HC Deb 11 December 1946 vol 431 cc1156-7
53. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the continued dissatisfaction of the Danish people with the prices paid by this country for Danish agricultural produce; and whether, in view of the adverse effect which this is having on their ability and willingness to buy British goods, he proposes to review the position in the near future with a view to some modification of the existing arrangements.

Mr. Strachey

I know the Danes would like to be paid more under the agreement of July, 1946. That agreement, however, gave Denmark solid assurances of a large share in the British market for her products for the next three years, and provided for a review of the prices at reason able intervals. I do not see why the arrangements laid down in the agreement should be modified. We cannot ignore the repercussions which would follow if we paid Denmark prices for her agricultural produce entirely out of relation to those paid to other suppliers, such as the Dominions

Mr. Snadden

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how this policy of buying agricultural products below cost of production in the country of origin, squares with the Hot Springs Resolution, which this Government supported?

Mr. Strachey

; We buy agricultural products at the lowest price we can get them in the world, and if we deviated from that policy I am sure the House would censure us very severely indeed.

Mr. Warbey

Can my right hon. Friend say whether solid guarantees have been received from the Danish Government that a large share of their produce will be-available to British exporters?

Mr. Strachey

The trouble is that the Danes are, at the moment, taking rather too much than too little of British exports. They are running up a very large bill indeed, and we are rather anxious about payment of that bill.

Mr. Tiffany

Is this an example of how bulk buying is to the advantage of the British public?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Strachey

I think Members opposite are cheering a little too early. My hon. Friend had in mind that it is producing much cheaper goods.