HC Deb 06 April 1932 vol 264 cc243-9

I beg to move to leave out the Clause.

I do so for the same reasons which were advanced by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) on a previous Amendment. I am afraid that under this Clause we shall see a certain amount of gambling by those who import flour or milled wheat. I think the importers would be content to use up their stocks waiting for the day when the wheat quota would have to be paid, and that is a very undesirable thing to do. On a former occasion, the Minister of Agriculture replied in these terms: The very purpose of Clause 7 is to enable the Minister, in lieu of prescribing the amount of quota payments, to prescribe during that year quota payments of such amounts as he considers expedient for those purposes."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1932; col. 540, Vol. 263.] If the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what that means, it may be that he will persuade us to consent to Clause 7 being retained in the Bill, but, so far, we have been unable to extract either common sense, logic or wisdom from any part of the Ministerial speech on that occasion. In view of the complexity of the Bill, and of the number of prescriptions and certifications that have to be made in reference to so many different units, we want to know exactly why this duplicate power is necessary. If the First Commissioner of Works can be clearer than the Minister of Agriculture was in Committee, we may consider the advisability of withdrawing this Amendment, but otherwise, fearing the possibility of gambling that may ensue as the result of this Clause, we should like to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say before we decide what action we shall take.


I should say that this Clause has two purposes, both of which secure common-sense adjustments—which, of course, are not necessarily strictly logical. The Minister in any one year has to make two sets of Orders. In one he will prescribe quota payments in order to collect a sufficient sum of money during the 12 months to supply the deficiency payments. Equally, he has to make other Orders in the same year, on the advice of the Wheat Commission, prescribing what the deficiency payment shall be, that is to say, what is to be the final figure for the difference between the average price received by all the farmers in the country in the open market for their wheat, and the standard price. It may be that at the end of the year those two sets of Orders will not produce an exact balance-sheet.

9.0 p.m.

A maximum sum of £8,000,000 has frequently been mentioned in this Debate. Certainly in the first year the sum is not likely to be £6,000,000, but it is quite likely that there will be, as between the, two calculations, a variation amounting to a small percentage of that £6,000,000, and, therefore, it is necessary to have an adjustment Clause, so that at the end of the year, if either the one or the other figure is the greater, there may be a carry-over for the purposes of the next year's working. If the Order prescribing the amount of quota payment on each sack of flour is in excess of the amount required to pay the deficiency payments by, say, £100,000, that £100,000 will go over to the next year, and by that figure the amount of quota payments which will be collected in the next year will be lowered. On the other hand, if the deficiency payment exceeds the amount that has been collected in the previous year in quota payments by £100,000, it will have to be made up. That is the main purpose of the Clause. It has another purpose—a secondary purpose—which, on the face of the facts as we see them to-day, is not likely to be realised, but which has to be provided for in order to make the Act watertight. This second purpose is to enable the Minister in any year in which the average price of home-grown millable wheat ceases to be less than the standard price, to prescribe some small quota payment merely for the purpose of ensuring that the Wheat Commission shall be in possession of sufficient funds to meet the cost of keeping in existence the essential machinery of administration during that year. Supposing that there is, in the course of the next three years, such a rise in the sterling price of wheat that the world price of wheat exceeds 45s., and that, therefore, no quota payment becomes payable for the benefit of the farmer, it will be necessary, until the inquiry is held in three years' time, to keep some small amount in hand in order to defray the expenses of the Wheat Commission until the inquiry takes place, and, incidentally, to defray the expense of the inquiry itself. Obviously we cannot tell what is going to be the course of sterling prices in the next three years. If sterling retains its present value, and the world's crops of wheat are anything like what they are to-day, this is a remote contingency, but it is desirable to ensure that there will be available the sum necessary to defray the cost of the Wheat Commission and of the committee of inquiry in three years' time which will review the whole of this matter. That is the secondary purpose, beyond the adjustment purpose of the Clause. I think that the explanation I have given ought to be a sufficient one as to why this Clause is in the Bill.


We are deeply indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for his endeavour to explain Clause 7— [Interruption.] An hon. Member behind me says that he has explained it, but he has not done so to our satisfaction, because he stopped at the most interesting point. He told us what was contained in the first 12 lines of the Clause, and we had appreciated that, but the point was as to why the fresh power of prescription should be given in the last 10 lines of the Clause, because, as we see it, that is already covered in Clause 3. In Sub-section (4) of Clause 3, the Minister is given power to prescribe the amount of the payments under that Clause. If, at the beginning of the year, the Minister finds that no quota payment is required, he will not prescribe one, because he will find that his sum will work out at nothing, on the supposition which the right hon. Gentleman now makes that the sterling price has risen; so that that case is covered by Subsection (4) of Clause 3. In the second case, where the Minister, in the middle of a year, may come to the conclusion that circumstances have changed, and that, owing to the amount in hand, the quota payments need not continue, he operates under Sub-section (5) of Clause 3, which says: If at any time during a cereal year"— either at the beginning, or at the end, or at any other time— the Minister considers that, for the purpose of securing that the average amount of the quota payments which will have accrued due during the cereal year"— either before or after his Order— shall more nearly represent the sum mentioned in subsection (1) of this section"— that is what the fund has to pay out— it is expedient so to do, he may, after consultation with the Wheat Commission, by a subsequent Order supersede the Order theretofore in force under this section as from the date of the subsequent Order. By that subsequent Order he can prescribe a nominal sum, or a large sum, or a small sum—any sum that he likes. He is given absolute power to cancel his original Order and put a fresh one in its place. What further powers does the Minister require to have? Why is it necessary to have this long and complicated Clause, which says "in lieu of prescribing the amount of quota payment under Clause 3"? It is not an additional but an alternative power. The object, apparently, is that, although the Minister has power to prescribe these quota payments under Clause 3, this gives him another power to do it under Clause 7, in case he prefers to do it under Clause 7, and really there is nothing further in it, because every circumstance in the first part of Clause 7 is adequately covered already in the very general form in Clause 3, and I should have thought that what the Minister has told us so often, that it is undesirable to specialise, because it might be deemed to cut down the general power that is given under Clause 3, applied more particularly to this case than to any other. If the Minister wants to have wide power to accommodate the quota payments to the necessities of the fund,

Division No. 142.] AYES. [9.7 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Denman, Hon. R. D. Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Denville, Alfred Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Albery, Irving James Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Dickie, John P. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Doran, Edward Johnston. J. W. (Clackmannan)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Drewe, Cedric Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)
Aske, Sir Robert William Duckworth, George A. V. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Atkinson, Cyril Duncan, James A.L. (Kensington, N.) Kerr, Hamilton W.
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Eastwood, John Francis Kimball, Lawrence
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Kirkpatrick, William M.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Elliston, Captain George Sampson Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Elmley, Viscount Knight, Holford
Balniel, Lord Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Emrys-Evans, P. V. Law, Sir Alfred
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Leckie, J. A.
Bateman, A. L. Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Leech, Dr. J. W.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B.(Portsm'th,C) Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Lees-Jones, John
Bernays, Robert Everard, W. Lindsay Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B Fermoy, Lord Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Liddall, Walter s.
Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton) Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.) Fraser, Captain Ian Llewellin, Major John J.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Fuller, Captain A. G. Lloyd, Geoffrey
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Ganzoni, Sir John Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Gibson, Charles Granville MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Partick)
Broadbent, Colonel John Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Gledhill, Gilbert McCorquodale, M. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y) Glossop, C. W. H. McKie, John Hamilton
Browne, Captain A. C. Gluckstein, Louis Halle Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Glyn, Major Ralph G. C. McLean. Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Burghley, Lord Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Magnay, Thomas
Burnett, John George Gower, Sir Robert Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Butt, Sir Alfred Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Grimston, R. V. Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.
Carver, Major William H. Guy, J. C. Morrison Marsden, Commander Arthur
Castle Stewart, Earl Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Martin, Thomas B.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hales, Harold K. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Chalmers, John Rutherford Hanbury, Cecil Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.) Hanley, Dennis A. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Clarry, Reginald George Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Milne, diaries
Clayton, Dr. George C. Harris, Sir Percy Milne, John Sydney Wardlaw-
Clydesdale, Marquess of Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)
Conant, R. J. E. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Mitcheson, G. G.
Cooke, Douglas Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Cooper, A. Duff Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Moreing, Adrian C.
Craven-Ellis, William Hepworth, Joseph Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Crooke, J. Smedley Holdsworth, Herbert Morrison, William Shephard
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hops, Capt. Arthur O. J. (Aston) Mulrhead, Major A. J.
Crossley, A. C. Hornby, Frank Munro, Patrick
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Horsbrugh, Florence Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Normand, Wilfrid Guild
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Nunn, William
Dawson, Sir Philip Hume, Sir George Hopwood O'Donovan, Dr. William James

he has it under Clause 3. If he puts in this Clause, it will be held that he only has the powers specifically set out in it, and it may be deemed that the general powers under Clause 3 are cut down by Clause 7, which lays down specific circumstances in which he can carry out precisely the same powers. Therefore, we suggest that it is redundant and is only adding a fresh complication to a Bill which is already sufficiently complicated without it.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 51.

O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Thompson, Luke
Palmer, Francis Noel Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Pearson, William G. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo Thorp, Linton Theodore
Peat, Charles U. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Penny, Sir George Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Peters, Dr. Sidney John Scone, Lord Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Petherick, M. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Turton, Robert Hugh
Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Pickering, Ernest H. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Procter, Major Henry Adam Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Ralkes, Henry V. A. M. Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Skelton, Archibald Noel Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Wells, Sydney Richard
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Ramsbotham, Herwald Smith-Carington, Neville W. Whyte, Jardine Bell
Ramsden, E. Somervell, Donald Bradley Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Soper, Richard Wills, Wilfrid D.
Reid, William Allan (Derby) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde) Wise, Alfred R.
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland) Womersley, Walter James
Robinson, John Roland Stones, James Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Ropner, Colonel L. Storey, Samuel Worthington, Dr. John V.
Rosbotham, S. T. Strauss, Edward A. Wragg, Herbert
Ross, Ronald D. Strickland, Captain W. F. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Templeton, William P. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Runge, Norah Cecil Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert
Ward and Mr. Blindell.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grithffis, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Owen, Major Goronwy
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Parkinson, John Allen
Briant, Frank Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Price, Gabriel
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hicks, Ernest George Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Buchanan, George Hirst, George Henry Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, Sir William Thorne, William James
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinker, John Joseph
Cove, William G. Jones, Morg n (Caerphilly) Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kirkwood, David Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Daggar, George Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Lawson, John James Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Leonard, William Williams, Dr. John H. (Llaneily)
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lunn, William
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) McGovern, John Mr. John and Mr. Duncan Graham.