HC Deb 30 October 1929 vol 231 cc163-5
Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Agriculture whether arrangements have been made with the Argentine for the import of a large quantity of agricultural produce in return for their taking a similar quantity of industrial produce; whether similar arrangements have been made or are contemplated with any other country, and if he will state what steps he proposes to take to compensate the agricultural industry for the unemployment and loss of markets which will be caused by this importation?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)

I have been asked to reply. The terms of the provisional Agreement with the Argentine Government are still under discussion, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that it is not the intention of His Majesty's Government that the Agreement should operate to the detriment of home producers. No similar agreement has been made with any other country, but, if any similar agreement is negotiated, the interests of home producers will, of course, not be overlooked.


But may we be assured that they will be looked after? They may not be overlooked, but will they be safeguarded?


The short reply which I have given on this question is that in any negotiations of this kind, which are a matter for the Board of Trade, there will be no detriment to home producers.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any similar arrangement is contemplated with Canada in respect to coal?


That matter does not arise, I think, on this question. The only agreement before us at the present time is that relating to the Argentine Government.

Commander WILLIAMS

In this agreement is the right hon. Gentleman arranging, or is he likely to arrange, to take a large amount of meat for the Forces of this country?


It would be impossible for me at this stage to say anything as to the ingredients of the agreement. Later, if that is possible, I may make a statement to the House, but I cannot at this stage.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

May I ask when the Cabinet decided on the policy of supporting home producers and abandoned the policy of buying in the cheapest market?


My hon. and gallant Friend can never resist the temptation to make propaganda in another sphere. I do not think that point arises on this question. All that we are invited to do here is to see that in the negotiation of an agreement on specific points with the Argentine Government home producers are not penalised, and we are proposing to take those steps.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give to the House some indication of the manner in which it is possible to make this agreement without it being detrimental to the home producers?


When the time comes to deal with the agreement which is now in negotiation, I think it will be possible to prove conclusively to this House that there will be no detriment of that kind.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the wheats from the Argentine are soft wheats similar to those grown in this country, and that consequently they would come directly into competition with English wheat?


I can assure my hon. Friend that all those facts are before us. In the negotiation of this agreement, I am in consultation with my colleagues in the Government, and no consideration will be overlooked.


Is it not a fact that, if this agreement goes through, it will greatly increase employment in the manufacturing districts of this country?


That question is entirely hypothetical.