HC Deb 21 February 1938 vol 332 cc26-7
49. Mr. Boulton

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will consider whether the cheap milk scheme as applied to schools could be extended to hospitals owing to the enhanced cost of milk, which is throwing a burden on hospitals which they are finding difficult to carry?

40. Mr. C. Wilson

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the Sheffield Royal Hospital, which purchases large supplies of milk, paid in the year October, 1932, to September, 1933, before the Milk Marketing Board operated, an average price of 1s. per gallon, and that in the year October, 1936, to September, 1937, the average price paid was 1s. 5¼d. per gallon; how this increase of 44 per cent. is accounted for; and what steps he is taking to reduce the price of milk to hospitals?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The milk-in-schools scheme was initiated with a view to encouraging the milk drinking habit in children. Different considerations apply to the question of the price paid for milk by hospitals, as to which I would refer to the replies given to the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Lathan) on Thursday last, and to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 22nd November last.

Mr. Boulton

Does the Minister not think that hospitals should receive some exceptional treatment, and is he prepared to consider some other method?

Mr. Morrison

At present, hospitals can get milk at wholesale rates, with an additional payment for special services. I do not think that if hospitals are to get cheaper milk that should be done entirely at the expense of the producers of milk. I do not see why producers of milk should sell milk to hospitals at below cost of production, any more than suppliers of bandages.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that the Government's policy is making milk more expensive?

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the estimate that the cost of milk to the hospitals has now gone up by £400,000 a year?

Mr. Morrison

I am not aware of the estimate to which the hon. Member refers. One can only say that milk is expensive if one compares prices now with prices at a time when the whole industry was in a state of collapse—a situation which would have caused a serious shortage of milk in this country if it had not been dealt with.

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