HC Deb 02 December 1964 vol 703 cc447-8
16. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy in regard to controlling the price of milk; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peart

I have no present proposals for modifying the existing system of control.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the Minister aware that I have received complaints from pensioners to the effect that, according to Press reports, the price of milk could go up by 5d. a pint this year? Can he say whether existing legislation could prevent such an increase in the price of milk which would bear hardly on many sections of the community?

Mr. Peart

In my statement yesterday to farmers, very responsible farmers, I said that the price of milk would not go up this winter. I think that any report in the Press about a rise of 5d. is an exaggeration.

Sir C. Osborne

Does not the Minister think that an industrial worker, who earns about £16 a week, ought to pay the proper price for his milk, so that the agricultural worker, who is paid less, can get a better wage for producing it? Why should the industrial worker expect the farm worker to subsidise his food?

Mr. Peart

I think it would be very wrong to try to divide the rural worker against the industrial worker. I have always found that the industrial worker would like to see the rural worker get an adequate return for what he gives. All factors concerning the price of milk will, as I have repeated so often, be considered at the Annual Price Review.

22. Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the rate at which farmers are going out of milk production, what proposals he has for improving profit margins to farmers in the industry.

Mr. Peart

The net income of milk producers will be taken into account at the coming Annual Review. I cannot, of course, anticipate the outcome.

Mr. Morrison

Is the Minister aware that in the first three months of this year almost 1,700 milk producers went out of production and that unless the right hon. Gentleman takes steps to reverse this trend there will, in due course, be a serious shortage of milk?

Mr. Peart

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that even from 1954 to 1964 the number of milk producers who went out of production totalled 28 per cent. I was not responsible for that.

Mr. Snow

Whence comes all this new-found sympathy for the small farmer and small milk producer?

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is not necessary for the Minister to answer a question of that description. I do not think that the Minister has responsibility for it.