HC Deb 05 April 1951 vol 486 cc454-6
Mr. Richard Law (Hull, Haltemprice)

I beg to move, in page 19, line 20, at the end, to insert: but excluding the refinement or processing of fish liver and its derivatives. The purpose of this Amendment is to exclude the cod liver oil industry from the purview of the Bill. I moved a similar Amendment on the Committee stage which I withdrew, not because the purpose of the Amendment was improper—indeed the Minister did not try to persuade the Committee that the purpose was improper—but simply because, as he pointed out, the Amendment I then moved would not have had the effect of excluding the cod liver oil industry from the Bill.

I can put the arguments for this Amendment very briefly. I hope the Minister will be able to consider them sympathetically and to accept the Amendment. In the first place, the cod liver oil industry is quite distinct from the fishing industry. It does use the cod liver as a raw material, but once that stage is passed the processing and exporting of the cod liver oil—it is a world-wide industry—is entirely distinct from the sea fish industry.

It is the purpose of the Bill, as we understand it, to give help to an industry which without it, would, in the general opinion of the House, be in very sore straits. The cod liver oil industry is not in very sore straits, and does not need any help which this Bill might give it. It is a very flourishing industry and of great advantage to the country, particularly from the point of view of its export negotiations. I further suggest to the Minister that the Authority will have its hands full enough in dealing with the fishing industry proper, without venturing into the realm of an industry which has nothing in common with the fishing industry other than deriving its raw material from the livers of cod and other fish.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have been happy with the previous Amendment which I moved in Clause 4, page 3, line 35.

As most of us know, there is at Hull a magnificent cod liver oil factory. I have been there myself; I have tasted their product and I have seen many of the "bonny babies" who work in the factory. The Authority certainly would be riding for a very heavy fall if they attempted in any way to establish themselves in competition with that magnificent factory. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that under Clause 4 the Authority have power to take or secure shares in certain vessels; and they have power in the remote case either to become salesmen or operate processing plants if it is done, in the words of my previous Amendment: for the needs of the fishing industry. Only in such cases can they operate. It would therefore seem to me that the existing cod liver oil factory at Hull need have no worry about Clause 4 or the power of the Authority, for by no conceivable circumstances could the Authority become hostile competitors to that cod liver oil factory. If the Authority were to operate at all under their powers under Clause 4, then fish meal is perhaps the most obvious case. If they did happen for a period, probably a temporary period, to own vessels or partially to own vessels, until proper arrangements could be made, they at least ought to retain that power until other arrangements could be made for running the vessels and for doing what was done before the hypothetical company we are considering went into liquidation.

It would seem to me, however, that such a case would be so rare, and the unwisdom of operating in a place like Hull in opposition to that particular factory would be so great, that it would remove any fear, doubts or apprehensions which anyone associated with that factory might have. I consider there is no necessity for this particular Amendment so long as the powers in Clause 4 remain, and I hope that, in the light of the previous Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman will realise there is no danger to the cod liver oil factory or the fish meal factories or to any factories dealing in fish derivatives. I hope, therefore, that he will withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment negatived.