HL Deb 08 December 1932 vol 86 cc304-6

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands on the Paper in my name. This is a Motion to approve of the Ottawa Agreements (Importation of Meat) Order, 1932, made by the Board of Trade on November 28 under Section 7 of the Ottawa Agreements Act, 1932, which empowers the Board, after consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, to regulate by Order the importation into the United Kingdom of frozen mutton, frozen lamb, frozen beef, and chilled beef in accordance with the Ottawa Agreements. The section provides that any such Order may contain the necessary provisions for securing the due operation and enforcement of the scheme of regulation. The Order has been laid before both Houses in accordance with the provisions of Clause 10, subsection (3) of which provides that any such Order shall cease to have effect after a period of twenty-eight days from the date on which it was made unless it had been approved within that period by Resolution passed by each House of Parliament.

The Ottawa Agreements with Australia and New Zealand regarding meat imports are contained in the First Schedule of the Act. It is hoped that in practice it will not be necessary to exercise the powers conferred by Clause 7 of the Act to any great extent. The importers and ship-owners engaged in the South American meat trade have consented to carry out the reduction of imports prescribed by the Agreement. They are in close touch with the Board of Trade, and, thanks to their willing co-operation, it is expected that the total restriction of imports will be effected without the necessity of imposing actual quotas on either countries or individuals. The total will be kept within the prescribed limits, and within that total the distribution of the business will be left to the trade.

It is obviously desirable that during the temporary period of restriction under the Ottawa Agreements the status quo in the standard Ottawa year, on which the maximum percentages of imports are to be based, should be preserved. New importers, that is, importers who did not import meat from foreign countries during the standard year, could not be admitted to the trade during the Ottawa period of restriction, unless by general agreement, without upsetting the arrangements. It has been recognised for some time that the only way of preventing such a disturbance of the agreed arrangements is to require importers to be licensed. Both importers and shipowners are anxious that the position should be made clear as early as possible; shipowners in particular would not be able to refuse consignments, even if they knew them to be in excess of the Ottawa totals unless they had some statutory authority behind them; and this Order contains the necessary provisions to that end.

As regards the Order itself your Lordships may possibly have seen that Paragraphs 1 and 2 provided that on and after the 1st January, 1933, no meat to which the Order applies shall be imported into the United Kingdom except under licence, and that licence may be issued by the Board of Trade to such persons and on such conditions as they think fit for the purpose of securing that the importation of meat is regulated in accordance with the Ottawa Agreements. Paragraph 3 provides that meat shall be deemed to be imported under licence if the importer is the holder of a licence issued under the Order authorising him to import meat to which the Order applies, and complies with the conditions (if any) of the licence but not otherwise. Paragraph 4 provides that meat prohibited to be imported by the Order shall be deemed to be included among the goods contained in the table of prohibitions and restrictions inwards in Section 42 of the Customs Consolidation Act, 1876.

Paragraph 5 applies the Order to the descriptions of meat covered by the Ottawa Agreements—that is, frozen mutton, frozen lamb, frozen beef (car-cases and boned beef and chilled beef), but provides that the Order does not apply to meat produced in any part of the British Empire. It is not known whether any meat produced in the Empire is consigned from foreign ports; probably little or none is so consigned; but as we have undertaken to place no restrictions on imports of meat from Australia and New Zealand it has been thought desirable to exclude any such meat from the provisions of the licensing system. I will not detain your Lordships with a longer speech at this time, but as this was the first Order of its kind that has been before your Lordships' House I thought it clue to your Lordships that I should detain you even as long as I have. I can only say in conclusion that I have full information on the matter from the Department, and if any noble Lord desires to ask a question on the Resolution I will do my best to answer him. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Ottawa Agreements (Importation of Meat) Order, 1932, dated the 28th of November, 1932, made by the Board of Trade under the Ottawa Agreements Act, 1932, a copy of which was presented to this House on the 29th of November last, be approved.—(Lord Templemore.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.