Co-ops and mutuals first in new parliament

Co-ops and mutuals first in new parliament




Co-operation & Mutuality Scotland (CMS) and Co-operatives UK brought together representatives of all parts of the co-operative sector in Scotland to mark and celebrate the contribution of co-operatives in all their forms to the Scottish economy.


This celebration was held in the new Scottish Parliament on the evening of the first day it was opened to the public (7 September 2004). Those invited included Co-operative Party MSPs, chief executives of Scottish co-operative consumer societies, and the chief office of Scottish Co-op, members of the board of CMS and Co-operatives UK, representatives of friendly societies, credit unions, building societies and other Scottish co-operatives.


The group was welcomed to the new Parliament building on this historic day by Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Lewis McDonald, who said:


‘I am delighted that the first group I welcome to the new Scottish Parliament is from the co-operative sector. Scottish Ministers have recognised the importance of co-operatives and mutuals in contributing to economic growth, as employers, and in providing a wide range of other economic and social benefits in local communities.




‘It is in that context that we have consulted on a Co-operative Development Agency. We need to tackle cultural and social barriers to enterprise, and to promote innovative and imaginative ways of mobilising labour, capital and business ideas. Co-operative enterprise and mutual ownership already make a huge contribution in these areas: the challenge is to build on that for the future.’


The Minister added: ‘The CDA consultation attracted a lot of interest, with more than 50 responses received. The official analysis of the responses is almost complete, and it is my intention to publish this analysis shortly.


‘The proposals for a CDA have been widely welcomed. Most respondents believe that the existing support structure for co-operative enterprise is inadequate, with not enough specialist expertise or support. Most people believe that the Co-operative Development Agency will be most useful in the short term if it concentrates on acting as a dedicated support mechanism and source of development advice. On that basis, it can then go on in the medium term to develop a strategy for growing the co-operative sector.


‘We need to avoid duplication of existing support mechanisms, we need to ensure our conclusions are well-founded and command broad support, and we need to ensure that what we put in place delivers real added value for the co-operative sector and for the Scottish economy as a whole. Getting this right will be important to meeting our shared objectives. I look forward to working with all of you who share the vision of a co-operative Scotland to ensure that we do.’




This evening reception was timed to precede a meeting of the UK Co-operative Forum the following day. The UK Co-operative forum is a vehicle for representatives of all key organisations and federals across the UK to come together to share concerns and issues surrounding the co-operative movement.


Chris Herries, chair of the UK Co-operative Forum and member of the Board of Co-operatives UK, said: ‘The UK Co-operative Forum is excited to be here in Scotland at this time, with the proposals for establishing a CDA well underway. We also see Co-operation & Mutuality Scotland (CMS) as a role model for other parts of the UK. CMS enables representation for the Scottish co-operative and mutual sector making it easier to speak with a united voice and contribute to growing the co-operative movement.’


Contact Cooperation and Mutuality Scotland, 0131 2294186,


Source: New Sector magazine