HC Deb 15 November 1926 vol 199 cc1650-1

Order for Seccond Reading read.


I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This Bill deals with certain unsatisfactory features in the relationship between growers and commission salesmen, to which reference was made in the Interim Report of the Linlithgow Committee on Fruit and Vegetables. That Report described certain practices, namely, the returning of less than the price realised by the commission salesmen, the alleged practice of averaging returns and giving a lump sum figure to the grower which did not represent what had really been received. Even where there were no such mal-practices, cases were given where net returns only were furnished to the grower, or where the gross price alone was shown, without in any way distinguishing between commission charges, market tolls, returned empties and other expenses to enable the grower to discover from the account what price had been received for his produce.

The Linlithgow Committee recommended that these abuses should be dealt with by licensing the commission salesmen. The Government object to unnecessary control in industry. We know also that any such licensing would be strongly resented by the commission salesmen. We believe that we can remove these unsatisfactory features from the trade in horticultural produce by a method arrived at by agreement between all sections in the industry. The commission salesmen are most anxious to remove any suspicion of irregularity, and the Bill for which I ask a Second Reading this evening is the result of negotiations between the growers on the one hand and the commission salesmen on the other. It provides that salesmen on commission must keep records of the names of the purchasers and the prices paid for their produce, and in rendering their accounts they must distinguish what is charged for commission from other miscellaneous expenses. Further, if a commission salesman chooses to buy on his own account produce sent to him for sale, he has to disclose that to his customer. The grower is to be allowed to have the salesman's accounts examined by an accountant.

This Bill is an agreed Measure. We have had it most carefully examined on several occasions by the Horticultural Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture, and it has been assented to by the National Farmers Union, as representing the growers, and the National Federation of Fruit and Potato Trades Association, as representing the salesmen. I ask the House by giving a Second Reading to the Bill to assent to and legalise this voluntary arrangement which has been reached amongst all sections of the industry.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House for To-morrow.—[Mr. Guinness.]