HC Deb 08 March 1951 vol 485 cc659-60
50. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the dietetic value of fresh fruit and the need to conserve foreign currency, he will give consideration to a scheme for the collective preservation through the winter of the many tons of excellent eating apples produced in this country which are now allowed to rot.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Thomas Williams)

Fruit storage capacity owned by growers and associations of growers is now about 130 per cent. greater than it was before the war and is still increasing, with every encouragement from my Department. I am not aware of any appreciable wastage of first quality dessert apples, but I shall be happy to consider any specific proposals or information which my hon. Friend may care to send me.

Mr. Hastings

Will my right hon. Friend also give consideration to the possibility of amateur fruit growers participating in this scheme?

Mr. Williams

Should any such cold store be capable of being used by an amateur fruit grower I would be delighted to give support to it.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

While I was unable to hear the last reply of the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask if he is aware that if he adequately protected the market from the import of foreign applies it would be profitable to the growers to market surplus apples which are now allowed to rot?

Mr. Williams

I do not at all accept the implications in the hon. Member's question.

Mr. Baldwin

While agreeing with the Minister that there was no appreciable loss of dessert apples, may I ask if he is aware that those growers enterprising enough to store both dessert and cooking apples were adversely affected by the free open licence on 1st January, and that they will be further discouraged from storing apples next season unless more consideration is given to the date when an open licence is operative?

Mr. Williams

That is not the case. All good quality British apples are now fetching practically double the price of imported apples.