§ 6.30 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Major Elliot)
I beg to move,That the Scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, for regulating the marketing of pigs, a draft of which was presented to the House on the 22nd day of June, 1933, be approved.I have to commend to the House this afternoon two schemes under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, which we lay before the House for its approval. The two schemes will be found in the Vote Office, with a report upon them by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself, and I think it will be clear from the report that we are fulfilling the statutory duty laid upon us by the Act of 1931 to ensure that the subject of these schemes is specifically brought before each House of Parliament. But the House should not assume that we shall be, by an affirma- 1544 tive vote, imposing these schemes upon the industry. The vote which I hope the House will shortly give is an enabling vote. It will enable these schemes to be laid before each industry—the pig rearing industry and the bacon curing industry—in order that they themselves may determine whether they will accept the schemes. The real point, and I think the only point, which it is necessary for the House to decide, is whether the schemes are suitable, under the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, to be put before the industries for decision. I speak of the industries, but it is really one industry. The bacon industry is composed of the pig rearing industry and the bacon curing industry, and I am sure the House will agree that, it is desirable to treat these two schemes as one.
We ask the House to assent to the proposition that it is desirable that these schemes should be put to the industry, affording it the opportunity of reorganising, and giving it powers of self-discipline and power to improve its efficiency both in production and in marketing. I do not think it can be contended that the powers given by the schemes will protect an inefficient industry. The quantities coming into the United Kingdom mar- 1545 ket from abroad will, of course, be regulated, but there will still be the competition, and the very real competition, of quality. The home industry will not make progress unless it takes care to ensure that the quality of the bacon it produces is at least equal to that of the foreign bacon which is displaced, and the pig producer as well as the bacon curer will have to play his part by providing the right types of pigs. I am sure we shall agree that too much must not be expected immediately of the home industry, but the public are entitled to expect a sincere and sustained effort to attain the maximum efficiency as rapidly as possible; and only if that sincere and sustained effort is being proceeded with will the public be satisfied.
These schemes are designed to set up boards whose powers with respect to pigs and bacon respectively will be mainly powers of regulation. The primary functions of the boards will be to enforce throughout the home bacon industry the principle of contract—of, a contract supply of pigs going to a factory, and, by estimating, in conjunction with the other bacon factories, the sum total of these contracts, to make to the Ministry, and through the Ministry to the nation, an estimate of what the home supply will be, and thereby enable us to dovetail that into the supply which we shall expect to obtain from overseas. When this element of stability has been brought into the bacon industry, we hope that the home bacon industry will be able to expand, provided that it is efficient; and to ensure the necessary efficiency, in the direction, for instance, of quality, the boards' powers in addition to those which directly concern supply regulation will be exercised.
It will be desirable in the future that the keystone of the arch should be supplied by the Development Board, which will form the junction between the Pigs Board on the one side and the Bacon Board on the other. We have offered, if necessary, to set up a reorganisation commission which should draft such a scheme, because, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) knows, for he has given much time and attention to the drafting of another scheme in connection with the milk industry, the working out of such proposals is a task which requires the 1546 highest skill in draftsmanship and the closest attention for many weeks of the most skilful people who can be obtained, and it will be often the case that farmers or bacon curers will not be able readily to draw upon such technical skill. So far, however, the Development Board has not been set up, and I merely indicate to the House that it still remains to be brought in to complete the picture which I am laying before the House this afternoon.
The schemes which we have before us are further of interest in that for the first time a Great Britain scheme has come before the House of Commons. We have had Debates, and interesting Debates, upon other schemes which have been submitted and which have been passed by the House. There was a Debate of considerable interest, in the course of which diversity of opinion was expressed, upon the Scottish scheme with respect to raspberries, and there was also, of course, the very much more important Scottish scheme with respect to milk, which also was sanctioned by the House. There is in existence an English scheme as regards hops, but that also is confined to one nation—in this case the nation South of the Border.
The interest of a Great Britain scheme lies in the fact that it is an example of schemes which, increasingly, we shall have to adopt in the future. The difficulty of dovetailing the Scottish milk scheme into the English milk scheme will be very considerable. There is a large flow of milk across the Border—a flow estimated at some 2,000,000 gallons per month; and the absorption of this into the English liquid milk market will require the highest skill on the part of both the boards. I hope that the Scottish Board will proceed with the examination of the problem forthwith, and that the promoters of the English scheme will also proceed with the examination of this problem, because, when and if the public inquiry, to which I shall refer in a moment, is completed, little enough time will be left for that scheme to come into operation, even supposing that all goes smoothly, if grave injury to the liquid milk market in the autumn is to be averted.
As it is a Great Britain scheme that we are placing before the House, perhaps I may be allowed for a moment to refer 1547 to affairs with which I have no direct concern, namely, affairs North of the Border, which are more specifically the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland and of the Under-Secretary of State, who is here to deal if necessary with any specifically Scottish questions. Certain Scottish points have been considered in the framing of this Great Britain scheme. It has been arranged that the board under the Pig Marketing Scheme is to have an office in Scotland, and thereby it will be brought, as far as Scottish affairs are concerned, under Scots jurisdiction. The publication of notices and so on will be in the Scottish newspaper, the "Scotsman," as well as in the London "Times"; provision for the inclusion of technical officers, such as a Scottish chartered accountant among those eligible to audit the accounts, will also be made; and, more particularly, the arbitrations to be held in Scotland will be conducted according to Scots law which, in these matters as in many others, differs from the law of England. As far as the Bacon Marketing Scheme is concerned, these points are also safeguarded. On the Bacon Board the Scottish representation has been increased from one to two members, and specific provision has been made for Scottish representation on the committees.
Turning to the scheme itself, "it was brought into existence after the inquiry of the Lane Pox Commission. It was set up, as the House will remember, by my right hon. Friend who is now Home Secretary, and by the right hon. Gentleman who is unfortunately no longer officially with us, but who was then Secretary of State for Scotland—the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). It was brought into existence to deal with a situation in which the average value of the pig meat consumed in this country was £83,000,000 a year, while the value of the imports was about £59,000,000. It was thought to be not unreasonable that a somewhat larger proportion of this enormous total should be produced in this country, which is in no way unsuitable for the production of bacon and pigs. We do at present produce these to such an extent that the annual value of pigs sold off farms in Great Britain is £22,500,000, so that it is a market which is already of importance to our country; but, of the 1548 vast total of 1,000,000 tons of pig meat consumed in these Islands, two-thirds is imported at the present date. I do not think it will be denied on any line of argument that a plan to produce a larger proportion of this processed animal food at home might very reasonably be undertaken in this country. But that was not the position with which we were faced when the Lane Fox Commission was set up. We were faced with a position in which, as the Commission itself reported, there were indications that even those producers in Great Britain who had pursued a steady production policy in good times and bad for a number of years were beginning to lose heart. We were not really in a position in which we desired to expand; we were in a position where it was essential, if we desired to maintain even those agricultural producers that we had in active operation, that we should take some steps to deal with an admittedly very difficult and, indeed, a critical situation.
The Commission reported, among other things, upon the weaknesses of the bacon industry in this country. I do not need to detail them to the House; they are known to many of us; but I think it is fair to say that the Commission pointed out that it would be unfair to assume, from these weaknesses, that tie industry was inefficient. They pointed out that it was merely an absence of organisation that had brought about and maintained these conditions; but they also pointed out that the prices of bacon pigs had dropped from 60 per cent. above pre-War in 1929 to 13 per cent. below pre-War at the time of the Commission's investigations, and the Commission felt that it would be useless to initiate the development of the home bacon industry unless the violent competition from abroad was regulated.
We bring forward these proposals first of all under an Act which was placed on the Statute Book under a previous Administration, in which Dr. Addison was Minister of Agriculture, and in pursuance of proposals specifically recommended by a Commission jointly appointed by a Conservative and a Liberal Minister, whom one might describe in the political jargon of the day as a Samuelite Minister. Therefore, no party question of any kind arises in the consideration of these proposals. They 1549 are to be considered as arising out of an agricultural policy which has been sanctioned, and indeed pressed forward, by representatives of all the great parties at present in the House. The Commission's report was to try to introduce stability, and the machinery for carrying the plan into effect was the machinery which we commend to the House to-day, a pig marketing board and a bacon marketing board. The powers are provided under the Marketing Act, 1931, and the regulation of supplies, which they said was in their view an essential part of the proposal, will be provided under the Marketing Act of 1933.
Draft schemes were prepared by the Lane Fox Commission. They were brought before the industry for the consideration of bacon producers and curers, and it was open to the producers to submit the schemes to the Minister, as they stood, or with alterations. They were, in fact submitted to the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself substantially in the form prepared by the Commission. The pig scheme was submitted on behalf of the National Farmers' Union of England and the National Farmers' Union for Scotland, and the bacon scheme by the bacon section of the Food Manufacturers' Federation. Notice of the schemes had to be published in accordance with the requirements of the Act. Then a public inquiry had to be held into the objections that were made. The inquiry lasted for eight days and each objector had a full and patient hearing. The scheme as a whole is to be presented to each House of Parliament, so that Parliament retains full control.
I will now say a word or two upon the actual provisions of the scheme. Pigs for pork are outside the scope of the scheme. Producers who desire to sell pigs to curers must be registered with the Board. No producer who is not so registered will be allowed to sell pigs for bacon. The Board will have power to regulate the sales of pigs of registered producers, including the determination of prices, and to prescribe the terms and form of the contract upon which the producer shall sell his pigs to the curers. The operation hinges on contract, and any sanctions that are imposed under this are not imposed by any sort of criminal procedure but by the old and 1550 well known procedure of the enforcement of the terms of a contract. The bacon scheme exempts sales by small producers curing less than 40 cwts. of bacon in a consecutive period of two months. Therefore the fears expressed by some that this might interfere with the power, let us say, of a shepherd or a cottager, to keep a pig for his own consumption and kill and cure it or, having killed and cured it, to sell home-cured ham or bacon to his neighbours or friends, are groundless. The scheme provides for a levy for the purpose of financing the Board. The maximum levy under the pig scheme is Is. 6d. per pig, plus a registration fee of 2s. 6d., and, under the bacon scheme, 6d. per cwt. I do not think that these are excessive sums which will lead to any hardship upon the producer. The further proposals which I think should be examined are those relating to procedure, for procedure is the thing with which I am most concerned at the moment.
If we get the consent of the House we are about to submit these schemes for approval by the industry. That is a matter which involves considerable difficulty and hazard. All of us have been subject to the process of ballot, and we know how difficult it is, first of all, to convince anyone that any ballot is actually taking place, and, secondly, to convince them that we and not others are the proper persons who should be returned as the result of that ballot. Many hundreds of thousands of pounds have been expended in elections directly by Members of the House on propaganda for this purpose. I tremble to think how many millions are expended by organisations which are specially interested, such as the newspaper Press of the country. If the schemes are approved by Parliament, the Secretary of State for Scotland and I must formally make an order approving them in the terms of these drafts, and fixing a. date upon which they are to come into-force, but they will not immediately come into full operation. The principal' powers of the Board will remain in-abeyance during the suspensory period, which will last for about two months and will allow time for registration and for a poll to be taken on the question; whether the scheme shall remain in force. Unless the results of the poll show that two-thirds of the registered producers 1551 voting are in favour of the continuance of the scheme, it will lapse, so that the final decision whether the schemes are to come into actual being or not rests with the industry itself.
I hope that Members in all parts of the House who are interested in agricultural marketing will take the opportunity of speaking in their constituencies and bringing to the notice of the agricultural community the fact that the schemes are in existence, and that on the decision of the producers will rest the life or death of the scheme. The only thing that I fear is that those whose business life is concerned with the success or failure of the schemes may be so taken up with the difficult and delicate business of making a living that they may not have time either to read any of the literature or even take the trouble to fill up the form that will be sent to them, and that, consequently, the necessary two-thirds majority may not be secured. I am certain that, if we could get the producers into a single hall and take a show of hands, we should have their sanction but, considering that they are scattered throughout Great Britain, that they are all busy men who are not actively engaged in the reading of literature or the canvassing of the importance or otherwise of the scheme, I beg the co-operation of the House as a whole in ensuring that people understand that a decision has to be taken. Interim boards are set up to administer affairs during those two months. They are, of course, nominated by the Minister and they will have very heavy tasks in front of them. It is our desire to appoint persons possessing some commercial and financial experience, as I think their advice and assistance will be of great value to the boards and I hope that their membership will be continued after the board itself has come into operation.
They will be financed by short-term loans from the Agricultural Marketing Fund. If the polls are favourable, the loans will be repaid by the industry itself. If they are unfavourable, only the unexpended portion of the loans will be repayable. There are adequate safeguards against abuse of the powers given by the scheme. The safeguards are provided in the 1931 Act. Any producer of a regulated product who is aggrieved by any act or omission of the Marketing Board 1552 has a right to refer his grievance to arbitration and, to protect the interests of consumers, a Consumers Committee will be appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself.
These are briefly the proposals which I commend now to the House. They are of great interest and they are of considerable technicality. We are asking the House to decide to-day whether these schemes are suitable for submission to the industry. I hold that they are, and I would ask those who have devoted many years of their life to the popularising of the conception of agricultural marketing to realise that here and now the opportunity comes of putting into effect the proposals which for so long we have discussed. It is no small thing that we are discussing. It is a great industry which has been neglected in the past and which holds great possibilities of development. On these schemes and on the polls taken under them the whole future of the industry depends, and if the schemes, having been passed by the House, are rejected by the industry a chaotic situation will supervene. I hope there will be no opposition to them, and that we shall send them forward to the industry with the approval of an enthusiastic House of Commons behind them.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I should like to add my appeal for a unanimous verdict in favour of the scheme. Certainly it is not our intention to offer any opposition to it, although one or two observations may be made with a view to discovering possible improvements. I should like to ask first why the draft proposals are printed in this type. I am satisfied that, if the average small producer of pigs, not too well acquainted with legal literary matter, sits down to read, assimilate and try to understand the contents of either the Pig or the Bacon Order, there will be a restriction of production while he is trying to read this document when he ought to be feeding his pigs. May I suggest to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that he should call the attention of whoever may be responsible for the printing, to the printing of these draft schemes? I see no reason why decent print should not be made available not only to right hon. and hon. Members of this House, but to those who are to be part and parcel of any scheme 1553 under the Act. We agree with the fundamental principles both of the pig and bacon schemes. One is bound, however, to appreciate that with regard to the Act of 1931, and the Bill of 1933, there is. now a slight difference. Whereas marketing schemes were not dependent upon the regulation of imports, the Bill of 1933 permits, even for schemes under the 1931 Act, a regulation of the imports of a commodity. It also permits a board, when it commences to function, to determine the quantity and variety of a commodity which may be produced in this country.
It might have been a distinct improvement in this scheme if there could have been an over-riding board, apart from the board referred to in the scheme, jointly representing producers and consumers. I think that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has intimated, with regard to the milk scheme, that such an over-riding board will be appointed. If such a board had been appointed in this case, it might have smoothed out many of the difficulties which may occur. If we are to carry the great mass of consumers with us along these co-operative lines, it is better, in the initial stages, that we should smooth out these difficulties so that, in the future, there may be a good deal of plain sailing. I think that might have been a distinct improvement both in the pig and in the bacon scheme. The board consists wholly of producers, with the exception of the members appointed by the Minister. I am sure I express the opinion of the Minister when I say we hope there will be no such restriction of home production that there will be, consequentially, a rise in price and a diminution in the consumption of British bacon. We would rather see that the output should increase simultaneously with the regulation of imports, and that prices should be so reasonable, both to the producer and the consumer, that the expanding markets will be preserved for the producer of pigs in this country. Such an over-riding board as I have mentioned, representing equally producers and consumers, might have smoothed out all sorts of difficulties, and prevented a reaction which might, ultimately, be detrimental to the producers of pigs and bacon in this country.
One of the points I would like to put to the Minister is this: I notice that there are registered producers of pigs, and non- 1554 registered producers of pigs. This is a rather technical point, and I do not know whether the Minister can give me a reply. I can sympathise with him if he tries to do it. May I invite his officials to listen for a moment? If, when the ballot paper is received by the small producer of three, four or five pigs in a rural area, he replies to both questions in the negative he is not a registered producer. He is denied the right to sell any one, two or three of his four or five pigs to the board, or for curing purposes. He cannot do that unless he is a registered producer. Now in my own area, which is an industrial one, the general situation is that a man produces four or five pigs. He may kill one for bacon, sell one locally to the co-operative butcher, and he may have one killed to sell in email portions. To him this will not make any difference. But, under the terms of this Bill and scheme, I see a vague possibility that the person in a rural area, where pork butchers are few, may find himself with three or four pigs, because he has not the power to sell to the board or for bacon purposes.
Therein lies the success or failure of the scheme. I want to see as many votes cast in the affirmative, both for the pig and the bacon scheme, as possible, but there is just another point with regard to the small producer. Some person, resident for instance in Westmorland in a purely rural area—I am putting this almost solely for the edification of the Minister of Transport—may answer both questions in the affirmative and become a registered producer of pigs. He may also, however, be a breeder of pigs, and he may want to dispose of a litter of half-a-dozen. Will the registered producer have the power to Bell store pigs? That seems to me a problem, to which I cannot discover the solution in the pig scheme. It may be fully catered for, but I have not seen the answer to that question.
One other point with regard to the periodic determination of the quantity of pigs which may be produced by any registered producer over a given period. According to the scheme, the number of pigs any registered producer can produce in a given period will be determined upon the basis of some past output on that man's farm, allotment, or whatever it may be. This is the point I want to submit on the Floor of this House. The 1555 Co-operative Wholesale Society have endeavoured to secure the requisite quantity of pigs for curing purposes to supply their customers. They have failed to secure that quantity, and they have had to establish factories in Denmark, not for trading competition in the ordinary sense, but merely to provide adequate quantities of bacon for their own members in this country. Under the terms of the Marketing Bill, imports from abroad can be regulated and reduced. That may render the co-operative wholesale factories more or less derelict, or partially so. If we are to increase output in this country we may find—although existing bacon factories are not working to capacity—that on the lines of the Lane Fox Commission Report the Wholesale Co-operative Society, having successfully invested money for the benefit of its customers in this country, may be seriously hampered. That society ought to be allotted a certain output, consistent with our imports from Denmark. If they care to transfer, and erect new curing factories in this country, they should be permitted some allocation of output. If the scheme succeeds in diminishing imports, and increasing output in this country, the Wholesale Co-operative Society should not be ignored, and they should have reasonable treatment. The Lane Fox Commission makes the following statement:We think that consideration should be given to curers who, in the interests of both pig producers and the bacon industry at home, are prepared to transfer factory accommodation from foreign countries to the United Kingdom, and especially to those who are also in a position to sell the bacon they produce direct to the consumer.That can only refer to the Co-operative Wholesale Society, and I think the promoters of the scheme might do well, when determining from time to time the permitted output to any factory, to bear in mind the output and the services rendered by the Co-operative Wholesale Society both at home and in curing in Denmark for home consumption. Having made these observations, I want to say that it is not our intention to oppose this scheme. We are indeed wholehearted supporters of the scheme, with perhaps slight modifications and improvements where improvements can be made. We shall be very happy if, at the end of the 1556 right hon. and gallant Gentleman's period of office, he has created such a desire for co-operation, and elimination of waste, as will restore the prosperity in any or all the sections of the agricultural industry. If he succeeds in doing that through these co-operative schemes we shall be the first to congratulate him, instead of condemning him for initiating these schemes.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Major ELLIOT
May I thank my hon. Friend for his very courteous speech and, in particular, for the affirmative vote he is going to give to this scheme. If I may reply to three questions he put I would say that if he looks on page 4 of the scheme he will see:The board shall keep a register of producers, and every producer shall, on application to the board, be entitled to be registered therein.Even though the small producer has answered "No" and "No," and later desires to be registered, he can at any time apply to the board, and the board is not able to refuse.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Unless he becomes a registered producer, he will be unable to sell to the board or the curer.
§ Major ELLIOT
Oh, yes, but at any moment he can become a registered producer. The hon. Member has made reference to the Minister of Transport's special interest in the question of store pigs. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley) will be able to take advantage of Section 22, on page 4:Any producer who desires to sell pigs neither to curers nor to the board shall be exempt from registration and from the operation of this scheme.Anyone who desires to sell store pigs will not be prevented by the operation of this scheme, which affects fat stock and not store stock. As to the Wholesale Co-operative Society, the Lane Fox Commission say on page 57 of their Report:The Pig Industry Development Board should be the instrument for preparing and supervising the plan of rationalisation.I hope the Co-operative Wholesale Society, and other factories, will seriously consider transferring part of their output to this country. I hope very much also that the authorities will take a sympathetic view of any desire on their part to transfer skilled men as well as plant to this country whereby we can get the 1557 bacon industry founded more firmly in this country.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Sir F. ACLAND
I have pleasure in giving general support to the two schemes now before us, but I wish to say a few words about the present position. Although the Minister was correct when he said that all we had to decide to-day was whether these schemes were in a fit state to submit to the industry, actually this is our last word on the subject. If they are agreed to by the industry, they go forward and do not come back here at all. Therefore, it is right that we should now say what we have to say about them. Although those with whom I work thought it necessary to take the line we took with regard to the Agricultural Marketing Bill recently before the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), and I in a lesser degree, made it clear that we thought that there was a very good case for proceeding with the better organisation of the pig and the bacon industry, and we mentioned two outstanding points. Hitherto, very much to the discredit of many of us connected with the industry of agriculture, we have signally failed to produce a really standardised British bacon of high quality. We get it sometimes, but we can never be sure of getting it steadily as is the case with other countries.
The main point with regard to pigs which differentiates them from any other agricultural commodity is the evil done in the industry by the upsets which take place every three or four years owing to what is called in the report of the Lane Fox Commission, the "pig price cycle." It is interesting to notice that they say that whereas in the seven years which ended in May of last year there was a variation of supplies in beef, mutton and lamb of only 2½ per cent., yet, owing to the operation of the pig price cycle, there was in that period a range of variation of 30 per cent. with regard to supplies of pigs. That is not good for anybody. It does the producer no good. He invariably starts breeding pigs when the feeding stuffs prices are low and the price of pigs is high, only to find that by the time the pigs are ready for the market, the feeding stuffs prices are much higher and the price of pigs has fallen away almost to nothing. It ought to be possible to get that matter into very much 1558 better order to the great advantage of the producer without doing the consumer any harm. That is one of the main things which must be kept in mind by those who have to put forward these schemes. It is right that we should begin with the question of the bacon factory upon which naturally follows the control and regulation with regard to the pig. It is only by putting supplies through a factory which is part of a scheme that you can be sure of sticking to the pig quota allotted to pig breeders and feeders. We who are in favour of this very great advance also realise that it is a great experiment.
I take up the point which the Minister made that we should do all we possibly can to see to it that the matter is explained, that the people who are entitled and expected to take part in the voting shall do so, and that they shall know all about what they are voting for. Nine-teen-twentieths of these schemes are, inevitably, because of their very nature, in purely formal, legal wording describing boards, voting, and vacancies, and, to some extent, pains and penalties. They cannot get a real picture of the organisation which it is intended to set up. I do not complain in the least, but here is a document in formal language setting up formalities and machinery, and not one person in a thousand can make head or tail of what is intended by looking through the scheme. One has to refer to the Report of the Lane Fox Commission in order to understand the position. The ordinary man will not do that. It is too much of a mouthful for him. It will be difficult even for anyone who is really accustomed to read these things to understand what is really intended. I make the suggestion to the Minister—it cannot be acted upon this time, because it is too late—that on other occasions when schemes of this kind, similarly formal in their framing and wording, come forward, he should consider whether, in addition to the speech he makes—he has placed the matter so fully and clearly before us this afternoon—he cannot present to the House a paper which, in a less compass than sending out the OFFICIAL REPORT of his speech will put before the industry the real inwardness of the scheme.
The present scheme is being canvassed by those concerned. The agricultural committees are doing their best 1559 by distributing a leaflet describing what is intended. That is all to the good, but if something could be put before the industry concerned, not merely on the authority even of that important body, the National Farmers' Union, but on the greater authority of the Minister of Agriculture, and we could have copies of it to send to our constituents who are interested in the matter, it would help to popularise the schemes and in that way contribute to their success. Some of my constituents who are interested have raised this point. They say, looking at the draft of the marketing of bacon scheme, "It looks to us as though it is intended to set up a considerable trust." It is clear that the people who are to propose the board under the marketing of bacon scheme are the representatives of the present bacon factories. They are to be brought together, and means are to be taken to see that they play fair with one another; but in the future they will be the buyers and the sellers of bacon. With certain exceptions they will be the buyers, the standardisers and the advertisers of bacon in this country. They say that that is no doubt inevitable, and ask, "What procedure is to be followed to see that they do not develop any of the defects or abuses of a trust, namely, buying too cheap and selling too dear? They will have very great powers." I think I know what the answer to that really is. One can find the answer in the report of the Commission. It is that the price of pigs will be based upon a certain formula. It will be based on the price of foodstuffs with regard to the main part of it, and with regard to the other part which will be over and above that formula, there will be negotiations between the Bacon Marketing Board and the Pig Marketing Board, with the Pig Industrial Development Board ready to settle the differences between the two and to see fair play. I believe that that is the answer, although all we know about the Pig Industrial Development Board is that it has not yet been set up.
The scheme is put before us as a pig marketing scheme. It is not a pig marketing scheme; it is a bacon-pig marketing scheme. As was pointed out by Sir William Haldane in his rather moderate and weighty reservations to the report of the Lane Fox Commission, 1560 there are dangers in regulating the supply in the organisation of bacon pigs and leaving the question of the pork-pig and the pork supply entirely unregulated. I hope that the obvious risk may not really materialise. Obviously, it is a thing which will have to be watched very carefully, and I am glad that it is in the hands of a Minister so capable of watching and taking the necessary action, if action is shown to be necessary, as the Minister of whom I am at present speaking.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Sir THOMAS ROSBOTHAM
I congratulate the Minister on bringing forward these Orders, and also thank the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) for the kind way in which he has received the proposals presented by the Minister. We rejoice that in agriculture there is a remedy for unemployment and an opportunity of getting men back to the land. As the representative of an agricultural division, I thank the Minister for bringing forward these Orders, and I trust that in the near future we shall have a Milk Board.
Question put, and agreed to. Resolved,
That the scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, for regulating the marketing of pigs, a draft of which was presented to the House on the 22nd day of June, 1933, be approved.
That the scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, for regulating the marketing of bacon, a draft of which was presented to the House on the 22nd day of June, 1933, be approved."—[Major Elliot.]