HC Deb 16 February 1956 vol 548 cc2507-8
15. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will investigate the present arrangements for the distribution of vegetables with a view to economies being achieved which will reduce the price.

Mr. Amory

The distribution of vegetables is one of the matters now being investigated by the Runciman Committee on Horticultural Marketing.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware it is alleged that there are large numbers of ridiculous and unnecessary restrictive agreements and practices at Covent Garden which are dislocating the market? Will he refer those practices to the Commission which is looking into the matter?

Mr. Amory

I agree with my hon. Friend that we ought to make some very substantial improvements in the marketing of horticultural products. I know that the Runciman Committee is looking at every aspect of this difficult and complicated subject.

Mr. T. Williams

Has the right hon. Gentleman any idea when this Committee is likely to give him either an interim of a final report?

Mr. Amory

I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman that. The Committee has been at work since, I believe, the early summer of last year, and has been paying a great many visits to different parts of this country and also to other countries in Europe. Its work is so important that I am anxious not to hurry it unduly.