HC Deb 11 July 1932 vol 268 cc884-5

asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress is being made with regard to the preparation of a scheme for the marketing of potatoes under the Agricultural Marketing Act; and will he use every endeavour to facilitate the same?


I understand that producers have under consideration the preparation of a scheme for the marketing of potatoes, but no proposals have yet been submitted to me. Should I receive a scheme, it will be considered without delay.


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that, notwithstanding the 10 per cent. ad valorem import duty, many of our British ports at the present moment contain large supplies of early foreign potatoes and that the home grower is unable to sell his potatoes in the home market at an economic price; and, in view of the need for immediate action, will he state what he proposes to do?


I am aware that supplies of imported foreign early potatoes have been heavy this month. As my hon. Friend is aware, my powers under the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act, 1931, are restricted to new potatoes, and in view of the difficulty at this time of distinguishing between new and old potatoes, I do not feel that I can take any action in the matter. I would remind my hon. Friend, however, that the Import Duties Advisory Committee announced on 13th May that although the Horticultural Products (Emergency Customs Duties) Act, 1931, does not expire until December, they felt that in the interests of the growers, who have to make their plans early in the autumn, they must shortly take into consideration the question of the duties to be imposed on the commodities covered by that Act, when the Act expires. The Committee also announced that they would consider at the same time whether additional duties ought to be imposed on any other horticultural products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, and nursery stock.


Will the right hon. Gentleman represent to the Advisory Committee the unwisdom of imposing any further duties on imported potatoes until the home growers have produced a marketing scheme and submitted it to the right hon. Gentleman?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that growers in Holland are prepared at the present to send potatoes to this country at 30s. per ton, and that, unless immediate action is taken, not only will the British potato growers be ruined, but many thousands

The average prices (per 1b. estimated dressed carcase weight) of ewes, lambs and pigs in the week ending 29th June, 1932, and in the corresponding weeks of 1929, 1930 and 1931 were as follows:
1929. 1930. 1931. 1932.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Lambs (mean of 1st and 2nd quality) 1 3⅜ 1 3⅜ 1 0 10
Ewes 0 8 0 8 0 0
Bacon Pigs (mean of 1st and 2nd quality) 0 10⅛ 0 0 6⅝ 0
Pork Pigs (mean of 1st and 2nd quality) 0 10⅓ 0 9⅓ 0 7⅓ 0 5⅓
The returns of retail prices published by the Ministry of Labour do not enable me to say how far the fall in prices indicated in the above table has been reflected in retail prices.