§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Guinness)
Experience has shown that agricultural co-operation, if it is to succeed in this country, must be a movement by farmers for farmers and that it must spring from within the industry and not be imposed upon it by the Ministry. My Department does, however, aid a certain amount of educational work conducted by agricultural colleges and county councils, and it frequently assists producers' co-operative undertakings with information and technical advice; in addition, facilities are available by means of which co-operative marketing organisations may be granted long-term loans on generous terms to facilitate the acquisition of premises, plant and equipment. Where financial assistance is necessary and can properly be given, I am also ready, in other ways, to help co-operative marketing organisations that are prepared to undertake, as a commercial proposition, the grading and packing of produce on approved lines, or to carry out other marketing reforms.
§ Major COLFOX
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the agricultural community would be more likely to turn their attention to co-operation if all political parties would refrain from holding out a false hope that there is a political solution of their problem?
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman advise the compilers of the market reports to refrain from advising farmers to rely upon protective measures under the Merchandise Marks Art?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
I do not think the compilers of those reports take any action of the kind suggested by the hon. Member.
Will the Minister of Agriculture draw the atten 1261 tion of farmers to the few isolated instances where co-operation is at the present time working with great success in this country and where it has actually helped farmers—I can give him one or two cases—to carry over the present bad time?
§ Mr. GUINNESS
The marketing reports I think contain the kind of information to which the hon. and gallant Member refers.
Is the educational side of the Ministry's administration emphasising the importance of co-operation on every occasion?
§ Captain GARRO-JONES
May I draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the attempts at co-operation among farmers have failed owing to the lack of some higher guidance, and is there anything he can do to provide this guidance and assist in getting this necessary co-operation?