HC Deb 01 December 1953 vol 521 cc934-5
19. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on horticultural tariffs.

33. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can now make a statement about the imposition of a tariff on imported horticultural produce, in general, and on foreign tomatoes, in particular.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes).

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his proposals announced yesterday, since they involve increases of anything from 100 per cent. to 400 per cent. on a large range of fruit and vegetables, must mean a steep increase in the cost of living, and that as the housewife will now, for example, have to pay 2d. duty on an early lettuce, which before came in quota free, can the right hon. Gentleman say which consumer interests he consulted before making this abject surrender to the National Farmers Union?

Mr. Amory

I think that the increases proposed are very moderate, and I would remind the hon. Lady that a high and stable home production is in the interests of both consumers and of producers. I would also remind her that the cost of living has now been almost stable for 16 months.

Mr. Nabarro

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the additional measure of protection for horticultural producers in the United Kingdom, notably in Worcestershire and in Kent, announced in Cmd. 9018, is warmly welcomed by all these interests which have been penalised heavily in the last few years by unrestricted continental imports?

Mrs. Mann

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Scotland the house wives are disgusted at this agreement, and has he made any inquiry as to why tomatoes in the Clyde Valley, which is the growing district of tomatoes, are always 6d. a lb. more than in England? Further, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that prices are stabilised in the roof because they cannot get higher than the roof?

Mr. Amory

I suggest to the hon. Lady that those are the kind of points which we may discuss usefully when we come to consider the affirmative Resolution.

Mr. Jay

Can the Minister answer the question of my hon. Friend by saying which consumers' representatives he consulted?

Mr. Amory

Organisations representing all interests, producers, distributors and consumers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which consumers?"]—I am unable to say which, but if the hon. Lady will put down a Question, I shall do my best to answer it.