HC Deb 28 June 1920 vol 131 cc65-6W

Mr. RAFFAN asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the statement in the last Annual Report of the Agricultural Organisation Society that the trading turnover of the farmers' societies in that body in 1919 was approximately £15,000,000; whether the Development Commission continue to pay public funds to this Society; why, in view of this large trading turnover of the members, showing that they are capable of maintaining their own organisation, the Agricultural Organisation Society is still in receipt of subsidies from public funds, and indicates in its last Annual Report that it will receive such subsidies for the next three years; and whether, in view of the drain on public funds, he will consider the desirability of discontinuing grants to this Society?

Mr. BALDWIN: My attention has been drawn to the statement mentioned which indicates a very large increase on the figures for 1918. I am confident that as a result of the development work undertaken the contributions of the farmers' societies affiliated to the Agricultural Organisation Society will become sufficient to render the Society self-supporting in 1923. In the meantime I have undertaken to consider the recommendations of the Development Commissioners for further grants to the Society from the Development Fund on a diminishing scale during the present and next two financial years. The grounds for the grant of such assistance were stated in my reply to the question put by the hon. Member on the 2nd March last, and I am satisfied that it would not be in the public interest to depart from this policy.