Originally created 03/15/04

Parliament takes up feared Norwegian Easter egg crisis



OSLO, Norway -- A few Norwegian lawmakers cackled aloud Wednesday as a fellow legislator demanded the government clarify its plans to overcome a feared Easter egg crisis.

A new law cuts the number of days a store can keep eggs on the shelf from 40 days to 28. That prompted the egg industry to warn there might not be enough eggs for the Easter holiday.

Coloring and hunting Easter eggs are popular pastimes among Norwegian children.

Oeystein Hedstroem, of the right-wing Party of Progress, found the threatened shortage so profound that he raised it in the lawmakers' weekly question-and-answer session with the government.

"We lack 3.3 million eggs," Hedstroem said. "Will the minister of agriculture lower import duties during that period if Norwegian suppliers can't meet demand?"

Agriculture Minister Lars Sponheim, unable to keep a straight face, was summoned by the president of the parliament to answer.

"President, it could be tempting to say that every man should have a hen, and then this would be solved," Sponheim said, creating a murmur of laughter in the usually somber parliament.

"Hens generally lay one egg per day, and not significantly more during holidays. And that means they have a little problem meeting the holidays and peaks," he said, as giggles became howls of laughter.

"The government will contribute, to the best of its ability, to the Norwegian people getting eggs at Easter," Sponheim promised to sustained laughter.