Parliamentary Officer Joe Fortune considers yesterday’s Queen’s Speech but sees little good news for co-operatives.

Following the local election results, the Coalition Government briefed that they were ready to re-launch their partnership for power. The subsequent Queen’s Speech was to act as the clarion call for the Government’s priorities for the coming legislative term. The fifteen bills and four draft bills did not attract too much critical acclaim; indeed it could be said that even the CBI’s comments fell a little short of praise.

Given the pertinence and need for co-operative and mutual values within public policy, one would have thought that they would take the opportunity to demonstrate real support for the values which galvanize communities, and drive social and economic change. Sadly, they did not.

In contrast, Labour & Co-operative Parliamentarians have already been active in the debating chamber seeking assurance that co-operative issues had not been completely forgotten about by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne in this humble address.

Gareth Thomas, Chair of the Co-operative Party, pointed out that a lack of specific legislative vehicle or co-operative measures was even more disappointing as it followed‘…no serious effort to remutualise Northern Rock over the past 12 months, no serious interest in encouraging more energy co-ops to emerge, no sustained effort to encourage real involvement in the running of football clubs by football fans through football supporters’ co-operatives, and no requirement to promote a diverse market in financial services for the Financial Services Authority or its replacement to help financial mutuals.’

Gareth concluded that: ‘Sadly, the Queen’s Speech confirms that once again the Government have walked away from the real practical measures that could have helped the co-op and mutual movement to grow.’

Gareth was not alone in his view; indeed even David Amess MP – a Conservative – is down in Hansard as being surprised there were not more co-operative measures included. Aside from the Government benches, other Labour & Co-operative members were also ready to start the new session with close scrutiny of the Government on its support for co-operative and mutual measures. Meg Hillier MP stated:

‘There is no commitment in the Queen’s Speech to introduce any mutual models at all, as far as we can see. The Water Bill would have offered such an opportunity and the Energy Bill might have offered opportunities for some mutual solutions, as would, of course, the Banking Bill. We need new measures on demutualisation and we have already missed an opportunity through the selling off to the highest bidder, rather than remutualisation, of Northern Rock. If the House is united on the need for banking reform, why not join that up with the idea of the mutual model and ensure that businesses as well as individuals are supported by mutuals?’

This was just day one of the Queen’s Speech debate; there are more to follow. Whatever the next session of Parliament holds for the Government and indeed the country, it is safe to say that Labour & Co-operative Members of Parliament will provide a powerful voice to ensure the aims, values and needs of co-operative movement are not ignored by this Coalition Government.