asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that long delays in reaching final financial settlements with individual milling companies under the flour milling control scheme operating between his Department, the British Millers Mutual Pool Limited and the individual millers, are preventing companies from finally closing their accounts for periods covering the last 10 years; and if he will review the system employed to enable settlements to be reached more expeditiously.
§ Mr. Webb
Under the terms of the Flour Millers' Remuneration Agreement 51W it is not possible to reach, in respect of any control year, a final financial settlement with the British Millers Mutual Pool Ltd., covering all the millers who are parties to the agreement, until provisional settlements have been made with every miller individually, thus enabling the Ministry to establish on a global basis (a) the total standard average production, (b) the total standard average profit, and (c) the total actual production of the control year in question.
In addition, from the fourth control year, the total excess production over the total standard average production has to be ascertained. These total production and profit figures may further be affected by appeals to the tribunal set up under the agreement. A final financial settlement for any one year is not practicable until all these matters have been resolved, and the speed with which this can be done depends to a large extent on the speed with which the millers themselves can furnish the information still required; there is thus no short cut.
The returns of individual millers are examined and a provisional settlement reached reasonably quickly after the returns are received by the Ministry, and the millers usually complete their Financial Accounts by incorporating these provisional settlements. It is unlikely that any major adjustments will be necessary, save in very exceptional circumstances.
Provisional settlements have been reached in practically all cases for the first three control years and there are relatively few cases not yet settled for the next three control years. There is now little delay in making these provisional settlements except where there is a dispute on items in the returns; every attempt is made to reconcile differences as soon as possible.