HC Deb 28 July 1983 vol 46 cc1321-2
13. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give details of soft fruit pulp by fruit and tonnage that has been imported into the United Kingdom from east European countries during each of the past four years.

Mrs. Fenner

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall publish the information in the Official Report.

Mr. Walker

Is my hon. Friend aware that the area round Blairgowrie where I live is the principal raspberry area in the country? Is my hon. Friend aware of the concern over imports of soft fruits from eastern European countries? What steps will she take to ensure that Community preference is used to prevent that abuse?

Mrs. Fenner

We have no intention of letting a viable United Kingdom industry be destroyed by unfair competiton from eastern Europe. The licensing system was introduced in 1980 at the United Kingdom's insistence. We have continually urged the Commission to press the Polish authorities to keep prices at reasonable levels. My right hon. Friend the Minister raised the issue at the Council of Ministers last week and the Commission agreed to invoke safeguards if necessary.

Mr. John Wells

Is my hon. Friend aware of the anxiety, not only in the raspberry areas of Scotland, but in the soft fruit growing areas of Kent and elsewhere? I appreciate that my right hon. Friend did what he could last week, but is not this a matter of great urgency, since the season is short and upon us?

Mrs. Fenner

My hon. Friend knows a great deal about the subject. My right hon. Friend the Minister asked the Commission to introduce licensing arrangements for another fruit last week. The Commission has not yet agreed to that, but we intend to pursue the issue.

Following is the information:

United Kingdom Imports of soft fruit pulp from eastern Europe: 1979–82
1979 1980 1981 1982
Strawberry 876 7 843 1982
Raspberry n/a 903 944 671
Blackcurrant n/a 121 92 205

n/a = Not available.

Source: Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

"Overseas Trade Statistics"