§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY (by Private Notice)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has received a protest from the fruit merchants of Hull protesting against his action in prohibiting 1495 the import of French cherries after the 24th instant; whether he is aware that the imports of cherries from France through the port of Hull are heavy and in no single instance has any parcel of infected fruit been reported this season; and whether, in these circumstances, he will consider allowing the fulfilment of existing contracts on which advances of money have been made by the English merchants on the condition that all fruit is carefully examined and any infected parcels desroyed?
I have received the protest to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. Consignments of French cherries are examined at French ports and packages believed to be free from cherry fruit fly are passed for export. Samples of such cherries appearing in the London Market have been taken under my direction. During last week several highly infected consignments were detected; and I regret therefore that I do not see my way to modify the Order issued on the 16th June.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the Minister of Agriculture aware that the result of this very drastic Order will be that the public will be so alarmed that no cherries, English or French, will be consumed?
I think the public will distinguish between the French cherries which are being received this week and the British cherries when they come to the market, because it is fully realised that British cherries are entirely free from this very objectionable infestation.
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the English cherries are labelled "Grown in England."
§ Sir R. THOMAS
Is the Minister of Agriculture not aware that there are large supplies of Italian cherries coming into Liverpool, and therefore this country will not be short of that commodity? Does he not consider that it is quite right that we should put an embargo on French cherries when the French Government put an embargo on our coal?
I do not think we can connect an embargo for the purpose 1496 of maintaining the health of our orchards and the reputation of our cherries with any action about coal. I have no reason to believe that there is any infestation in the Italian cherry, but we should deal with any cases that might be brought to our notice in the same way.
Yes, until the French Government can produce an effective scheme to avoid a repetition of what has occurred in this connection.
§ Major Sir GRANVILLE WHELER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Kent growers, and I believe the growers of cherries generally, are very well satisfied with this Order, which they believe will, materially help agriculture?
We are sampling the cherries as they reach London, but we cannot prevent the export of all these cherries that remain in the hands of the French, and their machinery, I am afraid, has not produced the results which they foretold, and undoubtedly there has been a considerable amount of infected cherries coming through.
§ Colonel DAY
Can the right hon. Gentleman say approximately what quantity of these cherries have arrived in this country?
§ Sir JOSEPH NALL
Is it not a fact that the health authorities can take action if these cherries are unfit for human food?
I do not think there is any evidence that these cherries are unwholesome. They are merely disgusting. I do not think there is any case for intervention in that connection.
§ Mr. THURTLE
Is it not a fact that medical opinion holds that these cherries are rather more nutritious?