HC Deb 07 April 1936 vol 310 cc2644-6

I beg to move, in page 30, line 39, to leave out from "him" to the end of line 40.

In Committee there was some doubt as to the definition of the words "refiner of sugar" and also the word "premises." The Minister undertook to look into this matter before Report stage, and I should like to know whether he has done so.

4.25 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

There is still a difficulty here which is unresolved. The Minister has given considerable attention to this matter and we are grateful to him for having done so, but there is still a section of sugar users who have a grievance. The Minister in Committee pointed out that it might be possible for a refiner of sugar by making an amalgamation with a confectioner to contract out of the terms of the Bill. That is very unlikely to take place, and if it did I think it could be easily dealt with under the Bill. I do not know whether manufacturing users of sugar wish to be put in a privileged Position. They are not called upon to meet the same liabilities as a firm like Tate & Lyle, but the real difficulty here is in the definition of the word "premises."

The special case of sugar users is this: It is not a question of a central refinery; there is no contention upon that point; but if I am a sugar manufacturing user, manufacturing in my own constituency in Birkenhead and also it Liverpool, I cannot see that there is any sense in my having to manufacture in one of the premises and not being able to use the sugar so refined in the other. The Minister has shown generosity in dealing with the manufacturing users up to this point, and I hope he will be a little more generous and meet them in this respect. I am told that there is a factory in London whose premises are cut into by a road, a canal and a railway. Why should these people be under the necessity, if they wish to use the manufactured sugar, of having a refinery in each of these premises? The Minister gave us an assurance that it was intended to administer the Bill reasonably. We needed no assurance on that point, we expected nothing else, but I would ask him, if he is not able to make this concession, to go into the matter with those particularly concerned, because I am sure he is anxious that the Bill when it comes into operation should start with the maximum good will on the part of all concerned.

4.30 p.m.


It is true, as the hon. Member for East Ham (Mr. Barnes) and the hon. Member for Birkenhead, East (Mr. Graham Whitely said, that I undertook to look into several matters between the Committee stage and the Report stage, and I think the Amendments that I have put down indicate that these promises have been kept as far as it was possible to do so. Yesterday I saw the Chairman of the Sugar-Using Manufacturers' Committee and discussed this matter with him. I was not able to find a form of words which was more satisfactory than the form we have here. To begin with, I looked into the question of premises, and there is no wider word that we could possibly use. If there were an extension it would give rise to exactly the difficulty mentioned by the hon. Member for Birkenhead, East, that of contracting out of the Bill altogether. The hon. Member asked why, if one factory is on one side of a river and another factory on the other side, the sugar cannot be moved from one to the other; but he will agree that if that were possible, it would be very difficult to draw the line as to the points between which sugar could not be moved.

This Amendment is designed to assist the working of the Bill. It is by nature a concession, and like all concessions it has the effect of producing a new set of difficulties a, little further along. I think we are entitled to claim that we are meeting those difficulties, because the words we have used are treated by the sugar-using manufacturers as a genuine attempt to meet the real difficulties they encounter. Since this is the most satisfactory form of words which we have been able to find, I hope the House will allow the Clause to pass with the assurance that I will deal with the matter as reasonably as possible and that if in practice it is found to raise difficulties, I shall certainly not hesitate to try to meet those difficulties at some further stage.

Amendment negatived.