Potato Marketing Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculutre, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th June 1984.

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Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , St Helens North 12:00 am, 7th June 1984

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the workings of the Potato Marketing Board.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The Potato Marketing Board is a producer organisation and it is for registered producers themselves to say whether they are satisfied with the way in which the board carries out its functions.

The Government act jointly with the board over the market support arrangements and I announced on 29 February the Government's proposals for a revised system of support to take effect from the 1985 season.

Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , St Helens North

I have noted with interest what was said in the Minister's speech during the Adjournment debate on Monday night. Can he explain to a layman like myself how the housewife and the British farmer benefit from potato acreage restrictions imposed by the board when, at the same time, thousands of tonnes of potatoes are imported from all over the world? Do not the actions of the Potato Marketing Board constitute a restraint on trade?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

There is freedom of imports, so it is not a restraint on trade. The hon. Member will be aware that many of the imports are of early potatoes, which come in when we do not have them ourselves. The potato area has, indeed, declined by some 27 per cent. since 1970, although it must be borne in mind that there has been a trend of rising yields. Yields have increased by even more—30 per cent. over the same period.