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Steel Allocation (Agricultural Machinery)

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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asked the Minister of Supply whether priority for the supply of steel has been given to manufacturers of agricultural tractors, machinery and spare parts and to structural engineers for the erection and repair of agricultural buildings.

No, Sir. The Government have restricted the list of priorities to programmes directly contributing to the expansion of fuel and power resources. But in allocating steel the importance of agricultural equipment is taken into account.

In view of the recent disasters which have befallen agriculture, could not the right hon. Gentleman see if this matter can be reconsidered, because important though fuel and power is it is even more important to have the food with which to produce the fuel and power?

Is the Minister aware that there are large quantities of agricultural machines lying idle all over the country owing to a shortage of small parts, and will he look into this matter?

Yes, Sir. I should be glad if the hon. and gallant Member would send me particulars of any cases he has in mind.

Is the Minister aware that many building licences are granted for contractors to erect Dutch barns and so on for farmers, but that the builders cannot then obtain the materials, and will he try to improve this state of affairs?

As the hon. and gallant Gentleman will be aware, the shortage has various causes, but we are doing all we can for agriculture.

Is the Minister aware that the failure to allocate priorities of steel has obliged several big firms to stop their production of tractors, and does he not really think that at this stage it is time we started to give priority to agricultural implements and tractors?

As I have already said, the vital importance of agricultural implements, including tractors, is recognised and is given consideration in the allocations of steel, but to dilute the fuel programme by additions would not serve a useful purpose.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would look into this matter again, because it is causing wide concern throughout the agricultural areas, and will he see if he cannot give a further allocation so that these tractors may be made available?