§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, at this late hour I do not think it is necessary to detain the House for very long in moving the Second Reading of this Bill It is a comparatively small Bill directed to the extension of the scope of the National Mark scheme which, as your Lordships know, originated from the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act,. 1928. Since then certain additions have been made to the scheme. We have already introduced a scheme for a very considerable advertising programme with the assistance of the Empire Marketing Board. We have also extended its scope to a very large number of articles including eggs and dressed poultry, apples and pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, cherries, wheat flour, malt products, home-grown fruit and vegetables, cider, Scottish potatoes, broccoli and home-killed and Scotch-killed beef. We are hoping, during the next few months or at any rate by next year, to have a scheme for possibly mutton and lamb, cheese, butter and honey. Your Lordships will admit, I think, that this is a very considerable extension. As the law stands at the moment there is considerable doubt, amounting almost to certainty, as to whether we can carry the scheme in certain directions in which it is very desirable to do so. At present, it is considered that jam, for instance, which is an important product from an agricultural point of view, is really too far removed from being a direct agricultural product to be included in the scheme. For that reason, mainly, we have decided to introduce this small Bill which, I think, will prove to be non-controversial.
Clause 1 makes provision for applying the National Mark to fishery products. Clause 2 is the clause which deals really with the question of jam. It is drafted 379 in very much wider terms so that any other like commodity can be brought into the scheme. Your Lordships may think that the terms are very wide, but I would remind you that schemes are of an entirely voluntary and permissive character and that no industry that does not want a scheme need have one. Once an industry has applied for a scheme, it is for the Minister to approve regulations and lay the Order before Parliament before anything can actually be done. Clause 3 deals with certain charges which have always been made until now In regard to the expense of labels and machinery, but it is doubtful whether in law those charges could really have been made. This clause is therefore inserted in order to regularise an existing practice.
The last point this Bill deals with is the question of safeguarding the words "National Mark" and anything connected with the National Mark. At the present moment, a number of industries quite outside agriculture are using the term "National Mark" or a designation somewhat like it, and we consider it most important that the words "National Mark" which are indicative of a scheme that is being built up by the joint efforts of the agricultural industry and the State should be safeguarded. In that clause there is ample protection for existing interests which are already using this designation. Some people think that it would have been very much 380 better to make the legislation retrospective; but it has been felt to be absolutely essential to keep this Bill of a non-controversial order and, as that might be considered controversial, it has not been inserted. Those are the three or four purposes that are aimed at in the Bill, and I trust that it will meet with the agreement of your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Earl Be La Warr.)
§ THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH
My Lords, I rise to say that we on this Bench do not offer the slightest opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill; indeed, we are willing and anxious to facilitate it. There is just one point which has been. drawn to my attention, and that is that in Clause (4) (a) the date selected is the 17th day of June. It is an arbitrary date and we do not quite know why it has been selected. It is a Committee point but, perhaps, the noble Earl will enlighten us upon it.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
Yes, it is a Committee point; it was the date of the introduction of the Bill into your Lordships' House.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past seven o'clock.