HC Deb 21 October 1942 vol 383 cc1970-2
56. Sir H. Williams

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food to what extent the deliveries of the cooperative societies have been modified under the new milk delivery scheme?

Mr. Mabane

Local war-time associations of dairymen who are engaged in preparing schemes for the rationalisation of retail milk distribution in their localities have been informed that their schemes may enable a co-operative society to continue to deliver milk to its existing customers. In such cases the co-operative society is debarred from registering new customers in the locality and where two or more co-operative societies serve the same district they are required to rationalise deliveries so that any overlapping or unnecessary transport is eliminated.

Sir H. Williams

Does it not mean that the co-operative societies have an advantage over the individual traders?

Mr. Mabane

I do not think so. This may seem illogical, but it is practical. The compulsory transfer of customers from a co-operative society to a private trader is not the same as a transfer from one private trader to another. There are prejudices in the matter which are powerful, and it is considered better to accept the arrangements that have been made than to sacrifice the great economies that will result from the scheme.

Sir H. Williams

Has my hon. Friend consulted his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty?

Mr. G. Griffiths

Has the hon. Gentleman a right to throw his innuendoes across the Floor?

57. Captain York

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why his Department have laid down the principle, as applied to milk, that the larger the firm the greater shall be that firm's margin to cover overheads, expenses and profit?

60. Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, as the present policy of the Government encourages the large milk distributors at the expense of the smaller distributors and the producer-retailer by paying them a larger distributing gallonage allowance, he has considered the effect in outlying rural areas if the smaller distributor and producer-retailer has to close down or send his milk longer distances to a wholesaler; and whether he will take steps to prevent this result?

Mr. Mabane

My Department has not laid down the principle that the larger the firm the greater the trade margin. The new milk distributive margins are based on the principle that remuneration should vary according to the services rendered by different classes of distributors. All firms, large and small alike, will receive the same margin for carrying out the retailing of milk. Another uniform margin is to be paid to firms which are performing the wholesale function only. There are, however, firms which perform both the retail and the wholesale functions and are therefore entitled to a double margin. This is a common feature among the food trades. It is my Noble Friend's policy that the aggregate margin in the case of firms which, in addition to distributing by retail, also perform wholesale functions for themselves, shall be less than the aggregate of the margins available for wholesalers and retailers separately.

Retailers who undertake certain wholesaling functions will be allowed a varying margin for these latter services according to the gallonage handled, as the cost of the service increases with the size of the area served. The margins which have recently been fixed are based upon the findings of a full investigation into the cost of milk distribution and will be subject to review after they have been in operation for six months. I have no reason to think that the new distributive arrangements will have any adverse effect on the interests of either the small distributors of milk or the producer-retailers. As regards the transport of milk, my Department intends to take steps to ensure that milk is not carried unnecessarily long distances.

Captain York

Is it not a fact that the payment of a premium of ¼d. a gallon or ¾d. a gallon, according to whether the daily output is 750 or 1,500 gallons, is the only reason for the payment of this sum?

Mr. Mabane

No, Sir. If my hon. and gallant Friend reads the answer, which is somewhat long, I think he will find that his point is dealt with there.