Dumping of German Wheat.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 30th October 1929.

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Photo of Viscount  Wolmer Viscount Wolmer , Aldershot

I should like most heartily to congratulate the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Dallas) on his very successful and interesting maiden speech, which I hope is only the first of many more, to which I am sure the House will always listen with the greatest interest. I share, and I believe that the farmers outside this House, when they read this Debate to-morrow, will share, his disappointment at the conclusion to which the Debate seems to be leading. We have had a very interesting discussion, but I feel that the speech of the Minister of Agriculture must come as a great disappointment, not only to Members of this House, but also to farmers throughout the country. I would put it to the right hon. Gentleman with all respect that it is all very well to go to the country at election time with a slogan such as "Farming must be made to pay," but, on the very first problem with which he is faced, he has to admit that he has absolutely no policy whatever for dealing with it. The Minister has said that these German imports of wheat and oats constitute a downright subsidy, that it is most regrettable and damaging, that the situation is deplorable—in fact, he went so far as to say that it is unfair; and yet he had to admit that he had not a single proposal to make for dealing with the situation. I suggest that that is the sort of attitude on the part of politicians which shakes the confidence of farmers and agriculturists in Parliament.

After all, the situation in farming could not very well be more serious than it is to-day. After a splendid harvest, a large percentage of the farmers in this country are faced with bankruptcy. It is not the weather—for two successive years the weather has been more than kind; we have had splendid crops, and splendid harvests; but the world price situation is such that farming cannot be made to pay. Hon. Members interested in co-operative societies know it as well as anyone else. The co-operative societies are some of the biggest farmers in this country, and they have lost thousands of pounds in trying to farm in England. Although they have at their disposal all the advantages of co-operative buying and co-operative selling, and all the re-sources of their great organisation, yet they have found that the world price situation is such that it is practically impossible, on ordinary land, to make arable farming pay. In such circumstances, these subsidised foreign imports really do seem to the farmers to be the last straw. A farmer said to me the other day, "We have been taught that we have to accept Free Trade, but do you call this Free Trade?" It really is a. case of heads they win, tails we lose. I heard a farmer put it recently in this way: If the Germans can afford to make their farmers prosperous, and to make their farms pay, why cannot we in England afford to do so too? Therefore, I do not think the House would like to sit down under the non possumus attitude of the Minister of Agriculture, and I do not believe that hon. Members opposite are satisfied with his statement this afternoon.