Soft Fruit Imports

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1952.

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Dr. Bennett:

asked the Minister of Agriculture what effects he estimates his policy this year, in respect of the import of soft fruits, especially strawberries, has had upon the markets and prices that have been available to the home growers, especially in Hampshire; and how this has compared with the circumstances of last year.

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

The import quotas that have been imposed this year for balance of payments reasons have kept imports of soft fruit, including strawberries, well below last year's levels. This has exercised a steady influence on prices, and although home crops are larger this year than last, prices have not been very different from last year's. I have received no reports of growers being unable to sell soft fruit of a marketable standard. Prices of fruit for processing are higher than was expected earlier in the season and strawberries for processing generally fetched equal or higher prices than last year.

Dr. Bennett:

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask him to pay particular attention to this problem next year and in future years, as a very small margin might make all the difference between economic and uneconomic work?

Mr. T. Williams:

As the imports of strawberries are apparently much smaller this year than they were last year, why is it that their price has remained just the same?

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

Would my right hon. Friend turn his attention to the question of plums? Is he aware that in Worcestershire the price offered to growers of plums is not sufficiently large even to allow them to pick their crops or to pay for the labour of doing so?

Photo of Mr Thomas Dugdale Mr Thomas Dugdale , Richmond (Yorks)

I realise that the plum crop is likely to be very heavy this year and I think the House and my hon. Friend will recollect that we are trying to help by an additional allocation of sugar.

Mr. Lee:

Would the right hon. Gentleman give an estimate of how many more raspberries the Government are likely to get during the year?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Does not the right hon. Gentleman now realise that something better than his miserable answer to Question No. 19 is desirable?