HC Deb 04 November 1918 vol 110 cc1762-3

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether any grant of public money and, if so, of what amount is made, either by or on the recommendation of his Department, to the Agricultural Organisation Society or the Agricultural Wholesale Society; whether there is any connection and if so, what, between these two bodies; and whether societies or individuals affiliated to the Agricultural Organisation Society receive any special treatment with respect to discount for goods purchased from the Agricultural Wholesale Society?


Grants of public money to the Agricultural Organisation Society have been made since 1909–10. Those for the current financial year are £10,000 from the Treasury through the Food Production Department, £4,000 from the Small Holdings Account, and, from the Development Fund, a block Grant of £5,800, together with a Grant equal to four times the amount of the Society's income from contributions from affiliated farmers' societies during the current year, and a Grant equal to the amount of the subscriptions received in the same period. The Grants are all subject to Treasury sanction. The Grants for the three previous years were stated in a reply given on the 21st of last month to the hon. and learned Member for the Ealing Division.

No Government Grant is made to the Agricultural Wholesale Society. That society is the central trading body of the agricultural co-operative movement, the Agricultural Organisation Society being a purely propagandist, organising, and advisory body. The Agricultural Wholesale Society was formed under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society and on its initiative as an essential part of its work of organising co-operation, but there is, I am assured, no financial connection whatever between the two bodies. In reply to the third part of the question, I may say that, as the Agricultural Wholesale Society is an independent body receiving no Grants whatever from the Government, it is free to make whatever terms it likes in regard to its trading.

Colonel WILSON

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider it quite fair to private firms who pay Income Tax that a Government subsidy should be given to societies working in opposition to them, and will he take into consideration that these societies, registered under the Friendly Societies Act, do not pay Income Tax as private firms do?


I said the subsidy of the Government was to the Agricultural Organisation Society, which is a purely propagandist society.