HL Deb 10 February 1931 vol 79 cc882-912

VISCOUNT ASTOR rose to call attention to the needs of the dairy industry and to the necessity of developing the demand for and supply of British milk. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, it will be within your recollection that last autumn we had several profitable and instructive days' discussion on agriculture. Those who initiated the discussion were speaking, in the main, in connection with cereal agriculture and those other forms of production that are associated with the Eastern Counties. I believe that next week we shall be discussing the methods of conducting agriculture and the relative merits of large scale farming, family farming and farms of intermediate size. I thought it would be advantageous if we now had a discussion on what I consider to be certainly one of the most important branches of agriculture—namely, dairying.

Your Lordships will be aware of the fact that all agrarian interests, at whatever part of the world one looks, are suffering at the present time, but those farmers are hardest hit who have to depend upon world markets, whereas those farmers are least hardly hit who have their market close at hand. It is the cereal growers, the wheat growers, who are undoubtedly most hardly hit, whereas those who have their market nearby, and who deal in more perishable products, are not hit so hardly. It was my privilege just after the War to preside over a Departmental Committee representative of the Ministries of Agriculture of this country, Scotland and Ireland. We were assisted by various public men interested in agriculture, and I became increasingly convinced that dairying ought to be looked upon as the corner stone of agriculture. The climate is particularly suitable for our live stock. We are pre-eminent in live stock. Dairying is associated with it. Thus you find dairying all over the country—more so in some parts, but you find it all over England. You find it in all types of farming—small farms and large farms, grass farms and arable farms. It certainly is one of the most valuable branches of agriculture. The dairy produce of this country is worth £67,000,000 annually. Compare that with the £12,000,000 of wheat and the £19,000,000 of poultry and eggs. Only live stock is of greater value than dairying to British farming.

In addition, there is the value of the milk as food. It is a complete food. It is a cheap food even at present prices. One quart of milk is equivalent in food value to one pound of lean meat. One quart of milk costs 7d. and one pound of lean meat 1s. 2d. It is equivalent in food value to ten eggs. One quart of milk costs 7d. and ten eggs 1s. 8d. It is a cheap food and one the consumption of which we should try to develop. Your Lordships may have read the many interesting experiments made by Dr. Corrie Mann and Dr. Orr. Dr. Corrie Mann took 200 boys of school age near London. He divided them into seven groups, and gave to the boys in each group special diet in addition to the ordinary basic dietary—to one sugar, to another butter, and to another a ration of milk. It is very interesting to find how very beneficial the added ration of milk was to those boys. As a result of one year's feeding the boys getting the ordinary dietary increased in weight 3.8 lbs. whereas those receiving milk in addition increased 6.9 lbs. As regards height, those getting the ordinary diet grew 1.8 inches and those receiving milk in addition grew 2.6 inches. That is to say, boys getting a ration of milk in addition to the ordinary diet gained on the average 3 lbs. more in weight and three-quarters of an inch more in height, in one year. In addition, it was observed that their health, spirits and ability to use their brains were increased by the milk ration. Another set of experiments was carried out by Dr. Orr. He had 1,400 boys living in seven towns. He conducted experiments over seven months, and as a result those getting the milk ration increased in height and weight about 20 per cent. more than those getting the ordinary ration. This experiment was repeated with exactly the same results. So milk is not merely important to the farming industry, but it is a most valuable food for the children of this country.

There are three facts which I want to bring out straight away in connection with milk. First, during the War the Ministry of Food had to survey the quantities of food being produced and the quantities of food required by different sections of the community, and, if necessary, to allocate priority claims. It was found as a result of examination during the War that if all the children under six years of age had received the milk which, according to the medical profession they ought to get, there would have been for certain months of the year not a single drop for the rest of the population. It was found, too, that there were whole streets in our industrial towns where not a single drop of fresh milk was being drunk, a most unsatisfactory state of things. The second fact to which I wish to draw attention is that if you examine the consumption of milk per head in this country and compare it with the consumption of milk in Canada, Sweden, Denmark, and the United States, you find that there is a tremendous under-consumption here. In Canada the consumption is double, in America three times as much, and in Denmark and Sweden six times as much; that is to say, if we could only bring up our consumption to the consumption of other countries it would be a tremendous gain to those who drink and to those who produce the milk. The third fact to which I want to draw attention is the way in which our imports of dairy products have been going up. Imported butter and cheese amounts to £70,000,000 a year, and condensed and dried milk to £8,000,000. Our dairy imports represent the output of over 130,000 cows. Our dairy imports of skimmed and condensed milk represent the output of 50,000 cows. Obviously it would be a great advantage if that dairy produce were produced here instead of being imported, more particularly as much of the milk is contained in tins labelled "Unfit for babies," because the fat has been removed from it.

Therefore I feel that I am justified in saying that there is a huge market in our midst and at our doors awaiting development. If only we could bring the consumption in this country up to the rate of consumption in those other countries that I have mentioned, it would be of tremendous value to our population and also to agriculture. I know that it is constantly said that there is a glut of milk. There is only a glut of milk because there is under-consumption. It wrong to say that there is over-production when you can find street after street in our big towns where not a single drop of milk is being drunk. There would not be any over-production, there would be no glut, if the proper amount of English liquid milk were being drunk by the population of this country.

I have tried to ascertain what the figures are. I think the dairy industry receives something like £55,000,000 for the milk which it produces and sells as milk. Obviously, a farmer at present prices gets a better return if he sells it as milk than if he converts it into butter or cheese. If he is a producer-retailer he gets 2s. a gallon. If he sells his milk to a distributor he gets 1s. If he converts it into cheese or butter, it is probably only worth 6d. a gallon to him. So, if we could raise the demand for liquid milk, we should be bringing £20,000,000, £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 more to the farming industry of this country. Our salvation is not in attempting to restrict the output of milk, as I sometimes see people advocating, but in turning the whole of our attention to trying to stimulate the demand.

That brings us to the next point of how we are to create this demand. How are we going to develop the milk industry? Obviously, it must take time. No one believes it can be done all at once. But I am convinced that, if we set about it constructively and wisely, we can develop and create a large market in a reasonable time. I think there are three things which we have got to do. We have got to have more publicity, more propaganda; we have, if possible, to reduce the cost; and we have certainly got to improve the hygienic quality and the cleanliness of the milk. Take, first of all, the question of publicity. Your Lordships know how every modern business nowadays spends vast sums on advertising. It is impossible for an ordinary farmer or dairyman to spend money in advertising milk. Not very long ago the fruit industry conducted an extensive campaign, "Eat more fruit." An expenditure of £40,000 was followed by increased imports of the value of £2,000,000. I have not been able to get the figures for the increased consumption of home-grown fruit; those are not available, but undoubtedly that relatively small expenditure on publicity did benefit the fruit growers of this country.

Now, take milk. I have had a certain number of figures got out. If you take those patent foods of which milk is a constituent, which are advertised as beneficial for children or invalids, the expenditure in the Press is £265,000—roughly a quarter of a million sterling a year. The expenditure in the same papers on preserved milk is £38,000; whereas the expenditure on fresh milk is only £16,000. So the first thing which we ought to do is to develop a scheme of publicity. It was my good fortune a few years ago to be associated with the late Lord Kenyon, who, as your Lordships will remember, was very much interested in agriculture and dairying, in a scheme for advertising milk. He wanted to start a "Drink more milk" campaign. He was hoping to be able to spend £50,000 a year on publicity, half to come from the dairy industry and half as a grant. Unfortunately, that proposal came to nothing. It did not get the support and backing of certain leaders of agriculture who ought most assuredly to have given it their support.

It collapsed, and instead of £50,000 being spent on publicity the. Milk Publicity Council up to quite recently has only had a niggardly sum of £7,000 to spend on propaganda. And yet I think it is possible to show that that ridiculously small expenditure of £7,000 a year has resulted in a net in crease of half a million sterling in orders to the milk industry. They conducted their propaganda in schools, and, as a result, more milk is being bought by children in elementary schools or by their parents. The noble Earl, Lord Radnor, who was Chairman of the Milk Publicity Council last year, is here, and I hope he will deal at greater length with the past work of the Milk Publicity Council, and also with its future and prospective work. I hope also very much that the noble Earl (Lord De La Warr), when he speaks on behalf of the Government, will be able to say that the Government not only sympathise with and approve of this effort for publicity, but will give it substantial aid.

I am not to-day going to suggest that we should give every school child in elementary schools a glass of milk free. It may be that one day that will be brought forward as a practical proposal. The cost to the taxpayer would be something like £4,000,000. I fear that if I were to bring that proposal forward many noble Lords would accuse me of Socialistic leanings, and would oppose the proposal. But is it more Socialistic to give school children a glass of milk to the tune of £4,000,000 than to give the sugar beet industry £5,000,000, or to give the wheat growers a subsidy of £5,000,000 or more? The children of this country are not going to derive any benefit from eating sugar or wheat which has been grown here, whereas we know perfectly well that they would derive enormous benefit if they were given a glass of milk over and above the food they bring from home. However, I am not going to propose anything so venturesome or desperate as that today. I merely bring it forward to show that it would be of great value to the dairy industry, as well as to the rising generation. I hope that the noble Earl when he replies will be able to say that the Government propose to do what they can to stimulate this movement for giving milk to children in elementary schools as well as the whole of the movement for milk publicity.

Then I come next to the second point, the question of cost. There again we must not attempt to go too fast. I believe it would be possible to reduce the cost of milk, and, in so far as we are able to reduce the cost of milk, obviously we shall be making it easier for the public to buy more—although I wish to re-emphasise what I said at the outset that, even at present prices, milk is cheap food, if you compare its nutritive value with other food. I am convinced, from some acquaintance with farmers in different parts of the country, that if they would adopt more businesslike methods they could make a greater profit for themselves, and possibly in time reduce the price of milk to the community. The Ministry of Food got a great deal of information when they were fixing prices during the War. Let me quote some of the facts which were brought to the notice of the Ministry of Food. They found that in the same locality there would be a group of farms producing milk at 10d. a gallon, whereas at the same time there would be another group of farms producing milk at 20d. per gallon—double the cost of producing the milk. Obviously, somebody was wasting money. I remember another case where there were two farms, roughly with 50 cows each, in the same part of the country, where the general conditions were the same. On the one farm the cost per gallon of milk was 5d. whereas on the other farm alongside the cost per gallon was 7d. More business-like methods in the second farm would have enabled the farmer to make a profit. I could increase the number of illustrations of a similar character, but I will not do so to-day.

The Ministry of Agriculture have done a great deal to stimulate and help the movement for milk recording. I hope they will do still more, because I am convinced that if you can persuade the farmer to go in for milk recording he will improve his farming and become more businesslike in his methods. The Committee over which I presided reported that if you could only increase the daily average yield per cow by one-tenth of a gallon the cost of the milk to the public could be reduced by 2d. without in any way diminishing the profits of the producer. That shows what can be done by businesslike methods. I hope the noble Earl will do what he can to help the farmer and to give them veterinary assistance. A great deal of loss is now due to abortion, tuberculosis and other diseases. Anything that the noble Earl can do to assist the farmers through the veterinary profession by giving hem skilled veterinary aid would, I am sure, be beneficial. I do not know whether he could go so far as to give a free test to any farmer who wants to test his herd. That might assist the movement. I have always thought it was rather unfair on the farmer who wanted to produce a higher grade of milk—certified milk, or Grade A or Grade A (T.T.) milk, that he should have to pay for the privilege of doing so. I should have thought the Ministry of Agriculture might have borne the relatively small cost of that—relatively small to the nation, but sometimes bulking rather large in the eyes of the farmer.

Then there is an amount of loss to the milk producer through the souring and spoiling of milk owing to its not being sufficiently clean and cool. Another point which I will not go into to-day is the margin between the price which the producer gets and the amount which the consumer pays. Here, again, one cannot make any generalisation. Obviously, the distributor who takes "any old milk" and retails it in "any old way" is in a different category from the distributor who buys his milk from selected farms and tries to retail it in a cleanly manner in cleanly vessels.

I think I have said enough to show that there would be a real possibility of reducing the cost, of milk to the general public after a period of time and thereby stimulating consumption. My first point was publicity, my second point was cost, and the third is the hygienic quality of milk. If you start to urge the nation to drink more milk you must be able to guarantee to the nation that the milk offered to it is reasonably safe and reasonably clean. I remember a debate in your Lordships' House, I think, some five years ago, when the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, replying for the Ministry of Agriculture, made the startling but I think true statement that if all milk were labelled according to its cleanliness you would find a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and that the public would be frightened because they would then realise how much of the milk which was put on the market was not clean. That is the gist of what Lord Bledisloe said. The essence of good salesmanship is to put a good product upon the market. I have been into this sufficiently and have discussed it sufficiently with others to know that it is relatively easy to produce clean milk. It is not necessary to pull down your cow houses. It is not, necessary to have marble palaces in which to put your cows. You can produce clean milk if you have clean methods of milking and handling. That does not cost much money.

We have improved enormously the cleanliness and the general hygienic state of the milk which is put, on the, market in the last few years, but there is still great room for improvement. I think it is unwise to try to adopt the policy of hush, hush on this question of the cleanliness or dirtiness of milk. Too often in the past people have said that you really must not throw the search-light upon the condition of milk because you will frighten the public. Broadly speaking, the public knows the condition of affairs. I think that we had far better turn the search-light upon the industry and improve the quality of the milk. That can be done at no very great cost to the producer. It is a question of care in handling and care in production. It is also good business. I have proved that in my own case. I was fortunate enough last year to win the Stapleton Cup, a Challenge Cup for the winning farm in the best county in the matter of clean milk production. At the same time I was in the fortunate position of making a profit on my dairy farm; that is to say, that you car produce clean milk and make a profit at the same time.

On this question of cleanliness I want to say a word about the classification of milk. As you know, for consumers who like a superior or cleaner quality, milk has been graded. You have Certified milk, Grade A (T.T.) milk and Grade A milk. May I suggest to the noble Earl that we want to simplify the classification and extend it? We want to simplify it because the names of the three grades I have named do not convey to the ordinary person which is the best. The ordinary person would not have the faintest idea whether Grade A or Grade A (T.T.) was the better or whether Grade A or Certified milk was the better. I am convinced that nine people out of ten would imagine that Grade A milk was in the top class, whereas it is not; it is neither the top class nor the second class but the third class. Grade A (T.T.) and Certified milk are both above it. You ought, I think, to have designations which convey to the ordinary person the exact nature and quality of the product which they accompany.

There is a great deal to be said for good, clean raw milk. There is a good deal to be said for efficiently pasteurised milk. There is nothing to be said for milk which is sold as raw milk but has been semi-pasteurised. A great deal of the milk sold is neither raw nor efficiently pasteurised. I think it would be beneficial if the noble Earl would tackle that question. He may say what previous Ministers of Agriculture and previous Ministers of Health have said. They have said to the milk industry: "You agree among yourselves as to what new classification you would like, and as soon as you have got unanimity let us know and we will carry it through." That is the sort of answer which weary Ministers or civil servants who do not want to tackle the job are apt to give. You cannot leave it to the industry, because the industry will not agree or else you will not get it unanimous agreement. I suggest that the noble Earl himself and his colleague at the Ministry of Health should tackle this problem. Let them take evidence. Let them hear all parties and obtain the best suggestions, and then let them bring forward a more modern and a simpler classification. If they did that I am sure they would be taking a tremendous step forward in helping to increase the demand for milk. If they do not feel like tackling the problem themselves, I suggest that they should appoint an arbitrator, or a group of three arbitrators, to settle it. If you simplify the classification of milk to any extent you will give the public more confidence than it has now, you will be able to stimulate the consumption of milk, and yon will be doing thereby a great deal for the milk industry.

I am afraid I have taken up a great deal of your Lordships' time, but I have done so because of the importance I attach to the dairy industry, and not merely to the farming but also to the children and those who consume milk. I hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us that he will do all he can to stimulate and assist the dairy industry, to help farmers with their methods and with veterinary services and milk recording, that he will simplify the grading and help the milk publicity movement, and that he will help to develop the growth of this new market which is in our midst. I am sure that if he does that, he will be doing a great deal to help forward British agriculture.


My Lords, I should like to offer all the support I can to the plea of the noble Viscount for an increase of the supply of milk to this country; but I should like to offer my support with certain qualifications. If I may assume for a moment a representative capacity, I would say that the whole of the medical profession of this country would support the noble Lord in his plea for a larger supply of milk to the people. We have all lived for a considerable period of our lives on nothing but milk. Milk, as the noble Lord has shown in quoting statistics of experiments, is almost essential for the growing youth of this country. Statistics may be said to prove anything, even the truth, and the truth is that milk is an essential ingredient in the food of young growing children. It is also a most necessary aid to people in advanced years of life, and especially in times of sickness. It is, therefore, I think, almost a commonplace to say that every effort should be used to secure to the people at all times a supply of milk commensurate with their needs, a supply that shall be cheap and of good quality, free from those so frequent contaminations that make milk so dangerous an article of diet in a large proportion of cases.

We were all interested a few years ago by the question, what is whisky? I would venture to ask, what is milk? The correct answer, of course, should be that milk is the pure produce of the mammary glands of the cow, but it is rarely that. Milk in many instances is contaminated by secretions of the udder and discharges from tuberculosis. It is contaminated almost intolerably with dung, with the hair of the cow, with the dirt and sweat from the man or woman who milks, from the dust of the streets, and from the utensils in which milk is stored and carried about the country. The inevitable result is that milk may be and very frequently is capable of causing a number of diseases which my profession is called upon to treat. The more serious of these diseases is, of course, surgical tuberculosis. The others are typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever—almost all infections from infected milk. And this is a condition that has been going on from the very birth of human history, for one of the oldest specimens we possess from the Neanderthal man shows his vertebrae were affected by surgical tuberculosis due, I have no doubt, to the drinking of contaminated milk from the animals he had at his disposal. The many specimens, as many of your Lordships are doubtless aware, taken from the mummies of ancient Egypt show that cows in ancient Egypt had tubercle and were capable of giving the disease to man.

The problem, therefore, of an increased supply of milk is not the only problem. As you walk about the streets, not so much in London as in provincial towns, you will see a large number of hunchbacks, of people with warped joints, of people with necks full of glands, of scars in the neck from abscesses, and a large number of these people suffer from their diseases and have done so because of the drinking of contaminated milk. I think the minds of men are much more disturbed by acute events than they are by the chronic diseases to which they have long become accustomed. One heard with anguish of the loss of one million men in the War, and yet we seem almost indifferent to the fact that 50,000 people die every year in this country from cancer, that 100 people die every day of tuberculosis and that no less a sum than £250,000 a day is spent on the treatment in this country alone of tuberculosis, a large proportion of which is preventable.

When acute outbreaks occur, then the minds and the hearts of men are stirred. I have made note of a few of the occasions on which there have been acute outbreaks from the drinking of contaminated milk in this country in the last few years. In Brighton and Hove in the last three months of 1929 there were 1,000 cases of infection with 65 deaths. In London, 90 per cent. of the milk of which is pasteurised, there were 400 cases in 1928; in Northampton in 1926 there were 95 cases of scarlet fever traced to contaminated milk; in Bedford in the same year there were 72 cases of scarlet fever also traced to contaminated milk. But in hearing of these diseases from milk we do not realise that the morbidity and the mortality which result from the drinking of this impure milk not only affects people in the way I have described, but opens the door to a multitude of other illnesses which themselves prove fatal. A little time ago I amputated the thigh of a man aged 71 who had suffered since the age of 8, when he was operated upon by a predecessor of mine, Sir William Lawrence, for tuberculous disease of the bones of the leg. He had had 18 operations in the intervening period, and at the age of 71 I removed his thigh. There will be no mention in the man's eventual death certificate of the fact that he had ever suffered from tubercle. So, when you read mortality lists of patients, the cases of surgical tuberculosis are quite frequently not included.

The question, therefore, of the milk supply is concerned not only with the obtaining of the milk required for the people of this country, but with its purity. It is not only an agricultural problem, it is a human problem. In this country at the present moment there are roughly about 3,000,000 of cows giving milk, and of those cows over 1,000,000 are suffering from tuberculosis. The Veterinary Record of May of last year stated that 40 per cent. of the cows of our dairy herds producing milk for human consumption were suffering from tuberculosis; that in England 31.5 per cent. of tuberculosis in children up to the age of fifteen is of bovine origin; that in England 57 per cent. of enlarged tuberculous glands in the neck and 33 per cent. of bone and joint tuberculosis in children, and in Scotland 90.3 per cent. of glandular enlargements of the neck and 61.2 per cent. of bone and joint tuberculosis all owe their origin to the drinking of contaminated milk. We happen to have in this country at the present moment the greatest orthopaedic surgeon the world has ever known, and he estimates the incidence of tuberculous disease of bones and joints from contaminated milk to be 70 per cent. The slaughter of animals shows the same result. In London, 33 per cent. of animals slaughtered show evidence of tubercle, in Edinburgh 42.99 per cent. showed evidence of tubercle, whereas in Dublin only 23 per cent. of the animals killed were tuberculous.


May I ask the noble Lord a question? Do these figures apply to all animals slaughtered in London?




Not to animals suspected of being tuberculous, but all animals slaughtered at Islington?


Thirty-three per cent. in London. If you put a statement of the kind that I have just made into the language of the laboratory and if you regard the problem from that point of view, you would say that you first produce your tubercle bacillus. You then inoculate it into a culture medium of the most satisfactory kind, the best medium being the young, active, succulent tissues of the young child. Then the culture medium itself is put into an incubator so that it may have every possible facility and all the necessary food for growth. The municipal term for an incubator is a slum. The result of this is so costly that we lose 100 people every day of every year, and we spend, as I said just now, £250,000 per day in the treatment of tuberculosis in this country. The problem, therefore, as the noble Lord said, is a problem of the supply of pure milk. It is a human problem also, and I have had to deal with it all my life. But it is also in a large measure a financial problem of the first order.

What is to be done? A milk supply, as the noble Lord said, is very necessary. Are you to slaughter all the cows infected with tubercle. If that were done, I think it would be quite ineffective except so far as the immediate present is concerned, for tuberculosis gives rise to very few signs in some cases in the cow. There are cases where animals have been slaughtered that were supposed to be without blot and in two eases within my knowledge, 44 per cent. in one case and 47 in the other, were found to be tuberculous. Moreover, the mistals and the byres in which cows are kept are very often saturated with tubercle. And so after the slaughtering of the animals there would have to be drastic destruction of the infected byres. The cost would be prohibitive. There would be animals overlooked who would soon contaminate their mistals, and before long the disease would be as wide-spread as before. To immunise the animals would be a matter of great difficulty and great uncertainty.

The problem needs to be considered first as to whether you can improve the present conditions of milk supply in this country. Many of your Lordships here are familiar with the conditions under which milk is produced, and I would like to pay a tribute to the work which is being done at Reading and to the work done by the noble Earl, Lord Iveagh, in connection with the production of pure milk for human consumption at a cost very little above that of ordinary milk bought in the streets of our larger towns and cities. But if it is almost impossible in present circumstances to produce throughout the country guaranteed tubercle-free milk, what is to be done if milk is still desirable for human consumption? In the first place there is a method of destroying all organisms in milk—a method which is easily available in any household—and that is to boil the milk. It is a method which costs virtually nothing. Every drop of milk taken into my own house is boiled immediately it is delivered. It is true that certain disadvantages attach to the method of boiling, but the nutritive value of milk, contrary to general opinion, is not in the least diminished by boiling. Dr. Janet Lane Clayton conducted an inquiry for the Ministry of Health and came to the conclusion that if there was my alteration in the nutritive value it was in favour of boiling as compared with raw milk. It is true that boiling destroys the vitamins and reduces the calcium and phosphorus contents, but from the point of view of consumption there is no doubt whatever that while boiling milk reduces its value at the same time there is an easy method of compensating for the loss of those essential qualities.

The second method that can be adopted to make ordinary milk fit for human consumption is pasteurisation. In London 90 per cent. of the milk is pasteurised, and in Manchester 90 per cent. of the milk is pasteurised. That is why I find indifference on the part of the people who live in London to the severity of the threat of the milk problem. Pasteurisation means keeping milk roughly at a temperature of 145 degrees Fah. for thirty minutes. There is no homogenisation, or breaking up of the cream, and the milk flavour, in my judgment at any rate, is improved. There is no difficulty in pasteurisation except that it has to be carried out in part by human machinery, and human machinery here as everywhere else will sometimes break down. I have here figures from Montreal which show that, although the milk is pasteurised, in 1927 there was an outbreak of enteric fever which affected 4,755 patients and there were 453 deaths; whereas in Toronto, where 99 per cent. of the milk is pasteurised, and where there is supervision of the men undertaking the work, the problem of surgical tuberculosis is no longer a problem. A great deal, therefore, depends upon the human skill used in the process of pasteurisation.

An article appeared in The Times about a year ago asserting, on very competent authority, that pasteurisation had failed in the experience of medical men in London. Pasteurisation is perfectly satisfactory. It destroys tubercle and any other bacilli which are harmful. But it is essential that the machinery for carrying it out should be constantly supervised, and that as far as possible bacteriological control should be exercised at every stage of the procedure. It is most desirable that milk should be produced under conditions which make it as pure as possible. If that is done then I support the noble Viscount, Lord Astor's plea for a very largely increased supply of milk in this country. There is another process known as sterilisation. Sterilisation consists in keeping milk at a temperature of about 100° C. for about twenty-five minutes. That is an immense advantage so far as the use of milk in warmer climates than our own is concerned, but for us pasteurisation is certainly adequate. Some time ago a very authoritative letter appeared in the Lancet signed by the noble Lord, Lord Dawson of Penn, Sir Thomas Horder and others, advocating that the whole milk supply of large towns should undergo pasteurisation, at least before being supplied for human consumption.

I would therefore say that it seems to me that there can be no doubt that an increased supply of milk is necessary; that the best milk for the purpose is pure raw milk, that pure raw milk is rarely obtainable and that contaminated milk can be made fit for human consumption in a variety of ways which have some disadvantages but that those disadvantages are capable of remedy. I think some further inquiry than has yet been made should he directed to the milk supply of the country. We have heard a great deal lately about Royal Commissions. I really think the time has come for a Royal Commission, not for the purpose of postponing the question but of bringing to the front all the knowledge so far obtained about the milk problem, and to let the public know that milk for the people of this country should be produced under conditions which make it possible for them to drink it without those grave risks to health which have been so profitable to my profession. This may be an ideal—and ideals are not so much for capture as for pursuit—but in my judgment it is an ideal which we should steadily pursue.


My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Lord has produced some solution of the milk problem after the fearsome figures of disease and trouble that he gave in the earlier part of his speech, because those figures and facts—I do not doubt that they are correct—are perhaps among the reasons why so many people to-day are afraid to consume the quantity of milk that they should consume. I would venture to suggest, without denying the noble Lord's facts, that there is perhaps another aspect of tie question. We know that much disease may be caused through contaminated milk, but no facts are obtainable to show the amount of disease that is prevented by the consumption of milk. We are all agreed that experiments have proved that milk is an essential, or at any rate a very necessary part of a child's dietary, and if the milk were withdrawn it is probable that the resultant diseases would be far worse than the actual diseases that are traceable to the consumption of contaminated milk. I hope that the noble Lord will consider the matter in that light, as well as from the point of view that only trouble is caused by the consumption of milk and that no assistance is given in any direction to the health of those who drink it.

The noble Viscount has made reference to the National Milk Publicity Council, ever which I have had the honour to preside for the past three years. That council has been in existence for some time and has done a great deal of good work. Its members had knowledge, of course, of the two experiments to which reference has been made, and also of an experiment that has recently been concluded under the auspices the Empire Marketing Board in Scotland. The experiment was conducted on, I think, 20,000 children, of whom 10,000 received no extra assistance, 5,000 received raw milk and 5,000 pasteurised milk. The object of the experiment was to ascertain whether raw or pasteurised milk was of greater benefit to children, and the conclusion reached by that experiment was that there was little or no difference between raw and pasteurised milk in that connection. As the use of pasteurised milk is increasing —the noble Lord has given figures for some of the great centres of population —I think we can face with equanimity the possibility of increased consumption of milk in this country. I think we should look forward to it and hope that it will come about and ensure the better health and growth of our children.

The National Milk Publicity Council initiated not very many years ago a scheme known as the milk-in-schools scheme, and with the aid of various health authorities—and I would mention more particularly that of the medical officers of health who were represented on the council—that scheme has been introduced to a large number of schools, and a very large number of children (I think the latest figure is something like 600,000) are enabled to purchase one-third of a pint of milk a day. Undoubtedly good work is being done, and the progress made has been and continues to be most remarkable. That work has been very considerably hampered by lack of funds. The National Milk Publicity Council depends for its income upon voluntary contributions, divided equally between the producer and his distributor. Unfortunately, for reasons into which I need not enter, the National Farmers' Union some years ago withdrew their support from the National Milk Publicity Council and—I think probably quite rightly —subsequent applications to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Empire Marketing Board for assistance have been turned down on the score that the National Milk Publicity Council did not represent the whole industry.

Last autumn a certain change took place, and an arrangement has been made with the National Farmers' Union whereby they collect the money and, at any rate for the moment, hand it over to the National Milk Publicity Council to dispose of as they think fit. That means that the National Milk Publicity Council has now the official support of the National Farmers' Union, though the National Farmers' Union are not as yet actually represented on the council. They do, however, give their support by offering to collect that money, and they hand the money over to us to dispose of. The result has been that, whereas previously to that arrangement the number of farmers who were subscribing to the National Milk Publicity Council was 6,000, the number now subscribing is estimated—it is very difficult to get an exact figure—at no less than 10,000, which is a very considerable increase. I hope that in the near future a subscription for the National Milk Publicity Council will be incorporated in the usual contracts and that every farmer who is producing milk will then be contributing a small amount, which in the aggregate will make a very considerable sum, to the funds of this body.

As I have said, the milk-in-schools movement has been hampered by lack of funds. Even the very considerable increase in funds that would be obtained if every dairy farmer contributed would hardly suffice for the needs of this movement and its possibilities. There are, however, other directions than the supply of milk for children in which the council can do good work. There is advertising, with its attendant results. The noble Viscount has referred to this and has given figures to show the great results that advertising has produced in other directions. There is yet one more direction that shows very great possibilities. Quite recently the council made an arrangement with an iron works near Leicester, so that the men employed there, who were working under rather difficult conditions and needed a considerable amount of liquid nourishment, could, if they desired, get milk instead of the water, tea or beer which they had had hitherto. It is as yet impossible to say whether this has had any effect, but those who are taking the milk say that in one place alone 240 gallons of milk are being consumed every week where previously none was consumed.

An application is now before the Empire Marketing Board for money with which to conduct an experiment whereby it may be discovered whether milk has any advantage over other forms of nourishment in affecting absenteeism or output. It is believed that milk so strengthens the resistance of human beings to disease that it may very likely be that an extra ration of milk will make a very considerable difference to absenteeism and greatly increase the efficiency and health of the workers as a whole. I would, therefore, ask the noble Earl who is going to reply for the Government seriously to consider throwing the whole weight of the Government behind this application, because I believe it might be productive of results very remarkable and very useful both for the country as a whole and for the milk industry. Your Lordships will realise that it is impossible to persuade hard-headed business men with businesses to run to give facilities for their workpeople to spend a considerable time in the day in consuming milk, unless they can be offered some concrete or possible result in exchange for the time so lost. I do not wish to detain your Lordships longer, but will again plead with the noble Earl opposite to give this matter his greatest attention, and if he possibly can to assist the National Milk Publicity Council in their application, and thereby assist the agricultural industry, of which milk production is such a great part, and, what I believe will be of even greater importance, assist the workers in some of the harder worked industries in their health and general well-being.


My Lords, after having listened to this debate, I want to appeal to the Government to consider whether they ought not to appoint some Committee of Inquiry to bring up to date all the information that is available about milk. You have heard a most remarkable speech, and a most drastic speech, from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who represents the medical profession. If you believe all he says, you will go away and never drink another drop of milk again, unless it has been boiled, and I assure you there are lots of other doctors who say that if you give children milk which has been boiled you will not help them in their growth. In fact at this moment scientific opinion on milk is extremely divided, and I would like to remind the noble Earl who has just sat down that it is not a very good advertisement to try and push something that is not recommended by the medical profession. The medical profession has a great influence on what people drink, after all is said and done, and if there are other medical men, as I know there are, who share the opinion expressed by Lord Moynihan, it seems to me that it would be a calamity and a waste of money to spend it on advertising milk as it is today.

At the same time, I think this is a most vital problem to the whole human race, and to our own country in particular, where we live in large towns. Therefore I want to urge the Government carefully to consider, by means of a, Committee, whether the evidence is for or against the pasteurisation of milk. I think there is no doubt that in London, from what I have heard from medical friends, glands of the neck, usually associated with tuberculosis, have disappeared in a remarkable manner. It is also a remarkable coincidence that it has done so at a time when pasteurisation on a wholesale scale is almost complete in London. Eighty per cent. of the milk in London is said to be pasteurised. Possibly it means that you have cleared out that complaint, but it does not mean that there are not other complaints or other difficulties fostered by pasteurisation. We must have all the doctors agreeing before we can decide on pasteurisation, for we cannot press home a situation which is undecided. I would also remind Lord Moynihan that pasteurisation cannot be done for nothing, and it is almost impossible to see how it is to be done in the smaller towns and villages, where I believe it would entail a very heavy burden indeed. Perhaps, however, that is not the worst evil. In large cities and centres of population, I believe that if a Commission found it to be right something might be done which would not cost so very much, but it would cost something after all. On all these things we must have further experiments carried out and arrive at an opinion which satisfies the medical profession and, therefore, the public at large.

While I am speaking, I would like to add to what Lord Astor said when he suggested that the present Milk Designations Order might be considered at the same time. As he said, there are three higher grades of certified milk. What does that mean? Does it mean that the milk is mad, that it has been certified by two doctors? for when we hear of any one being certified it usually implies insanity. It really does not convey anything—certified milk. Then there is grade A (T.T.). It seems to imply grade B, but we find that there is also Grade A. That seems to me to be a mistake, unless it was conceived in order to deceive people, and surely we can get some better names than these—names which do not deceive people but convey on the face of them what they really mean. At any rate many of us feel that it is a matter to which the Government should give their attention. They must themselves act and not wait until everybody agrees to a change of name. If my certified milk be sold by another name, it will cause me great inconvenience and, therefore, it is improbable that I shall voluntarily do anything, but if it is for the public interest that a change should be made it is for the Government to set the pace.

I do not think it has been pointed out how small a proportion of the milk produced in this country is produced under conditions which we have been trying for some years to establish. Our movement, however, is growing. At the moment there are, I am sorry to say, only 176 people who sell certified milk. There are only 243 who sell Grade A tuberculin tested milk. There are 500 or thereabouts—for we cannot get the accurate figures—who sell Grade A milk which is not tuberculin tested. The movement is a very slow growth, but it has been a steady growth. But when you realise that every one of these farmers, or at any rate the first two lots, have had to pay something to be allowed the privilege of spending more money on having their herds tested for tuberculosis, I think it is amazing that there are so many who produce this milk. It is being produced against the general trend, and without the great assistance and encouragement which one would think would come for those who try in this direction. I think the Government might consider whether they cannot do something to simplify and ease the burden of those who are trying these experiments, because in the work which we are doing we are finding out many things which will be of use, whatever may he the verdict of the inquiry which I think the Government ought to make. And, whatever they think is necessary, I should like to urge upon them that they should consider very carefully whether this is not an opportune moment to consider the fundamental problems that are involved.


My Lords, I am sure you will all agree with the noble Viscount in his wishes that the consumption of milk may be increased. If you want to increase the consumption of milk I think the first thing you have to do is to reduce the cost of production. That, I think, the noble Viscount said. Of course, there are many factors in the cost of production. I am glad to say that the late Government were able to produce a slight reduction by the de-rating of agricultural land and agricultural buildings, and I hope that that has had, or will have, its effect to a certain degree. But, of course, it cannot do everything, and it cannot perhaps do a very great deal, but still it can do something. There are other points which enter into the cost of production, which I will not deal with, but I want to make particular mention of one, and to ask the noble Earl who is going to reply if he will perhaps tell us if there is any point relating thereto upon which he can reassure us.

The noble Viscount referred to the question of veterinary assistance to the farmers, and he called attention to the loss which dairy farmers sustained by various diseases and, in especial, he meant epizootic abortion. I know from my own experience that that is almost the most costly disease the dairy farmers suffer from, because not only is the cow rendered sick by the abortion, but almost in every case that I have known I think the cow has been sterile afterwards. I sent a couple of cows to the Board of Agriculture, and they experimented and tried to get the cows in calf again, but it was quite hopeless. My own experience is that in all but a small percentage of cases the cow is of no use for milk again. If that could be dealt with it would he a great help in reducing the costs of dairy farmers.

I was reading to-day in an agricultural magazine about the cost entailed upon farmers and owners in regard to buildings. I have read the Order of which complaint was made, and I must say it is a most reasonable document. It seems common sense. But there are people who say — I do not know whether they say with truth, but at any rate the idea is abroad that local authorities are rather too strenuous in the administration of the Order. If the Government can do anything to persuade people that that is not the case, or to persuade the local authorities that they are unreasonable in any way in observing the strict letter of the Order, I think that would do a great deal to increase confidence in the possibilities of dairy farming. In my humble opinion it is much more important that your staff and your working should be clean than that your building should be magnificent. You might have Westminster Hall as a cow barn, and if you did not keep it clean and keep the staff clean it would not be of any advantage. I am sure that the propaganda which the Government and all those who are interested in this matter should put forward is in the direction of the cleanliness of the staff and the milkers and all who have to do with the cows. And I must say that milk recording has had a great deal to do with that. I have been connected with a milk recording society for a good many years. There has been a very large increase in recording, and the fact that the milk recorders go round to the farms and are able to offer a little advice here and there has done an enormous amount in raising the standard of cleanliness on the farms which belong to the milk recording societies. I am perfectly certain that the encouragement and development of milk recording has been of the greatest benefit to the dairying industry.

With regard to grading, I was responsible for the Bill which my noble friend severely criticised just now. The original intention was to create two grades of milk—certified milk, which unfortunately seems to me something of a misnomer, and Grade A milk, certified to be milk which has been tested. The Grade A milk was intended to be milk which any decent farmer could produce, and which every farmer ought to produce, and it was to give the stamp to milk of that cleanliness that the grade was introduced. Originally there were only to be two grades. Then Grade A tuberculin tested milk was introduced afterwards, which I think spoiled the whole thing, because it introduced three grades and that confusion of which my noble friend has complained. If anything could be done to simplify the grading of milk and make it perfectly sure what people were buying, it would be a great advantage. I have only now to congratulate the noble Viscount on having won the Stapleton Cup and on having made a profit on his farm—two subjects on which we all envy him. I am in entire agreement with him. If you have good milk you always get a good price for it. Bad milk does not get a good price, and good milk does.


My Lords, I am sure we are all very grateful to the noble Viscount for initiating this debate. It has brought out a number of most interesting points, and produced a number of most interesting speeches, not the least interesting, I am sure, being that of Lord Moynihan. It has been most useful to us, partly in showing what we have to put right in the production of milk, and partly also in showing what we as farmers are up against so far as the medical profession is concerned. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, mentioned the severity of the local authorities in enforcing certain Orders on the industry. I think he will realise the importance of those Orders and of the enforcement of them after what we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan.


I was not criticising. I was only saying there was a certain amount of dissatisfaction, and I hope the Government will be able to allay it. I think it is probably quite unjustified.


I did not mean to overstate the matter. But of course we have to protect the farmer against the kind of thing which has been said about his produce this afternoon. And I would humbly suggest to Lord Moynihan that in making those remarks about milk be might have remembered that there really are a number of other facts which he might have given us at the same time. For myself I feel that the medical profession is not entirely free from blame in this matter. One of the reasons why there is not more clean milk produced in this country is the lack of demand. All of us who have had anything to do with producing any form of graded milk —I use that as a, general term—and trying to sell it, know perfectly well that a great deal of it is sold to-day, and always has been sold, as ordinary milk at ordinary prices because there is no demand for it. I cannot help feeling that it the medical profession would talk a little less about dirty milk and do a little more to encourage the buying of clean milk, which is already on the market but is not being bought as clean milk, they would probably do more for the agricultural industry and the nation as a whole.

Moreover, I think they would help us if they would, make up their minds what they feel about milk. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who is a most respected member of the medical profession, has spoken very strongly in favour of pasteurised milk. He mentioned the names of certain other very eminent medical men who are in favour of pasteurised milk. But there are also a very great number of distinguished members of the medical profession who want something quite different. I suggest to the medical profession that before they lay blame on the farming industry for not taking certain steps in regard to milk they should make up their minds what they are to do.


We want to produce pure milk and until it is produced we suggest that all that is not pure milk should be pasteurised.


The noble Lord does, and the noble Lord says "we"; but there are a great number of medical men who tell us something quite different, and they also pretend to be speaking for the most progressive side of the medical profession. I think the noble Lord might have gone a little further with his figures and that, in telling us about the large number of tubercular cattle in the country, he might also have told us that it has been ascertained that only about one per cent. of dairy cows give infected milk. I think that is a most important figure if we are to deal with figures in this matter. And though it is perfectly true that there is a great deal of non-pulmonary tuberculosis in this country of a character that can possibly be ascribed, or a great deal of it, to bovine origin, I think he might have told us that whereas in 1913 there were 36,000 cases certified, in 1920 there were 15,000 cases certified and in 1929, 18,000. That slight increase, by the way, may be really a decrease because there was an improvement in notification. We all know, of course, that the general system of notification has very much increased in efficiency in the last few years. So much for the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in what he called his qualified support, though I must confess that I noticed more of the qualification than the support.

The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, who raised the question, has left me very little to say. As I look through my notes I see that he has dealt almost point by point with matters that I was going to mention. He has shown your Lordships, by reference to the experiments on school children that have been carried out both in England and in Scotland, the importance of milk from the point of view of the health of this country. He has also shown you, by quoting figures, the importance from the economic standpoint of developing thin side of the industry. He has mentioned a figure of over £60,000,000 for dairy products, £50,000,000 of which is from the direct sale of milk—no less than 22 per cent. of the whole output of the agricultural industry.

I think he was rather asking me what policy the Government was going to adopt regarding the development of this side of the agricultural industry. That puts me in a slightly difficult position. Your Lordships do not like repetition, and it is really very difficult for me to discuss our policy concerning the milk industry without touching on the Agricultural Marketing Bill which I hope will be before your Lordships fairly shortly if it emerges successfully from another place. But unless some new factor is introduced into the milk industry—and I am repeating what was said to me only two nights ago by a very large milk producer —it will probably be just as profitable in two or three years time to be producing milk in this country as to be growing corn in the arable areas. The situation at the present moment is appalling. We know that there are certain paper agreements for the sale of milk at a reduced price. We know also that a great deal of the milk of this country is unsold at the present moment.

The noble Viscount has pointed out one way of dealing with the situation because he has shown that, although there is a very great apparent surplus of milk on the market at the present moment, it is not fair to describe that surplus as over-production. There is very much more under-consumption. The total production of milk in this country is something over 1,100,000,000 gallons. Of that about 600,000,000 gallons are consumed as liquid milk; that is to say, about half. The noble Viscount made reference to the comparative consumption in other countries. He told your Lordships that in the United States of America they drink three times as much milk as we do, which means that if we were able to bring the consumption of milk per head in this country up to what it is in the United States of America there would be a demand for 1,800,000,000 gallons of milk, or 700,000,000 gallons more than we are producing at the present moment. The United States of America is the lowest consuming country which the noble Viscount mentioned. He mentioned that Sweden consumed between four and five times as much as we do, that Denmark consumed nearly four times as much, and that Switzerland consumed between five and six times as much. If, therefore, we consumed per head as much as Switzerland we should need 3,600,000,000 gallons instead of the 1,100,000,000 gallons that we produce.

That brings me to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Radnor—the noble Viscount also mentioned it—about publicity, and the fact that at the present moment the National Milk Publicity Council, in dealing with an industry worth £50,000,000 a year to this country and to the agricultural industry, has at its disposal £7,000 a year for advertising. I ask any other industry in this country or in the world whether they do not spend a greater proportion on advertising than that. I ask the brewing industry—no doubt the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, could tell your Lordships something about their advertising—whether they do not spend rather more than £7,000 a year on advertising, and where they would be if they did not do so?


I would point out to the noble Earl that that figure does not include the sums spent by individual firms on advertising.


There is a further sum of round about £15,000 or £16,000. I think it is which should have been included in the amount spent on advertising; but even that does not bring the sum so spent to a very large proportion of the total of £50,000,000 a year. The question arises as to how to raise this money. Undoubtedly, as I see it, one of the difficulties of the present moment, with no organisation of the producers in the milk industry, is that anyone who does contribute to an advertisement fund is making a contribution not only on behalf of himself but on behalf of a vast number of producers who are making no contribution. If the compulsory powers of any Marketing Board that is set up confined them merely to a levy for the purposes of advertisement, I believe that alone would do a tremendous lot for the milk industry. We have calculated that a levy of 1 per cent.—which is one-eighth of a penny per gallon—would yield the sum of £400,000. I am quite sure the noble Lord, Lord Radnor's mouth waters at the very thought of such a sum for his National Milk Publicity Council. There are other functions that we should hope, by the organisation of the milk industry, to carry out; but I do not think that it is necessary at the moment to deal with them.

One point that the noble Lord mentioned is the tremendous imports of cheese and other manufactured milk products into this country. There is no doubt that one of the factors holding up the creameries and the general factory side of the milk industry in this country is that they cannot be assured of their supplies. They are always having competition from the liquid market for the raw material, and the creamery proprietors can never be sure of getting an adequate supply of milk, because at any moment the fluid market may offer a better price to their suppliers. Therefore, one of the functions of organisation among milk producers must be the institution of arrangements for giving a steady supply to the creameries that are undertaking the attack on the cheese and other imported manufactured milk products which we wish to see replaced by the industry of this country.

The noble Lord mentioned, among other points, the general question of improving supplies. I should say that at the present moment the Ministry is giving very careful attention to this side of the problem. Noble Lords know already the lines on which we are working. We are giving grants to local authorities in respect of dairying instructresses, who are giving lectures and demonstrations at shows on the various methods of dairying we make grants to advisory centres for dairy bacteriology and we are supporting very strongly clean milk competitions and investigations into feeding and into the diseases of cattle. With regard to what I think was the most important point, that the noble Viscount mentioned, we are also giving, and intend to continue to give, support to the milk recording movement which has done so much in the direction of cutting down the cost of production. Moreover, as your Lordships know, we are to consider in detail to-morrow what some of us feel to be a most important measure for the live stock industry as a whole—what we call colloquially the Scrub Bulls Bill.

The last point the noble Viscount mentioned—I think it has been very generally mentioned—was the question of grade designation. I quite realise the noble Lord's difficulty. I must confess that personally I have always felt that these grade designations are in a most unsatisfactory state. I think that is fairly generally admitted by anybody who has ever had anything to do with the subject. But the question is very difficult of solution while there is so much disagreement as at present in the industry. I do not want the noble Viscount to think I am giving what he might call a Departmental reply—trying to give excuses for doing nothing. We hear a good deal when any Bills are introduced of the giving of tyrannical powers to the Ministry, and any suggestion that the Ministry should have any power whatsoever brings noble Lords on the other side to their feet. Supposing the Minister was to go down into the middle of this arena of disagreement among the graded milk producers, and tell them of the exact grade designations that should be adopted in the future, quite irrespective of the producers' agreement or disagreement. I think noble Lords will realise that that would create an impossible position. But I will say this. We do admit that the subject is not in a satisfactory state at the moment, and if producers could come together and arrive at some form of agreement, and then come and discuss the matter with us, we are prepared to talk it over with them at any time. I do not lay it down now that it is essential that every single producer must agree. There are always difficult people in all collections of human beings, and probably complete unanimity on this matter is impossible, but if we can have some hope that there would be general support for a revision of these designations, I am quite sure my right hon. friend would be only too glad to discuss the matter thoroughly with producers. He realises, as we all do, the tremendous importance to the country, to the milk market and the milk producer, of this movement for increasing the cleanliness of the milk supply of this country, and I know he would be prepared to do anything that would assist producers to solve the problem.

Back to