§ 58. Sir C. Osborne
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware that his recent decision to allow the importation of potatoes into this country for a further period has caused concern to the National Fanners' Union; what representations he has received on the matter; what replies he has given; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Soames
I am aware that the extension from 15th to 30th June of the period during which French new potatoes could be imported has caused concern to the National Farmers' Union as well as to the Potato Marketing Board. However, my Department has discussed this with them,6W and they fully appreciate that the decision had to be taken solely on plant health grounds. In the circumstances of this year, when the plant health risk was negligible, there were no grounds for refusing the French request for this extension. On the other hand, I would remind the House that this year it was necessary on plant health grounds to exclude imports of new potatoes from many areas of Italy, from which substantial quantities might otherwise have been expected to come in late May and June.