16 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 3

Ever since Parliament re-assembled last month agricultural members have been

in a state bordering on mutiny. At the beginning of the war the responsible Ministers made the most reassuring statements on the subject of feeding-stuffs. Today everyone knows of farmers who cannot keep their fowls and pigs alive. This led to an angry discussion three weeks ago, from which neither Mr. Morrison nor Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith emerged with much credit. Since then the Government has brought forward the Agriculture (Miscel- laneous War Provisions) Bill dealing with the ploughing-up subsidy and other kindred matters. It has had a frosty reception. On Wednesday afternoon the prevailing dis- content found expression in the debate on Mrs. Tate's amendment. She proposed that the subsidy should be payable in respect of grassland ploughed up after five years, instead of seven. The Secretary of State for Scotland has seldom been heard to less advantage than on this occasion. His plea of administrative difficulty was contemptuously disposed of by agriculturists on his own side. The Labour front bench followed what has now become their habitual practice ; that is to say, they did their best to help the Minister out of his difficulties. But the embattled farmers were not to be so easily appeased. They compelled a division and had the satisfaction of reducing the Govern- ment's majority to a bare thirty-three. * * *