Mr James Hoy: The White Fish Authority Publicity Scheme Confirmatory Order 1970 came into operation on 5th April last. It provides for payment to the authority within seven days after the end of the week in which levy is incurred, but, subject to that, the arrangements for collection are the responsibility of the authority itself.
Mr James Hoy: I am grateful for what my hon. Friend has said. He was expressing the opinion of hon. Members on both sides when the Order was laid. The action can follow if payments are not made.
Mr James Hoy: The most significant food price increases during 1969 were in meat, potatoes, other fresh vegetables, milk, fish and bread. So far in 1970 the most significant increases have been in tomatoes, bread, potatoes, and other fresh vegetables.
Mr James Hoy: The hon. Gentleman had better make up his mind which way he wants to go. The complaint is always that the producers are not getting enough for the goods. These are the things which have gone up, together with the wages of those employed.
Mr James Hoy: Bilateral discussions with the Governments of our main suppliers of beef are still proceeding. We are not yet in a position to report their outcome.
Mr James Hoy: We are attempting to stabilise the price of food, and of meat in particular. I recall that in a previous Question Hour the hon. Member demanded that prices be increased.
Mr James Hoy: As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Mr James Hoy: It is true that certain costs have gone up, but it is just as true that some major costs—oil, fuel and fertilisers—have come down. I hope that we all want an absolutely efficient industry, and I remind the hon. Gentleman of the special assistance which the industry receives from the horticultural improvement scheme.
Mr James Hoy: What my hon. Friend has said is correct. Anyone who cares to look at the matter impartially will see that the present Government have given considerable help to horticulture with grants running at 38â per cent., as a consequence of which tremendous building is taking place, especially of glass houses, which are of such importance to the industry.
Mr James Hoy: About £10 million of the total cost change on all products as estimated for the recent Annual Review may be attributed to horticulture. Prices of horticultural crops are not guaranteed but growers will benefit from the increases in the subsidies on fertilisers and lime and in the grants for field drainage and water supply.
Mr James Hoy: I cannot understand the hon. Gentleman. He exaggerates when he talks in such a way. I do not dispute that there have been increasing costs, just as in two cases I gave earlier there have been decreases in costs. I would remind him again that the rate of grant under the horticultural improvement scheme is 38½ per cent. He ought to agree that this is fairly substantial progress and assistance...
Mr James Hoy: I do not agree with a single word uttered by the hon. Gentleman. As a result of these substantial grants, the industry is fairly sound. I did not say, and I do not want the hon. Gentleman to impute that I said, that I was complacent. I am never complacent. This is a first-class industry and with the assistance that we give it, it can build itself up. The worst thing that could happen is that...
Mr James Hoy: We do not have power to compel the growers to send in accounts. We meet the industry regularly and make assessments as far as possible, but we have no power to cancel grants because the growers will not supply information.
Mr James Hoy: The right hon. Gentleman is making a mistake. There has been a very big increase in grants in the industry. There is an increasing acreage. These two things mean that progress is being made. The right hon. Gentleman must not say that I am complacent about this. I spend a considerable time dealing with this section of the industry, and I am willing to stand by the results.
Mr James Hoy: My right hon. Friend has no information on which he could base a statement about the net income of growers of tomatoes and lettuce in Lancashire in 1969.
Mr James Hoy: Yes, we have this information. Over the country as a whole the price for tomatoes and lettuces was somewhat lower in 1969, compared with 1968, but still higher than in 1967. The reason why I cannot give the information for which the hon. Gentleman asks is that many growers are not willing to disclose their accounts and we do not want to compel them.
Mr James Hoy: As the hon. Gentleman knows, and as I have just said, we do not have proper accounts. I do not know whether he is asking me to take powers to compel the growers to give these.
Mr James Hoy: It is estimated that the net average price received by wholesale producers in Northern Ireland in the year ending 31st March, 1970, was 4·9d. per gallon less than in England and Wales and about 6·2d. per gallon less than in the main Scottish marketing area.
Mr James Hoy: The present scheme is much the same as that introduced by the hon. Member's right hon. Friends in 1954. As to the standard quantity, the Northern Ireland standard quantity is already generous. In 1969–70 it included all liquid sales plus reserves of 142 per cent. The corresponding reserve was 63 per cent. in Scotland and only 25 per cent. in England and Wales. So Northern Ireland does not...
Mr James Hoy: This was a goodwill visit at the invitation of the Icelandic Minister of Fisheries to see something of Iceland and the Icelandic fishing industry. There were no discussions of the kind envisaged by my hon. and learned Friend.