HC Deb 21 March 1991 vol 188 c395
15. Mr. Wareing

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to boost British exports of food and drink.

Mr. Gummer

The Government are firmly committed to supporting Food From Britain in its efforts to encourage exports of British food and drink.

Mr. Wareing

Is the Minister aware that the £5.1 million deficit on food and drink was the biggest of any sector in this country's trade deficit for last year? Is he further aware that half that deficit was with countries with no particular climatic advantage over Britain, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium? Will he acknowledge that in those countries, seven times as much money is provided for the budgets of bodies such as our Food From Britain to enhance the export and sale of food and drink? Will the right hon. Gentleman pull his finger out and do something to ensure that Food From Britain has an adequate budget relative to our economic needs?

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman should realise that much of that money comes from the industry. He asks me to pull my finger out, but I urge him to remind the House that the Labour party's Front-Bench spokesman on agriculture has told people that he does not eat British sausages and will not eat English apples. While the Labour party undermines products from this country and casts aspertions on the safety of British food, the hon. Gentleman is in no position to tell me how to deal with Food From Britain.

Mr. Bill Walker

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the raspberry is a most pleasant fruit and that over 80 per cent. of the raspberries grown commercially in the United Kingdom, and in Europe, are grown in Tayside. Is he aware that this marvellous export—the raspberry—is at risk because the European Community is allowing dumping from eastern Europe?

Mr. Gummer

I have been fighting to protect the British raspberry not just to help my hon. Friend's constituency but because I am particularly fond of raspberries. I give my hon. Friend the assurance that the Government support British products and believe that British raspberries are the best that one could have. I hope that the same support for British products will come from the Labour party, which is constantly undermining our producers.