§ 91 and 92. Mr. Foot
asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) if he will institute an independent inquiry into the circumstances in which Cornish potato growers have suffered an estimated loss of£270,092 on this year's crop; and whether he will empower such an inquiry to make recommendations in order that this may not be repeated next year;178W
(2) what steps he proposes to take to compensate Cornish potato growers for the heavy loss they have suffered as a result of actions taken by his Department.
§ 94. Mr. Hayman
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the heavy financial losses sustained by Cornish farmers on this year's early potato crop; and what action he proposes to take to mitigate the effect of these losses.
§ Sir T. Dugdale
I very much doubt whether the losses which the Cornish potato growers have suffered this year can be anything like the figure mentioned, but in any case they were caused in very large part by the fact that the bulk of the crop was not marketed until June, when it met with competition from heavy and unexpectedly early supplies from other parts of the country. Such factors as these are outside my Department's control, and I could not agree—even if I had the necessary powers—that the growers should be compensated from public money for their loss. The financial results from growing this crop can only be judged over a period of years, and on this basis the growing of first earlies on suitable land does not appear to be unprofitable.
I do not propose to institute an inquiry. I am not clear what action the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne has in mind, but as regards imports I would refer him to the reply given to another Question by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade today.
§ 93. Mr. Hayman
asked the Minister of Agriculture what directions he gave to the Cornwall Agricultural Executive Committee as to the acreage which should be devoted to the early potato crop this year.
§ Sir T. Dugdale
No directions were given to county agricultural executive committees about the acreage of early potatoes.