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Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many kinds of vegetables have been withdrawn from the EEC list for 1980; if the ban on the "Little Gem" marrow is in the best interests of British horticulturists; and if he will make a statement.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the EEC common catalogue which is an amalgam of the national lists maintained by individual member countries. In 1979, 406 varieties of vegetable species were deleted from this catalogue and 398 were added.The marrow variety "Little Gem" was deleted from the United Kingdom national list, and thence the common catalogue, at the request of the supplier concerned and after no objections had been received to an advertised proposal to do so. Our general experience is that if sufficient growers value a variety somebody will be willing to maintain it. The United Kingdom Agriculture Departments would readily entertain proposals to restore "Little Gem" to the list if an applicant came forward with an undertaking to maintain this variety with all its essential characteristics.