Horticultural Tariffs

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th January 1959.

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Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil 12:00 am, 29th January 1959

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the outstanding applications for increases in horticultural tariffs

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

asked the President of the Board of Trade what requests he has received from the National Farmers' Union and other bodies for tariff protection for British horticulture; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I would refer to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for Newbury (Sir A. Hurd) on 23rd January, when I said that the Government had reached the conclusion that there was not sufficient justification for an increase in the tariff on new potatoes, fresh tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower or lettuce and endive. The application on flowers is still being considered.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this decision has caused a great deal of concern and dismay in this industry because of the apparent weakening of, not departure from, what has always been a major principle of Government policy towards the industry? Further, does he realise that whatever may be the wisdom, in the long term, of the new measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture on Monday, they cannot possibly bring the much-needed help to this industry in time?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I do not think that the economic case for helping the industry through an increase in the tariff was made out. On the other hand, the scheme of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will be a very great help, and I hope that the industry will give it close attention.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that there is no prejudice in the Board of Trade against the use of the tariff as and when it seems desirable?

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications for increases in horticultural tariffs are outstanding.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

One on cut flowers.

Photo of Mr Percy Morris Mr Percy Morris , Swansea West

On a point or order, Mr. Speaker, I have Question No. 42 on the Paper. May I ask it?

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

That Question was answered with No. 31. I looked at the hon. Member to see if he wanted to ask a supplementary question but he did not get up. Mr. du Cann.

Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware that the anxiety of the producers in framing these applications for tariffs is simply to ensure that their market is not flooded with largely unregulated imports at a time when they themselves are able and willing to supply the home market? Is my right hon Friend aware that the recent decisions of the Board of Trade are causing grave concern among producers? With these facts in mind, will he re-examine all these questions?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I understand very well the anxieties of the producers, and the substance of their application is that they are being injured by imports, but this has to be shown by examination. It is because we are still concerned with examining that point that I cannot today give a decision for cut flowers.

Photo of Mr Henry Usborne Mr Henry Usborne , Birmingham, Yardley

Will the President of the Board of Trade also remember that there are housewives who buy these products who want to get them cheaply and are not wholly concerned with keeping up the prices for those who produce them?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Does my right hon. Friend's reply mean that he does not exclude a system of negotiation for the limitation of imports such as that which he successfully concluded with the butter exporting countries which dumped subsidised butter?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I do not exclude that, but it must be shown that a limitation of imports would produce the results which producers wish.