HC Deb 05 May 1938 vol 335 cc1030-1
75. Mr. Hopkin

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he proposes to introduce the Milk Bill to this House?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. W. S. Morrison)

The Bill will be introduced as soon as possible, but I am not yet in a position to give a definite date.

78. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government will consider taking some steps to assist the small producer-retailers of milk to carry on, in view of the substantial monthly payments these producer-retailers constitute to the Milk Marketing Board?

Mr. Morrison

The producer-retailers' contributions, which are payable only on milk sold by retail or semi-retail, were recently stabilised by an amendment of the Milk Marketing Scheme at rates which vary from 1¾per gallon for ordinary milk to ¾d. per gallon for tuberculin-tested milk. These contributions are reduced by ¼d. per gallon if payment is made within 14 days of the date when they become due. I do not think there is occasion for me to take any special action in the matter.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the small producer-retailers are entitled to just as much protection as the large producers?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of that.

79. Viscountess Astor

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the Luke Committee on nutrition stated their dissatisfaction with the conditions governing the sale of milk products, which prevents skimmed milk from being readily available to the public; and whether the Government have in mind any action to enable supplies of this nutritious food to be easily obtainable?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the views of the committee. As I explained in reply to a question by the Noble Lady on 24th March last, the supply of skimmed milk is variable and many manufacturers of butter and cream have no facilities for converting skimmed milk into a dried product, as recommended by the committee, for general use. The practical difficulties are considerable and no satisfactory solution has yet been found.

Viscountess Astor

Seeing that manufacturers are protected, would it not have saved us many millions of pounds if they had had this machinery which the Minister says they have not got?

Mr. Morrison

I am not prepared to say that it would have saved us many millions of pounds, but the difficulty is that in order to make use of skimmed milk in this way it would require to be dried, and that calls for fairly expensive plant, and as supplies of skimmed milk are very variable there is no great inducement to the smaller people to instal such plant.

Viscountess Astor

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the importation of dried milk is still going on, and that we are paying an enormous sum, spending literally millions, for a policy which is very unsatisfactory; and does he not think that the sooner he wakes up to the importance of this matter the better? Will he, please, consider the question?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, the matter is one of importance and is well worthy of consideration, and I will certainly consider it, but I have explained frankly what are the commercial difficulties which exist and what is the position at the moment.

Mr. Macquisten

Did they not use skimmed milk for feeding bacon pigs in the old days?