HC Deb 03 July 1952 vol 503 cc599-600
13. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress he has made in his discussions with the National Farmers' Union and other interested bodies in regard to the increase of tariffs upon horticultural imports, notably fruit and vegetables; and what action he proposes to take to secure revision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Import Duties Acts to facilitate such tariff increases.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The examination of the application made by the National Farmers' Union for increased horticultural tariffs is making good progress, but I am not in a position to say when it will be completed. I cannot, of course, predict what decisions will be taken as a result of the examination, but I shall naturally consider, at the appropriate time, what action is necessary to implement any decisions which may be taken.

Mr. Nabarro

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that notwithstanding the very considerable import reductions of fruit and vegetables this year, the heavy home crops, coupled with the excess of such imports left over from last year, are causing acute embarrassment to growers in this country? Is it not, therefore, a matter of great urgency that a settled policy for horticultural imports should be reached at a very early date?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am hopeful that a valuable result will come from the discussions which are proceeding on the application by the National Farmers' Union.

Mrs. Castle

Is the President aware that any increase in horticultural tariffs would have a further serious effect on the price of food in this country, and in view of that serious effect upon the consumer will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an undertaking that he will reach no decision on this matter until there has been a full debate in the House?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Horticultural tariffs might in many respects be a weapon far less harsh than the quota restrictions which are used at present.