MPs to debate role of co-ops in the UK economy

The debate, scheduled for 14 December, was proposed by Conservative MP Steve Baker following lobbying efforts by Co-operatives UK

MPs are to debate the contribution of co-operatives to the economy next week, following cross-party lobbying efforts by sector body Co-operatives UK.

The application to hold debate, set for 14 December, was led by Conservative MP Steve Baker, who solicited support from Conservative backbench MPs including Sir Graham Brady, Jerome Mayhew, Simon Baynes and Mark Garnier.

Other MPs who backed the application are Labour’s John McDonnell and Dan Jarvis, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, Ben Lake from Plaid Cymru and Marion Fellows from the SNP. Two Labour/Co-op MPs, Sir Mark Hendrick and Barry Sheerman, also signed up in support of having the debate.

The debate comes as the rising prominence of co-operatives in sectors including energy, housing, digital-creative and the gig economy is gaining attention, with significant economic, social and environmental challenges are driving interest in fairer, more sustainable ways of doing business.   

Mr Baker, MP for Wycombe, said: “I have always been a long‑standing advocate for co‑operatives. They are a great example of how opportunity, wealth and liberty can be expanded without state control.

“This debate will highlight the positive contributions co‑operatives make to our economy and society, as well as raise the profile of some of the innovations and models that could really be applied to positive effect, not just in my constituency but across the whole of the UK.”

Steve Baker MP

The debate is expected to cover areas where government legislation could enable more co‑operative businesses to flourish.

It is also expected to focus on: better-tailored business support for co-operatives; the role of the British Business Bank; the introduction of ‘Macora‑style’ legislation that could help workers form co-operatives to save jobs that are put at risk by business closure; and the lack of co‑operatives on educational curricula.

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “We are facing challenging economic times as a result of the pandemic and we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, which will bring significant disruption to the way we live, work and consume.

“The co-operative business model offers so many benefits, including resilience, which has been demonstrated in the pandemic. We need to share this alternative way of doing business with purpose, far and wide to positively impact us all.

“We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of Steve Baker and his office, alongside Joe Fortune and the team at the Co-operative Party, for their determination and commitment in helping us raise the co-operative agenda at parliamentary level.”

  • The debate is held at 9.30 am on Tuesday 14 December, on Parliament TV. To watch, visit, select ‘Full Event Guide’ and look at the ‘Westminster Hall’ listings.
  • You can also voice your support for the co-operative business model on social media using #CoopEconomy