HC Deb 19 October 1971 vol 823 cc536-7
27. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the shortage of milk for butter and cheese production, he will do away with standard quantities and thus give the go-ahead for further milk expansion.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

At the last Annual Review we undertook that the method of supporting milk production, including the standard quantity system, would be reconsidered as part of the changeover to levy arrangements. Discussions with the Farmers' Unions on the standard quantity are just beginning.

Mr. Mills

Would my hon. Friend agree that the present shortage of butter demands an increase in milk production to satisfy the needs of the consumer? Is there not a very serious warning in the fact that the previous Administration allowed this production to fall away so that we are in this present position? Would my hon. Friend seek to give every assurance that the go-ahead for milk production will be given?

Mr. Stodart

I hope that my hon. Friend will agree with me that the best go-ahead for expansion is a good price. The not price ex-farm at the moment, at 19.3p, compares with 16.35p two years ago. This obviously accounts for the expansion which has taken place.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

But would the hon. Gentleman treat this suggestion with considerable reserve, bearing in mind the fact that the shortage is temporary and that a free-for-all could land the British milk producer in considerable difficulty?

Mr. Stodart

I am not at all sure that I agree that this is a temporary shortage. There is a very definite trend, certainly in other countries, towards people getting tired of milking cows on Sundays.

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