HC Deb 04 December 1958 vol 596 cc1333-4
1. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recommendations he has received from the Milk Marketing Board and the milk distributors with regard to the proposal that changes in the retail price of milk should take place on a Sunday.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

The Milk Marketing Board is discussing this problem with the milk distributive trade, but it may be a little while before my right hon. Friend receives its recommendations.

Mrs. Castle

While I thank the Minister for that reply, does it not seem to be a very simple matter to be taking so much time and discussion? Although it is a simple matter, it would make a great deal of difference to the convenience of both milk retailers and housewives. Will he ask the Board to speed up its decision?

Mr. Godber

I have a good deal of sympathy with the hon. Lady's point of view on this matter, but it is not quite as simple as it looks. Producers are paid by the calendar month, and as the numbers are very large numbers the machinery is somewhat involved. It would be difficult to have one form of payment relating to a calendar month and one relating to weekly periods. However, that is the sort of thing the Board is looking into. As soon as my right hon. Friend receives the recommendations he will look at them.

11. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how the consumption of milk in the first ten months of this year compares with the same period in 1957.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Hare)

Consumption of liquid milk in the United Kingdom in the first ten months of this year amounted to 1,264 million gallons—about 12½ million gallons more than in the corresponding period in 1957. The dairy industry and the Milk Marketing Board are to be congratulated on this result.

Mr. Hurd

Can my right hon. Friend see any reason why the consumption of milk should not be further increased if salesmanship and good quality are given full effect?

Mr. Hare

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right and that good quality and salesmanship are required.

Mr. Willey

While we appreciate this desirable improvement over last year, is the Minister aware that the figures are lower than those for 1956 and much lower than those for the period before the present Government took office? Will he therefore tackle this matter as vigorously as he can to see that this improvement is sustained?

Mr. Hare

In the happy days of which the hon. Member spoke people were not able to get any other food, or very little—to be fair, perhaps I should say that the choice of food was rather more restricted than it is now. Seriously, I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that we want to do all we can to promote the sale of milk.