HC Deb 07 July 1965 vol 715 cc1584-5
32. Mr. Derek Page

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the price of Irish strawberries offered for export to Britain; and what volume of imports he expects from Ireland.

Mr. Hoy

Fresh strawberries imported from the Irish Republic are normally sold on commission. I have no reason to think that the volume of such imports this season will greatly exceed last year's figure, which was nine tons.

Mr. Page

Does my hon. Friend agree that the figures he has given would not give any reason for the depression of British prices, but, on the other hand, will he bear in mind that we are well capable of growing all we need?

Mr. Hoy

Indeed we are, but my hon. Friend will remember that in none of the last four years have imports of fresh strawberries been more than about 20 tons. About 640 tons of pulp, on average, are imported annually. Our own production is roughly 30,000 tons, half going for fresh consumption and the remainder for jam. We are well able to deal with this, and it does not provide a reason for prohibiting this import from another source.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

The Minister says that we can grow all the strawberries we want. Will he bear in mind that imports of pulp from the Iron Curtain countries have a severe effect on the market?

Mr. Hoy

All I was saying was that total imports are not all that great in comparison with our own production, and they have not had the effect that the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests. I have not received any representations from the interests concerned.

Mr. Rankin

Will my hon. Friend assure us that we are able to grow all the strawberries we can pay for?

Sir Knox Cunningham

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some very excellent strawberries are grown in my constituency of South Antrim, but they are so good that, generally, they are all consumed in Ulster?

Mr. Hoy

It is a matter for regret that they are retained there. I should be happy to sample them personally.

Sir Knox Cunningham

I shall send some over to the hon. Gentleman.