HL Deb 11 May 1954 vol 187 cc451-3

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can state what proportion (approximately) of the farmers in Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, New Zealand and Great Britain respectively belong to agricultural co-operative societies and what (approximately) has been the percentage increase in their respective memberships during the last ten years.]


My Lords, as the Answer is rather long and contains a number of statistics I will, with your Lordships' permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


My Lords, arising out of that reply, I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he can give us now at any rate the figures in regard to Great Britain, apart from the other countries, and whether I am right in believing, that in most other civilised countries anything from 80 to 100 per cent. is the proportion of farmers belonging to farmers' co-operative societies?


My Lords, the figures for Great Britain show that in 1946 the total membership was 159,000 and in March, 1953, 252,000—an increase of approximately 50 per cent. The figure this year represents a proportion of about 60 per cent. of all farmers. My noble friend is quite right in saying that in other countries the proportion ranges from about 80 to 100 per cent.


My Lords, arising out of that reply I should like to ask this supplementary question, which I informed the noble Lord I intended to ask: Will the setting up of the proposed Fatstock Marketing Corporation adversely affect the number and usefulness of the farmers' co-operative societies in this country?


My Lords, the Fatstock Marketing Corporation is a corporation promoted by the National Farmers' Union. So far as I am aware, it is only another outlet for the farmer to sell his livestock, and I cannot see any reason why it should adversely affect co-operation; the two should be complementary.

Following is the full answer referred to by Lord Carrington:

1. There are no official statistics, but the following is the best indication that can be given from information supplied by agricultural co-operative organisations. Any figures do not allow for duplication where farmers may belong to more than one society; nor is there any uniformity in the definition of a farmer, for example, as to size of holding. The figures given for Great Britain relate to membership of societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, and do not therefore include registrations under agricultural marketing schemes.

2. Great Britain

In 1946, total membership was 159,000 and in March, 1953, 252,000. Without allowing for duplication, this represented 40–45 per cent. of all farmers in 1946, and 60 per cent. of all farmers in 1953. In any case the increase in total membership over the period is approximately 50 per cent.

3. New Zealand

Nearly 100 per cent. of dairy farms in New Zealand are members of co-operative societies, an increase of 20–25 per cent. since 1947. It is understood that there is little other co-operative activity in agriculture, except a small amount of trading in meat.

4. Denmark and Sweden

At present, 90 per cent. of farmers are members of societies of one kind or another. This level of membership had been reached before 1946.

5. Netherlands

Practically all farmers are members of co-operative banks, and the number has changed little since the war. The membership of other co-operatives can only be roughly gauged by the percentage of national trading in a given commodity that they are responsible for. Dairy co-operatives deal with 80 per cent. of all milk delivered. Fruit and vegetable auctions deal with 80 per cent. of the fruit and nearly 100 per cent. of the vegetables sold. Sugar beet societies deal with 60 per cent. of sugar beet produced. There has been little variation since the war.

6. France

In 1952, French societies had 1½ million members, approximately 50 per cent. of all farmers. French societies have been expanding since the war, especially societies providing services of various kinds.

7. Belgium

No figures are available for Belgium.