HC Deb 27 March 1922 vol 152 cc956-7
82. Lieut. - Colonel BELL

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that, owing to the fall in milk prices, many of the ex-service men recently settled on the land are now faced with ruin; and whether, in view of the plight of these ex-soldiers and the waste of public money that must result if these smallholders are ruined, the Government has any policy to help them through this crisis?


I am aware that smallholders who depend for their livelihood primarily on dairying will be seriously prejudiced by the fall in wholesale milk prices. I am giving the matter the most careful consideration, and my hon. and gallant Friend may rely on the Ministry considering sympathetically proposals with regard to the abatement of rent in all cases of serious hardship, but it is quite impossible for the Government to adopt any policy for subsidising the production of milk either by smallholders or large farmers.


Is the right hon. Gentleman investigating the charges made by these retailers, and are not the retailers getting a far larger proportion of the milk prices than the producers?


I have personally interviewed several of the big retailers on the subject, but, of course, I have no power to intervene to control prices in any way, nor do I think that it would be desirable that I should do so.


What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do, then?


asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the fact that a combination of milk distributors has already announced the retail price of summer milk supplies, although contracts have only been entered into with producers in isolated cases; and whether, in view of the manner in which cost of production is ignored by the combination, he will bear that circumstance in mind when considering any amendment of the Milk and Dairies (Consolidation) Act, 1915, so that no additional charges may be imposed upon producers?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Alfred Mond)

Yes, Sir. I am very desirous of avoiding any measures which would add to the cost of production of milk.

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