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Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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asked the Minister of Food if he will give an estimate of the tonnage of broccoli needed to supply the home market in the autumn and winter season, 1949–50; and whether before making any further arrangements for importations under licence, he will ascertain from the Minister of Agriculture the tonnage which can be expected to be supplied by home producers.

No reliable estimate can be made now of what the demand for broccoli and cauliflower is likely to be next winter. This will depend on the price, the weather and the supplies and prices of other vegetables and foods. Consultations with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture invariably take place before broccoli and cauliflower imports are authorised.

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot now give an estimate of the likely home needs of broccoli in this country, will he say on what date he will be able to give an estimate so that we may know how much extra, if any, he will need to import over and above what the home producers can supply?

Hon. Members always leave out of these calculations the little matter price. The need, in the sense of the effective demand or what the market can absorb, depends on the price, and if the price is brought down by imports, the need will be that much the greater.

Are we to understand that the Minister intends to use the price weapon in order to ruin the Cornish broccoli industry?

No, Sir. I intend to use the price weapon, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman calls it, in order to give cheap broccoli to the British housewife.