Protein Deposit and Private Storage Aid

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1976.

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Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , West Derbyshire 12:00 am, 12th April 1976

There can be no doubt about the feeling of the House towards these proposals. I am not certain that the Minister completely understands that the House does not sympathise with what he is doing. It is strange that we should be discussing two Documents, one of which—the protein deposit scheme—has been brought into operation in two stages, on 19th March and 31st March. The second scheme, concerning storage aid, will not come into operation as yet. The Minister and his colleagues must take decisions on it at the next agriculture meeting of the Council of Ministers some time at the beginning of May, after the Commission has revised previous proposals following their rejection by the European Parliament last Thursday—as the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) knows, for she was there.

It is only right that the Minister should state his intentions. Here we have a Document which has been brought into operation in two stages. The deposits scheme came into operation on 19th and 31st March. I shall not venture an opinion on whether it is ultra vires, as my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) said, according to Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome. It is quite possible that it is. Whether it is ultra vires for Ministers to have taken a decision before they reconsulted the European Parliament, which never saw this scheme of deposits, is another question, which once again I do not think we want to argue out now. It will be argued out at a later stage, presumably within the European Parliament. There are two issues, and on both it could be ultra vires.

Nevertheless, this House is about to disapprove of this scheme. Frankly, I do not see how the Minister can continue operating it if the House disagrees with it. He must tell the House—or perhaps the Leader of the House would care to intervene in the short time available—exactly what is to happen. If the House accepts my right hon. Friend's amendment and disapproves the scheme, perforce the Minister would have to come back to the House with a different scheme and ask for approval again and this scheme could not be continued.