There has been no change in the Government's policy, which is to give priority in supplies of feeding-stuffs to dairy cows and working horses. Owing to the alteration in supplies through circumstances arising out of the war it has been necessary to reduce feeding-stuffs rations, and the reduction has been applied both to commercial and to domestic poultry keepers, as well as to owners of other livestock. I recognise and regret that hardship and loss will be inflicted on commercial and domestic poultry keepers through this reduction, but I am afraid that difficulties of this kind are inevitable under war conditions.
While recognising the necessity for a reduction, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether domestic poultry keepers have not been led into this predicament by previous official statements?
No, it was always made clear while foodstuffs were available on the then existing ration that the distribution would take place as at present but that obviously the question was subject to reconsideration if supplies of foodstuffs became shorter.
Will my right hon. Friend take early steps to advise domestic poultry keepers of the comparable forms of food that can be collected, such as acorns and similar natural products?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the decreased allowance of balanced meal to be issued to domestic poultry-keepers, he will continue the past practice of alloting a larger ration of eggs to certain priority classes by allowing the holder of a child's ration book to qualify for more than the standard poultry ration for one bird?
It is not possible for me to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion. The food waste normally resulting from feeding the priority classes is no more than that from feeding other persons, and the new arrangements associate the number of birds for which balancer meal is provided with the number of persons providing the household waste. Moreover, one hen should, with reasonably efficient management, provide as many eggs as are likely to be available to the priority classes on their egg registrations.
Yes, Sir, but an ordinary priority child is at present entitled to about 150 to 160 eggs a year on its ration book, four times the ordinary adult ration, and that is the number of eggs that can reasonably be expected from one hen if properly looked after.