HC Deb 10 December 1934 vol 296 cc26-9
37. Captain SHAW

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to what steps he proposes to take to deal with the difficulties which have arisen under the Scottish Milk Marketing Scheme?

The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)

I have reached certain decisions as to the immediate action which I find it necessary to take following on the report of the Committee of Investigation and also, after consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, as to a general review of the position with regard to milk marketing in Great Britain. I regret that it is impossible to make a concise statement on the subject by an answer on the Floor of the House, and with my hon. Friend's permission I propose to circulate a full statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

  1. 1. It will be recalled that the Committee of Investigation for Scotland made certain recommendations to alleviate the position of level producers under the Scottish Milk Marketing Scheme.
  2. 2. On consideration of the report of the committee and the evidence led before them, I decided myself to interview representatives of the parties interested.
  3. 3. Since meeting the parties, I have again examined the position and have decided to make the following adjustments, some of which will require the amendment of the scheme, to be operative for a period of one year only:—
    1. (a) a variation of the standard price of milk as recommended by the Committee of Investigation;
    2. (b) twelve additional haulage centres to be prescribed in the East of Scotland area; the twelve new centres proposed are Alloa, Arbroath, Brechin, Crieff, Cupar, Dunfermline, Duns, Galashiels, Haddington, Kirkcaldy, Perth, Stirling;
    3. (c) a special premium of ½d. per gallon, on milk sold by all ordinary level producers, whom I define for this purpose as producers who contract not to sell to or through the agency of the Board in any month during the year 1935 a quantity exceeding by more than 10 per cent. the quantity so sold in December, 1933;
    4. (d) the levy on producer-retailers to be fixed on the basis of the number of cows in their possession. The levy to be at the rate of £5 per annum, provided that in the case of a producer-retailer who makes and observes a contract to handle all his own milk (that 28 is, to sell no milk otherwise than by retail) the levy shall be at the rate of £4 per annum.
  4. 4. Further, it has been suggested to the Board that they should review the financial arrangements with respect to the acquisition of creameries so as to effect a reduction on the contribution payable by producers for this purpose throughout the scheme area. I understand that the Board have already opened negotiations with this object in view and that they are hopeful of satisfactory results.
  5. 5. Having regard to the general situation I came to the conclusion that the review of the position which it was intended to undertake, with a view to securing a permanent settlement, should be of a more comprehensive character than that previously contemplated. I have accordingly been in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and we are agreed that sufficient experience has now been gained of the working of organised milk marketing in Great Britain to enable an examination to be usefully made, in the course of the next twelve months, of the possibilities of further improvement, including the question of co-ordination or amalgamation of schemes.
  6. 6. We propose, therefore, to constitute a Milk Reorganisation Commission for Great Britain which would undertake this comprehensive survey.
  7. 7. There remains the problem of the unpaid levies. I have endeavoured to improve the position of the producer-retailer so as to assist him to meet his obligations. The modifications as affecting him, are intended, as far as practicable, to apply also to the producer-wholesaler, as defined in the scheme. The board have already undertaken that in cases of serious hardship they will not demand full payment of the unpaid levies immediately, and it has been suggested to the board that in such cases they should consider the possibility of devising a plan to provide for the payment of the amounts due by a system of instalments. I trust, however, that producers will recognise that the collection of the levy is a statutory duty of the board and that the arrangements now being made absolve neither the board from that duty nor producers from their obligations under the scheme.
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  9. 8. The Orders necessary to give statutory effect to my decisions will be issued forthwith, and I hope that all parties concerned will co-operate, with good will, in the administration of the scheme and will support the board pending the outcome of the larger inquiry for which my right hon. Friend and I have decided to arrange.

41. Captain SHAW

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of representations made by the association of certified and grade A (T.T.) milk producers in Scotland with regard to the operation of the Scottish milk marketing scheme; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, the representations referred to have been remitted to the Committee of Investigation for Scotland and every endeavour will be made to expedite a decision upon them. Although I am informed that the board are prepared to go a considerable way towards meeting the representations, it is impossible for me, pending the report of the committee, to deal with the case of these producers at this stage.