§ 77. Sir Adrian Baillie
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the recent case in which a penalty of £5 was imposed for an offence involving the removal on a large scale of the country-of-origin marks on imported eggs and the sale of them in this country as English; whether he is satisfied that existing powers are adequate to protect producers of British eggs; and, if not, whether he will consider remedial action?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
The answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. Under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, the penalties for the removal of the indication of origin from imported eggs are £5 for the first offence and £20 for a second and subsequent offence, but prosecutions for this offence have been taken under the Larceny Act as a result of which the defendants have been committed to prison. On the information before him the existing powers appear to my right hon. Friend to be adequate to protect producers of British eggs.
§ Sir A. Baillie
Does my hon. Friend consider that the powers which local authorities possess for the inspection of premises in which these matters are carried on are adequate; and, if not, will he consider giving them extended powers?
§ Mr. Macquisten
Is not this small fine of £5 for a gross fraud in striking contrast to the huge fines sometimes up to £100 for technical offences under the Marketing Boards?
§ 78. Sir A. Baillie
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the interests concerned with importing liquid Chinese eggs are now arranging to import this substance from Rumania, Jugoslavia, Hungary and Latvia; and whether, in these circumstances, he proposes to take additional measures to protect the British poultry industry and, if necessary, to organise the manufacture of British liquid eggs?
§ Mr. Ramsbotham
My right hon. Friend is aware that liquid eggs were imported into this country during March and April from Rumania, Jugoslavia and Hungary, but these supplies were more than offset by reduced shipments from China. In these circumstances there appears to be no reason for any special steps to be taken in the matter. As regards the last part of the question my right hon. Friend has no information which would lead him to suppose that special measures to encourage the production of liquid eggs in this country would be in the interest of the home poultry industry.
§ Brigadier-General Clifton Brown
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the importation of these eggs into this country has greatly increased of late years?