HC Deb 24 November 1955 vol 546 cc1627-8
11. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the estimated average yield per acre and the total tonnage of the 1955 potato crop.

Mr. Amory

The most recent estimate of the average yield for the United Kingdom is about 6.9 tons per acre, and the estimated production 6,044,000 tons.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister satisfied that this production will be sufficient to avert the fears existing in some quarters of an acute shortage of potatoes? If he is not satisfied, can he say what arrangements he is making, in concert with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, to avoid such a shortage?

Mr. Amory

Yes, Sir. Within the next day or two I shall be examining the stock figures, which have just become available. If there are any doubts as to the adequacy of supplies, the Government will license imports.

Mr. Wade

Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of the artificial restriction of acreage by the Potato Marketing Board? Will this not lead to further increases in price, with the result that consumers, on whose good will the producers ultimately depend, will eventually regard potatoes as a luxury which they cannot afford to buy?

Mr. Amory

The answer is that the Potato Marketing Board has been approved by Parliament.

Mr. T. Williams

Is it not the case that the Potato Marketing Board has had nothing to do with this year's crop?

Mr. Amory

It is perfectly true; the Potato Marketing Board has only recently resumed operations. But the fact remains that its operations have the approval of Her Majesty's Government and of Parliament.

Major Legge-Bourke

Would my right hon. Friend say something to disabuse the minds of those who are under the impression that growers of potatoes are deliberately withholding their stocks at the present time? Does he know that that impression is fairly widespread just now?

Mr. Amory

I have no evidence at all that that is occurring.

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