HC Deb 08 February 1951 vol 483 cc1927-8
44. Mr. Nigel Fisher

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will maintain the Empire Preference on grapefruit when this is discussed at the Torquay Conference, in order to safeguard the West Indian producer.

Mr. H. Wilson

To give undertakings about particular products in relation to negotiations which are in progress would prejudice the negotiations. I regret, therefore. that I cannot give an undertaking of the kind requested, but I can assure the hon. Member that it is our practice to consult colonial Governments on matters arising in these negotiations which might affect colonial interests, and full consideration is given to their views.

Mr. Fisher

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the growers, rather like the producers of Australian wine, may well face ruin if these margins of preference are whittled away, and will he not, generally speaking, accept responsibility for the welfare of colonial growers and for the retention of Imperial Preference for our own people?

Mr. Wilson

The fullest weight will be given to all the considerations which bear on this question. Certainly, in these negotiations my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my own Department are accepting the fullest possible responsibility for that aspect.

Mr. Michael Foot

Before my right hon. Friend even considers the surrender of any preference protecting the colonial countries in this matter, would he take into account the action taken by the American Government to subsidise the export of some of these products, and say whether that is in accordance with the proposals made at Torquay?

Mr. Wilson

Due weight will be given to the question of subsidies in any negotiations on this question.

Mr. Peter Smithers

When the colonial Governments are consulted will the Minister make sure that they consult the producing interests in their territories?

Mr. Wilson

I am quite sure that in readiness for these negotiations we have the fullest possible views of all concerned.

Mr. James Hudson

In considering all the various interests, will my right hon. Friend keep in mind the fact that there are many people in this country who would like to consume grapefruit, and would like to get supplies at a reasonable price?