HC Deb 06 November 1972 vol 845 cc615-6
24. Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to encourage horticultural production in Wales.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Our present arrangements provide substantial assistance to growers of horticultural produce in Wales through various schemes to help them improve their businesses and maintain their competitive position with overseas suppliers.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Minister aware that there are many areas of Wales which are eminently suitable for the expansion of the horticulture industry by reason of the climate and the soil? Is he further aware that new horticulture enterprises are not eligible for grants under the Horticultural Improvement Scheme although in wide areas in Scotland and under the Highlands and Islands Development Board considerable benefits are available which are not available in Wales? Will he and his right hon. Friend discuss with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture whether Wales can have the benefits which Scotland enjoys?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I well understand what the right hon. Gentleman says about the position of new businesses. He will know from previous office that the policy of successive Governments has been to encourage the improvement of existing businesses rather than the establishment of new businesses because of the keen competition the industry faces at home and abroad. Since 1960, over £1 million has been paid to growers in Wales.