I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. I appreciate the contributions of colleagues, who have spoken with great erudition and insight into these issues, and I congratulate Anna McMorrin on bringing this Bill before the House and on her passionate remarks in favour of it.
This is a bold Bill and, I believe, a well-intentioned one, but it is not entirely original. Similar legislation has been passed in other jurisdictions, including Australia. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Mutual Reforms) Bill 2019 was passed by the Australian Parliament last year. In the debate in the House of Representatives, Dr Andrew Leigh, the Member of Parliament for Fenner, said:
“Mutuals build trust and reciprocity. They are an essential part of an inclusive society helping to foster empathy for our fellow human beings. Cooperatives and mutuals, as member-owned enterprises…
are voluntary associations of people, democratically run for their members, for the pursuit of a common social, cultural or economic goal.”
If I might be forgiven for quoting not only a Labour Member but an Australian Labour Member with approval, I think that is a noble aim that we can all support. We see that very much in our local communities. There are many examples of local co-operatives in our society, and particularly on the high street, where we see Co-op shops, of which there are many in Gedling. I particularly enjoy my local Co-op, and I am grateful to the staff there for their friendly service. Every Co-op that I have ever visited has always offered a range of high-quality food in a well laid-out store. That is perhaps one of the most visible example of co-ops; we have heard many other good examples in the debate.