asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will publish the report made by his technical officers on the tractors submitted for trial by Grantham Productions; how much steel has been allocated to this factory for the past six months; how many of these tractors have so far been supplied to farmers; and how many he has ordered for use by his A.E.Cs.
In the absence of an official test by the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering, the report I have received on the working of this tractor is confidential, but, as indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) on 24th June, it was reported to be satisfactory. No steel has been allocated since July, 1946. A limited number of these tractors had been produced by the time the firm went into liquidation, but it is not the practice to disclose the production figures of individual firms without their express permission. I am not aware how many of these tractors have actually been supplied to farmers. None have been ordered for use by county agricultural executive committees.
Will the Minister say how these tractors are being manufactured if no steel has been allocated, and will he be quite frank with the House and admit that he and his Department are being used as a screen for a rather questionable financial transaction?
I thoroughly disagree with the supplementary question. I do not think my Department or its officials are being used by anybody in the sense indicated. All that the Ministry of Agriculture is called upon to do, if a licence for production of any equipment or machine is requested, is to be present when some test or tests are made of the particular machines. That, I understand, was done, and, on the basis of that demonstration, the licence was granted. Beyond that, my Department has not gone.