asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he accepts the responsibility for drying home-grown grain; and what steps have been taken, and are in prospect, for the erection of drying plant in different parts of the country to cope with large quantities of threshed and un- threshed grain with a high moisture con tent which, if not treated, will become unfit for human or other consumption?
The producer is responsible for stacking unthreshed grain to keep it in good condition and for bringing grain to market in a merchantable condition as generally understood by the trade. With the co-operation of my Department, the milling industry has since the beginning of the war increased considerably the plant at flour mills for conditioning wheat marketed in a condition which is classified as potentially millable; this plant is being extended at a number of mills. My Department has also in course of construction, in areas where they will be specially needed, a number of silos with drying plants attached, intended to be ready for the harvest of 1943. The Ministry of Food will also make use of certain existing drying facilities at distilleries in Scotland and elsewhere, when it is necessary to condition for long period storage, oats or other grain purchased by the Department.
Is it a fact that about 15 of these silos are being set up, and are any of them actually functioning? Does my hon. Friend realise that the last harvest was an extremely wet one, and that therefore, this matter is of great importance?
None of them is yet functioning. The establishment of grain-drying silos is linked up with the additional use of combine-harvesters. We hope to co-ordinate these two developments.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he has been in communication with the East Sussex War Agricultural Committee during the past' six months on the question of the provision of grain-drying plants for that county, what answer has been given and action taken; and is he aware that, if nothing is done, large quantities of grain will become unfit for human consumption?
I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend is aware of the demand for additional facilities for drying grain grown in Sussex, and certain proposals are under active consideration.
Is my right hon. Friend doing anything to increase the supply of threshing plants in that area, as there is a danger that unless this is done a large amount of grain may become unfit for human consumption?