HC Deb 12 March 1919 vol 113 cc1285-6

asked the Food Controller the policy of his Department with respect to the distribution of milk; whether any instructions have been issued to local food control committees to undertake or to arrange with public and other bodies and organisations to take over all such distribution; whether the State bears all losses in respect to such work; whether he can give any figures to show the result hitherto of such trading; and what recognition he proposes to make of the serious position of the retail trade itself which is thus affected?


The policy of the Ministry of Food with respect to the distribution of milk is to secure as adequate a supply as possible to all consumers at a rate which provides a fair remuneration to the producer and to the distributor for the work involved. Under the system now obtaining food control committees are authorised, subject to the concurrence of the Food Controller, to fix maximum retail prices for their districts, and in the event of refusal on the part of distributors to accept the prices fixed, are empowered to make their own temporary arrangements for ensuring distribution to consumers. No figures showing the result of such arrangements are yet available; but these powers have only been exercised by food control committees in a comparatively small number of cases. Any loss which may accrue is borne by the local authority. As regards the last part of the question, I am fully aware of the valuable services rendered in general by the retail trade, and no action is being taken by my Department which injures the present legitimate business of the retailer who complies with the regulations of the Department.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the food control committee in Manchester has put the retail distributor of milk out of business, under, as they say, instructions from his Department, and, if so, what compensation is going to be given to these people who have been put out of trade?


My attention has not been called to the action of the local committee. I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman will furnish me with particulars.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at Derby the. Co-operative society could have retailed milk at a figure much less than that fixed by the local committee?


No, Sir.