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Vegetable Imports (Policy)

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1949

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asked the Prime Minister if he is aware of the dissatisfaction amongst home growers of vegetables at the lack of co-ordination between the Ministers of Agriculture and Food in relation to imports from abroad; and what steps he is taking to bring about closer liaison between the two Ministries.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Gooch) and to the one which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries gave to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) yesterday.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those answers were far from reassuring to the horticulturists, and will he, as between the two Ministries, give us an assurance that he will give whatever support is necessary to the Minister of Agriculture so that proper protection and encouragement can be given to the home producer?

As I explained in my reply, one has to bear in mind the rights of producers and consumers, and, therefore, I should not be prepared to say that, regardless of any reason, I should come down in favour of one Minister against another.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give very sympathetic personal consideration to this matter in view of the fact that thousands of pounds are going to be lost by producers in the South of England at any rate, that it is likely to lead to serious unemployment, and that many of the men will be ruined by the operation of the scheme?

I have given careful consideration to that. There is no scheme which would ruin them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on Monday he stated that in order to get certain goods we have to import other things which we do not want, and that the horticultural industry, because of that answer, feel that they are being used as a pawn in the game?

Oh, no, they are not. It applies to numbers of industries in matters of trade regulations. The horticultural industry are not being made a pawn in the game.