HC Deb 04 April 1922 vol 152 cc2029-30
72. Mr. G. EDWARDS

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the price offered to farmers for milk for the first six summer months is 8d. per gallon and that 2d., the cost of carriage, has to be deducted, leaving to the producer only 6d. per gallon, whereas the price to the consumer has been fixed at 1s. 8d. per gallon, or double the price received by the producer; and if he is in a position to take steps to bring about a more equitable relation as to the prices between the producer and the distributor?

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Sir Arthur Boscawen)

I am aware that a price of 8d. per gallon has been offered to producers, and that 5d. per quart has been mentioned as the probable retail price in London. The cost of carriage will, of course, vary with the distance. As regards the latter part of the question, I mentioned, in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Devizes (Lieut.-Colonel Bell) on the 27th March, that I have personally interviewed several of the big retailers on the question of milk prices, but I have no power to control prices in any way.

75. Mr. HURD

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the range of milk prices agreed upon between the farmers of the south-western counties and the milk companies for the six summer months; and how the prices now given at the farms compare with those for the milk as delivered in London and also as paid by the consumer?


I can only make a very general statement on this subject. I am informed that in many cases contracts have not yet been settled, but that 8d. per gallon delivered into London is approximately the price which is being offered in the south-western counties. The prices offered by local factories appear to be the equivalent price after, deducting the cost of carriage to London, which naturally varies with the district. The price now being charged to the consumer is in most cases 5d. per quart, or 1s. 8d. per gallon, but I understand that milk is being sold at less than this figure in some places.


Does not a very serious situation arise if large numbers of these milk producers are driven out of the business because of the abnormally large margin between the price on the farm and the price to the consumer?


Yes, Sir, I think the situation is serious, and I have been giving it my most anxious attention, and have been in consultation with both producers and distributors. As I have already said, I have no power whatever to intervene to control prices or to fix prices.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Is it not the fact that summer time is increasing the cost of production, and making the situation much more difficult?