HL Deb 10 April 1946 vol 140 cc643-75

2.41 p.m.

LORD ROTHSCHILD rose to call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the urgent need for compulsory pasteurization of milk in as many parts of the United Kingdom as is practicable; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in spite of your Lordships' well-known indulgence towards beginners, I imagine there are few who do not feel considerable apprehension on the occasion of their maiden speech in this Chamber. I feel this particularly because there are so many noble Lords who are better qualified to speak on the Motion in my name than I am. Nevertheless, I am fortified to a certain extent by the fact that the Motion has the backing of a number of learned institutions such as the British Medical Association, the Society of Medical Officers of Health, the Joint Tuberculosis Council, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians.

It will not be necessary for me to say much about the benefits of pasteurized milk or, as it is known in these days, heat treated milk. Your Lordships are aware that a large number of people die each year through drinking milk contaminated with the bovine tuberculosis germ. I will not weary your Lordships with statistics, but will merely mention that if all the members of this House were killed twice a year—and I think your Lordships will agree that this would be a matter of some gravity—the number of deaths would be of the same order as that caused in the United Kingdom by drinking raw milk contaminated with the germ of tuberculosis. I need not remind your Lordships that the number of casualties from this germ far exceeds the number of deaths; but no precise figures are available to me on this point, though the number of casualties has been estimated at about five times the number of deaths. If we put the number of deaths per year at 1,600, the number of casualties will be between 7,000 and 8,000. These casualties, which require months of hospital treatment, are a source of misery and anxiety to their families and grave expense to the State.

Of course tuberculosis is not the only disease caused by drinking raw milk contaminated with germs. Undulant fever claims an unknown number of victims each year—un-known because it is a difficult disease to diagnose—while outbreaks of typhoid and paratyphoid fever, dysentry, food poisoning, scarlet fever, and diphtheria are known to be caused from time to time by the drinking of raw milk. During the war, well authenticated milk-borne examples of each of these diseases were reported in the medical Press. Possibly the noble Lord who replies for the Government may be able to tell your Lordships if there have been any outbreaks of disease caused by drinking contaminated raw milk in the United Kingdom during 1946.

It would appear obvious from the few words I have said that considerable benefits would accrue to the population of this country by removing a perfectly clear cut source of disease and death from the population's milk; and on the assumption that this side of the case is not in dispute, I will turn to the other side which concerns the arguments put forward by the opponents of pasteurization. May I say at the start that I neither can nor shall attempt to deal with the economic aspects of this matter? Your Lordships are well aware that one of the criticisms of any scheme involving the compulsory pasteurization of milk in the United Kingdom is that it will have an adverse effect on the small producer-retailers. Your Lordships may have something to say about the relative merits of killing off numbers of the population each year and maintaining the economic interests of a relatively small section of the community, though the words "as far as is practicable" in my Motion indicate that I appreciate the difficulties of extending any scheme of heat treatment to special or rural parts of the country. If I may, I shall return to the question of the producer-retailer later.

The first objection with which I shall deal is that pasteurized milk tastes nasty, metallic, or at any rate different from raw milk. When I say to your Lordships that this is untrue, you will treat my statement with the same scepticism as the original statement that pasteurized milk tastes nasty. Your Lordships will require scientific or legal evidence one way or another. Such evidence could be obtained by submitting samples of raw and heat treated milk to some cross section of the community and seeing whether the members of this cross section could distinguish between the two types of milk more often than someone guessing or drawing the answer blindfold out of a hat. Your Lordships would decide one way or another on evidence of this type and not on unsubstantiated statements of mine or anybody else. These experiments have in fact been done and Show without a shadow of doubt that an overwhelming number of persons are totally unable to distinguish between raw and heat treated milk. Of course if the milk is not pasteurized properly and, for example, is boiled, it is quite easy to tell the difference, but we must, I think, assume in the argument that the Government would not institute an incompetent scheme of heat treatment.

So much for the non-existent difference in taste. Another objection often raised is that pasteurization takes what is called "the life" out of milk. This phrase is a difficult one to deal with because it is so vague. In so far as heat treatment takes the life out of the noxious bacteria which are so often present in our milk, it is of course true, but I doubt whether those who put forward these statements mean them in this sense. It is more likely that they infer that some essential nutrient substances are removed from the milk by the process of pasteurization. It is true that minor changes are brought about in the composition of the milk, but numerous investigations on rats, calves, and human beings, carried out in medical, veterinary, and agricultural institutions in this country and in Scotland, have shown conclusively that such changes have no appreciable effect on the nutritive value of the milk. According to the Director of the National Institute for Research in Dairying, which your Lordships are aware is the most important Institute of its type in the United Kingdom, the difference in composition between raw and heat treated milk has been found in fact to be less than that between samples of raw milk taken from different herds.

Though milk is one of nature's best foodstuffs, it is by no means a perfect one, and no one can live exclusively on milk without additional minerals and vitamins. Consequently the fact that a certain amount of these substances is removed by heat treatment is of much less significance than the opponents of heat treatment would have us believe. The opponents of pasteurization—and many people who have fallen victims to their propaganda—sometimes say that pasteurization will remove the incentive to clean milk. Such criticisms display a lack of understanding of the difference between clean and safe milk, and also impute a somewhat alarming degree of ignorance to the Government in imagining that if compulsory pasteurization were introduced, the Government would remove the existing regulations about the cleanliness of milk. The regulations about the cleanliness of milk are directed towards preventing milk being contaminated with dust, blood, water, cow dung, and milk-souring bacteria, all of which at one time were an almost natural constituent of milk in this country. Heat treatment, on the other hand, is intended to destroy disease-producing germs. Though it may render milk safe for human consumption, heat treatment cannot render dirty milk clean. Both clean milk and heat treated milk are desirable for different reasons.

The opponents of pasteurization also say that it destroys the need for the T.T. and attested herd schemes. Here again there is a lack of understanding of the objectives of the schemes. The T.T. and attested schemes are directed towards improving the health of our cattle as well as towards producing germ-free milk. The heat treatment of milk is directed primarily towards improving the health of our population and reducing the unnecessary number of deaths each year. Quite recently in this country an outbreak of dysentery occurred and was traced without a shadow of doubt to milk from a tuberculin-tested herd. There is nothing extraordinary in this as T.T. milk is always exposed to the possibility of contamination after the milk has left the cow, and we shall never be able to prevent farmhands, and others concerned with the milk, from unwittingly being carriers of disease But suppose we accept the risks that caused this recent outbreak of dysentery; even then, it will take many years for a high percentage of our cattle to become attested or to produce T.T. milk. Experience in the United States, where a costly slaughter policy has been combined with a T.T. herd scheme, makes it clear that it would take a minimum of twenty-five years for an important percentage of our cattle to come into this class, and I doubt if we shall be prepared, or even able, to slaughter cattle on the scale that has been done in the United States. Twenty-five years means many unnecessary deaths and very many unnecessary casualties. Your Lordships may agree with me that anyone who says that the T.T. and attested schemes can achieve what we need in a comparatively short space of time must produce good evidence for such a statement if it is to carry conviction.

I now come to the criticism which the opponents of pasteurization put forward with a success which only real nonsense seems able to engender. These gentlemen say: "If we take all the noxious germs out of milk, we shall be preventing the population from acquiring a natural immunity to disease." Your Lordships may agree with me that the cost of this immunity, even if it existed, is somewhat high, and one that might not appeal to the mothers of children who have died from bovine tuberculosis. But apart from this, why do we not drink water contaminated with germs of enteric fever or any of the other diseases that are sometime carried by water? Are we not incurring a very grave risk in accepting the dicta of Ministries of Health of every political shade, of local authorities, of the medical profession, of scientists, or even of the ordinary man? This frightful risk in which most of us are involved by drinking pure water, is one which we appear to sustain with comparative equanimity and impunity. I wonder why a different view is taken by some people because we substitute the word "milk" for the word "water." The truth is, my Lords, that this argument, though on occasions it appeals to those who have not thought much about it, is one that is sufficiently illogical, if not vicious, to be rejected out of hand.

There are three objections to pasteurization which are more serious than those to which I have already referred. The first concerns the possibility that the institution of compulsory heat treatment would not only put small producer-retailers out of business, but would reduce the nation's milk supply. Of course if the Government were to pass some totalitarian Bill making it illegal to sell any form of milk anywhere in the United Kingdom which was not pasteurized, this would be the case. But my Motion is not worded in this way, and nobody in his senses would attempt such a measure. I submit to your Lordships that the compulsory institution of heat treatment in towns, shall we say with a population of more than 20,000, would have no effect whatsoever on small producer-retailers; and, so far from reducing the nation's milk supply, it might well cause an increase. During the war literally thousands of gallons of raw milk were poured down the drain as unfit for human consumption, and it was this fact which caused the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, to institute the heat treatment of milk as an urgent measure, thereby saving the nation thousands of gallons. I do not know whether any raw milk is poured down the drains nowadays, but if by any chance it is perhaps a similar saving would occur if the Motion in my name were adopted.

May I repeat that the institution of compulsory pasteurization in towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants need have no effect on the little man and the producer-retailer? It is no answer that about 70 per cent. of the nation's milk is already pasteurized. This is not a matter for satisfaction at all when we remember the number of deaths and casualties each year from the other 30 per cent. A further serious objection that might be raised is that heat treatment equipment would have to be bought in the United States and would therefore cost dollars, which we either do not have or cannot spare for this purpose. The Dairy Engineers' Association, of which most of the firms who make heat treatment plant are members, inform me that not one screw for this equipment would have to be bought in the United States.

Finally, I must I think mention an objection to pasteurization which I put into the serious category though some of your Lordships may feel it hardly merits this treatment. I refer to that type of person who knows from personal experience and observation that the earth is flat and not round, and who say such things as: "What nature produces is good enough for me, so better not tamper with it; it might be dangerous; I like my milk raw." Your Lordships will be well aware that the idea of not tampering with nature is apt to get one into difficulties from time to time. When one is dying of pneumonia one must not tamper with the course of nature by administering penicillin. One must not tamper with nature during an acute attack of appendicitis by having an operation. Or even if one were to be so unwise as to allow an operation to take place, one must not tamper with nature by administering an anæsthetic. If anyone were fortunate enough to get hold of a steak in the future, one must not tamper with nature by cooking it. As a whole we tolerate the peculiar activities of cranks and eccentrics with a certain affectionate amusement, but when they affect the lives and health of the people of our country, I think we should give up this tolerance and at the same time explain to the uninformed why.

When one ponders over the various methods we have of killing off our dwindling population, one cannot help returning to the melancholy spectacle of road deaths, and one cannot help being thankful that committees constantly sit and discussions constantly go on to devise methods of solving this tragedy. But in the case which I submit to your Lordships there is no need for committees and little need for lengthy deliberation. The committees have sat; tie deliberations have taken place, and In fact schemes have already been set out—I referred to the one of the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, during the war—for introducing cornpulsory pasteurization. The exigencies of the war were doubtless responsible for the shelving of the noble Lord's scheme. The exigencies of the peace make the institution of compulsory pasteurization an urgent necessity. Any Government which does not implement such a scheme, or at the very least accept the principle for large towns must, in my respectful submission, incur a large share of responsibility for the death and disease which result each year from the people of this country continuing this ill-advised and unnecessary practice of drinking unpasteurized milk. I beg to move for Papers.

3.0 p.m.


My Lords, it is the custom of your Lordships' House when a noble Lord ha; delivered his maiden speech to congratulate him. I think that the best way of making it clear that in doing this now I am taking no formal step is to say that I know I shall be speaking on your Lordships' behalf in saving that even if the speech which has just been delivered were not the noble Lord's maiden effort, we would still all wish to thank him and to congratulate him on a really useful, knowledgeable and—if His Majesty's Government are able to give a satisfactory reply to it—important speech on a really vital subject. Not having the noble Lord's scientific training, I must confess that all my prejudices are thoroughly against pasteurization. It must be better to produce clean milk rather than to kill germs in dirty milk. None of us wish so to increase the capital cost of distributing milk—this is a point to which the noble Lord has referred, and referred, if I may say so, very helpfully and sympathetically—as not only to wipe out many thousands of small men, who might have to cease distributing milk, but also (because the two things are intimately wrapped up), to drive many out of production. In these days of shortage, this is indeed the very last moment to take the slightest risk of doing anything like that.

Another point to which the noble Lord has referred is this. We must be careful to do nothing that will in any way tend to make the industry feel that it is now less necessary to clean up the herds and to clean up the farms. Having said that, we have got to be realists. It is for the producers in any market to supply what the consumer wants. The wool trade may be deeply and sincerely convinced that the woollen stocking is a much better covering for the female leg than the silk stocking, but that conviction, I think, must to-day remain in the sphere of pious hope. There is no doubt whatever, as the noble Lord has said, that the over-whelming view of the medical and scientific professions—or at least of the vast majority, anyway, of those engaged in them—is in favour of pasteurization, at any rate of our urban supplies of milk that have to be bulked. The doctors may not know everything about health yet—they would be the last to claim that they do—but clearly they know a great deal more than does the layman. Therefore, speaking from the agriculturist's point of view, I repeat that it is for us as producers to supply the nation with the milk that the medical profession say will be best for the national health. At any rate, if we are honest with ourselves, we have no alternative.

What is the present position? Certainly, it is not as desperate as is sometimes suggested. No one, for a moment, denies the gravity of the figures that have been put before us by Lord Rothschild, nor indeed shall I attempt to dispute them. But I do not think we should forget that really immense progress has been made in this matter during the last few years. So far as I can ascertain, the present position is this. About eighty per cent. of our total milk supply is served to the public by the distributive trade. Of that milk, supplied in that manner, no less a proportion than ninety per cent. is pasteurized to-day. I think that you would find it very difficult to get any milk now in London that, in fact, is not pasteurized. That figure which I have just given, ninety per cent. of the eighty per cent., roughly agrees, I think, with the noble Lord's figure, which was, if I remember rightly, seventy per cent. of the total milk supplies. On these figures it is clear that to apply compulsion to the bulk of that particular part of the trade would cause no difficulty at all. The noble Lord has suggested compulsion in the large urban areas. I think he mentioned places of 20,000 population and upward. Certainly I would be prepared to agree with him there if that is the population limit upon which he draws his line, but I would except all milk, even in those areas, that is up to an accredited standard of cleanliness. I feel rather strongly that if a member of the public would prefer to be supplied with fresh milk of an accredited standard of cleanliness, then he or she ought to be allowed to purchase that milk even in a large urban area.

We now come to the twenty per cent. of the total supply which is delivered by the producer-retailer. Of this, only a very small quantity is pasteurized. I think the noble Lord would agree that probably some of it is pasteurized, but a certain proportion of it is of certified or finer grade—that is T.T. or accredited. Of the total milk supply of the country to-day, twelve per cent. is of T.T. standard, and twenty-five per cent. is accredited. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for putting these figures before you, but I think it is rather important to try to get an accurate picture of the sort of problem with which we have to deal. I think that we can do so, perhaps, from what I have said. The position, though serious, is not quite as desperate as some people say. The only really difficult problem with which we are faced is that connected with the producer-retailer. There are about fifty thousand of these in this country, handling about twenty per cent. of our milk supply. They are usually small men and they are usually serving small or urban communities, or rural communities outside the range of the large distributor, and areas which without these men would frequently have great difficulty in obtaining any milk at all. The producer-retailers, therefore, are performing a useful service which in many cases nobody else would be prepared to perform.

The question we have to decide really is, first, at what pace can we tackle this problem of cleaning up the milk supply delivered by this section of the trade, and, second, in what direction do we desire to travel? On the question of pace there is no doubt that if we try to go too fast we shall merely drive these men out of business, and we shall be deprived of quite a large quantity of milk which we need today. On the question of direction I venture to say that whereas pasteurization is quite inevitable for the large urban areas, by far the better manner of dealing with the problem of the producer-retailer is to tackle the problem of cleaning up the herds and cleaning up the farms. Not only is the capital cost of pasteurization far too heavy to be borne by this section of the trade, but where the bulk of the milk is taken from the producer to the consumer, where the milk is produced in a clean manner it can maintain its cleanliness. Therefore in the case of the producer-retailer, provided that the milk is clean, I can see no very great reason for pasteurization at all.

Here, my Lords, I venture to make a very definite proposal, or perhaps I should say set of proposals, to His Majesty's Government and to the Milk Marketing Board. Let us make a start, here and now, with compulsory pasteurization in large urban areas of 20,000 population or over. Then let us steadily extend it elsewhere to those producers and distributors who are not prepared, or not able, to offer to the public milk of an agreed and designated standard. Give them a reasonable period to reach that standard, but have a definite time limit. I would suggest that we should have something like a ten-year scheme, divided up into different stages; that by the end of the first two years all producer-retailers should have attained the present accredited standard; that by the end of the first five years they should have to attain a standard very considerably above the accredited standard; and that by the end of ten years they should have to attain the full tuberculin-tested and attested-herd standard. And here I would like to interpose a remark. In doing this do let us see in future that milk of a designated standard is kept separate from other milk. A great deal of effort is required, on the part of the producers, and a great deal of public money is being expended at the present moment, in encouraging the production of clean milk which is mixed with all the rest the moment it leaves the farm.

Above all, do let us get going at once. One thing we do not want to do is to continue drifting along as we are at the present moment and then suddenly be driven into some panicky and drastic: steps. Let us here and now make up our minds as to the right long-term policy to pursue, and take our time in pursuing it, but with a definite time limit set for the end. During this ten-year period we should intensify the whole campaign for the cleaning up of herds. Firstly, the veterinary professions, the advisory and education services of the Ministry and of the committees, milk recorders, and anybody else concerned with the milk trade, should be mobilized to this end. Sir Thomas Baxter, Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board, has already given a great lead to the industry on the subject and it is for those who have any connexion whatsoever with the problem to take up that lead. Secondly, clean landlords should be asked to join in the campaign, and to do so boll by personal propaganda among their tenants and by giving preference in electricity schemes, water schemes, and the improvement of farm buildings, to tenants who are prepared to come into the clean milk campaign. I should like to see a very strong appeal going out from the Government to the landlords to this effect. Of course the effectiveness of this appeal would depend a great deal on whether His Majesty's Government are prepared to ensure that labour and materials for the work to be done in cleaning up the farm buildings should be made available.

Thirdly, there is no question that the existing performance premium for producing tuberculin-tested milk is a paying proposition for the prod Jeer. Unfortunately, the small man without capital still feels he is unable to face the initial risk and expense. It seems to me that the time has come now when the Government should consider whether they should not rather make their grant at the point where the actual loss occurs. Now the actual loss occurs usually when a farmer going into the scheme finds that a large proportion of his cows do not pass the test and have to be disposed of at a loss. We have to ask ourselves here whether we are going to change the financial basis of the scheme; would the new basis of granting assistance mean a prohibitive cost? I have tried to examine the figures, and my answer very definitely is "No," that in the long run it might actually be less than under the present system.

There are about 3,000,000 cows in this country at the moment, I think. Now if one-third—and I think we would agree that that is rather a high proportion—are ultimately affected, that means 1,000,000 cows for which, at some time or other in the next ten years, some form of compensation would have to be paid. Of course the amount of compensation would be determined by the policy of the Government towards slaughter, but as barely I per cent. of milk from tubercular cows are infected by tubercle bacteria I do not think anybody would urge the policy of slaughter at the present moment. At approximately £15 to £20 per cow, that means a sum of £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 would be required—rather less than the total of £4,000,000 a year or slightly over which we are paying out in premiums at the present moment. I do not recommend the immediate dropping of the premiums, but undoubtedly they will have to be considered in the future. If this were done it would make possible the scheme put forward the other day by the Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board for the establishment of free areas for the production of clean and healthy stock, for the replenishment of herds that are going into the attested-herd scheme. I think your Lordships would agree that that is an absolutely vital step to take if we are going to do anything with regard to cleaning up the herds.

I have said a good deal on the question of cleaning up the herds during the debate on pasteurization. I have done so deliberately because it seems to me the two subjects are so vitally and intimately connected. I would say to His Majesty's Government that I do hope that they will base their policy on the principle of a general drive dealing with the whole subject, far wider in scope than pasteurization. Let us clean up the herds. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, has a Motion on the Paper to-day dealing with veterinary education. That is all relevant. Let us push on to the greatest extent possible with the increase of veterinary education, to make sure that present methods of vaccination against abortion are pressed home. The problem of mastitis is not by any means entirely solved. But we are, I think, very hopeful. Both sulphanilamide and penicillin are going to make very useful contributions in the near future. Let us see that materials and labour for building and for bringing electricity and water to the farms are all made available. In the meanwhile, bring in compulsory pasteurization, as the noble Lord suggests, for the larger urban areas, but bearing in mind all the time—and this is what I would venture to impress on your Lordships as strongly as I can—that, even in the large towns, pasteurization, desirable in itself, is no substitute for clean milk, while, in the smaller and rural communities, it may never be necessary if only we make sufficiently rapid progress in cleaning up the herds and cleaning up the farms.

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, I may perhaps remind your Lordships that it is exactly twelve months ago to a day that we had a very important debate in this House on the subject of milk, on its purity and on its availability. Many distinguished scientists took part in that debate, including the President of the Royal College of Physicians, Lord Moran, and I think we all came to the conclusion that our milk production and our milk supplies were not matters on which this country had any reason to boast. I venture to hope that, as we have chosen an exact twelve-monthly period since we last debated this subject, we might almost in future select the second Wednesday in April as a suitable day for reviewing in this House the milk position and the effect of undesirable or impure milk upon the health of the population. I should like warmly to endorse the tribute which has been paid to Lord Rothschild for bringing this matter before the House to-day, all the more so because it enables some of us, who occupy what I may call a middle position in this matter, to put our views before the House in the hope that the adoption of them may lead to a much better and safer milk supply, without too seriously upsetting the process of production, which is all too small in this country on its various farms.

The noble Lord opposite, if he will allow me to say so, I think unduly stressed some of the supposed objections to the pasteurization of milk, one of them being taste, another being its effect upon nutritive value, and the third being the removal of vitamins. Whatever may have been said in days gone by with regard to taste, I do not think any reasonable person nowadays, with any knowledge of the facts, would suggest that properly pasteurized milk is either nasty, metallic, or otherwise unattractive to drink, if the pasteurization takes place as it ought to take place, between 135 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a matter of half an hour, with a subsequent cooling for at least five minutes to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. There should be no difference in the flavour of the milk as a result of the pasteurizing process. The same may be said with regard to the effect upon nutritive value. After all, there are several highly civilized countries in the world where the bulk of the milk is pasteurized, and has been pasteurized for many years past, and it has never been suggested—at least I have never heard it suggested seriously—that the process has appreciably reduced its nutritive value.

With regard to the removal of vitamins, there is only- one vitamin, which is perhaps all too scarce in milk, which can ill be spared, and is by neglect in the treatment of milk very often entirely removed. That is vitamin C. I do not know if your Lordships are aware of this fact, that, if you keep a jug of milk in the sunshine for half an hour, the whole of the vitamin C in the milk disappears. It is therefore most desirable, if you want to retain that vitamin, which is particularly valuable to infants and young children, that milk should not be exposed to sunlight after it has been drawn from the cow.

I want to say quite frankly that I welcome, indeed I am prepared to endorse, this Motion of the noble Lord opposite in favour of pasteurization, using his words, "as far as is practicable," and so long as he does not act as a deterrent to securing bovine health improvement. The main advantage of improving the health of our dairy cattle is to increase the yield. That is an even greater advantage than improving the quality of the milk. We have to increase the yield of milk, which is materially reduced in this country today by bovine disease, by tuberculosis, by mastitis in particular and by contagious abortion. It is perfectly true to say that it has frightened a good many people, and we cannot deny it, that 40 per cent. of the whole of our cattle in this country react to the tuberculin test. But we have to bear in mind at the same time, that only one half per cent. of our dairy cattle yield tubercular milk, and, if we were to take the drastic steps in the matter of slaughter which are taken in the United States, where there is something less than one half per cent. of the cattle affected with tuberculosis, of course the availability of milk in this country would be reduced. Milk would not be so available in this country and, as a result, there would be an adverse effect on the health of the population, and especially that of the children.

I am also uttering this warning because there is a great deal of popular misconception on the danger to human health of milk which contains bovine tubercular germs. It is my experience from time to time to receive drafts of articles and books on various agricultural subjects with the request that I shall provide a foreword or preface. I received one only a week ago, and the proposed title of the book was, Your Enemy the Cow. That book, so far as I was able to read it, contained a good deal of information, although rather exaggerated, similar to that which the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, has submitted to your Lordships to-day. But to my mind (and I told the author quite candidly what I thought, the whole book is damned by its title. In a country like this, where the milk yield of our cattle is something less than the miserable amount of 500 gallons during a lactation period—500 gallons a year—as against 750 to 800 gallons in countries like Denmark, Finland, Holland and others; and remembering that the actual consumption of milk a day in this country is an average of one half-pint, whereas in most civilized European countries it is at least 5o per cent. more, and in many countries double, for any one with any knowledge (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing in this connexion), to frighten the public with a book entitled Your Enemy the Cow is, to my mind, almost a matter for public prosecution.

The question of pasteurization has been a matter of controversy in this country for at least a generation, and curiously enough has had very litle relation to scientific facts. It has been influenced almost wholly by a fear that progress in particular directions would be obstructed. It has been opposed in the past by leading stock-owners, first as calculated to check the improvement in the health of dairy cattle by rendering even bad milk potable and safe; and secondly because, by giving the distributors better-keeping milk, it would make the producers victims of price-bargaining. The distributors, on the other hand, favoured pasteurization as a means of prolonging very considerably the period for keeping milk in a drinkable and relatively wholesome condition. The medical profession, with little knowledge of farming conditions, demanded pasteurization as the most certain method of ensuring for the public a safe milk supply. Up to a few years ago the veterinary profession supported the opinion of the stock-owners, because of its conviction that there was a great need for a considerable improvement in the health of bovines, especially dairy cattle, and that pasteurization would tend to check it.

These interested parties formed themselves into two groups who hotly contested the issue without appreciating the fact, now generally recognized, that pasteurization, as my noble friend Earl De La Warr has pointed out, is not an alternative to the improvement of animal health, but is complementary to it. May I just remind some of those who are opposed to pasteurization that they probably quite unconsciously carry out the process of pasteurization every time they drink a cup of tea and every time they eat a milk pudding, the temperature in each case having been raised above that which is necessary to effect pasteurization. There are some stock-owners who still oppose pasteurization, but there is no doubt that this opposition would entirely disappear if only the Government would boldly give a definite and firm assurance that they would henceforward actively promote improvement in the health of dairy cattle as well as insist on the pasteurization of milk so far as that is practicable. So long as the public are led to believe that even tainted milk can be rendered innocuous by pasteurization, the process of reducing the inordinate morbidity of our cattle will be a very slow one. It may confidently be expected that in the not distant future the consumer, the producer, the distributor and the medical and veterinary professions will agree that, although efficient pasteurization may make an unsafe, bad milk innocuous to human health, it does not and cannot convert a bad milk into one of high quality.

It is the duty of the public authorities, commencing with the Government, to see that the public are given every opportunity to procure, at a reasonable cost, safe, good milk—that is, a milk which is produced from cattle free from such diseases as tuberculosis, contagious abortion, and mastitis, and that the animals from which it is drawn are kept under good, hygienic conditions, so that masses of bacteria and dirt do not gain access to it. Indeed, if compulsory pasteurization of all dairy cattle not specially designated "T.T." (or otherwise) were introduced with the knowledge that the Government had started upon a definite policy of bovine health improvement, there is not the smallest doubt that the demand for milk would expand enormously, to the benefit both of national nutrition and of the producer.

Surely the immediate problem is whether it is practicable, even if it is desirable, to introduce complete compulsory pasteurization. Apart from the special problem of the producer-retailer with which my noble friend in front of me has, in my judgment, convincingly dealt, it is common knowledge that there is at present a shortage of both reliable pasteurization plant and of trained technical staff to ensure that pasteurization is carried out efficiently; and if it is not carried out efficiently, it may aggravate the present position rather than improve it. There would therefore seem to be strong justification for allowing the best milk produced on our British farms to be delivered raw to the consumer, at any rate for the present. The usual recommendation of our leading experts is that milk from attested and certified herds should be allowed to be retailed to the public without being subjected to heat before sale. The only drawbacks to this practice are that although the cattle of these herds are free from tuberculosis—and T.B. is, after all, the dominant risk—they may not necessarily be free from contagious abortion, and that therefore this milk may contain germs which will induce undulant fever in human beings. It would seem desirable ultimately, if not immediately, to insist that milk should be sold raw and unheated only if it comes from herds free from both T.B. and contagious abortion.

There are, of course, still further risks involved in the consumption of raw milt: arising from certain types of mastitis which occasionally cause sore throats, but arising more particularly from infection entering the milk after it has left the cow. This danger is increased considerably when the milk is bulked. I hope the time is coming when the Government will insist that good milk from healthy animals shall not be bulked with that of milk taken from cows which are diseased in one way or another. During distribution there are a number of individuals involved, any of whom might introduce a germ liable to cause illness, but this risk is minimized if milk is bottled on the farm. That is done, of course, in several countries with which I am well acquainted but it would present obvious practical difficulties in this country at the present time.

It is therefore clear that we should have a definite assurance from the Government that they are now at long last genuinely and actively about to embark on a long-term policy for the improvement of our dairy herds, and that they realize that although there are reasons, wholly unconnected with the farm, why all milk should be pasteurized, the soundest practical measure would be compulsory pasteurization of all milk except that coming from tubercular-free herds and, so far as practicable, from herds free from contagious abortion. May I say in passing that the Royal Agricultural Society of England, of which I have the honour to be the President this year, has during the last month embarked upon an inter-county pure milk competition? The conditions are now being drawn up in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, who are wholly in sympathy with the scheme. The trophy will be awarded to that county in England or Wales which has during the previous twelve months done most in the matter of increasing its herds of attested cattle. Certain counties, which I will not mention before the award is decided upon for this year, have made a most remarkable increase during the last three years in the number of attested herds and herds that have passed the tuberculin test.

Then there is the question of a supply of veterinarians. I know that the noble Lord opposite who represents the War Office will presently reply to the Motion which stands in my name on the Paper. That Motion will be dealt with later, but I should like to say that during the last week an assurance has been given in another place on behalf of the Government that the recommendations contained in the report of the Loveday Committee on Veterinary Education will be implemented by the Government. The only weak point, if I may say so, about the answer made on behalf of the Government in another place is that there is no immediate prospect of bringing before Parliament the necessary legislation to implement that Report. All I would venture to say in that connexion is that from the point of view of public health the matter appears to be so important that I hope time will be found to pass into law rapidly a measure which would enable a larger number of young men in this country to be properly trained, through the medium of the universities, for what ought to be regarded as one of the honourable and learned professions in this country. To strengthen the veterinary profession would be a most profitable Government investment in the matter of national nutrition and national health.

Nutrition and health depend largely upon an adequate and safe milk supply; milk is the AI priority human food. This in turn depends upon far greater freedom from bovine diseases, and such freedom is conditioned by a sufficiency of skilled veterinarians. Veterinary practice should be made a worth-while profession, comparable in status and emoluments with that of the medical profession. If there were more skilled veterinarians there would ultimately be need of fewer medical practitioners.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, I have had the fortune, or misfortune, within the last few days to rind myself involved in disputes between experts. The last dispute concerned the constituent parts of bread and the only answer was able to give on that occasion so far as I personally was concerned was the one which seemed to me to be the most effective, namely, that I did not like the new bread. But that answer would, I feel, hardly be appropriate to the present circumstances because I have to agree, as it is agreed on all sides, that clean milk is a necessity. However, there seems to be some difference of opinion as to how we are to achieve that object and which method is the most effective. May I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, that the question he raises with regard to veterinary surgeons will be answered by my noble friend Lord Nathan?

I would like from this side of the House to congratulate the noble Lord who opened this debate on his manner of delivery, the text of his speech and its conciseness. Those are three qualities which will, I know, commend him to this House. As to his rather horrifying statement about the fatalities caused and the disease created by the use of contaminated milk, there are no reliable statistics which can be called in aid just now, although it is not disputed for a moment that there is a great need for every precaution to be taken and for a good deal more care and consideration to be given to that matter. In that connexion perhaps I may point out that this Government are aware and their predecessors were not unaware of the importance of this subject. In the White Paper it was indicated quite clearly that they were fully conscious of the necessity of grappling with it as soon as it was possible to do so having regard to the labour and material that might be available to them. No Government can ignore the danger of infected milk. The Government are fully conscious of their responsibility in this connexion. That responsibility is increased by the fact that this Government and preceding Governments encouraged schools to supply milk to school children and is increased also by the deprivation of choice of retailer by the rationalized retail delivery scheme.

That brings certainly a very large measure of responsibility which they accept. I would beg to draw your Lordships' attention to the Government's plan to ensure improved quality as set out in the White Paper issued in July, 1943, which was further reinforced by Defence Regulation 55G which prohibited the retail supply of milk in specified areas unless it conformed to a certain standard. For instance, that regulation prohibited the supply of milk by retail in areas to be specified in Orders to be issued by the Minister unless it is either (a) tuberculin-tested milk, or (b) accredited milk derived from a single herd, or (c) heat treated milk, pasteurized milk, or sterilized milk. That is a plain indication, I think, that the Government are fully aware of the urgency and importance of the problem.

The solution of the problem is not quite so easy as it looks when set out in the White Paper, because there are a good many interests, a good deal of prejudice and other things which have got to be overcome in this connexion. Therefore, the preceding Government called in aid the dairyman's war-time associations, which are to be found in practically every town. They asked them to help set up schemes by which the proposals in the White Paper might be made effective. There are 621 rationalized areas in England and Wales and sixty in Scotland, and schemes have so far been received from less than one-third of them. I regret that it has not been possible to specify any areas but this is due to a variety of causes. It will be appreciated that the schemes submitted are paper schemes and in most cases they can only be put into effect after new plant and buildings have been provided.

The point was raised by the noble Viscount and also by the noble Lord who initiated the debate as to the availability of machinery and plant to deal with it. It has not been possible to secure new plant in adequate quantities to meet the requirements of the schemes owing to the limited capacity of the dairy engineering industry. The principal manufacturers have been overwhelmed with orders not only for plant for new users but also for plant for replacement purposes, because much of the existing plant is worn out through heavy usage during the war. The manufacturers of dairy plant are eager to help, and some of them are arranging to increase their capacity to enable earlier deliveries of plant to be made and to cope with the expanding demand. The other difficulties should be overcome in a fairly reasonable period of time, and a desirable increase in heat-treatment facilities secured. In that connexion, I am in a position to say that some of the American manufacturers are already establishing manufacturing plants in this country in order that they might assist in this matter. To a certain extent we are catching up a little in fields where the labour conditions are able to meet the present supply, and even to a small extent to export some small quantity overseas. That I think will be accepted anyway as a beginning towards a better state of affairs.

While it is a matter for regret that more schemes have not been submitted, we have to take clear account of the local difficulties and prejudices. They must be considered, but they will not be allowed to stand in the way of a progressive policy, and a more active policy will undoubtedly be pursued as and when opportunity, labour and plant can be afforded. Everything will be done to facilitate the supply as soon as possible. May I be permitted for greater accuracy to quote from the information which has been supplied to me to answer some of the points raised? With regard to the specification of areas, although no areas have been specified, it should not be assumed that there has not been improvement in the position generally. With a view to encouraging the heat treatment of the maximum quantity of milk, the Ministry of Food has, from November r, 1944, been paying an allowance to milk distributors in England and Wales of one farthing per gallon on all milk subjected by them to heat treatment. This allowance has been increased to rid. per gallon as from April r, 1946. I hope that will give some satisfaction in some quarters. It would be fair to say that heat treatment is already the general rule, and not the exception. Of the total annual liquid consumption in England and Wales amounting to about 1,075,000,000 gallons approximately 725,000,000 gallons are already heat-treated. Of the 350,000,000 gallons not heat-treated about 190,000,000 gallons are sold by producer-retailers and it is estimated that of this quantity 18,000,000 gallons is milk of T.T. standard. Our fears, therefore, are in a good many ways considerably reduced from those alarming reports which I gather have been circulating in various quarters.

It would be perhaps as well if I say just a word on the point which was raised by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, on the matter of grading of dairy herds. Apart from the policy of heat-treatment the Government have for some years been engaged on a long-term programme for grading dairy herds with a view to improving the general quality of the animals and reducing tuberculosis and other diseases in the herds. Despite the difficulties of the war years, steady progress has been made, and it is hoped to improve the rate of improvement in the future. I think not the least important side is the milk feeding of children in our schools, as in this connexion the future health of the community is involved, and that concerns very directly the problem with which we are at the moment engaged. It is of imps stance and interest to notice the progress being made in that matter. Much progress has also been made in securing that milk of an approved class is supplied to schools under the milk-in-schools scheme.

With a view to ascertaining the classes of milk being supplied to grant-aided schools, a census was carried out in England and Wales in the autumn of 1943 in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. A similar census was carried out by the Ministry of Food among the private schools participating in the milk-in-schools scheme. The complete census covers over 32,000 schools of which some 30,000 were being supplied with liquid milk. Of the latter, 67 per cent. were being provided with heat-treated milk, 64 per cent. with T.T. milk and the remainder with accredited or non-designated raw milk. Of the gallonage of milk supplied 82.2 per cent. was heat-treated milk and 4.2 per cent. T.T. milk. In Scotland it has been the practice to arrange where it is practicable for T.T. milk to be supplied to the schools. I think, having regard to the limitations imposed by war-time difficulties and particularly after-war difficulties, I have proved to your Lordships that the Government are not unmindful of the gravity of this and are doing everything they possibly can to deal with it. In some senses they have already anticipated some of the points which have been raised.

Both the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, and Lord Rothschild raised the question of dealing with areas of, I think, 20,000 or more inhabitants. The White Paper lays down a figure of 10,000, so I would say that there is not likely to be any difficulty, in view of those figures, in arriving at an agreement so far as my two noble friends and the Government are concerned. One would quite agree with the noble Earl that the two problems he raised, one as to accredited herds and the other as to heat treatment, are interlocked. It is accepted, in that sense, that they will both be taken into consideration in dealing with this matter. I think that I have already answered the two specific questions which have been put to me. In case I have not, I will venture to refer to them again. There has been no epidemic or outbreak of disease in 1946 which has been definitely traced to drinking raw milk. I have already said a word with regard to the supply of plant. Actually we are able to meet our own needs for the present, and the Americans are coming here to help in that direction.

Before I close I should like to say a few words on the heat treatment of milk in general. It is not possible to give any exact figures of the total amount of death and illness caused by milk-borne diseases, but it cannot be doubted that milk is a vehicle for conveying not only tuberculosis but also human infectious diseases, and that apart from deaths, much ill-health and disability are caused by it. It is also beyond question that an efficient system of heat treatment destroys any disease germs which may be present in milk. At the same time, the Health Departments are satisfied that the food value of the milk is not thereby prejudiced. Experiments carried out over a series of years, both on animals and on human beings, have established beyond any reasonable doubt that while heat treatment undoubtedly causes certain small changes in milk, those changes have no significant effect on its value as a food. The Government are satisfied that the extension of the heat treatment of milk is essential, and I assure your Lordships that everything possible will be done to secure the fulfilment of a safe milk policy. With that statement, and in view of the wording of Lord Rothschild's Motion: "To call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the urgent need for compulsory pasteurization of milk in as many parts of the United Kingdom as is practicable," I am prepared to say that the Government will accept the Motion.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, as one of those who for some little time had, perhaps, the main responsibility for milk distribution and for the cleanliness of the milk supplies of the country, perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words this afternoon. I found when I went to the Ministry of Food that two most innocu- ous articles of diet, bread and milk, were those that seemed to generate the most heat. The noble Lord who has just spoken for the Government mentioned his reaction to the new bread. He also said—and this is the only point in his remarks with which I disagree—that there were disputes between us to-day. For my part, I have found a very large measure of agreement in your Lordships' House this afternoon. One thing I do particularly want to say is that I hope that nothing that is said in this House to-day will make anybody take less milk. I was a little alarmed at a quotation which the noble Lord read out, because although it is very regrettable that some people do die from bovine tuberculosis, the number, whatever it may be, is only a tiny fraction of the total number of people who drink milk. If we begin to get the idea into the heads of the population, at these times of food shortage, that milk is a frightful carrier of germs, then the nation will suffer far more from ill-nutrition than we should do in consequence of a few people (regrettable though that is) contracting this complaint.

I believe that one of the best things done during the course of the war at the Ministry of Food was to insist that we must get more milk in this country, and to press the agricultural departments—both the Ministry of Agriculture here and the Department of Agriculture for Scotland—to increase the milk supply. I have always been one of the strongest advocates of the milk-in-schools scheme. I believe it is a most valuable thing for every child of school age to have this glass of milk every day. I do sincerely trust that no alarm or despondency will be communicated to the population and that no idea will grow up that milk is a dreadfully dangerous substance—for indeed it is not. We are, of course, all agreed that we ought to get the best milk that we possibly can, milk free from germs and clean as well. I look upon pasteurization as the worse of two methods. The noble Lord who introduced this Motion, for which we are all obliged, did so in a well-thought-out and, if I may say so, entertaining speech, and he drew some analogy with water. I am going to draw an analogy with water supplies, too. If you find that the village water supply is contaminated the wise thing to do is to go to the source of the supply and try to clear it up, so as to have pure water from the source. If you cannot do that, then it is necessary to go round to every house and say to the people: "You have got to boil your water before you drink it." That is almost exactly the same thing as the pasteurization of milk.

There is not the slightest doubt that if all our dairy herds in this country were T.T., if all our dairies were clean, and all the milk were bottled cleanly on the farms, there should be and would be no pressure to pasteurize a single drop of milk. So the first thing I want to say is that every encouragement should be given to ensure that the dairy-farmers have really clean beasts—tuberculin-tested cows. After all, it is to the advantage of the farmer to have good, healthy cows. These produce not only better milk but more milk than unhealthy beasts. It pays the farmer to have a good herd of healthy cows, and I hope that none of this talk about pasteurization will in any way hamper the work of cleaning up our dairies and our herds. I believe that is the first essential. It is only if and when you fail in that that you have to have recourse to the other remedy, and so, as we have, unfortunately, failed, so far, to complete the cleaning-up process, we have pasteurization of milk to-day. We recognize that a good deal of our milk is not safe without it.

We tried to give encouragement by allowing an extra price of 4d. a gallon for tuberculin-tested milk. I think one of the saddest things is the mixing of first-class pure milk with an inferior article. You find it going on to-day. I found it when, as Minister of Food, I went to one of the stations of the Milk Marketing Board. I there saw some beautiful T.T. milk being bulked in for pasteurization with some other milk that really looked dreadful. When you have a farmer and his cowman, and, it may be, his land girls being very careful to keep themselves, the dairies and the cows clean, and then you bulk the clean milk which they produce in this fashion, I think it is a most dreadful thing to do. Now this happened in Aberdeen. When I saw this being done, I asked the reason, and the reply I got was: "No one here will pay the extra 4d. a gallon," although I do not know whether that was the true reason or not.

I am glad that the Government are continuing the policy which was set out in the White Paper of 1943. I was not Minister of Food at that time but it was followed when I was Minister. I do not think the noble Lord who initiated this debate meant that he would pasteurize the tuberculin-tested milk as well. He nods his head against it, and I believe it would be quite wrong to do that. But where you cannot get clean milk pasteurization is no doubt very necessary in a very large number of cases. I hope we shall go on giving the maximum encouragement to the clean herd and shall not by pasteurization let our intentions be diverted from that which is the major problem. I hope nothing which is said will discourage anybody from drinking as much milk as they can.

4.11 p.m.


My Lords, the merits or demerits of pasteurization seem to excite a certain amount of controversy, but I feel very strongly with the noble Lord who has just sat down and the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, that we should aim at cleaning up our herds and the conditions under which milk is produced. I feel strongly that pasteurization and similar processes are merely palliatives until we can reach the ideal conditions, when we have eliminated cattle diseases as hydrophobia was stamped out in the 'nineties, and when milk is all produced in hygienic conditions. That is the only target we should aim at. Other countries, notably the United States and Finland, are far ahead of us and it is time we endeavoured to catch up and establish a lead in an industry to which our country is particularly suited. The niggardliness of successive Governments in their encouragement of the veterinary profession and veterinary research has been quite appalling and no Party can escape blame. The noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, if I may have his attention for one moment, spoke very feelingly on this subject in the debate on April II last year, and one hopes that now he is in a position of greater authority he will bring all his influence to bear on the Government Departments concerned—not forgetting the Treasury. I have not had much opportunity of studying the Budget that was handed out yesterday but perhaps the noble Viscount will be able to tell us of any provisions that there may be for the encouragement of research.

It is not too much to say that in this matter no less than the health of the nation is at stake. The merits of pasteurization have been shouted from the house tops. It is a fact that many genuinely believe that this parboiled milk has enormous merits and no defects; and there is no doubt that vested interests are very powerful. No one can deny that pasteurization does destroy dangerous organisms, and for that reason it has great value. But it is a pity to gloze over the defects. There is no doubt that the process discolours milk and then imparts a taste which is noticeable to any but a chain cigarette smoker. It is nauseating to domestic animals and goes putrid after a time, instead of going sour, and in this state is useless for any purpose. It has other defects which I will go into later.

I was a little surprised when in the debate of a year ago the noble Lord, Lord Moran, indicated that the controversy in respect of pasteurized milk was moribund. Perhaps to-day's debate indicates the contrary. In the same debate the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, speaking for the Ministry of Health, used these words: The Ministry of Health are satisfied, after most careful inquiry, that heat treatment properly carried out destroys germs without materially affecting the nutritive quality of the milk. Everything depends on that word "materially." It seems to me astonishing that eminent and responsible scientists can conduct experiments, conduct research and publish results of considerable importance which are promptly pigeonedholed and forgotten.

The noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, mentioned experiments at Reading University, and I would remind your Lordships of experiments by Messrs. Mattick and Golding into the nutritive properties of pasteurized milk, the results of which were published in the Lancet in 1931. I will not weary your Lordships with details, but it was conclusively proved that a diet of pasteurized milk reduced the fertility of rats by 52 per cent. Further research was described in the Lancet in 1936 when exactly the same results were confirmed. This fact seems to have escaped the notice of prominent members of the medical profession and the Ministry of Health. I do not know all the reasons why pasteurized milk should have pro- duced such results, but, in spite of what Lord Rothschild said, it is true to say that Dame Nature does exact retribution if her laws are violated. And it is a fact which is being brought home to any who have had experience of artificial insemination for cattle. In regard to the experiments which I have mentioned I do not suggest that all results achieved from experiments on animals necessarily apply to human beings, but it is not unreasonable to assume that a diet so deleterious to animals may not be without its disadvantages to the human race. I do not want to labour the point but since thermal action does destroy good qualities as well as bad, in milk, and certainly destroys vitamin C, I do suggest that if Governments and local authorities are to enforce pasteurization they should at the same time make known how to compensate for the depreciated value of milk, by fruit juice, if obtainable, or by other means.

I would like to turn to a possible alternative which I hope the Government will consider. The noble Viscount the Leader of the House will recollect that when he was a member of the Medical Research Committee a report was rendered to him and his colleagues in 1920 in regard to the treatment of milk by electricity. The Report shows the result of some years of work by Professor Martin Beattie, Professor of Bacteriology, and Dr. Lewis, lecturer in the same subject, both of Liverpool University. I gather that the Committee, influenced to some extent by the views of the late Sir Oliver Lodge, supported the practical results but were not convinced that electricity acted on the bactericidal side otherwise than as a thermal agent. But that is not the end of the story. There was further research under the same heading and the results were published in 1925. These proved conclusively that electricity played the major part in the slaughter of the tubercle bacillus and did so at a temperature considerably below that considered requisite for pasteurization. Furthermore, this process did not discolour milk or give it any unpleasant taste.

I suggest that research is required into the nutritive qualities of milk that has been treated by electricity, and I do urge the Government to institute research on these lines. If the results are satisfactory then the method could easily be developed on every dairy farm where electricity is available. The equipment is not costly and, unlike the pasteurization process, milk can be treated electrically in comparatively small quantities. The elimination of cost of transport to factories means cheaper milk to the consumer. There are advantages in treating milk otherwise than in great bulk. Some-times things do go wrong. Milk can be infected after pasteurization. One of the worst outbreaks of typhoid there has ever been, when there were five thousand cases and 414 deaths, originated from a typhoid carrier handling pasteurized milk in a factory. Such a danger is lessened, I suggest, if smaller quantities are handled by one concern. It is quite true that at present there are many farms which have not got electricity. One hopes that before long electricity will be developed throughout the country.

If I may briefly summarize, I would urge the Government first of all to treat the veterinary profession very generously; secondly, to inquire further into the nutritive properties of pasteurized milk; and, thirdly, to institute research into the nutritive value of milk electrically treated and the possibility of the development of that process if results are satisfactory.

4.21 p.m.


My Lords, I only rise to make two observations. The noble Lord who has just spoken need have no apprehension that, so far as trained men are available,. which is the limiting factor in all these matters, the Government will be backward in encouraging research in whatever direction it may be required. This country is exceedingly short of the kind of people who are competent to carry that out, in all directions. I do not wish to controvert the general case which has been put up and supported on all sides this afternoon. The question now is accepted as proved. I rise particularly to reinforce the points which the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, made, which I think were of first-rate importance. We should be very careful to recognize that in any of our discussions we should not say or do anything which will prejudice the increased consumption of milk, which is very badly needed by a large section of the population. I do not think for a moment that there need be any apprehension that we shall do so. As a matter of fact, it has been pointed out that no less than 70 per cent. of the milk consumed by the population is already treated. Therefore there need be no apprehension on that account. The extension of the scheme suggested by my noble friend is, I think, accepted as necessary by men of all Parties.

I wanted to support the other point made by the noble Lord opposite. We recognize to the full the importance of what he and others have urged, and are pressing on as vigorously as we possibly can with the improvement of our herds. That is of course a governing essential. I quite agree with him when he says that the scope for improvement is immense. Anyone who was intimately connected with the war agricultural executive committees during the war was painfully made aware of what is needed, and at the same time aware of the immense possibility of improvement. I believe myself that the county executive committees, which are continuing the good work of improving our herds begun during the war, are meeting wish a very ready response from the farmers. The improvement to which we can confidently look forward will be, I am sure, very great. A number of noble Lords have spoken of the need for the improvement of conditions on many of our [arms. Vast numbers of our farms have a most inadequate water supply. Multitudes of them have none at all. Many of them have no electricity. I am myself rather painfully aware, particularly with regard to smaller farms in some parts of the country, that it is not an easy matter to find a well-equipped and properly constructed cowshed. We have got an immense expenditure in front of us in effecting improvements in our farm buildings, which are an essential concomitant of the improvement of our herds thereby making it easier to produce clean milk. I have only risen to reinforce those two points which I was very glad the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, made.

I think my noble friend Lord Ammon is going to deal with a technical point in connexion with the Motion.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I am willing to meet everybody in accepting the Resolution which the noble Viscount has submitted, but there is a technical difficulty. I think I had better read this. While His Majesty's Government are, as I have already indicated, quite prepared to accept the principle embodied in my noble friend's Motion, I am in some difficulty in doing so, as the noble Lord asks for Papers, and there are really no fresh Papers which His Majesty's Government can lay. May I suggest to him, therefore, and to the House generally, that he should rest content with the assurance I have given to him in the House of the Government's support for the cause which he ha: urged so eloquently this afternoon, and withdraw his Motion for Papers?


My Lords, I am very grateful to the Government for accepting the principle of my Motion and to the other noble Lords who have contributed to this very interesting debate. May I express the hope that the pressure of legislation will not prevent the implementation of the principle of my Motion in the not too distant future? I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.