Parliamentary Officer Joe Fortune rounds up the latest from Parliament with the work of Co-operative Parliamentarians.

This regular column will briefly round up some of the important or noteworthy pieces of Parliamentary activity and business for co-operators each week. It will highlight the work being done by Co-operative Party MPs and co-operators in Westminster. Of course, if I was to try and cover all aspects of this work, the editor of the website would rightly give me grief… therefore excuse me if I try and focus in on the most relevant aspects of the life and times of the 2010 Parliament’s co-operators.

Last weekend we held the Co-operative Party’s Annual Conference in London, attended by most of the Parliamentary Group and chaired by Gareth Thomas MP. Meg Hillier MP gave the report on the work of the Group and Ed Balls MP gave the keynote speech, making detailed comments on the Chancellor’s economic plans ahead of the Vickers Banking Commission Report on Monday. A large number of MPs took part in the weekend, including a successful Q&A covering a broad range of issues.

On Wednesday, Luciana Berger MP was in action leading for the Opposition as the Energy Bill passed through its report stage in the Commons. Luciana had tabled specific amendments which sought to ensure that co-operatives were put at the heart of the Government’s new energy strategies; this was rejected by the Government at the Committee stage of the Bill and they showed no sign of changing this stance at report stage. Luciana’s contribution was covered by the Guardian where it was made clear that Labour’s future vision for a new Green Deal very much included the valuable work of co-operatives.

Thursday saw Tom Greatrex MP at Business Questions make a powerful case for fair treatment of Credit Unions by the banks in terms of charges. In particular, Tom highlighted that RBS and Clydesdale Bank would be charging Credit Unions for banking services. He commented that:

“At a time when executives of RBS continue to pay themselves millions in bonuses, people will rightly question the fairness of these charges. Credit unions provide much needed support to some of the most financially vulnerable people across the country. At a time of high unemployment and the increased cost of living, credit unions are often a lifeline. Given that the last of the Big Six energy companies today announced an increase in their energy prices, the support of credit unions is more important than ever.” The full story can be found here.

Lastly, many Co-operative Party MPs took part in the important Backbench Business debate on ‘Food Security and Famine Prevention (Africa)’. This was a well attended debate and led for the Opposition by Lab/Co-op MP Stephen Twigg. Farmer co-operatives were raised in the debate as a way of securing food supplies.