HC Deb 16 November 1971 vol 826 cc193-4
3. Mr. Strang

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received regarding the operation of minimum import prices and import levies.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Anthony Stodart)

Since the schemes became effective, my right hon. Friend has received a number of representations about them from associations in this country and from two interested governments. These representations have ranged from general comments to questions of trade practice.

Mr. Strang

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the cereal growers have no confidence in the Government's present policies and that the rest of the industry shudders to think what will happen when deficiency payments are completely removed? What action will the Government take to restore confidence?

Mr. Stodart

I am quite certain that cereal minimum import prices are doing the job they were intended to do. One has only to look at the spot prices quoted on the grain market today to see that they are closely related; and, in a year of record crops, I believe that without such minimum import prices, these prices would be much lower.

Sir R. Turton

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a widespread belief that, in the prevailing world situation of falling cereal prices, the system of forward buying by importers of cereals is tending to undermine the whole scheme?

Mr. Stodart

If that were happening, there would not be the close relationship between minimum import prices now and spot prices and minimum import prices in the future and the forward price.