§ 91. Mr. BARNES
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention had 197 been specially directed to the recently inflated price of milk in London; is he aware that in certain districts the dealers are charging 6d. per quart, and that such price is unduly high, as proved by the fact that in other districts 5d. only is charged; will he take steps to ascertain the recent increased cost of production, if any, due to increased cost of fodder and labour, and take such steps as will limit the increased cost to the consumer to such increased cost, if any, of production and distribution; whether he has any official information showing that milk is being withheld from the market and given to pigs; and will he take steps, in conjunction with the Board of Agriculture, to see that that practice should be made punishable?
I am aware that in certain London districts the price of milk has recently been raised from 5d. to 6d. per quart, the price which has been in vogue in certain other districts for several months. The Board of Trade, in conjunction with the Board of Agriculture, have been following the course of milk prices with careful attention. They have also obtained certain data regarding the cost of production and distribution, but, as stated in the report of the Departmental Committee on Prices "it is admittedly a very difficult thing to state accurately the cost of production of a gallon of milk." Several of the recommendations contained in that report deal, however, with the question of milk prices, and immediate action will be taken on these where practicable. With a view to enabling dairy farmers to meet the strain of work during the winter, the further calling up of their men for military service has been deferred, and it is expected that they will respond by offering their milk on terms which will not involve any further rise in retail prices. As regards the last part of the question, I have no information of incidents such as that described, and I do not think it can represent any general practice. If my hon. Friend will bring to my notice any such cases of which he has knowledge, I will consult my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture as to the matter.
§ Mr. BARNES
Would the right hon. Gentleman say what he means by "where practicable," and might I draw his attention to a circular issued by the Christ-church Branch of the Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset Farmers' Association in which 198 the farmers are recommended, if the dairymen will not come to terms, to give the milk to the pigs for a time?
No, Sir, I have not heard of that circular. If my right hon. Friend will let me have a copy of it I will inquire into it.
§ 51. Mr. D. MASON
asked the Prime Minister whether he will give a day to discuss the Report of the Committee on the rise in food prices?
§ 55. Mr. H. SMITH
also asked whether an early opportunity will be afforded the House to discuss the interim Report of the Board of Trade Committee on food supplies?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I will deal with these questions in the statement which I shall make on the business for next week.