Government Policy.

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture. – in the House of Commons on 23rd November 1931.

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Photo of Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter , Hertford

38.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in framing the agriculture policy of the Government, he will take special steps to deal with the glasshouse and horticultural industries that have been injured and had men thrown out of employment in the Lea Valley through the dumping of tomatoes, cut flowers, rose trees, etc., from foreign countries; and whether he will take special steps to reserve the advantage of the early market in straw- berries, asparagus, tomatoes, new potatoes, etc., next year for this country and the Empire?

Photo of Captain Hon. Michael Knatchbull Captain Hon. Michael Knatchbull , Ashford

39.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is prepared to take steps to prevent a recurrence of last year's conditions in the soft-fruit industry in Kent, whereby a large proportion of the crop was unable to command a price high enough to cover the cost of picking on account of the market being prematurely flooded with the corresponding foreign produce?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

The matters referred to will certainly be borne in mind in the consideration by the Government of its agricultural policy.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Chislehurst

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that a decision soon as to the general policy of the Government is vitally necessary?

Photo of Dr John Worthington Dr John Worthington , Forest of Dean

40.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in order to encourage home production and assist to restore the balance of trade, and in view of the fact that ploughing and sowing for the 1932 crop of winter wheat are now taking place, he can now give an assurance that Parliament will be asked to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that that crop shall realise a profitable price?

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the resolutions passed and sent to him by the Central Landowners' Association and the National Farmers' Union, urging the need for an early assurance as to the intentions of the Government to take action on behalf of the agricultural industry of the country; and whether he anticipates being in a position to make any announcement on this subject before the House of Commons adjourns for the Christmas Recess?

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

51.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he expects to enable the farmers and market gardeners of the country to make preparations for carrying on their industry next year by outlining at an early date the programme of agricultural legislation that the Government intends to introduce when the House reassembles after the Christmas Recess; and whether he is aware that winter em- ployment in these industries depends on an early announcement of policy by the Government?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I am well aware of the need for an early announcement of the Governments agricultural policy, and can assure my hon. Friends that no time will be lost in reaching and announcing decisions.

Photo of Captain Sir Peter Macdonald Captain Sir Peter Macdonald , Isle of Wight

if I put the question this day week, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give me a reply?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

No, Sir, I cannot give any definite promise.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

Is the Minister not aware from information received in his Department that if the country does not have a clear statement of the decision of the Government on this matter before Christmas next year's employment and occupation of farms will be seriously affected?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I am well aware of the necessity of making an announcement at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

43.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the increase in the importation of foreign flowers which in 1924 were 240 tons and in the first nine months of 1931 were 4,014 tons, and to the fact that, owing to Germany and France having trebled their import duties, imports are expected to reach 7,000 tons in 1932; whether he is aware that the industry of bulb and flower cultivation in this country, which employs 20,000 hands, is threatened with extinction; and whether he can make an announcement of the Government's intention to limit these imports before next season's imports commence immediately after Christmas?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

I am aware of the rapid increase in the importation of flowers to which my hon. Friend calls attention. The effect of this increase on the flower industry in this country is being considered by the Government, but I am not at present in a position to make a statement on the subject.

Photo of Sir Basil Peto Sir Basil Peto , Barnstaple

Will the House be given an opportunity to discuss this question before it adjourns, and if that is not possible, will the right hon. Gentleman definitely be able to state that he will make an announcement of the Government's policy before the House adjourns, in view of the fact that if something is not done the industry next year will practically cease, and the people do not know where they stand?

Photo of Mr John Gilmour Mr John Gilmour , Glasgow Pollok

Obviously, that is a question which ought to be addressed to the Leader of the House.

Photo of Sir Reginald Blaker Sir Reginald Blaker , Spelthorne

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that if he takes measures to deal with these imports, he is not likely to be faced with the dear food bogy?

Sir F. HALL:

Will the Prime Minister give a reply to this question? It is very important.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

47.

asked the Prime Minister if the Government will provide time for a discussion of agricultural problems before the House rises for the Christmas Recess?

Photo of Mr Ramsay Macdonald Mr Ramsay Macdonald , Seaham

As I have already said, the whole subject of agriculture is under active consideration and I can make no further statement at present.

Photo of Mr George Lambert Mr George Lambert , South Molton

After the deputation which the right hon. Gentleman is to receive to-morrow, will he be in a position to make a statement?