HC Deb 13 May 1958 vol 588 cc187-8
2. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the contamination of apples imported from the Lebanon for sale in Coventry by arsenic and lead on the skins; and what care is exercised by his Department to ensure that imported fruit is of the required standard when making trade agreements.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgan)

I am aware that some Lebanese apples have been found to be contaminated. All the Lebanese apples have, of course, been imported privately but the question of contamination has been taken up by Her Majesty's Embassy in Beirut and the Lebanese authorities have given an assurance that they have arranged for future consignments to be inspected before shipment. As the hon. Member will have gathered from the Answer given to her on 5th May by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, fruit imported into this country is subject to examination on arrival under the Public Health (Imported Food) Regulations, 1937.

Miss Burton

Is the Minister aware that that Answer will give satisfaction, certainly in Coventry? Is he further aware that we were worried not about the examination at this end but about the examination in the exporting countries? May I thank him for what he has done?

Sir P. Agnew

Does not this trouble over the importing of apples from a country which does not usually send them here arise because the Government have imported them for balance of payments or political reasons? Should not the Government provide better protection, by means of stiff import duties on foreign apples being imported into this country, in order to see that only those of high grade are brought here?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

That raises very different issues. I think that the circumstances in which we relaxed the quota restrictions in this case were very special and were understood by everybody.