HC Deb 03 July 1952 vol 503 cc603-4
17. Mr. Peyton

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total quantity and value of black currants, fresh, frozen and pulped, to be imported into the United Kingdom during 1952.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Imports of black-currants from Western Europe and certain other foreign countries are subject to the restrictions which were imposed last November for balance of payments reasons. There are, however, no separate quotas for black currants, whether fresh, frozen or pulped; in each case they are included in quotas covering a variety of other fruits and I cannot estimate what imports of black currants alone will be made this year. The current quotas represent an appreciable reduction on previous imports of the goods covered by them. Imports of fresh, frozen and pulped currants from the sterling area may be made under open general licence.

Mr. Peyton

To what extent are the present difficulties of the horticulture industry caused or increased by excessive imports, particularly in pulp form, during 1951 under the previous Government? Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that he will seek closer consultation with the Ministers of Food and Agriculture in order to alleviate the undoubted hardship which the horticulture industry is suffering?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Question refers to what is going on in 1952. The National Farmers' Union have agreed that the severity of the present import restrictions makes it unnecessary to have additional restrictions on imports this year during the home marketing period.

Mr. Bottomley

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that imports last year were not excessive and that the trade was to the mutual advantage of the importers and the exporters?

Mr. Nabarro

Nonsense. The party opposite ruined the whole lot.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have carefully restricted my answer to the Question on the Order Paper.