HC Deb 06 May 1976 vol 910 cc1455-6
10. Mr. Bulmer

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that British horticultural growers are competing with continental horticultural growers on free and fair terms of competition.

Mr. Strang

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Bulmer

Will the Minister confirm that Dutch tomatoes are being im- ported this week at a price that is less than the cost of production in the United Kingdom, when the Dutch continue to enjoy subsidies denied to British producers? When can British growers hope to see a return commensurate with their investment?

Mr. Strang

The hon. Gentleman should recognise that the EEC Commission has succeeded in forcing the Dutch to raise their gas prices, because part of the guidelines regarding oil subsidies to glasshouses was that there should be equalisation of gas and oil prices. As gas accounts for 80 per cent. of their heating costs, that is a significant factor. I am willing to consider the question of Dutch tomatoes coming in at these prices. The hon. Gentleman should remember, however, that the horticulture industry has derived significant additional protection as a result of the devaluation of the pound.