HC Deb 06 March 1939 vol 344 cc1739-40
35. Mr. Lambert

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in any future legislation concerning milk, he will take note of the excessive price charged for milk in small towns and country villages under the Milk Marketing Board's regulations, with a view to providing for their diminution?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The minimum retail price of milk in rural areas is less than the minimum price in other areas. Furthermore, a majority of milk distributors in an area may secure permission from the Board to reduce the minimum price for their area, and under this provision the minimum retail price has been reduced in 245 cases, mainly in small towns and villages. Lower prices may be charged for sales at the farm door. While I cannot accept the suggestion that prices charged are excessive in existing circumstances, it remains one of the basic features of Government policy that prices should be kept at as low a level as is consistent with fair remuneration to the suppliers of the milk.

Mr. Lambert

Can my right hon. Friend say how he can justify milk being sold at a compulsory price of, say, 6d. to 7d. a quart while plenty of producers would be glad to sell it in the country villages at 4d. or 5d. a quart?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

As I have said, it is possible for the distributors to reduce the price by agreement among themselves. If there is any real trouble, Section 9 of the Agricultural Marketing Act provides the machinery for investigation of the complaints.