HC Deb 09 March 1955 vol 538 cc409-10
1. Mr. Russell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proportion of exportable grapefruit, both fresh and canned, produced in the Colonial Territories, came to the United Kingdom in 1954; and how far the price obtained was affected by foreign competition.

The Minister of State for Colonial Affairs (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)

The United Kingdom market took about 90 per cent by value of the grapefruit exported by Colonial Territories in all forms. The prices of some grapefruit products declined during 1954, but there are a number of factors involved and it is not possible to determine how much of this decline has been due to foreign competition.

Mr. Russell

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, when it is possible to determine how much is due to foreign competition, steps will be taken to remedy the effect of that competition?

Mr. Hopkinson

I think the best thing that I can do is to remind my hon. Friend of what was said yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Board of Trade, in reply to a Question about the result of the G.A.T.T. conference which will be published as a White Paper on 22nd of this month. Meanwhile, I think that I ought to reserve comment, except to say that obviously the position of this industry will be looked at again in the light of those decisions and, of course, the recommendations of the fact-finding commission on the citrus industry which is meeting in the West Indies.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is the Minister satisfied that the result of that conference will not be adverse to the interests of the citrus industry?

Mr. Hopkinson

I think that generally one might say entirely the reverse.

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I went into a West End shop recently to buy grapefruit and was informed that I could get West Indian grapefruit if I wanted it but that it was better to have canned American grapefruit, which was infinitely superior? Is it right that shops should take that kind of line?

Mr. Hopkinson

I think that the right hon. Gentleman went into the wrong shop.