HC Deb 11 February 1954 vol 523 cc1341-2
15. Mr. Holt

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an assurance that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that there shall be no imposition of a duty to protect domestic producers of apples, whilst the total United Kingdom consumption of fresh fruit remains below pre-war level.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. I can give no such assurance, but in considering the tariff application which has been submitted by the National Farmers' Unions, the level of supplies available to the domestic market is one of the factors that will, naturally, be taken into account.

Mr. Holt

Since the consumption of fresh fruit per head is still well below pre-war—65 lbs. compared with 78 lbs.—is it not quite unreasonable, from the point of view of the consumer, that there should be any obstruction to the importation of larger quantities of cheap fresh fruit?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That is no doubt one of the arguments which will be brought out in the inquiry that takes place.

Mr. G. Williams

Will the Minister bear in mind that, in the past, apple imports have been subsidised, either directly or indirectly by Governments, and that he has every reason to protect the home market, which I hope he will continue to do.

Mr. Thorneycroft

These are all relevant factors.