HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc1051-2
5. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement upon the discussions held recently between representatives of his Department and the Danish delegation concerning the future of Danish bacon imports into this country.

21. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade when the negotiations with Denmark on the imports of Danish bacon into this country are to be resumed.

25. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the negotiations with Denmark about bacon imports.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

We are resuming talks with the Danish government today, and I am not at present in a position to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) on 30th January.

Miss Burton

Is the President aware of the concern felt among consumers at the proposed 10 per cent. tariff on the imports of Danish bacon and the consequent rise in the prices? Is he aware of the leakage which took place last week, which stated that compensation would also be offered to Denmark for the imposition of this tariff? Would he comment on it?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I naturally bear everyone's interests in mind, and particularly those of the consumers. The hon. Lady will not expect me to comment upon negotiations which are in progress at this moment.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the object of this exercise is not to arrive at a price which would enable the Government to charge more to the consumer and thus make a profit at the expense of the British consumer for the benefit of the Ministry of Food?

Mr. Willey

While appreciating the right hon. Gentleman's difficulty during the continuance of negotiations, may I ask whether he appreciates the very strong feeling there is against a food tariff, and that this matter has caused general disturbance in many quarters?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There are many arguments affecting tariffs, State trading in bacon and many other matters, but I do not think that it would be useful for me to comment on them while negotiations are continuing.

Commander Agnew

Is it not the case that there is nothing new at all about tariffs on food, that we already have a wide range of tariffs on horticultural products, and that some of those concerned with the horticultural industry hope that in due time the President may see his way to increase some of those tariffs?

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the President explain to his hon. and gallant Friend that the Government's declared motive in increasing horticultural tariffs was that horticultural goods could not be dealt with under the Agriculture Act, 1947, and, therefore, needed tariff protection; but that it is possible to act under the 1947 Measure in the case of other commodities?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think this is getting a little wide of the negotiations.