§ Debate resumed on the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
My Lords, I rise to express a hope that your Lordships will, as you doubtless will, give a Second Reading to this Bill, and also to utter a note of warning. The first of the three parts of this Bill has been described, and I think not unjustly, as "Paddy the next best thing." The best thing, anyway from the point of view of those who introduce the Bill, is that we should so regulate our imports that the people who produce the milk of this country should, at a moderate profit and with a fair and satisfactory rate of wages, supply the demands for milk in so far as they adequately can. It is impossible to do that, as the noble Lord has said, on account of our Agreements with the Dominions 536 and our pacts with foreign countries. I think your Lordships will in all probability agree that our Dominions owe a certain consideration to us in this matter. Many of us do not like such tests as are imposed, but in some cases they seem to be almost the only alternative, and I venture to think that not only ought the industry to be grateful for the help that is being given, but it most undoubtedly is grateful.
When you come to the second part—the question of cleaning up the herds of this country—I wish to offer a note of warning. We have all noticed from time to time that the medical profession urge on us the duty of cleaning up our milk supply and they point to the impurities that exist in a certain, I believe a very small, section of the milk produced. I think that we must, and do, all admire the zeal with which they pursue this admirable course. But I have a criticism, or even two criticisms, to make with regard to that. In the first place I should be happier if when they criticised the uncleanly methods of British farmers they also turned attention occasionally to the people overseas as well. I do not believe, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Marley, says, that the production of milk overseas is any better than it is here. I should like to call attention to the fact, of which doubtless the noble Lord is aware, that in Switzerland and Denmark cows go into buildings in the early autumn and never come out again until the spring, whereas cows in this country come out nearly every day and the steadings are thoroughly cleaned.
Some of your Lordships may recall that two or three years ago—or it may be three or four years—my noble friend Lord Hastings and I drew attention to the import of skimmed sweetened and unsweetened milk into this country. We drew attention to the analysis of one of the big brands. The analysis was not in dispute. It showed that practically the whole value of that compound lay in the sugar in the skimmed milk. Have we ever had help from the medical profession there? I do not think we have. I do not recollect getting any help from the noble Lord, Lord Marley. But in the case of hundreds and thousands of children in the poorer classes that is the only form of milk they ever get. In all probability the harm done to those children by drink- 537 ing that condensed sweetened milk is far greater than if they drank the dirtiest milk produced on any farm in this country. When you hear some people talk you would think—I was inclined to think it when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Marley—that it is as safe to drink a cup of prussic acid as it is to drink in this country a glass of milk. Yet I venture to suggest that there is probably no commodity in this country which it is safer to drink than a glass of any milk whatever.
Let us get to the facts. The noble Lord mentioned—it is quite true, it is in the Blue-book—that there are somewhere possibly in the region of 40 per cent. of reactors among cows in this country. That Is a disability which they share, I am told, with the majority of your Lordships, and in all probability with the noble Lord, Lord Marley, himself. He is in all probability a reactor just as some cows are reactors. On the same evidence there is said to be one cow in three, or possibly one in four, that is a giver of tubercular and dangerous milk. Probably 80 per cent, of those reactors can be discovered by careful and regular clinical examinations. In a year or two those reactors and dangerous cows will become fewer and fewer until in all probability they become almost non-existent. I think the scheme now being considered for accredited herds is an eminently desirable one, for the herds to be accredited will have to pass through a minimum number of clinical examinations a year, but I think it is a still more important recommendation of the Animal Diseases Committee that all herds should be subject to periodical clinical examination. Accredited herds, at all events at first, will consist of those herds the owners of which are pretty sure that they are clean at the start and that they will not lose many on clinical examination. If there are any cows about which they feel doubtful they will probably pass them on to neighbours before clinical examination takes place.
There are other points in regard to which I would ask for the very careful consideration of the Government. The first is as to the expense of the scheme. We have heard about the success of the United States, who in ten years have reduced the number of reactors in their country—it is only in fact, I believe, in certain parts of the country—by about 538 60 per cent. The cost of that was over 150,000,000 dollars. We heard about economy at an earlier stage and we ought to consider the cost. The second point is with regard to the reliability of the test. The method now in vogue is a double intradermal test. It is said that a good man can tell by the size of the wound and by its appearance up to about 98 per cent, of the reactors, a bad veterinary surgeon very much less, and a novice a comparatively small proportion. Any of your Lordships who have herds will know from personal experience how desperately unreliable these tests are at the present moment; how an animal will one day prove to be a reactor and a week later not, and so on. If you are going to increase very largely your veterinary staff, it is hardly likely that the standard of veterinary skill will increase in the way in which it ought to increase to make this test as reliable as it should be.
But the third reason is to my mind very much the strongest, and that is the strides made by scientific knowledge. In the case of bovine tuberculosis science has made just as great strides as it has in other branches of medicine. I do not know how many of your Lordships have read this book which has just been published. It is called "Spahlinger contra Tuberculosis." It contains a host of reliable names throughout, giving evidence, lay, medical and veterinary. It describes the course of Spahlinger's experiments in Switzerland and in Norfolk, which were successful. Finally the Government of Northern Ireland were so impressed by these tests that they decided to hold a Government inquiry into them. They held that inquiry, and on December 17, 1932, they published a Report of an official demonstration made in Belfast, which showed that 100 per cent, of the calves immunized by Spahlinger's vaccine had triumphantly resisted an infection of tuberculosis which proved fatal to non-vaccinated calves in a few weeks.
This has been very carefully gone into. To the medical man there may very well be reasons which prove that all that is stated in this book is not true, but as I say it is full of names of the very highest repute that there can be, and if one quarter of what is said is true, it is obvious that this is a thing which is not to be lightly set aside in a sentence or 539 two, as was done in the Report of that Committee, but deserves the attention not only of the Minister of Agriculture, but also of the Minister of Health, because if it were proved to be true, vast expense would be saved in money and a very much better cure would be effected. I ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill to consider these three points which I have mentioned, and I ask him to proceed with caution. If he does not proceed with caution he may put out of business thousands and tens of thousands of men who are carrying on their business admirably and cleanly, and in return he may not get a better supply of milk for the nation at large.
There is only one other object of the Bill upon which I wish to say a word, and that is that of increasing the demand for milk. The noble Lord, Lord Marley, seemed to think that the £1,000,000 to be spent was going to be spent in newspaper advertisement. As a matter of fact that £1,000,000 is going to be spent in providing milk for schoolchildren at half the price at which they get it now. I thought that there was probably not one amongst your Lordships—not one in this House—who would not consider it a desirable thing to take the surplus milk of this nation and give it to the schoolchildren who wanted it. I have heard people say that that is Socialism. All I can say is that if it is Socialism, it is the sort of Socialism that I like. I very much regret—and I think it was due only to a misunderstanding—that the noble Lord, Lord Marley, said that he objected to any such thing.
§ LORD MARLEY
I should like if I may to make this perfectly clear. I said that I objected to this money being spent on newspaper advertising, and I said that the best form of advertising would be the health which would result to the children who got the cheap milk. Those were my words. I am within the recollection of the House.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
Do I understand the noble Lord to say that he was mistaken, and that if this money is in fact going to provide milk for the children and is not to be spent on newspaper advertising, he will be in favour of it?
§ LORD MARLEY
I should be entirely in favour of it provided the milk is clean milk and not infected milk.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
With that note of caution, which I am sure the noble Earl will bear in mind during the four years that are to come, I sincerely hope that your Lordships will give this Bill a. Second Reading.
§ LORD STRACHIE
My Lords, although in one sense I welcome this Bill yet there are certain parts of it for which I cannot say I care very much. I do not much like this continual giving of subsidies. Here we get more subsidies, and before the discussion on this Bill commenced we were hearing of other subsidies for the sugar industry. Then again only yesterday an announcement was made in another place that there was to be a subsidy of £3,000,000 for beef. Why is it that we are always having subsidies instead of having straightforward protection of our industries against foreign competition of an unfair nature? Apparently the reason is that which was given in The Times this morning in its leading article, that it was because of Ottawa and of Argentina—that it was perfectly impossible for the Government to raise the price of beef so as to make it profitable, simply because the Government had committed us to the Ottawa Agreements, and therefore, as The Times pointed out, the only alternative was to throw the charge upon the British taxpayer. I think that is very unfortunate. I think we ought to do nothing to make the British taxpayer feel that he is paying expensively for the benefit of agriculture by this direct taxation for subsidies.
Then I cannot help thinking that it is unfortunate that for the first time for a great many years the Ministry of Agriculture in framing this Bill have omitted the clause usually inserted in such Bills by which it is provided that all Orders made under the Bill should be laid before both Houses of Parliament. That has been the practice of the Ministry for a good many years up to now, and one is rather surprised that the practice is not followed on this occasion, all the more so as the noble Earl told us in moving the Second Reading that he would not go into the details of a good deal of the Bill because those details would be carried out by Orders made by the Minister. If that is so, it is all the more reason why this House and another place should have some control over those Orders before they come into force.
541 I regret to see that by Clause 3 it is evidently intended, though it is not said directly as was done previously under the Milk Marketing Order, that those who are to get the cheese subsidy are to be only those with twelve cows or more. That will completely exclude all the smallholders under county councils, and I think that it is regrettable that the small men should not have an opportunity to get the subsidy as well as the larger men. It may be said that those men do not make cheese. That is quite contrary to my own personal knowledge, because as an active member of the British Dairy Farmers' Association I can say that at the exhibitions of that association we always have exhibits for smallholders who make cheeses not exceeding eight pounds, showing that the smallholders do make cheese and are anxious to compete—and very good cheese they very often make, too.
As regards Clause 9, the object of which is to secure pure milk, the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, has dealt with that to a great extent. As I have mentioned Lord Cranworth, perhaps I may take this opportunity of saying how much we as landowners in this House ought to congratulate ourselves that the noble Lord is now a member of the Milk Board. That will no doubt be of the greatest advantage to us, but I go further and say that it will be of greater advantage to the owner-occupier, who has got very few people to look after him. If anything goes wrong as regards the marketing of milk in this country, he is the man who is going to suffer first, because he has not got his landlord to go to as the ordinary tenant-farmer has. As regards the question of pure milk, I would only say that I listened to the statement made by that eminent surgeon of Leeds attributing all sorts of diseases to the drinking of milk, though I con Id not see that he brought forward any evidence to prove that that was the case, and I was very glad at that time that the noble Earl, Lord Iveagh, made a most effective answer to the speech of that noble surgeon in this House.
As regards the manner in which that money for securing pure milk is going to be distributed, on a previous occasion, as I received no definite pledge from the Government upon this matter, I suggested that it would be very de- 542 sirable that the people who have to find the money should say how it should be distributed in order to arrange for the procuring of a supply of pure milk in this country—that is, by clearing up our flocks and herds where there is disease. It could be done by the county councils and the big county boroughs, as being the people who are in touch, through the agricultural committees, with the question of diseases such as tuberculosis.
Then there is one point as to which I am not very clear, and that is that under certain conditions money is to be repaid to the Government by the Milk Board—money which they spend. I suppose it will come out of the accumulations of the Milk Board. It is stated, sometimes, that they already have large accumulations, but at the same time if it is to be paid by the Milk Board indirectly it is going to affect the farmers. Generally, I may say that I think it is very fortunate that the noble Earl has brought in this Milk Bill. It is very good as far as it goes though I cannot agree with certain details, but I do not suppose any one in this House will wish to oppose the Second Reading.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, during the course of the debate we have touched upon a variety of subjects, such as publicity, increased distribution of milk in schools, the quality of the milk, and so on. I only want to touch very briefly on one or two points. Before coming down here I refreshed my memory by looking through the debates in another place some twenty years ago, and in those debates I urged the Government, I regret to say without success, to bring forward legislation entirely on the lines of Clause 10 of this Bill. Not unnaturally I heartily support that clause, and I only regret that it has taken twenty years before that very sound legislation found its way on to the Statute Book.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
Clause 10 deals in the main with the question of clean milk. I want to add a word about diseases and milk. It is obvious there is general agreement that a certain amount of milk is unsatisfactory, and even dangerous, but it is very easy to emphasise the danger to children by over-emphasising that particular point. It is probable that of the 543 percentage of cows who react to the tuberculin test only 2 per cent, give tuberculous milk, and that of the whole tuberculous population only 5 per cent, suffer from bovine tuberculosis. Only the other day I ran across figures which show that the danger, so far as there is danger, appears to be diminishing very rapidly. The deaths from non-pulmonary tuberculosis, and on the whole that is the infantile death rate, in 1911 was 14,600. Last year the deaths had dropped to 5,400, or about one-third of what it had been. That is a very remarkable improvement, and it does indicate a very decided improvement in the quality of the milk available for children.
There has been a considerable amount of controversy in the Press as to how this tuberculous milk should be dealt with. There is one school which advocates pasteurisation, and another school which advocates cleaning up the herds, and I want this afternoon to put a point before the noble Earl. For some time there have been tuberculin-tested herds. People who receive an official licence are entitled to sell graded milk because they have tuberculin-tested herds. Cows which react to the tuberculin test have to be sold or sent out of the herds. Similarly, any cows before being admitted to a tested herd have to pass the test. It is obvious that if you are to get a herd tubercle free, and increase the number of tubercle-free cows, it is absolutely vital that you should have a reliable test. If you do not have a reliable test you get re-infection in your herds. You may pass over a cow, and she is passed as tubercle free, and then you may find at the next test that you have not only one animal but two or three animals which do not pass the test. We want reliable methods by veterinary surgeons in conducting the test, and also reliable tuberculin. Unless you have skilled veterinary surgeons of qualified experience to carry out this very difficult and delicate test, you will not get similar results.
It is, however, about the tuberculin that I want to say a few words. There are two essentials where tuberculin is concerned. You want the potency or strength to be adequate, and the strength of all tuberculin used for this test to be the same. I hold in my hand a memorandum by the Tuberculin Committee of the Medical Research Council, 544 and in two places it is emphasised in the memorandum how important it is to have satisfactory tuberculin. Let me read two extracts. The first is this:It is obvious that any attempt to improve our methods for the detection of tuberculosis in cattle is useless unless we can be quite certain that the tuberculin employed for the purpose is sufficiently potent.And over the page is said this:It cannot be too clearly realised that a guarantee of potency is essential if any real progress is to be made in our endeavour to control bovine tuberculosis.The fact that this very efficient and important Council found it necessary to emphasise that showed what those who are concerned in the matter know quite well, that every tuberculin on the market is not of equal potency. It is obvious that if you test cows with different tuberculin you get entirely different results. You will not establish confidence in the minds of the public or of the farmers unless you secure reliability in the tuberculin used.
There are two suggestions which I would put before the noble Earl. Either he should standardise tuberculin, or if, owing to administrative difficulties, that is impossible, then the Government should restrict the use of tuberculin for licensed herds to specified brands of known and adequate potency. If they do that I am certain that the process of cleaning up our herds would be accelerated, and we should get more farmers to test their herds and also greater confidence on the part of the public. There is one other point. Somebody in the debate to-day referred to the fact of tubercle-free herds being tested twice a year. I venture to suggest that the noble Earl should consult his technical experts to find out whether it would not be desirable to have more frequent testing. My impression is that it would be an advantage if you had a shorter period than six months—I do not speak as a technical expert, I am merely putting it before the noble Earl as a suggestion—more particularly where a cow is brought into the herd even if she has passed the test. One of the difficulties in dealing with this has been that there are two Departments concerned—the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. I have been on numerous deputations and had any amount of correspondence with both of them. They 545 always ride off by saying that if we can get unanimous agreement between all the parties they will do the thing, and the result is that nothing is done.
The noble Earl hoped that I would congratulate him on this Bill, which was aimed at stimulating the production of milk.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
I thought he meant production. I think, as a matter of fact, the Government's, policy is likely to stimulate production, and I am not sure that in effect the Government are not going to have a more serious difficulty a year hence by an increased glut. The noble Earl and his distinguished colleague are extraordinarily fortunate in the fact that this year we have had a drought in summer. Grass produces milk and rain produces grass. This year we have not had rain, the pastures are parched up, and I know that in many counties—I was consulting the farmers in my own county the other day—the production of milk has quite recently dropped by something like 25 per cent., thereby diminishing the glut. There again you have a conflict of interests between the Department represented by the noble Earl and the Ministry of Health. The Minister of Health is going round praying for more rain. Whatever the Minister of Agriculture is doing in public I have no doubt that in private he is praying hard for a drought in order to reduce the production of milk. It is quite evident that where praying is concerned the Minister of Agriculture has his prayers answered more effectively than the Minister of Health.
The Government have had to act because of what is called the milk glut. What is a glut? A glut is a supply which is greater than the demand that the market can absorb, and, when a market cannot absorb the supplies put upon it, usually one attempts to deal with it by reducing the supplies. It might have been possible, I think, to reduce the supply of milk coming on the market, to try to remove the more expensive producers of milk. The noble Earl knows perfectly well that endless inquiries have indicated that the cost of production varies by more than 100 per rent. It might also have been possible to eliminate rather more rapidly the producers of diseased or dirty milk, and that would have tended to reduce the amount of milk 546 coming on the market. But the Government have not done either. As I understand it, the effect of what the Government are proposing to do is to make the surplus milk profitable—this milk which goes for manufacturing purposes. As soon as you tell a farmer that he is going to get a profit on any commodity that farmer will increase his output, and other farmers will come into that particular branch of the industry. My fear is that in 1935, as the result of this policy, there may actually be a greater glut—quite apart from any effect of the drought—than there was in 1934. I have already heard of certain landowners who have been more or less compelled by their tenants to spend money in putting up cow-houses where no cow-houses existed before, because their tenants were going to produce milk. They had not done it before, but they were going to produce milk because of the attraction of the money which is behind this Bill.
I am not going to say anything about control. It was my privilege to give evidence before the Grigg Commission, and such views as I had I put before them. I am not one of those who are opposed to all schemes of control, but I am not sure that, so far as milk is concerned, the Government, acting on the advice of the Commission, went quite far enough. I think it is possible that still the Government of the day, whatever its complexion may be, may be driven to nationalising the wholesale distribution of milk, possibly through some public utility society. I do not know whether that is going to be so or not. But I am not going to-day to raise that very interesting point, except to say that when you embark on measures of control it is very difficult to know where you are going to. I hope very much that the noble Earl will look into the question of the reliability of the tuberculin tests, because I think it is most important.
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships this afternoon I crave the consideration which your Lordships' House is accustomed to extend to those who do so for the first time. I was very glad to hear the noble Viscount who has just sat down talking about the reliability of tubeculin. The standardisation of tuberculin is a goal which has been before the veterinary profession for many years. I hope that the noble Earl 547 in charge of the Bill will do something to ensure the standardisation of the potency of tuberculin. But I would go further than that. The noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, spoke of the difficulty of obtaining the services of veterinary surgeons who were thoroughly conversant with the administration of this test. I should like to see the use of tuberculin for official purposes confined to those who hold a post-graduate diploma showing a practical knowledge of this delicate test. I feel quite sure that if any large scheme of free testing is introduced in this country it will take many years before you can overcome the ill-effects that will result. The inevitable consequence will be that, with the large numbers of people, who will go in for the tests for the first time, there will not be a sufficient number of experienced veterinary officers to carry out the tests, so that you will get anomalous results, and the same men who start out full of enthusiasm will have their ardour damped. Thus the position will be more difficult than it is now because the confidence which many farmers have at the present time will be lost.
In my own County of Ayrshire we are very fortunate in having a county veterinary officer who has the confidence of every farmer in Ayrshire. One result is that we have no fewer than seventy-one farmers who hold licences for the production of tuberculin-tested milk, and sixty-four of those farmers are men who are entirely dependent on their dairies for their livelihood. It is not a rich man's hobby in the West of Scotland or the whole of the South-West of Scotland. It is a practical proposition from the farmers' point of view, because they know that there is a demand, a premium on the market for tuberculin-tested animals: and although they may not receive an adequate return for their milk in the liquid milk market, particularly the special destination market, they reap their reward in the premium on tested stock. Anything that can be introduced which would discourage those farmers' efforts would be a disaster to them.
I hope that the noble Earl will use his influence with the Minister of Health to try to prevent too high a standard being put on agricultural buildings which are necessary for the production of accredited or attested milk. At the present time in Ayrshire there are at least 548 seventy, and possibly 100, farmers whose herds are free from tuberculous disease, and have been free for many years, but who are discouraged from taking out a licence partly by the lack of a remunerative market for their milk, and partly by the fact that they would have to go to Very considerable expenditure on their farm buildings in order to put them into a condition in which they would receive the imprimatur of the local sanitary authorities. I shall give you one instance, not in my own county but in a neighbouring county, to show that buildings are a help but not an essential. For something like thirty years a farmer whom I know very well, a personal friend of mine, had had no tuberculosis or abortion on his place. His buildings were possibly the most backward in the whole of Scotland. Some two or three years ago the buildings were condemned and a completely new byre, to conform to the higher standards, was put up. Some eighteen months ago he had his first case of tuberculosis and contagious abortion also appeared in the herd. Buildings are a great help to the production of clean milk, but they are not essential, and I hope that in anything that is done to bring up the conditions for accredited certificates too much stress will not be laid on buildings.
I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Marley, talk about the experiment of the Midland dairies in giving a premium for clean milk. I have had the same experience at a creamery which was started by my family, and which I took in hand after hearing Mr. Edwin White read his most interesting paper at the World Dairy Conference in 1925. I found that the creamery was getting 30,000 gallons a month, of which 6,000 gallons were manufactured into cheese. Gradually by means of clean milk tests, paying a bonus to 25 per cent, of the farmers at the top and making a deduction in the case of 25 per cent, of farmers at the bottom, and publishing the results regularly so that all could see, we attained an average turnover of 145,000 gallons a month, of which only 5,000 gallons were manufactured into cheese. That was built up through the confidence we were able to inspire in small retailers in the City of Glasgow and in neighbouring towns. We had a practical monopoly of the small retailers, who knew they could rely on the quality of milk sent out from this creamery.
549 I hope something may be done to persuade milk marketing boards to institute a series of laboratories for the testing for bacterial content as well as butter fat content of all the milk in their areas. It would not cost an outrageous sum, and it would do something to remedy the defects of the position created by putting a bottom to the milk market, as referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, if a sliding scale were introduced before the pool price was struck by which the men who were not doing their duty in providing the higher quality of milk from the bacterial standpoint were substantially penalised. Lord Cranworth talked about Dr. Spahlinger's experiments. I should like to know whether it is possible to detect by the ordinary means the presence of tuberculosis after injection. I think it is common knowledge that a great deal of the use of the bacillus Calmette Guerin in inoculation in this country was discredited because, after inoculation, the animal was a permanent reactor to the tuberculin test and consequently, if by some chance the efficacy of the inoculation failed, there was no further means of detecting which were reacting animals and possible carriers and which were not. I am not sure whether Dr. Spahlinger's treatment and inoculation will not prevent the testing of the inoculated animal at a later date by the normal means of the tuberculin test.
There is one point I should like also to mention in Lord Marley's remarks, and that is his statement that Scotland is very backward in the cleanliness of its milk. I challenge Lord Marley to produce any area in this country which has a bigger proportion of tuberculosis-free milk produced in it than the South-West and Western counties of Scotland. I believe I am making no exaggerated claim when I say we are far ahead in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Dumbartonshire, and Stirlingshire of any county in Great Britain and of most countries overseas. I believe that in the treatment of our milk in the South-West of Scotland, at the creameries, we are years ahead of Denmark or any Continental country. I could bring figures to prove that from remarks made by the principal of the West of Scotland Agricultural College and others who have experience of Continental methods and West of Scotland methods.
550 Lord Marley also said it was unfair to ask children to drink more milk while we could not rely on the cleanliness of the supply. I should like to call your Lordships' attention to an experiment carried out not long ago to test the efficacy of raw as against pasteurised milk in the West of Scotland. Milk from known reacting cows was divided, and one half was pasteurised and one half was fed raw. The calves were given their mothers' milk for the first five days, after which they were put on pasteurised. The raw group were kept on raw milk all the time. At the end of one year every one of the calves which had been fed on pasteurised milk after five days reacted to tuberculosis, and not one of those which had been fed on raw milk. There is no short road to health, but I believe the shortest is by drinking raw the milk produced by the cleanest methods from healthy cows. I hope these few points I have brought up this afternoon will receive the consideration both of the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Health.
My Lords, I am sure I am expressing the unanimous opinion of your Lordships, when I say we have had a most interesting maiden speech from the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, packed with facts and information and, if I may say so, also of a very lively and flashing description. He defended his native shires in Scotland against my noble friend Lord Marley, but, without detracting in any way from the high opinion which I share with the whole House of his performance, I would point out that he should not attack Lord Marley but should attack the authors of the Report on Cattle Diseases, and the witnesses, because my noble friend only quoted from them.
I do not want to detain your Lordships for more than a very brief time, and I rise really to make only two points and ask one question. If I may ask the question first, it is this: Would the noble Earl, when he comes to reply, elaborate a little more what is really proposed to be done with regard to the subsidy or the assistance for the cheap milk for the children in schools? I do not ask him to say what has been decided, but what the Government are aiming at, what it is they propose to do. The noble Earl stated it was proposed to provide milk at such a price that children would 551 get it at one half-penny per day. Taking it at a third of a pint per child a day I work that out at about 1s. a gallon. I do not know what the Ministry are going to allow for the cost of distribution. This is really a most important point. I think it is necessary to have some figures on that matter so that we can see what is going to be paid for this milk for school children to the farmers or the Milk Board.
That brings me to the first point I want to make and it is this. We really are tackling this matter, if I may most respectfully say so to your Lordships, from the wrong end. The noble Viscount on the Cross Benches (Lord Astor) also referred to this aspect of the matter. We are attempting to meet a glut caused by under-consumption of milk, and one of the proposals of my noble friends on this side of the House, and one which our Party as a whole make, is that the Government ought to go a little further and should distribute milk free to school children. It is really not fair for the Government to say that that would be a terribly expensive business. It would cost nothing like £9,000,000, as the Minister of Agriculture, the noble Earl's colleague, suggested in another place. If we pay the 5d. a gallon over all the year—I am not talking about 6d. in winter and 5d. in summer—and take a penny per gallon for distribution we could give a free supply of 90,000,000 gallons of milk, which is the amount involved, to the school children of the elementary schools of the country for £2,250,000—that is 5d. a gallon passed on to the farmers and one penny for distribution. If we take it at 2d. a gallon for distribution then the amount is £2,625,000 in a year. That is the price of a modern cruiser of the County class. Such a cruiser would in fact cost a little more than that as first cost, and the Board of Admiralty are asking, according to report which is not denied, for another twenty cruisers to be put into commission. For the cost of one cruiser a year we could give a free distribution of milk to all the children in the elementary schools of the country, and we should get a better strategical result. I make a present of this to the militarist school. I believe the effect would be not only to improve the health of the people generally but also to improve the physique of the future soldiers if ever we had to call upon them.
552 The other point I want to make is this. The noble Earl talks about this as Socialism. I think he believes this is a measure of Socialism. If I may use such an expression in your Lordships' House, it is a bastard form of Socialism. As Lord Marley has pointed out in another way, certain limited numbers of people get the benefit, but not the whole community. We are going to spend eventually very large sums on improving the value of herds; we are going to improve the value of land; we are going to benefit certain fortunate dairy farmers who are well capitalised and well organised, but we are not passing this benefit on to the community as a whole except that we hope to get purer milk and some cheapening of milk for school children. That is all, and that is really not Socialism. I do not know whether the noble Earl or I have been longest in the Socialist Party, or which of us has made the most profound study of it. I am prepared to say he has, but on this point I would ask him to pursue his researches a little further.
It is really a problem of poverty with which we are faced—and this is my last point. Your Lordships may have seen the remarkable investigations made by two well known Professors of the University of Aberystwyth into the conditions in Cardiff, which were quoted by Mr. Williams, the Member for Don Valley, in another place. The figures are so striking and they drive home such a very apposite lesson that I ask your Lordships' pardon for quoting a few facts very briefly. They divided up the milk users of this great City of Cardiff, which may be taken, as a typical city for this purpose, into good middle-class; comfortably-off people, good working-class people—that is, regularly employed well-paid artisans—thirdly, the people living in the new housing estates who have to pay so much in rent or hire purchase for their houses that they have to reduce their expenditure in other directions; and fourthly, the poor working class, not slum dwellers. Those are the four groups of families in regard to which statistics were obtained, and it was found that the good middle-class people took of liquid milk every day 3.88 pints per person; the good working-class took 1.87 pints; those in the new housing estates took 1.32 pints, and the poor working-class took 1.10 553 pints. That means that the good middle-class homes took about three and a-half times as much milk per person as the poor working-class, and the poor working-class homes either did without milk altogether or took the wretched skim milk in tins which is imported from abroad. The most awful thing about this terrible problem is that the statistics show—and there are many others which could be quoted and which are unchallengeable—that the more children there are in the poor families the less milk they get. It is a terrible problem. How are you to cure it? Only by improved wages and standard of living, thereby increasing the spending power of the people. I am not going into how you could do that, but that is the answer to your problem.
I apologise for intervening at this late hour, but I have been as brief as I could. I must say that this matter needs far more careful examination than has yet been given to it by the Government. I know the difficulties of the Government. They have to compromise; they are a mixture of different Parties, with different points of view, and they have to meet their friends. You have a neo-Socialist at the head of the Ministry, and a full Socialist as his assistant, the noble Earl, and you have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who is anything but a Socialist, and so you get a bastard Socialism which satisfies no one, and which at the end of two years may have done more harm than good.
§ THE EARL OF IVEAGH
My Lords, I feel that I should say a word on this question as the noble Earl in charge of the Bill mentioned the negotiations going on between the certified Grade A (T.T.) producers. Your Lordships probably realise that at present the English certified Grade A (T.T.) producers are not under the Milk Board. I think it is obvious to everyone that it would be very incongruous if we were left out of the scheme that is adumbrated by this Bill. At the same time we are out, and it is essential, I think, for us to see that in coming in we do not betray ourselves either financially or under regulations. It might very easily be that the regulations set up under this Bill might take away the possibility of carrying on our trade. After all we have no produce our milk day by day, and if we were to be de- 554 prived of our licence suddenly because of some new regulation that did not quite suit our circumstances, it would be rather a disaster—I should say a complete disaster—just at the moment when you want to increase the volume of this milk. I am convinced that if you can make this kind of milk more profitable than the other kinds of milk, you are likely to see a greater increase in that way than in any other way. I think, too, we are only acting in the public interest when we are in negotiation with the Ministry.
I would like to say only one other word and it is this. I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, who talked about the various strengths of tuberculin and the possibilities of the test, and some other noble Lords have represented that the test is not infallible or had had some doubts cast upon it. I would like to appeal to the Government in their administration of this Bill to see that research is adequately supported. I am quite convinced that many of our troubles arise from trying to put into operation theories which are almost but not thoroughly established. The fact is that there is an enormous amount of un-established theory about tuberculosis, about the various forms of tuberculosis, how cattle pick up the disease, and about how it is transmitted to human beings. All that ought to be searched out scientifically before we make any drastic alterations. I do not want to delay your Lordships any longer, but I hope that the Ministry of Agriculture will consider what I have said and give support to research, and that the result will be the production of the sort of milk that we all require.
My Lords, I make no sort of apology for being late in this debate. This Bill was given very little consideration in the other House and I think that your Lordships may well afford a little time for the discussion of it. There are certain aspects of the subject which have not been discussed. The only information I gathered from the noble Earl about the application of the £750,000 which he mentioned was that there would be two classes of people who would benefit. First, there, would be those with tuberculin-tested cows, with herds completely free from tuberculosis, who, I understood him to say, would get a subsidy of a penny a gallon. Secondly, 555 there would be accredited herds subject to clinical inspection and a standard of cleanliness similar to that involved in the production of Grade A milk. The owners of those herds also would get a penny a gallon subsidy. If I understood him aright the man who has to pay the far greater cost of tuberculin testing and of ridding his herd of bad reactors will get no larger subsidy per gallon than the man who has to pay only the cost of clinical inspection, a far lesser cost, and who has to come up to a certain standard of cleanliness which I do not gather will be as high as in the first case. I urge upon the noble Earl that before this Bill goes to Committee he should put all his money on rewarding those who have herds which really produce clean, tubercule-free milk, in so far as we know how to produce it to-day, and not to dissipate the small sum at his disposal in producing for us a milk which will have a designation necessarily rather deceitful in that it will not be as good milk as could be obtained.
Another question which I wish to ask is, who is going to administer this Bill in the counties? We have not heard a word about that. Are the county authorities going to be charged with the administration of the Bill or with parts of it? Are the county authorities to receive grants in aid, and are they to add to those grants in aid? Are certain duties to be laid on the county authorities of providing for clinical inspection of the herds of all the farmers in their county who ask for it? If so, will the subsidy be regulated county by county according to the number of herds, or the number of the population, or in what way? None of these rather difficult problems have been dealt with at all in the debate so far. In my county, which is rather a poor one, we see a very considerable expenditure before us, amounting perhaps to a penny or twopenny rate—or more, for all we know—and we have not the foggiest idea whether the Government intend to meet the whole of that expenditure or part of it. I hope that in his reply the noble Earl will deal with those points quite specifically.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, a great number of points have been raised in this debate and it is getting late, but I think it would be the desire of your Lordships that I should endeavour to 556 answer as many as possible. Before doing so I am quite sure that your Lordships would wish me to reiterate the sentiment expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, as to the value of the contribution to the debate made by the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan. He speaks as one who really knows the subject right through. Not only is he able to talk about it very thoroughly but it is clear that he knows as well. I am sure I shall be expressing the view of your Lordships when I say that we hope that he will intervene frequently in future in our agricultural debates. He mentioned, in common with the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, and the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth, the question of tuberculin tests. I should like to say at once that for the purpose of the final test of herds only standardised tuberculin will be used. I will go further and say that it is hoped that in future, when legislation makes possible the control of certain therapeutic substances, tuberculin will be one of the first substances to be dealt with.
Coining now to rather more general questions, I could not help being a little surprised at hearing the noble Lord, Lord Marley, criticise the Government, as I understood, for not controlling imports from the Dominions. I can quite understand that criticism being levelled at our heads, but when it came from that side of the House I did hear it with some slight surprise. The actual position in regard to the Dominions has been perfectly clearly explained. At one time we did offer to the Dominions on provisional lines a scheme which would have made it possible to raise the prices of dairy produce brought into this country. They did not feel that it would be to their general interest to adopt that scheme and therefore we have adopted our scheme of isolating the market. I should like to correct the impression that the noble Lord, Lord Marley, gave, that the Dominions are going to benefit from this scheme. I am afraid that they will not do so. Any price improvement that may take place as the result of the scheme will be limited entirely to those participating in the milk pools of the various milk marketing boards in this country.
With regard to the scheme for milk in schools which was mentioned both by the noble Lord, Lord Marley, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, first of all the milk which is to be sold in the schools 557 will be milk approved by the medical officer of health, and where the medical officer of health in not the same man as the school medical officer, then it will also have to be approved by the school medical officer. I am quite sure, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Marley, will regret having thrown such an unfounded charge at the head of the Government as that we are going to force dirty milk into the schools.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
The charge was made without any inquiry whatsoever into the actual facts of the case, and I think the noble Lord might at least have put that remark into the form of a question rather than in the form of an attack upon the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, asked some further questions on the subject of milk in schools, and in one he asked exactly how the scheme was to be worked. He is quite right in assuming that the intention is that the milk shall get to the children at a halfpenny for one-third of a pint; one-third of a pint is the amount which is at present being handed out for a penny. As to the distributive margin, that is a matter which is at present under negotiation between the Milk Board and the distributors. The total price of the milk, as the noble Lord quite rightly said, will come out at a shilling per gallon. I am afraid he is rather optimistic in hoping to get the distributive charges down to a penny or twopence per gallon. I think if he realised what is entailed in distributing milk in the necessarily very small quantities per head, he would realise that not even twopence would cover the cost.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think I shall have to say that it would really vary very much according to the number of children there were actually in the school. I should be very unwilling to commit myself to a figure. We come finally to the main part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Marley, which, as far as I could see, was an attempt to discredit-totally the beverage of milk in this country. If I were mainly a Party politician I should myself very much like to have 558 that speech printed and distributed in all the rural constituencies which I understand the Party of the noble Lord, Lord Marley, is hoping to win at the next General Election. But apart from chaffing in the course of Party politics, there are men living out in the countryside working day in and day out, attempting by the sweat of their brow to scratch a living out of the land. The noble Lord, Lord Marley, has set himself up to abuse those men and their product. I am quite prepared to admit—I think every noble Lord on this side of the House is prepared to admit—that the milk produced in many areas and from many farms can be improved. Of course it can; the very existence of this scheme is an admission of the fact. But it is quite unnecessary to go on from there to libel the commodity of milk in the way that the noble Lord has done.
§ LORD MARLEY
I protest entirely against this point of view. I am within the recollection of noble Lords. What I said was that bad milk and tainted milk is a bad and dangerous drink, and I maintain that unless the milk is properly looked after, and is produced under clean conditions from herds which are properly tuburculin-tested, it may be an actual danger. I am not a medical man, but certainly I have heard it said by a medical man—possibly in this House by Lord Moynihan—that he would rather put a barrel of gunpowder in his nursery than a glass of milk. I think that is a ridiculous exaggeration, but nevertheless it does give a point of view, not mine.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I am quite content to wait until to-morrow to read the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Marley. I think we shall find that he went very much further than at the present moment he says he did. The fact of the matter is that really not one of us would be here to-day if milk were anything like what the noble Lord, Lord Marley, has described. Certainly the experiments which have been carried out in the schools in Lanarkshire and all over the country would not have given anything like the results which they have given if there were the slightest foundation for the charges of the noble Lord. If I say that, I do not want to be understood as saying that I do not think that it can be improved. We all recognise that it can, and this Government scheme is an ad- 559 mission of that fact and an expression of the determination of this Government—which mark you, is the first Government which has ever taken action of this drastic character—to effect an improvement.
The noble Lord, Lord Marley, in speaking of these schemes, both the scheme for cleaning up the herds and the scheme for cheapening milk in schools, was really talking as though someone else before us had gone very much further than we, and we were modifying the scheme. Actually we are pioneers in this, and the National Government is the first Government ever to have taken a step in this direction. I am perfectly prepared to admit that we could go further; I am perfectly prepared to admit that it may be desirable to develop this scheme of supplying milk in schools yet further. It might be very desirable eventually to work out a scheme of supplying completely free milk in schools.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
Why not? But that is no reason for failing to give credit to this Government for bringing forward a very useful pioneer scheme, the first scheme which has ever been brought forward to deal at all with the problem which is facing us in this direction. My Lords, I hope you will agree to the Motion that this Bill be read a second time.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.