asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is taking any steps to encourage an increase in the sheep population on the downlands, with a view to preserving soil fertility?
I am aware of the importance of hurdled flocks of sheep on light downlands in the interests of soil fertility. It was for that reason that the Ministry of Food, in consultation with my Department, in the autumn of 1941, increased the price of fat sheep and lambs by Id. per lb. for the winter and spring, the period when sheep from these flocks normally go for slaughter. The return from this class of land depends also on prices of corn crops, principally barley, which have been fixed at remunerative levels.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a shortage of experienced shepherds for registered flocks, and will he take some steps to ensure a supply of trained shepherds?