HC Deb 14 January 1964 vol 687 cc4-5
Mr. Bullard

asked the Secretary for Technical Co-operation whether he has considered the recommendations of his Advisory Committee on Co-operatives on help for developing countries; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. R. Carr

Yes, Sir. The Committee's Report on Co-operatives Overseas is being published as a White Paper today, together with a detailed statement of the Government's views on their recommendations as hon. Members will see, the Government are able to accept the Committee's recommendations for improving the supply of technical assistance to co-operatives overseas, and my Department is already taking action on those requiring immediate attention.

I should like to express my appreciation of the valuable work done by the Lord Peddie and his colleagues on the Committee.

Mr. Bullard

May I ask the Minister whether he has in mind any means whereby information on matters to do with co-operation can be exchanged between Commonwealth countries, and also whether there are any facilities available for training Commonwealth and other overseas students in co-operative matters?

Mr. Carr

A good deal of interchange takes place through the normal services of my Department and their contacts overseas, but, specifically as a result of the recommendations of this Report, I shall be making funds available, for example, to enable the Plunkett Foundation for Co-operative Studies to organise a Commonwealth conference of agricultural studies at the University of Exeter later this year. As regards training in Britain, arrangements are being made to improve the facilities for training at the Co-operative College at Loughborough.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

While welcoming the fact that the Government have accepted the recommendations of Lord Peddie's Committee, may I ask the Minister wheher he is aware that there has been great difficulty in recruiting co-operative officers for some of the Colonial Territories? Can the Minister say whether these recommendations will assist in making that recruitment easier?

Mr. Carr

We hope so, but it is difficult to judge. I think that more work and more interest in this field should have that effect, and I am sure that we shall get the full co-operation of the Co-operative movement in this country. The hon. Gentleman will note that this Committee is to remain in existence and will keep things of this sort under review.

Mr. Oram

May I, as a member of that Committee, thank the Minister for his fine commendation of my colleagues' work? May I ask the Minister whether he is aware that we might have been more ambitious in our recommendations if we could have been more certain about funds being available to take up ideas that we might produce? Can the Minister assure the House not only that these ideas have his good will, but that none of them will be inhibited by any lack of funds for developing co-operatives overseas?

Mr. Carr

It would be a bold Minister who gave such an assurance without qualification. I can only say that, generally speaking, the moneys that we are spending on technical assistance have been growing.