§ 34. Mr. Renton
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that there is likely to be an exceptionally heavy crop of all kinds of home-grown fruit this year; and what steps he is taking to ensure the sale of this crop at prices which will offer a reasonable return to British growers.
My right hon. and gallant Friend is aware that a heavy crop is expected of some kinds of home-grown fruit. But as will be appreciated, reductions in imports of fruit pulp and soft fruits generally will afford a measure of protection for the home grower, and my right hon. and gallant Friend will do his utmost to ensure that sugar and tinplate allocations do not restrict unduly the purchases of jam manufacturers and canners.
§ Mr. Renton
Is my hon. Friend aware that this year, so far, in spite of the import cuts intended, enormous quantities of foreign fruit and vegetables have been dumped here, to the detriment of our home growers? Will he say what he is going to do over the rest of this year to ensure that the home producer shall have first place in the home market?
The position is that, strawberries apart, imports of fruit for this year will amount to about one-quarter of the imports of fruit last year. I would add that it is not within the power of my right hon. and gallant Friend to ensure the sale of more than the market can absorb at prices the consumer will pay.
§ Mr. Alport
Is it not a fact that one of the reasons for the depreciation of price that has taken place and which has seriously affected the soft fruit growers in this country is the very substantial imports of fruit pulp which took place under the previous Government?
§ Mr. Speaker
I did not see the hon. Lady's Question which was refused at the Table, but the refusal of a Question at the Table has never been considered a valid ground for asking a supplementary question.