May I congratulate the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw) on what, as far as I know, is his first appearance on the Opposition Front Bench. He argued his case with deep earnestness and as much plausibility as the terms of his Amendment permitted. The Amendment combines a high degree of impractibility with a high degree of undesirability.
Let us examine the tedious detail, not of the drafting, but of the practicality of what the hon. Member proposes. He proposes, in effect, that companies with a turnover not exceeding £500,000 should be exempted from the import deposit. How are we to know whether a company is going to have a turnover of only £500,000? He does not want us to go through the books of a company afterwards, so at the time of importation we will be admitting goods free of duty on the say-so of the importer alone. One can look at the turnover in the year of exemption, but the hon. Member is faced with a serious difficulty. The importers would come in and assure me earnestly that they did not expect to have a turnover of more than £500,000, but then they might have a turnover of several million pounds. Then the bird is flown, the goods are imported and there is nothing we can do about it. The Act will have expired by the end of a year.
The hon. Member does not argue that it is possible to do what his Amendment purports to do: to exempt firms who, after the deposit scheme comes into force, have a turnover of only £500,000. He is driven to go back to the past and not to rely on the present.