HL Deb 22 November 1939 vol 114 cc1872-4

3.40 p.m


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name As the original Barley Scheme passed your Lordships' House only some three and a half months ago, I think your Lordships would like me, in a sentence or two, to explain why this new Supplementary Scheme should be needed so soon. The object of the Supplementary Scheme is to rectify the position which has arisen under the original Scheme because of the outbreak of war, whereby levies have been collected from brewers, from distillers and from importers of beer, as it turns out, quite unnecessarily. Under the original Scheme passed three and a half months ago a subsidy on an acreage basis was payable to all growers of barley in the United Kingdom upon a sliding scale. That subsidy was to be calculated upon the average price of barley which prevailed throughout the country. The funds for the payment of this subsidy were to be collected from a levy made on the brewers, which again was to be calculated upon a sliding scale in accordance with the average price of barley.

The rate of levy was, as I say, to be on a sliding scale and if the price of barley went to 10s. a cwt. or above that figure, then neither was a subsidy payable to the growers of barley nor would there be any necessity to make a levy on the brewers. In order to make the collection of the levy even throughout the cereal year, the three Ministers involved in this transaction—my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Home Secretary—guessed at what would be the average price of barley and placed their figure at 8s. 7d. per cwt.; accordingly a levy of 9d. has been collected from the brewers for the last three and a half months. But, owing to the war and owing to the fact that practically no foreign barley was released in this country for malting purposes, and owing also to there being a free market for home-grown barley, the average price of barley so far from being 8s. 7d. per cwt. is now over 13s. per cwt. Therefore, as your Lordships will see, no question of a subsidy or of a levy in fact comes in.

Provisions are made in the Supplementary Scheme, first, to enable the Ministers concerned to make a new estimate as to the price of barley; and, secondly, to enable the sums that have been collected from the brewers to be paid back. Without this Supplementary Scheme, there is no jurisdiction either to stop the collection of the levy or to pay back the levy which has been collected. That amounts to about £170.000. I ask your Lordships to pass this Order so that what I have described may be done. There is no new point of principle involved, I would submit to your Lordships; all that this Supplementary Scheme does is to bring the original Order into harmony with war conditions. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Special Order, as reported from the Special Orders Committee yesterday, be approved.—(Lord Denham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.