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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 11th September 2020.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 1:24 pm, 11th September 2020

It is a pleasure to make a short contribution to this debate. I pay tribute to Anna McMorrin for bringing the Bill forward and for her clear passion and dedication and her knowledge of these matters.

There is no doubt about the vital and valuable role that co-operatives play in our country—they are just one of the many diverse models of ownership and governance that we have. It is one of the strengths of our economy that we have such a diverse array of ownership models. Clearly, co-ops, often being rooted in communities for mutual benefit, can play a really important role. There are many aspects of the Bill that I wholeheartedly applaud.

However, in the time that I have, I want to say a few words about the other aspect of this debate: the environment and sustainability. In opening the debate, the hon. Member fell into the trap, which so many of those who are passionate about the environment and sustainability fall into, of failing to recognise the significant progress that our nation and this Government are making on this matter. We are world leaders in so many ways.

When people refuse to acknowledge or just avoid acknowledging the progress we are making, and refuse to engage constructively with the debate, they undermine the argument. That is becoming counterproductive. Environmentalism is becoming seen by more and more reasonable, decent people in our country as an extreme thing—that is clearly represented by Extinction Rebellion—with an agenda that is not just about protecting the environment but about dismantling things that have been the very fabric of our society and our economy for too long.

That is polarising the debate just at the time when we need our country to come together around this issue. I think we are winning the argument on this. I think more people than ever before in our country recognise the importance of fighting climate change and protecting our environment. However, when we polarise it and fall into the trap of making it an extreme issue, we put people off.

We need to recognise that we have all been on a journey on this matter. The whole country has been on a journey. Different people are on different parts of that journey at this moment in time, but I believe that generally, as a nation, we are all moving in the same direction: towards being world leaders, perhaps even more than we are today, on fighting climate change.