7 FEBRUARY 1936, Page 3

The White Elephant The beet-sugar industry, fostered at vast expense

by the taxpayer, is now, by the Government's Sugar Industry (Reorganisation) Bill, to give birth to a semi-public cor- poration. The Greene Committee indeed recommended the abolition-of the subsidy to an industry which could show no prospect of ever paying its way. The Govern- ment has not followed this advice, but has reduced the annual largesse from £7,000,000 to •12,500,000. There is some possibilityof a still further reduction, and production is limited by making only a fixed amount of beet eligible for the subsidy. The private factories are to be united in a British Sugar Corporation, with debentures guaran- teed up to £1,000,000 by the Treasury ; it must pay a minimum price to the beet - growers, use only British machinery, and will be supervised by a Sugar Commission. This artificial expedient is perhaps the only way of solving an artificial problem withoUt injuring vested interests or conflicting with the " agricultural grounds " the- Govern- ment puts forward for its Bill. The vice of-such a subsidy as the beet-sugar industry has been enjoying is that it cannot be suddenly withdrawn without risk of disastrous dislocation. In those circumstances the new Bill must be regarded as.making the best of a bad job.