§ 39. Mr. Maclay
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, as a result of the Government purchases of wheat, he anticipates that the total amount of wheat in the country will be the normal amount of wheat usually estimated on plus the additional Government purchases?
The answer is in the affirmative. The existence of the Government wheat reserve, maintained at a constant quantity, will not affect the requirements of the grain and milling trades and consequently should not affect either the price of wheat or the quantities normally held in stock by the trades concerned. The millers who have undertaken the custody and supervision of the Government wheat have given an undertaking that the amount of stocks which they normally hold will not be reduced because of the existence of the Government reserve.
§ Mr. Maclay
Is the Minister aware that concern is felt in certain quarters that dealers in wheat in this country will tend to reduce their normal stocks, and does his reply mean that all persons connected with wheat who normally hold stocks have given a guarantee that they will not reduce stocks in view of the Government's purchases?
As I said, we have a guarantee from these large millers, but I cannot be expected to get guarantees from everybody. The point is that these stocks are immobilised. Nobody can rely on these stocks, and there is therefore no inducement to them to reduce their own stocks.
§ Mr. H. G. Williams
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Government imports of wheat are shown in the trade return?
§ Mr. R. Gibson
What steps are being taken to increase storage accommodation, in view of the Government's policy?
§ Mr. Maclay
Unless the Minister can give the House an assurance that the vast majority of dealers will not reduce their stocks at all, is not the taxpayers' money being spent in vain?
If the hon. Gentleman will read my answer he will see that I state that there is no inducement in this method to private dealers to reduce stocks. I cannot get a guarantee from all the innumerable traders concerned, but our information is that in fact they are not doing so, and will not do so.
§ Mr. Gibson
Is it not clear that unless there is additional storage accommodation, the Government's intention will be defeated?