HC Deb 21 March 1933 vol 276 cc252-4

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 71A.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to provide for regulating the importation and sale of agricultural products and for organising the production of secondary agricultural products, to amend the law with respect to the marketing of agricultural products, and to make further provision in connection with the matter aforesaid, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of any expenses incurred by the Board of Trade under the said Act for the purpose of regulating the importation of any agricultural product into the United Kingdom; and
  2. (b) of any expenses incurred by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries or a Secretary of State under the said Act for the purpose of regulating sales of any agricultural product in so far as it is produced in the United Kingdom."—(King's Recommendation signified.)—[Major Elliot.]

6.31 p.m.


Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture will tell us why we have to have two Money Resolutions. I notice from the wording of this second Resolution that the Board of Trade may incur certain expenditure in imposing restrictions on the importation of certain agricultural products. The Bill has been before Parliament for a fortnight, and the Department have now discovered that they may want payment for certain work they may be called upon to do. I should like to know what estimate has been made as to the expenditure which may be incurred in restricting the imports of all sorts of agricultural commodities, and also what expenditure may be incurred in regulating the sales of any agricultural products produced in the United Kingdom. If the Treasury is to be called upon to meet such expenses it is almost equivalent to compounding a felony. We are going to incur certain expenses in restricting imports, and by doing so increase the profits of importers and stabilise vested interests; yet the Money Resolution indicates that the Treasury is to be called upon to meet these expenses. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us the estimate in both cases, tell us whether the Treasury will meet the bill, or whether the importers or any other body of traders, will be called upon to refund any expenses incurred in restricting the importation of commodities.

6.33 p.m.


The only reason why we have not put in any sum is that, so far as we can see, it is practically a negligible amount. We have been unable to form any estimate of the cost; indeed, we do not think that any expenses will be incurred. Still, it is just possible that some expenses may be incurred in the case of restrictions which are already operating, but up to the moment no extra expenditure has been incurred in connection with these schemes. The staffs are in existence and information as to the stocks in cold storage is obtained voluntarily by the Board of Trade. It may be that some expenses will be incurred in printing forms; but we are unable to put down any figure. I hope that no expense will be incurred under this particular Resolution.

6.34 p.m.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation, but if imports arrive from Canada, Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Denmark, negotiations will have to be undertaken in each case and, therefore, the staffs will not be adequate to deal with them, as it must be assumed that their normal duties occupy their full time. Assuming that there may be extra staff employed for conducting these bargainings, the expense may be slight, but will the Treasury bear the expenditure or will they invite the importers, who are going to make tremendous profits out of this Bill, who are going to make fortunes for nothing out of it, to meet any slight expenditure which may be, incurred?


The hon. Member will realise that it is undesirable that expenses incurred in investigations as to the making of these fortunes should fall upon the makers of these fortunes. We wish to pay the expenses, because we wish to have the power to call the tune. Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported to-morrow.