HC Deb 13 June 1934 vol 290 cc1863-5

11.58 p.m.

Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN

I beg to move, in page 12, line 27, to leave out "(including conditions as to the payment of fees)."

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health for being in his place because it is largely for the purpose of bringing this question of fees to the notice of the Ministry of Health that I move the Amendment. One of the chief grievances of those engaged in the production of the better classes of milk is that they are called upon to pay big fees in connection with milk licences, whereas those who produce the ordinary milk pay no fees at all. The Minister of Agriculture has remarked on the importance in connection with these schemes of the help and co-operation of those who are being catered for by them and in that connection I think consideration should be given to the anomaly that the Ministry of Health regulations impose these fees on the people who are producing the real good article which everybody wants, while those who are not producing that higher grade of articles are not required to pay any licence fees. It is in order to raise this point and in the hope that the iniquitous procedure to which I have referred, will not be perpetuated in any new regulations which the Minister of Health may make under this Clause that I move the Amendment. I would add that under the new suggestions in the report of the Diseases of Animals Committee, which no doubt will be followed more or less in these regulations, a sum of £750,000 is being provided and many additional veterinary surgeons and inspectors will be available and therefore it should be less necessary in the future than it has been in the past to collect big fees from the people who provide the better milk. All dairies will be inspected and will have to keep up to the standard for which they are licensed. I should like an assurance that the en- couragement of clean milk will not be hampered, as it is at present, by these licences which the Minister of Health may put on, after consultation with the Minister of Agriculture. It is not the way to encourage the small farmer to produce clean milk and it has stopped thousands of small farmers from doing so. I hope that, attention having been drawn to the matter by this Amendment, the Minister will give an assurance that the point will be considered in connection with any regulations which he may make.

12.2 a.m.


I am indebted to my hon. and gallant Friend for raising this question. I think it is true that these fees are felt to be some hardship by certain producers. The reason for requiring payment of fees is obvious. It is that the licensing authorities are involved in special expenses for the inspection of farms and other establishments for purposes of bacteriological examination, which are not incurred in the case of unlicensed milk. The licensees do get some financial advantage from being able to sell milk under the statutory licence, and it is considered only reasonable that they should bear some part of the special cost of the licensing scheme. At present the fees prescribed range from 5s. a year for a retail shop to £5 a year for a farm producing certified milk. I should be prepared to discuss the question of fees with the representatives of the local authorities, the milk producers, and the distributors, when the revised Order is prepared and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health concurs in that pledge. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health is here and is ready to speak, if necessary, on the point, but I hope that, having received the assurance that we are willing to discuss this question round the table with the local authorities, the producers and the distributors when preparing the revised Order, my hon. and gallant Friend will feel that he has gained the point which he wished to make by this Amendment.

Brigadier-General BROWN

As I said, I am glad that the Ministry of Health is represented here, and I take the oppor- tunity of saying that I hope the Departments will not overlap as they are doing. The milk authorities in the country at present very often overlap in their different inspections of the farms. In view of what has been said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Captain Margesson.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.