HC Deb 30 January 1973 vol 849 cc341-2W
42. Mr. John Wells

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to see that fruit importers do not make unfair profits from the storage of apples brought into the United Kingdom in larger quantities than usual before the introduction of compensatory levies and then sold at a price inflated by these levies, yet without having paid them.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

The White Paper "A Programme for Controlling Inflation: the First Stage" (Cmnd. 5125) makes it clear that distributors should not increase their cash margins during the standstill; and this requirement applies to all handling imported fruit. The powers of the Counter-Inflation (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972 are available if necessary for the enforcement of this requirement.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the factual details on the price of apples resulting from Great Britain's entry into the Common Market as given in the communication he sent to the hon. Member for West Ham, North dated 24th January 1973.

Mr. Godber

The following is the text of the letter I sent to the hon. Member for West Ham, North on 24th January in reply to his request for information about the position of Commonwealth apples at the end of the transitional periodAs you will know the Six have a surplus of apples and their producer prices have been appreciably lower than ours. Leaving other factors aside therefore the general level of apple prices should be lower after the transitional period than it has been in recent years, at least from August to about April-May, when European apples are available. Imports from outside the Community will then have to pay the common customs tariff, but should not normally face any other barriers. The common customs tariff on apples is:

1st January to 31st March 10 per cent.
1st April to 31st July 8 per cent.
1st August to 31st December 14 per cent.

Canada is now only a minor supplier but she has managed to maintain a small premium market for red apples under the quota system, notwithstanding the availability of cheaper European apples, and there seems no reason why she should not maintain a small premium market.

Our traditional southern hemisphere suppliers (South Africa New Zealand and Australia) face greater competition than in the past when quotas applied from stored European fruit in the spring and possibly from South American apples. At the same time the British consumer has been used to paying a premium for fresh southern hemisphere apples in the spring and early summer and one would expect our traditional suppliers to build on this. Additionally there is scope for increasing the consumption of fruit in this country, both because of population increase and if the general level of apple prices is lower compared with other foods than in the past."

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