Fatstock Marketing Scheme (Objections)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will agree to hold regional inquiries into objections to the proposed Fatstock Marketing Scheme, in view of the large number of livestock producers who are concerned at the penal clauses contained therein.
The last date for objections to the proposed Fatstock Marketing Scheme was yesterday, 12th May. I am now considering, with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Scotland, whether a public inquiry should be held and at what place or places.
Can my right hon. Friend say, in relation to this and other cases, what is the good of removing one control and imposing another one equally vicious?
I do not think that my hon. Friend has any idea of the procedure over the producer marketing boards. They are producer boards, and at this stage of the procedure my right hon. Friends and I decide whether there is to be a public inquiry or not.
Food Production (Policy)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the uncertainty of farmers throughout the country in connection with the development of their production of food, the Government's future agricultural policy is for an expansion or for a controlled contraction of home production in this country.
I would direct my hon. Friend's attention to paragraph 11 of the recent White Paper on the 1954 Annual Review and Determination of Guarantees, which clearly states that the expansion of net output to 60 per cent, above pre-war is still a major objective.
May I ask my right hon. Friend how he thinks, in view of the quantifying and many other matters which the Chancellor has alluded to, it is possible to relate them to any possible form of expansion? Does he realise that the matter cannot be lightly dismissed? I shall continue to ask questions about this.
Perhaps my hon. Friend will remember that I suggested that he should read the White Paper. May I also suggest that, as well as reading the White Paper, he should read the answer to a Question which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member foe New-bury (Mr. Hurd) the day before yesterday, which shows a remarkable expansion in production.
Will the right hon. Gentleman also advise his hon. Friend to read paragraph 13 of Command Paper No. 9104—the latest White Paper —and inform his hon. Friend exactly what the Chancellor meant when he said "They might start to quantify production."
I do not think it would be appropriate to reply by way of question and answer, but I have a note to remind my hon. Friend of paragraph 13 of the White Paper. So far as this year is concerned, the only arrangements that provide for any kind of limitation are those for milk.
Does the Minister think that that answer will be regarded by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir R. De la Bèere) as "thoroughly unsatisfactory"?
asked the Minister of Agriculture how far north the rabbit disease of myxomatosis has spread up to date.
The most northerly outbreaks reported so far are on the Suffolk-Norfolk border, near Southwold and Mendham.
Has there been a noticeable spread in other directions?
In addition to the answer to the question which I have given, I think that the House might like to know that there has been a notable spread, during the last three weeks or so, in East and South-East England. Isolated outbreaks have been confirmed in the Isle of Wight and during the last few days in Gloucestershire, Radnorshire and Cornwall.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that it was reported in the Press recently that some Cumberland butchers took rabbits from an infected area which were taken back to Cumberland? Can he say whether there has been any myxomatosis in Cumberland since then?
Not so far as has been reported to me. So far as I can ascertain, there is no justification for these rumours.