§ 29. General CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether any efforts were made to buy sugar-beet seed 723 when it was offered from Russia; and whether or not it is now possible to procure such seed?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of AGRICULTURE (Sir R. Winfrey)
A parcel of sugar-beet seed was bought in Russia, but delivery has not been obtained. Attempts have been made to secure other seed from foreign sources, but I am unable at present to inform the hon. and gallant Member if they will be successful.
§ 30. General CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Agriculture if he will state the position with regard to sugar-beet production in this country; what steps have been taken to procure seed; what factories have been started; and is he able to state that the British beet-sugar industry will receive definite protection as against German and Austrian beet sugar at the conclusion of the War?
Sir R. WIN FREY
The Board are amply satisfied that the growth of sugar beet of good quality is possible in this country. In order to ascertain the commercial results of the manufacture of sugar from sugar beet under English conditions the Government has provided funds for the acquisition of an estate in Nottingham through the British Sugar Beet Growers' Society, which estate will provide a site, for the factory and grow a proportion of the beet required. The Board of Agriculture have made themselves responsible for the cultivation of this estate. Full possession will not be obtained before April, but the work of cleaning and preparing the land for intensive cultivation has already been begun. So far as the Board are aware, no other undertaking of the kind is in prospect. The beet-sugar factory at Cantley has been closed during the War. Whether a factory can be erected on the Kelham estate during the War is doubtful, in view of the position with regard to man-power and machinery, but a stock of seed is being procured from which to grow the seed that will be required whenever the factory can start operations. As to the last part of the hon. and gallant Member's question, I am not in a position to state what may be the policy of the Government which will be in power after the War
§ General CROFT
Will the hon. Gentleman's Department call the attention of the War Cabinet to the enormous saving in shipping which would result if the Ministry of Munitions would only give facilities for machinery and building of these factories, especially in the light if the history of margarine When is the Government going to make a statement to the country as to whether or not we are going to have British sugar or German sugar at the end of the War, as that is a question to which the whole country is demanding an answer?
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I am afraid that I cannot say whether the matter has been brought to the notice of the War Cabinet, and I shall require notice.
§ Mr. TENNANT
Will it be possible, if the factory is erected, for either landlords or tenant farmers who produce sugar beet to get the beet taken from them and manufactured into sugar at the national factory?
§ Sir R. WINFREY
That is what we are hoping. We shall not be able to grow sufficient beet on this land alone. We shall have to trust to growers in surrounding districts to co-operate with us.
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
Why are the factory and land used for sugar beet in Suffolk not being utilised, having regard to the delay in this matter?
§ Sir F. FLANNERY
It is an established industry. Could not the Government take it over as an existing establishment?
§ 33. General CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the amount of sugar production in Cuba before American preference was established; and what is the production in the latest completed return?
§ The PRESIDENT Of the BOARD Of TRADE (Sir Albert Stanley)
The preferential rate of Import Duty on Cuban sugar in the United States was in force from December, 1903. The quantity of sugar produced in Cuba in the year 1903 was reported as 987,740 tons (of 2,240 lbs.), and for 1917 the amount reported is 3,023,720 tons.
§ 34. General CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Trade how many beet-sugar factories have been erected in the United States of America since the commencement of the War; whether Japan is developing cane sugar production in Formosa and a factory involving one million sterling in Manchuria; whether it is proposed by Japan to erect another factory in Korea; and what steps the Board of Trade have taken to secure sugar production in the United Kingdom?
§ Sir A. STANLEY
As regards the United States, I have not the particulars asked for, but inquiry is being made. As regards Japan, the answer is in the affirmative. For information as to sugar production in this country, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture.