Labour plea for doorstep pinta

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Doorstep deliveries of milk have dropped to less than half their 1982 level, Labour said yesterday as it launched a campaign to save the British daily pint.

Gavin Strang, the shadow Agriculture Minister, said only 39 per cent of households now had milk delivered every day, compared with 86 per cent in 1982. Sales were dropping at a rate of around five per cent per year, he said.

The National Dairymen's Association and the National Pensioners Convention have collected thousands of signatures for a petition against the decline, which was presented in the House of Commons last night. The Dairy Industry Federation has been working to identify ways of supporting the industry through improved marketing and information-gathering.

Mr Strang said that the decline had been accelerated by the deregulation of the milk industry in November 1994. Since then prices had gone up, he said, and a tax of pounds 35 per year had been imposed on electric milk floats.

Labour also claims that the Government might put VAT on food if it won the election, raising the price of a pint of milk from around 38 pence to 44 pence.

Mr Strang said the party would argue for changes in the Common Agricultural Policy to allow more support for milk deliveries.

"The doorstep delivery service brings social and community benefits as well as bringing milk to the door. You can't trust the Tories with our daily pinta," he said.