HC Deb 30 October 1975 vol 898 cc1745-6
11. Mr. Wakeham

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures have been taken to protect United Kingdom fruit farmers from imports of apples from EEC countries at prices which undercut home producers.

Mr. Strang

During the transitional period United Kingdom apple growers benefit from annually decreasing charges on imports under the accession compensatory amount arrangements, which were designed to align our prices gradually with the lower levels in the original Community.

Mr. Wakeham

Does that mean that when apples are dumped on the English market, makeshift or jerry-built arrangements will have to be made to protect our growers?

Mr. Strang

The hon. Gentleman must accept that we are now part of the Community apple market—

Mr. Torney


Mr. Strang

—and that any structural surpluses must be tackled on a Community basis.

Mr. MacFarquhar

In view of the laudable sentiments evinced by my hon. Friend earlier when referring to the apple mountain, will he undertake to take some practical steps to investigate whether it will be possible to get hold of some of these apples for people in this country? Many housewives in Belper are appalled by the destruction of these apples when they are having to pay high prices.

Mr. Strang

My hon. Friend has made a fair comment. We have to discriminate between a structural and an acceptable surplus of apples. We must appreciate that when we have self-sufficiency in a commodity it means that, for seasonal reasons, sometimes we shall have too little and at other times too much. I take my hon. Friend's point about the destruction of food.