HC Deb 18 November 1957 vol 578 c25
41. Mr. Hunter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will hold an investigation into the prices of fish and potatoes at an early date.

Mr. Godber

No, Sir. The recent increases in prices have been due to scarcity of fish on the distant water grounds and a light crop of potatoes. I do not feel that an inquiry would add anything useful. There have already been reports by the White Fish Authority and the Committee on Horticultural Marketing under Lord Runciman, on the distribution costs of fish and horticultural produce, respectively.

Mr. Hunter

Is the Minister not aware that fish friers all over the country are protesting against the ever-increasing price of fish and potatoes, because they do not want to increase their prices for fish and chips to the general public? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to reconsider the request for investigation?

Mr. Godber

As far as price is concerned, fish, of course, are sold by auction. I am told that it has been the very bad weather, added to difficulties in the fishing grounds, that has led to this position, but I understand that in the last week the price has dropped substantially.

Mr. G. Howard

Would my hon. Friend not agree that it is the bad weather in the distant-water fishing grounds which is making the supply of fish short and, therefore, prices high, and that for the men who go fishing to these grounds it is a very unpleasant job and they do not wish to make the prices of fish any higher? Secondly, will my hon. Friend ensure that any imports of potatoes will not materially affect producers at home?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir. I stated something similar to what my hon. and learned Friend has just said in the first part of his supplementary question. I entirely agree with him on that. As regards potatoes, it is a matter of keeping a balance. Certainly, we have to look at both sides.

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