HC Deb 25 June 1934 vol 291 cc871-8

7.43 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 2, line 25, at the end, to insert: Provided that for each mouth falling between the end of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, and the beginning of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, the number of gallons of milk in respect of which payment may be made, out of moneys provided by Parliament, shall not exceed the number of gallons in respect of which such payment was made in the corresponding month in the previous year. This is a proviso to limit the gallonage of milk in respect of payment to be made in the second year. A number of hon. Members during the Committee stage drew attention to the fact that there was no limitation as regards the amount of money which may be expended upon the subsidising of liquid milk for cheese manufacture. The Minister stated that he was afraid to have any particular figure put in the Bill. I think it was the hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) who suggested that he would be prepared to accept 4,000,000 or any figure that the Minister liked, but the Minister said, in effect, that if a figure was inserted the farmers, who are always greedy people, would turn round and say to him: "You must give us that figure, whatever happens," whether the figure would have been normally given to them or not. It was in order to get over that difficulty and at the same time to give the Minister the control that we knew he would like to have over the money to be expended by Parliament that we put down this Amendment. We felt that it clearly was not desirable, nor was it the desire of the Minister, that this subsidy should lead to an increase in the gallonage to go to the cheese factories.

At one time the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland seemed to think that the object of the Bill was to increase the manufacture of cheese, but the Minister of Health disposed of that argument when he said that the most desirable purpose for the use of milk was that it should be used as liquid milk and not for the manufacture of cheese. This Amendment will enable the Government to encourage its use as liquid milk. It means that whatever gallonage this year is used for the purposes of cheese-making, the gallonage next year to be subsidised must not exceed that gallon-age. It will also enable the House to retain control over the amount of subsidy, though not a control in money, which may be awkward owing to the difference in the amount per gallon which might become payable in different months of the year. We think that we are assisting the Minister of Agriculture by this Amendment, as it will achieve the treble purpose of limiting the amount of liquid milk to be used for cheese manufacture, limit the sum of money to be provided by Parliament, and also achieve the maximum flexibility as regards the apportionment of the sum.

7.46 p.m.


I appreciate and welcome the desire shown by the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). He seeks to give the Government a certain control, but it is a control of the quantity of milk, and he seeks to do so by taking an entirely irrelevant factor, namely, the amount of milk which has been produced in the corresponding month of the previous year. The present year is a dry year and there may be a shortage of milk; then next year this Amendment would come into force, and next year might be a wet year. I do not think the Amendment can bring about the object which the hon. and learned Member has in mind. I do not think we should exaggerate the danger. We, of course, must keep in mind the fact that we are trying something in the nature of an experiment, but, at the same time, we ought not to exaggerate its dangers. I do not anticipate any great difficulty in administering the proposal in the Bill, but I am sure that the difficulties would be increased rather than diminished by the Amendment.

7.49 p.m.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I find myself in rather the unusual position of having considerable sympathy with an Amendment moved by Members of the Opposition. I can see that there may be difficulties in administering the proposal, but I am disappointed in not having heard from the Minister of Agriculture more indication that he realises the very serious matter it is to sellers of liquid milk that there should not be an expansion in the quantity of milk for manufacture.


The Noble Lady is assuming that there will be no expansion. If she supports the Amendment she is ensuring that there will be no expansion.

Duchess of ATHOLL

That is exactly why I am supporting the Amendment. Obviously, if there be an indefinite and considerable increase of milk for manufacture at low prices it means an increase in the levy, which is already proving a tremendous burden on the sellers of liquid milk. There is a real fear among producers of liquid milk in regard to this matter. It has been stated that there is no limit to the amount of milk which the board may have to take over, and, therefore, no limit to the amount of milk which may be offered for manufacture. There is no limit to the administrative expenditure of the board, and no limit to the levy which they have the power to impose on sellers of liquid milk. The sellers of liquid milk in my own area said that they were in favour of the principle of a pool to help to equalise prices, but when they voted for the scheme they were given to understand that the levy would not be more than 1d. They are now paying a levy of 5d.


I do not wish to interrupt my Noble Friend, but, surely, we are at somewhat strange cross purposes. She is actually proposing, in spite of this burden, to support an Amendment which will increase the burden by limiting the assistance which is to be given. I cannot believe that she seriously intends that. Does she seriously propose that because milk producers are already under a burden that the burden must be increased; because that is the direct result of the Amendment she is supporting.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I understand that the purpose of the Amendment is to limit the quantity of milk there may be available for manufacture. If there be an increase in the amount of such milk, it means an increase in the levy on the sellers of liquid milk.


The Amendment is not a limit of milk; it is a limit of money.

7.53 p.m.


The defence of the Minister of Agriculture is very weak, weaker than is usually the case. The Noble Lady seems to have hit on the true situation. It is perfectly true that while the Bill limits the payments for two years the right hon. Gentleman said over and over again that the industry is in peril, there is a huge surplus and no outlet for it. He has said what will happen to the dairying industry unless we come to their rescue, and has persuaded the House that the surplus in 1934 will be so colossal that unless Parliament comes forward with a subsidy of £1,750,000 the industry will collapse. The Noble Lady suggests that at the end of two years' time, owing to the advertising genius of the Milk Board, the popularity of liquid milk and an increased consumption in our elementary schools, the surplus ought to be a diminishing quantity; and, if the surplus is a diminishing quantity, then there is nothing in the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept. The right hon. Gentleman and the Noble Lady know that so long as you guarantee prices for milk it is bound to attract a greater rather than a lesser output, not necessarily of Grade A T-T milk, or certified milk, but perhaps of milk of a lower grade. There will be little or no attention paid to cleanliness; it will be merely a question of producing the maximum quantity, because guaranteed prices are available for all the milk which cannot be sold for liquid consumption.

The right hon. Gentleman must know that certain landowners are at this moment transferring from livestock to dairy farming. That is happening at one farm in Wales of which I know, and will be happening all over the country. The result will be that unless the Minister indicates that this policy is only for two years, and no longer, and that he is going to treat the surplus at the end of 12 months or 24 months in some other way, this two-year policy will be merely a blind and the subsidy will go on for all time. The right hon. Gentleman ought to tell the House and the country exactly what he means. The sum is definitely laid down for the first year, but for the second year it is an unknown quantity. It may be £1,750,000. We may have a lot of fine weather in the next 12 months and it may be less, but, if we have a rainy summer and the output of milk is exceptionally high, the £1,750,000 may develop into £2,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman has so little confidence in his own policy that he will not confine the payments for the second 12 months to the same amount that is to be paid during the first 12 months; and the surplus for the present 12 months is higher than it has ever been before. The Amendment is quite clear. It merely states that month by month—


indicated dissent.


We do not object to saying quarter by quarter, or half-year by half-year, or we do not object to the right hon. Gentleman taking the aggregate for the two periods of 12 months. We are anxious to satisfy ourselves that the right hon. Gentleman has some better and more constructive policy than merely subsidising the industry. If he can tell us that the board are going to take some action to reduce the amount of unclean milk being produced and sold, that the Government are going to care for a pure milk supply and will restrict the supply of unclean and tuberculous milk, we shall have more confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's policy. As it is, so long as the Treasury purse is wide open and subsidies are made available for any quantity farmers may produce, clean or unclean, then, obviously, you are going to get a huge increase in the output and to impose on the taxpayer a burden quite unknown. Having set aside £1,000,000 to advertise and popularise the consumption of liquid milk, and having determined that a proportion of the milk shall be given to school children at cheaper prices, the sale of liquid milk will increase as a result of this accumulation of efforts. In that case, unless output is going up steeply because of

the attraction of the subsidy, the right hon. Gentleman need have no fear that the sum of money made available in the second year will be any less than that made available in the first year. The right hon. Gentleman ought to satisfy the House that the second year's output of unclean milk is not going to increase over the present year's output. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the subsidy has nothing to do with unclean milk.


This Amendment has nothing to do with unclean milk, and I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to base his argument for it on clean or unclean milk.


It is quite impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to dissociate any Clause from clean or unclean milk. My point is that he is providing £1,750,000 this year to subsidise milk for manufacture because there is a huge surplus. My argument is that so long as he guarantees prices to milk producers he will attract a greater output than before. As the recent Committee told the world, a very large proportion of the milk now produced is not clean. You are bound to get an increased output of unclean milk. I know the right hon. Gentleman can tell me that Clause 9 deals with an impure milk supply. My point is that there will be people on the livestock side of the industry who will transfer to dairy farming merely because of the guarantee. The £1,750,000 provided to tide dairy farmers over a temporary difficulty ought to be enough. Those farmers who produce Grade A T.T. milk have great difficulty in getting rid of it now, and any excess of supply will mean that even they are to get harsher treatment, because of an increased output, than they are getting now. I want to see some limitation on the subsidy, and some definite start of constructive thought for cleaning the milk supply and increasing the liquid consumption.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House Divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 192.

Division No. 300.] AYES. [8.6 p.m.
Attlee, Clement Richard Buchanan, George Cripps, Sir Stanfford
Banfield, John William Cape, Thomas Daggar, George
Batey, Joseph Cocks, Frederick Seymour Davies David L. (Pontypridd)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Cove, William G. Dobbie, Williams
Edwards, Charles Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Kirkwood, David Smith, Tom (Normanton)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lawson, John James Thorne, William James
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Leonard, William Tinker, John Joseph
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Logan, David Gilbert Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.) Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Maxton, James Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)
Harris, Sir Percy Owen, Major Goronwy Wilmot, John
Holdsworth, Herbert Parkinson, John Allen
Janner, Barnett Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
John, William Salter, Dr. Alfred Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Groves.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Petherick, M.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Gunston, Captain D. W. Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)
Alexander, Sir William Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Procter, Major Henry Adam
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Hales, Harold K. Pybus, Sir Percy John
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Hartland, George A. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Aske, Sir Robert William Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Ramsbotham, Herwald
Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolle Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Rickards, George William
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Horobin, Ian M. Ropner, Colonel L.
Borodale, Viscount Horsbrugh, Florence Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Boulton, W. W. Howard, Tom Forrest Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Runge, Norah Cecil
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield. B'tside)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Brass, Captain Sir William Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Broadbent, Colonel John James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Jamieson, Douglas Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Selley, Harry R.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Kerr, Hamilton W. Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Cassels, James Dale Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Skelton, Archibald Noel
Christie, James Archibald Leckie, J. A. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Clarry, Reginald George Leech, Dr. J. W. Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In F.)
Colfox, Major William Philip Lees-Jones, John Somervell, Sir Donald
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Levy, Thomas Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Cook, Thomas A. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Copeland, Ida Lloyd, Geoffrey Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Lockwood. John C. (Hackney, C.) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Crooke, J. Smedley Loftus, Pierce C. Spens, William Patrick
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Mabane, William Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C, (Gainsb'ro) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)
Crossley, A. C. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Strauss, Edward A.
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Barnard McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) McKie, John Hamilton Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Dawson, Sir Philip Macmillan, Maurice Harold Summersby, Charles H.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Magnay, Thomas Sutcliffe, Harold
Denville, Alfred Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Tate, Mavis Constance
Drewe, Cedric Marsden, Commander Arthur Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Martin, Thomas B. Thompson, Sir Luke
Dunglass, Lord Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Eales, John Frederick Mayhew. Lieut.-Colonel John Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Edmondson, Major Sir James Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Train, John
Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Tree, Ronald
Elmley, Viscount Mitcheson, G. G. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Emrys- Evans, P. V. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Moreing, Adrian C. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Morgan, Robert H. Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Fleming, Edward Lasceiles Morrison, William Shepherd Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Whyte, Jardine Bell
Fremantle, Sir Francis Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Fuller, Captain A. G. Nunn, William Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Ganzoni, Sir John O'Connor, Terence James Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Gillett, Sir George Masterman O'Donovan, Dr. William James Wise, Alfred R.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Withers, Sir John James
Gower, Sir Robert Peat, Charles U.
Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Penny, Sir George TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Perkins, Walter R. D. Sir Walter Womersley and Dr. Morris-Jones.