§ 3.9 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD (EARL WALDEGRAVE)
My Lords, I beg to move, that the Eggs (Protection of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1961, be approved. I do not think I need detain your Lordships long. The Order, which amends the Eggs (Protection of Guarantees) Order, 1958, does not introduce any change in the existing guarantee arrangements for eggs. The Order is necessary, though, to make it clear beyond all doubt that the guarantee for eggs does not apply to eggs for hatching.
It was never, of course, intended that subsidies should be paid on hatching eggs. I should like to make it quite clear that we have no reason to believe that subsidy is being paid on hatching eggs at the moment, and this is not a question of slamming the stable door after the horse has already gone. But there have been considerable developments in the industry. There has been the expansion of hatcheries, for instance, in the broiler industry, and proposals are on foot for egg groups, which will perhaps mean that those who are engaged in producing eggs for human consumption and those who are concerned in producing eggs for hatcheries may be associated in running a packing station.
Perhaps I should explain to your Lordships that the egg subsidy is paid to the British Egg Marketing Board and not to individual producers, and the Board operates the guarantee system through the packing stations. All eggs eligible for subsidy must be sold through a packing station acting as an agent of the Board, so that the Board becomes the first seller 885 of eggs on which subsidy has been paid. It is perfectly clear that eggs from a hatchery which are surplus to hatching requirements and which are not to be used for hatching could quite properly be sold through a packing station for human consumption and attract subsidy. But what would be wrong would be for all the eggs produced by a hatchery to be sold through a packing station (acting as the agent of the Board) and then, whether they were used for hatching or for human consumption, all, to draw the subsidy.
The object of this Order is merely to make it absolutely clear that only the eggs which are sold for human consumption Ire eligible for subsidy, and it gives legal support to the provision in the current financial agreement between Ministers and the Egg Marketing Board, in which the Board has already undertaker that this should be so, and that only eggs for human consumption should draw this subsidy. This is brought about by Article 2 (a) in the Order, and sections 2 (b) and (c) of the Order add any records relating to the purchase and sale of hatching eggs to the type of records that the Ministry's officials can inspect. Therefore this Order, which I hope your Lordships will approve, makes it perfectly clear that the egg we eat for breakfast may be subsidised, but that the egg which becomes the hen that lays the egg we eat for breakfast is not eligible for subsidy. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Eggs (Protection, of Guarantees) (Amendment) Order, 1961, be approved.—(Earl Waldegrave.)
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, first of all I must congratulate the noble Earl on his very interesting discourse on eggs. I did not know you could say quite so much about eggs; but perhaps you can, in various forms. However, we on this side of the House approve the Order and support its introduction. It may serve a useful purpose in keeping people on the right lines in their dealings with eggs; but it is not necessary so far as farmers and agriculturists are concerned, because we are generally blameless in that direction. At any rate, we on this side of the House support the Order, and I hope it will serve a useful purpose.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.