HC Deb 02 March 1964 vol 690 cc908-9
25. Mr. Hilton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the acreage of blackcurrants grown in the years 1955, 1958, and 1963; and what is the estimated acreage for 1964.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

The acreage of blackcurrants grown in England and Wales was as follows:

1955 10,449
1958 12,347
1963 16,567
I cannot forecast the acreage in 1964.

Mr. Hilton

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that this has been for some years now a very useful crop for the growers and a very important crop for the consumers? Is he aware that as a result of the Chancellor's action last year in imposing a 15 per cent. Purchase Tax there have been remarkably dangerous effects on the small growers of blackcurrants? Will he and his right hon. Friend have early discussions with the Chancellor and inform him of the effect his action has had on the blackcurrant growers last year, who are now expecting that this tax will be removed?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor is aware of the position within the industry, as indeed is the hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that he will take note of what has been said on this Question.

Mr. Snow

Can the hon. Gentleman say what volume of blackcurrant juice has been imported? Is he aware that the acreage increase generally reflects the potential of this market in the light of the medical approval of the use of this fruit juice?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question about that, as I have not got the figures available, and I will try to answer it.