§ 63. Mr. Whitlock
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) when an EEC regime for potatoes is to be introduced;
(2) whether, following the introduction of an EEC potato regime, the probable ending of guaranteed prices for potatoes and the disappearance of the Potato Marketing Board's buying programme, the growing acreage of potatoes in the United Kingdom will be reduced while imports of foreign-grown potatoes will increase;
(3) what steps will be taken when an EEC potato regime operates to ensure that British farmers continue to have an incentive to grow potatoes;
(4) whether it is his intention, when an EEC potato regime operates, to bring into being a potato control authority, consisting of representatives of consumer, retailing and processing interests, which will be concerned with quality standards and with the production of an adequate quantity of potatoes to meet various national needs.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
Member States have been discussing Commission proposals for an EEC potato regime for270W several years but so far no agreement has been reached in the Council of Ministers. The United Kingdom's position has been that any regime must include adequate provision for supporting our maincrop potato market in times of heavy surplus, so as to ensure satisfactorily stable marketing conditions for our producers, and I shall continue to press for this if and when discussions are resumed in the Council.
I have no plans for introducing any new organisation to deal with potatoes; it would be my intention that the Potato Marketing Board should continue in existence under any EEC regime and play a central role in the support arrangements I have referred to, as well as having other relevant responsibilities.
I announced on 9 July that the guaranteed price for potatoes for the 1979–80 crop would be £44.64 per ton.