HC Deb 03 April 1968 vol 762 cc363-4
36. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultation he has had with the Potato Marketing Board to ensure that the retail price of potatoes does not increase because of Board policy.

Mr. Hoy

There is regular consultation between this Department and the Potato Marketing Board on all aspects of Board policy which might affect potato prices. I am satisfied that the Board's current market support operations should not lead to an increase in price to the consumer beyond what is normal towards the end of the season.

Mrs. Butler

Is my hon. Friend aware that consumers are completely baffled at having to pay £5 million in taxation to prevent themselves from being able to buy cheap potatoes in the shops? Would he urgently review the policy of the Potato Marketing Board to ensure that consumers get greater benefit at this time of year instead of good food being left to rot?

Mr. Hoy

We have continuous consultations with the Potato Marketing Board. We think that producers are getting no more than a fair return—this time of year it is about 2d. a lb. We think that this is fair to the consumer and to the producer. We have to aim at fairness.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many tons of the surplus stocks held will be destroyed by the Potato Marketing Board this year, what imports are coming into the country and from where?

Mr. Hoy

I do not think that any potatoes will be destroyed. They may go for animal feed, and so on. I should not like to give a figure for imports. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the only potatoes which are imported are new potatoes. Ordinary potatoes are not permitted into this country. [Interruption.] I have dealt with the question of frozen chips. We were quite unable to manufacture the chips owing to a little lack of private enterprise.