HL Deb 19 July 1934 vol 93 cc779-803

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

The Earl of Plymouth.

Clause 3:

Exchequer payments in respect of milk converted into cheese at farms.

3.—(1) Where, by means of such evidence as may be prescribed, the board administering a milk marketing scheme satisfy the Minister that any quantity of milk produced by a registered producer in the area to which the scheme applies has, in any of the twenty-four consecutive months falling between the end of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-four, and the beginning of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, been used by him in manufacturing cheese at a farm in his occupation, then if the cheese-milk price for that month, as certified in accordance with this Act, is less than the standard price for that month, the Minister shall, out of moneys provided by Parliament, pay to the board, in respect of each gallon comprised in that quantity of milk, a sum equal to the difference between the two prices aforesaid:

Provided that, as respects any particular milk marketing scheme, the Minister may from time to time by order direct that no sums shall be payable under this section to the board in respect of milk which has, in any month to which the order applies, been used by a registered producer in manufacturing cheese at a farm, unless the board satisfy the Minister that, at the beginning of that month, the registered producer had in his possession, in the area to which the scheme applied, not less than such number of milch cows as may be specified in the order; and the Minister may by order vary or revoke any previous order made by him under this proviso.

LORD STRACHIE moved, in the proviso in subsection (1), to leave out "such number of" and insert "four." The noble Lord said: This Amendment raises the question of whether it is desirable to have a limit of twelve cows before any cheesemaker can get the subsidy. Why do I say twelve cows? I do so because there was a letter written to farmhouse cheesemakers by the Milk Marketing Board. They say that: the Board will purchase the farmhouse cheesemakers' milk at the regional 'pool' price, and re-sell it to them at a price per gallon equal to the 'pool' price less the Government's grant per gallon for milk for farmhouse cheese, and the sum of Id. per gallon for 'hard' cheese and ½d. per gallon for Caerphilly cheese. At the end of the letter they say: The minimum number of cows to be kept by a cheesemaker to be eligible for this contract is twelve. This condition would be embodied in a ' sub-sale ' contract which would contain the terms requiring the cheesemakers to manufacture the milk into cheese on their farms, and such other conditions in that connection as the Board thought fit to impose. It is entirely in the discretion of the Minister for the time being to say what the limit should be, but I take it that it is most likely that the limit will be that which is imposed by the Milk Marketing Board in the circular letter from which I have read.

I do not see why there should be this limit of twelve because undoubtedly cheese is made in much smaller quantities than would be produced by twelve cows. The British Dairy Farmers' Association, in 1933, had an exhibition and the schedule contained one class for cheeses not exceeding 8 lbs. each, and they had another class for smallholders, for cheeses not exceeding 8 lbs. each, confined to those occupying not more than 50 acres. Then they had another county competition with exactly the same restriction, that the quantity must not exceed 8 lbs. It is. quite clear that this proviso, if the Minister carries out what the Milk Marketing Board evidently desire, will make it impossible for any smallholder to receive a grant under the Cheesemaking Order. I cannot see why that should be necessary, because I have seen these cheeses at the British Dairy Farmers' exhibition at Islington. They make very good cheeses indeed, and instead of discouraging smallholders to make cheese, I think we ought to encourage them.

Then again, as I read the letter of the Milk Marketing Board, it would mean that the cheese must actually be made on the particular farm. Smallholders who have fewer than twelve cows might combine and send their cheese to another farm, but I am very doubtful whether they would be allowed to do so. I should not so much object to this if it were not that we cannot tell what kind of a Minister of Agriculture we may have at some future time. We may have some Minister who takes quite different views from the present Minister in this matter. The reason why I press this is that orders under this clause would not be laid before both House of Parliament. It would remove many of my objections if an order had to be laid, and if it were thus possible for Parliament to make any objections they desired to this limit.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 42, leave out ("such number of") and insert ("four")—(Lord Strachie.)


I think this Amendment and the next Amendment in the name of the noble Lord can be taken together, the second one being consequential. Their effect would be to incorporate in the Bill, instead of in the; order that will later be made by the Minister, the number of cows which would qualify the Board to draw an advance in respect of cheese which is manufactured on farms. In our view this Amendment would be very inadvisable, because once you insert a number in an Act it becomes unalterable except by an amendment to the Act, whereas, if we leave it to the order, the figure inserted in the order is a figure that can at any time be easily altered.

The noble Lord has read out a letter from the Milk Marketing Board on this subject, indicating that the number of cows at the present moment is twelve. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that that letter is not from the Ministry of Agriculture but from the Milk Marketing Board, and it is our view that it is far better that the Milk Marketing Board and the National Cheese Committee, as representing the farmhouse cheesemakers, should settle this matter by agreement between themselves, and that then the Minister should simply come in with an order and give ratification. For that reason I would ask the noble Lord not to press this Amendment. If the noble Lord feels that the number twelve is too great, then surely it would be very much better to make representations to the Milk Marketing Board and to the National Cheese Committee, who could then, deal with the matter.


I do not think the noble Earl has given me a satisfactory answer, and I also notice that he carefully avoided giving an answer to the question as regards orders being laid on the Table of this House and in another place. But I will raise that again when we come to another Amendment of mine, dealing with the laying of orders, because if I were to divide the House now there would not be a quorum. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment for that reason.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Definition of "cheese-milk price" and "standard price," and certification of cheese-milk price.

4.—(1) For the purposes of this Act— (a) the cheese-milk price for any month shall be the excess over one penny three-farthings of the average price per pound at which cheese such as is commonly known at the commencement of this Act as "New Zealand finest white" and "Canadian finest white" was sold wholesale in Great Britain during the immediately preceding month; and

EARL DE LA WARR moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "average price" and insert "average of the prices." The noble Earl said: This may-look like a drafting Amendment, and so to some extent it is, but on the other hand it is rather important, because in paragraph (a) the cheese-milk price for any month is defined as "the excess over one penny three-farthings of the average price per pound" at which certain cheeses were sold wholesale in Great Britain during the immediately preceding month. The words "average price" might be open to two interpretations. They might mean the simple average between the two prices, or the weighted average after taking into account the weight of cheese sold at each price. The custom of the trade has been to use the simple average, and this is the intention of the Bill, and the purpose of this Amendment is to make that point quite clear.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 19, leave out ("average price") and insert ("average of the prices).—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Provisions for enforcing payments due to Exchequer]:


The Amendment to this clause is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 34, after ("those") insert ("registered ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:

Provisions as to revocation of schemes.

(3) If, in a case where a milk marketing scheme is revoked in the manner mentioned in the last foregoing subsection it appears to the Minister that the revocation of the scheme was demanded by the registered producers for the purpose of evading any liability to make payments to the Minister which, but for the revocation, the board might have incurred by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this Act, the Minister, within one month from the date on which the revocation takes effect, may by order direct that, notwithstanding any limitation imposed by the scheme on the amount which a contributor is liable to contribute to the payment of the debts and liabilities of the board and to the payment of the costs and expenses of the winding up, that amount shall be increased to such extent as appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Treasury, to be necessary for enabling any debt due under the last foregoing subsection from the board to the Crown to be paid in full.

LORD HASTINGS moved to leave out subsection (3). The noble Lord said: This Amendment raises an important point and one that may be of interest to noble Lords, even those noble Lords who are not immediately concerned with the details of the Bill. In the subsection that my Amendment proposes to delete will be found certain words which I shall read, if I may: … the Minister … may by order direct that, notwithstanding any limitation imposed by the scheme on the amount which a contributor is liable to contribute to the payment of the debts and liabilities of the board and to the payment of the costs and expenses of the winding up, that amount shall be increased to such an extent as appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Treasury, to be necessary … These words are evidence of the intention of the clause. They are also evidence of the fact that the registered producers at their poll in which they declared in favour of the scheme declared in favour of a certain limited liability, and the purpose of this clause is, after the approval of the registered producers has been given to a scheme of limited liability, to increase by Act of Parliament that limited liability to an unlimited liability.

The clause therefore raises a principle that goes beyond the mere administrative provisions of the Bill. The question is one that, I admit, has been and must continue to be very difficult for the Ministry of Agriculture to decide. It has been argued that if the producers and those who administer the scheme found they were under necessity to wind up the scheme owing, let us say, to unrestricted imports of milk products making it impossible to carry on, and they used that excuse (shall we put it?) for bringing the scheme to an end, they might do so frivolously, and the Treasury would in the absence of this provision find itself unable; to recover moneys to which it would otherwise be entitled. There arises immediately a question as to whether in fact the Treasury, through the Ministry, should consider itself entitled to the repayment of moneys which, in effect, have been given as a subsidy to maintain the manufacturing price of milk because, by reason -of the Government's own action at Ottawa, it has been found impossible to give that protection to the dairying industry which other industries have found it possible to enjoy.

Other industries, so far as I know, are not being called upon, and have no likelihood of being called upon, to refund the advantages given to them by a straightforward protection. It would be a remarkable development if they were. But here we have the dairying industry disabled by the action of the Government at Ottawa—I am not criticising that action; I merely state the fact—from receiving a straightforward protection, yet being called upon in certain circumstances to refund State moneys which have been given to them as a substitute for the protection which otherwise they would have received. These are the moneys that are in question, and it is proposed, under the subsection that I desire to delete, to increase the liability of producers—the liability to which they agreed at the poll—to such an extent as may be necessary in certain circumstances to refund these subsidy moneys which have been paid to them under the conditions I have described. I deeply regret that the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House is not here, because I was rot entirely without hope that his trained mind would have at once found it necessary to intervene in this matter in order to give an expression of legal opinion; but it is certainly most remarkable that the Government think it right to accept the vote of the producers in respect of the scheme of limited liability and then, in an Act of Parliament, deliberately to increase that liability to an unlimited extent. That cannot be equitable. Naturally it can be legal if it finds its way into an Act of Parliament, but it is the kind of provision which would deeply offend any legal luminary with whom I have ever had contact.

That is the situation. I seek by my Amendment to delete the subsection and so avoid this peculiar and wholly undesirable precedent from being established by Act of Parliament. In another place my honourable friend Colonel Ruggles-Brise dealt with this matter, and sought to introduce an Amendment enabling the producers to poll again before they became liable to this unlimited liability. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture gave a reasonable answer, which was couched of course, most courteously, to the effect that "you are willing to accept a subsidy so long as it runs, but when you have got to repay you are going to cut out." That was very sound so far as it went, and to a certain extent not unreasonable, but the noble Earl in charge of the Bill will find I have a further Amendment on page 12, line 7, that seeks to provide for a poll of the producers being taken before any subsidy is received. If it suits the convenience of the noble Earl to deal with both my Amendments in the same reply I am quite agreeable. My second Amendment would of course go behind the Minister's argument, and would not make it possible for him to say the producer had taken money which he was unwilling to refund when he became liable.

Personally I would prefer to see the subsection deleted, because the principle of compelling a man who has agreed to one thing to agree to some further liability by Act of Parliament, and without his consent, is one which, as I have already said, is highly undesirable. If, on the other hand, the House so belies its tradition as to permit the insertion of such words in an Act of Parliament, then I suggest it is only right and proper that the producers should be given an opportunity before they receive this money of saying whether they accept this further liability. I do not think there is anything more I can add to the argument, and I hope the noble Earl in charge of the Bill will be able to give me such a reply as will meet the very reasonable objection and fears of producers, who do not think that in this matter they are being fairly treated. I think if the Government were to consult any lawyer in the Kingdom they would find he would hold up his hands aghast at the proposition that finds its way into the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 10, line 40, leave out subsection (3).—(Lord Hastings.)


I quite understand the misgivings to which the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, has given expression, but I really do think they are based on a total misunderstanding of the situation. The noble Lord read out to your Lordships words which appear on page 11 of the Bill: …. the Minister …. may by order direct that, notwithstanding any limitation imposed by the scheme on the amount which a contributor is liable to contribute to the payment of the debts and liabilities of the board …. that amount shall be increased to such an extent as appears to the Minister, after consultation with the Treasury, to be necessary …. That sounds a very drastic provision taken by itself. He went on to remind your Lordships that this was inserted in the Bill after the registered producers had voted themselves into the scheme without any idea of this provision coming along. If the noble Lord had looked at the Bill only a few lines before he would have seen that it referred to any liability to make payments to the Minister which, but for the revocation, the board might have incurred by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this Act …. If your Lordships will turn to the Bill you will see that the "foregoing provisions" deal entirely with the terms of payments from the Exchequer to the milk producers and arrangements for repayment by the Milk Marketing Board.

The position, therefore, is this. The Milk Marketing Scheme was brought forward; there was a poll of producers on that Scheme, the majority of producers voted for it and it was put into operation. After that it was found that the Milk Marketing Board required further assistance and, accordingly, assistance was negotiated between the Government and the Milk Marketing Board. That was an entirely new arrangement. It is true to say that the terms of repayment are new. The Milk Marketing Board were perfectly free to say that they did not like the terms of repayment and that the assistance was offered in such a form that they could not accept it, but they did not do so. They have expressed themselves as being prepared to accept the assistance of the Government, and the Government have laid down terms on which they are prepared to grant that assistance. The words in this Bill deal purely with this later bargain. I can further reassure your Lordships and the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, that not only the terms for payment, but the terms for repayment, have been fully accepted by the Milk Marketing Board. I therefore hope the noble Lord will not press this Amendment.


The noble Earl has given a perfectly straight answer to the circumstances which I have brought forward, but he has carefully avoided touching on the feelings of the producer. The noble Earl would not have stated, if it was not correct, that a new arrangement contemplated by the producer has been entered into between the Ministry and the Marketing Board. I agree that the Ministry were perfectly entitled, in the. interests not only of good government but of every other interest, to make terms. I do not find fault with the terms. What I do find fault with is that the producer himself has not been consulted in the interim, and that, by an Act of Parliament, the producer will be made responsible, perhaps against his will, for an action of the Milk Marketing Board which may, or may not, work out in his interests. That is really what it comes to. The producer is being taken advantage of to an extent which is really, I submit, not fair. If the noble Earl thinks the matter will be best met by taking a poll of the producers before they have received any money, and that happens before they have become parties to the engagement entered into with the Ministry by the Milk Marketing Board, then the point is met. I am not one of those who believe that the producers are going to turn down four years' subsidy because of the unlimited liability which they may have to meet in the end. My desire is that we should not create a grievance.

You want to start this machine as far as possible with well-oiled wheels. If you start with a lot of producers compelled by an Act of Parliament to accept a liability without having voted for it, you will start with disgruntled individuals who will throw sand into the machine from the beginning. I want to avoid that. Rather than that should come about I think it would be better to delete the whole subsection. If the noble Earl thinks otherwise, then I would ask him to accept the alternative proposal which stands in my name later on the Paper. I am afraid I cannot accept the answer which he has given as conclusive. We admit that the Milk Marketing Board and the Ministry have arrived at an arrangement which they think fair and equitable and right, but the producers have not had a chance of expressing an opinion upon it. I am afraid at the moment I must adhere to my Amendment.


The noble Lord is right in saying that if there is to be a poll on this question it must be before any money is handed out. I venture to suggest that we must get into the habit, and fanners must get into the habit, of looking upon the Marketing Board as a body of men appointed by the producers to take responsibility, and if every time an important decision has to be taken the members of the Board have to go back to the producers and have a poll then the whole thing is going to fall into chaos. It would be like saying that before any Act of Parliament was passed there should be a referendum of the electors. I suggest that the best thing for us to do is to use our personal influence to explain these provisions to the producers, so that they may realise that this is merely part of a bargain by means of which they receive a benefit in return for certain repayments. I am quite sure this Scheme will start out without any sand in the wheels when it is realised by the producers that they have been given very generous treatment.


I am reluctant to detain the Committee further, but it will not be for more than a moment. The noble Earl and I are in complete agreement on the whole matter. I am just as anxious as he to see that this Scheme is started under favourable conditions, and I want to see it started without complaint from the producers. I agree that to be continuously going back to the producers to take polls upon this, that and the other would be a confounded nuisance, to put it in the mildest possible way. It is better that the producers of the article should be brought up to trust their representatives in the corporate body such as that which has been constituted, but I still think that there will be large numbers of producers who will feel that they have not had a fair deal in this matter. The words of the Bill are in themselves evidence of that. My action in the matter must depend upon whether other noble Lords in the House who have heard the arguments on both sides feel with me in the matter, or whether the balance of opinion lies with the noble Earl. In the latter case I shall withdraw my Amendment having made my protest. If, on the other hand, I get any support, I think, in view of the fact that local bodies have expressed themselves with great strength and force on the subject, I shall have to proceed to a Division. It must depend upon whether I get any support from the Committee or not.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9:

Payments for securing pure milk supply.

9.—(1) During a period of four consecutive years beginning on a day appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Secretary of State for Scotland, acting in conjunction, the said Minister or Secretary of State may, subject as hereinafter provided and in accordance with arrangements made by him and approved by the Treasury, expend out of moneys provided by Parliament such sums as he thinks fit, with the object of securing so far as practicable that the milk supplied for human consumption in England or in Scotland, as the case may be, is pure and free from the infection of any disease:

Provided that—

  1. (a) the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries shall not make any arrangements for the purposes of this subsection except after consultation with the Minister of Health; and
  2. (b) not more than seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds in the aggregate shall be expended under this subsection.

(2) Not later than the end of the period mentioned in the foregoing subsection, the Minister may, after consultation with the boards administering any milk marketing scheme for the time being in force, make an order for securing that where the board administering any such scheme are satisfied, with respect to any quantity of milk produced after the end of that period in the area to which the scheme applies, that it has been produced by a registered producer in such circumstances as the Minister may prescribe in the order with the object mentioned in the foregoing subsection, the board shall pay to that registered producer, in respect of each gallon comprised in that quantity of milk, such sum not exceeding one penny as may be specified in the order.

Any order made under this subsection may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order made in like manner as the original order.

LORD HASTINGS moved, in proviso (a), in subsection (1), after "Health," to insert "and with the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales or the Milk Marketing Board for Scotland as the case may be." The noble Lord said: If your Lordships will allow me I will move this Amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cranworth. The purpose is quite simple. The Amendment is put down, not because of any childlike faith in the capacity of the Milk Marketing Board, but because of a very great lack of faith in the Ministry of Health from the standpoint of the agriculturist. There is in the Bill really no form of protection for the milk producer, who is to be handed over in very large measure to the Ministry of Health, which, I say with all respect, is very largely under the influence of the medical profession. Now the medical profession and the Ministry of Health together know nothing whatever about milk production, and I fancy they care very much less. In so far as that is so they are the enemies of the producer. That is a statement of fact.

Our proposal is that some kind of protection to the producer should be given by providing for consultation with the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales, or the Milk Marketing Board for Scotland, before administrative orders are made at the instance of the Ministry of Health to the disadvantage of the milk producer. I think it is a reasonable request. The Milk Marketing Board include representatives of the producers. The noble Earl the other day addressed to us a little homily on that subject. He pointed out that the producers should learn to trust their own representatives on the Board. I am entirely with him, but I think they would trust them a great deal more if the Board is given a little more authority. If it be found possible to insert this quite humble Amendment, which seeks to offer some protection to the producers through the medium of this Board against the attacks of the Ministry of Health, and in fact the urban interest, agriculturists will be very much obliged.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 32, after ("Health") insert ("and with the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales or the Milk Marketing Board for Scotland as the case may be.")—(Lord Hastings.)


I should very much like to accept this Amendment because most of us must feel a very friendly disposition towards its object. The only objection is that we do not like to specify any one body in an Act of Parliament because that seems to exclude others. If one body were specified no doubt the proper body would be the Milk Marketing Board. I hope we shall not be pressed to insert this Amendment. I would like to give the noble Lord and the Committee a very definite undertaking on behalf of the Minister and the Ministry as a whole, the permanent Department, that it is our very definite intention always to consult with the Milk Marketing Board on this matter in which they are so deeply involved. Indeed, the work of the Department would be quite impossible if we attempted to deal with milk problems in the future without consulting this particular body. I hope the noble Lord will be satisfied with that undertaking and will not press for the insertion of the Amendment.


I think that when the OFFICIAL REPORT is printed in the morning and the words of the noble Earl are read, it will be agreed that they entirely meet the case. In the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD STRACHIE moved, at the end of subsection (1), to insert the following new paragraph: (c) such proportion (not being less than one half) of the said sum as the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Secretary of State for Scotland, acting in conjunction as aforesaid, may determine, shall be allocated for the purpose of making grants to the councils of administrative counties in aid of the expenditure incurred by them in providing and maintaining a whole-time veterinary service for their areas.

The noble Lord: This Amendment is put down on behalf of the County Councils Association who for some years have taken great interest in seeing that there should be a pure milk supply in this country. As the clause now stands a sum of £750,000 is to be paid to secure a pure milk supply. Apparently the object of the clause is to secure milk pure and free from the infection of any disease. Perhaps we shall have an explanation from the noble Lord of how he expects this is going to be done. I must confess I do not think the proposals in the Bill are likely to have the desired effect, which I am sure we are all most anxious to secure—namely, that dairy herds shall be thoroughly cleaned up and able to produce clean, pure milk. Apparently, what is to happen is that producers who supply that milk are to get a sum not exceeding 1d. per gallon extra from 1he Milk Board. That is all very well. No doubt a certain number of producers will get this penny, or may be only a halfpenny, out of the £750,000. But that will not have the effect which I imagine all your Lordships desire. What we want is not that a certain number of people should produce pure milk in order to get an extra penny. What we want is that all the dairy herds of the country should be in such a condition that there should be always pure milk free from any infectious disease.

If you are going to achieve that ideal it is necessary that there should be cooperation by the county councils. County councils are already the authorities for administering the Diseases of Animals Act and for inspections of cattle and milk under the Dairies Order, 1926. I should like to remind the Committee that up to the present time no grants have been made to county councils to help them to carry out those duties. The work is done at their own expense and therefore there is little inducement for them to spend money, especially in these hard times, for agriculture. The County Councils Association take great interest in this matter, as I have said, and on March 12 this year the chairman of the agricultural committee of the Association wrote to the Minister of Agriculture asking for a proportion of this £750,000. He did that because after evidence had been given by the County Councils Association before the Cattle Diseases Committee of the Economic Advisory Council, the Council had reported to this effect, as appears in paragraph 23 of their Report: To assist the expansion of the veterinary service, the Exchequer should make a contribution to the local authorities apportioned among the various counties in such a way that those on which the burden would be most severe would benefit the most. The Minister's reply to that was only chat it was under consideration.

Up to now the County Councils Association has not heard from him what his views are with regard to that resolution passed by the Economic Advisory Council. In his letter he said that he would not say anything at that moment because he was waiting for that Report. No doubt he has had the Report now, but at the same time he has made no reply as regards that point. I am not for one moment finding fault with the Minister for not doing so, because we are all perfectly well aware that the Minister has had a very strenuous time. Not only are questions and difficulties arising over prices affecting the Milk Board, but lately he has no doubt been worried to death over the question of beef. It is no fault of his that owing to the Ottawa. Agreements this awful muddle has been made as regards both milk and beef. It was not the fault of Mr. Elliot, it was the fault of the previous Minister of Agriculture, Sir John Gilmour, that this Ottawa Agreement was made, which has caused such great trouble to the Minister himself. I should think he is very sorry indeed that that Agreement, which hampers agriculture so seriously, was ever made.

What is the present position? Only a very few counties have appointed a whole-time veterinary officer. If I may refer to my own county, the county of Somerset has actually appointed a whole-time veterinary officer to look after the health of the dairy herds in that county, and also in addition there are 22 part-time veterinary surgeons. There is no regular routine inspection of the 121,000 cows in milk or in calf or heifers in milk in the county of Somerset, and no auxiliary bacteriological work is undertaken; but at the same time the present average expenditure is the sum of £2,500 a year. I am given to understand that if there were a systematic veterinary inspection it would cost about £13,000 a year, and if there were bacteriological work it would cost something like £1000 to £1,500 a year. I think that shows that if the county councils are to undertake this work it is indeed very necessary that the Government should be prepared to give them some share of this £750,000 grant.

I venture to say that if you are anxious that every county should appoint a whole-time veterinary officer—and it is undoubtedly desirable that they should go further and have a routine inspection of all the dairy cattle in their area—it is absolutely necessary that some large grant should be made either from this fund or from some other source. The Government have given, this large amount of money to clear up disease among cattle, and I venture to think that there could not be a better way of doing it than applying some of it, as the County Councils Association have asked, for the benefit of the county councils, so that county councils like that of Somerset may be encouraged to spend more and to have a routine inspection of all the dairy herds, and also that the backward counties and the poor counties—because some counties cannot afford it, though they seem to be backward—should be encouraged in this matter by being allowed to have some share in this grant.

I venture to think that the proposal of the Government just simply to give a certain amount of money to the Milk Marketing Board in order that they may give a premium to those who produce pure milk under the conditions imposed by the Ministry will not effect the object at all. No doubt it will produce some pure milk, but it will not do what I believe the majority of your Lordships are most anxious for; that is, ensure that we should have a national system by which we should be able to clear the dairy herds from all disease which is communicable to a human being. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 35, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Strachie.)


My noble friend Lord Snell, who is detained elsewhere with his public duties, has asked me on his behalf to support the Amendment just moved by the noble Lord, Lord Strachie. He would have explained, had he been here, that the London County Council, from their long experience of sampling milk arriving in the county from sources outside the county, are impressed with the great importance of ensuring the provision of a milk supply free from tubercule bacilli and other contaminating organisms, and are of the opinion that if part of the Exchequer grant could be allotted to county councils for the purpose of improving the veterinary service in their areas, the result would be to assist in improving at the source the milk supply which comes into London and to ensure to a great extent the purity of the London milk supply. For this reason I beg to support the noble Lord's Amendment.


We are in some difficulty in this matter because we have not yet had the advantage of seeing the scheme under which the £750,000 is to be expended. That in itself is natural enough, because the scheme cannot be prepared, or at any rate it cannot be presented, until this Bill becomes the law of the land. But there is a good deal, not necessarily of confusion of thought, but of contrary opinion in this matter. As we understand—and upon this I am hoping that the noble Earl will give us further information—the £750,000, or by far the greater proportion of it, is to be allocated to the purpose of making payments to the producers of milk which reaches certain standards. I will not specify or attempt to define at the moment what those standards are to be, but the purpose seems to be that the great bulk of the £750,000 should, over a term of years, be paid to the producers of milk of certain standards.

There is of course another way of achieving the same result, and that is by devoting a large proportion of the money to the cleaning up of the dirty herds 'at the bottom of the roll rather than giving the whole of the money to the clean herds at the top. I do not know that a body representing farmers could very well support this Amendment, but looked at from the widest national standpoint I think there can be no doubt at all that to apply funds to the institution of an efficiency veterinary service, which will eliminate the offending herds at the bottom of the health list, would be better than giving the whole of the money to those who are prepared to enter the market as producers of clean milk. There is nothing at all said about it in the Bill, but I have been told that a relatively small portion of this £750,000 is to be earmarked for the provision of a central administrative veterinary service—a service which will co-ordinate the services which are to be established by county councils and local authorities. I do not know whether that is so or not, but the noble Earl will tell us.

It is perfectly evident that in order to implement the terms and conditions of this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament a very large veterinary service will have to be established and maintained. How the veterinary service is to be enlarged at short notice is not so very obvious. We are none of us quite convinced that the number of veterinary surgeons is sufficient to meet the demand. But whether they are efficient or inefficient, whether they are qualified or unqualified, there is nothing more certain than that whoever is employed will have to be paid. That is perfectly inevitable. As they have to be paid, somebody has to pay them. Whether the Ministry is going by order to compel the county councils and local authorities to incur this additional expenditure or not I do not know, but by some means or other pressure will obviously be brought to bear upon the county councils and local authorities to incur it, unless provision is made to meet the expense out of moneys provided by Parliament.

The purpose of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strachie, I take it is to diminish the sum available for the payment of one penny and sometimes two-pence to the producers of the milk, and to divert a sum, which shall not be less than half of the whole, to the payment of the veterinary service which will have to be provided. Whether he moved his Amendment because he thought that that was the most effective way of securing a pure milk supply, or whether he moved it because he disliked the placing of an additional charge on the local authorities, I am not sure, but it is unimportant. If there is no such provision as his Amendment seeks to make there will fall upon the local authorities a heavy additional expense. Whether compelled thereto by the Ministry or by circumstances matters little, but the expense which arises will have to be met by the ratepayers. The ratepayers will say that this is a national service, in which the big towns are interested, and that it is the duty of the nation to see that the big towns are supplied with pure milk at the expense of the State and not of the poor ratepayers. It is an argument which has a good deal to be said for it. When the noble Earl replies I hope he will tell us a little more about how the £750,000 will be spent, and the Committee will then be able to form an opinion as to whether the Amend- ment is one which should be passed. For the moment I beg to support Lord Strachie's Amendment.


My Lords, before I deal with the merits of the Amendment I think I must make it clear to your Lordships that this Amendment is really dealing with a matter falling within the Privilege of the House of Commons, and therefore a matter which naturally we discuss in this House with some diffidence, although we realise that it is not in any way ruled out of our discussion. There is one other foreword. I am rather sorry that Lord Strachie should so continually be speaking abusively of my late chief, Sir John Gilmour, and generally speaking on occasions on which I should be just as irrelevant in replying as he is in raising the question. With regard to the Amendment before us I think there is some misunderstanding lying behind it, but a misunderstanding for which one could not attempt to blame any one, because I would be the first to admit, as Lord Hastings has said, that the scheme for cleaning up herds has not been before the House in full detail. Lord Hastings mentioned the difficulty there has been in carrying on negotiations with a number of bodies and in not being able to commit ourselves.

The misunderstanding arises here because there are two quite distinct schemes. There is the scheme which is affected by the finance of this Bill, the Ministry's scheme for building up a supply of tubercle-free herds—what we call the attested scheme. In order to enter into that scheme a herd-owner will have to satisfy the Ministry that he has had two successive tests at six months' intervals, which show his herd to be completely free. Immediately on receiving notification of that fact the Ministry, within sixty days, would proceed to carry out its own test at the Government expense, with its own service, the central service to which Lord Hastings has already referred. On entering into that scheme the owner will be entitled to a premium of a penny per gallon, to be paid out of the £750,000. While it is very difficult indeed to estimate the number of herds which are likely to come in, and therefore the expense which is likely to fall upon that sum, we estimate that it would be approximately £450,000. That is over the whole period of four years.


Will the noble Earl make it quite clear whether that covers the expenditure on the State veterinary service as well as the penny per gallon paid to the owner?


I give £450,000 as the approximate estimate of what the penny per gallon will come to. It is impossible to be tied to anything. In addition, there is a further scheme which does not come under this Bill at all. The accredited herd scheme is a scheme to be prepared and administered entirely by the Milk Marketing Board. There are still, I understand, some details of that scheme to be settled and negotiated, but it will be approximately on the line that every herd shall be open to clinical inspection twice a year, and that the milk produced from those herds shall have to come up to Grade A standard. For entry into that scheme there will also be a premium of one penny per gallon to be paid out of the funds of the Milk Marketing Board. That means that a herd owner in the Ministry's scheme will automatically be put on the Milk Marketing Board scheme, and will be receiving a premium of 2d. for his milk. Your Lordships will see from the outline of these two schemes that no expense whatever is to fall on the county council under the Ministry's scheme. It may be that under the Board's scheme the counties might find it necessary to provide more veterinary officers, but that scheme does not come in any way under this Bill, and if the counties do in this respect find themselves faced with expense, your Lordships know that the new system by which local authorities are financed is that they shall receive a block grant from the Government, settled for four or five years, and at the end of that period the additional expenditure is brought into computation.


Will the noble Earl say whether that block grant is included in the sums in this Bill?


I think the last settlement was made last year. All new expenditure, whether for veterinary officers or education or whatever it may be, will, as the noble Lord knows, have to be carried by the county until the next settlement somes in 1937 or 1938. But let me stress the point that if noble Lords are dissatisfied with that arrangement it is a dissatisfaction which should be expressed with regard to the general system of local authority finance; it is not a matter that is in any way concerned with this Bill. Under this Bill not a single county veterinary officer will have to be appointed, and in view of that fact I hope that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment, which really has nothing to do with this Bill.


I should like to be a little more clear about the accredited herd scheme. That scheme, as far as I know it—and as the noble Earl has said, it is not out in its full particulars yet—entails three things, not two things. One is the clinical examination at least twice a year by the county veterinary officer; the second is a certificate provided by the agricultural staff of the authority to the effect that the methods employed in connection with the production of milk on the applicant's farm have been examined and approved; and the third is the certificate which he mentioned with regard to Grade A milk. For that milk 1d. a gallon is going to be paid. What I am not clear about is who is actually going to pay that penny? Is it coming out of the £750,000? He has made it clear that the penny for the attested herds will amount in his opinion to £400,000 out of the £750,000, but the accredited herd scheme will undoubtedly be far more popular, and cost a great deal more, and will come into operation much sooner. I should like the noble Earl to tell me whether that fund is going to receive any of this £750,000, because it is at all events clear to me that, if it is, the £750,000 will melt like the snows of yesteryear.


I meant to make it quite clear that the accredited herd scheme has nothing whatever to do with our scheme, and therefore no payment has to be made out of the fund. The noble Lord asked whether the accredited herd fund is going to receive any of the £750,000. That is entirely the affair of the Milk Marketing Board, but I should say that the money will be found in exactly the same manner as the additional sum paid for good pigs is found by the Pig Marketing Board. It is simply a matter of the allocation of the fund.


I thank the noble Earl for his information. I would only tell him that I have just come from the Milk Marketing Board, and the information he has given us is entirely contrary to that which was given me there.


What does the noble Earl propose to do with the balance of tie £750,000? He has earmarked £400,000 for the attested scheme so that £350,000 will be available for something else. What for?


We shall have a good bit in reserve and in a year or two we shall be able to see how things go on.


I cannot say that I am satisfied with the reply of the noble Earl. He certainly did not seem to think that there was going to be a very great demand at first on this large sum of money. I understood that a very small amount would be spent in the first year, and I understood further that before the dairyman gets the extra 1d. a gallon there-would have to be a clinical examination of the herd. That is one of the conditions that would be imposed by the Ministry. No doubt that would be a very proper thing. Then he went on further to say that there might probably in the future be clinical examinations. That, is an im-

portant point. In the future we are going to have heavy expenditure put on the county councils. The probability is that a very small amount would be required for the first year or two from this £750,000, and why should not the county councils have the benefit of some of that expenditure, in order that we might have a national system of dealing with disease among dairy cattle? If it were found afterwards that more money was required certainly for a great national object the Minister would be perfectly ready to come forward and help the county councils.

It will be remembered that as regards all additional expenditure now the county councils get no help, because we have the block grants, and all additional expenditure has to fall on the county rates. It is not like the old days when a certain proportion was given by the State as a contribution to the county councils. I regret that I can get no satisfactory answer from the noble Earl, and I must therefore press this to a Division.

On Question, Whether the proposed new paragraph shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 23; Not-Contents, 41.

Argyll, D. Mersey, V. O'Hagan, L.
Phillimore, L. [Teller.]
Reading, M. Arnold, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam) Rathcreedan, L.
Airlie, E. Rhayader, L.
Bathurst, E. Clwyd, L. Sanderson, L.
Denbigh, E. Denman, L. Snell, L.
Strafford, E. Hastings, L. Stanmore, L.
Middleton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Strachie, L. [Teller.]
Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Onslow, E. Hutchison of Montrose, L.
Plymouth, E. Kilmaine, L.
Wellington, D. Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) Marks, L.
Melchett, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Elibank, V. Merrivale, L.
Dufferin and Ava, M. FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Merthyr, L.
Salisbury, M. Hailsham, V. Mount Temple, L.
Halifax, V. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
De La Warr, E. Playfair, L.
Feversham, E. Amulree, L. Remnant, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.) Rennell, L.
Macclesfield, E. Elton, L. Rockley, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Erskine, L. Sandhurst, L.
Midleton, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Morton, E. Greville, L. Templemore, L.
Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.


My Lords, I think it would be convenient at this stage to resume the House for a few moments in order that the statement to which I referred yesterday may be made. I beg to move, that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume. —(Viscount Hailsham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed accordingly.