HC Deb 12 December 1955 vol 547 cc814-5
34. Mr. B. Harrison

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that sufficient seed potatoes will be available for planting next year; and if he will consider the prospect of importing these should it be necessary.

Mr. Amory

It may not be possible to meet all orders for certified seed for planting next year, but I am satisfied that there will be sufficient supplies of other categories. The importation of seed potatoes is prohibited because of the risk of importing disease. Exceptions can only be made in special cases when I am fully satisfied that no risk arises.

Mr. Harrison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the Smithfield Show the other day it was impossible for farmers to place orders for seed potatoes except for a very few varieties? Would he make special arrangements to ensure that there is ample first-grown seed, inspected by people in his Department and suitable for growing next year?

Mr. Amory

I should say that is not by any means an abnormal situation. It is usual that the amount of certified seed is not sufficient for all requirements. I hope there will be a considerable production of once-grown seed from certified seed.

Mr. Dye

Is the Minister aware that the Cottage Gardeners' Association is being asked the rate of nearly £40 per ton for seed potatoes from Scotland now, and that it has grave difficulty about getting them in places such as Norfolk?

Mr. Amory

Yes. I think that point is covered by my reply.

Captain Duncan

Does my right hon. Friend base his Answer on an estimate of the same acreage, a larger acreage or a smaller acreage, being planted next year?