HL Deb 19 July 1934 vol 93 cc805-19

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do again resolve itself into Committee on the Milk Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Hailsham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[House in Committee accordingly:]

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 9 [Payments for securing pure milk supply]:


The next two Amendments standing in my name are drafting. I beg to move.

Amendments moved—

Page 11, line 39, leave out ("scheme") and insert ("schemes approved by him which are")

Page 11, line 41, leave out ("such scheme") and insert ("milk marketing scheme approved by him ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

LORD HASTINGS moved, in subsection (2), immediately before the last paragraph, to insert: Provided that before the day appointed under subsection (1) of this section as the beginning of the period of four years mentioned in that subsection the boards administering any milk scheme for the time being in force shall cause a poll of registered producers to be taken in accordance with the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, relating to the amendment of schemes on the question of whether the boards shall accept the liability to make-the payments mentioned in this subsection and unless the result of such poll is in favour of the boards accepting such liability no order shall be made under this subsection.

The noble Lord said: I really argued this Amendment on the Amendment which stood in my name earlier on the Paper. On that occasion I endeavoured to point out the impropriety of compelling the producers who had agreed to a limited liability scheme to accept without reference to them the implications and obligations of an unlimited liability scheme. I did not then divide the Committee, because there did not seem to be sufficient support for my argument. Here we have an alternative which will enable the producers to be given the opportunity of going to the poll to state before any subsidy moneys are paid on their behalf whether they will or will not accept the subsidy moneys together with the unlimited liability which is the corollary of them, or whether they will forego subsidy moneys rather than accept the unlimited liability. This is a variant of the Amendment which was moved in another place and which sought to give the producers the opportunity of this poll after they had received the subsidy money and before they became liable. That was obviously not a very acceptable proposal to the Minister or the House. This Amendment, on the other hand, proposes to give them the opportunity of expressing an opinion before they have received the subsidy moneys. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 7, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Hastings.)


I hope the noble Lord will not press this Amendment. It would completely destroy all sense of continuity in the scheme. It would mean that liabilities would be entered into and farmers would be persuaded to go to very considerable expense and trouble in obtaining a tuberculosis free herd and then, at the end of it all, they would find that the scheme was not being continued. It would really mean that the £750,000 which the Government have put up would be virtually wasted on an abortive scheme.


I am inclined to agree with the noble Earl. Having lost the first Amendment I think it would be better to withdraw this.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD PHILLIMORE moved, after subsection (2), to insert the following new subsection: (3) No arrangement or order made under this section shall impose upon any council of an administrative county or upon any local authority any obligation to make any payment or incur any financial liability for the purposes of this section.

The noble Lord said: I put down this Amendment partly to elicit information from the noble Earl in charge of the Bill and partly for the protection of the county councils. If I understand the noble Earl aright, he is in a position to tell me that the accredited herds are not influenced or do not come under this Bill in any shape or form, and no money is provided for them in this Bill either. In fact we might never have heard of accredited herds so far as this Bill is concerned. That is one point as to which I wanted information. Probably also the noble Earl is able to say that no arrangement or order made under this scheme can impose upon any council any obligation to make any payment and if that is so there is no point in my pressing my Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 10, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Phillimore.)


I can give the noble Lord that assurance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10 [Amendment of 12 & 13 Geo. 5. c. 54]


I can only express my apologies to the noble Earl for not being present for my previous Amendment. I understand his reply to that was thoroughly satisfactory, and in those circumstances I will, with your Lordships' leave, not move the Amendment I had put down to this clause.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12:

Extension of functions of milk marketing boards.

(3) The board administering any milk marketing scheme may from time to time determine the places or areas at or within which milk produced in the area to which the scheme applies, or any description or quantity of milk so produced, may be sold or offered for sale by any registered producer, and the provisions of the scheme which relate to penalties shall apply with respect to any determination of the board under this subsection as they apply with respect to determinations of the board under the scheme which regulate sales of milk.

Provided that no determination shall be made under this subsection by any board except after consultation with such a committee as the Minister may have approved for the purpose as representing the interests of purchasers of milk by wholesale.

EARL DE LA WARR moved, in subsection (3), to leave out all words after "determine" down to, but not including the proviso, and insert: the places or areas at, to or within which milk produced in the area to which the scheme applies, or any description or quantity of milk so produced, may be sold, or offered or consigned for sale, or delivered on sale, by any registered producer, and if any registered producer deals with any milk in contravention of any determination made by the board under this subsection, then, subject to any provisions of the scheme which prescribe procedure in connection with the imposition and recovery of penalties, the board shall impose on, and recover from, that producer such monetary penalty as the board think just, not exceeding one hundred pounds or such greater maximum sum (if any) as may be prescribed by the scheme in relation to such a contravention as aforesaid.

The noble Earl said: This is quite a simple Amendment. The first part of it is in order to bring in the word "consigned" the absence of which left a considerable hole in the scheme. The second part deals with the penalties. At first we thought we could manage it by legislative reference back to the original Act, but we found we could not and, therefore, we have inserted the specific penalty, which is the same amount as before.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 4, leave out from ("determine") to the end of line 12 and insert the said now words.—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD HASTINGS moved to omit the proviso in subsection (3). The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment I desire to press very strongly. Your Lordships will observe that in this subsection no determination shall be made by any board except after consultation with such committee as the Minister may have approved for the purpose as representing the interests of purchasers of milk by wholesale. This subsection grants complete control over the production and retailing of milk. The Milk Board can diminish the amount of milk produced in the area, it can diminish or even eliminate the amount; of milk sold in the area. Those powers have nothing whatever to do with the interests representing purchasers of milk of wholesale. The great distributing companies ought not to be allowed to have any finger in this particular pie. Why do they want it? It pays the distributing companies to promote a glut of milk in any area because it cheapens the price to them, and the whole purpose of this particular subsection would be to limit production to the requirements of the area and to limit the area within which that production can be sold. There can be no conceivable reason why the interests of the purchasers of milk by wholesale should be admitted here and those concerned with the producers' interests strongly resent this proviso. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 13, leave out lines 13 to 17.—(Lord Hastings.)


I am aware that certain farming interests are worried at the insertion of this particular provision in the Bill, but I think that they are under a misunderstanding. At the present moment they have certain very strong powers of determining how milk shall be sold. Under the Act of 1931, Section 5 (e), it will be found that the Board can determine the persons to whom milk can be sold. That might theoretically give them full control, but it does not do so in fact. Therefore we want this addition to the powers of the Board. The Board are given power completely to divert milk now from one area to another. The noble Lord questions the reason for bringing manufacturers into this. A manufacturer with a milk factory in a certain district could be completely deprived of supplies of milk by the Board acting in an unreasonable manner. Of course we do not anticipate that they will act unreasonably, but surely it is not asking very much of the Board to be prepared to discuss with the distributors before taking any decision. The ultimate decision is left in their hands. Most of us who are reasonable people are prepared to go into a great deal of consultation provided we have the last word left to us.

I know what is the real fear. The real fear is that the distributors may operate this subsection unreasonably and may be continually and unreasonably asking for consultation. But just as it must be assumed that the Milk Marketing Board is composed of reasonable men we must assume that distributors will be reasonable men. They are just as busy as the Milk Marketing Board and they will not want to be engaged in eternal consultations. I can give an undertaking on the part of the Minister himself that if it is found that the milk distributing interests are unreasonable we should be prepared to use all the influence we have to make it clear to them that this power was given them to operate reasonably and not to operate unreasonably. I hope the noble Lord, in spite of his strong feeling, will not press this Amendment but will accept the assurance of the Minister that he will do everything possible to see that this is operated reasonably.


I speak on behalf of the Scottish Milk Marketing Board, whose position is a little different from that of the English Board in regard to this proviso. We have at the present moment in Scotland a joint committee of distributors and other interests and any matter of the movement of milk can be discussed if necessary. As I read the proviso it appears to wipe out all the powers given under the clause. The clause gives to the Board practically no powers which they have not got already and which they have not exercised in the past year in reference to transfers of milk. Most transfers of milk are done by agreement at the present time. Only this week the Scottish Board was requested by a large distributor in Glasgow to change the destination of a matter of 500 gallons of milk a day because the Glasgow fair holidays were taking place and he could not get rid of the milk. The whole transaction was done by wire or telephone and the milk was diverted to manufacturers. As I read the proviso it would prevent a transaction of that sort without, possibly, consultation with a committee. If every such transaction had to be referred to a committee the Board could not carry on unless the committee was sitting permanently. I have been assured by some of the permanent officials that my view is not correct, but I cannot see it.


I think the noble Earl really answered his own point when he said that the Board already possessed powers. It must be made quite clear that in so far as they have existing powers they do not come under the proviso at all.


At present we have a case of transfer of that sort before a committee of investigation in Edinburgh, and I understand this proviso was put in because of objection from one of the large manufacturing interests to our giving a supply from one place instead of another.


There will be two ways of operating. The first is under the existing law. If that is done no alteration is made whatsoever. If producers are not satisfied with the powers they have under the existing law they are given much stronger powers under this Bill. But if they operate under these new powers they will have to grant consultation to the distributors. Considering the extent of these powers I think it is only reasonable that the producers should be prepared to discuss with the men whom they are going to deprive of milk. There are the powers of a machine gun in this case. Surely, when you point a machine gun at a man you might discuss with him before you shoot.


I hope the noble Lord will press this Amendment. It does not seem to me that the noble Earl has given any reason for this special protection of the wholesale purchaser. We have had sufficient experience of the advan- tages given to wholesale purchasers. We know how producers under the milk scheme had fixed for them the prices at which they might sell, while, on the other hand, the distributors were left to charge whatever price they liked. In some cases that had a very detrimental effect on the small man who retails milk. We ought to be very careful not to give further powers to committees for the benefit of the purchaser. The Minister always seems more anxious to look after the interests of the purchaser than the interests of the producer. I hope the noble Lord will press this Amendment to a Division.


I hesitate to intrude in this debate among experts and I only do so in order to ask a question about a matter which I think is left a little in doubt. I am not sure that I heard all the arguments of the noble Earl and so I may be covering ground which has been already covered. I only wish to ask for information on one point. The proviso, I take it, docs not mean that the committee to be appointed must approve. Some observations which have been made were somewhat misleading in that respect I think, because it was suggested that unless the committee approved nothing could be done. I do not so read it. I am only-speaking of the language of the proviso. It is, in effect, that there shall be a consultation with the Board, that is, that nothing shall be done by the Board except after consultation with the committee appointed. That does not mean that the committee must approve. What it means is that there must be consultation.

It may still be said—it was said by the noble Lord who spoke just now for Scotland—that that would mean that there would have to be a committee always sitting. I do not know whether that is true, but of course if it is it would be a very serious objection. I would like to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill, or the noble Lord who has moved the Amendment, to give us some information upon that point. As it strikes me, if it merely means that all that is to happen is that there must be consultation with the committee appointed, and assuming that it does not entail a committee continuously sitting but only called together when occasion arises for the exercise by the Board of some of these powers, that is a totally different matter. One course would no doubt be somewhat impracticable as it appears to me, that is to say, if you had had to have the committee always, sitting; but apart from the merits of the questions, into which I do not eater, I really do not see the difficulty if all that is to happen is that the committee appointed should be consulted before the Board puts into operation the powers given to it. I really would like some information, because I am in a difficulty as to which way to vote if there is a Division.


The noble Marquess is quite right. I am sorry if I did not make myself heard just now. It is purely a matter of consultation. My own view of what will actually happen is that in general, the day to day management of this concern will be carried on under the powers of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, without any question of consultation coming in. But there will be certain cases when there is to be rather a major control of a very large section of the milk of this country, and it is then that complications may arise; and when those complications arise of course they will have to be settled in consultation with this committee.


Not settled in consultation?


Settled after consultation.


That is a vital difference. There must be a consultation, but the point is that after the consultation the Board can go on notwithstanding that the committee does not agree. That is the vital point.


I had not intended to intervene, in this discussion, but it seems to me that we have missed, or are apt to miss, the point. As I understand, we all agree on the principle of consultation, but the point is that in the instance which the noble Earl, Lord Stair, gave there would not have been time to consult; the whole deal would have been lost. If you have got to have a consultation every time a case is brought forward, you will have to have that committee sitting the whole time, or practically so. To my mind it is that which is of the essence of the question; it is a question of time.


I do not want to prolong the discussion, but may I point out that cases such as those which the noble Earl, Lord Stair, has instanced are already being carried out under the existing powers without any need of consultation? It if when the additional powers conferred by this. Bill are brought into question that consultation is provided for.


I deeply regret that I am quite unable to withdraw this Amendment. Those who have been responsible for the framing of the Amendment have framed it after being pressed thereto very strongly by all the interests concerned. There is no doubt at all in their minds or in our minds that this is a grave, gross, and wholly unnecessary spoke to put into the wheel of the simple and easy working of this Board. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has drawn the attention of the Committee to the word "consultation," but he better than anyone will know perfectly well that when you give to a body the right to be consulted, that body considers that after it has been consulted its opinion has got to be taken. There would be very serious and sad trouble if its opinion were discarded after having been obtained. I think that must be so, and the experience of this particular body of persons has gone to show that this is their view of the matter. I am afraid I cannot withdraw the Amendment, and I shall have to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division.


As there is no member of the Government present who speaks with legal experience, I hope I may be allowed to say that I do not think any lawyer would have any doubt that the noble Marquess is absolutely right when he says that the obligation to consult does not involve or entail any obligation to accept an opinion which is offered. (When I rose I had not observed that the Leader of the House was present; I was not able to find him.) The only possible obligation is to consider it before determining the question, and as between honest people one is perfectly certain that would be done. That is all I wanted to say.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 40; Not-Contents, 22.

Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Plymouth, E. Marks, L.
Melchett, L.
Argyll, D. Elibank, V. Merrivale, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Merthyr, L.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Hailsham, V. Mount Temple, L.
Lansdowne, M. Halifax, V. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
Reading, M. Mersey, V. Playfair, L.
Amulree, L. Rankeillour, L.
Buxton, E. Biddulph, L. Rennell, L.
De La Warr, E. Clwyd, L. Rhayader, L.
Feversham, E. Denman, L. Rockley, L.
Iveagh, E. Elton, L. Sandhurst, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Fairfax of Cameron, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Mar and Kellie, E. Gage, L. (F. Gage.) [Teller.] Stanmore, L.
Midleton, E. Greville, L. Templemore, L.
Morton, E. Hutchison of Montrose, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Onslow, E. Kilmaine, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.) Palmer, L.
Salisbury, M. Cranworth, L. [Teller.] Phillimore, L.
Hastings, L. [Teller.] Rathcreedan, L.
Airlie, E. Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.) Remnant, L.
Denbigh, E. Marley, L. Sanderson, L.
Macclesfield, E. Middleton, L. Snell, L.
Strafford, E. Mildmay of Flete, L. Strabolgi, L.
O'Hagan, L. Strachie, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

LORD STRACHIE moved, after Clause 12, to insert the following new clause: . All orders made under this Act shall he laid before each House of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent forty days on which that House has sat next after the order is laid before it praying that the order may be annulled, it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder or to the making of a new order. If the Session of Parliament ends before such forty days as aforesaid have expired, the order shall be laid before each House of Parliament at the commencement of the next Session as if it had not previously been laid.

The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment can be explained very shortly; it simply is that all orders should be laid before both Houses of Parliament. In moving my first Amendment I said to the noble Earl that I did not so much want to press it if I could have an assurance from him that orders would be laid, but he could give me no assurance at all upon that matter. I cannot understand why it is that in this Bill, for the first time in the many Bills coming from the Ministry of Agriculture, it is not provided that all orders and regulations shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament. I remember very well in previous Parliaments that Lord Salisbury, when Leader of the House or when he was leading the Opposition, constantly supported me in this matter, that orders should be laid, and I expect I shall have his support now if he is present.

Under Clause 3 the Minister may from time to time by order direct, etc. Now the noble Earl said, when I raised a question about the smallholder and the manufacture of cheese, that it was better to leave it entirely to the Minister to make an order. I have no objection to the Minister making an order, if it comes before both Houses of Parliament, because if the smallholder is not properly treated it will be for Parliament to say that the order of the Minister is not fair and that the smallholder ought to be encouraged to make cheese. The general feeling in the country is that we should do everything we can to encourage cheese being made, in' order to keep up this large supply of milk which is to be used for manufacturing purposes. I see in Clause 9 the curious statement made that particulars of the arrangements made by the Minister of Agriculture are to be laid before each House of Parliament. Why are only particulars of arrangements, and not orders, to be laid? It seems a very curious thing indeed. What is the objection to laying orders? It will be interesting to hear from the noble Earl what is the real objection. If orders are good in themselves then there can be no objection, because the House will not take an adverse view.

It will be within the recollection of your Lordships that many orders have to be laid, and it is very rarely that they are objected to. The reason is that the Departments are careful to draw up orders which are reasonable, so that the House shall not object to them. There is one objection, and I think the strongest of all, to this procedure by orders without the approval of Parliament. The Lord Chief Justice not long ago said, with regard to orders, that they were constantly being made by Ministers, who were thus given too much executive power. He said, in effect, that his objection was to a Minister having power to impose liability on the subject by order, and not by any Act of Parliament. That is what is going to happen in the present case, and I cannot see what particular reason there is why the old practice of requiring the approval of Parliament should be departed from. I shall press this Amendment, because I

Clause 13:


(2) For the purposes of this Act a farm shall be deemed to include the farm house

think the Bill, as drafted, interferes with the rights of Parliament in this matter.

Amendment moved— After Clause 12, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Strachie.)


I fully understand the object of the noble Lord in bringing up this matter, but if he looks into the clauses under which orders have to be made he will see that in each case it is only a question of laying down administrative details, how to carry out principles which have had full discussion in the House. In those circumstances I do not think your Lordships would desire that they should be subject to the approval of Parliament.


If the orders were desirable, nobody would want to discuss them. My only object is not to give this power, which the Lord Chief Justice has said is so objectionable, of doing by orders what should be done by legislation.

On Question, Whether the said new-clause shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 14; Not-Contents, 50.

Reading, M. Mersey, V. Phillimore, L.
Rathcreedan, L.
Buxton, E. Clwyd, L. Rhayader, L.
Onslow, E. Denman, L. Stanmore, L.
Strafford, E. Merthyr, L. Strachie, L. [Teller.]
O'Hagan, L. [Teller.]
Sankey, V. (L. Chancellor.) Elibank, V. Kilmaine, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Marks, L.
Argyll, D. Hailsham, V. Marley, L.
Halifax, V. Merrivale, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Mildmay of Flete, L.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Alvingham, L. Mount Temple, L.
Lansdowne, M. Amulree, L. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
Arnold, L. Palmer, L.
Airlie, E. Biddulph, L. Remnant, L.
De La Warr, E. Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.) Rennell, L.
Denbigh, E. de Clifford, L. Rockley, L.
Feversham, E. Elton, L. Sanderson, L.
Iveagh, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Sandhurst, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Greville, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Mar and Kellie, E. Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.) Snell, L.
Midleton, E. Howard of Glossop, L. Strabolgi, L.
Morton, E. Hutchison of Montrose, L. Templemore, L.
Plymouth, E. Jessel, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

and all buildings occupied together with the farm.

EARL DE LA WARR moved, in subsection (2), at the end, to insert, "but not to include any premises which are for the time being approved as manufacturing premises by the Board administering a milk marketing scheme." The noble Earl said: This is a very small Amendment, and is merely an alteration of the definition. At the present time a certain kind of small factory on a dairy farm would not be defined as a farm cheese maker or as a factory, and this makes the definition right.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 28, at end insert the said words.—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.