HC Deb 27 October 1955 vol 545 cc364-6
31. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he is permitting an increase of 10 per cent. in the import of apples from North America this year.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

This increase is, I consider, fully justified in the interests of good trading relations with Canada and the United States, which were both established before the war as the largest overseas suppliers to the United Kingdom market. It will also do something to mitigate the expected shortage of home grown apples later this season.

Major Legge-Bourke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is the opinion of many experienced apple growers at home that there is no risk of a shortage? In the light of that, what consultations has he had with the industry itself to find out what the situation really is?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I hope that my hon. Friend will ill address his question on the situation in the United Kingdom industry to the Minister of Agriculture. The quota represents less than 15 per cent. of the average for the 1936–38 imports from Canada and the United States.

Mr. Alport

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to ensure that the additional 10 per cent. comes into this country after Christmas, when there may be a shortage, and not before Christmas, when it is certain that there will be adequate supplies?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Announcements about the timing of these imports have already been made.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the aggregation of all these increases in apple imports is of the order of half a million pounds in the coming year, and that his announcement and previous announcements on this subject have been received with a good deal of despondency in the principal apple-growing areas in this country, namely in Worcestershire, where the apple growers have had a difficult time and are likely to have a worse time before long?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It will be appreciated that these quotas, which are im- posed on balance of payments grounds, already rigidly restrict imports of apples from the dollar area.