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Polish Eggs

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the President of the Board of Trade when he received a communication from the National Farmers' Union asking him to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland; and what period elapsed between the receipt of this communication and his acceptance of the formal application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish eggs.

The Board of Trade was asked on 30th March to ascertain the internal price of eggs in Poland. The application for anti-dumping measures to be applied to the import of Polish and Roumanian eggs was received on 19th April and accepted for full investigation on the following day. Before a full investigation can be made, there must be some evidence not only of dumping but also of material injury to the affected industry.

Could my right hon. Friend give some idea of what went on between 30th March and 19th April? Is he aware that his reply indicates that it took twenty-seven days to come to a decision on the matter, by which time tens of thousands of Polish eggs had been dumped in this country?

I think that my hon. Friend ought to ask the National Farmers' Union what it was doing in that period, because that was the time between its request to us to ascertain the price and the date of the application. It would not be appropriate for him to add those days to the short period of nine days which we required for our investigation and decision.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there is nevertheless something very unsatisfactory about the anti-dumping procedure in connection with trade with Iron Curtain countries? Would not he admit that it is very difficult for producers to establish whether dumping is taking place or not in view of State trading and other conditions that exist in these countries? Will my right hon. Friend have an inquiry made into the whole anti-dumping system?

It is, of course, difficult for private individuals and organisations to establish these prices and that is why we give all the help we can. That is why the National Farmers' Union approached us on 31st March, to find out the internal price. As for anti-dumping legislation in general, I ask my hon. Friend to remember that we operate in accordance with a Statute passed by this House. While that may have certain defects in my hon. Friend's eyes, in our view it represents a reasonable compromise between conflicting interests.

Is it not remarkable that hon. Members opposite get hot under the collar about the importation of Polish eggs but not a word issues from their lips about the importation of American coal?

I think that my hon. Friends are perfectly right to make known the views of their constituents on an important matter in this House just as hon. Members opposite make known the views of their own constituents.