Glasshouse Produce

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

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Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of glasshouse produce is currently sold from the resources of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I should like to explain that my right hon. Friend's absence is due to his being unwell. He has had to cancel his engagements for today, tomorrow and the weekend.

The value of glasshouse output in the United Kingdom is approximately equal to the value of imports of comparable produce, although with imports it is not always possible to tell whether they were grown under glass or in the open.

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

May I say that from the Opposition side of the House we send our best wishes to his right hon. Friend?

Is the Minister aware that we are extremely concerned about the general implications of the import situation, par- ticularly as it affects tomatoes? What is being done within the EEC to achieve a common line, particularly on imports from COMECON countries, such as Romania and Bulgaria?

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be grateful for the hon. Gentleman's expression of sympathy. He will acknowledge that in practice the reference price system provides us with protection. A great deal of discussion has taken place on Dutch imports. The hon. Member will take some satisfaction from knowing that tomato imports are down sharply.

Photo of Mr Hamish Watt Mr Hamish Watt , Banffshire

What steps will the Minister take to ensure that Scottish tomato growers have a future? Will the Minister see whether he can give some kind of fuel subsidy to those growers, so that at least they are on a par with their Dutch counterparts?

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The hon. Gentleman is under the misapprehension that the Dutch and other member States are paying an oil subsidy. The Community's guidelines on oil subsidies ended last month. The good weather in Scotland will help to boost the prospects of the industry, because of the demand for lettuce and tomatoes.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

When can we expect the Government to produce a long-term policy for the glasshouse sector?

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The long-term policy for the glasshouse sector has been clearly enunciated. We see a continuing need for this sector of the industry and we are investing in it through capital grants and through the advisory and research services.