HC Deb 11 May 1939 vol 347 cc694-5W
Sir R. Wells

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that a milk-producer retailer, who was recently penalised by the Milk Marketing Board for failure to observe the Board's rules, alleged that the information upon which the Board based their case was derived from confidential returns supplied by the farmer concerned to the Ministry; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. Ramsbotham

I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend is aware of this allegation and he welcomes this opportunity of stating that after exhaustive inquiries he is entirely satisfied that there has been no disclosure to the Milk Marketing Board of information derived from any confidential returns rendered to his Department.

The provisions of the Agricultural Returns Act, 1925, require that no information comprised in returns rendered under that Act shall be disclosed, except with the written consent of the occupier concerned, and this requirement is strictly observed. The statutory annual return made each June under the Agricultural Returns Act and the voluntary returns supplied to the Ministry from time to time are treated as being entirely confidential and are used only for statistical purposes, or for such other purposes as have been authorised by subsequent legislation.