HC Deb 15 April 1965 vol 710 cc1638-9
6. Mr. Younger

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the increase in imports of tomatoes and cucumbers from abroad, and the resultant drain on our foreign currency, he will take action to regulate these imports in the future.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Edward Redhead)

My right hon. Friend does not consider that any restriction of imports is needed over and above that effected by the tariff.

Mr. Younger

Is the hon. Member aware that recent increases in imports of both tomatoes and cucumbers are causing the very greatest concern both to the horticultural industry and to the public? Will he have consultations with our foreign suppliers with a view to regulating imports by agreement, in order to give our home producers at least a reasonable share of the market and safeguard our foreign currency?

Mr. Redhead

While there has been some degree of increase in imports of these two commodities, nevertheless, they are not in our view of such significance as to warrant the steps the hon. Member proposes. It has been the policy of successive Governments that protection of the domestic producers should be by means of the tariff. The use of any quantitative restrictions would be a contravention of the provisions of the G.A.T.T.

Mr. Derek Page

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this is part of the wider question of the control of horticultural imports, and that a hortcultural commission might well be the real answer?

Mr. Redhead

That is another point, which I would require to consider in greater detail.