HC Deb 24 February 1937 vol 320 cc2003-5
81. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that the trades agreements have in many cases been satisfactory but have worked disastrously for poultry farmers, he will consider a scheme of rebating to our poultry farmers all or part of the import tax collected from foreign eggs on some plan similar to that of the wheat subsidy until such time as it is possible to readjust the existing situation?

Mr. Ramsbotham

Any plan of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend would require legislation. As he is aware, similar suggestions were made by the Reorganisation Commission for Eggs for Great Britain as part of a balanced policy for the industry, including reorganisation of marketing, on which the industry has not been able to agree. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that an application for increased duties on eggs and egg products is at present before the Import Duties Advisory Committee. I would also remind him that as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Trade stated in reply to questions on 16th February, the position of the poultry industry will receive full consideration during the negotiations for a renewal of

crops produced in England and Wales in the years 1931 and 1935, when special inquiries into output were undertaken.

various trade agreements which it is hoped may take place this year.

Mr. Bossom

Is there no constructive suggestion the hon. Member can make to help these poor fellows in this industry who are now being ruined?

Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne

In view of the special urgency of this matter, and the great distress in the industry, will the hon. Member endeavour to get a speedy reply from the committee who are considering the matter?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I gave a reply during the last few days to which I can usefully add very little. I would remind hon. Members that the standard mark price is 16s. 6d. per long hundred, compared with 13s. 6d. for the corresponding day of last year, 11s. for 1935 and 12s. for 1934.

Mr. T. Williams

May I ask whether the National Poultry Council will take any steps to apply any part of the recommendations of the Egg and Poultry Reorganisation Commission?

Mr. Ramsbotham

As I have said in my answer, on the question of marketing the industry has not been able to agree.

Mr. Bossom

Will the hon. Member state the increase which has taken place in the price of feeding stuffs?

Mr. Ramsbotham

There has been an increase of about 30 per cent., but in the last few weeks it has fallen by 3 ½ per cent.

Mr. Macquisten

Was not this the question put to the industry: "Unless you accept a marketing board with all its bureaucratic control and expense, you will not get protection?" Is not that simply blackmailing the industry?

Mr. Ramsbotham

That statement is incorrect.