asked the Minister of Food what is the tonnage of wheat necessary to provide flour for the present annual bread consumption; and how much of this wheat is home-produced.
The present consumption of flour in all its forms requires at the current extraction rate the equivalent of six million tons of wheat yearly. About 62 per cent. of flour consumption is for making bread and the remainder for biscuits, flour confectionery and other farinaceous foods. Approximately 24 per cent. of the total wheat requirement is home grown.
Does my right hon. and gallant Friend not think that his attention should be confined to the purchasing of bread grain and that he should hand over the purchasing of coarse grain to the trade and thus save the enormous losses in bulk buying and bad storage which go on at the present time?
asked the Minister of Food to what extent the present importation of wheat and flour is sufficient for the annual bread consumption; and whether he will now permit home-growers to consume their own wheat for the production pf bacon, poultry and eggs.
About 76 per cent. of our present total requirements for bread and all other forms of flour usage is met by imported wheat and flour, and the balance by home grown. It is not possible in present circumstances to permit farmers to retain larger quantities of home-grown wheat for feeding livestock.
In view of the penalty which is imposed on wheat growers, who have now to provide a certain amount of wheat for the coarse grain ration, does my right hon. and gallant Friend not think it is time that rationing was done away with, and that there should be a free trade in grain?
There is at present an obligation to hand over a certain percentage of feeding-stuffs; but if what my hon. Friend suggested came about it would simply mean that we should have to purchase more wheat, involving a very high dollar expenditure.
Might I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman if he realises that a much more intelligent way of freeing trade would be to encourage as far as possible the further importation of coarse grain from Eastern Europe, whereby Western Europe could be helped? Will he suggest that the Government might consider sending a delegate to the Moscow economic conference on this issue?
We are getting a large proportion of coarse grain from Eastern Europe now.