HC Deb 01 May 1952 vol 499 cc1635-6
14 and 15. Mr. G. R. Howard

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what steps he proposes to take to ensure a more even flow of imported foreign broccoli within the quota for the period 1st April to 30th June, 1952, in order that growers in this country may be safeguarded against unregulated gluts;

(2) what representations he has received concerning the control of foreign imports of broccoli by the quota system.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have received representations on this matter from certain hon. Members and from the National Farmers' Union. As I informed my hon. Friend, the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) on 10th April, I am examining the existing arrangements in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister of Food, with a view to seeing what improvements can be made. As I also said in the same reply, imports of broccoli were suspended on 9th April. There will be no further imports until after 15th November, 1952.

Mr. Howard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that although the suspension of these imports is welcome, it is, unfortunately, too late? Has he any evidence that the quota was exceeded, as it was in the last quarter by over 2,500 tons, and can he say when he will be able to give some hope to broccoli growers in West Cornwall who, at present, are ploughing in their crops?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is true that the quota was exceeded. The method whereby this quota is applied is by no means perfect, but at the moment it appears to be the best of a number of rather unsatisfactory choices. I am having the matter examined to see whether we can make any improvement.

Mr. J. D. Godber

In considering these horticultural matters will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the benefits that will accrue to the producer and to the consumer from a change from a quota scheme to a tariff scheme?

Mr. Gerald Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the course of the last two years there has been a steady decline in the United Kingdom of the acreage devoted to vegetables for human consumption, due to the promiscuous dumping of vegetable imports in the last few years? Would he reverse that policy?