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Milk and Dairy Produce Supply (Local Authorities).

– in the House of Commons on 9th March 1926.

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Mr. BECKETT:

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable local authorities to produce and supply milk and dairy produce.

This Bill is one of a series of Bills introduced by private Members, mainly on this side of the House, in order to deal with cases where there are flagrant instances of profiteering, monopolies, combines, or difficulties put in the way of the supply of articles that are essentially necessary to the poorer classes in this country. I make no apology for moving the introduction of the Bill this afternoon, and I hope it will commend itself to at any rate a number of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, because the reasons that have led to my bringing it forward are mainly to be found in the evidence which the Front Bench on the opposite side have been good enough to secure for us through the Food Council which they set up. Like most other Members of the House, I have been through the Reports of the Food Council very carefully, and I find, from the last interim Report, that there appears to be no doubt whatever in the minds of the Food Council—who are by no means a biased party organisation—that there is very considerable false dealing in the supply of milk and dairy produce to the people of this country. The revelations of the mean methods adopted in order to supply milk in quantities other than those for which the people have paid are very striking, and, in addition to that, we find in the first Report of the Food Council—

Lieut. - Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL:

On a point of Order. Is this Notice of Motion in order? It says: Bill to enable local authorities to produce and supply milk and dairy produce. I venture to submit that no local authority produces milk; it is the cows that produce milk.

Mr. BECKETT:

When we see the shareholders and directors of dairy monopolies taking the dividends, they do not say that the cows have produced the milk. We find in the first Report of the Food Council that, although the prices of all foodstuffs have gone up in great proportion, the prices of milk, butter, and eggs, which are the chief products on dairy farms, show that the friends of the hon. and gallant Gentleman have been milking the public if not the cows. We find that eggs have actually gone up 172 per cent. above the price in July, 1914, milk 90 per cent. and butter 80 per cent., and that in spite of the fact that the increase in the cost of living when the Food Commission gave these figures was only up 74 per cent. I hope that hon. Members will give this subject particular consideration, because of the tremendous importance of these three staple items of diet. Practically every medical authority in the country will tell you that milk, butter and eggs are the food from which the vitamines come which create brains. There is a great deal of difference among medical authorities on the hereditary principle with regard to intelligence, but there is no difference of opinion as to the fact that, however many brains a child may be born with—and there are just as many brains given to children in slums as to children in other places—if it be deprived all through its younger life of an ample supply of dairy produce, which supplies the vitamines for the brain and other parts of the human organism, then it is impossible for that child to grow up an intelligent and useful citizen of the Empire. [Interruption.] Whenever Bills enabling local authorities to supply necessities of this kind are introduced we are always—

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Middlesbrough East

On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is going to continue to be impossible for Members sitting quite near a speaker who is speaking very plainly to hear what is being said owing to the rude interruptions of hon. Members opposite?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I am afraid that the conversation was general, but I must ask hon. Members to allow the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Beckett) to proceed with his speech without further interruption.

Mr. ERSKINE:

Is it not a fact that the only rude person was the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) herself?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I cannot say it is rude to describe interruptions as "rude."

Mr. BECKETT:

Whenever we introduce Bills giving a municipality permissive power—not forcing them—to deal with flagrant profiteering in any article of necessity we are always opposed by some hon. Gentleman on the other side, who says, "Yes, but the trouble is that municipal trading always means losing money, and that always means an added burden on the rates." Hon. Members will not be able to say so this time, because not only have you had municipal trading—

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

Will the hon. Member please address his remarks to me, and not to hon. Members opposite.

Mr. BECKETT:

Not only have you had municipal trading in milk in a number of instances in this country without a single loss, but you have actually at the present time a report issued by the municipality of Haverfordwest through their Town Clerk telling us that they have been able, through their municipal depot, to supply milk at a price lower than that at which it is sold in surrounding districts, and moreover have been able to devote profits from that municipal milk depot towards the relief of the rates. They also tell us that are paying the producers of milk more for their produce than the retail distributors in the trade. When the present Minister of Health was Lord Mayor of Birmingham he caused a special Committee to go into the question of the municipality supplying milk and dairy produce. He appointed the Town Clerk, the Borough Treasurer, and other highly skilled persons to go into the matter, and they issued a report that it should be adopted, and, if it had not been for a particular stunt whereby the Lord Mayor was taken away in order to come to London, there is no doubt that it would have been carried into operation.

I want to point out this one fact. The majority of the municipalities in this country are to a great extent controlled by people who belong to the party of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and there is no fear of them going into municipal trading unless it is strictly necessary in the interests of their people. I suggest that it is a very peculiar thing that what I may term the big interests who are represented in this House should refuse to give these powers to municipalities. It must only be because they are afraid that their own party in the country will adopt, measures put forward by the Socialist party in the House of Commons in order to relieve themselves from exploitation by their own people. I suggest that this question of the supply of milk and dairy produce is a very important one, and I ask the House to give this Bill a First Reading in order that we may put our proposals down in black and white for the consideration of the House and in order that they may have a much fairer hearing and more consideration than I have been able to obtain this afternoon.

Photo of Captain Robert Gee Captain Robert Gee , Bosworth

I rise to object to this Bill. The hon. Member finished his speech by talking of big interests. As far as I am concerned, I am connected with no big interests other than the Division which I have the honour to represent. The hon. Member commenced his speech by talking of the real necessity for introducing this Bill owing to the monopolies, and yet the Bill itself will only produce another monopoly, just exactly the same as the local councils have produced and own the monopoly of the tramways. It would only be another instance of them entering into competition with a private individual who would have to stand his own losses, whereas the losses of the milk producing council, owing to mismanagement and lack of business methods, would have to be borne by the rates and paid for by its rivals in the industry. I am afraid that this Bill, like several Bills that have been introduced by Members on all sides of the House, has only been produced to die at birth, and I, for one, object to so much time of the House being taken up by private Members' Measures and Motions, because, when all is said and done, I beg leave to say that we were sent here to represent the whole country, and not one particular part or our own particular fads and fancies.

The hon. Member spoke about borough councils already selling milk. I agree, but I think, if he will take as much time as I have taken to go into this question, he will find that very few of those Councils who sell milk keep cows. They buy the milk and retail it, and it would only be another instance—I do not wish to use offensive terms—of them gaining experience in private enterprise at the municipal expense. The last point I wish to raise is this: If this thing be really necessary and if the desire of the hon. Member behind this Bill is really to produce a supply of good milk and fresh wholesome butter and food for the poor classes of this country, why does he not leave well alone, and, instead of bringing in this Measure, foster the spirit of dairy farming on a business scale among the co-operative societies? As a matter of fact, that is the one example where they have genuinely tried and tried with most disastrous financial results

Question put, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable local authorities to produce and supply milk and dairy produce.

The House divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 222.

Division No. 70.]AYES[4.12 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonRobinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)Rose, Frank H.
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHaslam, Henry C.Saklatvala, Shapurji
Astor, ViscountessHayday, ArthurScrymgeour, E.
Attlee, Clement RichardHayes, John HenryShaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Baker, WalterHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Henderson, T. (Glasgow)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Barnes, A.Hills, Major John WallerShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Barr, J.Hirst, G. H.Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Batey, JosephHirst, W. (Bradford, South)Sitch, Charles H.
Boothby, R. J. G.Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Briggs, J. HaroldJenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Broad, F. A.John, William (Rhondda, West)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Bromfield, WilliamJones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)Snell, Harry
Buchanan, G.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Buxton, Rt. Hon. NoelJones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Cape, ThomasKelly, W. T.Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles
Clowes, S.Kennedy, T.Stamford, T. W.
Cluse, W. S.Kenyon, BarnetStephen, Campbell
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lansbury, GeorgeTaylor, R. A.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Lawson, John JamesThomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)
Compton, JosephLee, F.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Connolly, MLindley, F. W.Thurtle, E.
Cove, W. GLowth, T.Tinker, John Joseph
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)Lunn, WilliamTrevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Dalton, HughMacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)Viant, S. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)MacLaren, AndrewWallhead, Richard C
Day, Colonel HarryMarch, S.Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Dennison, R.Maxton, JamesWarne, G. H.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)Mantague, FrederickWatts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Fenby, T. D.Morris, R. H.Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Gibbins, JosephMorrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Gillett, George M.Naylor, T. E.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Oliver, George HaroldWilkinson, Ellen C.
Gosling, HarryPalin, John HenryWilliams, David (Swansea, East)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Win. (Edin., Cent.)Paling, WWilliams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Greenall, T.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Groves, T.Ponsonby, ArthurWindsor, Walter
Grundy, T. W.Potts, John S.Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Purcell, A. A.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Riley, BenMr. Beckett and Mr. Hardie.
Harris, Percy A.Robert, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
NOES.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelCazalet, Captain Victor A.Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)Everard, W. Lindsay
Albery, Irving JamesChapman, Sir S.Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Christie, J. AFanshawe, Commander G. D.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerFermoy, Lord
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.Churchman, Sir Arthur C.Finburgh, S.
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)Cobb, Sir CyrilFord, Sir P. J.
Atholl, Duchess ofCockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Balniel, LordCohen, Major J. BrunelForrest, W.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Cooper, A. DuffFremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Barnston, Major Sir HarryCope, Major WilliamGanzoni, Sir John
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.Couper, J. B.Gates, Percy
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
Berry, Sir GeorgeCraig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)Gower, Sir Robert
Betterton, Henry B.Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryGrace, John
Blades, Sir George RowlandCroft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Grant, J. A.
Blundell, F. N.Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)Greene, W. P. Crawford
Brassey, Sir LeonardCunliffe, Sir HerbertGretton, Colonel John
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveCurzon, Captain ViscountGuinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeDalkeith, Earl ofGunston, Captain D. W.
Brittain, Sir HarryDavidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)Hacking, Captain Douglas H.
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Davies, Dr. VernonHall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)Hammersley, S. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)Dawson, Sir PhilipHanbury, C.
Buckingham, Sir H.Eden, Captain AnthonyHarmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
Bullock, Captain M.Edmondson, Major A. J.Harrison, G. J. C.
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir AlanEdwards, John H. (Accrington)Hartington, Marquess of
Burman, J. B.Elveden, ViscountHarvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Burton, Colonel H. W.England, Colonel A.Haslam, Henry C.
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardErskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Erskine, James Malcolm MonteithHennessy, Major J. R. G.
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)
Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Hilton, CecilMoore, Sir Newton J.Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardMorrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)Smithers, Waldron
Holland, Sir ArthurMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur CliveSpender-Clay, Colonel H.
Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Murchison, C. K.Sprot, Sir Alexander
Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Hopkins, J. W. W.Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir HerbertStott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Howard, Captain Hon. DonaldNuttall, EllisStrickland, Sir Gerald
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Oakley, T.Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Huntingfield, LordPenny, Frederick GeorgeSueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Hurd, Percy A.Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Perkins, Colonel E. K.Templeton, W. P.
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Jacob, A. E.Pielou, D. P.Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Power, Sir John CecilTinne, J. A.
Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamPownall, Lieut.-Colonel AsshetonTryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)Price, Major C. W. M.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementRamsden, E.Wallace, Captain D. E.
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.Rawson, Sir Alfred CooperWard, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)Rees, Sir BeddoeWarner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)Wells, S. R.
Loder, J. de V.Reid, D. D. (County Down)Wheler, Major sir Granville C. H.
Looker, Herbert WilliamRemnant, Sir JamesWilliams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh VereRice, Sir FrederickWilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanRichardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Lumley, L. R.Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)Winby, Colonel L. P.
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
MacIntyre, IanRuggles-Brise, Major E. A.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
McLean, Major A.Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)Wise, Sir Fredric
Macmillan Captain H.Salmon, Major I.Womersley, W. J.
Macquisten, F. A.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
MacRobert, Alexander M.Sandeman, A. StewartWood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Malone, Major P. B.Sanders, Sir Robert A.Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Manningham-Buller, Sir MervynSanderson, Sir FrankYerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Margesson, Captain D.Savery, S. S.
Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)Sheffield, Sir BerkeleyCaptain Gee and Major MacAndrew.