§ Mr. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement about the level of milk prices in Scotland.
§ Mr. Younger
I propose shortly to lay an order which will raise the maximum boards' first-hand selling price from its current level of 19p/litre to 21p/litre. The ex-dairy price of 124p/gallon in Scotland will remain unchanged. The increase will have effect from 1 May.
As I indicated in my reply of 16 April 1981 to my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay)—[Vol. 3, c. 228–9]—the Government have withdrawn control from the maximum retail, doorstep delivered price of milk in Scotland. Since then, we have set only a maximum ex-dairy price and a maximum level for the board's first-hand selling price for mi for liquid use. In my reply of 29 March 1982 to my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock) — [Vol. 21, c. 48.], I indicated that the maximum boards' first-hand selling price control should thenceforth be regarded as a true maximum within which the parties directly concerned in the operation of the market should negotiate an actual appropriate price in the light of commercial realities.
It is now clear that in order to enable the parties directly concerned sufficient freedom to negotiate actual prices in the light of commercial circumstances, an increase in the maximum boards' first-hand selling price is required. I remain of the view that the actual prices in Scotland are a matter for the joint committees in the respective milk marketing board areas.
I propose in the order that the maximum prices will apply until 31 December 1983. This will indicate to all parties concerned that the Government will review the appropriate levels by that date to ensure that they remain true maxima.