§ 16. Mr. Collins
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that horticulturists are receiving the same average prices for their produce as they obtained in 1946, although in the last nine years the most important items in their costs have advanced in varying degrees from 40 per cent. to 100 per cent.; and if he will introduce legislation to ensure that a larger proportion of the high retail prices of horticultural produce is returned to the growers.
My information, on the contrary, is that prices received by growers have been substantially higher in recent years than in 1946. No such legislation is contemplated.
§ Mr. Collins
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the retail prices are very high compared with the prices paid to producers? Will he say what he is doing to reduce this yawning gap, and in particular whether he has referred this disparity of prices to the Runciman Committee for investigation?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman in that I do not believe we 11 have got the best marketing conditions for horticulture that can be devised in all cases. That is one of the reasons why my right hon. Friend set up the Runciman Committee. That Committee, I am informed, is giving close attention to this question of prices at every stage in the chain of distribution.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
In view of the fact that the price which growers receive depends very greatly upon the protection which they get from tariffs, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that we have his support in resisting any attempt to lower present tariffs at Geneva next January?
My hon. and gallant Friend will agree that two years ago we raised horticultural tariffs substantially and I believe these increases have been a substantial benefit to the industry.