Steve Baker: In January 2012, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a wonderful speech about how to reconstruct an inclusive, just and popular capitalism. He called for a new co-operatives Bill, but that has not yet appeared. I cannot imagine that the Liberal Democrats are opposing it, but I cannot think of any other explanation, as the Secretary of State for Education and Cabinet Office Ministers have supported such a Bill. Will the Deputy Leader of the House see to it that time is provided to bring forward that important new Bill on co-operatives?
Tom Brake: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman had an opportunity to raise that issue during today’s Business, Innovation and Skills questions, as that would have been a good opportunity to flag it up. However, I will ensure that he gets a written response to his very specific question.
Recently, I received a reply from the Treasury stating that the Government remains committed to a Bill in 2014:
The Law Commission consultation on the Bill has recently closed, and the Government intends to introduce it to Parliament shortly…it is also proposing to bring forward a range of measures to support and modernise the co-op sector, including making it easier for them to raise capital from their members and allowing them, for the first time, to enter insolvency rescue procedures. HM Treasury consulted on these measures in the summer, and we will publish our plans for the next steps in the near future.
Back in January 2012, the Prime Minister announced that he would introduce a Co-operative Act:
There are over 12 million co-op members in the UK. That is more than there are shareholders in the economy and a vital branch of popular capitalism…but right now there are too many barriers in the way. 17 separate and outdated pieces of legislation add cost and complexity…so today I can announce they will all be brought together and simplified in a new Co-operative Bill that will be put before Parliament.
I look forward to the Bill coming before the House next year. It is important that the UK has a further flourishing of mutuals and co-operatives in business, education and health. I believe this Coalition Government will enable it.