HC Deb 29 March 1950 vol 473 cc401-3
63. Colonel Ropner

asked the Minister of Food whether he will give an assurance that, during the peak production periods this year of tomatoes, early carrots and green peas, the home markets will not be destroyed by excessive imports from abroad.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Maurice Webb)

The arrangements agreed between my Department and the Agricultural Departments for controlling the imports of tomatoes, early carrots and new peas, were designed to give home growers ample opportunity to market their produce at peak production periods. I am sending to the hon. and gallant Member a copy of the announcement which was issued last month and which gives the details. When he reads it I think he will feel much happier about this matter.

Colonel Ropner

Can the Minister give an assurance that there is the closest liaison between his Department and the Ministry of Agriculture?

Mr. Webb

We are certainly trying to improve it.

Mrs. Middleton

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to see that housewives are not held to ransom by the prices charged?

Mr. Webb

I must make it clear that the function and responsibility of the Ministry of Food is primarily to look after the interests of the consumer.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will this include a careful study of the imports across the border from England to Scotland?

Mr. James Hudson

Will my right hon. Friend send to other hon. Members a copy of the announcement which he has promised to the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite? A number of us are extremely disturbed about it, on account of consumers.

Mr. Webb

I am willing to arrange for it to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that we will not have a repetition of what happened two years ago, when imported tomatoes were withdrawn, and growers increased the price from 1s. 4d. to 2s. 8d. per lb.?

Mr. Webb

I will try to avoid a situation of that kind.

Following is the announcement:

Import of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The Board of Trade Journal for the 1st October, 1949, gave details of the decision of His Majesty's Government to issue open general licences for the importation into the United Kingdom from a number of countries of a wide range of goods, as part of a general policy for the liberalisation of intra-European trade.

The list of goods to which this decision applied included a number of fresh fruits and vegetables, and in the issue of the Board of Trade Journal referred to above it was stated that for certain of these items the open general licence would be liable to suspension at certain periods of the year during the main season of home production, the exact limits of these periods to be determined later in the light of seasonal availabilities.

In agreement with the Ministry of Food and the Agricultural Departments, the Board of Trade have accordingly decided to suspend the open general licences for the various fresh fruits and vegetables listed below during the periods set out in the second column. The Ministry of Food will arrange with the Board of Trade that those items for which there is a limited importation (as shown

Period (inclusive) for suspension of Open General Licence Import Quantity
Asparagus 16th April to 30th June 300
Beans (Green) 1st May to 30th June 150
1st July to 30th September Nil
Carrots (new) 15th June to 31st July Nil
Cauliflower and Broccoli 16th March to 30th June 10,000
1st July to 15th November Nil
Cherries 1st June to 31st July 6,000
Cucumbers 1st June to 31st July 4,500
Currants (black and red) 16th June to 31st August 1500
Gooseberries June to 31st July 1,500
Lettuce 16th May to 31st October Nil
Onions (dry bulb) 16th August to 15th November Nil
(excluding pickling onions for manufacture)
Peas (Green) 16th June to 31st July Nil
Plums 16th July to 15th August 6,000
16th August to 30th September Nil
Potatoes (new) 1st June to 31st July Nil
Radishes 22nd April to 31st May Nil
Rhubarb 16th April to 15th September 500
(excluding rhubarb for canning)
Strawberries 1st June to 31st July 2,500
Tomatoes 1st July to 31st July 7,200
1st August to 31st August 2,300
1st September to 15th October Nil
Turnips (new) 1st May to 30th June 100

It is not proposed to suspend the present open general licences for the importation of chicory, endive and batavia, green onions, mushrooms, hothouse grapes and hothouse peaches.

Those concerned are reminded that all imports of fresh fruits and vegetables coming within the terms of this notice are subject to the provisions of the Importation of Plants Orders and the Importation of Raw Cherries Orders made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland.

Forward to