Milk (Doorstep Deliveries)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Wandsworth Battersea South 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures Her Majesty's Government have taken since his statement of 9 February to secure the future of doorstep deliveries of milk.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I believe that the doorstep delivery of milk is valued by the consumer and by the industry, and will have an enduring role in milk distribution. As regards the UHT milk judgment, my Department is having urgent discussions with the Commission about the health and hygiene safeguards that must be applied to any imports of UHT milk from other member states.

Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Wandsworth Battersea South

Does the Minister agree that there is widespread concern about the possible threat to doorstep milk delivery? Will he give an undertaking that he will not be forced to concede on that issue, no matter what the pressure is from Brussels or how enticingly it is wrapped up in a package deal?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I give an absolute assurance. I think that I can claim that in the past four years we have done everything in our power to assist and encourage the doorstep delivery service. The high liquid milk consumption in this country is an advantage not only to the British work force, customer and houswife, but to Europe. If its liquid milk consumption were as high as ours, there would be no milk surplus problem.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the milkman, like the postman, is the housewife's early morning friend, and that on that matter neither she nor we want to go continental?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

It is true that in this country not only is there a highly efficient system for delivering fresh milk of high quality to every doorstep every day, but that many elderly and handicapped people receive that important social service.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris , Aberavon

Will the Minister accept my endorsement of his stance on milk towards the French Minister of Agriculture? Will he press for an inquiry into the low consumption of liquid milk on the continent and strenuously object to the intrusion of Irish milk producers into the affairs of the Milk Marketing Board?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. At the last meeting of European Ministers the French Minister suggested that there should be an examination of the activities of the Milk Marketing Board. I am glad to say that, when I suggested the urgency of examining why liquid milk consumption in France was drastically lower than in Britain, that suggestion was accepted by the Commission.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

Does the Minister agree that any threat to doorstep milk deliveries would be a threat not merely to the British consumer but to an industry employing about 60,000 to 70,000 people and to the sales of milk by British producers?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. That is why I intend to see that no harm is done to the doorstep distribution system.