The Scottish Government recognises the importance of co-operative enterprises in contributing to the growth of the Scottish economy and providing jobs and wealth across Scotland, but also in bringing a wide range of social benefits to our local communities. Recent research that was commissioned by Co-operative Development Scotland shows that co-operatives in Scotland employ some 28,000 people and generate an annual turnover of just over £4 billion.
I thank the cabinet secretary for his fearless answer. Given the huge economic, social and cultural importance of the co-operative sector to the country and the unique role that Scotland has played in the development of the sector via both the Fenwick weavers and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage site at New Lanark, will the cabinet secretary inform the Parliament how the Government plans to play its part in the UN international year of the co-operative, which is scheduled for 2012?
First, I acknowledge Bill Butler's long-standing interest in the role of co-operatives in our society. I add the comment that, in terms of the business models and corporate structures that
Mr Butler is correct in referring to the UN international year of co-operatives in 2012. We would look to Co-operative Development Scotland to structure any participation in the year. It is rather early to provide precise details, but I assure Mr Butler that CDS will be involved in that planning. If there are particular contributions that he wishes to make to that process, I am sure that they will be warmly welcomed.