I congratulate Anna McMorrin both on securing this private Member’s Bill and on highlighting the important issue to the House. I acknowledge the many significant contributions so far: from my hon. Friends the Members for Northampton South (Andrew Lewer), for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont), Sarah Jones, my hon. Friends the Members for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes), for Grantham and Stamford (Gareth Davies), for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), for Rushcliffe (Ruth Edwards), for Bolton West (Chris Green), for Sedgefield (Paul Howell), for Darlington (Peter Gibson) and for Gedling (Tom Randall). All of them have interrogated the Bill very carefully and thoughtfully with some interesting exchanges along the way.
I wish to put it on record that I fully agree with the ambitions of the hon. Lady’s Bill to support the growth and development of the co-operative and mutual sector and to tackle climate change; I have enjoyed our dialogue during the preparation of the Bill to get to this point. They are two key drivers of my tenure as Economic Secretary. I also wish to put it on record that the Government have taken significant steps to support the co-operative and mutual sector to reach its potential, and I will continue to champion mutuals of all kinds. Just last week, I was pleased to attend a roundtable on the topic of regional mutual banks chaired by my hon. Friend Kevin Hollinrake who has also made contributions again today. I will be taking some of those thoughts from that discussion forward.
Treasury officials who work with me also hosted an innovative mutuals workshop with representatives from across the sector last year to drive practical changes to help co-operatives. In 2014, as has been mentioned, we passed the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act to reduce legal complexity and, at the same time, we increased the amount of capital a member could invest in a society from £20,000 to £100,000.