§ Mr. Nabarro
asked the Minister of Food whether he has any statement to make on the de-control of eggs.
§ Major Lloyd George
The Government have now decided, in consultation with the National Farmers' Union and the representatives of the packers, wholesalers and other interests concerned, on temporary arrangements for egg marketing after de-control. These arrangements will operate from 26th March, on which date the allocation and price control of eggs will cease, until permanent plans can be brought into operation after full and mature consultation with all the interests concerned.
The existing machinery of the Ministry of Food will be used to operate the guarantees of price and market under Part I of the Agriculture Act, 1947, and to provide certain services, such as market intelligence and a supply of egg 130W boxes, for packing stations or producers. A National Committee comprising representatives of the farmers, the packers and the distributive trade will be set up to advise the Ministry of Food on any policy questions arising in the performance of these functions and to exercise certain executive functions in their day-to-day operation. Area advisory committees comprising the same interests will also be set up.
This use of the existing machinery of the Ministry of Food is a temporary expedient. It is important that these interim arrangements should not jeopardise the long-term scheme to be introduced at a later stage. For this reason especially the Government, and the industry, attach great importance to the maintenance of satisfactory quality standards for home-produced eggs. It is therefore proposed to require that all eggs should be sold by grade and weight. The only exception to this will be sales of eggs by producers direct to consumers for consumption in private households. The Ministry of Food will continue to licence packing stations for grading purposes.
Guaranteed prices and assured markets under the Agriculture Act, 1947, will be implemented by packing stations being required to accept from producers all eggs offered to them and to pay not less than the guaranteed minimum price current at the time. Packing stations will be free to pay producers more than the guaranteed price according to market conditions. Guaranteed minimum prices on a seasonal basis will, of course, be determined in the light of the forthcoming Annual Review. When accepting eggs at the guaranteed prices packing stations will be operating on behalf of the Ministry of Food, which will carry any loss involved in disposing of eggs so bought.