§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD DENHAM rose to move, That the Draft Apple and Pear Development Council (Amendment) Order 1971, laid before the House on February 16, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Order is presented for your Lordships' approval in accordance with the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947, under which the prinicpal Order establishing the Council was made in December, 1966. The effect of the Amendment will be that any grower who should register with the Council but fails to do so will not escape liability to pay its annual charge, whereas at present this charge can be levied only on those growers who have carried out their obligation under the principal Order to register with the Council.
§ I can be fairly brief, as this is a simple change. It does no more than make growers, as defined, liable to pay the annual charge, whether they have registered or not. Noble Lords will wish to know how this change is regarded by those whom it affects. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, as is required of him under the Act of 1947 before he amends a Development Council Order, has consulted the Council and those organisations representative of substantial numbers of persons engaged in the industry and of persons employed in the industry. These representative organisations and the Council all support the proposed change without reservation.
§ They will have had in mind, as your Lordships will, the work carried out by 209 the Apple and Pear Development Council. The main task of the Apple and Pear Development Council is to promote and publicise home grown apples and pears. It also carries out research and other subsidiary but useful functions. As many noble Lords will themselves know, the Council has been getting its message across. The full measure of its success can only be gauged over a reasonable period, but where the Council has staged sales weeks, special demonstrations and the like in selected areas, market research has recorded striking increases in the volume of sales. The Council's posters and shop displays over the country, its bus side advertising in the Midlands, its television spots in the North—all these methods have been helping the industry's returns and helping the consumer to appreciate the worth of home-grown apples and pears.
§ This work by the Council costs money, but it is performed on what is still a modest budget. That makes it all the more important that the Council should not lose any of the revenue to which it is entitled. The evidence is that the great majority of growers fulfil their obligation under the main Order as it now stands to register with the Council and pay the annual charge. At the same time, the experience of four years' operation has shown that some growers who are required to register by the principal Order evade or delay doing so, and thereby evade or delay liability to pay the Council's annual charge. These defaulters do of course benefit from the work of the Council and the contributions of their fellow growers to the Council, and it is unacceptable that a selfish few should be able to avoid liability for their own contribution. I therefore commend this Order to your Lordships, and beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Draft Apple and Pear Development Council (Amendment) Order 1971, laid before the House on February 16, be approved.—(Lord Denham.)
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, again we are grateful to the noble Lord for explaining to us the purpose of the Order. It was always my experience that, no matter how constructive and meritorious a scheme was, the possibility of raising a levy without criticism, or without obstruction, was remote. I know that the legislation 210 here requires the Minister to consult with the organisations, and I was glad to hear that not only had he consulted them but that he had obtained their approval. I should be interested to know which organisations were consulted. I hope not only are they saying that they agree, but that they are going to give positive co-operation in implementing the scheme.
§ LORD DENHAM
My Loris, I am happy to be able to give the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, that assurance. My right honourable friend consulted the Apple and Pear Development Council itself, which, of course, is most interested in this Order. They also consulted the National Farmers' Union; the Transport and General Workers' Union (Agritural Section), and the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers. All of those bodies gave approval to the Order.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.