HC Deb 29 November 1979 vol 974 cc1475-6
17. Mr. Spearing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has for maintaining the volume of liquid milk sales in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Walker

The doorstep delivery service is a vital factor in maintaining the high level of liquid milk consumption in this country. I have repeatedly expressed my determination to do all that I can to sustain that system.

Mr. Spearing

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is already a large liquid surplus in Britain, as £70 million was spent last year on intervention? If he wishes to pursue his admirable objective, does he agree that he must ensure that the retail margin is sufficient to maintain the service, for without that the farmer will not be able to sell his milk?

Mr. Walker

I agree that it is essential to maintain a proper retail margin. If it is not maintained, the delivery service will disappear. The maintenance of a proper retail margin will be the Government's objective.

Mr. Thompson

Is my right hon. Friend able to give the producer-retailer any hope for the future?

Mr. Walker

Yes. It is a service of immense importance. If we are to succeed in our policy, the producer-retailer will have to play a profitable role.

Mr. Allen McKay

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that two weeks ago he said that there would be an answer to the green top milk question in a few weeks? How long will those few weeks be now?

Mr. Walker

A very few weeks.

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