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Volume 438: debated on Monday 9 June 1947

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. YORK:

48. To ask the Minister of Agriculture if he will obtain an increased allocation of steel for the agricultural industry for the second quarter of 1947, as he is aware that the makers of tractors, machinery equipment and spare parts and also structural engineers working on agricultural buidings are either slowed down or at a standstill through shortage of steel.

Mr. Speaker, may I draw your attention to an error in this Question? It should read "the second half of 1947" instead of "quarter."

I am well aware of the needs of the industry, but, in view of the general steel supply situation, it has not been found possible to increase the allo- cation of steel at the disposal of my Department for the second quarter of this year.

Is it not a fact that unless the Minister of Agriculture pushes this case, agriculture will not get more steel, and will he undertake to push all he can for a higher allocation?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am one of many Ministers who are pushing for steel.

Can the right hon. Gentleman at least give an assurance that when steel for agricultural machinery arrives in this country, it will not be sent back again?

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that if he wants any help in fighting his colleagues in this matter, he can count on hon. Members on this side of the House?

Does the right hon. Gentleman concur in the decision by which agricultural machinery was sent back to the United States, in view of the position which he has just mentioned?


asked the Minister of Agriculture what arrangements he has made with agricultural machinery manufacturers, in view of the much lowered output in February and March, to give priority to the urgent needs of home food producers for tractors and other farm machinery, thus implementing the undertaking given to them.

in order to assist farmers with this year's urgent tasks, agricultural machinery manufacturers have co-operated by directing a larger volume of machinery into the home market during the last two or three months. In consequence, the estimated average value of the machinery going to the home market increased from £92,000 a day in January, 1947, to £100,000 a day in March and £131,000 a day in April.

Is the Minister aware that, while the home production of agricultural machinery fell from about £3,480,000 worth in January to £2,520,000 in February, the exports of tractors in the first four months of the year increased by over 3,000 tons, as compared with those in the same period of last year, and that the exports of all farming machinery in the first four months of this year were £835,000 worth greater than in the same period of last year?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that exports of agricultural machinery fell from £24,000 day in January to £19,000 a day in April.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the need to see that there is a sufficient supply of spare parts for the existing machinery, let alone the new?

Yes, as fast as we can persuade the manufacturers to produce spare parts, we are doing so.

Does the re-export figure the right hon. Gentleman gave include the figures of the re-exports in the s.s. "Eucadia"?

Would the Minister consider making application to his colleagues to stop the exportation of all agricultural machinery as long as there is a demand for it in this country?