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Subsidised Horticultural Imports

Volume 529: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will publish a list of subsidised horticultural produce entering this country.

It is usually far from easy to establish whether particular goods are directly or indirectly subsidised. The Board of Trade has no full list of subsidised horticultural produce entering this market and would, I am afraid, find it extremely difficult to compile one.

Would the Minister get in touch with the National Farmers' Union and ascertain exactly what is happening about subsidised imports of horticultural produce, which are working unfairly towards producers here?

I should be glad to receive any representations which the National Farmers' Union care to make on this subject.

Will my right hon. Friend say whether his Department had any hand in the private arrangement whereby 20,000 tons of potatoes are to come from the Argentine—most extraordinary of all places—in exchange for Bedford lorries? Why should we wish to import potatoes from the Argentine under present circumstances?

I assure my hon. Friend that we have not been the buyers of these potatoes. As a matter of fact, I know nothing of that contract other than what I have read in the Press.

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is undoubtedly a considerable element of subsidy in many of the horticultural products coming into this country? As the purpose of the recent increases in horticultural tariffs was to protect the home grower does he not agree that this element of subsidy is largely vitiating the effect of those increased tariffs?

Before the right hon. Gentleman replies to that question, is he aware that the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is one of the most ardent supporters of setting the people free?

I shall not answer the right hon. Gentleman's question, but I shall answer the question of my hon Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). We are aware that there are elements of export subsidy in a number of horticultural imports into this country, and, in principle, we are opposed to export subsidies.