HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc616-8
29. Sir A. Hurd

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the outcome of the urgent examination given to the application for an anti-dumping duty on Roumanian and Polish eggs.

30. Mr. de Freitas

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he has taken on the anti-dumping application by the National Farmers' Union and the British Egg Marketing Board in respect of eggs from Poland and Roumania.

31. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he has now taken in response to the producers' organisations' application for an anti-dumping duty on Roumanian and Polish eggs.

Mr. Maudling

The Poles are traditional suppliers of eggs to the British market. This year their supplies were earlier and heavier than usual. I am satisfied that last month they sold at a price that involved a margin of dumping, and had their sales continued at that rate they could, in my opinion, have caused material damage within the meaning of the Act. I have talked to the Polish authorities. They tell me that shipments are on the decline. At the peak they were about 60,000 boxes in a week. They intend that their sales on the shell egg market next week will not be more than 18,000 boxes and not more than 11,000 boxes a week thereafter. Planned shipments in any quantity will not extend beyond late May or early June.

Sales of Roumanian eggs have been on a much smaller scale and the Roumanian authorities informed me that future arrivals are negligible.

In these circumstances I do not consider that I should be justified in imposing an anti-dumping duty.

Sir A. Hurd

I thank my right hon. Friend for his Answer, so far as it goes. Will he recall that when we sought to unload some surplus eggs on Germany a year or two ago, we were very quickly called to order, and will he be all the more prompt in the Board of Trade about calling to order the Poles, Roumanians, or anybody else who seeks to dump eggs here to the detriment of the British producer and also the British taxpayer?

Mr. Maudling

We received the application only on Wednesday of last week and I think that we have acted fairly promptly.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the view that he acted promptly is not shared by the farming communities and that there is a feeling that whereas the Board of Trade may act very quickly when it comes to dumping industrial products, it is not so quick in its action about agricultural products?

Mr. Maudling

That is the opposite of the truth. We act particularly quickly in the case of perishable products, and this is a very good example.

Mr. Turton

Did my right hon. Friend say that he found there was evidence of dumping in the Polish case but because he thought it was not going to continue for very long he refused the application for a duty? Is not that an abuse of the whole system?

Mr. Maudling

My point was that there was a margin of dumping, but I have also to be satisfied that there is substantial damage—"material injury" is the phrase—and as these cases concern only a very small proportion of the British market I am satisfied that there was no great damage within the meaning of the Act.

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage these imports represent of total home consumption?

Mr. Maudling

At their largest they were 10 per cent. of the sales of the Egg Marketing Board and are now reduced to about 2 per cent.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

My right hon. Friend said that the application was received only on Wednesday? Was not the state of dumping widely known in the country long before that? Is the Board of Trade in close contact with the Ministry of Agriculture to see that prompt action can be taken in these cases?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. I said that the formal application was received last Wednesday but the first informal approach by the N.F.U. and Marketing Board took place only two days before that.