Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19 May 1953.

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3.33 p.m.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, to leave out "fifty-seven," and to insert "fifty-four."

I understand that it would be for your convenience, Sir Charles, and that of the Committee if at the same time we were to discuss the Amendment in line 15, which is in precisely the same terms. Both these Amendments are designed to cover the same point, and their object is to limit the proposed extension of the duties on hops and beer from four years to one. As the Clause stands, it is proposed to extend the duties on hops and beer—

Photo of Mr Arthur Colegate Mr Arthur Colegate , Burton

On a point of order. It is extremely difficult to hear what the hon. Gentleman is saying, and many of us are anxious to follow the argument.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I hope that hon. Members leaving the Chamber will do so quietly.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

I was saying that the object of the two Amendments is to reduce the proposed renewal of these duties on hops and beer to one year. I think it was rather significant, and indeed ominous, that when the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was moving the Second Reading of the Finance Bill he was conspicuously silent about this Clause. He dealt with a great many Clauses in the Bill, I must confess, in a sequence which was rather difficult to follow but he said nothing whatever about Clause 1. He jumped from Clause 28 to Clause 2, went on to Clause 4 and subsequently to Clause 31.

This is the first Clause of the Bill, which proposes that very important duties should be extended for four years. We have had no explanation at all why these duties should be renewed or what revenue the Treasury expect to receive from them. I think it is very doubtful whether the House should be invited to renew these duties at all. In the first place, the duty on hops is £4 per cwt., and there is duty of £1 an ounce on hop oil, and a countervailing duty of l0d. per barrel of 36 gallons on imported beer. I am well aware that it has been the custom of the Committee for many years to renew these duties at four-yearly intervals, but I think we are entitled, before we agree to renew them this year to ask the Government for some explanation of their policy with regard to the beer duties generally.

It will be remembered that when these duties were last renewed by the Labour Government in 1949, the renewal was coupled with a remission of the general Excise Duty on beer of 1d. per pint. I should have thought that there ought to have been some remission of the Excise Duty this year, and on this occasion, when the Chancellor has so much revenue to give away, I should have thought that one of the first things he would have thought of, and ought to have done, would be to reduce the duty on beer by at least 1d. per pint.

Everybody knows that the price of beer is absurdly high. The duty at the moment ranges from 6½d. to 10¼d. per pint according to the specific gravity, and a great many working people find it impossible to afford the glass of beer to which they are entitled at the end of a day's work. After all, the Chancellor has claimed that this is an incentive Budget. I can think of no greater incentive to the working man, and to people like you and I, Sir Charles, who work very long hours, as well as to all workers in industry, than a remission in the duty on beer. I am quite sure that if the Chancellor really wanted to increase output and production, there is no better way in which he could do it than by entitling working men to feel that, at the end of a hard day's work, they can get a glass of beer at a reasonable price.

Why is it that the Government have not done so? Why do they prefer to reduce direct taxation instead of indirect taxation? They know perfectly well how much the cost of beer comes into the budget of a great many of the people on whom this country depends for an increase in production. We have heard not a word about that. In spite of that, the Chancellor prefers to make a remission of Income Tax from which at least 20 million people get no benefit whatever. Therefore, I do not think the Committee should pass this Clause unless we have some clear indication from the Government of their future intentions regarding this preposterously high beer duty which is being imposed on the country at the present time.

I know that the Tory Party are the friends of the brewers. Is this being done in the interest of the brewers? The Financial Secretary told me yesterday, in answer to a Question, that the cost of reducing the duty on beer by a 1d. a pint would be £25 million. But that is on the assumption that the brewers make the same profits. When the Labour Government reduced the beer duty by 1d. a pint four years ago they were careful to see that the brewers' profits were also reduced. I should have thought that in this Budget we could have looked forward not only to a reduced duty on beer, but also to some provision for curtailing the profits which the brewers make at the present time.

There are some other things in connection with this Clause which I find difficult to understand. What revenue do we get from the Customs Duty of l0d. a barrel on imported beer? What revenue do we get from the duty imposed on imported hops? Is it not a fact that brewers get practically all the hops they want from this country? Do we not export a great quantity of hops, and do we not run the risk, by imposing these rather niggardly duties on imported hops, of having corresponding duties imposed by other countries on the hops which they export to us?

As we have had no explanation whatever about the reasons for this Clause and no justification for it, I hope that the Committee will not agree to renew the present duties for more than one calendar year.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

This duty was originally imposed by the present Prime Minister in 1925, but I am not suggesting to the Committee that that is the only reason we should repeal it today. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is proposing to renew it in order to erect a kind of fiscal memorial to the stewardship of the Treasury by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but if he is, it is really the most inappropriate memorial that be could erect, because at the present moment this duty performs a function exactly opposite to that intended by the Prime Minister when he imposed it.

It is quite true that this duty was renewed in 1949 by the Labour Government, but the situation has now completely changed owing to a new agreement which has been entered into under the Hops Marketing Scheme. I suggest to the Committee that this is one of the rare occasions on which the interests of the Treasury, the brewers and the beer-drinking public all coincide, and that that is a reason for removing the duty which, as I shall show in a moment, produces no revenue whatever.

The broad issues about which we are concerned are, first, whether we should grow hops—which was the Prime Minister's original idea—instead of food, and secondly, whether if we do that the farmers ought to be indirectly subsidised by the beer-drinking public. Those are the two general broad propositions that we ought to consider every time this duty comes up for discussion.

3.45 p.m.

I now wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the question of whether, in fact, this duty serves any useful purpose at all. In war-time hops have always proved a liability and one of the first things we do on the outbreak of war is to plough up a great quantity of hop fields. In 1914 we had 33,000 acres under hops, and by the end of that war we had reduced the figure to 16,000 acres. Because of that, and because in the inter-war years agriculture was in such a difficult position, there was a Government control scheme for hops until 1925. When the scheme was brought to an end, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present Prime Minister, introduced the duty with which we are dealing today. He said this about it: It is very small, but very shocking; it is nakedly protective. … For the last five years hops have been rigidly, rigorously controlled under an Act passed during the time of the late coalition of blessed memory. That Act expired in August of the present year, and I have been confronted with the alternatives, either of renewing the control or of agreeing to a protective duty. I have chosen the latter, and I am confessing to the Committee the reason why. Control would be utterly sterile. The right hon. Gentleman has now, in fact, imposed control under the Hops Marketing Scheme so that the sterile control which was not the reason for introducing the duty is now introduced. He went on to say: But the duty will produce £130,000 in the first year and £250,000 in a subsequent year, as much, that is to say, or almost as much, as the additional grant which I have been able to give to the Universities of the country for higher education."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1925; Vol. 183, c. 67–8.] The original object of this duty was the laudable one of supporting higher education, but under the present Minister of Education—I reckon the average yield is only £180 a year—it is unlikely that it will even supply her latest commitments for higher education. Indeed, it would be hardly sufficient for the sum she is proposing to grant for adult education.

When the duty was imposed, the price of hops was round about £10 a cwt. That meant that this was a 50 per cent. protective duty. If we are to continue the duty we ought to think of continuing it in the same terms, but now, of course, the price of hops is round about £26 a cwt., so that the duty does not perform the same function as it did originally.

The history of the duty showed that it was singularly ineffective in assisting the farmers or doing what ought to have been done. By 1930 the price had gone down to £4 15s. a cwt. and three years later it was up to £16 10s. a cwt. The Hops Marketing Scheme was introduced which now, in fact, entirely controls the hop interests. I commend to the Chancellor the Budget statement on the matter by the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain. In 1933, Mr. Chamberlain said: I propose to renew this duty … but in view of the representations which have been made to me by users that difficulties may arise out of the co-existence of a duty with some form of quantitative regulations under the Agricultural Marketing Bill, I am prepared to say now that if any such regulations should be introduced, I should be ready to consider whether any modification of the duty were required."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1933; Vol. 277, c. 51.] All I am asking the Chancellor to do, now that the conditions laid down by Mr. Chamberlain have, in fact, been fulfilled, is to carry out that pledge given in 1933. In fact, a quantitative regulation was introduced in 1950. The Hops Marketing Scheme consists of what I cannot help thinking is a rather highhanded part, but nevertheless a part, of the law in the shape of an agreement between the Brewers' Society and the Hops Marketing Board. I understand that the hon. Member for Tiptree or Wavertree, or at any rate some sort of tree, is one of the members of that Board. I am sorry that he is not in his place to tell us about the working of this agreement.

I understand that the agreement can be enforced and in fact is enforced by the Minister. Indeed, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) was the Minister of Agriculture, a committee reported that steps of that kind should be taken. I understand that in fact the Minister of Agriculture appoints the chairman of this body, which is representative on the one side of the Hops Marketing Board and on the other side of the Brewers' Society.

When the then Financial Secretary was piloting the 1949 Finance Bill through the House of Commons, we were in some difficulty because under the old agreement made in 1939 the brewers were entitled to import up to 17½ per cent. of foreign hops and could carry over from any one year to the next year the hops that they had not imported. During the war, when we had to concentrate on more important food supplies and raw materials, hops were cut off from our import lists and by 1949 there were to the credit of the brewers no less than 421,000 cwt. of hops which, under the agreement, they could import at any time if they so wished. Therefore, they could have imported twice the normal crop in any one year if they had so chosen.

In those circumstances I think that everyone on this side of the Committee will agree that the Financial Secretary was right at that time in resisting an Amendment which seemed to me to indicate no real knowledge of the hop industry. It was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) and was designed to extend the period of these duties for 10 years. I do not think that it was a proposition that would commend itself to the Parliamentary Committee of the Brewers' Society.

In 1950 the Brewers' Society concluded a new agreement, Section 8 of which states: In any period of 12 months … brewers will not import an aggregate of more than 1,000 cwt. of foreign hops (required for brewing of lager and other types of beer) unless the whole English crop of merchantable quality marketed in that 12 months period has been purchased or contracted for. In those circumstances there can be no import of foreign hops.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

The hon. Member says, "Hear, hear," but suppose the hop crop failed, would he then like to see the price of beer raised to something which he has not foreseen?

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

My constituency is a very considerable producer of hops. In fact, every hop farmer is at present a keen supporter of the Hops Marketing Board arrangements. They provide an adequate reserve against a lean year.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

Exactly, and in those circumstances the whole existence of this duty militates against a greater export trade in hops. I should have thought that the hon. Member was not so interested in beer as to want to see all the hops consumed at home and that he is prepared to allow a reasonable proportion to go to the export trade.

In the last four years it is true that the Chancellor has been able to collect from this duty no less than £2,547. Unfortunately, as a good deal of this beer has gone abroad, he has had to pay drawbacks on that of no less than £1,910 in the last four years. That means that in four years the total amount which the Exchequer has gained through these duties which the Chancellor is making it his first task in this Budget to renew is £637, or about £180 a year.

But let us look at the complications that are involved in this. In 1948–49 we had to pay back £1 to the Isle of Man. The next year the Isle of Man paid us £1, and the following year we had to pay back £2 to the Isle of Man. On the figures for 1951–52 we had £3 from the Isle of Man. [An HON. MEMBER: "One up."] Is that kind of accountancy necessary? We have had great talk from hon. Members opposite about cutting out unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, but is it really necessary to make it the first task in a Finance Bill to renew a duty which in four years has secured for us £1 or £2 net from the Isle of Man? While we do not make any money out of this duty we nominally maintain these very complicated arrangements because we have to give a one-third rebate in respect of hops grown in the Dominions if we receive any from them. I do not know what happens if the hops are grown in the Isle of Man.

There may well be countries which maintain duties against our hops because we maintain duties against foreign hops generally. Where a duty brings in no revenue and serves no useful purpose, there is reason why even a Conservative Government might not try to remove it. Our export trade in hops is small but useful and averaged about £2,500,000 in the last three years. About one-third to one quarter of the crop at present seems to go abroad. We exported 107,000 cwt. in 1951 and 77,000 cwt. in 1952 as compared with 16,000 cwt. in 1939. Under the present arrangements, since no hops can be bought from abroad until there are no English hops available, if there is a failure of the English crop there will be an extra charge imposed on beer. In 1931 the yield of the hop crop was only about 8·7 cwt. per acre as compared with 11 to 14 cwt. even under the present rather more strict methods of computing acreage under hops. If the hop crop fails we have to import foreign hops and perhaps impose an extra charge on beer.

There is a further and more general point that should be considered. It is that because of protection of this kind the English hop growers are technically falling somewhat behind some of their continental competitors. It might well be desirable that the Ministry of Agriculture should get together with the Brewers' Society and say that if, technically speaking, the English hop crop turns out to be not so good as the foreign hop crop there should be an opportunity of putting pressure on the growers by saying that we would import a certain amount of foreign hops.

I do not want to go into technical details so well known to the hon. Member for Kidderminster, but there is an important development abroad of a seedless type of hop. If the hon. Member consults Parliamentary Members of the Brewers' Society, who very fortunately for him sit on his side of this Chamber, he will learn that this is one of the difficult problems that confront the English brewing industry at present.

4.0 p.m.

The real problem of beer is that of Greek wine. In order to preserve beer one needs to put a certain amount of resin into it. In the same way as the Greeks resinate their wine, so the brewers resinate their beer, and resin comes from hops, although it is called some other name in the brewing trade, as everything else is, including the water that they put in. At the moment there is a technical dispute about the matter, but I understand that the Californian hop contains 40 per cent. more resin than does the English hop, so there may well be an argument that the Minister of Agriculture should permit the importation of more foreign hops if the duty were removed. The quantity of hops admitted is entirely under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture, for it controls the scheme under the Hops Marketing Board.

To sum up, I support the Amendment because there are obviously drawbacks and it would be impossible to remove the duty straight away; it is necessary to allow a year's transitional period in order to allow a convenient period for the withdrawal of the duty. The duty should be removed, in the first place, because it brings in no revenue, and no longer even supports higher education. It involves considerable Customs calculations, even down to the working out of a few pounds in our account with the Isle of Man. If we cancelled the duty we might be in a position to bargain for the remission of duties on British hops sent to foreign countries.

The late Mr. Neville Chamberlain took the view that once an effective quantitative limitation scheme was introduced the duty ought to be reviewed, and that is the review that I have suggested the Chancellor should make. If there were a failure of the English crop—it is always possible, for this is a very chancy agricultural project—a duty would suddenly be imposed on the Board to no point at all, because the object of the duty was to protect the English crop, which is now completely protected and the only occasion when the duty can apply is when the English crop is not there to be protected.

The removal of the duty would enable the users of hops, the growers and the Ministry of Agriculture to work out a scheme which would give what I understand hon. Gentlemen opposite seek, the stimulus of competition to the British hop growers, and would take in all aspects of agricultural policy, including how many acres ought to be under hops and how many under food. In those circumstances I hope the Chancellor will again look carefully at the duty and not ask the Committee to renew it in its present form.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

I hope my right hon. Friend will reject both these Amendments. I have no direct interest in the production of hops, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) suggested, but thousands of acres in the western part of Worcestershire, in my constituency, are devoted to the production of hops.

The Hops Marketing Board is an admirable example of organised marketing and the prevention of wastage in the processes of cultivation and distribution. A quota is set each year by the Board for the whole of the United Kingdom; there is an agreed acreage in which the Ministry of Agriculture have a say. It is true that imports of hops are almost denied, but why should we not give our own hop producers the first place in the English market?

The hon. and learned Gentleman made great play of the fact that there might on some occasion in the future be a failure in the English crop of hops. That has never occurred, because hops are grown in a dozen different places in the United Kingdom and it has never been known for all the hop crop to fail, in any one year, in every one of those areas. I believe that the stability of the hop-growing industry at present can be directly attributed to two factors. One is the excellent organisation of the Hops Marketing Board, which should be an example for all similar horticultural boards in the future. The second factor is the stability which is given by the import duties arrangements over a fairly long period. If the Amendment were carried, it would mean an annual review of the import duties—

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

The hon. Gentleman, perhaps not for the first time, has not appreciated the argument that has been addressed to the Committee. The amount of hops which can be imported is not now controlled by the duty; it is controlled by the arrangements made by the Board. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to continue the Hops Marketing Scheme, that is why the duty is unnecessary.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

The Hops Marketing Board is primarily an advisory body but with certain executive powers in this country, and I believe it would be most damaging to interfere with a scheme which has worked admirably for the last few years and has certainly done no harm to either producers or consumers. The hon. and learned Gentleman also made allusions to the efficiency of British hop growers and producers. He implied that they are lagging behind foreign competitors technically. I will send him a copy of the Anglo-American Productivity Report on hops which he has obviously not troubled to read, for had he read it he would readily have learnt that England leads the world in hop production technique.

I hope my right hon. Friend will reject this misguided and ill-conceived Amendment and ensure a period of stability for import duties which is what our hop-producing industry needs, that is, a minimum period until 1957.

Photo of Mr James Glanville Mr James Glanville , Consett

The subject under discussion is hops and I know nothing about hops, never having been a hop grower, but I do know something about beer. No one in the Committee will dispute my right to say I am a good judge of beer. I claim it unashamedly. I would sooner spend my time having a pint or a half-pint of beer in the bar than in the way some people spend their time; but that is by the way.

What are the Government Front Bench doing to ensure that the brewers exhibit patriotism and enthusiasm on the occasion of the Coronation? I want to make a suggestion which is not as ridiculous as it sounds. I am not making a set speech; I stand here with no cards in my hand and nothing up my sleeve. When are the brewers going to be brought to heel? I am not concerned about the hops tax or any other tax. Are the brewers—there are any number of their representatives on the benches opposite —going to agree to give the first half-dozen pints to all their customers on Coronation day, free, gratis and for nothing?

That may sound ridiculous, but the Working Men's Club and Institute Union in the northern counties is giving 15 to 20 pints per man on Coronation day. If the working men's clubs can do it, why cannot the vested interests of the brewers do it? We know that they pour a lot of money into the Tory Party funds, and probably that is one reason why they cannot do it. We also know that they stole from us the public houses in the new towns in order to enrich themselves.

The working man is not concerned about the strength of the beer but about the cost of it. In all the working men's clubs in my area—and I defy contradiction by any one; my hon. Friends can prove this—they are not concerned about the laughter of my teetotal fanatical friends. As far as I am concerned they can go to hell. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] Order it is. This is the point of view I want to place in front of the country—that the working men's clubs can afford to give away this vast amount of money because we brew our own beer. We do not get it from Truman's or Hamble's or Buxton's or anybody else— not even Remnant's. As soon as the rest of the workers get the sense to be affiliated—

Photo of Mr James Glanville Mr James Glanville , Consett

I will finish. Do not worry, son. As soon as they set up working men's clubs and start to sell their own beer, they will co-operatively solve the problem because nobody on earth can deny that the brewers are millionaires, with their friends on the other side of the House. The working men's club and institute movement is a movement which will save the working class in this country. We spend our money in sending the old people to the seaside for a holiday. We spend it on giving them tea parties and trips to the country. The profits from the working men's clubs go there, while the profits from the breweries go into the pockets of the Tory Party.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I am afraid I cannot follow the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) into the somewhat intriguing possibilities which he has placed before us and which certainly indicate to people of certain tastes the tourist attractions of the county of Durham. The Clause is simply a Clause to continue for a further four years the import duties on hops which since 1925 has been continued for four-yearly periods by a succession of Governments. The effect of the Amendment would simply be to provide that the continuation of those duties should be for a period of one year instead of four years.

I am sorry if the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) regretted what he called my conspicuous silence on the Clause on Second Reading. I can only call in aid that had I dealt separately in that speech with every one of the Clauses of the Bill, I should still be speaking. I am sorry if I hurt his feelings by not dealing with this Clause.

One of the reasons it has not attracted very much attention is that it is simply a Clause to continue a state of affairs which has lasted since 1925—for 28 years. It is not a revenue tax. The revenue obtainable is very small—not quite as small as the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) seemed to think, but not of great significance. It always has been, and has been intended to be, a protective duty to protect the home producer of hops, to give him a margin of protection against the import of foreign hops. That has been its purpose and is the purpose of continuing it, as we suggest it should be continued, for a further period of four years—to continue that protection and at the same time to give the home producer the sense of security which its continuation for such a fixed period as this will undoubtedly give. That was the view taken by previous Governments—in this case a wholly sensible view—and we suggest that, as in certain parts of the country this is a matter of considerable interest to those who earn their living in hop production, the protection ought to be continued for a further period of four years.

4.15 p.m.

We do not believe that the arrangements to which the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch referred in connection with the Hops Marketing Board destroy the desirability of giving the security which a preference duty of this sort will give to the producers. Hon. Members will appreciate that in this, as in many other forms of agricultural production, it is highly desirable that the producer should be able to plan for a year or two ahead. That is the reason for the period of four years which we suggest and which is the subject matter of the Amendment. It is perhaps not as interesting a subject matter as some topics which have been mentioned by way of illustration in the course of the argument but it is the issue posed by the Amendment.

We have considered carefully the future of this small, but, to those concerned at least, not unimportant form of agricultural production, and we have come to the conclusion that the degree of security which the continuation for four years would give is, in all the circumstances, justifiable. We feel that it would be wrong to put the producers in a position of alarm and uncertainty which a lesser continuation would undoubtedly create. That is all there is to it, but may I once again apologise to the hon. Member for Islington, East for not having spent some minutes of my Second Reading speech on it, perhaps in lieu of something else?

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I am bound to say that the Financial Secretary has given an extremely disappointing reply. He seemed to me not to have attempted to answer the extremely cogent arguments of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). Consequently, I am afraid I must press the arguments again. It is perfectly true, and my hon. and learned Friend made the point emphatically, that there is no revenue interest in this Clause. It may be described as small beer. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I think it is reasonable to make a very minor comment—I will not call it a joke, but a humorous comment—in the early stages of these proceedings.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

This protective duty was originally introduced by the present Prime Minister before there was any control scheme. It is not denied that we have at present a very rigorous form of control. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) completely misunderstood what my hon. and learned Friend said. As I understand my hon. and learned Friend, he was in no way criticising the present arrangements made between the Hops Marketing Board and the farmers. He was saying that those arrangements make this duty completely unnecessary, and as we believe there are certain disadvantages here in connection with exports, we would have thought that on balance it was a matter for grave doubt as to whether the duty should be continued.

The Financial Secretary has not challenged my hon. and learned Friend's figures. My hon. and learned Friend said that the agreement made between the farmers and the Hops Marketing Board was that no foreign imports beyond 1,000 cwt. should be purchased until after the whole of the English crop had been purchased, so that in effect it would normally be the case that the total imports would be limited to 1,000 cwt. The duty has no significance, therefore, from a revenue angle, but equally it has virtually no significance from the protection angle. The protection is provided by the agreement which the Hops Marketing Board has made and which ensures that the brewers do not import hops except to this completely minimal extent.

In the circumstances, I am sure that my hon. Friend was perfectly right to ask whether we still need the duty. What conceivable purpose can there be in it? He drew attention to the fact, which I do not think the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) really controverted, that if there were a bad crop here we should be bound to buy more foreign hops, and that there would then be a quite considerable increase in the price, and presumably in the price of beer, because of the duty. That would not be the intention of the Government, I suppose. They would not mind hops coming into the country if the crop here failed. Why, then, keep the duty, which will be effective in circumstances when we do not want it to be effective?

There is the point about the repercussions on our trade agreements with other countries. The Chancellor is often telling us how anxious he is to encourage a free flow of trade—I think that is the phrase he generally uses—between the different countries. We will not introduce at this point our controversies about dollar trade and non-dollar trade. Let us assume we are talking about European trade. There are almost continual discussions about tariffs with our European friends. Surely it would be some concession, some reassurance, to them if we were to offer a reduction in the tariff here against a reduction in the tariff which is, no doubt, imposed in other countries on our own hops. That might be a very valuable way of increasing the free flow of trade, if not in hops, then, by extension, in fuel economy appliances. I am sure the hon. Member for Kidderminster will not mind my suggesting that we have an interest in exporting such things, and in getting some concession of this kind for that purpose.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Kidderminster

What the right hon. Gentleman will not seem to understand is that we have a surplus capacity in this country for growing hops. The Hops Marketing Board last year imposed a quota of 87½ per cent. The other 12½ per cent. was not wanted in spite of the export trade. Therefore, it is totally unnecessary to import hops.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Then it is totally unnecessary to have the import duty, because we are not importing any hops. Why, then, have the duty? I should have thought that by now the hon. Member would have understood what the argument was. I am afraid I must abandon him, for he is quite incorrigible.

I ask the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor to look at this matter again. They have given us no answer. The Financial Secretary comes here with a brief that clearly does not cover the points raised by my hon. Friend. I can well understand his embarrassment in the circumstances, but in the circumstances I think that the right thing for him to have done would have been to say, "These are interesting new suggestions which have been made, and in the circumstances, while I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn, we will undertake to have another look at this matter and bring it up again on Report." I should have thought that that would have been a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

I ask for that reconsideration now. If the Financial Secretary is not authorised to speak, perhaps the Chancellor himself will say a few words about it. My hon. Friend put forward a perfectly serious argument. We have had no answer from the Treasury Bench, and I think we are entitled to have an answer.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman feels that his hon. Friend's argument did not have the attention which it deserved. Surely the position is this. What the hon. Gentleman was seeking to argue, and what, indeed, as I understood him, the right hon. Gentleman himself was seeking to argue, was that the existence of the Hops Marketing Scheme and of the agreements made there under entirely removed the necessity for any protective duty. I think I summarise the argument accurately. I tried to say before, and I gladly say again, that an agreement of that sort, though it plays a valuable part in providing a proper degree of stimulus for this form of agricultural production, is not, in our view, an adequate substitute for a preference duty, and for this reason.

There is an agreement on prices which, to bring it into effect each year, has to be agreed annually. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has fully appreciated that. The agreement, therefore, that becomes operative is a complete agreement only on an annual basis. It is surely clear to the right hon. Gentleman and to his hon. Friends that, as a safeguard for a form of agricultural production which requires to be planned for some years ahead, that is not necessarily sufficient. We hope that this agreement will continue. Nothing I say is designed to cast any doubt upon this being a thoroughly sensible agreement, which I understand the Minister of Agriculture approves.

It is no good saying, in the case of production that has to be planned some years ahead, that, having attained that, we can throw away the protection by tariff which has existed for 20 years. Although what I have said, as I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree, is only an extension of the perhaps unduly telescoped argument I addressed to the Committee before, I would suggest to him that if we are to maintain this form of agricultural production, and the confidence of those engaged in it, so that they may continue to work and if necessary to develop that particular form of production, it is really necessary to reinforce the agreement on this yearly basis by some degree of tariff protection. Successive Governments have thought this necessary in recent years.

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish quite wantonly to put this small form of agricultural production into the state of mind where it becomes uncertain and unhappy about its future. I must suggest to him that the argument he has used, and the Amendment in support of which he has used it, would have directly that effect, and for that reason I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think it necessary to press it.

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

I intervene again only because quite clearly the Financial Secretary has spoken without either having read the agreement or understanding it. He says this agreement is on a year-to-year basis. Does he not realise what Clause 19 says? Clause 19 of this agreement says: This agreement shall operate for a period of seven years beginning on 1st April, 1950, or for such shorter period as the hops marketing scheme may be operative. In every other debate that we have had on this subject the Minister of Agriculture has been here to deal with these problems. It is really a grave discourtesy to the Committee that there is nobody here from the agricultural side to speak. Here we have an agreement made by the Minister of Agriculture. It is an agreement between the Brewers' Society and the Hops Marketing Board, and is a part, as it were, of the law, because this is an agreement which is made under the Hops Marketing Scheme.

As I understand the White Paper that was produced at the time when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) was Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Agriculture undertook that if at any time the Brewers' Society were unable to enforce their side of the agreement—and the Brewers' Society claim to represent now 95 per cent. or so of the brewing capacity in this country—there would be an order by the Minister. We have no representative of the Ministry of Agricul- ture here, but as I understand the position, it can be statutorily enforced.

The Financial Secretary should tell us whether I am right or whether I am wrong. It is a difficult agreement to construe, but if I am right, then the Government, provided they maintain the Hops Marketing Scheme, can maintain for the next seven years an agreement by which never more than 1,000 cwt. of hops can be imported in any one year. How, then, can they possibly say that a duty which is to last for only four years is a better protection than an agreement which is going to run for seven? In the absence of the Minister of Agriculture, I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree to reconsider this Clause. Let him take it back and consider whether I am right in my view of the nature of the agreement, and, if I am, I ask him to reconsider the duty on the Report stage.

4.30 p.m.

I remind the Financial Secretary once again that in the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933, under which this scheme is made, such quantitative limitation was assumed by the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain as likely to be made. He said that if such an arrangement were made, then the tax ought to be reviewed. Why cannot it be looked at again under the same terms as those suggested by Mr. Chamberlain in 1933? We do not ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to do anything revolutionary but only what Mr. Chamberlain would have done in 1933. That is not asking them to go very far. I make a final appeal that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should look at the matter again.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not wish to mislead, but he will be aware that under the agreement it is necessary for the price to be agreed annually. If it is not, then a different situation arises. Though the agreement is valuable, it is misleading to suggest that it can wholly take the place of a statutory protection. If the hon. and learned Gentleman really wishes that this industry should continue to operate in the atmosphere of confidence which it ought to have if it is to operate successfully, there can be no conceivable objection to maintaining for the further four-year period the protective duty in the shadow of which this industry has established itself.

In the circumstances, it seems unnecessary to pursue the argument about what happens if the agreement breaks down. All that it is necessary to establish is that the agreement is not a complete substitute for a protective duty. I submit that it has not been established that we can yet dispense with the protective tariff with the confidence that it gives to the producer.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and I both made what I thought

was a very reasonable proposition to the Government that this matter should be looked at again. I do not think that the Financial Secretary really understood at first what my hon. and learned Friend was saying or that he anticipated the argument. He has given no reply which satisfies me on the matter. Therefore, if my hon. Friends feel disposed to divide the Committee, I certainly advise hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to follow them.

Question put, "That' fifty-seven' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 272; Noes, 258.

Division No. 174.]AYES[4.35 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Deedes, W. F.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Digby, S. WingfieldHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Alport, C. J. M.Dodds-Parker, A. D.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Jennings, R.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Donner, P. W.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Arbuthnot, JohnDrayson, G. B.Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Drewe, G.Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Astor, Hon. J. J.Duthie, W. S.Kaberry, D.
Baker, P. A. D.Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.Keeling, Sir Edward
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Kerr, H. W.
Baldwin, A. E.Erroll, F. J.Lambert, Hon. G.
Banks, Col. C.Finlay, GraemeLancaster, Col. C. G.
Barber, AnthonyFisher, NigelLaw, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Barlow, Sir JohnFleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Leather, E. H. C.
Baxter, A. B.Fletcher-Cooke, C.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Beach, Maj. HicksFord, Mrs. PatriciaLegh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonFort, R.Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Foster, JohnLindsay, Martin
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Llewellyn, D T.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.) Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David MaxwellLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Bennett, William (Woodside)Gammans, L. D.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Gamer-Evans, E. H.Longden, Gilbert
Birch, NigelGeorge, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLow, A. R. W.
Bishop, F.P.Glyn, Sir RalphLucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Black, C. W.Godber, J. B.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Boothby, R. J. G.Gough, C. F. H.Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bossom, A. C.Gower, H. R.McAdden, S. J.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Graham, Sir FergusMcCallum, Major D.
Boyle, Sir EdwardGridley, Sir ArnoldMacdonald, Sir Peter
Braine, B. R.Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)McKibbin, A. J.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)Harden, J. R. E.Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Brooman-White, R. C.Hare, Hon. J. H.Maclean, Fitzroy
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Harris, Frederic (Croyden, N.)Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)
Bullard, D. G.Harris, Reader (Heston)MacLeod, John (Ress and Cromarty)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Burden, F. F. A.Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Butcher, Sir HerbertHarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Butler Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Hay, JohnMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Campbell, Sir DavidHead, Rt. Hon. A. H.Markham, Major S. F.
Carr, RobertHeald, Sir LionelMarlowe, A. A. H.
Cary, Sir RobertHeath, EdwardMarples, A. E.
Channon, H.Higgs, J. M. C.Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir WinstonHill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMaude, Angus
Cole, NormanHirst, GeoffreyMaudling, R.
Colegate, W. A.Holland-Martin, C. J.Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Hollis, M. C.Medlicott, Brig. F.
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHope, Lord JohnMellor, Sir John
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Cranborne, ViscountHorobin, I. M.Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Horsbrough, Rt. Hon. FlorenceMott-Radclyfle, C E.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. 0. E.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Nabarro, G. D. N.
Crouch, R. F.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Nicholls, Harmar
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwoed)Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Davidson, ViscountessHurd, A. R.Nield, Basil (Chester)
Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Roper, Sir HaroldThompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Nugent, G. R. H.Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardThompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Nutting, AnthonyRussell, R. S.Thorneyecroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Oakshott, H. D.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Odey, G. W.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurTilney, John
O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Touche, Sir Gordon
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasTurner, H. F. L.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Turton, R. H.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Scott, R. DonaldVane, W. M. F.
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Osborne, C.Shepherd, WilliamVosper, D. F.
Partridge, E.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Peake, Rt. Hon. o.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
Perkins, W. R. D.Smither, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Walker-Smith, D. C.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Peyton, J. W. W.Snadden, W. McN.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Pickthorn, K. W. M.Soames, Capt. C.Walerhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Spearman, A. C. M.Watkinson, H. A.
Pitman, I. J.Speir, R. M.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Powell, J. EnochSpens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)Wellwood, W.
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardWilliams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Profumo, J. D.Stevens, G. P.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Raikes, Sir VictorSteward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Rayner, Brig. R.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Redmayne, M.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Rees-Davies, W. R.Storey, S.Wills, G.
Remnant, Hon. P.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Renton, D. L. M.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Wood, Hon. R.
Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Summers, G. S.York, C.
Robertson, Sir DavidSutcliffe, Sir Harold
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Robson-Brown, W.Teeling, W.Mr. Studholme and
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.
Acland, Sir RichardDavies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)
Adams, RichardDavies, Harold (Leek)Herbison, Miss M.
Albu, A. H.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Hobson, C. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)de Freitas, GeoffreyHolman, P.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Deer, G.Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Delargy, H. J.Houghton, Douglas
Awbery, S. S.odds, N. N.Hoy, J. H.
Bacon, Miss AliceDonnelly, D. L.Hudson, James (Eating, N.)
Baird, J.Driberg, T. E. N.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Balfour, A.Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bartley, P.Edelman, M.Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Edwards, John (Brighouse)Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Bence, C. R.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Bann, Hon. WedgwoodEdwards, W. J. (Stepney)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A
Benson, G.Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Janner, B.
Beswick, F.Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Jeger, George (Goole)
Bing, G. H. C.Fienburgh, W.Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)
Blackburn, F.Finch, H. J.Johnson, James (Rugby)
Blenkinsop, A.Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Blyton, W. R.Follick, M.Jones, T. W (Merioneth)
Boardman, H.Foot, M. M.Keenan, W.
Bowden, H. W.Forman, J. C.Kenyon, C.
Bowen, E. R.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethFreeman, John (Watford)King, Dr. H. M.
Brockway, A. F.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Kinley, J.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Gibson, C. W.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Glanville, JamesLewis, Arthur
Burke, W. A.Gooch, E. G.Lindgren, G. S.
Burton, Miss F. E.Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Logan, D. G.
Callaghan, L. J.Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)MacColl, J. E
Carmichael, J.Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.McGhee, H. G
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Grey, C. F.McGovern, J
Champion, A. J.Griffiths, David (Rotter Valley)Mclnnes, J.
Chapman, W. D.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)McKay, John (Wallsend)
Chetwynd, G. R.Griffiths, William (Exchange)McLeavy, F.
Clunie, J.Grimond, J.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Coldrick, W.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Collick, P. H.Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Mainwarning, W. H.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Hamilton, W. W.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Crosland, C. A. R.Hannan, W.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Cullen, Mrs. A.Hargreaves, A.Mann, Mrs. Jean
Dames, P.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Manuel, A. C.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Hastings, S.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Hayman, F. H.Mason, Roy
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Mayhew, C. P
Mellish, R. J.Raid, Thomas (Swindon)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Messer, F.Reid, William (Camlachie)Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W>
Mitkardo, IanRhodes, H.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Mitchison, G. R.Richards, R.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Monslow, W.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Moody, A. S.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Thornton, E.
Morley, R.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Thurtle, Ernest
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Timmont, J.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Tomney, F.
Mort, D. L.Ross, WilliamUsborne, H. C.
Moyle, A.Royle, C.Vianl, S. P.
Mulley, F. W.Shackleton, E. A. A.Wade, D. W.
Murray, J. D.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Wallace, H. W
Nally, W.Short, E. W.Watkins, T. E.
Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Shurmer, P. L. E.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Oldfield, W. H.Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Wells, William (Walsall)
Oliver, G. H.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)West, D. G.
Orbach, M.Skeffington, ArthurWheeldon, W. E.
Oswald, T.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Padley, W. E.Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Paget, R. T.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Wigg, George
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Sorensen, R. W.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Pannell, CharlesSoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWilley, F. T.
Paton, J.Sparks, J. A.Williams, David (Neath)
Pearson, A.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Peart, T. F.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Plummer, Sir LeslieStrachey, Rt. Hon. J.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Popplewell, E.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Porter, G.Stross, Or. BarnettWinterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C)
Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Price, Phillips (Gloucestershire, W.)Swingler, S. T.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Proctor, W. T.Sylvester, G. 0.Wyatt, W. L.
Pryde, D. J.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)Yates, V. F.
Pursey, Cmdr. H.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Rankin, JohnTaylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Reeves, J.Thomas, David (Aberdare)Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Arthur Allen.

Question put, and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Photo of Major Geoffrey Bing Major Geoffrey Bing , Hornchurch

I should like to say a few words now that we fortunately have the presence of the Prime Minister. It would be ungracious of me not to congratulate him on the retention of the duties which he imposed in 1925 and to commiserate with him on the fact that they are now carrying out the opposite purposes to those for which he imposed them. It would be a pity if the Committee were to pass this Clause under any misapprehension as a result of the recent speech of the Financial Secretary.

Of course, there cannot possibly be any disagreement by the committee on the price of hops because the matter is decided by a majority and there are two independent members of it appointed by the Minister of Agriculture. This committee has been persuaded to deal with this matter by the Financial Secretary who does not appear to have read any of the agreements which deal with it, who is not the Minister responsible for it and who knows nothing about it, but who has had the misfortune to misinform hon. Members on every single matter on which he has spoken.

I would call his attention to what he said in the Brewers' Almanack: The agreement provides for the average price of the whole crop to be fixed each season by the Permanent Joint Hops Committee"— which, of course, the Minister can control because he appoints independent members who can fix the price on one side or the other. Then it goes in a great deal of detail into the principle on which the price is fixed.

The whole of the argument upon which the Committee have been persuaded to extend this provision for four years is based on a misapprehension for which the Financial Secretary is responsible. In those circumstances, I hope that, now that the Prime Minister is here and in charge of the ship again, he will intervene. After all, it was he who imposed the tax in the first place. It has fulfilled all the purposes which it was intended to do; it is now doing exactly the opposite of what the right hon. Gentleman intended, and in those circumstances it is very unfortunate that it should be continued.

If I may make this final appeal to the Prime Minister, now that he is here— I see that the right hon. Gentleman is now leaving us. I appreciate that he realises that I was about to refer to the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain. I was only going to make this final appeal to the Committee—that here is a matter on which it would be possible to reconcile the Prime Minister and Mr. Neville Chamberlain. If we could achieve that and also reconcile the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary, we would be welding together the party opposite, because it was when the Foreign Secretary resigned that the Chancellor saw fit to follow Mr. Neville Chamberlain. Here is a chance, on beer, where they can come together again. I think that for the sake of the amity of the party opposite the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to agree to reconsider the Clause.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.