HC Deb 19 July 1960 vol 627 cc237-8
32. Mr. Bullard

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the quantity of new potatoes imported from Greece in the month of June this year, or to the latest convenient date; and how this compares with the quantity imported in the same period in 1959.

Mr. Maudling

Imports during the months of May, 1959 and 1960, were nil and 5,528 tons, respectively.

Mr. Bullard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there have been very wild statements in some sections of the agricultural Press about the extent to which Greek imports were likely to capture the home market for new potatoes? Is he aware that this upsetting of the new potato trade by excessive imports is a very serious matter for the whole potato-growing industry? Is he aware that new potatoes, if they are not eaten, grow into old potatoes and, therefore, make serious difficulties for the Government in implementing their guarantee of the potato crop which they have entered into with the farming community?

Mr. Maudling

The imports last year were nearly 10,000 tons. I would expect the rate of imports from Greece to decline, because in the middle of May a heavy duty of £9 6s. 8d. a ton on new potatoes began to apply.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this import of potatoes has caused great concern among Tory farmers in my constituency and that they have asked me to take the matter up? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this has a very grave effect on new potato growing in the west of Scotland and that recently cargoes of Belgian potatoes have been arriving as well as those from Greece? Is he aware that a small number of speculators are making very big profits out of something which is ruining Ayrshire potato-growing?

Mr. Maudling

Whilst I welcome the hon. Member's impartiality, he has a little over-stated the position. The facts about Greek imports are as I have stated them.

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