HC Deb 11 March 1957 vol 566 cc793-4
39. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what limit is to be imposed on the amount of new potatoes which may be imported from abroad during the next few months; and whether he is satisfied that adequate protection will be given to the British growers of new potatoes.

Mr. Amory

None, Sir; imports of new potatoes are regulated by means of a seasonal tariff, and I have no reason to believe that the present arrangements will not give adequate protection to British growers.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is my right hon. Friend aware that what our farmers mind is that just when their own new potatoes are ready for selling and they hope to get a good price a lot of foreign potatoes pour into this country and knock the bottom out of the market. Could not these imports be phased so that our farmers get a better price and British production is not hurt?

Mr. Amory

As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, there is a seasonal tariff on new potatoes which is designed to do exactly that.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last year the Ayrshire farmers lost hundreds of thousands of pounds due to the late arrival of Cyprus potatoes, which arrived just when the Ayrshire crop was coming on the market, and is he taking any steps to prevent that happening again?

Mr. Amory

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. That did happen last year, and some trouble has been taken this year to obtain advanced information as to what Cyprus potatoes are likely to come, and when. That information is being made available to the Potato Marketing Board to try to avoid exactly what the hon. Member refers to.