HC Deb 27 July 1937 vol 326 cc2887-9W
Dr. Peters

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the grave position of the wholesale milk traders by reason of the operation of Section 59a of the Milk Marketing Scheme, as amended by the Milk Marketing Scheme (Amendment) Order, 1936, and, in particular, to sub-section (3) of the said section, which in effect provides for the confiscation of manufacturing and collecting depots without compensation, upon even a change in the policy of the board; and whether he take steps to secure the amendment of this section by giving wholesale milk traders the right to claim compensation upon the withdrawal of licences on the closing down of their businesses resulting upon any such change in the policy of the board?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

The approval of the Milk Marketing Board of a depot or factory under paragraph 59a of the Milk Marketing Scheme is not a permit to manufacture milk products but is an approval for the purpose of the allowance of reduced prices, or rebates off or deduction from the prices of milk purchased under contracts made in pursuance of the Scheme and used for manufacturing milk products.

The effect of paragraph 59a is that, where the board have previously approved collecting depots and factory premises for these purposes they shall not withdraw their approval or vary the conditions of approval except upon certain specified grounds. One of the grounds on which the board may withdraw their approval is that a change in the policy of the board gives good grounds for such withdrawal, but the Scheme also provides that if there is disagreement between the board and the person to whom approval was granted as to whether there has been a change in policy, and if so whether the change gives the board good grounds for withdrawing approval, the question may be referred to arbitration. Moreover, the provisions of Section 9 of the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1931, are available to any depot owner or factory proprietor who has a complaint as to the operation of the Scheme. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. I am aware that in present circumstances the withdrawal of approval of premises may make it uneconomic to continue the manufacture of milk products therein, but it has to be remembered that the board are selling milk for manufacture at prices which, after deducting the manufacturing rebate, are very considerably below cost of production.

Mr. David Adams

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that under the Milk Marketing Board regulations, if a purchaser receives milk proved upon an analyst's certificate to be deficient, unless each of three check samples taken upon three consecutive days shows deficiency, that purchaser has no redress; and whether he proposes to amend the regulations to give to buyers the protection they require?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I assume that the hon. Member refers to the contract prescribed by the Milk Marketing Board for the sale of milk by wholesale during the year ending on 30th September next. Clause 9 of this contract provides that the vendor warrants the milk to be pure new milk, sweet, clean and marketable with all its cream and without the addition of any preservative; that the purchaser may reject any consignment which is unmarketable; and that the contract may be terminated in the circumstances set out in the hon. Member's question. Moreover, the contract expressly provides that the purchaser's rights and remedies under this clause are in addition to and without prejudice to the rights and remedies conferred on him by common law or statute in the case of a breach or non-observance by the vendor of the agreement. I do not think, therefore, that it is correct to say that unless an analyst's certificate, followed by three check samples, show the milk to be deficient, the purchaser has no redress. In any case, my right hon. Friend has no power to intervene.