asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the fact that it is the policy of milk distributors to run down milk bottles and replace them with cartons and of his Depertment's permission for 1p extra to be charged for cartons, and that this is a price imposition on all consumers dependent only on individual suppliers in their neighbourhood, what action he proposes to take.
Over the past decade there has been a continuing tendency for dairies to supply milk to shops in non-returnable containers rather than returnable glass bottles, largely because of heavy losses of the latter. When dairies have taken the commercial decision to use non-returnable containers for the shop trade, it has been the policy of successive Governments not to oppose the addition of a reasonable charge for the non-returnable package compared with the lower cost of returnable glass bottles on the delivery rounds. A close watch is, however, kept by my Department on such charges to ensure that they are not excessive. The results of our latest investigations confirm that charges of up to 1p a pint can be justified. More than 90 per cent. of households in England and Wales, however, have milk delivered to the doorstep at the controlled maximum retail price.