asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in framing the agriculture policy of the Government, he will take special steps to deal with the glasshouse and horticultural industries that have been injured and had men thrown out of employment in the Lea Valley through the dumping of tomatoes, cut flowers, rose trees, etc., from foreign countries; and whether he will take special steps to reserve the advantage of the early market in straw- berries, asparagus, tomatoes, new potatoes, etc., next year for this country and the Empire?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is prepared to take steps to prevent a recurrence of last year's conditions in the soft-fruit industry in Kent, whereby a large proportion of the crop was unable to command a price high enough to cover the cost of picking on account of the market being prematurely flooded with the corresponding foreign produce?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in order to encourage home production and assist to restore the balance of trade, and in view of the fact that ploughing and sowing for the 1932 crop of winter wheat are now taking place, he can now give an assurance that Parliament will be asked to take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that that crop shall realise a profitable price?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the resolutions passed and sent to him by the Central Landowners' Association and the National Farmers' Union, urging the need for an early assurance as to the intentions of the Government to take action on behalf of the agricultural industry of the country; and whether he anticipates being in a position to make any announcement on this subject before the House of Commons adjourns for the Christmas Recess?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he expects to enable the farmers and market gardeners of the country to make preparations for carrying on their industry next year by outlining at an early date the programme of agricultural legislation that the Government intends to introduce when the House reassembles after the Christmas Recess; and whether he is aware that winter em- ployment in these industries depends on an early announcement of policy by the Government?
I am well aware of the need for an early announcement of the Governments agricultural policy, and can assure my hon. Friends that no time will be lost in reaching and announcing decisions.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the increase in the importation of foreign flowers which in 1924 were 240 tons and in the first nine months of 1931 were 4,014 tons, and to the fact that, owing to Germany and France having trebled their import duties, imports are expected to reach 7,000 tons in 1932; whether he is aware that the industry of bulb and flower cultivation in this country, which employs 20,000 hands, is threatened with extinction; and whether he can make an announcement of the Government's intention to limit these imports before next season's imports commence immediately after Christmas?
I am aware of the rapid increase in the importation of flowers to which my hon. Friend calls attention. The effect of this increase on the flower industry in this country is being considered by the Government, but I am not at present in a position to make a statement on the subject.
Will the House be given an opportunity to discuss this question before it adjourns, and if that is not possible, will the right hon. Gentleman definitely be able to state that he will make an announcement of the Government's policy before the House adjourns, in view of the fact that if something is not done the industry next year will practically cease, and the people do not know where they stand?