HC Deb 27 July 1938 vol 338 cc3261-3

Lords Amendment: In page 25, line 25, after "has," insert "duly."

11.28 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This Amendment is the first of a series of Amendments to Clauses 22, 23, 24 and 26, for the purpose of providing in certain circumstances for the payment of a premium to the producer of pigs when the pigs are transferred from the factory of his choice to another factory. This matter was debated at great length in the House, and we came to the conclusion that this premium should be payable. These Amendments are designed to provide for the position which might arise when there are several factories owned by the same curer. The Amendments down to the Amendment in page 31, line 38, are consequential Amendments.

11.29 p.m.

Mr. A. V. Alexander

I must say that the Government are asking the House to accept these Amendments almost at the point of a pistol. It is very late in the Session, and if we were to delay in accepting the Amendments, it would probably wreck the Bill. I am very surprised that the Government have accepted this Amendment from the Lords. The position, as the Minister says, was fully debated in the Standing Committee and on the Report stage of the Bill and the curers, at any rate, have accepted the general principle involved but if my information is correct, the situation which has now arisen is one which was strongly resisted by the constituents of Bacon Marketing Board and by the board itself, and as I understand it, when the consultations were proceeding, the Ministry was not in controversy with the view of the Bacon Marketing Board. Yet, for some reason, the Ministry suddenly gave way to the clamour for this additional impost upon the curers.

The position now is that whereas it was agreed in the House of Commons that if a pig was to have been sent to a curer nominated by the pig producer, and if by any chance the pig was sent to some place other than the place which the producer nominated, the producer was then to receive a premium of sixpence in respect of that pig. I always thought that he was getting the sixpence for nothing else but his injured feelings. But now, under this Amendment, even though the pig will still go to the curer, with whom the producer has contracted, he is to be given a special premium if the pig is not sent to a particular factory owned by that curer. In that case he still gets sixpence for his injured feelings. It may be argued that the sixpence is to be paid because the pig has to travel further, but that cannot be substantiated because under the arbitration award, the pig producer is offered compensation for any wastage in weight which occurs as a result of the change. There is no case in that at all, and this proposal seems to be just another imposition, made in another place, upon that section of industry which has been left with an exceedingly narrow margin upon which to work the Government's scheme. I know at this stage in the Session and in these circumstances, after half-past Eleven o'clock at night on the last effective day but one before the Recess, it is impossible to divide the House on this, but I resent strongly the weakness of the Minister, in giving way to this preposterous Amendment.

11.33 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I understand that the Bacon Board themselves raised no objection—

Mr. Alexander

That is not so.

Mr. Morrison

I am told that it is so. The right hon. Gentleman's information may be different from mine on that point, but the House will appreciate the fact that this Amendment only applies to those large companies which have several factories. The basis for the premium was that a producer might like to send his pigs to a particular factory in a particular locality, where he would be satisfied that he could inspect the grading and make sure of fair treatment. The Bill, as originally framed, referred to the curer and not to the premises whereas what matters to the producer is whether his pig is moved from one set of premises to another set of premises where he cannot look after it. It was thought to be a reasonable extension of the principle to which we had agreed, to provide that where there was a large company with factories in different parts of the country, this premium should be equally payable in respect of a change from one factory to another.

Mr. Alexander

May I ask a plain, straight question? Is it not a fact that right up to the moment when the Ministry themselves gave way on this question in another place, the Bacon Board resisted this Amendment, with the officials of the Ministry? I am informed on the best authority that that is so. It may be that at this late stage they feel that they cannot go on with their opposition, but none the less, I resent the action of the Minister.

Mr. Morrison

My information does not agree with that of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think we can usefully try to carry the matter any further now.

Subsequent Lords Amendments in page 31, line 38, agreed to.