HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc377-8
16. Mr. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many dairy farmers in Scotland have gone out of business in each of the past five years to December 1964.

Mr. Willis

The numbers of farmers registered with the three Milk Marketing Boards in Scotland who ceased commercial milk production in each of the five years from 1960 were 153, 127, 228, 287 and 321 respectively.

Mr. Baker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this shows an alarming downward trend? Will he urge his right hon. Friend, in the current Price Review with the N.F.U., to make a considerable increase in order to stabilise, if not to improve, the present position?

Mr. Willis

It shows a decline in the number of producers, but it does not necessarily indicate a serious decline in the dairy industry, because the quantity has not fallen. It would be wrong of me to comment on what is at present taking place in regard to the annual review.

Mr. Brewis

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the margin of production over liquid consumption, having regard to the employment there is in Scotland in creameries, cheese manufacture, and so on?

Mr. Willis

Naturally we are concerned with this and we watch the liquid milk position very carefully. There was a more than adequate reserve of milk this year to keep the liquid market and other markets fairly well satisfied.