§ 31. Mr. Godber
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he is holding with regard to the 359 question of minimum import prices or with regard to the imposition of levies on imports at the present time; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peart
Consultations with our main overseas suppliers are in progress concerning the level of the cereals minimum import prices following devaluation. There are also shortly to be discussions with the industry about suggestions it has made relating to imports of certain other agricultural products.
§ Mr. Godber
Will the Minister keep in mind all the time that any changes that he makes, if they are based on a minimum import price system, must have an adverse effect on our balance of payments, whereas if he uses the levy system it will not have this effect? In answering this point, will he also clear up an inaccurate answer that he gave earlier on the levy, when he talked about very high prices for the consumer in the change. In fact, that change would be less than the effect of devaluation.
§ Mr. Peart
I did not give an inaccurate answer. On the estimates of the right hon. Gentleman's own party the adoption of the levy system would force prices up. They said this. There is no doubt about this and they should not pretend. I inherited the minimum import price system from the right hon. Gentleman and I am having discussions about how to modify and improve it.
§ Mr. Brooks
Is my right hon. Friend aware of any evidence to show that productivity is encouraged as a result of that imposition of a levy system?