THE Co-operative Movement has been praised in the House of Commons by a Conservative spokesman in a debate about the Co-operatives and Community Benefits Societies Bill.
Stephen O'Brien, MP for Eddisbury, Cheshire, was made aware of the Bill after being briefed by one of his constituents ? Martin Beaumont, Chief Executive of the Co-operative Group.
The Bill, tabled by South Derbyshire Labour MP Mark Todd, will create an asset lock for industrial and provident societies so assets cannot be sold if a society is taken over.
In the debate Mr O'Brien, a strong supporter of the Bill, thanked Mr Beaumont for his support and advice.
Mr O'Brien welcomed the Bill and highlighted the significance of co-operatives in the community. He said: "They play an important role in the voluntary sector, which is supported by members of all parties as being integral to the way in which we live and as part of the essential culture of a civilised society as defined in a democracy under the rule of law."
A regular shopper at the United Co-operatives store in Bunbury village in the heart of his constituency, the Conservative spokesman on the Bill is proud of his association with the Co-op Movement.
Said Mr O'Brien: "I can honestly claim to be half-Lancastrian and therefore part of the genuine heritage of the Co-operative Movement, a pride in which I share with many others, and I am glad that this important sector has been recognised, not least because, at the end of 2000, the 8,382 industrial and provident societies on the register held assets of £ 61 billion in this country. It is an incredibly important sector."
Adrian Bailey, Labour/Co-op MP for West Bromwich West, told Mr Todd that his Bill was in no way "modest", as the proposer had suggested in his speech to the Commons.
"I wonder whether the pioneers of the Co-operative Movement in the 1840s realised the full significance of the structure they devised with their co-operative society and whether they realised the impact that it would have."
"This ostensibly modest proposal could have the most profound consequences."