asked the Food Controller whether the prices fixed by the Government have had the effect of restricting the consumption of milk; whether a substantial quantity of the milk produced fails for this reason to reach the small consumer; whether, in view of the need of having adequate supplies available for infants, he will state the number of local authorities who have availed themselves of the powers given under the Maternity and Child Welfare Act to provide milk under cost price; and if he will make a full statement on the whole subject to the House before the House rises?
The present prices of milk do not appear to have restricted its consumption to any appreciable extent except in the exporting areas. In London there is a decrease of 1.2 per cent., but in the North of England the consumption has risen. Three hundred and five local authorities in England and Wales are providing milk under cost price, including practically all the Metropolitan and county borough councils, a considerable proportion of the county councils, and the councils of the larger urban areas. With the approval of the Minister of Health, the Food Controller has issued the Milk (Mothers and Children) Order, 1919, under which local authorities in England and Wales are empowered to provide milk at reduced prices, or free of charge, in respect of children under five years of age and expectant and nursing mothers without restricting the cheap supply to necessitous cases. He proposes to issue a similar Order for Scotland.
Can the hon. Member say whether the House may feel confident that in spite of the non-restriction of the supply of milk, the poorer classes are still getting their supply, and that it is not merely that the richer classes are paying more and the poorer classes getting loss?
Will the hon. Member convey to the Minister of Food the information that in Nottingham and district The prices fixed by the Food Controller have reduced the quantity supplied to the poorer people by 50 per cent. to 60 per cent., and that the milk is now being returned to the farmers in order to be made into cheese, and will he ask the Food Controller whether he cannot see his way where the local farmers and the local committee are agreed that a lower price is just, he will allow such committee to come to terms with the local farmers?
I would ask my hon. Friend to represent to the Food Controller the fact that the town of Stornoway used to get about a hundred gallons of milk daily from the mainland, but that now, owing to the reduction in the steamer service, it can only get the milk three times a week, and has to do with half the supply?
Seeing the urgency of the question, would it be possible for the Food Controller to make a statement before the House rises to-day, as there are so many points about it on which we have no information?
I do not think that it is possible. I know of my own knowledge how much he did try to meet this difficulty. I shall myself call attention to the statement made below the Gangway and see if it is possible to do anything.