§ 49. Sir PERCY HURD
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many milk producers have entered the accredited milk producers' scheme and the amount of their gallonage in relation to the total milk sales in England and Wales?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Elliot)
The number of accredited producers as at 1st April, 1936, was 15,762. The number who were on the roll during March was 15,350, and sales by these producers in that month under the Milk Marketing Scheme amounted approximately to 24,500,000 gallons, equal to nearly 30 per cent. of the total sales under the scheme during that month.
§ 21. Mr. W. ROBERTS
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is in a position to make a statement as to the arrangements which he contemplates as a result of his negotiations with distributors and other interests concerned, with a view to arranging for supplies of milk at cheap rates to various classes of the community for whom such a supply is urgently needed?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Johnston) on 23rd March and 6th April, of which I am sending him copies.
§ 25. Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has yet received the report of the Committee of Investigation in connection with the complaints made by the central milk distributive committee and the Parliamentary Committee of the Co-operative Congress regarding the contract terms for the supply of milk prescribed by the Milk Marketing Board for the milk year from 1st October, 1935; and, if so, on what date he proposes to publish it?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I have received the report in question and, in the special circumstances of this particular inquiry and as an exceptional case, I have decided that it shall be published. I hope that the date of publication will be early next week. The Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, requires that I shall inform the board of the action I propose to take, and that they shall have 14 days within which 542 to make representations to me. I hope to notify the board of my proposed action on the day of the publication of the report. The House will, I know, join with me in paying a tribute to the late Mr. Edward Shortt, K.C., and the late Mr. James Whitehead, K.C., for their high sense of public duty and the great services they rendered in turn as chairman of the committee. The untimely death of these two distinguished gentlemen is an event which we all, I am sure, very deeply deplore.
§ 26. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that in the far western district the levy on the producer-retailers of milk has been fixed at 315/16d. per gallon; and when will he be in a position to announce the policy of the Government, to enable this onerous levy to be reduced?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
I am aware that the gross contribution by producer-retailers under the Milk Marketing Scheme in the far western region was 315/16. per gallon in March. I am informed by the Milk Marketing Board, however, that 93 per cent. of the producer-retailers in that region are credited with the level delivery premium of 1d. per gallon and that the average net contribution was 3.01 pence per gallon. As regards the second part of the question, I understand that the board have under consideration amendments of the section of the scheme dealing with producer-retailer levies.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Will my right hon. Friend announce the policy of the Government to enable these onerous contributions to be reduced?
§ Mr. ELLIOT
On the wider question of policy, the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Reorganisation Commission are reviewing the working of the milk marketing schemes, and, of course, the future policy will be considered as soon as the report of that commission is available.
§ Mr. ALEXANDER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the feeling in the trade is that the producer-retailers are already far too favourably placed in this matter?