Joe Fortune National Political and Policy Manager 22nd May 2012 Today the Conservative-led coalition Government had a perfect opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to establishing a fairer economy and fulfil coalition agreement pledges. Regrettably they chose to whip against this opportunity and ensure their inbuilt majority maintained status quo. It will particularly disappointing for those who had hoped that this Coalition would seek to be a different type of Conservative government. Many members of the Government benches clearly left their rhetoric in the office as they followed their whips’ order to the letter. The Co-operative Party and its Parliamentary representatives championed a range of amendments that would have bought about a fairer, more transparent economy based on mutual values. The Labour & Co-operative front bench lead Chris Leslie MP tabled amendment 72, which would have ensured that the Government stuck to its pledge to bring forward detailed plans to support the financial mutual sector and enshrine measures ensuring that the progress of these plans were clear. After the session, Chris stated: “The Government seem to have totally forgotten about their coalition agreement pledge, and it is time that they were held accountable. Measuring progress on the diversity of the financial services sector and on membership of mutuals is the very least that they should do – and maybe it will make Ministers realise that they have nothing to show on this for their two years in office to date.” Stella Creasy had put forward an amendment that would curb the ability of payday lenders to exploit vulnerable groups within our society. After the defeat of her motion, she said: “Research showed two thirds of the public back a cap on the cost of credit. Amendment 40 to the Financial Services Bill would have given the new Financial Conduct Authority the power to cap the charges made for credit and so the cost of borrowing, but the Government pledged to oppose this measure and it has ensured the views of the British public were not listened to.” Gareth Thomas, the Co-operative Party’s Chair. spoke in the debate and said afterwards: “This is a kick in the teeth for those of us who wish to see a fairer economy rebuilt along co-operative and mutual lines. The Co-operative Party issued an alternative Queens Speech to guide this Government, they ignored this and have ignored this further opportunity to demonstrate support for our movement.” Labour and Co-operative members will continue to scrutinise the Government and to promote the legislative measures that would create a more co-operative society.