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Shona McIsaac: I am intrigued by what my hon. Friend says about finding Welsh products in Spain. However, could not British products such as Welsh lamb be exported to other European countries, slaughtered and then labelled Spanish, French or whatever?
Mr. Bryant: That is an important point. The Bill will make it more difficult for my constituents involved in livestock or packaged products to sell their produce elsewhere in the EU. The pop factory in Porth once used to produce Corona. Hon. Members may remember the slogan
Mr. Bryant: No, that was for another product. The slogan was, "Every bubble's passed its fizzical." Unfortunately, the pop factory has gone the way of all mortal flesh, although it has been replaced by an extremely successful television studio. However, we still have one of the most successful ice cream manufacturers in the country, Mr. Creamy, in Tonypandy.
Mr. Bryant: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I will try my best. One of the problems that the Bill tries to rectify is that of misleading information on packaging and goods, suggesting that a piece of meat is Welsh when, in fact, it turns out to be from Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Poland or Hungary. That is not as important as the fact that most packaging is almost unintelligible, containing lengthy recitations of different elements inside a product, leaving one none the wiser. I am hesitant about the Bill because of the temptation to create an overly bureaucratic system.
The Bill misses the point because we genuinely need a fully European answer to the question of food labelling. We do not just need a one-country answer. The matter is important to my constituents who are trying to sell their products elsewhere in Europe. We must consider not only whether the Bill would achieve anything legallyI understand that it is in contravention of several articles of the treaty of Rome, as amended by the treaty of Amsterdambut whether we are doing our best for our constituents who have businesses to run. I am confident that the Government are moving towards a fully European answer and are pushing, through the EU, to ensure that we have a system that gives everybody the full information that people need when shopping in Tesco, Sainsbury, or wherever.
We need a robust legal answer to those points, but I do not think that the Bill is legally robust. It is not robust when one considers the treaty of Rome or the definition in clause 2 of "each major ingredient".
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: Given the hon. Gentleman's important point that he believes the Bill to be legally flawed, I should be grateful if he told us about his background. Perhaps he is qualified in the law. I am unaware of the authority with which he makes the assertion.
Mr. Bryant: I did not know that it was customary in the House to ask about hon. Members' backgrounds. However, I was head of European affairs for the BBC, so I have some passing acquaintance with the legislation to which we are referring.
(a) on the food's packaging;
(b) on a label attached to the food's packaging;"
Mr. Pickles: I have enjoyed the hon. Gentleman's speech and he has been most courteous in giving way, but I am still bemused. I think that he referred to article 217; I may have misheard. I do not understand the point that he is making on that article. My understanding is that the articles of concern to the Government are 28, 29 and 30 andI think36. As he may be making an important point about article 217, I would be grateful if he clarified it.
Mr. Bryant: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving me an opportunity to clarify the position. It is article 226. That article would mean that the European Commission could rule against the UK on the matter, and article 227 would mean that other member states could bring a complaint against the UK.
Mr. Pickles: This is clearly an important point. That was precisely the article under which the Commission acted with regard to British beef, poultry in Germany and French pigs, so I think that the hon. Gentleman has rather undermined his case. We are clearly within article 226that is why I was looking bemused. Now I am beginning to feel more confident that we are within articles 28, 29, 30 and 36.
Mr. Bryant: I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. If the Bill were to become an Act, it would be open to challenge by the European Commission under article 226 and by other member states under article 227. As I am sure he knows, the numbers of all the articles change, so he may have confused himself a little.
Mr. Pickles: I hardly think that I would get confused by a change in numbering from the low 20s to the upper 200s, but the hon. Gentleman has undermined his case. I reiterate: the Commission acts according to precedent and it has created a clear precedent with British beef, French pork and German poultry. I am confident that the measure can get through. [Interruption.] It is no use the Minister shaking his head because the Government were wrong last time on British beef. He got the same advice last time. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. They should give the Bill a chance for the sake of British farmers.
Mr. Pickles: The hon. Gentleman would be right if article 28 referred to quantitative restrictions, but it refers to quantitative restrictions on imports, and there are no quantitative restrictions on imports in the Bill.
Mr. Bryant: The point is that the article is not just on imports, but on trade. [Hon. Members: "No."] It is. It is about restrictions on trade between member statesclearly, imports are a form of trade between member statesand measures of equivalent effect. If we change the labelling that has to be used in this country, we are by definition affecting the trading relations with other countries in the European Union. That is what then becomes subject to potential challenge under articles 226 or 227.