HC Deb 10 February 1965 vol 706 cc360-1
8. Sir H. Butcher

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to assist the section of the horticultural industry engaged in the production of flowers and bulbs.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Hoy)

Grants and Government-guaranteed credit are available to growers under the Agriculture and Horticulture Act, 1964, to help them re-equip their businesses, and they have also available to them the advice of the National Agricultural Advisory Service and the results of the experiments carried out by the N.A.A.S. at our Experimental Horticulture Stations. I am confident that, if they take full advantage of these varied facilities, they will be able to strengthen their competitive position.

Sir H. Butcher

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Is it not the case that the matters to which he has referred were instituted by his predecessors and that, since this Government have been in office, the lot of the flower and bulb growers has been considerably worsened by import duties and other actions?

Mr. Hoy

Where measures taken by the previous Government were good and we can subscribe to them, we are delighted to do so. It is true that we have had to put up with certain things, but they were the result of the legacy left to us by the last Government.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these extra costs being borne by the horticultural industry will not be recouped by the Annual Price Review? What are the Government doing to help the industry bear these extremely heavy costs, which are the direct result of Government action?

Mr. Hoy

I have said that some costs have risen, but I would also point out the increasing efficiency of the horticultural industry. It has been estimated that it has added about 2 per cent. to its gross income. I know the difficulties of the industry, but I am certain that it will be able to overcome them. I have great confidence in the industry's ability to do so.