Oral Answers to Questions — Fruit and Vegetables, Imports

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1949.

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Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire 12:00 am, 20th July 1949

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the periods at which he intends to grant open general licences for the imports of fruit and vegetables between now and 31st December; and whether he will make a statement of the principles guiding his policy in this matter.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester Chatham

There are at present no open general licences for fruit and vegetables, and the hon. Member may have in mind open individual licences which are in operation on a fairly extensive scale for fruit and vegetables. In most cases these are issued in accordance with the commitments undertaken in our bilateral agreement with other countries, and I cannot say in advance whether any further commitments of this kind will be undertaken between now and December. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend on 7th July in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin) about the policy of His Majesty's Government in the matter of relaxing import restrictions.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this Question was put down, as many similar Questions were last year, to the Minister of Food? Does the fact that he has taken it upon himself to answer the Question mean that the President of the Board of Trade is now responsible for policy with regard to the importation of fruit and vegetables? If so, is he aware that if the President of the Board of Trade manages to avoid the frightful mistakes made by the Minister of Food last year there will be general rejoicing among horticulturists.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester Chatham

The President of the Board of Trade is responsible for import licences upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Food.

Photo of Sir Archer Baldwin Sir Archer Baldwin , Leominster

When making these bilateral arrangements, will the President consult the Minister of Agriculture to find out what is the prospective production of fruit and vegetables in this country, so that in making these agreements we do not sell the British farmer for the sake of getting an export trade?

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester Chatham

Indeed, there is full consultations before we grant these import licences.

Photo of Mr Louis Tolley Mr Louis Tolley , Kidderminster

Will my hon. Friend agree that it is the responsibility of his Ministry and that of the Ministries of Food and Agriculture to see that the consumer is also studied?

Photo of Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks Hon. Lancelot Joynson-Hicks , Chichester

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether his Department plays any part in the granting of the personal licences for the importation of fruit and vegetables, and, if so, can the Department ensure that fruit and vegetables are not imported so as to spoil the appetite of the public before English fruit and vegetables come on the market?

Photo of Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan , Perth

Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that consultations also take place with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is the Minister responsible for agriculture in Scotland?