§ 38. Mr. Burnett
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is yet in a position to make a statement as to the conclusions of the committee of investigation for Scotland regarding the price of milk to institutions which was the subject of a report of the Consumers' Committee?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have received the committee's report and, with my hon. Friend's permission, will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The report is under consideration.
§ Following is the statement:
§ The committee find that to the extent that local authorities and voluntary hospitals within the area of the Scottish milk scheme are now required to pay substantially more for their supplies of milk than they paid before the inauguration of the scheme, the price scale determined by the board, and their action in giving effect to it, may be regarded as contrary to the interests of the said local authorities and voluntary hospitals. With respect to the question whether the determination of the board in this matter was not in the public interest, the committee find themselves unable to give an unqualified answer. The committee see no justification for the argument that because prior to the scheme a consumer was in a position, owing to the conditions then prevailing, of securing milk at less than economic rates, that fact should be regarded as a reason for fixing lower prices now that the scheme is in operation. The committee also have no hesitation in deciding that the beneficent nature of the work carried out by the local authorities and the voluntary hospitals does not in itself justify a claim to obtain their supplies of milk under the scheme at less than a reasonable price.
793 On the other hand, the committee point out that it would be an unfortunate sequel to the scheme if the consumption of Grade A (T.T.) milk were abandoned to any extent in hospitals or in rate-. supported institutions in favour of ordinary milk, and equally unfortunate if the consumption of milk, of whatever grade, were to be reduced. This consideration, coupled with the facts that the institutions are large consumers and do not purchase for trading purposes or for sale at a profit, that there is little expense involved in handling or distribution, and that there is no risk of any bad debts being made by the sellers, suggests to the committee that there is a case for exceptional treatment of these institutions in certain directions. In so far as these institutions have not received such treatment owing to the action of the board, such action may be said to be not in the public interest.