HC Deb 27 November 1933 vol 283 cc502-3

asked the Minister of Agriculture if his attention has been drawn to the fine recently imposed upon Mr. C. Whittome, a retailer of milk, for the sale of milk below the authorised price; and whether he will take steps to alter the system whereby a retailer can be fined for an alleged offence in respect of a matter concerning which he had applied without success to the Board of Agriculture for information and to ensure that similar cases shall not arise in future I


I am aware that the Milk Marketing Board have imposed a. penalty upon Mr. C. Whittome, who, I understand, is a registered producer under the Milk Marketing Scheme. The decision of the Board is subject to the producer's right of appeal to arbitration which Mr. Whittome has now exercised. The Board referred to in the last part of the hon. Member's question must, I think, have been the Milk Marketing Board. So far as I am aware, Mr. Whittome did not apply to the Ministry of Agriculture for any information in the matter.


Would it not be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to issue some kind of simple instruction which everyone can procure, in order to avoid cases of this kind?


I think that that is a very reasonable suggestion. I will look into it myself, and also in conjunction with the Milk Marketing Board.


On a point of Order. Would not a question of this kind, affecting one individual, be better dealt with by correspondence with the Department?


That is not a point of Order. It must be left to the good sense of hon. Members.

24 and 25. Mr. ROBINSON

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) whether he has yet set up a committee of investigation in connection with the milk marketing scheme;

(2) whether in view of complaints by consumers as to the effect of the Milk Marketing Board's activities on the retail prices of milk, he will expedite the setting up of a consumer's committee in connection with the scheme to consider and report upon its effects and complaints as to-its effects on consumers?


The Committee of Investigation for England was appointed on 8th November. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the Press notice giving the composition and duties of the committee. I hope to make an announcement shortly as to the appointment of the Consumer's Committee for England. Complaints as to the operation of the Milk Marketing Scheme will fall within the purview of these bodies.


Does my right hon. Friend think that the setting up of these committees will lead to a satisfactory solution of the complaints which have been made about the Milk Marketing Scheme?


Yes, I certainly hope so; but I am sure that my hon. Friend will recognise, and that the House will recognise, that, in bringing into operation a great scheme of this kind, there must be certain cases of friction, which I hope will be removed in the operation of the scheme itself.


Do we understand that in the meanwhile prosecutions for selling milk too cheaply will continue?


asked the Minister of Ariculture if he will initiate legislation giving compulsory power to some authority to regulate the price charged by retailers of milk, similar to the conditions imposed on the producer retailer by paragraph 55 in the Milk Marketing Scheme made by him on 28th July, 1933?


My right hon. Friend will appreciate that his question raises very wide issues. I am not prepared to give the undertaking desired.


Is it not absolutely necessary to have some power to check retailers putting up prices, reducing consumption and bringing the whole Milk Board policy to an end?


I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will realise that that is not a subject that I can debate by question and answer.