented. The national agreement governs the price of the bulk of the milk supplied to London, but in other areas this agreement is subject to local variation. In addition to the contracts made under these agreements, it sometimes happens for various reasons, especially in the summer, that the whole output of a producer, irrespective of quantity variations, is purchased at a flat rate which is rather below the prices shown under column "A" in the following table, which gives the prices settled under the national agreements for the past three years.

Small Holdings

68.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many small holdings of between 30 and 40 acres and how many of between 40 and 50 acres have been provided by local authorities since the War?

The information asked for by the hon. Member is not in my possession, and it would entail a very great amount of work to obtain it. I may say, however, that of the 16,740 holdings created under the Land Settlement Scheme, between 18th December, 1918, and 31st March, 1926, 5,470 were equipped with a house and buildings, and the majority of these were probably not less than 30 acres.

Allotments

72.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the total area of land acquired under the Allotments Acts, the total purchase price or total rental if leased, the previous rateable value of the land acquired, and the annual contributions made from the local rates to make good any losses on allotment schemes; and if he can give a list of the local authorities that have taken advantage of the Allotments Acts, giving the particulars for each local authority as described above?

Rateable value of land acquired for allotments.

Year.Land purchased.Land hired.Land purchased or hired for which no information as to rental or rateable value was available or which was not the subject of a rateable occupation.
Area.Purchase price.Rateable Value.*Area.Rent.Rateable Value.*
Acres r. p.£ s. d.£ s. d.Acres r p.£ s. d.£ s d.Acres r p.
1925 1,03402692,4381232,066502,9603357,3791075,124110175129
1926905035113,7091312,2781441,2621393,458 0 112,46063147030
1927794322109,062701,9241141,011182,763232,0521502333
1928739032109,7641302,349180549181,543721,352100102325
Total3,473135424,975548,619885,78401015,14401110,9902345417

* The figures in this column represent the gross value or gross estimated rental at which the land was assessed for rating purposes at the date of its acquisition. In a number of cases the property was not separately assessed and apportioned figures have been taken in such cases.

Potato Bags (Imports)

71.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is bodies a table of statistics, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The total area of land held by local authorities for allotment purposes on the 31st December, 1928, the last date for which complete figures are available, was 62,977 acres let to 473,674 allotment holders. It was not until the passing of the Allotments Act, 1925, that local authorities were required to furnish returns showing the previous rateable value of land acquired, and a table giving particulars since that date is appended. I have no information as to the annual contributions made from local rates towards the allotment undertakings of the various local authorities. As regards the remaining parts of the question, I would remind my hon. Friend that the Allotments Acts date from 1887, and nearly 7,000 local authorities hold land for the purpose of allotments. It is obviously impossible, within the limits of an answer to a Parliamentary Question, to furnish a complete list of these local authorities with particulars of the land acquired during the last 40 years and still held. Moreover, in the interests of economy the Ministry has refrained, since 1914, from publishing these details in its Annual Reports. The Report for 1928 contains, however, a considerable amount of summarised information, and I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

aware that over 100,000 second-hand potato bags coming from America and marked Maine Potatoe have been sold here in large quantities, and that these bags are not allowed into Denmark and Scandinavia on account of the contagious disease of the Colorado beetle; and whether, in order to avoid this danger, he will take immediate steps to prohibit the sale of these bags in Great Britain as soon as possible and have the bags which have already been sold withdrawn from circulation?

My attention had not previously been drawn to this matter. I am causing inquiries to be made.

Russian Grain (Imports)

74.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the boycott of Russian grain products by the Dutch Farmers' Co-operative Buying Association; whether he is aware that the Soviet Government has diverted to British ports 30,000 tons of Russian grain originally consigned to Amsterdam and Rotterdam; whether any of this grain has yet arrived at British ports; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?

I have no information that Russian grain diverted from Holland has arrived in this country.

Policy

75.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has received a copy of the resolution of the North Petherton (Somerset) Labour Party, passed on the 15th March, 1930, in which they stated that they viewed with concern the crisis in agriculture, the increase in unemployment among agricultural workers, the amount of land going rapidly out of cultivation, and the lack of confidence created, and in which they called upon the Government to save the situation by making an immediate declaration of assistance to tide this industry over its present difficulties; and when he proposes to make any declaration on the subject in response to such resolution?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirms- tive. I am not at present in a position to say when a declaration on the subject will be made.

Imported Produce

76.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has yet devised any method to prevent the dumping of subsidised foreign wheat and oats in this country?

Apart from the proposal to set up an Import Board for the purchase of grain, which is at present being examined by the Government, the only proposals put forward for dealing with this question are precluded by our international obligations. I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that the question has been raised at Geneva.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what was the result of the application which was made at Geneva, and what answer was given by His Majesty's Government's representative?

Arising out of the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman, is he aware that the President of the Board of Trade, in the Debate on the Tariff Truce, stated in this House that His Majesty's present Government ratified that Convention last December, and that it was open to them by reason of the fact that other countries had not signed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"]—not to ratify the Convention? In view of that statement by the President of the Board of Trade, will the right hon. Gentleman cease making the statement which he made just now?

Wheat Prices

77.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, with regard to the demand for financial assistance from the State to guarantee a price of 55s. a quarter for all home-grown wheat, what would be the extra cost in view of the fact that the present selling price of wheat is 38s. per quarter; and what would be the increase on the selling price of a 4-1b. loaf in London if such demand was granted?

The cost of guaranteeing the difference between 38s. and 55s. per quarter (504 1bs.) for the whole of last year's British wheat crop would be £5,000,000 or £3,750,000 in the case of the proportion of the crop estimated to be sold off farms. There is no direct relation between a State subsidy and the selling price of the loaf.

Common Land (Enclosure)

66.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many applications he has received during 1930 under the Law of Property Act, 1925, for the enclosure of common land; the acreage sought to be enclosed; the number of applications granted, refused and pending, respectively; and has he granted any application without being satisfied that an area equivalent to that enclosed is added to the common?

The number of applications received during 1930 under Section 194 of the Law of Property Act, 1925, for the Ministry's sanction to the inclosure of common lands has been five, affecting altogether 1,627 square yaards of land. One of these applications has been granted, the remaining four being still under consideration. The application which was granted affected only 100 square feet of land, and in all the circumstances of the case it was not considered necessary to require that an area, equivalent to the area enclosed, should be added to the common.

67.

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of commons in respect of which deeds giving the public right of air and exercise have been executed during 1930; the acreage of such commons; and the total number of commons and their acreage in England and Wales in respect of which deeds have been executed since the passing of the Law of Property Act, 1925?

The number of deeds of declaration executed and deposited during 1930 with the Ministry, in accordance with Sub-section 2 of Section 193 of the Law of Property Act, 1925, giving the public right of access to commons or manorial wastes for air and exercise is three, the total area affected being approximately 3,722 acres. The total number of such deeds deposited with the Ministry since the Act came into operation is 33, affecting an area of 13,189 acres.

Is the right hon. Gentleman's Department taking into consideration the effect of these deeds on Clause 14 (1, a) of the Road Traffic Bill now before Committee upstairs?

Perhaps my hon. Friend will put down a separate question. This only refers to facts.

National Buildings (Selection Of Architect)

83.

asked the First Commissioner of Works the cases in which an architect for important national buildings has been selected by open competition; in which cases the successful design was carried into execution; whether the architect was selected by open competition in the case of the following buildings: Houses of Parliament, Board of Trade building, the Foreign Office and India Office block of buildings, the War Office, the Admiralty, and the Natural History Museum; and whether there was a more limited competition for the selection of architects for the following buildings: the Imperial Institute, the Law Courts, the National Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum?

The principle of open competition was adopted in five cases, namely, Houses of Parliament, Foreign Office block, Admiralty (Horse Guards Parade block), proposed Board of Trade building on Whitehall Gardens site, and Natural History Museum. In the first case only was the successful design carried into execution, and in the last case the selected architect died and the commission was entrusted to an architect without competition. The present Board of Trade building and the War Office were not designed as a result of open competition. Apart from the Imperial Institute, which was not built under the direction of this Departmert, the answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.

Business Of The House

Ordered,

"That the Proceedings in Committee of Supply and in Committee of Ways and Means be exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House)."—[The Prime Minister.]