Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies (Environmentally Sustainable Investment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:21 am on 11th September 2020.

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Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative, Grantham and Stamford 11:21 am, 11th September 2020

I join other colleagues in saying what a pleasure it is to be part of this debate, and I congratulate Anna McMorrin on bringing the Bill before the House. As someone with possibly one of the most Welsh names ever and a grandfather from Mumbles, I enjoyed her speech very much. I really enjoyed the history of the Welsh co-operative movement—far more than I enjoyed the Maoist quotes from Sarah Jones, I have to say.

I entirely agree with the spirit of this Bill and the support for co-operatives. The Conservatives have a good track record on co-operatives, which form an important part of our economy. As my hon. Friend Simon Baynes has said, the Conservatives enacted the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, which reduced legal complexity for co-operatives. We have made it easier to register co-operatives digitally, and in 2014 we increased from £20,000 to £100,000 the amount of share capital that members can put into a co-operative. We are, therefore, strongly supportive of the co-operative structure.

I also welcome the spirit of the Bill as it relates to climate change, which is close to my heart and something that the Conservative party take very seriously. As hon. Members know, we have reduced emissions faster than any country in the G7; we have announced the £2 billion green homes grant scheme; we were the first major economy to legislate to achieve net zero by 2050; and we have generated more electricity from offshore wind than any other country in the world. I strongly support the green focus of the Bill, and I acknowledge that the hon. Member for Cardiff North had a long career in the service of this cause before her election to the House. We need more people with her expertise in the House.

Finally, I support the spirit of this Bill as it relates to private capital markets as a source for good. Just like my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South, I spent many years in capital markets. I have seen their power, and they can be the solution to many problems, not the cause. I have brought my own experience to this House and, as many colleagues know, I have sought to advance the benefits of green bonds as an effective tool for moving private capital towards environmental causes. I believe the case for green bonds is extremely strong, and there is great potential for the UK Government to issue a green gilt, following behind many other developed countries.