HC Deb 13 March 1958 vol 584 cc578-9
5. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the widespread dissatisfaction at the excessive profits of the middlemen handling vegetables, what action is being taken by the Government on the recommendations of the Runciman Committee in an effort to improve the situation for producers and consumers.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. John Hare)

The hon. Member will be aware that in reply to recent Questions I have said that I am anxious to make a statement on the Runciman Report as soon as possible.

Mr. Dodds

I appreciate that, but will the Minister give some idea how soon that will be? Is not he more conversant with the date now than when he last answered a Question on this subject?

Mr. Hare

The hon. Gentleman is right. I am rather more conversant with it than when I answered the previous Question, but I still cannot make a definite statement. A great deal of work is necessary to ensure that we get the widest measure of support from the public authorities as well as the trade organisations concerned. I am working hard on this.

Sir P. Agnew

If my right hon. Friend decides to set up a horticultural marketing council, will he take heed of the representations made on behalf of the growing and producing side of the industry, and ensure that those interests have representation equal in number to that of the distributive and other interests on the council?

Mr. Hare

I will certainly consider what my hon. Friend has said.

24. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has decided the composition of the Horticultural Advisory Council recommended by the Runciman Committee; and when he expects to announce the names of the members of the Council.

Mr. John Hare

No, Sir; as I told my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk. Central (Sir F. Medlicott) on 6th March, I had hoped to be able to make a further statement on this subject this month, but consideration of this complicated matter is taking longer than I expected. I am as anxious as all hon. Members that the Government's decisions should be announced as soon as possible.

Mr. Collins

Can the right hon. Gentleman give a closer estimate of the time when he will be able to make an announcement? In addition, can he give an assurance that, when formed, the council will include representatives not only of consumers and trade unions but all organisations representing growers, wholesalers, retailers and importers?

Mr. Hare

I shall certainly bear in mind what the hon. Member says. These points were covered in supplementary questions to a previous Answer. I cannot give him a date, but I shall try to make this announcement as soon as possible.

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