asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the imports of wheat, oats, and barley in the first two months of the year from Soviet Russia were 3,479,422 cwts. as compared with 457,062 cwts. in the same period last year; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with this growing competition to British agriculture?
I am aware of the facts referred to in the first part of the question, but I would point out to my hon. Friend that the total imports during the period in question declined by 5 per cent. The Government has taken and is taking energetic steps to safeguard the interests of the home cereal industry, but it would not be possible within the limit of question and answer to describe these steps in detail.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that oats subsidised by foreign Governments are being imported into this country, and does he propose to take any steps to prohibit their importation?
I am afraid I could not enter into any discussion with my hon. Friend by question and answer. The question of the subsidisation of foreign oats is one of the most difficult in the whole range of our import duties.
As I was saying to my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), the House knows well that the subsidisation of oats is one of the most difficult questions to determine.