HC Deb 27 July 1933 vol 280 cc2912-44

10 p.m.


I beg to move, That the Scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Acts, 1931 and 1933, for regulating the marketing of milk, a draft of which was presented to this House on the 20th day of July, 1933, be approved. The milk marketing scheme is undoubtedly of great importance in the size of the subject which it covers, in the importance of the product in which it deals, in the attempt which is being made to organise this great section of British agriculture, and last, but not least, in the Parliamentary technique which has been evolved to deal with this and kindred problems. Let me take the last point first. The new technique which has been worked out to deal with these problems is our justification for asking the House to pass this stage of the Measure, at a somewhat later hour than I would have wished this important subject to be discussed. The volume of work thrown upon Parliament to-day is so great that it is essential that some scheme of devolution should be worked out, and in a way not uncharacteristic of our British constitutional development a departure along this line is found in the procedure the last stage of which is the presentation to Parliament to-night. This scheme, to which the House is asked to give its approval, has been the subject of many months of careful and detailed inquiry. It starts on the 18th April, 1932, when the Milk Reorganisation Commission under the Chairmanship of the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) was appointed.

That Commission examined the problem with the greatest skill, care and thoroughness, and presented its report on the 27th January last. The report, which affects producers of milk, was accepted in principle by the farmers' representatives, and on the 18th March they submitted to me their draft milk scheme, which was based on the scheme prepared by the Milk Commission, although it differed from it in certain details. On the 20th March there was a public notice of the submission of the scheme and those who were interested had notice of the period within which to make objections and representations. That period went on until the 2nd day in May. In the meantime, on the 12th of April, the representatives of the milk distributing and manufacturing organisations put before me their views with regard to the arrangements for price negotiations under the scheme. Subsequently I had discussions with their leading representatives, which culminated in an agreement in principle to a proposal which I made to them on the 12th May. This proposal was also agreed to by the National Farmers' Union.

On 11th May the statutory three weeks' notice of the holding of a public inquiry was published. The inquiry opened on 6th June and was continued until 29th June. After that, as the Statute requires, the chairman of this inquiry considered the objections and reported thereon to myself. The scheme was amended where necessary. The modifications were accepted by the promoters. The scheme was printed and laid before the House on 20th July. Therefore, the House will see that this scheme has been the subject, first, of the most exhaustive expert inquiry, and that all sorts of evidence was heard in private; secondly, the scheme was submitted and advertised and opportunity was given for all relevant observations and objections to be taken to the scheme; thirdly, a report upon this was considered by the Minister; and now the scheme itself is presented to the House.

It will be seen that the great mass of inquiry, of examination and of emendation which is represented by the last stages of procedure in this House, has been carried out to a large extent outside this House. Yet the scheme itself is not a scheme submitted to an outside authority; it is submitted to the Minister, and the Minister presents it to each House of Parliament, taking full responsibility for it. After that the scheme goes to the producers for a poll. Every milk producer in the country is to be asked, "Here is the scheme. Do you accept it or reject it?" That is an experiment in constitutional technique which merits attention from the point of view of Parliamentary usage and of that continuing reform of our Constitution which is the true glory of Parliament, and by which Parliament, keeping its hand on the essentials, can afford to have a great mass of details considered and reported upon by those who have more leisure than this House or the other House, with such a mighty weight of national and imperial problems to bear.

The scheme covers 90 paragraphs, and I make no excuse for that. It is a long document. It is not possible to carry through the reorganisation of an industry so intricate and vast as the milk industry in a few general principles. The producers are to be asked to vote for this scheme, if this House so sanctions. I understand that the other place has today already given its sanction. It is only fair and right that the details of the scheme as well as the general principles should be laid before the producers. The general principle of the scheme is that the milk industry is in a top-heavy and dangerous position because of the great difference in price paid for milk for manufacture and milk for liquid consumption. The organisation here suggested is an organis- ation by which that great difference can be levelled up.

The principle upon which the scheme will operate is that of a series of regional pools, 11 m number. The, regional committees, elected by the registered producers in the regions, are to advise a central board as to the working of the scheme in the regions. The registered producers, have, of course, as in the case of the bacon scheme, a certain number of statutory exemptions. Those who have not more than four milk cows, provided they do not sell milk by retail, are exempt. Those who do not carry on the business of selling milk otherwise than to their servants for domestic consumption, are also exempt. All other milk producers are registered; registration is a condition precedent to the sale of milk, although registration cannot be denied to any producer who desires to register. Within each of these 11 regions the producers will receive the same price for their milk irrespective of whether the milk is sold for liquid consumption or for manufacture. Premiums received by producers for milk above the ordinary standard of quality or for special services, will be passed on direct to the producers concerned.

Therefore it will be seen that the principle of the Bill is the principle of the registered producer selling his milk and receiving an equal price for his milk irrespective of the use to which it is to be put. Between these regions there will be an inter-regional compensation, because in certain areas where there is clearly a very large amount of milk going into manufacture it would be impossible to get a price which would be equitable for the producers in that region as against the producers in an area where a very large quantity is sold for liquid consumption.

It may be said, why have any of these arrangements at all? It was brought out by the great purchasers of milk that unless some scheme of reorganisation could be worked out and adopted, the surplus of liquid milk for manufacture, welling up from beneath the whole of this structure, would flood the market, and the price for liquid milk would be forced down to unremunerative levels, would wreck the chance of the producer of milk receiving even a replacement value for his milk, and certainly absolutely destroy every chance of his making any profit on the sale of his milk. I think that in the numerous examinations of this problem which we have had in the House, we have all come to accept the position, tacitly and indeed overtly, that that would be a disaster, not merely for the producer but for the consumer. The destruction of the remunerative price level is like the stopping of a clock or the running out of water which is not being replaced, and the remunerative price level, the replacement of the wastage which is inherent in the delivery of the product, is just as essential a factor in the consumer eventually enjoying that product, as is the actual delivery of the product to him, in this case as it may be, in the jug, the can or the churn.

If therefore we are agreed that the remunerative price level is threatened, as I say, with the crash of the liquid milk superstructure into the manufacturing milk basement, then we are driven back upon the problem of how to deal with that situation. The principle adopted for dealing with it is a principle of 11 regional pools, within which a levy is collected on the milk and that levy is used to level up the price within that region. That, of course, affects those who sell milk either to wholesalers or to their own clients. There is the producer retailer. It may be said that the producer retailer is short-circuited by this process and should be left outside but that is not so. The case of the producer retailer has been carefully examined by the Grigg Commission and he also is to be brought within the scope of the scheme. Why? Because he—or she—will equally suffer by the crash of the price of liquid milk. A flood of liquid milk such as might occur from the weight switching over from, let us say Cheshire cheese, might and would destroy the price level for the producer retailer as certainly as if the producer retailer were faced with the competition of a dozen other producer retailers suddenly springing up to serve the same area. Therefore, it is to the advantage of the producer retailer that he or she should come within the scheme also.

It seems to me, however, that, while it is desirable to give the House an admittedly brief survey of the proposals in the scheme, what the House will more particularly desire to ask is: What of the public? After all, the final responsibility does not lie with this House but with the producers. After this House has finished with the scheme it goes to the ballot of the producers and unless the producers accept it by a clear majority the scheme will not apply. Consequently the responsibility of this House is simply the responsibility of—I was going to say a grand jury, but I understand that some "sea change" has come over those ancient bodies—an assessing committee to see "Is this the sort of scheme that reasonably should be submitted to the producers," Then arises the question of the public and the House will rightly demand that it should know what are the protections for the public.

The protection for the public is twofold. First there is the position of the distributors who here are guardians of the public interest to the extent that a distributor naturally does not desire to see an unreasonably high price exacted for his product lest it may cause a falling-off of sales and the ruin of his industry at second-hand. That might hold, although we might say the producers with a statutory monopoly and the distributors ancilliary to this statutory monopoly could get together into a tight ring for the purpose of exploiting the public, and the long distance advantage which they should look to on getting the cheap product sold at prices which will enable a reasonable consumption to take place may not lie over, may not exceed, the immediate chance of profit which they may get by screwing up the price, collecting unreasonable sums of money, and taking, as many of us have done in our own lives, a short view, to our disadvantage in the long run. That may be left to correct itself in many walks of life, but here you are dealing with milk, which is more than an ordinary foodstuff, which is more than an ordinary commodity, which is an essential in sickness and in health, an essential for the old and for the young.

I believe that these boards will operate their great powers with discretion and justice, but these new developments may not lead to our hopes being fulfilled, and therefore you will find in this scheme, which the House of Commons is being asked to pass, paragraph 60, which is the safety line from which, I think, we may safely allow the scheme to proceed, since it retains under the review of the Minister, and therefore under the review of this House, the essential point, the price of this invaluable commodity, and retains it, as I shall show, for a period which, I think, will give a fair trial to the novel experiment to which we are asking the House and the country to consent.

When I was working upon this with the representatives, not merely of the producers, but of the distributors, and not merely of what one might call the capitalist distributors, such as United Dairies and the great companies, but the distributors represented in this House by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), the co-operative societies, I arranged with them an interchange of letters upon which I made a statement to the House at the time. If it would not bring me under the ban of those who consider that Ministers should never speak at any length in this House —[HoN. MEMBERS: "Go on !"]—I should briefly summarise the agreement which I reached with the distributors, since it is perhaps important that this should occur again in the OFFICIAL REPORT, where it is easily consulted by all who are interested. I said then: I have conferred with representatives of milk producers, manufacturers, and distributors, including the consumers' co-operative movement, in regard to price-fixing arrangements under the projected Milk Marketing Scheme, and I am glad to say that both sides have arranged to consider a procedure on the basis of (what was then) Clause 11 of the Agricultural Marketing Bill as at present before the House. This procedure would ensure that prices and matters affecting prices should be discussed by a joint committee, with equal voting representation, of the Milk Marketing Board on the one hand and of distributors, including manufacturers, on the other, together with three independent members who will take part in the deliberations from the start. An undertaking has been given by the interests concerned that, should agreement be reached, they will use their powers or influence as the case may be to secure the observance of the decisions of this Committee in regard to prices during the first year of the operation of the scheme. I have been given to understand that it would be the desire of the parties that I should nominate the independent members. Thus, the structural objectives of the Milk Commission"— The House may remember that the suggested structure was three representatives of the producers, three representatives of the distributors, and three representatives of the Minister— the structural objectives of the Milk Commission would, in the main, be attained without recourse to special legislation. Then follows my appreciation of the good sense of both parties in coming to that decision. In paragraph 60 will be seen a fulfilment of that undertaking. It states: During a period of 12 calendar months from the end of the suspensory period, the Board shall not (a) make any determination as to the price at, below, or above which, any milk may be sold … without previously consulting the persons who are for the time being members of any statutory board representing dairymen, or, if there is no such board, such other persons as the Board think best qualified to express the views of purchasers of milk, by wholesale, together with not more than three persons to be appointed by the Minister for the purpose. The reference to any statutory board representing the dairymen is put in because there was a reference to that in the Grigg Commission's Report, but it would demand a reorganisation which the distributing trade has not contemplated, let alone carried into effect. Therefore, for the time being, we must be content, with there being no statutory board, with representatives of the purchasers by wholesale. Although they are not defined by Statute, they come under the old description of a gentleman: it is impossible to define them, but we can always tell one when we see one. The essential point of this joint committee is to be seen in paragraph 60 (2): if, after such consultation, the Board are unable to agree with the statutory board or the purchasers' representatives, as the case may be, as to the said price, the appointed persons shall fix the price and shall give notice in writing thereof to the Board. The purchaser's representatives are the representatives appointed for the purpose by the Minister, which brings them under the review of this House. Paragraph 60 (3) says: After receipt of any such notice, the Board shall not determine, or prescribe as a term of any contract for the sale of any milk by wholesale, a price other than the price so notified to them. That, it seems to me, is our justification for saying that Parliament may safely part with this scheme. The only complaint which is made against it is made by the Association of Distributors presided over, somewhat to my surprise, by my hon. Friend the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot). The difficulty that they foresee is that the distributors are only protected for 12 months after the expiry of the suspensory period. I beg to submit to the House that this is really meeting our troubles more than half-way. This new experiment is to be brought into existence, has to be voted on by the producers, has then a run of 12 months in circumstances which none of us can foresee, and it will be subject all the time to the safety provisions that the public shall be protected, that if prices cannot be fixed they shall be fixed by representatives appointed by the Minister subject to the control of this House. I venture to say that in those circumstances it is rather hypercriticism if somebody says: "We are all right now, we are all right this year, we are all right until well into next year, but we quake with apprehension at the thought of what may happen at the end of 12 months plus a certain number of months."


Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say what kind of men he proposes to appoint to represent the public interests Are they to be experts or Government officials, or who?


They will be persons, as near as I can get them, qualified for the duties which they will have to perform. Surely that is a discretion which must be left to the Minister who is making the appointments. It is not my desire to appoint experts, but to appoint men of common sense; but if there is brought to my notice an expert who is also provided with common sense I shall not debar him from membership because of his expert knowledge. The person or persons whom I shall put on will be selected with the object, first of all, of seeing that, if possible, the two sides, producers and distributors, do themselves determine upon a fair and just price, and if it is necessary for him or them to intervene then I hope they will intervene to the minimum possible extent; because I am certain that the danger in this experiment is that both sides should remain far apart, on opposite sides of the table, and leave the whole weight of the price-fixing to be done by the appointed representatives. That is a risk we have to take, and it is a risk which I am asking the House to take in order to obviate the much greater risk that we might be accused of carelessness for the interests of the consumers in handing them over entirely to the mercy of the producers, possibly allied with, or possibly fighting against, the distributors.


I am sorry to interrupt. I may be stupid, but I understand that all these precautions are only to be taken for the 12 months. At the end of the 12 months price fixing will fall entirely into the hands of the committee of producers, and the independent people appointed by the Minister and the committee appointed by the distributors will cease to function.


How is anything sold just now? The price of everything is not submitted to this House. Producers settle the price at which they sell things.


Then why the precaution for 12 months?


The House knows, and I am sure my hon. Friend knows, that it is desirable that we should, when setting up a board which has statutory powers given to it by this House, see that though it has a giant's strength it does not use that strength like a giant. I believe it will not do so, but I believe also that in the long run it will be much the best thing that this House should not be dragged into the fixing of the prices of this or other commodities directly through its own nominees, because I can see that course fraught with danger to the time of this House and even to its reputation. I am taking a risk here, and I am asking the House to take a risk in entering this field of price fixing, but I am only taking this risk because we are dealing with a food which is so essential that any suspicion that this power was being unjustly used would destroy the chance of success of the scheme. That was indeed one of the strongest points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham, who was chairman of the Milk Commission.

The interests of the consumer will also be protected, and permanently protected, by the safeguards in the Act of 1931, which my hon. Friend took a great part in supporting during its passage through the House. The consumers' interest will be watched by the consumers' committee which is to be appointed by the Minister. That consumers' committee will, of course, be appointed. Reports from the consumers' committee will be considered by the committee of investigation which will advise the Minister whether any action or omission by the board requires to be rectified. If anything is to be rectified, the Minister can either issue an Order directing the board to rectify the matter, or he can make an amendment of the scheme. The Minister can, if the power is badly used, revoke the scheme. There is discretionary power vested in the Minister to revoke a scheme, subject to the approval of Parliament, if he is of the opinion that the scheme is contrary to the public interest or to those of the consumers or the producers. There are special provisions with regard to Certified and Grade A (T.T.) milk producers, a small body that, for nine or ten years, have rendered conspicuous service in the interests of clean milk throughout the country, and in whom the Minister of Health has an especial interest.

The special case of these producers was discussed with the promoters, and they have given an assurance that they will undertake to move the board, when constituted, to exempt the sales of Certified and Grade A (T.T.) milks which are sold under those designations from Part VI of the Scheme, and they will undertake not to withdraw the exemption without the consent of the Government, unless a majority of the persons producing those milks desire that the exemption should be withdrawn. I have informed the promoters that I will be prepared to consider any representations which the board may make for the revocation of this exemption, should the market increase or should the exemption appear contrary to the interests of other registered producers.

This scheme is by far the largest that has ever been attempted in the way of reorganisation of the home market. The production of milk in England and Wales in 1930-3] amounted to over 1,200 million gallons. The sales off farms represented 949 million gallons, and the value of all milk and milk products sold off farms in England and Wales in the same year is estimated at about £55,000,000 sterling. That represents nearly 28 per cent. of the sales of agricultural produce. We should not be dealing with so vast a subject had it not been common ground that some form of reorganisation would have to be attempted. Even at the public inquiry there was little opposition to the necessity for a scheme, and criticism was rather in the direction of securing amendments which would make the scheme more elastic and more workable. It may be that the House will desire further information, and, if so, I shall be willing to supply it. I have done my best to give information.


May I ask the Minister a question on a minor point? Will this restrict the number of producers in the country, and will it be possible for the board to refuse an application to register any dairy farmer who has not been a dairy farmer in the past?


The answer to both those questions is in the negative. It is a scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, and it will not restrict the number of producers in the country. Under the Act, any producer has the right to be registered as a producer—


At any time?


At any time. It is not within the power of the board to refuse his application. If there are other points on which the House requires information, I shall do my best to satisfy them. I should have wished that we could have had more time to discuss this matter. As I have said, from the fact that we have been able to reach so great a measure of agreement after a long process of investigation extending from the 18th April, 1932, almost till the present week, and the fact that from co-operative organisations such as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) represents, from large-scale distributing organisations such as United Dairies and others, and from the many producers throughout the country, we have received expressions of their desire that we should press forward with this scheme, I think we may say that it is a scheme to which the House of Commons may safely give its blessing to-night.


May I ask the Minister one further question? What is the position of the farm cheese-maker under this scheme? Would he be good enough to add a word on that subject?


Roughly speaking, if the milk producer sells to a cheese factory, he will get a price which has been negotiated; he is making a, sale of milk. If he is making cheese himself, then there is, so to speak, no sale of his milk. That, of course, makes a difficulty. It is believed that this difficulty will be got over by a sale between the producer and the board. The producer will sell his milk to the board, and will get the full price for it, and then, by a, paper transaction, so to speak, he will take it back again for cheese-snaking. The milk, of course, will not actually change hands, but by this process a sale, so to speak, will be effected. That, of course, would be a matter for the board to consider and decide; it will all have to be worked out by the board. What we can say just now is that the importance of cheese-making is certainly appreciated, and there is nothing in the scheme to prevent the board from making regulations for that special case. The actual illustration I have given is an illustration of a way in which that difficulty may be met, but, clearly, the fact that no sale can take place by a man to himself represents a difficulty in farm cheese-making which does hot arise in other branches of the industry. It is merely one example of the problems with which the board itself will have to deal, and, as I say, these problems of the industry will be best considered 'and determined by the industry, in the industry, working through the industry itself.

10.44 p.m.


May I, first of all, congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, not only on having had the privilege of bringing this scheme before the House, but on having persuaded the diverse interests in this gigantic undertaking to allow the scheme to be prepared so that it could come before the House prior to its adjournment 1 I want to say, on behalf of the party for which I speak at the moment, that we welcome this scheme. We recognise it as a gigantic experiment. We appreciate that any new undertaking involving tens of thousands of producers and tens of thousands of retailers and, of course, affecting millions of consumers, will obviously bring along with it its own difficulties and its own problems. In the 12 months referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as the experimental period I think we shall have to be generous enough to the board and optimistic enough to believe that the Minister will pay that minute attention to their activities and fulfil the desire of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway which we on these benches sought to introduce into the Bill when it was passing through the House. I refer, of course, to the consumers' safeguards.

I gladly welcome the scheme, and, with the Minister, I hope that the milk producers throughout the country will be much more unanimous than were the raspberry producers in Scotland when they had to ballot for their scheme a few days ago. It seems to me that the raspberry producers have got a good price for their produce this year, so they do not want a marketing scheme. If they fall on evil days next year and find that they are suffering from a surplus and the price descends, they will come to the House for artificial respiration, and I am not sure that they will not blame the Socialist party for their distress. This scheme, however, is one which gives unexampled powers to a few men, and we have to hope that, having reposed that power in them, it will be exercised in such a way that the producers of milk will not only learn the art of organisation and will benefit by a stabilised price for their product but will begin to appreciate that, after all, marketing and co-operation is the one and only means for prosperity to be restored to the agricultural industry.

The dangers foreseen by the senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) may be very real. I have been reading a document to-day written by one who appears to know all there is to know about milk and much more, and I have read the criticisms of several experts, and I am not sure that they couple expert knowledge with common sense. However, some of their criticisms may be very real. Our point of view both on Second Reading, Committee and Report stage, was that the consumers' committee really ought to be set up very quickly, that they ought to report to the investigation committee and that the investigation committee ought to investigate whether the Minister wants them to or not. As the Bill stands, the investigation committee, even after a report from the consumers' committee, will only investigate if the Minister directs them to. We will forgive the Minister's omission in that respect, because we feel that what was said from those benches in 1931 was really felt. We have the same feeling in 1933, and I rather envy the right hon. Gentleman the success which has attended his efforts so far.

There is one great danger with regard to this milk scheme and that is the producer retailer, who represents approximately 25 per cent. of the milk producers. The producer retailer will, I fear, become a danger when the ballot takes place. I hope every hon. Member will support the Minister in endeavouring to persuade producers, whether retailers of milk or not, that it is in the interests of every milk producer in the country that they should ballot in favour of this scheme. We have been told frequently that the one product on which agriculture could rely during the past nine years has been sugar beet, because they knew in advance the price they were likely to obtain. If the producers can know in advance, after the organisation is made more or less fool-proof and when all necessary consumers' safeguards have been applied, the price they are likely to obtain for their milk, I am sure it will be to the advantage of both the producer-retailer and the producer who is unable to retail his produce. Every hon. Member must know by now that the difficulty about the farmer in many cases is that, while he may be the best farmer in the world and an expert in the art of production, the individual farmer has no power to fix a price for his produce. In fact, if the average farmer attempted it, it would have about as much effect as it would if one man out of 750,000 miners came out on strike. It is the middleman, the merchant, who fixes the price, and if he fixes a price in time of glut or scarcity, it is always one which ensures to the middleman a profit, even if it may mean bankruptcy to the farmer-producer.

It is because of these difficulties, which are so well known, but which it has taken so many years to make so many people understand, that this marketing scheme has been made possible to-day. The senior Member for Dundee has expressed doubts about what may happen 12 months hence. I may express some doubts, but I am hoping that within 12 months, the scheme having been got under way, the Minister and the experts who guide and advise him will observe very closely any defects which may be discovered in that period, and that these will be rectified, so that the producer will be ensured a stabilised price, and the consumer will have a guarantee that he will not be exploited. I heard of an instance this morning where an hotel in the Metropolitan district had entered into a contract to receive milk from certain producers at a certain price. By some curious mischance a telephone message was received by the proprietor asking, "What was the price at which we undertook to sell new milk during the coming winter?" When the manager replied that the figure was so much, the inquirer apologised because for the moment the figure had been forgotten. It turned out that on the morrow of the morning on which the contract had been, entered into, an alternative offer was made to supply milk to that hotel at 2d. per gallon less than the price they had actually undertaken to pay, and the people who had offered the milk at per gallon less were producers in Scotland represented by the hon. Gentleman. If my information is correct, it is to some extent, if not very largely, surplus milk, which does not command the English retail price. Scottish milk has been the bane of the life of the English producer of milk, but whether it be Scottish, Welsh or English, every producer is entitled to a fair and legitimate price. I saw the Secretary for Mines in his place a few moments ago, and I wish he were here now, for I want to tell him that, while he agreed with this scheme, we want him to agree to a more reasonable price for those who produce coal.

I want to conclude by complimenting the Minister, and all those who have been helping him in this work. We commend the schemes to the House. I join with the Minister in appealing to every hon. Member to make it their individual and collective duty to advise farmers to be much more sensible than the raspberry-growers of Scotland, for this is the ground floor of organisation which will ultimately restore prosperity to one section—a very large section—of agriculture. If the scheme can be made to succeed, just as the hop scheme has already been made to succeed, I think that there will be real hope for agriculture in this country, and the possibility will be opened up for the hopes and expectations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Even though we may not restore 500,000 men to the land, at all events, I think that this will be the way which will ultimately lead to a return to agriculture.

10.56 p.m.


This scheme, though we are obliged to take it 60 late at night, is of vital importance to the greatest industry in this country and deals with a commodity which, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman truly said, is something more than an ordinary food; it is the most important of our foods. I think that it is therefore due to the dignity of the House and to the importance of this question that we should not treat this Motion as of small account. In the first place, I want wholeheartedly to congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture upon the energy—I may say the passionate energy—combined with diplomacy and with skill, which has enabled him to bring this Motion to the House to-night. He has won golden opinions from farmers in this country, and he has not spared himself in doing so. Since I have had perhaps some special opportunity of realising the difficulties and the complexities of the task of dealing with the milk industry, I offer him the warmest congratulations from the bottom of my heart.

I should like to echo, too, what has just been said, and to express the most earnest hope that the producers of this country, when it comes to a poll next month or the month after, will vote for the scheme by the necessary two-thirds majority. I hope that nothing will prevent them from adopting this scheme. Although, in my opinion, it does not go far enough, it is the first foundation of the scheme that we ought to have, and it is essential that this foundation should be laid in the present year. I have expressed my gratitude to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman most sincerely, but I must go on to explain that my gratitude is of the old-fashioned, classical type. It consists not only of a grateful recognition of the benefits conferred by this scheme, which are very great, but it consists also, perhaps even in greater degree, of a lively expectation of benefits still to come. I regard the scheme as an instalment only, and as an earnest of further measures, which, I hope and believe, will duly be passed in -Oafs House, and which, whatever the right hon. and gallant Gentleman may be able to say to-night, I hope he has in mind even at the present time.

There are two aspects of a great scheme like this. The right hon. Gentleman dealt principally with one of them—the marketing system which is to be introduced. That is an extremely important matter, but I do not wish tonight to say very much about it. Broadly speaking, the marketing policy laid down in this scheme is the marketing policy which the Commission recommended. It is different in some respects, and I think in some respects it is a very considerable improvement on what the Commission proposed. I certainly have no reservations about it except one, and that is that I think it is a pity that it has been laid down in such hard arid fast terms. It may be that a variation of this scheme will prove necessary at an early date. I am rather sorry that the pooling system was laid down in such absolute terms in the scheme, so that the variation which may prove to be essential will be very difficult to make without an amendment of the scheme. I hope that I am wrong in that respect, but I do think that the terms of the marketing scheme as laid down in the scheme are a good deal more absolute than those which the Commission recommended. That is however only one part of the scheme, and I do not wish to detain the House on it to-night.

I would prefer to deal with what is, from our point of view in this House, a more important side of the scheme, and that is the organisation that is being set up, the character of that organisation and the powers which are being given to it. That is a more important matter from the standpoint of Parliament, because the scheme itself may be left to the discretion of the organisation when it comes into being and the organisation will be far better fitted to deal with it than we are here. The organisation is very important, particularly in regard to a commodity like milk. That was recognised when the 1931 Act was passed. It was recognised that when a Reorganisation Commission came to be appointed to deal with the subject of milk it would have to go into something more than the organisation of the producers. I have here the Orange Book on the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, which was published by the Ministry soon after that Act reached the Statute Book. It dealt not only with the other provisions of that Act but also with the duties that would fall to Reorganisation Commissions when they came to be appointed. This is what it said about milk: It is obvious, for example, that a national milk scheme will require the cooperation of wholesale and retail distributors, including the consumers' co-operative movement, of creamery proprietors, and of manufacturers. Divergent interests may stand in the way of effective co-operation, and it would be the duty of the Commission, as a constructive body standing outside the ring, to investigate such difficulties as exist and to make suggestions for their removal. After dealing with one or two specific points, it said: Apart from these two specific instances, a commission may need to inquire further still into the processing and distributive industries and, in fact, to make suggestions for their reorganisation, with or without the aid of the Act, on lines complementary to the producers' organisation. Here, again, inquiries may not be complete without taking cognisance of the import situation. The commission, of which I was chairman, took that advice and those observations very much to heart. It realised their importance and their wisdom more clearly with every week which it gave to its task, and it came at the end to recommend not only the organisation of the producer, but a complementary and parallel organisation of distributors and manufacturers. In doing so it was taking the same line as that which the House has already approved in regard to the pig industry, where not only are the producers organised, but the curers, too. But it went in some respects beyond the reorganisation proposals in the pig industry, because it dealt with the retail distributor and also proposed that the joint body to be set up should have three impartial members, one of whom should be chairman.

The commission made this recommendation because it believed that it was essential to the welfare of the industry, and particularly to the welfare of the producers, to secure the co-operative development of the industry, under bodies representing all the interests engaged in it, independent of State control, but under impartial guidance and advice. That was the principle of the commission's recommendations. There were two things which in our belief were essential to the welfare of the industry, and more particularly to the welfare of producers. The first was to establish the principle of co-operation between all sections of the industry; that is vital and particularly vital to producers. We endeavoured to secure that by setting up a joint council in which all interests were represented and by giving that Council impartial guidance to harmonise differences. But equally important is it to the industry and to the producers to keep its hold of public good will. For many years the farmer has laboured without the good will of the great mass of the population. He has recovered that good will now, and it is essential that he should not in any way sacrifice it. In a period when we are trying to make prices rise, when we hope that prices will rise, it is important to interpose between the producers and consumers some impartial element which will explain and justify any steps which may be taken to make prices rise. The commission considered this to be of great importance. Towards that organisation this scheme is the first essential step.

So far as the organisation of the producers goes the scheme is excellent. It constitutes an extremely effective producers' board on the lines the Commission recommended, and it has added, either at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman or 00 a recommendation made in another place, two co-opted members, who will add strength to the body. Before I leave the organisation of the producers' board may I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to what seems to me to be a discrepancy between two paragraphs in the scheme as published, and ask what is intended? In paragraph 8 it is laid down that there are to be five special members of the producers' board, of which three shall he elected and two co-opted. That, I think, was the agreement at which the House arrived when the Agricultural Marketing Act was passed. In paragraph 14, which deals with the replacement or re-election of the members of the producers' board it speaks as if there were five elected members, not three, and ignores the existence of the co-opted members altogether. I should like to ask what is intended? Is it intended that the co-opted members shall terminate their term like the elected members by lot? It is a minor point but the position of these co-opted members is important, and I shall be glad of an answer on the point.

The scheme also provides fully for consultation with the distributors and manufacturers, and also for the appointment by the Minister of three impartial persons to be present at deliberations regarding prices, who are to intervene and fix prices if the interested parties cannot agree. That is a very valuable beginning, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having got so large a measure of agreement to that course. But excellent as it is, it is only a first step. This is not really the co-operative organisation which the Commission had in mind, and I have one great fear about it. Its tendency is not to build up the principle of co-operation; its tendency, I fear, is rather to arm one party with greater strength as against the other. There is a suggestion of militancy in it, a, suggestion that, having made the conditions fairer as between the contending parties, they had better "go to it" and fight the whole question out again. I say here, with any influence I may possess with the producers, that I would beg them not to interpret the powers given to them in that sense. I hope they will interpret them in a totally different sense. Instead of thinking "Now we have got the powers we will try to keep this entirely in our own hands," I hope they will work for real co-operation, for that is their interest. Fighting on this matter is no good to a man who must have a monthly cheque for his milk. Whatever powers the State gives him, he will always get the worst of it. He must have co-operation, and must have it particularly because his interest lies in getting a fair share of the distributive margin. That is what the farmer has to look to more than anything else. There is a danger that he may think he is going to get a better price for himself by putting up the price to the consumer. The price of milk has remained almost stationary in this country and hardly fallen at all. The putting up of the price would end only in the reduction of demand. I trust that the producers, having got these great powers, will use them for co-operation rather than for trying to force conditions and terms upon the other part of the industry, which must result in a rise of price.

There is another aspect of these powers which I suggest requires the attention of the House. There is not only the power of price fixing. There is also in this scheme a new power for which, so far as I know, there is no precedent. On the security which he will have by the fact that he controls the annual turnover of milk of £50,000,000 or £60,000,000, the producers' board can borrow money, and with that borrowed money and the trading powers which are received through the Act they can alter into competition with private enterprise in almost every form concerned with the distribution or manufacture or transport of milk. That, I think, is a dangerous power. I do not much mind the fact that it is unprecedented. I am one of those who are always calling for new action in what are, after all, unprecedented circumstances. I do not complain because the Minister has taken a novel and courageous course—not at all. All I say is that I trust the producers will recognise how enormous these powers are and how carefully they should be exercised from the start, more particularly because there is always a danger that if they are exercised unwisely, in the end it is not the consumers who will suffer, not the distributors, but the producers themselves.

There is one other element in the lively expectation of future benefits which constitutes a part of my gratitude to the Minister, which I would like to mention. I do not think any marketing scheme or any organisation is going to be adequate, in present circumstances, to keep up the price of milk. Two other things are essential. One of them is some further restriction of imports. From the point of view of the stock industry and of butter and cheese production, that is vital. I know that we can count on the right hon. Gentleman to do his utmost in that respect. If he does not attend to that matter, there is great danger that the pool price may fall to a level which as [he said, would not compensate the producer of really good milk. If that happens, the whole scheme will collapse. The restriction of imports is vital and the scheme will be no good without it. There is another measure which I ask him to consider. Even if imports are restricted, as I hope they will he, something should also be done—and something can be done—to encourage the demand for milk. That can be done without great cost by the Government with the co-operation a the industry and with co-operation of other Departments with the right hon. Gentleman's Department. I believe that that also is vital to the success of the scheme.

To summarise, this scheme, excellent as it is, is an instalment only of what the industry will ultimately require. I hope the farmers themselves will assist the Minister to complete this organisation when they have had experience of its working over the next few months. The Minister can use his influence with them, but the initiative should come from them. There is no danger in my mind that the consumer will be sacrificed. The safeguards are adequate to prevent that. There is no danger that the distributor or the-manufacturer will be sacrificed. They will he able to look after themselves. The danger is that the farmer himself may, in the process of working out the scheme, sacrifice some measure of the good will which he at present possesses. From that we should endeavour to protect him. Against that we should advise him at all costs. I hope, too, that the right hon. Gentleman will take the measures which are complementary to this scheme and are necessary to make the scheme a success, namely, further restriction of imports and measures to extend the demand for milk, and thereby maintain an adequate pool price.

11.18 p.m.


I rise to put two questions to the Minister on this Order. Before doing so, I may remark that the statement of the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) makes it clear that the time allowed for this discussion is not adequate. The protests which we made in Committee as to the possibility of inadequate discussion of these Orders have been justified. The only other comment I wish to make is in regard to the question of goodwill which has been mentioned. The hope has been expressed that the grant of these powers to the producers will be accompanied by the goodwill of the co-operative movement. I need only say that the co-operative organisation has in the past not only by words but by action helped considerably to bring some organisation into this industry. Appreciating the position in which we find ourselves, I want to ask the Minister a question on paragraph 60 which he described as the "safety line." The paragraph provides that the Board shall not make any determination as to price without previously consulting the persons who are for the time being members of any statutory board representing dairymen, or such persons as they think best qualified to express the views of purchasers. There is in this agreement ample justification in the words of the Committee themselves for the co-operative movement being recognised as it is here. I ask therefore, in appointing the panel representing the purchasers, what method will be taken to see that that panel is amply representative.

The other question is with regard to the date upon which the scheme will come into operation. I do not know if any pronouncement has been made on the matter, but I am informed that in the trade itself there are suggestions circulating that the scheme will likely come into operation some time in January, and if that be the case, I would like to be informed if any arrangements have been made to cover the interim period between now and then, because I am told that September especially is rather an important period with regard to contracts in this matter. We think it would be rather injudicious not to make any interim arrangements if that date for the commencement of the scheme should be January. I shall be grateful for answers to those two questions.

11.22 p.m.


I shall confine myself very briefly to expressing, as I believe is the wish of agriculturists generally, the thanks which they owe in the first place to the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) and his colleagues for the heavy work which they did in the production of the Report which he signed as Chairman, and also to the Minister and his staff for the work which they have done in bringing this scheme before the House. I said "agriculturists generally," because whatever affects one section of agriculture must of necessity affect the whole, and very few people realise how many there are in the industry of agriculture who are actively engaged in milk production. Of the 120,000 members of the National Farmers Union, no fewer than 90,000 are actual milk producers, and I believe that among those who are not actually members the proportion is still higher.

The scheme itself has 95 paragraphs and the very fact of its having been necessary to produce so many, gives some indication of the magnitude of the subject with which they had to deal and the work involved in doing it. It is not only the scheme itself, but there is something much more important than the actual scheme, and that is the spirit in which the scheme is worked. I believe that agriculturists generally will be ready and willing to work this scheme in the right spirit, and I am confident too that they will do their utmost to see that the interests of those who are not actually in the scheme but are affected by the scheme—and who is not?—as consumers will be adequately and properly safeguarded. My own personal regret is that those who are producers of certified and T.T. milk are excluded from the scheme, and I think also that it would be much better if the scheme had applied to the whole of the British Isles instead of to England and Wales alone. I am confident that there will have to be, as the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) said, very close co-operation between the Scottish Board and the English Board if we are to have success, otherwise it will be found necessary to amalgamate them both.

The country generally has grown to a new sense of the importance of food production and of food production there is nothing so important as milk production. I feel sure that not only will agriculturists themselves live to see the time when the benefits of this scheme, or amendments of this scheme—because no scheme is absolutely perfect, and it may be necessary to make some slight amendments—but they will have to appreciate the work that has been done by the Minister and the others concerned. I believe that the country generally owes a great debt of gratitude to the National Farmers' Union. It has represented the farmer faithfully in this matter, and prior to the scheme being brought out by them and presented to the Minister, they were the people who did so much to assist agriculture by the sale of milk under very difficult conditions. Milk is undoubtedly the one product which has sustained its advantages longer than any other section of agriculture, and that is entirely due to the efforts that were made by the National Farmers' Union to get collective sales on the part of the producers. While recognising the work which has been done by others, we ought to give a meed of praise to the members of the National Farmers' Union executive, particularly of the Milk Committee, for the work they have done to help the industry and to produce this scheme. There are a lot of other things I should like to have said, but I am confident that the House will not consider this to be the time. I will, therefore, simply express the thanks of the industry to those who have brought forward the scheme.

11.27 p.m.


I will follow the example of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) and confine my remarks to five minutes. I have observed during the short time I have been a Member of the House that hon. Members have paid a good deal of attention to the policy advocated at one time or another by hon. Members who sit on these Benches, and are apt to bring up those policies with somewhat disconcerting results for those hon. Members; but I am certain that the House to-night will not expect anyone from these benches to launch a wholehearted attack on any scheme which has for its objects ordered and up-to-date marketing such as this scheme is designed to achieve. The success of the working of the scheme will depend to an exceedingly large degree upon the good will of not only the producers, but of the distributors. I wish to say a word to the Minister on that point. Members will realise what a gigantic task it must be to undertake the distribution of milk in such a place as London, and I do not suppose the vast intricacies of this task are appreciated by the bucolic gentleman who produces the milk, whose business is not with the distribution. When the milk passes through the farm gate he is not particularly interested in what happens to it after that. At the same time they are absolutely dependent upon the efficient working of the distributive machine.

It is with this thought alone in my mind that I am keen that there should be no ill-feeling on the part of anybody upon whose good will the success of the scheme may depend. The Minister has referred to paragraph 60 of the scheme, whereby the Board is empowered in effect to determine the price of milk. It seems to me that the distributors might have exceedingly useful knowledge and experience which they could bring to bear upon this determination, and it would be a great mistake to ignore that experience and knowledge. Paragraph 60 recognises the justice of the contention that the distributors should have their views heard, because, for 12 months at any rate, their views have to be beard. I confess I do not understand the explanation which the Minister gave why it is necessary at the end of 12 months to remove the voice which the dairymen have in fixing the price.

That voice can be exceedingly melodious on occasions as we know. They have the right to speak for 12 months, and it seems to me that no adequate reason has been given to explain why, after 12 months, they should not have that right. I know that there is a certain amount of uneasiness amongst distributors on this point. They feel that the fixing of prices may be of vast importance to themselves, and that after a certain number of months they may have no say in it, the price being decided by people whose interests are not theirs, and may be antagonistic to theirs if the persons fixing the prices take a short view. I am so keen that nobody whose co-operation is necessary to the scheme could feel aggrieved, and that the scheme should in consequence not work, that I feel the Minister might pay some further consideration to this point, and perhaps make some definite assertion that the dairymen will be consulted during the 12 months. He said they would be, but he has not detailed how they are to be consulted, or who among the dairymen are to be consulted. If be had given us some further elucidation it might remove certain suspicions which I believe exist. Further, I would like to know whether on the Market Supply Committee and the Milk Marketing Board there will be any representatives of the dairymen and if so how they are to be chosen. If he would make some further statement on the matter it would set at rest suspicions which I know exist at present among certain dairymen—I dare say the Minister will suspect from what source my information comes—and in the end make for the smoother working of the scheme

11.32 p.m.


As a Jersey milk producer I wish to ask the Minister why, seeing that Grade A (T.T.) and Certified milk have been granted special privileges, Jersey milk is not to share in those privileges as regards receiving the higher price. If milk contains less than 3 per cent. of butter fat the producer is liable to prosecution. Jersey milk contains a higher percentage of butter fat, which is the most important constituent of milk, and therefore we ought to support the production of Jersey milk. It is well known that many farmers producing milk from certain grades of cows are compelled to purchase Jersey cows in order to avoid being prosecuted because the butter fat content of their milk is below the legal limit. The price of Jersey milk is higher than that of ordinary milk, because it is more valuable and is it fair, when consideration is being given to the production of Grade A milk and certified milk, which need contain only 3.1 per cent. of butter fat, that the same privileges are not extended to milk containing double that quantity of butter fat?

11.34 p.m.


I must thank the House most cordially for the reception they have given to this Order and for the succinct and well informed discussion we have had. I am sure we shall all feel that as long as we can discuss a measure of this importance in this atmosphere that the House of Commons is indeed fulfilling the highest objects for which it was brought into existence. The difficulty of reviewing a scheme so vast in the short time at our disposal is pressing heavily upon me. I shall do my best to answer, as briefly as may be, simply the questions which have been put to me, and, if I do not dilate further, either upon the reception that the House has given to the scheme or upon the remarks that have been made about those who arc responsible for it—I count myself as one in only a minor way—the House will understand that it is not for lack of gratitude but with a desire to consider the night's sleep.

I have been asked questions, in the first place, by the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) who spoke of the differences which he feared existed between paragraphs 8 and 14. Paragraph 8 fulfils the promised arrangement, which was come to as a result of discussions in another place, and the attention given to them here, namely, that there should be two members co-opted on to the Board. Paragraph 14 does not deal with the co-opted members; it simply deals with how the elected members are to be elected. 1 hope that my hon. Friend will see that co-opted members remain co-opted to the Board, and that Paragraph 14 provides the procedure of how the special members, who, he will remember, are to be elected to the Board, as and when they fall out—


I do not want to interrupt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but in that case, the elected members in Paragraph 14 should be reduced to three. Why do they stand at five?


No, Sir, I think not.


Well, I will not press the matter.


I do not want to go into the matter, but I think the hon. Member will find that we have not diminished the number of the special members, who remain as they were laid down. Co-option is an extra procedure put in, as I say, because of the Amendments put into the Statute by the two Houses of Parliament. We consider that we should carry the matter further, and I am sure that experience will show that, in some respects, it will have to be carried further. We shall proceed step by step, and not, I hope, take any step except it is absolutely necessary. It is our desire not to over-organise this great industry but to introduce into it the minimum of organisation which is absolutely vital in order to prevent collapse. Let me speak of another question which is present to the minds of all hon. Members to-night, that is, the great danger that if there is a flood of imports you might get a lowering of prices on basic products, and particularly of butter and cheese, to a point at which no level of the liquid milk market could, possibly support the manufacture of milk. That has been very present to the mind of the Government since the first tentative steps towards it were made by the Milk Reorganisation Commission. All that I can say at present is that we are actively engaged in negotiations to that end. In the case of processed milk, we have been able to effect a substantial reduction, by agreement, in the processed milk which was being brought into this country and thereby to sustain that portion of surplus milk the consumption of which was in danger of being choked and was beginning to gutter out on the floor.

The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), raised two questions, as to the persons who would be the trade representatives to be consulted by the Milk Board in respect of paragraph 60 (1) of the scheme, and as to what was to be the interim period, if the pooling provisions of the scheme could not be brought into operation owing to accounting difficulties—I think that they were his two points. In the case of the first, the scheme expressly leaves it to the Board to consult such persons as it thinks best qualified to express the views of purchasers of milk by wholesale. The Minister as such has no locus in the matter, though, of course, if the trade feels strongly on the point, he will be pleased to receive their views and forward them to the Board once it is established. But the Board would be stultifying itself if, as a seller, it did not consult representative buyers when it went to sell its products. I am not afraid that there is any danger that the Board will leave some important buyer out of its consultations. It would be foolish for anyone with a product to sell not to see that he who holds the purse holds the power. It is all very well to offer the product, but what we want to do is to exchange the product for the price, and those who have the price to give will certainly have to be consulted by the producer.

I think we shall all recognise that an immense amount of detailed accounting work will be involved in the pooling arrangement, and that time must elapse before the necessary machinery can be set up. It has been provided in paragraph 64 that the pooling arrangement shall not come into force until the Board prescribe as a term of the contract that purchase price that shall be paid by the buyer to the Board. Whether the Board will suspend all its activities until it has, so to speak, completed constituency—until it is ready to go ahead with the full pooling provisions—or whether it will apply the scheme partially, as by prescribing contract terms, it would obviously be impossible, and indeed improper, for the Minister to say; it will be a matter for the Board to decide. Until the scheme is approved by Order of the Minister and by an affirmative Resolution of this House, the Board has no lawful existence. This is a stage of its being brought into operation. The Board, of course, will have to make declarations of policy in this very important respect at the earliest practicable moment, and I am sure it will do so, because it will be pressed by all those who are concerned in the sale of their product to say where they stand. Having brought this organisation into existence, that will be one of the first and most important duties that it will have to fulfil.

My hon. friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) spoke of the necessity for dovetailing the scheme for Scotland into the English scheme, and that is very important. Some 2,000,000 gallons of milk a month cross the frontier from Scotland into England, and it is true nowadays that, by dint of the great new transporters, the glass-lined tank and so on, milk from hundreds of miles away can be brought in and can compete on equal, and even in come cases better terms, as it is a bulk supply, with milk which is brought from only a few miles away. The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Under-Secretary recognise to the full the importance of marrying, if I may so say, these two schemes, and it will be our first endeavour, as soon as this is approved, to make sure that the two schemes are brought together.

The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) pointed out that, as we must all agree, the success of the scheme depends upon the good will of the distributors. It has been my object all through to attempt to secure that good will, and I think the letters I have had from great London distributors and from co-operative distributors prove that to a considerable extent we have been able to secure it. The hon. Member says, "Let us preserve this; why remove the voice which the dairyman will have under Paragraph 60 at the end of 12 months?" I would again say that you cannot remove the voice of the buyer when a transaction between buyer and seller is taking place. These are the buyers, and their voice will always be heard. The buyer is the man who speaks the last word. He says "Right; I shall take it"; and, until that voice is heard, the producer, whatever statutory monopoly he may have, is in a very poor position.

He wants his monthly cheque and even at the end of his organisation he will be no more than in a position of equality with the distributor, and I am sure he will realise that the distributor's goodwill is a sine qua non, I will not say to the success but to the working of any such scheme. Of course, when I am asked if there will be a dairymen's representative on the Market Supply Committee, the answer is No, and whether on the Board itself there will be a dairyman, again the answer is No. Let the seller go forward as one and the buyer as one. They will do their business better than if we put representatives of each other on the other one's Board.

The last question is that raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland) who put in a plea for the Jersey. There is no statutory Jersey as there is a statutory Grade A. It is not a. statutory designation and that is the reason why it is impossible to give it statutory recognition. There is provision in the scheme for premiums to be paid for special grade milks and, if it is desired to pay a premium for special grade milk as rich as my hon. Friend suggests in butter fat, no doubt under that designation it will be possible to deal with the Jersey quality of milk, but he will not expect me to dilate upon the excellence of Jersey milk, as parts of the country with which I am more closely associated have other grades which they would like to speak of, and there are representatives from other parts of the milk producing areas and, if we all dilated on the merits of our grades, we should not go home till morning. These are the specific answers to questions which have been put. If I do not say more, it is not for lack of interest in the subject or ap- preciation of its importance. We have had a most valuable and illuminating discussion and I think we may reasonably ask the House to approve our Resolution.


How will my right hon. Friend be able to amend Clause 141 I understand it has been through another place.


I do not wish to amend it. Clause 14 describes the election of special members and does not deal with the particular point that my hon. Friend raised, which I understood was the relation between elected and co-opted members.


I think there is a discrepancy between the two Clauses which may affect the working of the scheme. I was asking whether it would be posible to put it right after it had once passed the House.


I will give further attention to the point. I am advised that if necesary, it is possible either to deal with it here or to make such Amendments later on as will meet the point.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Scheme under the Agricultural Marketing Acts. 1931 and 1933, for regulating the marketing of milk, a draft of which was presented to this House on the 20th day of July 1933, be approved.