HC Deb 20 July 1965 vol 716 cc1332-3
30. Mr. Ioan L. Evans

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what action she proposes to take to encourage the further development of co-operatives in the Colonial Territories.

Mr. Oram

I propose to continue with measures recommended by the Advisory Committee on Co-operatives, under the chairmanship of Lord Peddie, in Cmnd, 2257 and in other ways now under consideration.

Mr. Evans

Does my hon. Friend realise that while there is much to criticise the last Government for, it is to their credit that they set up the Committee? He will understand that hon. Members on this side of the House have far greater expectations of this Government's efforts. Does he realise that the formation of co-operatives helps tremendously in bringing about grass-roots democracy, in view of the fact that they are run on a non-profit basis, which eliminates unnecessary economic exploitation?

Mr. Oram

I agree with my hon. Friend in his view about the importance to grass-roots democracy of co-operative development. I can assure him that in a number of practical ways we are encouraging such development. For example, we have just initiated a course of study at Nottingham University in co-operatives and marketing, and have recently made a grant to the Horace Plunkett Foundation for the next five years. In other ways we are seeking to encourage a full understanding of the co-operative idea.

Mr. Onslow

When the hon. Member considers the proposals for these co-operatives, what account does he take of the financial viability of these concerns and of the possibility that they might need to be protected by licensing or subsidy if they are to continue in existence at all?

Mr. Oram

The actual registration and encouragement is usually the responsibility of the developing country. In the case of Colonial Territories, the points that he makes are very well taken care of to make sure that the co-operatives to which we give support are fully viable.