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Milk Policy

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1942

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The White Paper on the Government's milk policy will be available in the Vote Office to-day. With the permission of the House, I would like to make a short explanatory statement on this subject now.

It is essential to effect maximum economies in the man-power and transport used in milk distribution. To meet these requirements and to ensure that milk will be available to meet the requirements of the National Milk Scheme certain changes in the marketing of milk have been decided upon. All contracts between individual producers and purchasers of milk will be terminated on the 30th September, 1942. Thereafter the Milk Marketing Board will purchase milk from producers and the Ministry of Food will purchase the milk from the Board for simultaneous resale to distributors and manufacturers. Measures will be taken to rationalise the collection and transport of milk in order to eliminate overlapping collections and cross-hauls. A new price structure to meet the costs of distribution is being prepared on the basis of a recent costings investigation. A scheme for testing the keeping quality of milk will be introduced forthwith.

Plans are also being made for the rationalisation of retail distribution. All dairymen serving urban localities with a population of over 10,000 will be constituted into war-time associations which will prepare schemes of rationalisation suited to local requirements. On condition that such schemes are prepared my Department will arrange that, except in special individual cases, consumers in the localities concerned shall no longer have the right to transfer their registration for milk to another dairyman. Where distributors themselves fail to produce a scheme the Ministry of Food will itself introduce its own scheme after considering local circumstances. The White Paper has been prepared after full consultation with all sections of the milk industry, and I am glad to be able to say that the principles of the scheme have been, accepted by all parties.

Does this mean that the Milk Marketing Board will make contracts with the producers in future, or will they still allow the producers to make contracts themselves, subject to the approval of the Milk Marketing Board?

All contracts which hitherto have been between individual distributors and producers will come to an end on 30th September.

Will this affect the scheme operating on the North-East coast, where milk is daily transported from Newcastle to Middlesbrough, although there is a surplus in Middlesbrough? Will this do away with that silly scheme?

The movement of milk, which is of greater urgency in periods of shortage, will be entirely under the control of the Ministry, and it will be moved in accordance with the requirements of the various districts.

In view of this new scheme of Government control of the milk industry, is the Minister going to insist that the milk shall be pasteurised, or at least reach a standard purity?

If the hon. Lady will look at the White Paper, she will see what we are proposing to do.