HC Deb 04 December 1919 vol 122 cc568-70

asked the Prime Minister whether the opinion of the Law Officers has yet been sought upon the question of the legality of the industrial co-operative societies applying their funds for propaganda purposes under the designation of political educational propaganda in support of the aims of the Labour-Socialist party and in agreeing to advance co-operative society funds subscribed by members of such societies under their statutory constitution to trade union organisations to support such members of such unions when on strike, as well to their declared intention of applying their stocks of provisions and other goods for the use of members of trade unions (when on strike) and their families to the exclusion of other members of such co-operative societies; and, if so, what is the substance of such opinion, and what action is Proposed to be taken?

74. Colonel NEWMAN

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the resentment caused to members of industrial and wholesale co-operative societies who are not in sympathy with the policy of the Labour-Socialist party by the declared intention of the societies to give financial and purchasing advantages and preference to those of their members who may be on strike over the bulk of the members of the society; and, in the event of such intention being contrary to the Acts of Parliament on which such societies rest, it is his intention to introduce legislation to enable them to effect their purpose?


The opinion of the Law Officers has not been sought upon these matters. It is suggested in the questions that there have been declarations of intention on the part of the co-operative societies to use their funds for purposes other than those for which these societies were founded. It is true that. as was stated by my right hon. Friend on the 5th November, there have been references in the Press to proposed action by the co-operative societies, but I am not aware that any declaration has been made either by the Co-operative Congress or any general body of the societies of a character which suggests that legislative or other action by the Government is necessary.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that the cooperative movement was compelled to enter into politics because of the action of vested interests in this House; and, further, is he aware that over two-thirds of the question submitted to him is a complete falsehood, from beginning to end?


The hon. Member must not express himself in that way.


"Withdraw, withdraw!"


I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw that statement.


If the word is objectionable I withdraw it. Probably it may be a terminological inexactitude.


I must ask the hon. Member to put down any further question he desires to ask.