Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th June 1974.

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Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight 12:00 am, 14th June 1974

Many growers and horticulturists who read reports of this debate will be rather unhappy with the hon. Gentleman's reply. Nobody likes being subsidised, farmers and horticulturists least of all, because they feel that they should get their return from the market. Horticulturists are extremely efficient producers, and they faced up to the competition from the Common Market very well. They were going places when the oil crisis hit them.

Will the Minister please think again about guidelines over the next two or three years? I take the point that we may be able to turn to gas or coal, but it is a hard decision for producers to have to make when they have just installed expensive, modern oil-burning heaters, with Government financial assistance. It will cost about £5,000 an acre to convert, and no grants are being offered. It is an enormous decision to have to make, and it may well prove to be wrong, when we are told about the abundance of North Sea oil that we shall have shortly.

We have had a rather dismal answer. Further consideration must be given to whether guidelines can be provided for horticulturists on what they are to do in the next two or three years, when we all hope that subsidies will no longer be needed.