I beg to move, in page 2, line 26, after the words "section," to insert the words:and after consultation with the appropriate department.This Amendment is merely to ensure that the Treasury shall go to the appropriate Departments before deciding to admit other articles to the Free List.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I am a little worried about this Amendment, because I am not quite sure, knowing what Government Departments are, whether it gives the Government the full powers which are necessary to approach the several Departments. Let me give a short illustration of what I have in mind. We will take the case of any commodity which has been exercising the mind of questioners during the last few days. If it is wished to keep them out for reasons connected with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Treasury may find it necessary also to look into the matter from the point 636 of view of the Ministry of Health, which may not be satisfied that this is a good form of commodity. May I have the assurance of the Government that they would have full power under this Amendmuent, which uses the word "Department" in the singular, to consult any Department, as might be necessary, and that any Department would have the power to put their case before the Treasury. That is all. I would like a little confirmation on that point.
In answer to my hon. Friend, I would say that the "appropriate Department" is defined in Clause 20, which is the interpretation Clause. I think he will find that the Ministry of Health is not mentioned in that case, because there would be nothing to prevent us from consulting with any other Department.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, at the end, to insert the words: 637Provided also that the Treasury shall, not later than twelve months after the passing of this Act, by Order direct that any fruits, vegetables, or horticultural products in connection with which no Board has been set up to administer a scheme under the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, shall be added to the First Sehedule to this Act.After the Debate which we have just had on the subject of industrial efficiency, I think the House will be able to dispose of this Amendment in much shorter time. I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister of Agriculture will realise that this is an important Amendment and will accept it so that we may proceed with the other Amendments on the Order Paper. On this subject of marketing, we understand that the Scottish growers have already taken a step in this direction, and that they would not be averse from our imposing upon our fruit and vegetable growers an obligation similar to that which they themselves have voluntarily accepted. Every model authority will be in agreement with us when we say that now that the Government are conceding protection to fruit and vegetable growers, unless within a certain specified time they take steps for the purpose of organising their industry they would no longer be entitled to continue to exploit the consumer, who has no safeguard against inefficiency in any of its forms.
The consumption of fruit and vegetables is constantly on the increase, and in any season when prices are reasonable, there is an increased consumption. This is by no means an inconsiderable side of agriculture, and we think that a certain amount of sensible marketing can be made to provide, perhaps, the most profitable part of agricultural life. In fruit and vegetables, I understand that the normal annual value of the produce is about £18,000,000. From the point of view of employment we shall have to pay much more attention in the future to fruit and vegetables, and produce of that kind, than we have paid to wheat. The value of the wheat crop per acre is round about £6 of £7, whereas it is possible to grow £45 worth of vegetables to one acre. Therefore, this part of our agricultural produce should find employment for the maximum number of our workpeople.
I suggest that we ought to try to extend fruit and vegetable growing, which is almost entirety dependent upon efficient 638 marketing. The Ministry of Agriculture has produced orange book after orange book, and always takes the line of approach that the only way to deal with the problem of periodic surplus of fruit and vegetables is a system of marketing. By the establishment of a marketing scheme, under the terms of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, which is available for growers in this country, I think the surplus might be avoided. I am convinced that a good deal of the loss between the producer and the consumer could be saved to the producer, and to that extent the producer would be induced to carry on. Now as never before, the producers of fruit and vegetables are protected. They have access to a committee who can concede to them protection and a Customs Duty of 100 per cent. They have at their disposal the Agricultural Marketing Act, whereby the Minister of Agriculture is obliged to provide credit facilities wherever a marketing scheme is established. Also the Department of Agriculture's marketing officers are there.
There is everything to encourage fruit and vegetable growers to adopt the most efficient marketing methods. Marketing schemes provide the only safeguard for the consumer. The least we might expect is that the fruit and vegetable growers will, from now henceforth, endeavour to establish marketing schemes, so that wherever there happens to be a glut they will at least be able to control it. They would be able to provide the consuming public with the commodities that they require at reasonable prices, sometimes even beyond the ordinary season for vegetables and for certain kinds of fruit. The Minister of Agriculture ought to see his way clear to accept this Amendment in order to help the fruit and vegetable growers. Everything that can be done to assist the farmer to assist himself has been done, up to this moment. On the top of that, we are now protecting him to the extent of 10 per cent. He has access to an Advisory Committee who may give him a 20, 30, 40 or 100 per cent. duty. For that reason, in the interests of the consumer and of the fruit grower himself, the Government ought to accept this Amendment, so that behind the wall of Protection efficiency will be secured in this country.
I beg to second the Amendment.
The House will fully appreciate that during the Debate on the articles covered in the Horticultural Products Bill, it was stated clearly that one of the difficulties in this country in the past has been unregulated imports for agriculturists and farmers in this kind of produce. The Act of 1931 was passed to some purpose. This House in its wisdom, and I think rightly, saw that we had arrived at the time in our agricultural policy where some facility ought to be given for reasonable marketing arrangements and for marketing boards throughout the country to deal with agriculture as a whole.
The Government are now, as my hon. Friend has reminded us, handing out Protection to this industry, and every one of us, apart from our views on the Measure, will trust that what is happening will give new life to British agriculture. At the same time, I think that, after giving Protection to an industry by taxing imported foodstuffs, this House has a right to some guarantee that the people who are engaged in and conducting this very important industry shall organise themselves efficiently, and organise their marketing in various parts of the country, for their own sake as well as for the sake of the consumer. I am afraid that, if the Government do not treat this Amendment sympathetically, the fullest advantage will not be taken of the benefits that are to accrue to the agricultural industry, and the result will be that consumers will find that the burden has to be carried by them. I suggest that this Amendment ought to be accepted. When a National Government is giving Protection to any industry, whatever it may be, we have a right to call upon those who are engaged in that industry to reorganise themselves efficiently, so that the people as a whole may get the full benefit of the reorganisation. I hope, therefore, that the Government will give the Amendment serious consideration.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Major Elliot)
I think that the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment rather under-estimate the time that will be necessary, even though the Agricultural Marketing Act is on the Statute Book, to prepare and bring into force 640 schemes such as are required by the provisions of that Act. Before a board can be set up, a scheme must be prepared and submitted to the Minister, and, as we know, the preparation of a scheme will take a considerable time; while, even after it has been submitted to the Minister, it is reckoned that at least eight months will necessarily elapse before a board can be constituted under the machinery of the Act. The procedure of the Act is by no means short or simple, and it is by no means entirely for the benefit of the consumer. The provisions of the Act indicate that there will be a good deal of negotiation between the various producers of a regulated product before an agreement is come to, and, therefore, in practice, this Amendment would mean that, within one year of the passing of the present Measure, some horticultural products would cease to have any protection whatever. We contend that that would merely bring back into the whole realm of horticultural production that uncertainty which is one of the greatest enemies both of horticultural production and of cheap supplies to the consumer, and, therefore, would in fact defeat the very end which the Mover and Seconder of this proposal have in view. I would ask them to look again at the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, with its pages and pages of regulations which have to be complied with before a scheme can be submitted and before a board under the Act can be set up, and to consider whether it is reasonable to ask that within one year a board such as this should be set up for every horticultural product produced in the United Kingdom. It would lead, I think, to great congestion, to inefficient schemes, to a certain number of horticultural trades and industries not being able to prepare schemes, and, in reality, to chaos and muddle in the horticultural producing industries. Therefore, we must ask the House not to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman whether his objection to the Amendment is merely in regard to the period of 12 months? If so, does he not think that some other period might be substituted? I should not object to 18 months, if he thinks that that would be a period within which fruit and vegetable growers would be able to prepare their schemes. We thought that 641 12 months would be ample, despite the complications of the Act. What we fear is that, unless the will is there, there will be no schemes of any kind, and we should be glad if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would at least indicate to fruit and vegetable growers that there is a desire in this House that they should organise their industry.
§ Major ELLIOT
By the leave of the House, I may say briefly that the Agricultural Marketing Act is still untried, and I do not think it would be fair to put in such a provision as this, even with 18 months or two years as a time limit. I do not think we should lay down a time limit for an untried Act, operating under unfamiliar procedure. We have found in all these cases that hurry is the worst thing. The agricultural industries are perfectly ready, where an industry can be properly organised, to go ahead and prepare schemes, as has been done in the case of the raspberry growers of Scotland; but in other cases an attempt to rush them is liable to defeat the very ends that we all have in view.
§ Mr. ROSBOTHAM
While I admit that there are many good qualities in the Agricultural Marketing Act, I think it would be a great mistake to force the hands of the producers by making it compulsory upon them to apply it within 18 months, or even two years. To do so would defeat the object of the Act. Three marketing hoards have been established within the last three weeks, and hon. Members may rest assured that, when the producers see that it is to their advantage to set up marketing hoards, there will be no further delay. I am sure, however, that we shall defeat the real objects, splendid as they are, of the Marketing Act if we try to force the pace.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I can conceive of no method more capable of permanently killing the Act than this Amendment. There is not only the question of compulsion, which naturally always appeals
§ to hon. Gentlemen in the Opposition. They always will have it that the agricultural industry can be quite easily and simply organised into any sort of routine work. It is not only that, however, that I complain about in this Amendment. I also complain that it goes such an amazing way, because it means that, unless every small branch of horticulture, at the end of 12 months, is completely organised with a complete board—the difficulties of which I need not go into, for they have been already pointed out—their product could be put on the Free List.
§ Let me take fruit-growing as an illustration. If you want to increase the amount of fruit-growing and get a successful marketing board for that industry, there must obviously be an enormous increase of planting of, say, particular forms of trees. That means that the people in the industry have to look years ahead. To do what this Amendment proposes may well kill the Agricultural Marketing Act and discourage the formation of the very boards which hon. Members desire to see formed, and which I believe will ultimately be very valuable to the industry. Beyond that, it is absurd to think that you can have marketing boards for every form and variety of fruit and vegetables. A single form of flower may be grown by a few people, perhaps in two or three different parts of Great Britain, and they may have a very good market in London. It is quite impossible to organise them into a marketing board for selling. Their product may be fashionable for a year or two, and then go out altogether. If the hon. Members who are responsible for this proposal had wished to bring in an absurd Amendment, I do not think that, even with their capacity, it would have been possible to bring in one that was more absurd.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 312.645
|Division No. 89.]||AYES.||[6.55 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Harris, Sir Percy|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Edwards, Charles||Hirst, George Henry|
|Buchanan, George||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Cape, Thomas||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Janner, Barnett|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Grundy, Thomas W.||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||John, William|
|Daggar, George||Halt, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Owen, Major Goronwy||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Leonard, William||Parkinson, John Allen||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lunn, William||Price, Gabriel||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|McEntee, Valentine L.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Maclean, Neil (Glatgow, Govan)||Thorne, William James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Tinker, John Joseph||Mr. Groves and Mr. Duncan|
|Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Wallhead, Richard C.||Graham.|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkin (Cardigan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. David|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dawson, Sir Philip||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Denville, Alfred||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Albery, Irving James||Dickie, John P.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Doran, Edward||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Drewe, Cedric||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Duckworth, George A. V.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Apsley, Lord||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Duggan, Hubert John||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dung lass, Lord||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Eales, John Frederick||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eden, Robert Anthony||Kirkpatrick, William M.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Knatchbull, Captain Hon. M. H. R.|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Ellis, Robert Geoffrey||Knight, Holford|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Elmley, Viscount||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Bird, Sir Robert B.(Wolverh'pton W.)||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Levy, Thomas|
|Bilndell, James||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Lewis, Oswald|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Fuller, Captain A, G.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Galbraith, James Francis Wallace||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||MacAndrew, Maj. C. G. (Particle)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.||Macdonaid, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Burghley, Lord||Goff, Sir Park||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Burnett, John George||Goldie, Noel B.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McLean, Major Alan|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gower, Sir Robert||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Magnay, Thomas|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Granville, Edgar||Maitland, Adam|
|Campbell, Rear-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Graves, Marjorie||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hales, Harold K.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Millar, Sir James Duncan|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A.(Birm.,w.)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgbaston)||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Milne, Charles|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Milne. John Sydney Wardlaw-|
|Christie, James Archibald||Harbord, Arthur||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tt'd & Chisw'k)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hartland, George A.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Collox, Major William Philip||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Muirhead, Major A. J.|
|Copeland, Ida||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Munro, Patrick|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Cheimsford)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Hepworth, Joseph||Newton, Sir Douglas George C,|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Hillman, Dr. George B.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Normand, Wilfrid Guild|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hornby, Frank||Nunn, William|
|Cross, R. R.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Horobin, Ian M.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Howard, Tom Forrest||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Peaks, Captain Osbert||Salmon, Major Isidore||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Pearson, William G.||Salt, Edward W.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.(P'dd'gt'n,S.)|
|Peat, Charles U.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Templeton, William P.|
|Penny, Sir George||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n,Bilston)||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard||Thompson, Luke|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Scone, Lord||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Selley, Harry R.||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Pybus, Percy John||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ramsden, E.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Rankin, Robert||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Smithers, Waldron||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Remer, John R.||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Williams. Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Soper, Richard||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Robinson, John Roland||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Rodd, Rt. Hon. sir James Rennell||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Rosbotham, S. T.||Stones, James||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Storey, Samuel||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Strauss, Edward A,|
|Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Captain Austin Hudson and Mr. Womersley.|
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, at the end, to insert the words:(5) The provisions of the Second Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the recommendation and allowance of drawback in respect of the general ad valorem duty.During the passage of the Bill through Committee the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) asked me if I could not extend the provisions of the drawback, and I said that I was quite willing to consider an Amendment which would make drawback payable in the case of articles subject to both the ad valorem and the additional duty. But I must point out that, if that were given in respect of articles which have both the additional duty and the ad valorem duty on them, the exclusion from drawback of those articles having only an ad valorem duty upon them might be considered prejudiced. Therefore, having taken that into consideration, we have thought it better to make the drawback apply in all cases—on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, of course—and this Amendment enables the provisions of the Second Schedule to apply to the ad valorem duty, and there will, of course, be a consequential Amendment in the Second Schedule.
I wonder if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could extend its provisions to the duties imposed under the Abnormal Importations Act, or would he explain to us how they work? There is no provision in that Act for getting drawbacks unless you satisfy the Commissioners that the goods are for transhipment, but you cannot always do that.
§ Mr. AMERY
In all sections of the House we shall welcome the concession which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made, but there is one observation which I should like to make upon it. The articles coming under the general ad valorem duty include a very considerable number of raw materials and foodstuffs, which rightly are not in the Schedule, which are worked up and when worked up may become the subject of exportation. I am not suggesting by any means that in all those cases there shall he drawback, but I am afraid that in many of them the provisions of the Second Schedule would hardly be applicable, or helpful. We had an interesting discussion yesterday on manila hemp 647 versus sisal, and I was very glad indeed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able, on the balance of considerations, to accept the view urged by myself and my friends, but I fully realise that there were arguments of substance advanced from the point of view of the export trade in manila rope. I hope that at some later stage, if not on this Bill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be able to make provision—
On a point of Order. It appears to me that the point which my right hon. Friend is putting is a point applicable to the provisions of the Second Schedule and not to this particular Amendment. I submit that it ought to be discussed on the Amendments to the Second Schedule.
§ Mr. AMERY
I was raising, not the merits or demerits of the Second Schedule in general, but the effect of the Schedule on articles which come under the ad valorem duty, that is to say, raw materials in particular, and it was only to the extent that it affected that class of article that I wished to touch upon certain aspects of the case.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the right hon. Gentleman is rather anxious lest the Second Schedule should not be discussed. He must not take up time discussing on these Amendments something that should be discussed on the Second Schedule.
§ Mr. AMERY
I have another motive than that. Beside the case of manila hemp, to which I wished to make particular reference as coming under this Clause, there is another class of goods coming under the 10 per cent. ad valorem duty, namely, the case of soya beans, where the article is almost wholly re-exported after it has been worked up in oil or cake. There is a strong argument for a complete drawback from the 10 per cent. ad valorem duty, but there the provisions of the Second Schedule would be ineffective to help the exporter, and therefore, apart from the merits or demerits of the Second Schedule, I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take into consideration the whole drawback question in so far as it affects raw materials and foodstuffs which are under the 10 per cent. duty and are worked up for export, and to see if in 648 certain cases he cannot see his way to deal with those articles.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
During the Second Reacting I referred to this point and expressed the view that the general principles of the drawback were satisfactory as I then understood them. I have not perhaps read the Second Schedule as governed by this paragraph with the care that I should have done. Nevertheless, I rejoice that the drawback, where it is to be granted, will be granted in respect of the whole amount of the duty. That is thoroughly sound. I take the view that general drawback ought not to be granted in respect of articles that undergo a process of manufacture. I agree with that in general for two reasons. First, it is administratively difficult to follow through an article that undergoes a process of manufacture. Administratively it is almost impossible. Secondly, a drawback is only justified in those rare cases where a tariff leads to an increase in price.
I have always held the view that a constructive tariff will not raise prices, but I do not blind my eyes to the fact that there may be odd cases where there is a temporary increase. Where there is such a temporary increase of price there should be some provision to make sure that a substantial export trade will not be prejudiced in their cost of production because some isolated item has gone up in price. Therefore, I have always urged that there should be power on the part of the Advisory Committee to consider such a case, and, where it is desirable and administratively possible, that drawback should be given in those cases. This Amendment, which we are considering, though it meets the position will not give that security which we desire. I hope, like my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, that in due course—perhaps in some later Act—the necessary provision may be made to deal with this point, and that the Chancellor will consider a possibility of making this provision in the law.
§ Sir PERCY HARRIS
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for this very valuable concession. I am surprised that the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) took advantage of it to admit that in some odd cases, at any rate, a duty might increase prices. I only hope his speech does not suggest that im- 649 porters who wish to re-export goods shall not be deprived of their drawback because they cannot prove that prices have gone up.
§ Amendment agreed to.