asked the Minister of Agriculture what action he proposes to take to relieve the difficulties of poultry farmers who have, with official encouragement, reared large numbers of pullets in order to sell them to domestic poultry keepers who, owing to the reduction of poultry food coupons, now will not want them; whether the price of 20s. each was fixed as a reasonable one for such birds; and is he aware that under the controlled price they will realise only about 5s. 4d. for a 4-lb. bird if sold as spring chickens?
The poultry farmers to whom my hon. and gallant Friend refers were breeders who agreed in return for an additional ration of feeding-stuffs to breed pullets primarily for sale to domestic poultry keepers. If the orders they have been able to secure from that quarter do not come up to their expectations they are entitled to sell their birds in the open market. The prices suggested by the industry's representatives and agreed as reasonable by the Ministry varied from 10s. for an eight-week old bird to 21s. for a 20-week old bird. The response to the appeal to breeders fell far below the demand for pullets then anticipated by the Domestic Poultry Keepers' Council, and I have no reason to suppose that pullets not sold to domestic poultry keepers will not readily be absorbed by the industry generally at prices above those ruling for table poultry.