§ 2.38 p.m.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government if they are now in a position to make an announcement on milk policy.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON)
My Lords, the Government have decided that further measures are necessary to improve the quality of the milk supply. My right honourable friends, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Food attach the greatest importance to the production of clean and germ-free milk. On the production side considerable progress has been made in improving the quality and cleanliness of milk by periodical veterinary inspections, by the Voluntary Attested Herds scheme, and by the milk testing schemes. Further progress will result from improvements now being undertaken in water supply, equipment and buildings. Increasing emphasis will in future be placed on production methods and the results of milk testing. Discussions will shortly take place with the interests concerned on an intensive drive for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis and other animal diseases on the lines laid down in the Agriculture Act, 1937.
This policy will take some time to produce results over the whole field of milk supply and cannot, in any case, remove all danger of milk-borne disease. It has therefore been decided to press on with the 1149 heat treatment of milk. Groups of large urban areas, each forming a homogeneous whole, will be specified as areas within which the only milk which will be permitted be sold to the public will be heat-treated milk or T.T. milk sold as such. Each area will be specified on an appointed day which will be fixed by the Minister of Food in consultation with the other Ministers concerned, having regard to the special circumstances of the area. Accredited milk (standard milk in Scotland) sold to the public as such and coming from a single herd will be exempted from the requirement to heat-treat it for a period of five years from the date when the new powers come into operation. To reduce the risk of contamination after heat treatment, the heat treatment and bottling of milk will be carried out in the same dairy premises, and all heat-treated milk, like T.T. milk, will be sold in closed containers. This policy will be applied gradually to urban areas throughout the whole country and then, so far as practicable, to rural areas. This will require legislation which it is proposed to introduce next Session.