Milk Marketing Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

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Photo of Mr Robin Corbett Mr Robin Corbett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has any plans to change the powers and duties of the Milk Marketing Board.

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) on 5th May.—[Vol. 910, c. 397–98.]

Photo of Mr Robin Corbett Mr Robin Corbett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Will my hon. Friend confirm that other people—namely, the Common Market—have intent in that direction? Will he give an undertaking of the Government's total commitment to retain a statutory milk marketing scheme for all parts of the United Kingdom, and confirm that at the end of the argument the Government will, if need be, use their much-vaunted veto to stop the dismantling of the milk marketing scheme?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I shall bear my hon. Friend's views in mind. There is a great deal of pride in the way in which our Milk Marketing Board and the other boards carry out their functions. Membership of the Community necessitates changes in marketing arrangements for a number of commodities. Our aim is to maintain the functions of the marketing boards, including the MMB, which are essential to the orderly marketing of the products concerned.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Melton

Is the Minister aware that the answer we wanted him to give was "No, Sir"?

Photo of Mr Hamish Watt Mr Hamish Watt , Banffshire

Is the Minister aware that our milk marketing boards have had a record second to none, stretching back over 44 successful years? Will he impress on his EEC partners that if they could do as good a selling job as the milk marketing hoards of Britain have done there would be no butter or skimmed milk mountains in Europe today?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

There is an element of truth in what the hon. Gentleman says. But I wonder what would happen to those boards in the event of the hon. Member's kind of devolution.

Photo of Mr Roderick MacFarquhar Mr Roderick MacFarquhar , Belper

Does my hon. Friend accept that even those of us on the Labour Benches who are commonly referred to as Euro-fanatics do not believe that everything in the common agricultural policy is right, and that we too throw our weight behind the determination which I hope exists in my hon. Friend's breast, concealed though that determination may be, to preserve the Milk Marketing Board and persuade our partners to adopt something similar?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

My right hon. Friend has given assurances on this matter. We believe that the maintenance of our market and of the pattern of distribution enables the milk boards to maintain a high average return to producers consistent with reasonable consumer prices. We shall bear these points in mind.