HC Deb 13 March 1958 vol 584 c580
7. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the total quantity of potatoes imported since licences were granted in December, 1957, up to the latest convenient date.

Mr. Godber

Up to 8th March, 1958, about 67,000 tons of maincrop potatoes had been imported under the licensing arrangements introduced in December last.

Mr. Dodds

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for that information, may I ask him if he will explain the mystery to consumers? Is he aware that in November there was a shortage of potatoes and the prices were rocketing up? Why is it that there has been a need to import only such a small quantity of potatoes? Is not it a fact that the threat of imports had the effect of making some farmers bring their potatoes on to the market? If not, what is the reason?

Mr. Godber

As the hon. Gentleman intimates in his Question, the price has remained relatively stable, and I am sure that everybody is glad of that. The fact remains that there is a shortfall of potatoes this year generally. Certainly the imports have not been as large as in 1955, but that does not mean that we shall not need further supplies before the season is through.

Mr. Hurd

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the arrangements which the Government wisely made have been and are operating to the benefit of producers as well as consumers, and that we shall continue to have a decent supply of home-grown potatoes on the market to the end of the season?

Mr. Godber

I could not forecast exactly how it will work out to the end of the season, but I hope that my hon. Friend is right. I am quite certain that we were right to authorise these imports of potatoes at the time we did.

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