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Agriculture

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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Livestock (Statistics)

46.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what were the numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry when his expansion programme was started in 1947; and what they are now.

As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a very great increase in the number of livestock since that date?

In view of the heavy stock losses during the winter of 1946–47, could the right hon. Gentleman include a comparison with 1946 as well as a comparison with 1947, which gives rather an exaggerated view of the increase since that date?

That only applies to sheep. The 1947 figures we have given are for before that disaster.

Following is the statement:
NUMBERS OF CATTLE, SHEEP, PIGS AND POULTRY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AT SEPTEMBER IN THE YEARS 1947 AND 1950 (a)
September 1947 (000September 1950 (provisional) (000)
Cattle (including calves)9,65010,501
Sheep (including lambs (b)15,79518,518
Pigs1,7613,326
Poultry (c)45,51162,114
  • (a) Numbers returned as on agricultural holdings exceeding one acre in Great Britain and of 1¼ acre or more in Northern Ireland.
  • (b) The corresponding figure in September, 1946, before the losses due to blizzards in February and March, 1947, was nearly 19 millions.
  • (c) Great Britain only: poultry figures are not collected in Northern Ireland in September. On a United Kingdom basis there was an increase from 70,006,000 in June, 1947, to 95,986,000 in June, 1950. The increase has consisted almost wholly of fowls.
  • Tomatoes And Cucumbers (Marketing Board)

    47.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what workers' representation he proposes to give on the provisional tomato and cucumber marketing board; and if he will indicate the number of seats which will be allotted to the workers on the permanent board.

    Invitations from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself to serve as members of the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board have been accepted by Mrs. E. A. Wills, Mr. Howard Cunningham, and Mr. R. L. Latimer and Mr. W. J. Shingfield. Their function will not be to represent any particular section of the community, but rather to leaven the specialised knowledge of the producer members with experience gained in other capacities.

    Would the Minister say which of the four persons nominated represent Scottish interests?

    Mr. Howard Cunningham is managing director of Scottish Agricultural Industries and he is also a director of the Commercial Bank of Scotland.

    Would not the Minister give further consideration to the suggestion made to him several times that he should give worker and consumer representation on this Board?

    If the hon. Member will take note of the names I have mentioned he will find that Mrs. E. A. Wills, a Member of this House from 1945 to 1950, is a director of the Co-operative Society, and that the last named, W. J. Shingfield, is a retired organiser of a workers' union.

    Farm Workers, Scotland (Wages)

    48.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board has rejected an application by the workers for an increase in the agricultural minimum wage in Scotland; and if he will now make a statement on the effect this will have upon any adjustment of price next February to meet the increased costs of production due to the wage increase in England and Wales.

    The answer to the first part is "Yes, Sir." To the second part, I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally) on 16th November.

    Does not the Minister agree that it would be eminently unfair to include Scotland in any price review seeing that they have no increased costs in the form of increased wages? Is he not of the opinion that the members of the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board should fall into line with their more enlightened colleagues across the Border and give the Scottish farm workers what they are entitled to?

    I am sure my hon. Friend would not expect me to answer the last part of his Question.

    If Scottish farmers have no increased wages to meet, can my right hon. Friend explain why Brussels sprouts are 9d. in Glasgow and only 5d. in London?

    Fowl Pest, Norfolk

    52.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what further outbreaks of fowl pest have occurred in Norfolk; and the number of poultry involved.

    There has been one further outbreak in Norfolk during the past week. There were 228 birds on the premises where the disease occurred, and all were slaughtered.

    In view of the incidence of this disease and its disastrous nature should not there be a further inquiry into the best method of preventing its spread, in view of the enormous increase in poultry in the country?

    I can assure my hon. Friend that research is going on all the time in order to find a cure for, and also the prevention of, this disease.

    My hon. Friend must know that during the whole of this year and last we have exercised control over the movement of poultry as between area and area, county and county, and as between England and Scotland, too.

    Can the Minister say what is the reason for this latest outbreak and whether his right hon. Friend the Minister of Food is the nigger in the woodpile?

    I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I did not convey the pest. It is just possible that the owner himself, who is a smallholder and who is also employed on the premises of a poulterer, who makes purchases over a wide area, conveyed the disease from where he works to his own smallholding.

    Have there been any further outbreaks in the country during the past week?