HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc386-8
24. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will seek to confer wider powers on the Potato Marketing Board in so far as it affects Scotland.

Mr. Willis

The Board's powers derive from the Potato Marketing Scheme made under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1958. It is accordingly for the Board to consider whether its powers under the Scheme require amendment with regard to operations in Scotland or any other part of Great Britain.

Mr. Monro

Is the Minister aware that he has come to the support of the Potato Marketing Board in Scotland far too late? Will he ensure that in future he takes a much stronger line in representing the cause of Scottish farmers to the Minister of Agriculture?

Mr. Willis

I do not accept that we came to the assistance of the farmers too late.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Could the hon. Gentleman assure us that on future occasions he will not allow the interests of farmers in Scotland to be sacrificed to the First Secretary of State's pursuit of the will o' the wisp of an incomes policy?

Hon. Members


Mr. Willis

I do not accept that that has happened. I am quite confident that my right hon. Friend will look after the interests of the Scottish farmers.

Mr. W. Baxter

Would my hon. Friend take into consideration the fact that a considerable amount of first-class potatoes in Scotland are now being utilised for cattle and stock feeding? In view of this unsatisfactory state of affairs, would he look into the whole question of the growing and marketing of potatoes to see that there is a more secure market for potato growers and a much lower price for the consumer than in the past?

Mr. Willis

Naturally we are concerned to see that suitable arrangements exist. The Board and the National Farmers' Union are discussing various aspects of the activities of the Potato Marketing Board with a view to seeing whether, if necessary, it should be strengthened.

Mr. Stodart

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree—because nearly everybody else in the country does—that the delay of his right hon. Friend in facing up to his responsibilities in this matter has been most unhelpful to thousands of growers? Is he aware that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture said on Monday that he thought that the surplus had been exaggerated? Does he agree with that? Can he, therefore, give his idea of the actual surplus?

Mr. Willis

I do not accept the accusation that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has delayed in this matter. Neither do I accept the accusation made by the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture was wrong.

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