Withies

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 the total in quantity and value of withies imported into the United Kingdom during the years 1957 and 1958.

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

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent imports of withies are affecting home production.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

Withies are not separately distinguished in the trade returns, but I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that the total acreage under willows and osiers in England and Wales has remained approximately stable in recent years at around 2,000 acres. We have no information that imports are unduly affecting home production.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that it is true that the recent increase in imports has been due almost entirely to supplies from Spain which the Dutch have refused, and will he give urgent consideration to the need to help this small industry which has suffered an undue and rather sudden blow from the influx of imports rejected and unwanted elsewhere? Does he not agree that we really cannot be the only free market in Europe?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I have to tell my hon. Friend that my figures are different. They show that the imports from Spain in 1958 were about half those of 1957. The source from which imports really did increase was Hong Kong.

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

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present position of the withy growers in Somerset is indeed extremely serious? Those of us who represent that part of the world know very well that many small farms are going out of production because of imports. There is no doubt that the figures are increasing. Would my right hon. Friend very kindly look with care on any application which may come forward for a tariff, or indeed a quota, which we think is not only necessary but highly desirable?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I am aware of the importance of the withy willow industry of Somerset, and, therefore, if the facts are as my hon. Friend has stated, the industry had better put in an application. I will certainly look at it.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Is the right hon. Gentleman denying that total imports are increasing in this case?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I think, hardly at all.