Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 7th June 1937.

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Photo of Mr Robert Richards Mr Robert Richards , Wrexham

I am not dealing with that point at the moment, except in general. There is something in the contention which the hon. Member made this afternoon, but I am not dealing with it. My point is that in a debate on agriculture we ought not to consider that industry by itself and say that it is the most important industry in the community. We ought to have a true perspective and place it in relation to other industries. On this side of the Committee we look behind agriculture at the more fundamental problem of the land. I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs raise that question, because one cannot go on improving the industry and continuing the present system which we have in this country. I am not going to follow that line of thought, but I would repeat that we have to recognise that pouring money into agriculture has its repercussions upon the perpetuation of a system with which some of us do not agree.

The other point is that there is behind this industry the scientific question. The Minister of Agriculture is concerned not merely with policy, which we all admit is very important, but with something of even greater importance, scientific discovery and the changes that are possible in agriculture. I would like to see much more money being spent than is spent. I do not say that it is a meagre amount by any means, but there are problems vital to the industry which science could do a great deal to elucidate for us. I would like the Minister to give even greater support to scientific research than is given at the present time. All the development that has taken place in agriculture is the result of scientific research. How is it that we are able to keep so many more people on the land now than was possible hundreds of years ago? It is entirely due to the advance of science. I am sure that, whatever our views on agriculture, we are all agreed that its future depends more upon the application of science to practice, which is, I believe, the motto of the Royal Agricultural Society, than it does upon almost anything else.