HC Deb 25 June 1934 vol 291 cc883-914

8.27 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 11, line 35, at the end, to insert: (2) For the purposes of the foregoing sub-section the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in case of default on the part of a local authority in England, and the Secretary of State for Scotland in case of default on the part of a local authority in Scotland, shall exercise all or any of the powers conferred upon such local authority under the Diseases of Animals Acts, 1894 to 1927, or any orders or regulations made thereunder. This Amendment is for the purpose of giving the Minister those further powers which throughout the proceedings we have been anxious that he should have with regard to the purification of milk. The present powers which are exercised under the Diseases of Animals Acts, 1894 to 1927, are exercisable only by the local authorities, and the Orders which the Minister has made from time to time, including the Tuberculosis Order and several amending Orders, give power to the local authorities to make inspections and various regulations dealing with herds where there are infected and diseased animals. One of the striking things in the report of the Economic Advisory Committee was that, in a very large number of cases indeed, these powers were not exercised by the local authorities. In an appendix to the report, on page 132 of Command Paper No. 4591, one finds set out a list of the various counties where the local authorities have or have not taken action with regard to the inspection of dairy cattle. Reading down them, one notices, first of all, that in a great number of the counties there are no whole-time inspectors at all, and in some there seem to be no part-time inspectors either, while the frequency of inspection in a number of cases is put down as nil. For instance, in Bedfordshire, there are no whole-time inspectors, five part-time inspectors, and the frequency of inspection is "nil." There has been no inspection of dairy herds in this county. I do not know what the five part-time inspectors do; apparently they do not inspect. If one takes Berkshire, it shows that there are no whole-time inspectors, seven part-time, and frequency of inspection "nil." Appointment of one, possibly two, whole-time veterinary officers now under consideration. One reads county after county where there is very little inspection, though there are others, of course, where there is inspection and where a good deal of work has been done. If one takes Kent, one reads of one whole-time and 20 part-time inspectors, but that there is no regular frequency of inspection, but Whole-time veterinary officer. Controlled action taken in cases of reported tuberculosis and has also inspected herds as time allows, but under no system. In others, it is more systematic. What we want to do by inserting this Subsection is to give the Minister, here and now, power to act in these matters instead of the local authorities, in the case of default. It is a very limited power that we are asking the right hon. Gentleman to accept, and it is the sort of power that has often been given to Ministers as regards a very great number of matters. Even in things like the Housing Act, where local authorities do not take the appropriate action, the Minister has power to step in and to undertake the duties. We are asking here, as part of the general steps for the purification of milk, that the Minister should step in where the local authorities are not carrying out their duties under the various provisions under which they are at the present time supposed to act. We very much hope that the Minister will appreciate that we are not doing this in any hostile sense, but that we are really most anxious that in this matter the very maximum possible should be done in the way of giving the owners of herds assistance, by inspection, to clean up their herds. If this power is given, we feel that it will be a very valuable power.

8.32 p.m.


I fully appreciate the desire of the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), and indeed the desire of the whole House, to ensure that these powers really are exercised and that we do proceed with the very desirable object of getting cleaner herds and purer milk; but might I draw the hon. and learned Member's attention to the fact that this Amendment is, I think, already covered by existing Statutes? If he will look at the Diseases of Animals Act, 1894, in Section 34, he will see that that Section had it in the rubric, "Proceedings in case of default of local authorities." The Section reads: Where a local authority fail to execute or enforce any of the provisions of this Act, or of an order of the Board of Agriculture"— it was the Board then, not the Ministry— the Board may by order empower a person therein named to execute and enforce those provisions, or to procure the execution and enforcement thereof.


That is, a special Order is required. We are anxious that this general power to act in default shall be given in all matters, so that the staff of the Ministry can do it without a special Order.


I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for making that point clear, but does he not think that there you might have, what we are always so anxious to avoid for administrative purposes, divided responsibility?


It is only in cases of default.


If a local authority says, "It is all right, I am not doing it," then the Ministry ought to be doing it. If the public thinks that either or both of these bodies may be doing the work, it is possible that neither will be doing it.


But it is not being done.


It may be true that it is not being done, but, if so, that is an argument for greater energy in pressing on with these schemes, and I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that it is our intention to administer centrally a great deal of this Measure including a good many of the lure of money provisions, but we shall not get away from a defective energy of administration by merely piling powers into the Statute. The remedy for a defect of administration is to administer, not to legislate. I suggest to my hon. and learned Friend that to put in a general power to say that somebody ought to be doing this is the surest way of seeing that nobody does it. The Act says that the local authority shall do it, and that, if they do not do it, the Department of Agriculture may by order step in. The confusion that would be caused by saying that the Ministry of Agriculture should carry out a duty which normally belongs to a local authority would be the worst possible thing in the administration of this scheme. With every desire to do what both my hon. and learned Friend and I have in mind, I do not think that the Amendment would lead to an acceleration of increased energy in the promotion of these schemes and the cleaning of herds which both of us earnestly desire to press forward.

8.36 p.m.


I am bound to confess again that the right hon. Gentleman's reply is extremely weak. He first tells us that the power exists and that if a local authority defaults he can by the provision of an Order over-ride the local authority and see that the work is carried out. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Over 50 per cent. of the local authorities are not carrying out their duties, and in no case, so far as we can recall, has the right hon. Gentleman or any of his predecessors taken power to see that the work was done. It is simply no reply for the Minister to tell us that the local authorities have power and that they ought to do the job, but that in cases where the local authorities do not do the job the Ministry has the power. But even the Ministry does not do its job. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman only a week ago inviting him to tell the House how many inspectors were employed by the Depart- ment for inspecting the herds or any matter appertaining to herds. His reply was "none." He has not one inspector in the whole country for the purpose of inspecting herds or for insisting that the Tuberculosis Order or any other Order is carried out.

There was a deputation on the 18th April from the People's League of Health to the Minister of Health. Unfortunately, the Minister of Agriculture was absent through no fault of his own. The deputation was a very influential one, and included Lord Moynihan and other well-known surgeons. In replying to the deputation the Minister said he agreed with Lord Moynihan that it was necessary to proceed simultaneously along some lines of advance. In the first place, all that was possible must be done to remove infection from herds. In the second place, steps must be taken for the protection of milk. As the deputation would be aware, he said, the Government were proposing to provide from public funds a sum not exceding £750,000 spread over the next four years in aid of a campaign for securing a purer milk supply. No final decision had yet been taken how best that money could be spent, and before reaching a decision the Government were awaiting the report of the Cattle Diseases Committee of the Economic Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Sir P. Gowland Hopkins.

When this deputation met the Minister of Health in search of a clean milk supply which ultimately would reflect to the credit and economic prosperity of dairy farmers, the Government had not made up their minds what should be done with the £750,000, but, said the Minister of Health, everything must be done to remove infection from herds. The right hon. Gentleman has now made up his mind what he is going to do with the £750,000. He is going to allot some of it to provide a premium for the producers of Grade A tuberculin-tested milk. Therefore, we must assume that he has also made up his mind that he is going to do nothing with regard to inspections. What does the Hopkins Report invite the right hon. Gentleman to do? They say: Routine veterinary inspections of dairy cattle should be made obligatory for all local authorities. The right hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that. Although they say that routine inspections should be made obligatory, we know that 50 per cent. of the local authorities are having no inspections at all. They also say that veterinary service should be expanded under the immediate control of local authorities, with precautions designed to secure to the Department of Agriculture power to co-ordinate the activities of local authorities. They proceed to tell us approximately how many veterinary surgeons will be required. A full service could not be established immediately as it would require about 300 veterinary surgeons, but steps should be taken to provide these. Here is the Hopkins Report for which the Minister of Health and the Minister of Agriculture were waiting. They have now got the recommendations of the Committee based upon a close analysis of all the evidence that was made available, and yet the Government suggest that they are going to do nothing. We think the Government have to do more than merely shovel out their money without any kind of effort to procure a pure milk supply. I do not at all disagree with the right hon. Gentleman in encouraging by a financial premium the production of Grade A tuberculin-tested milk. It is a very noble idea, and I hope that many farmers will respond to the call, but it is not nearly enough to satisfy the problem.

Unless the right hon. Gentleman will do one or two things, he must expect that years ahead, should he be on that bench, he will always be charged with having had a great deal of responsibility for the impure milk supply of this country. I do not use the words "impure milk" as intending to cast a reflection on all the farmers, because many of them have been striving for a long time to get an improved quality of milk, but there are many who have not been striving. They will not strive, and they are driving down their colleagues to a lower level. We ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept this Amendment to take power, not by the difficult process of an Order in every case, but to take power here and now to employ the inspectors that are necessary to get on with the job where local authorities default; and, unless he is prepared to do this, he cannot blame local authorities. Indeed, he is encouraging them to do nothing at all. I libelled Derbyshire on the Committee stage when I said that Derby County Council had one inspector and that the landowners who sit on that body wanted to dismiss him. I made a mistake; it is Nottingham. That county has only one veterinary inspector. He cannot make many inspections, but the landowners are actually wanting to sack him. If the right hon. Gentleman will neither appeal to local authorities to do the job nor step in himself to do it, he will be vulnerable to every attack made upon him in future for the impure milk supply of the country.

8.45 p.m.


We all want to get pure milk, but I would point out to the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) and the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment that their complaint is really outside the scope of the Bill altogether, and I think that, if the point had been taken, the Amendment might have been ruled out of order; but that is another matter. In effect, they want to supersede the local authorities. The argument of the hon. Member for Don Valley was in favour of a centralised inspection instead of action through the local authorities. I do not think that is the right way of doing it. Possibly the inspection at present is not as good as it might be, because I cannot disregard what is said in the committee's report, but surely the answer to that is not to push aside the local authorities and act over their heads. That procedure always creates difficulties and a lot of friction, and in the end very little good is done, because if the local authorities are driven to resistance past experience has shown that they can resist a central authority. The other way of doing it is to bring all the local authorities up to the level of the best local authorities, and I am certain that is the right way. The Minister has certain powers under the Act of 1894, and under this Bill he goes on the system of rewarding the good producer rather than penalising the bad producer. I believe that is a thing that the central authority can do, although it would be out of the power of the local authorities to do it. Alongside that, pressure can be brought to bear upon the local authorities to increase their inspectorate and so to eliminate disease from our herds. I am certain from what I know of local life, and I believe the hon. Member for Don Valley will agree, that it would do far more harm than good to attempt entirely to supersede the local authorities.

8.49 p.m.


I feel that the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) did not do justice to the Minister of Agriculture. During previous stages he has made it clear that he is very keen that inspections should be carried out, but the whole question is, How is it to be done? So far as I recall the Act of 1894 the Minister can act through a special Order. This Amendment is designed to give a general Order. I believe there is a good deal to be said for the Minister's contention that if there is a general Order it will encourage local authorities to neglect to fulfil their conditions under the Act of 1894, and to say, "If we do not do it the Minister under this Act will do it." I think perhaps there may be some legitimate complaint against the Minister of Agriculture for not using the powers which he already possesses under the Act of 1894, and if he gives the House an assurance that those powers will be used in future, and that when a local authority fails to fulfil this function the Minister will ask for a special Order and do what the local authority ought to have done, I think the case will be met.

8.50 p.m.

Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN

I think there has been some misunderstanding of the situation so far as the local authorities are concerned. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) quoted from a report about the inspection of herds, but local authorities do not in most cases inspect a herd unless tuberculous cows are reported to them. I think, however, although I am open to correction, that there are very few local authorities which do not send medical officers of health and veterinary surgeons to the markets where the cattle are sold. I know they do all round my part of the country—at Reading, Guildford, Chichester and other places. Those officers attend the markets where the cows are sold, because they know they will find there any cows which happen to be tuberculous. The report which the hon. Member spoke of does not refer to any inspection at the markets, although I think that is carried out by most counties, and it is really very effective in finding the tuberculous animals.


Surely the hon. and gallant Member has more than confirmed all that I said. He suggests that in his part of the world, though there may be no inspection of herds, medical officers of health and veterinary surgeons attend the markets; but clearly those are the places where the farmer takes his cows to be sold for meat.

Brigadier-General BROWN

And then they can find out if there are any tuberculous cows.


But the farmer will have been selling milk from those tuberculous cows for months, and perhaps for years.

8.52 p.m.


I feel there may be some slight confusion in the minds of the supporters of the Amendment between the Act of 1894 and the Milk and Dairies Act. Everything to do with clinical inspection comes under the latter Act, and the House may recollect that one of the main features of that Act is that this provision is compulsory in Scotland and voluntary in England. I do not wish to sing too loudly the praises of my native land, but I think the compulsory inspections have been- of great value. Only one inspection a year is compulsory, but in many counties one gets, in addition to that compulsory inspection, two or even three voluntary inspections a year. All that, however, has nothing to do with the Diseases of Animals Act, which, as far as I can follow the connection, has to do with the slaughter of diseased animals, a power which is exercised where there are violent outbreaks of tuberculosis. However, the main point of the hon. Members who are supporting this Amendment is that we are not taking sufficient interest in the cleaning up of the herds. I think they have forgotten the system of accredited herds. South of the Tweed, where clinical inspection is voluntary on the part of the local authorities, the system of accredited herds is the method whereby, in fact, that voluntary inspection will be made compulsory; for this reason, that the owners of dairy herds in counties where there is no inspection will be unable to get the necessary certificate—I am not sure that that is the correct word—to show that their herds are accredited. Once we link up the system of accredited herds with encouragement in the production of pure milk we get a stimulus to the extension of the system of clinical inspections of herds, and we think that will do a great deal more than can be done under the Diseases of Animals Act. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) is very much interested in this topic; so are we. We think that there are other ways, beside giving the Minister powers in this Bill under the Diseases of Animals Act. I am satisfied that in England—where inspection is not used compulsorily and where, as I understand it, it does not need legislation but an Order, and not by the Minister of Agriculture but by the Minister of Health, to make it compulsory—to develop a system of accredited herds will induce compulsion to follow as an inevitable sequel.

8.56 p.m.


I am glad that the Under-Secretary has said a word on behalf of Scotland. He must not forget, however, that there have been detailed claims, especially in regard to Glasgow and its milk, which entitle us to endeavour to make inspection of the herds from which that milk comes as tight as possible. He must be aware that, of the samples taken in Glasgow, not less than from 8 per cent. to 10 per cent. have been found to be tubercular. That warrants us in supporting any proposal to strengthen inspection. I had an opportunity coming down in the train to-day of a look at the "Home Farmer." With regard to accredited herds, I notice that a lot of farmers are writing to their own journal saying that they want to be left alone. They do not seem to have any desire to have further inspection imposed upon them, but they feel that they should be allowed to go along as at the present time. I suggest that this Amendment is something which is required.


Will the hon. Member explain what he meant when he said that from 8 per cent. to 10 per cent. of the samples were tubercular? Did he mean 10 per cent. of the samples or 10 per cent. of the bulk of the milk, because they are very different things?


The only measure you can take is the samples which are taken.


That method is very unfair. You may take a sample from three or four cows and the sample is accredited only with the same weight as one taken from 100 cows.


I have no objection to a machine being erected which will enable us to inspect them all, if the hon. Member will agree to the oncost.

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

"The House divided: Ayes, 49; Noes, 209.

Division No. 301.] AYES. [8.59 p.m.
Attlee, Clement Richard George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Nathan, Major H. L.
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Owen, Major Goronwy
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Parkinson, John Allen
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rathbone, Eleanor
Buchanan, George Harris, Sir Percy Rea, Walter Russell
Cape, Thomas Holdsworth, Herbert Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Janner, Barnett Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cove, William G. Jenkins, Sir William Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cripps, Sir Stafford John, William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Daggar, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Thorne, William James
Davies, David L, (Pontypridd) Kirkwood, David Tinker, John Joseph
Dobbie, William Lawson, John James Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Logan, David Gilbert Williams. Thomas (York, Don Valley)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Wilmot, John
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maxton, James. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Groves.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Eales, John Frederick Lambert, Rt. Hon. George
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Edmondson, Major Sir James Leech, Dr. J. W.
Alexander, Sir William Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter Lees-Jones, John
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Elliston, Captain George Sampson Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Levy, Thomas
Aske, Sir Robert William Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Atholl, Duchess of Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Everard, W. Lindsay Loftus, Pierce C.
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Fleming Edward Lascelles Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Ford, Sir Patrick J. Mabane, William
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Fremantle, Sir Francis McCorquodale, M. S.
Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Fuller, Captain A. G. Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Ganzoni, Sir John McEwen, Captain J. H. F.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Gillett, Sir George Masterman McKie, John Hamilton
Borodale, Viscount Gluckstein, Louis Halle McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Boulton, W. W. Goldie, Noel B. Magnay, Thomas
Bower, Commander Robert Tatton Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Marsden, Commander Arthur
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Martin, Thomas B.
Brass, Captain Sir William Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Broadbent, Colonel John Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Gunston, Captain D. W. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mitchell, Harold P.(Br'tfd & Chisw'k)
Brown, Brig. -Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Hales, Harold K. Mitcheson, G. G.
Browne, Captain A. C. Hammersley, Samuel S. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Moreing, Adrian C.
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Morgan, Robert H.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Cassels, James Dale Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th, S.) Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Morrison. William Shephard
Christie, James Archibald Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Munro, Patrick
Clarry, Reginald George Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Colfox, Major William Philip Horobin, Ian M. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Cook, Thomas A. Horsbrugh, Florence Nunn, William
Copeland, Ida Howard, Tom Forrest O'Connor, Terence James
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) O'Donovan, Dr. William James
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.
Crooke, J. Smedley Hume, Sir George Hopwood Penny, Sir George
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Petherick, M.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.
Crossley, A. C. Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Procter, Major Henry Adam
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard James. Wing-Com. A. W. H. Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jamleson, Douglas Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Dawson, Sir Philip Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsbotham, Herwald
Denman, Hon. R. D. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Rankin, Robert
Denville, Alfred Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)
Drewe, Cedric Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Reid, David D. (County Down)
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Kerr, Hamilton W. Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Dunglass, Lord Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Rickards, George William Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.) Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Robinson, John Roland Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Ropner, Colonel L. Somervell, Sir Donald Train, John
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor) Tree, Ronald
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E. Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Runge, Norah Cecil Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Spencer, Captain Richard A. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Spens, William Patrick Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Whyte, Jardine Bell
Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Storey, Samuel Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Salmon, Sir Isidore Strauss, Edward A. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Salt, Edward W. Strickland, Captain W. F. Wise, Alfred R.
Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart Withers, Sir John James
Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard Summersby, Charles H.
Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Sutcliffe, Harold TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Simmonds, Oliver Edwin Tate, Mavis Constance Sir Waiter Womersley and Lieut.-
Skelton, Archibald Noel Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford) Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.
Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Thompson, Sir Luke

Amendment made: in page 11, line 40, leave out "any such board," and insert "the board administering any such scheme."—[Mr. Elliot.]

9.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 12, line 6, after "sum," to insert "not exceeding one penny."

This Amendment is put down in order to meet a criticism by the board that it was a little unfair that the Minister should find it possible, if the Bill becomes an Act, to make an Order compelling them to make an absolutely unlimited payment, and, therefore, they have suggested that there should be some limitation. I think that that is a reasonable suggestion, and accordingly I am moving this Amendment. I do not think it is necessary to expatiate at any length on the matter. The House has decided that we shall pay a sum of 1d. per gallon, and I think it would be unreasonable to leave the position, after the expiry of the four years, such that the board might be required by the Minister to pay more. It will, of course, be open to the board to pay more if they so desire, but it is perhaps not reasonable to ask them to accept a liability to pay more than the House has itself determined that it is desirable that the House should authorise.


I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is quite certain that, if these words are put in, farmers will not say that they are entitled to 1d. when the Milk Board may only want to pay them ½d. That is the argument that the right hon. Gentleman puts forward if we try to put in any terms of limitation.


I can only say that this was the Board's own desire, and I take it that they would not wish to expose themselves to a larger payment than would otherwise have been the case. I think we may trust them not to have laid themselves open to a greater liability than they would otherwise have had.

9.7 p.m.


It is quite true that producers have a considerable fear as to what the Minister may do under Subsection (2) of Clause 9. I should like to thank my right hon. Friend for what he is proposing to do with regard to the limit of 1d.; I presume it is the result of an agreement that he has come to with the board; but under the Order he will (have the right also of determining the circumstances under which the production is carried out. Would he be good enough to say whether these Orders, when they are made by him, will have to be laid on the Table of the House and come under the criticism of Members of the House or of the board, and whether it will be possible either to vary or annul an Order if the producers themselves or Members of the House so desire? I think that, before we part from this Amendment, we ought to have an assurance that at any rate the House or the producers themselves other than the board will have the right to make some statement and put forward their case as to the conditions laid down in the Orders which it is proposed to make.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)

I hardly think that that arises on this Amendment.


The 1d., I take it, was given merely for the purpose of meeting the difficulties which have been expressed to the Minister and to which he has referred, but it only goes half-way, and that is why I thought I should be in order. In any case, might I ask whether the Orders will be laid on the Table of the House?

9.10 p.m.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I gathered that the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) was afraid that the producers might demand not less than 1d. per gallon as a result of this Amendment if it were embodied in the Bill. I venture to point out that the owners of accredited herds, in Scotland anyhow, say that 1d. will be quite insufficient to recoup them for the additional expense of producing Grade A T.-T. milk. Their claim is that the additional cost entailed upon them is not less than 3d. per gallon, and therefore 1d. will only go a very short way to meet the extra cost in which they are involved. I am not able to investigate that claim, and cannot say whether it is well founded, but if it is—and the case was put to me very strongly the other day by a man who has owned a herd of that kind for several years—it seems to me that it will be very difficult for the owners of these herds to continue to produce milk of that quality.

I should like some information from the Minister as to how far he expects that this premium of 1d. which he proposes will encourage the owners of herds that are not tubercule-free to undertake the expense of making them free from infection. I think it wuold be very useful if my right hon. Friend could give us some indication as to the number of herds not now free to which this 1d. is intended to extend. Personally, I should be glad if he could leave the question of the amount of the premium open, because it seems to me that this claim of the owners of such herds that the additional cost entailed is 3d. per gallon ought to be thoroughly investigated, and, if it should prove to be well founded, I cannot help thinking that my right hon. Friend would be well advised to spread the butter more thickly, so to speak, and over a less wide extent—that, in other words, it would be better to ensure that the effect of the premium will be to keep existing accredited herds in existence, rather than attempt to bring in more by spreading the premium more widely and thus losing many of the herds that we at present have. I would ask my right hon. Friend, therefore, if he could give us any indication as to how many new cows may be covered by this 1d. per gallon, and, perhaps more important, whether he would not undertake a thorough investigation into the claim of the owners of accredited herds that the extra cost is 3d. per gallon.

Amendment agreed to.

9.14 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 12, line 7, at the end, to insert: Provided that before the end of the period mentioned in the foregoing subsection the boards administering any milk scheme for the time being in force shall cause a poll of registered producers to be taken in accordance with the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1981, relating to the amendment of schemes, on the question as to whether the boards shall accept the liability to make the payments mentioned in this sub-section, and, unless the result of such poll is in favour of the boards accepting such liability, no order shall be made under this sub-section. We have just heard from the Minister on the last Amendment that he has been able to meet the wishes of the board by limiting the amount of liability under this Clause. By my Amendment I am asking him to go a step further. What is to happen when the four-year subsidy period comes to an end? The £750,000 will by that time have been expended and the board will be taking upon itself full liability up to the new limit of a 1d. a gallon. The producer asks, I think rightly, why the board should be paying in future by the order of the Minister a sum of money out of the milk pool in respect of the provisions of this Clause. It did not figure in the original marketing scheme. The Marketing Act, 1931, lays down most clearly that, if the board is to commence making payments for any purposes out of the milk pool which are not specified in the original scheme, there must be an amendment to the scheme, and it further lays down that there can be no Amendment to the scheme without a poll of the producers. It will be seen, therefore, that under the Clause there is a completely new departure. If the right hon. Gentleman accepts the Amendment, at the end of the four-year period, if it be found desirable for a continuation to be made wholly out of the Milk Fund at the disposal of the board, it will become necessary to have a poll of pro- ducers I hope very much that my right hon. Friend will see the force of that argument. In putting forward this Amendment, I am giving voice to a feeling which is very strongly held by milk producers throughout the country.

9.19 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment. Apparently, I am not going to get a reply to my previous question whethers Orders will be laid; consequently I do not think the producer, as producer, other than being a member of the board, will have any power with regard to the Order. This at least will be an opportunity for him to consider the Order and to decide whether it is one that he can accept.

9.20 p.m.


I think in this case my hon. and gallant Friend is being a great deal more royalist than the king. The Milk Marketing Board is completely satisfied with the Amendment that has just been made. I think it is a little unnecessary on the part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to move this Amendment seeking to safeguard the Milk Marketing Board and the producers under it, against a danger against which the board thinks they have guarded themselves. It is not difficult to see why. If any of us had a scheme placed before us with certain advantages and some disadvantages, certain pecuniary rewards and pecuniary liabilities and four years after we had had the pecuniary rewards we were allowed to have a poll as to whether we would accept the liabilities or not, I can well imagine that we should reject them by an overwhelming majority. This is a balanced policy all hanging together, and if the producers reject one part of the policy, they must reject it all. There is nothing in the marketing scheme about this liability, nor is there anything about the cheese-milk advances. They cannot have it both ways. The Bill provides for certain advances, which, by a generous provision of the House, may never be repaid at all, running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds, with certain liabilities attached—liabilities for cleaning up the herds—which for four years are being shouldered by the Government. At the end of that time after the producers have had all the advantages, to hold out to them the temptation to repudiate the liabilities which they have also accepted and which they must accept if they are to receive any benefit under the Bill, would be a totally unwarranted course. It is true that there is no provision for this liability in the milk marketing scheme, but there is no provision either for the receipt of several hundreds of thousands of pounds from the taxpayers. If one be rejected, the whole must be rejected; and, at the end of the four years, to throw upon the producers the possibility of having to repay in any circumstances the sums that they have received is to bring upon them a dilemma which it is unnecessary to present to them. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not find it necessary to press the Amendment.

9.24 p.m.


We have been searching for several days to find a point of agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. At last, thanks to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we have discovered it, and we are not only glad to find the right hon. Gentleman rejecting the Amendment, but also pointing out that there are liabilities as well as assets in political life. I am glad the Minister has rejected the Amendment.

Lieut. - Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

This is not entirely a gift. It was expected when the Government introduced the scheme that certain steps would be taken. It was expected that the Government would do something to keep out imports of milk products. My right hon. Friend really might take more notice of this Amendment.


The Amendment has nothing to do with the contention put forward to the House. I should be totally out of order if I attempted to argue it now.

Duchess of ATHOLL

If he will allow me to say so, I do not think my right hon. Friend has given quite a fair picture in what he said just now. The milk industry has not asked for this Bill. Clause 1 provides for an advance to raise the price of butter as a temporary help in a time of emergency. I regard this advance as an attempt to rectify some of the defects in the scheme that have become apparent but if the price of cheese milk rises above a certain level, the advances have to be repaid. Therefore, I cannot say that I regard this as more than an emergency help. I do not think my right hon. Friend can say that the milk producers have asked for the other provisions of the Bill, not at any rate for the advance for freeing herds from tuberculosis, still less that the expense of freeing herds when the Treasury grant is exhausted should be thrown on their shoulders. An hon. Member on Second Heading stressed the liabilities which the Bill would in future years put on producers. This Amendment deals in particular with a matter with which I dealt on a former occasion. I then asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland if when the grant was exhausted this payment or premium would fall on the producers. He said it was impossible to say at the time, but he afterwards wrote me a letter in which he indicated that the industry if in a sufficiently good position would be called on to pay. Now the Minister is ridiculing the suggestion that the industry should be called on to say whether it is prepared to shoulder this burden though, as my hon. and gallant Friend has shown, the scheme provides for such a poll if the industry is being asked to undertake new expenditure. When the milk producers in my part of Scotland realise that the Minister ridicules the suggestion that they should not be allowed to decide if this burden is to fall on them at the end of four years, the serious feeling already aroused will become further exacerbated.


The Clause itself specifically provides for consultation.


The Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) called milk producers beggars. He said the other day that this clean milk and clearing up of the herds was going to cost producers something between £20,000,000, £30,000,000 or even £50,000,000. That at any rate is a very big burden for producers.


What I said was that it had been estimated that to clear up the herds would cost that. If the National Government remains in office, I cannot imagine it costing producers a penny.

Brigadier-General BROWN

I really must object to what has been said. I voted against the scheme and was perfectly certain that it would fail and that it would have to be bolstered up by this and that subsidy unless the Government put in force the Marketing Act, especially Section 2 stopping the imports of foreign milk products. I object to the producer being told that he has no right to object to this point. As my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment said the milk producers are not going to have the Milk Marketing Board or anything else if they have these pernicious burdens. If Section 2 of the Marketing Act is put into force there will be no necessity for this Bill at all, except for the cleaning up of the milk part, of which I am in favour. If the Minister of Agriculture will not take warning he should realise it is unwise to shelter behind the Milk Board. He should take more to heart the words of my hon. and gallant Friend.

9.31 p.m.


I really must pour a little oil on the troubled waters. This is a deplorable display of temper and I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman's followers will not be quite so vicious because the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not allow them more money. After all, I can understand the feeling of hon. Members who are getting only about £5,500,000; it is not very much. Still, perhaps some of them also have wheat and are getting something for that; something for meat as well; and then there is sugar. On the whole, therefore, they have not done badly, and I do think they might be a little kinder now that the Government are trying to induce a little Fascist discipline into agriculture.

9.32 p.m.


My right hon. Friend has said that this Bill is a completely balanced scheme, and that if the producers were to receive a considerable sum of money in assistance towards the industry, they should at least put up with the liability under another portion of the scheme. I must remind him that under the first part of the scheme the whole of the money advanced by the Treasury is repayable, and therefore on that point his argument rather falls to the ground. I would only say that if these repayments become due, as they will, under this Bill, they will do so just at the same time as others become due, so that producers will have an additional liability under Clause 9.

9.33 p.m.


I am sure that I value very much my hon. Friend's suggestion and the discussion which it has been admitted on all sides of the House has been useful, even the contribution of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps).


The oil has had its effect.


I would only draw my hon. and gallant Friend's attention, in regard to what he has said about these advances being repayable and therefore an added burden on the producer, to the fact that they are only repayable if the price of cheese milk rises, not to a point where the advance was made, but to a point a penny above that. Therefore, the liability to the producer is considerably increased. I sympathise with the case of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown), because he said that he voted against the scheme all the way through, and naturally it is very creditable on his part to show as much interest as he does and to assure us of his interest in the scheme, in spite of the fact that he is opposed to it. I know that many Members are curious as to the whole structure of organisation which those Acts represent.

Brigadier-General BROWN

The Milk Scheme organisation.


Milk schemes and other schemes, but I beg of my hon. and gallant Friend to admit that, at any rate, it is agreed by all the producers that had the scheme not been in existence veritable chaos would have resulted, and the full price would not have been received. Many small, struggling producers in distant parts of the country would not have received it, or anything like it. I think it is generally agreed that it has brought order into a situation which otherwise would have been one of chaos, and is enabling the organised producer to act in line with the organised distributor. It is possible that he has not obtained the full advantages of that organisation, but the organisation is young. The Government recognise their liability and the necessity of reaching a solution. It is not in any bargaining spirit that they bring forward these matters. Considerable advantages are secured for the producers by the provisions of the early portions of the Bill. They are advantages which would not be secured for the producer by a tariff on imported milk products. Advantages over and above the tariff imposed as a result of the Ottawa Agreements are being brought to the milk producers as the result of the Bill. I think that my noble Friend the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) does us less than justice when she says that the Bill was not asked for by the milk industry. Deputation after deputation came to me and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary asking, above all things, that something should be done for cheese-makers. If there were one thing which the milk industry said more than another, it was that a critical situation might arise in the summer if the cheese industry of this country were not preserved. The Bill was asked for and welcomed by the industry. The Noble Lady does less than justice when she represents by her great argumentative skill these provisions as merely a series of ingenious devices put forward by Ministers with very little to do. This is a practical contribution to the needs of the industry. She need not fear arbitrary action being taken in future by the Minister. The Minister cannot make an Order until after consultation with the board.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House if the producers—


I must remind the Noble Lady that we have already, by leave of the House, had two speeches each from two hon. Members on this Amendment.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I merely want to ask a question. Has my right hon. Friend had any request from the industry to introduce this provision in regard to cleaning herds with the understanding that the burden would fall on the industry?


I have certainly had representations from the industry that assistance should be given in respect to this milk. I certainly had representations from the industry that assistance should be given towards cleaning up herds and representations from the in-industry for increased assistance for pub- licity and in respect of the provision of milk for school children. I also satisfied the Milk Marketing Board on this very provision by the insertion of an Amendment which they asked me to put in. I think it is straining a little hard specifically to ask that the industry should not accept this particular part of the scheme, which is a balanced whole and must stand or fall together.

Amendment negatived.

9.42 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 12, line 16, at the end, to insert: (4) For the purposes of this Act the words pure and free from the infection of any disease' means milk which has—

  1. (a) not been treated by heat in such a way as to destroy or modify its natural characteristics and to which no foreign matter such as water, skimmed milk, fat, or other substances have been added and is—
  2. (b) of a standard of bacteriological purity and of nutritional content;
which shall be fixed from time to time by the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Health after a public inquiry at the cost of the Milk Marketing Board. This Amendment, which stands in my name and the names of 30 other Members, deals with the definition and meaning to be given to the words "pure and free from the infection of any disease." To the best of my knowledge, these words have never been defined hitherto in any way, and a great deal must hang upon the meaning which is attached to them. The Amendment proposes, first, to exclude pasteurised milk or milk heated in other ways from the scope of the Bill, and from the scope of milk to receive subsidy from Government funds. If pasteurised milk were to be regarded as eligible for the subsidy, it is clear that there would be available so much pasteurised milk on which money should be paid that the Clause would virtually cease to operate. There is another reason. The Hopkins Report, on which I pin my faith, is exceedingly lukewarm in all its references to pasteurisation. It says that there is not sufficient evidence to support the presumption that pasteurisation is harmless. It avoided saying that it is beneficial. It admits that when children were fed on pasteurised milk in New York the great majority of them at once became ricketty, but states that it is quite possible to replace the loss of vitamins due to heating by the addi- tion of orange, lemon or citrous fruit juices "which, in these days, can be obained very easily." Anyone with a knowledge of the working class conditions and rural districts knows very well that orange, lemon or citrous fruit juices cannot be easily and cheaply obtained. It costs something like a shilling a week to purchase the fruit to provide the necessary juice, and to suggest that pure milk means milk deprived of certain vitamins which can be replaced by something added if the mother remembers and can afford it, is not fair to the community.

If one turns to foreign countries one finds that pasteurised milk is not regarded as pure in any advanced country. In America, for example, no milk may be purchased or sold as pasteurised unless from tuberculin-tested herds. That is a statement which appears on page 196 of the Hopkins Report. Pasteurised milk is not, I understand, allowed to be sold at all for human consumption in Germany or Denmark. Pasteurisation is regarded as a commercial process which has great value in preventing deterioration and decay in milk, but does not necessarily render it germ-free or germ-proof. All butter is made compulsorily from pasteurised milk, but milk is not normally sold or allowed to be sold in public if it is pasteurised.

9.45 p.m.


Is it in order to move an Amendment which is unintelligible? It purports to give a definition of milk "pure and free from infection" by setting out in (a) something which it must not have been. The following paragraph (b)— of a standard of bacteriological purity and of nutritional content. relates to what it is, not to what it has. Also the last two lines of the Amendment are apparently not attached to paragraph (b). As printed on the Order Paper they attach to the whole of the proposed Sub-section (4), and make nonsense. In my submission, the Amendment as it stands is unintelligible and cannot seriously be proposed to be put into the Act.


I do not know about unintelligibility, but as far as I read the Amendment the grammar seems to be fairly good. That is really all that I am concerned with.

9.47 p.m.


Perhaps I owe an apology to the hon. and learned Member, whose doubts would be set at rest if the word "has" were put in the Amendment after (a). There are good reasons for not imposing pasteurised milk as pure milk upon the population of this country without much more evidence and inquiry. I rely entirely upon the Hopkins Report for the views that I am expressing on behalf of a very large number of people outside the House, who have expressed their opinions very strongly. The Hopkins Report was not designed primarily to discuss the question of pasteurisation. It dealt with cattle diseases, and the reference to pure milk and pasteurisation were incidental to its terms of reference. In the second place, we have no evidence before us. We do not know what evidence was put before the Committee of the Economic Advisory Council, of which Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins was the chairman. The evidence is not available, not even, as in the case of a recent Departmental Committee's Report, at a cost of £2 19s. 6d. a copy. It cannot be maintained that the inquiry was dealing with the question of public health, tuberculosis, and purity of milk. It was dealing with cattle diseases, and it perfectly fair, from the list of witnesses, to suggest that had the committee been dealing primarily with the question of pure milk they would have heard other and more extensive evidence.

The second point dealt with by the second part of the Amendment is the setting up of a scientific technical body on which the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture would be represented, which would advise from time to time on what might reasonably be regarded as pure milk, free from the infection of any disease. It is quite clear that absolute and perfect freedom from any disease is not obtainable, and probably in the opinion of medical men may not be desirable. A perfectly sterile fluid would almost certainly expose more children to disease than a fluid not wholly sterile but containing some of the good germs. These are matters which cannot be discussed except by experts. My object in moving the Amendment is to secure a standing body, which will be paid for by the Marketing Board, on which the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health would be represented, which would sit in public, which would hear expert evidence from competent witnesses and would decide from time to time on the question of pure milk. That body would also be able to take into account the question of nutrition, what constitutes good pasturage, and what milk might reasonably be expected in any given month in the year in a given area, from a given herd, instead of having hard and fast regulations which are liable to cause great injustice to individual farmers, resulting in the bulking of milk and the adulteration of milk, so to speak, in order to produce milk of a dead level of fair average.


Can the hon. and gallant Member say what is the cost of the process of pasteurisation?


I have no idea what the cost of pasteurisation is, but I know from the report of the Hopkins Committee that pasteurisation can only safely be performed under very close inspection by highly qualified men, that unless it is very skilfully performed it may do more harm than good, and that it is not accessible to the ordinary small farmer.

9.51 p.m.

Brigadier-General BROWN

I beg to second the Amendment. As my hon. and gallant Friend has gone so fully into the matter I need not detain the House. The only point I wish to stress is, that if we want to produce cleaner milk I do not think that pasteurisation is the way to encourage it. If the farmer can get his milk pasteurised he is not going to take the trouble to see that his milk is very clean. I think that if the Hopkins Committee had had more witnesses who were actually producers than those shown in the list of witnesses, they would have given more consideration to the point before even they gave their half-hearted recommendation for pasteurisation. If we wish to have clean milk for school children we must see that not only is it clean but that it is milk upon which they will thrive. On ordinary liquid milk they thrive much better than on pasteurised milk. If we want to encourage the production of clean liquid milk we must not allow local authorities to make any hard and fast rules and say that they will have nothing but pasteurised milk, and that all other liquid milk is impure. It is better to convince the producer of milk and his milkman that the object is not to get milk for pasteurisation but to get clean milk, in the best sense, fit for human consumption.

9.53 p.m.


I do not want to go into the whole subject of pasteurisation. With some of the points put by the hon. and gallant Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) I agree, but some of them cannot be upheld on detailed examination. His criticism of the Hopkins Report is one on which he has already made up his mind. That report is much more definite than he has made out in favour of pasteurisation. I think we are all agreed as to our ultimate object, and that we do not want pasteurisation to be used in order to give the people bad or unclean milk in any other way. We all agree that we would infinitely rather that the children should have pasteurised milk than milk which contains the germs of tuberculosis and other diseases which we know do definitely produce fatal diseases and result in the deaths of 2,500 children every year. Hon. Members opposite must recognise that fact. Pasteurisation is only the second best, but it is much better to have a second best than something which is worse. The hon. and gallant Member ridiculed pasteurisation by talking about using lemon juice or orange juice to make up for the vitamins which had been destroyed in pasteurisation, and he said that ordinary raw milk with a certain amount of germs was better than pasteurised milk. I cannot understand how anyone can suggest that you are going to get a standard of bacteriological purity and nutritional content by a public inquiry. It is absurd. All you can do is to see that the standard is revised from time to time and if it is thought advisable to inform Parliament as to the grounds on which the standard is laid down. I do not think the Amendment is required.

9.56 p.m.


I hope the Amendment will not be pressed. I am not in favour of pasteurisation because I agree that it is only a second best, it is something which is used after milk is in a state in which it really ought not to be. That is not my objection to the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member in paragraph (b) is asking that the Board of Trade shall have the power to fix a standard for designated milk. This is to be done after a public inquiry, but at the expense of the Milk Marketing Board. I object to the Amendment on that ground.

9.57 p.m.


I support the Amendment, not because I am opposed to pasteurisation, but because I am opposed to pasteurisation as it is carried out in this country to-day. It appears from the Cowland Hopkins Report that there is no proper inspection of licensed plant premises, except under the milk and dairy Orders, and there are many unlicensed plants in this country. Furthermore, it also appears from that report that in many cases pasteurised milk has been found to contain the germs of tuberculosis. With regard to what the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) has said, two facts stand out. First, that in the countries where most raw milk is drunk tuberculosis is less, and in rural districts where there is less milk pasteurised you get a smaller incidence of tuberculosis.

9.58 p.m.


As I understand it, the object of the Amendment is to secure pure milk and free from the infection of any disease. It is an object with which I sympathise, and with which, indeed, the whole House sympathises, but the question arises whether that object will be obtained by placing this definition in the Bill. The question of pasteurisation is one of expediency. I agree with the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) that in many cases pasteurisation is useful and will preserve consumers of milk from disease in certain cases. On the other hand, it is not an ideal to be aimed at, and it may be used as a cloak for producing impure and inferior milk. With regard to paragraph (b) of the Amendment, the standard of bacterological purity and nutritional content, that to my mind is a question which must depend entirely on the conditions of the milk supply in any particular neighbourhood. Milk fresh from the cow is the finest and best thing of all, and the nearer we get to it the better, but I feel doubtful whether any committee laying down certain standards will really be of any practical utility. I should like to hear from the Minister what the cost of this sort of proceeding is likely to be, and who the officers will be who will be testing these things.

It seems to me that to set up a hard-and-fast standard may lead authorities into immense expenditure, and largely useless expenditure, in having to provide a host of examiners. The question of "nutritional content" surely does not come within the definition of milk free from infection of any disease; it is an entirely separate matter. We all desire milk to be of the highest nutritional content, but is it a practical proposition to set up one standard of nutritional content for the whole of the country? In my view the proposition is not practical. Milk varies in nutritional content. We want to get the best we can, but we may not all come up to standard, because milk in one part of the country does not come up to the standard in another part of the country. The Amendment may lead to wasteful and expensive proceedings. I sympathise entirely with the object in view, but I feel very doubtful indeed whether a definition like this will secure it.

10.4 p.m.


The Amendment raises an interesting point as to how the right hon. Gentleman proposes to spend the £750,000 which Clause 9 places at his disposal for the purpose of securing a pure milk supply. The Amendment is, of course, the proposition which is already in Clause 9 defining the object of the expenditure which is authorised under that Clause. We have not yet had from the Minister any sort of definition as to what that objective is. We believe it ought to be to get pure milk from the cow, not pure milk at any later stage in the proceedings. We think it is desirable that this expenditure should not be devoted to pasteurisation. That is the object of the Amendment. Whether the Minister intends to set up any other standard besides bacteriological purity we have not yet heard. "Free from the infection of any disease" would, of course, cover the bacteriological part. We would like to hear from the Minister what is the idea in this Clause of the word "pure," apart from the words "free from the infection of any disease." I appreciate the difficulty of setting up a standard such as is required under the second part of this Amendment. On the other hand it would not be satisfactory for this Clause to be passed without the House getting some statement from the Minister as to what this money is to be spent on. I am sure that everyone here would want the money to be spent on cleaning up the herds and not the milk. It is undesirable to produce impure milk and then to clean it. We should be glad of an assurance that this money will be used in getting pure milk free from infection from the cow, and whether pasteurisation is necessary to be used as an intermediary stage until that purity is achieved, is another matter.

10.7 p.m.


I hope the Government will not accept the Amendment, and I say that for two reasons. There is no doubt that the reason why milk has been so little in demand in this country is the fact that it will not keep. The object of the Government is to have milk produced which will keep. When that end has been reached the housewife will buy the milk. Up to now she has not bought milk because she knows that milk she bought this evening would not keep till to-morrow; it would then have gone sour. That is one of the reasons why the poor of the country have been driven to buying tinned milk. We want-to get our people to use more milk. It is better for them, whether it is made pure by pasteurisation or is pure from the start. We want the milk to be produced from herds that are free from tuberculosis. If we cannot get that we ought to take the next best step to secure that end, which is pasteurisation.

It may seem strange that I should speak in this way, because the Minister of Agriculture and I have disagreed on this subject before in this House. There was a Bill brought in years ago for the supply of milk to school children. I pleaded then that we should not give milk to children in the schools until we could be sure that it was pasteurised and free from tuberculosis. We must try to clean up our milk as much as we can. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who proposed the Amendment referred to Denmark. I do not know whether he has been to Denmark, but I have visited farms there where the milk was produced under the most appalling conditions, and it was only after sterilisation that it could be kept at all. We ought to leave the Minister and the Department free to use whatever means they consider best, by sterilisation or in any other way, to secure pure milk and create a bigger demand for it.

10.10 p.m.


The Amendment has given rise to a very interesting Debate, in which the Amendment itself, although its objects have been generally approved by the House, has not escaped criticism. That is natural. I do not think the Amendment would quite succeed in doing what its supporters would wish to do. The most convenient way in which I can deal with the questions raised is to state now what the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) asked the Government to state, namely, what is the method which it is intended to apply in order to secure a supply of pure milk, free from infection. The main method will be the initiation of a scheme for the cleaning of the herds, and I think the House will agree that that is the right method. It may be "aid, "If that is so, why do we not accept the Amendment?" I ask hon. Members to look at the Amendment. Its first proposition is that milk, to be pure, must not be treated by heat in such a way as to destroy or modify its natural characteristics. That is to say, that milk which is to be classed as pure must never be pasteurised.

My hon. and gallant Friend, who moved it, referred to America. The Gowland Hopkins report regards pasteurisation as useful commercially but not as a health measure. If we were to accept the Amendment it would go far to prohibit the pasteurisation of milk. Without qualification I say that there is no intention that any development of pasteurisation should take the place of the cleaning up of the herds, so far as this Clause is concerned. Within that general policy there is, however, this to be added: One hon. Member mentioned that at present a great deal of work is done which is called pasteurisation but is not pasteurisation at all, so far as any beneficial results are concerned. It might well be that under this Bill it would be worth while to make some investigation into the proper method of pasteurisation. But the House must not take it that I am trying even to find a loophole in what I have said. The main method in which this money will be spent will be the cleaning up of the herds.

That deals with the first proposition of the Amendment. The other two propositions are very far removed from anything that ought to be in our minds when we are considering methods for securing a clean milk supply by means of clean herds. It is singularly difficult for us to say that for the purpose of this Clause milk which might be produced from the most perfectly clean herds could not be regarded as clean if at a later stage such foreign matter as water, skimmed milk, fat or other substances have been added to it. That has nothing to do with a pure milk supply; that is adulteration, which is sufficiently dealt with by existing legislation. There is a certain confusion of thought, I suggest, in trying to deal with the problem of adulteration in a Clause which is clearly intended to deal with the improvement of the supply at the source. To make the granting of money for the purpose of cleaning up the herds, dependent upon the milk reaching a particular standard of bacteriological purity and nutritional content seems to take one very far away indeed from the vitally important purpose of the Clause. With regard to these two last points, my hon. and gallant Friend, like the philosopher who took all knowledge for his province, seems determined to use this Amendment as a means of raking in every possible consideration whereby milk at the moment when it touches our lips shall be free from any possible contamination, human or divine. On these general lines I ask him not to press the Amendment, while I thank him for having moved it, because it has given the Government an opportunity of reiterating their determination to use the great bulk of the money, which is being provided here, for the necessary work of cleaning up the herds.


In view of what has been said by the hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.