§ 30. Mr. Dodds
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many co-operative societies and other co-operative organisations were contacted by his Department during the course of the inquiry into the effect on co-operative savings of the concession made to the Post Office Savings Bank and the Trustee Savings Banks in 1956.
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave him on 19th July, to which I have nothing to add.
§ Mr. Dodds
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reply says that no inquiries were made at all? May I ask the Chancellor why, in turning down the Amendment on the Finance Bill on 22nd June, relating to co-operative small savings being exempted from Income Tax, it was said that it would not affect co-operative finances at all? Will the Minister explain why he repeatedly pays tribute at the Dispatch Box to the Cooperative movement and yet the present Government seem to take every opportunity to hamper the movement which belongs to 13 million people in this country, and not international financiers? Why are the Government so unhelpful to the 1284 Co-operative movement and so friendly to the speculators, profiteers and racketeers?
My hon. Friend the Economic Secretary, in the debate to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, stated that no evidence was to hand that there had been any major switches in co-operative savings to National Savings. He did not say that any inquiry had been made. He said there was no evidence to hand; that is, so far as we are concerned.
As to the second part of the supplementary question, the Government have taken scrupulous care to do everything they can to ensure that the Co-operative movement is placed in a perfectly fair position in relation to private enterprise with which it competes.
§ Mr. Dodds
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the words which I used were not spoken in the debate. I should like to refer the Chancellor to column 447 of the Report of the debate, when the Economic Secretary was challenged with these words:Since the hon. Gentleman has made inquiries, will he give us the source of his information, so that we may assess it?Mr. BARBER: I have not the details with me, but that was the conclusion drawn by those who advised me quite fairly from the facts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1960; Vol. 625, c. 447.]
Nothing that the hon. Gentleman has said cannot be reconciled with what I have said. The Economic Secretary said that there was no evidence to hand that there had been switches. He expressed the opinion, therefore, that he did not think it was an important factor. He did not say that he had made inquiries.