HC Deb 29 June 1937 vol 325 cc1801-7
Mr. Turton

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend Section one of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, with reference to the regulation of imports of poultry and poultry products. I make no excuse for asking the House to devote ten minutes to a consideration of the plight of the poultry industry. While the price of poultry products is now about the same as it was last year, the cost of feeding stuffs has increased by 25 per cent. That is serious in itself, but the position in the immediate future threatens to be far more serious than it was last year. Imports of poultry products have increased by 600,000,000 eggs and the price in January, when one expects a better price for eggs because there are fewer of them, was 3d. a dozen less than the price in the previous year. Compared with the prices ruling in earlier years there was a difference between 1s. 3d. a dozen last year and an average price over the previous eight years of something like 2s. 1½d. At the same time, the cost of feeding stuffs has increased. Maize, which is the principal feeding stuff, rose from 17s. 9d. a quarter to 25s. 9d. a quarter. Free Trade Members of the House will appreciate the fact that there is no duty on maize used as a feeding stuff, and so it cannot be said that the rise is due to duties. Such being the position, I ask the House to do something to remedy it before next winter comes so that men shall not be forced out of the industry at that very crucial time. There are two methods. You can regulate by means of tariffs or you can regulate imports. It is impossible for the House to consider tariffs until the end of December owing to trade agreements.

Mr. Kirkwood

On a point of Order. Would I be in order in moving the Adjournment of the Debate until the Minister of Agriculture is in attendance?

Mr. Speaker

No, the hon. Member would not be in order in doing so.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is there anything we can do as a House of Commons to see that the Minister responsible for the Department under review is in his place during this Debate?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid there is nothing that we can do in that matter.

Mr. Turton

As I was saying, tariffs are impossible at this stage. The other method, the regulation of imports is governed by the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, and under that Act there cannot be any regulation of imports unless there is a marketing scheme in contemplation or in operation. It would be very difficult to get a marketing scheme in a short time in the poultry industry. There are over 500,000 producers of whom only some 300,000 could, by any stretching of the term, be described as farmers, while 200,000 of them are men who have their poultry in their own back-yards or on small plots. It would be most difficult and costly, therefore, to run a marketing scheme. The position is such, however, that it brooks no delay, and for that reason I ask that, in respect of the poultry industry, Section 1 of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, should be amended by deleting the condition about marketing schemes. There would still be protection for the consumer in Sub-section (3) and the provision as to trade agreements.

The Bill which I ask leave to introduce would not mean that there could be no marketing scheme for the poultry industry. Indeed, a marketing scheme would have a greater chance of success if the imports from foreign countries were coming here in an orderly and regulated manner. I suggest 1st August next as the date for the operation of the proposed Measure, because on that date, we hope, Members will have dispersed for the Summer Recess, and I think no Member would wish to leave for his holiday while the future of many of his constituents was insecure, and while in many cases they were in a plight very near bankruptcy. Many of those concerned are ex-service men who settled on the land after the war, and tried to find a home fit for heroes by means of eggs and poultry. Many are unemployed men trying to escape from dependence on public assistance by the same means. It is unjust that we should prefer eggs from Latvia, Holland and Poland to the produce of these men in our own poultry industry. For that reason I ask leave to introduce the Bill. I ask for no subsidy for these men, but I ask for justice.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

It is the usual practice in the House to give a sympathetic and kindly hearing to a private Member who asks leave to introduce a Bill, but there are occasions on which private Members select subjects for Motions under the Ten Minute Rule which are obviously unsuitable for Private Members' Bills and ought to be regarded as matters to be dealt with by the Government. I am certain that the hon. Member, with his great interest in agriculture, knows a good deal about the history of this egg and poultry industry for the last three or four years. He said in supporting his Motion that it would be exceedingly difficult to obtain a marketing scheme for this industry in a short time. I entirely agree, on the records we have in the industry. We have had the actual draft of a scheme promoted by representatives of the industry themselves prior to the appointment of the Reorganisation Commission. That scheme was defeated by the industry themselves.

Sir Percy Hurd

On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman opposing the Motion?

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman told me that that was what he was going to do.

Mr. Alexander

If it will satisfy the hon. Member, certainly I am opposing the Motion. That scheme, as I said, was defeated by the members of the industry. There followed a second scheme which was the subject of a great deal of time and labour, and it also was defeated within the industry itself. We have had the very long sittings and the considered report of the Reorganisation Commission appointed by the Government and presided over first by Lord Addison and subsequently by Mr. Blundell. The report of that Commission has been available to the House and the Government for many months. When we consider that with that information available the Government so far have done nothing, it can hardly be argued that we ought now to deal with the matter in the way that the hon. Member proposes, from the point of view of a private Member's Bill.

The proposal is that we should actually proceed by a private Member's Bill to introduce powers for the control or regulation of this industry, including the regulation of the imports of the commodity, without having the restrictions upon the poultry industry that are applicable to all other agricultural sections covered by the Agricultural Marketing Act. It was a sine qua non of the passage of the 1933 Act that no such artificial restriction of the people's food should take place unless the Minister were actually satisfied—the hon. Member did not quote the words but I will do so— that there have been, or are being, taken all such steps as are practicable and necessary for the efficient reorganisation, by means of agricultural marketing schemes or schemes under this Act, of those branches of agricultural industry … in whose interest the order is made; and that without an order under this Section the effective organisation and development of the said branches … under such schemes … cannot be brought about or cannot be maintained. It is quite useless for the hon. Member to suggest that, outside that, there are adequate provisions for safeguarding the consumers' position in the country. Not only are difficulties arising for the producer, but certainly they are arising for the consumer. If a substantial amendment of Section 1 of the Act of 1933 is really required because of the wide issues, we consider that that ought to be the immediate and urgent function of the Government, and ought not to be dealt with by a Private Member's Bill. For that reason we shall oppose the Motion.

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend section one of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, with reference to the regulation of imports of poultry and poultry products.

The House divided: Ayes, 191; Noes, 101.

Division No. 244.] AYES. 4.5 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Emery, J. F. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Adamson, W. M. Entwistle, Sir C. F. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Fildes, Sir H. Palmer, G. E. H.
Albery, Sir Irving Fox, Sir G. W. G. Patrick, C. M.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Fremantle, Sir F. E. Peat, C. U.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Fyfe, D. P. M. Perkins, W. R. D.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Ganzoni, Sir J. Pilkington, R.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Goldie, N. B. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Atholl, Duchess of Granville E. L. Ramsden, Sir E.
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Rayner, Major R. H.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Balniel, Lord Gridley, Sir A. B. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Banfield, J. W. Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Remer, J. R.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Richards, G. W. (Skipton)
Baxter, A. Beverley Hannah, I. C. Ritson, J.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Ropner, Colonel L.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Bennett, Sir E. N. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Blair, Sir R. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Rowlands, G.
Blaker, Sir R. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Rowson, G.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Hepworth, J. Russell, Sir Alexander
Boyce, H. Leslie Higgs, W. F. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Salmon, Sir I.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Hopkin, D. Samuel, M. R. A.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Horsbrugh, Florence Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Bull, B. B. Hunter, T. Silverman, S. S.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hurd, Sir P. A. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Carver, Major W. H. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Cary, R. A. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Kirby, B. V. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Channon, H. Kirkwood, D. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Christie, J. A. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Clarke, F. E. (Dartford) Latham, Sir P. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Sutcliffe, H.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Leckie, J. A. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Cooke, J. O. (Hammersmith, S.) Lees-Jones, J. Tate, Mavis C.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Leigh, Sir J. Thomas, J. P. L.
Cox, H. B. T. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Tinker, J. J.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Levy, T. Touche, G. C.
Crooke, J. S. Liddall, W. S. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Crossley, A. C. Lindsay, K. M. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Crowder, J. F. E. Lipson, D. L. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Cruddas, Col. B. Little, Sir E. Graham- Warrender, Sir V.
Culverwell, C. T. Loftus, P. C. Watt, G. S. H.
Davidson, Viscountess Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Wells, S. R.
Davison, Sir W. H. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Dawson, Sir P. McKie, J. H. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
De la Bère, R. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Macquisten, F. A. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Donner, P. W. Mathers, G. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Dower, Major A. V. G. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Withers, Sir J. J.
Drewe, C. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Duggan, H. J. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Dunglass, Lord Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Ellis, Sir G. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Mr. Rallies and Mr. Turton.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Adams, D. (Consett) Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Batey, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Barnes, A. J. Bromfield, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr[...]) Barr, J. Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)
Buchanan, G. Jagger, J. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Cape, T. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Ridley, G
Charleton, H. C. John, W. Riley, B.
Chater, D. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Salter, Or. A. (Bermondsey)
Gove, W. G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Seely, Sir H. M.
Daggar, G. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lathan, G. Simpson, F. B.
Davies, R, J. (Westhoughton) Lawson, J. J. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Dobbie, W. Leach, W. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Ede, J. C. Leslie, J. R. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Logan, O. G. Sorensen, R. W.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Lunn, W. Stephen, C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) McEntee, V. La T. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Fletcher, Lt.-Gomdr. R. T. H. McGhee, H. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Gallacher, W. McGovern, J. Thorne, W.
Gardner, B. W. MacLaren, A. Thurtle, E.
Garro Jones, G. M. Maclean, N, Viant, S. P.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) MacNeill, Weir, L. Walker, J.
Gibbins, J. Mander, G. le M. Watkins, F. C.
Green, W. M. (Deptford) Marshall, F. Watson, W. McL.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Montague, F. Westwood, J.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Groves, T. E. Muff, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Naylor, T. E. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Noel-Baker, P. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Harris, Sir P. A. Paling, W. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Parker, J.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Parkinson, J. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Mr. Leonard and Mr. Bellenger.
Holdsworth, H. Price, M. P.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Turton, Sir Joseph Lamb, Sir Percy Hurd, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, Mr. Lambert, Major Mills, Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte, Raikes, Sir R. W. Smith, Rear-Admiral Beamish, Mr. Henry Haslam, and Colonel Ponsonby.