I understand that the brewers have voluntarily agreed to use malt made wholly from home-grown barley in the current cereal year and during 1954–55 to use malt comprising not less than 90 per cent. of home-grown barley for brewing beer for the home market and not less than 80 per cent. for export beer.
Do not these figures indicate that there has been a cut in the extent to which the brewing industry will use British-grown malting barley? As there is to be a cut of 11s. per quarter for this year's harvest, and as there is no restriction whatever on the importation of barley, does this not indicate a rather bleak and dubious prospect for the growers of British quality barley?
Apparently, the growers do not think so. The agreement to which I have referred was made by the Brewers' Society, the National Farmers' Union and several other societies representing both brewers and growers. Among other things, the agreement provided that the National Farmers' Union should use every possible effort towards the production of the better types of barley suitable for malting.
Will my right hon. and gallant Friend consult the Chancellor to ascertain whether it would be possible to institute some form of tariff on imported barley which might act as a deterrent to its use for brewing purposes so that we might thus maintain that outlet largely for the British crop?
We have secured the close co-operation of the trade in the disposal of Ministry stocks. I am confident that the arrangements we have made will ensure that our prices and conditions of sale remain attractive to buyers. Of the home-grown barley purchased by my Department up to the 29th April, 1954, over 55 per cent. has been sold.
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give an assurance that he will have disposed of the 45 per cent. balance on last year's crop before this year's crop comes forward, without incurring ruinous losses by cutting the price, which he has had to do very considerably during the last month or two?