HC Deb 17 November 1983 vol 48 cc980-1
15. Mr. Strang

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations has received about the threat to the doorstep milk delivery system arising out of European Community imports of liquid milk.

Mr. Jopling

I have received many representations from individuals and organisations on this issue. This and other aspects of the importation of milk regulations were discussed in yesterday's debate.

Mr. Strang

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if those regulations are the best that the Government can produce there is little hope for the dairy industry in general and for the doorstep delivery system in particular? Is he prepared to go down in history as the Minister who destroyed that viable British social service?

Mr. Jopling

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman makes that comment today. I noted that he listened to some of the earlier speeches yesterday and then left the Chamber. He cannot have forgotten that he was involved in this matter as a Minister in the Labour Government and lifted the gate to allow a large amount of cream to come in from the Community.

Mr. Torney

On what does the Minister base his belief that there is no threat to the doorstep delivery service from the regulations debated yesterday when the Dairy Trade Federation, the Milk Marketing Board and the workers in the industry all say that there is a danger?

Mr. Jopling

The hon. Gentleman indulged in his usual shouting match yesterday. He should have listened to what I said. I said that the doorstep delivery service was under threat for various reasons, not least the competition that the supermarkets are conducting among themselves. I told the House that one threat to the doorstep delivery service was Tesco's recent short-term cut of 4p in the price of milk. Actions of that kind are a threat to the doorstep delivery system.