HC Deb 22 July 1970 vol 804 cc517-8
10 and 11. Mr. John Wells

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will initiate talks with the National Farmers Unions about soft fruit imports;

(2) if he will have early consultations with the National Farmers Unions about the recent increase in soft fruit imports.

Mr. Noble

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is primarily responsible for contacts with the agricultural and horticultural industries on matters of general policy. I understand that he has already arranged to meet the National Farmers Union to discuss horticultural matters.

Mr. Wells

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer because it shows clearly that the Department is taking a better view of horticulture than has been the case in recent years. However, on the point raised in Question No. 11, may I ask him specifically whether he is aware that the recent increase in imports has done nothing to reduce the price for the consumer, and at the same time has done a great deal to upset the home producers' market?

Mr. Noble

I can only tell my hon. Friend that up to the end of May—the figures for June are not yet available—the level of imports of soft fruit did not show any increase. It was almost exactly the same as in 1968 and 1969—in fact, slightly lower.

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