HC Deb 19 January 1949 vol 460 cc290-2

Motion made, and Question proposed. That it is expedient, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the Agricultural Marketing Acts, 1931 to 1933, and for purposes connected therewith, to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. (a) any increase in the sums payable, out of moneys so provided. under Section eleven of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, to the Agricultural Marketing Fund and the Agricultural Marketing (Scotland) Fund, being an increase attributable to so much of the said Act of the present Session as provides for extending the functions of boards or the areas to which schemes apply, extends the definition of the expression 'agricultural product' or enables schemes to be made applicable to Northern Ireland or any part of Northern Ireland;
  2. (b) any increase in the sums payable, out of moneys so provided, under subsection (5) of Section sixteen of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, in respect of the remuneration of the chairman or other members of, or of the secretary, officers, agents or servants of, or in respect of other expenses of, commissions or committees constituted or appointed under the last mentioned Act, being an increase attributable to so much of the said Act of the present Session as extends the functions of such commissions or committees or requires that when such commissions or committees are considering schemes applicable to Northern Ireland or any part of Northern Ireland there shall be additional members thereof."—[Mr. T. Williams.]

Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)

Are we to have no explanation of this Money Resolution? If we are not—

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Thomas Williams)

If the hon. Gentleman insists upon an explanation, I think it will be very easy to reply, but, if he will read Clause 20 (3) of this Bill, I would assure him that there is no intention to go outside anything which is stated in that Subsection. Should the administrative costs be slightly more, perhaps due to wider powers given to the marketing board, to a chairman of a committee of investigation or any other chairman of any committee, we are simply taking power to cover increased expenses, and that is all.

Mr. Marshall

I did not intend to say anything on this Resolution, and would not have risen but for one of the last points made by the Parliamentary Secretary, who made a statement, with part of which I entirely agree. He stated that we could pack as well as anybody. That is true. But will he see to it that our producers are supplied with the necessary packing materials.

Mr. Gerald Williams (Tonbridge)

May I ask if the Minister is going to make any provision in this Financial Resolution for paying compensation under Clause 4. According to the Parliamentary Secretary, it looks as if Clause 4 will be included in the Bill, and, when we come to the Committee stage and want to move Amendments to provide compensation for those suffering hardship under Clause 4, it will be ruled out of order because there is no financial provision for that purpose. Is the Minister going to listen to the very potent and very strong arguments which have been put forward in the Debate that Clause 4 will cause great hardship to many producers if it is invoked in the way in which it might be under this Bill? The only way to put that right is to give compensation to those people, but we cannot do that unless the provision for it is made at this moment. Accordingly, I ask the Minister if he is going to do anything about it?

Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)

In Clause 12 (1) there is a reference to the change in the practice of the payments to the fellmongers or skinners as they are called in Scotland. These fellmongers and skinners have hitherto had the right to sell wool as part of the product of the skins. Now, they are being returned to the Wool Marketing Board, and representations have been made to me that they feel that they should claim compensation because this is a disturbance of the habits and customs of their trade for many centuries. I have been asked to put these representations forward. It will require some financial provision, and I thought that I would mention the matter at this stage.

Mr. T. Williams

I should have thought that if the hon. Gentleman wished to raise that question, it would have been on the Second Reading of the Bill, and certainly not on the Financial Resolution.

Sir W. Darling

May I say that it was not for me to raise the question on Second Reading? I was not called.

Mr. T. Williams

I am afraid that the question raised by the hon. Gentleman is not one that affects the Financial Resolution. The other question raised by the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. G. Williams) concerns a principle of compensation that no Minister could accept. I ought to say to the hon. Gentleman that the question has been discussed in the House. He raised it himself and this is not the first time by any means that we have discussed this question of compensation. First of all, I do not think the necessity for compensation will arise. Secondly, no Minister could accept this principle, because it would create a precedent that would go far and wide wherever it was suggested that by the action of any Minister it might or might not cause injury to bodies, or to an individual. That is the situation which, I think, no Minister could possibly contemplate. Whatever Clause 4 may do, I certainly do not think it is a question where compensation could meet the alleged need that may arise. For that reason the Financial Resolution does not contain arrangements whereby any form of compensation could be paid.

Mr. G. Williams

May I say that the Minister has made the case for the Opposition that Clause 4 must come out of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.