HC Deb 01 November 1937 vol 328 cc529-31
29. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has accepted the conclusions of the recent investigation carried out by the Hannah Dairy Research Institute, which showed that the growth of calves fed on pasteurised milk was no less than that of calves fed on raw milk, while the tuberculous infection of the latter was far more serious, or whether he intends that further experiments should be carried out before any steps are taken to encourage the compulsory pasteurisation of milk in this country?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The investigation to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers is only one of a number of investigations designed to test the nutritive value of pasteurised as compared with raw milk. The Government's proposals with regard to pasteurisation are outlined in the White Paper on Milk Policy issued in July last, and, as already announced, it is the Government's intention to bring forward legislation this Session to give effect to them.

30. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the statement in the recent report issued by the Hannah Dairy Research Institute that of the 47 samples of mixed raw milk used in connection with their experiments 70 per cent. showed the presence of viable tubercle bacilli; and whether these samples may be taken as giving a fair representation of the raw milk supplies in this country from non-tuberculin tested herds?

Mr. Morrison

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second part of the question, the presence of viable tubercle bacilli in a given sample of milk varies according to a number of factors, and in part icular as to whether the milk has been obtained from a single herd, or whether it is representative of the bulked supply from a number of herds. The results of a particular experiment such as that quoted in my hon. and gallant Friend's question cannot therefore necessarily be accepted as representative of milk supplies as a whole.

Sir T. Moore

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that pasteurisation really does prevent the initiation and development of tuberculosis?

Mr. Morrison

That is a much larger question, and I must ask my hon. and gallant Friend to continue to await the Debate on the Milk Bill, when the subject will come before Parliament.

33. Mr. Leach

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will take action with a view to reducing the present unnecessarily high retail price of milk?

Mr. Morrison

The Consumers' Committee for England, which was appointed in pursuance of Section 9 of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, is charged with the duty of considering and reporting to me on the effect of the marketing schemes on consumers. I understand that the committee have under consideration the minimum retail prices of milk now ruling.

Mr. Leach

Does the Minister not realise that that is not an answer to my question? I asked what steps he is prepared to take.

Mr. Morrison

The question of the hon. Gentleman contained the allegation that the present price of milk was unnecessarily high; that is precisely the question which the Consumers' Committee have to investigate, and as they are now considering the matter I think the hon. Gentleman had better await the result of their investigations.

Mr. Leach

Would the right hon. Gentleman admit that it is not an allegation but a fact?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir.

Mr. T. Williams

Is the Minister satisfied that the last increase benefited the distributors as well as the producers, and has he taken any steps at all, with the Consumers' Committee or otherwise, to ascertain the position?

Mr. Morrison

That is precisely the sort of question that the Consumers' Committee are now investigating, and I do not think it would be right for me to prejudge their findings in the manner invited by the hon. Gentleman. With regard to distribution, the hon. Member will see, in the White Paper to which I have alluded, that there are proposals there for the improvement of distribution of milk.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

When may we expect the report of the Consumers' Committee?

Mr. Morrison

I could not say without notice.

36. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the numerous amendments which have been made in the milk marketing scheme, he will arrange with the Stationery Office for the scheme to be reprinted in its amended form?

Mr. Morrison

I am obliged to the hon. Member for his suggestion, and I will see what can be done in the matter.