HC Deb 29 June 1938 vol 337 cc2029-39

8.58 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

I beg to move, in page 6, to leave out lines 5 to 18.

The 12 or 13 lines which it is proposed to omit are designed merely to delay the production of a rationalisation scheme. The Bacon Marketing Board have in the past apparently done nothing towards rationalisation.

Mr. Spens


Mr. Williams

The hon. and learned Member can say "No" but they have done little or nothing. Now if they send a letter intimating that they are about to produce a scheme the Development Board will have no power to submit a scheme to the Minister for a period of six months. Why that six months should be there leaves me guessing. I can only imagine that the Bacon Marketing Board, who in the past have shown no desire to produce a rationalisation scheme, are prepared to produce one in the future. After all, any scheme produced by the Bacon Marketing Board will have to be submitted to the Development Board, examined closely by them, then sent to the Minister and publicised and advertised, all leading to delay, and I do not see the necessity for this delay of six months which is suggested in paragraph (a) of Clause 6. It is proper to give the. Bacon Marketing Board the power to produce a rationalisation scheme ahead of the Development Board if they desire to use that power quickly. but I see no justification for telling the Bacon Marketing Board "If you want to delay the production of a rationalisation scheme for seven or eight months all you have to do is to send a letter to the Minister on the last day of the month intimating that you are about to prepare a scheme, and then the Development Board will be sterilised for the next six months." The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the Bill will succeed or fail according to whether or not a rationalisation scheme is effectively carried through, and that being the case the sooner such a scheme is produced the better, and I suggest that I am helping the Minister and helping the industry in asking for these lines to be deleted, so that a scheme can be produced by one or other or both of these organisations at the earliest possible moment.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I appreciate the desire of the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) to assist us in this matter, and have always been aware that he attaches great importance to the speedy rationalisation of the industry, but the purpose of the lines which he is proposing to delete is not really of a dilatory character. They are designed to prevent the waste of effort by two bodies overlapping in the production of a rationalisation scheme. The idea enshrined in the Clause as it stands is that the Bacon Marketing Board itself should have the first try at producing a rationalisation scheme, and, as the House has been informed, it has anticipated the passing of this Measure and is now engaged, in conjunction with the right hon. and learned Member for Ashford (Mr. Spens), on the problem. A rationalisation scheme cannot be hurriedly concocted. A vast number of interests have to be consulted and considered, and if the scheme is to be a good one time is necessary for its preparation. But it would surely be a waste of effort if, at a time when a rationalisation scheme is being prepared by the Bacon Marketing Board, the Development Board were to switch its attention from the many other matters of policy with which it ought to occupy itself during the first six months of its life in order to do work which another body is already doing.

The idea of introducing a time factor is to ensure as far as we can that the Bacon Marketing Board shall prepare this rationalisation scheme and leave the Development Board six months in which to devote its attention to the very important duties which will have to be considered, and that both boards for the first six months of their life shall work in separate compartments so far as this matter is concerned, in order that the work may be accomplished without duplication of effort. That is the reason for the provision, and I believe it to be a wise one. The omission of the words which it is proposed to delete might lead—though I do not say they would, be- cause people are probably more sensible than to do everything which they might do—to a great waste of effort. It might leave the Development Board uncertain whether they were to proceed at once because another body might take the job out of their hands. It might also impose upon the Development Board the idea that Parliament desired them to draw up a rationalisation scheme even though the work was being actively pursued by another body.

9.4 P.m.

Mr. Alexander

In Committee the Minister met us to some extent, after a Debate engaged in fiercely by both sides, by reducing the period from 12 months to 6 months, and while I cordially agree with what my hon. Friend has said about the whole intention of rationalisation it is only in order not to delay the House that we shall not divide upon this Amendment, recognising that the position, although still unsatisfactory, is better than it was when the Bill went to Committee.

Amendment negatived.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I beg to move, in page 7, line 17, after "scheme," to insert: satisfactorily provides for regulating the extent of the facilities for producing bacon in Great Britain and. This Amendment is consequential upon the Amendment which was agreed to just now, leaving out the word "thereby."

Amendment agreed to.

9.6 p.m.

Mr. Turton

I beg to move, in page 7, line 28, to leave out from "Board," to the end of the Sub-section.

The Clause which we are now considering is really the core of the Bill, because if you do not get a satisfactory rationalisation scheme the whole purpose of the Bill will be frustrated. During the Committee stage I was alarmed about the proviso to Sub-section (6), which means that although the Development Board may have taken great care to prepare a rationalisation scheme, the Minister may have heard all the objections and those objections may have caused the scheme to be modified, all that work can be thrown away unless the Bacon Marketing Board approve within 28 days, or such longer period as the Minister may ap- point, and no satisfactory rationalisation scheme can come into operation. On an earlier Amendment the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) said that unless the composition of the Development Board were altered in accordance with that Amendment, you would get no rationalisation scheme or factory, but the Development Board have not the last word. That last word rests with the Bacon Marketing Board, and it is undesirable in a Bill of this kind to indicate to the Bacon Marketing Board that they can stonewall any factory rationalisation scheme.

Let me remind the House of the position of the factories. In this country there are more than 600 bacon factories. Of that number, 581 produced from five to 400 cwts. per week; the number of factories producing from 400 to 800 cwts. per week number 20, while those that produce more than 800 cwts. per week, number io, I understand. Compare with that position the situation in Denmark, where there are some 85 factories, all producing more than 800 cwts. per week. In that comparison lies the reason why the British fanner gets a lower price for his pigs than does the Danilli farmer; it is that the huge majority of factories have a production of under 400 cwts. While I see the advantage of having very small factories and curers producing mainly for the retail market, I think that in all cases we ought to rationalise out of existence the medium factory that has not an economic management making it possible to earn a profit—again I use the word "profit," but I have explained what I mean by it—of 3s. per pig. If you are to pay your overhead charges and pay those who promote the enterprise, you require a gross profit of from 10s. to 15s. per pig. Is it fair to let the whole factory rationalisation scheme depend upon the votes of the Bacon Marketing Board, who, of necessity, must represent a majority of small factories, as opposed to the large factories?

This matter was considered in 1932 by the Reorganisation Commission, and in their view the Pig Industry Development Board should have been given power to buy up and close down redundant, inefficient and badly-managed factories. The successor of that idea of the Pig Industry Development Board is the Development Board with which we are dealing in the Bill, and not the Bacon Marketing Board. For those reasons I ask the Minister to alter the wording of the Bill and, if he will not accept my Amendment, to cut out the last word privilege of the Bacon Marketing Board and give an undertaking that the wording shall be changed when the Bill goes to another place so that it will be no longer possible for the Bacon Marketing Board to stonewall, block and frustrate any factory rationalisation scheme.

Colonel Ponsonby

I beg to second the Amendment.

9.10 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

I hope that the Minister will accept the Amendment. For the first time in my life I am in agreement with the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). We heartily agree with the Amendment and think that the Government should accept it. We have heard from the Minister that the Development Board are in process of preparing a rationalisation scheme.

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The Bacon Marketing Board.

Mr. Williams

H they prepare a scheme, submit it to the Development Board and to the Minister, and if objections are made and modifications brought about and inquiries are held, then, as the final result, this scheme, originally produced by the Bacon Marketing Board, cannot be approved unless the board agree. That is not a satisfactory position. The hon. Member is quite correct. If the Bacon Marketing Board produce the scheme and everybody seems to be satisfied, it should not be left to them in the last resort to be able to hold up the scheme.

9.12 p.m.

Mr. Ramsbotham

It is true that if the Bacon Marketing Board were so ill-advised, unwise and insane as to wish to hold up a scheme. for factory rationalisation for the period of, I think it is, two years, unless the Minister otherwise decided, they could do so under the terms of this proviso, but following upon what I have said upon a previous Amendment hon. Members will bear in mind that the Bill is based upon the principles of the Agricultural Marketing Act. It is very sad to see the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) disowning his own child. Under the Agricultural Marketing Act this scheme could not come into operation unless registered producers voted as a whole. Under Sub-section (5, c) of Section i of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, which I have no doubt the hon. Member supported vigorously when it was before the House, it is provided, in regard to the modification of a scheme, that the Minister should give notice of the proposed modifications, and that unless within four weeks, or such longer period as the Minister might allow, they were approved, the Minister could not lay the scheme before Parliament.

The general principle surely is that if we took away, as we should if the Amendment were accepted, the industry's last word, we should be departing from the principles of the Marketing Act upon which the Bill is founded, on the assumption that the Bacon Marketing Board do not desire rationalisation and will do their utmost to postpone it. Even supposing that an unlikely event of that kind happened, the curers, from what we know they are doing already in the way of preparing schemes, are obviously as desirous as any Member of this House that factory rationalisation should be proceeded with. Moreover, if any utterly unwise and imprudent measure should be proposed, substantial sanctions can be brought into operation under the Bill. If there is no rationalisation scheme in operation within two years of the passing of the Act, or a shorter time if my right hon. Friend should so decide, various consequences would come into play.

For instance, there would be no conditions attached to the licence, except as regards the condition of the premises, there would be no exemptions of longterm contracts, and the quota system would disappear; and the Bacon Marketing Board and the curers very naturally set great store by the protection, or quasi-protection, which these provisions at present give. It is inconceivable, therefore, that the Bacon Marketing Board would be so unwise and imprudent as to take action which would deprive their industry of the very things which the members of the industry require. For these reasons we should keep the framework and principle of the Marketing Acts in being, and, assuming that the Bacon Marketing Board is in a position to be relied upon, that is to say, is composed of intelligent and sensible individuals, I cannot see that there is any case for the Amendment.

9.17 p.m.

Mr. Alexander

I should have thought that the Ministry might have learned a little about this Amendment since the principle was discussed on the Clause in Committee. I then tried to put before the Minister what could be done to meet the situation. I said: If the Minister would say that within a certain period they had expressed their views to him for consideration, that would be another matter, but it says that they must approve of the draft, which is quite another thing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee C), 10th May, 1938; col. 89.] I am sure the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) would be quite willing, not merely to leave out these words, but to provide that, if there has been any substantial Amendment in any scheme of the Bacon Marketing Board, they should be consulted about any such Amendment; but to make it a condition of a rationalisation scheme that the Bacon Marketing Board must approve of it seems to me to be ridiculous. I suggest that the Minister should accept the Amendment as it stands, and then we should be quite agreeable to his putting in, at a later stage of the Bill, words which would make it necessary to consult the Bacon Marketing Board about any Amendment which might be incorporated during the further consideration of the scheme. It ought not, however, to be the final condition that the Bacon Marketing Board must approve.

9.19 p.m.

Mr. Spens

I should like to suggest to the House why the last word in this case ought to be with the Bacon Marketing Board. I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) appreciates the fact that a rationalisation scheme, which, as he says, if it is to be effective, will rationalise out of existence a number of factories, ought not to be imposed on an industry against that industry's will, particularly when whatever compensation is to be paid to those on whom the axe falls, and who have to give up their life's work, is to be solely contributed by the industry itself. I was rather surprised that such a proposal should come from this side of the House, and that a board other than the board representing the industry should be given power to carry into effect, against the will of the industry, a scheme which must necessarily be so drastic and to which only the industry is going to contribute. Moreover, as my right hon. Friend has reminded the House, safeguards exist in the Bill.

Unless there is an effective rationalisation scheme within two years, we shall be back in the chaos which existed when the industry was carried on before any marketing scheme came into effect at all. It is fully appreciated by the industry that an effective rationalisation scheme is as much in their interest as it is in the interests of the producers, the consumers or anyone else. It is proposed that the Development Board should have power to decide the amount of compensation to be paid to a factory that is to go out of existence, and that, however generous may be the amount which has to be raised from the other members of the industry, they should not be able to say, "No, we cannot afford such terms as that." I do not think my hon. Friend has appreciated the difficulties of getting a rationalisation scheme on its legs unless the last word is with the body that represents the industry as a whole.

I agree that it means that my hon. Friend and every other Member of the House has to assume that the marketing boards and the new Development Board are going to try to make the Bill a success. Too many of the speeches this evening have been delivered on the assumption that these boards are going to try to obstruct the Bill, and not to make it a success. I would, however, remind the House that negotiations with a view to this Bill taking its present form started as long ago as before last January. They have gone on month after month, with the closest co-operation between the Ministry, the two boards and everyone concerned in the industry, with a view to trying to introduce to the House a Measure that was accepted by the various interests in the industry, and to these interests working loyally to try to make it a success. This constant suggestion and suspicion against one board or the other is not going to help to make this scheme effective when it comes into force. I think we all want to see it a success from the point of view both of the producers and of the curers. I hope the Minister will not accept the Amendment, but will trust the Bacon Marketing Board to be as loyal in carrying out the scheme as any other body, and will leave to them the last word on the rationalisation scheme.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 186; Noes, 125.

Division No. 260.] AYES. [9.24 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Pilkington, R.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Gridley, Sir A. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Aibery, Sir Irving Grimston, R. V. Porritt, R. W.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Radford, E. A.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Hambre, A. V. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Aske, Sir R. W. Harbord, A. Ramsbotham, H.
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Ramsden, Sir E.
Atholl, Duchess of Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Rathbonc, J. R. (Bodmin)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Rayner, Major R. H.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Barrie, Sir C. C. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hepworth, J. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Beit, Sir A. L. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Ramer, J. R.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Rickards, C. W. (Skipton)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Higgs, W. F. Ropner, Colonel L.
Boyce, H. Leslie Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Holmes, J. S. Rowlands, G.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hopkinson, A. Russell, Sir Alexander
Bull, B. B. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Burghley, Lord Horsbrugh, Florence Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Butcher, H. W. Hume, Sir G. H. Selley, H. R.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hunter, T. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Cary, R. A. Hutchinson, G. C. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Joel, D. J. B. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Clarry, Sir Reginald Keeling, E. H. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Somerset, T.
Colfox, Major W. P. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Leech, Sir J. W. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Lees-Jones, J. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Spens, W. P.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Cranborne, Viscount Levy, T. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'rn'I'd)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Liddall, W. S. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Lindsay, K. M. Strauss, H. G. Norwich)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Lipson, D. L. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Cruddas, Col. B. Little, Sir E. Graham- Tate, Mavis C.
Culverwell, C. T. Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Thomas, J. P. L.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Looker-Lawson, Comdr. O. S. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
De la Bère, R. Loftus, P. C. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Mebane, W. (Huddersfield) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Deland, G. F. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Donner, P. W. Manningham-Buller, Sir M Warrender, Sir V.
Dower, Major A. V. G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Markham, S. F. Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wayland, Sir W. A
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Wells, Sir Sydney
Dunglass, Lord Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Eastwood, J. F. Moore, Lleut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Eckersley, P. T. Morgan, R. H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Ellis, Sir G. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Elliston, Capt. C. S. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wise, A. R.
Elmley, Viscount Munro, P. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Errington, E. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Everard, W. L. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Fildes, Sir H. Perkins, W. R. D.
Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Peters, Dr. S. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Gledhill, G. Petherick, M. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Major
Gluckstein, L. H. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Sir James Edmondson.
Grant-Ferris, R.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Bremfield, W. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Adams, D, M. (Poplar, S.) Buchanan, G. Dobble, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Burke, W. A. Ede, J. C.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Cassells, T. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Charleton, H. C. Foot, D. M.
Banfield, J. W. Cluse, W. S. Gallacher, W.
Barnes, A. J. Cooks, F. S. Gerro Jones, G. M.
Batey, J. Cove, W. G. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Dagger, G. Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)
Benson, G. Dalton, H. Green, W. H. (Deptford)
Broad, F. A. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.
Grenfell, D. R. Lunn, W. Sexton, T. M.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'abro, W.) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Silkin, L.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) McEntee, V. La T. Simpson, F. B.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) McGhee, H. G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Groves, T. E. McGovern, J. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) MacLaren, A. Sorensen, R. W.
Hardie, Agnes Maclean, N. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Harris, Sir P. A. Marshall, F. Stokes, R. R.
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Maxton, J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Hayday, A. Messer, F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Milner, Major J. Thurtle, E.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Montague, F. Tinker, J. J.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Muff, G. Tomlinson, G.
Holdsworth, H. Naylor, T. E. Turton, R. H.
Hopkin, D. Oliver, G. H. Viant, S. P.
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Owen, Major G. Walker, J.
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Paling, W. Watkins, F. C.
John, W. Parker, J. Watson, W. McL.
Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Parkinson, J. A. Welsh, J. C.
Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pearson, A. Westwood, J.
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. White, H. Graham
Kelly, W. T. Price, M. P. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Pritt, D. N. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Kirby, B. V. Quibell, D. J. K. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Kirkwood, D. Richards, R. (Wrexham) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Ridley, G. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Latham. Sir P. Riley, B. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Lawson, J. J. Ritson, J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Leach, W. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Leonard, W. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Leslie, J. R. Seely, Sir H. M. Mr. Mathers and Adamson.
Logan, D. G.