Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 1967.

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Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn 12:00 am, 22nd March 1967

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the fact that horticulture is not included in the Annual Price Review products what assurances he has now given for continued security in the industry.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Our policy is designed to help the industry by financial aid and by means of advice and research to make further advances in improving its equipment and practices both in production and marketing. We have extended the scope of the Horticulture Improvement Scheme, are giving grants for new or improved wholesale markets and are introducing statutory grading schemes for certain important horticultural products. Developments within the industry are again being examined this year in consultation with the farmers' unions.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, while growers are most appreciative of the assistance which he has given them, naturally they are very anxious about their future should negotiations with the E.E.C. go ahead? Will he bear in mind that anxiety and the suspicion which many of us have that this is likely to be the hardest hit part of agriculture?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

As the House knows, I have never disputed that horticulture could be affected seriously by this country unconditionally entering E.E.C. I have certainly taken note of what my hon. Friend has said; one must bear it in mind.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the one thing that he has not given the horticultural industry is continued security as a result of decreasing the fertiliser subsidy and allowing the prices of fertilisers to increase, all of which are thoroughly important to the industry?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The hon. Gentleman knows quite well that the fertiliser subsidy could not go on at the high rate at which it had been running, and action had to be taken. This has been accepted by the industry. He knows, too, that I have already done the things which I mentioned in my reply. I am anxious to have a very competitive horticultural industry.