HC Deb 07 March 1946 vol 420 cc494-5
45. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of further details which have been sent to him, which show the magnitude of the vested interests of their combine, he will reconsider his decision and nationalise the Co-operative Wholesale Society and all its branch organisations and activities.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

No, Sir.

Sir W. Smithers

In spite of the pledges given at the General Election to control vested interests, is it not true that the right hon. Gentleman dare not offend such a powerful supporter of the Socialist Party?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I think the hon. Gentleman should study the Co-operative movement, when he would find that it is controlled by a large number of consumers on a non-profit making basis. His conception of a dangerous vested interest seems to be quite extraordinary.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this great vested interest is squeezing out small traders all over the country, and is supporting the Socialist Party with its funds?

The Prime Minister

Everybody is aware of the political conditions applying to co-operative societies, but I under- stood that the hon. Gentleman was a strong supporter of competition

Mr. Jennings

Is the right hon. Gentleman quite accurate in saying that the Co-operative movement is a non-profit making movement?

Mr. Stokes

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chislehurst do not apply to the late Government in their dealings with the landlords who had the most appalling monopoly of the nation?

Mr. Speaker

We have been discussing this question long enough.

Sir W. Smithers

May I correct the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and inform him that I am not the hon. Member for Chislehurst?