The crucial ‘Second Reading’ of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies (Environmentally Sustainable Investment) Bill, or ‘Green Shares Bill’, will finally take place in Parliament on Friday 11 September. Co-operatives UK is asking MPs and Government to support the passage of the Bill to Committee Stage, on the basis that crucial improvements can then be made.
At the Second Reading the Bill will either be passed to Committee Stage, with Government and MP support, or will die. This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Anna McMorrin MP.
Co-operatives UK is asking MPs and Government to support the passage of the Bill to Committee Stage, on the basis that crucial improvements can then be made.
The Bill presents a rare opportunity to improve society law through primary legislation. The last significant government-initiated primary legislation that made material changes to society law (excluding consolidation) was in 1954.
The Bill contains three much-needed legislative changes that would further enhance the contribution co-operative and community benefit societies make to sustainable and inclusive economic development:
- A new equity share that is repayable at the option of the society rather than withdrawable at the option of the member
- An optional lock on non-distributable capital surplus
- An optional lock on conversion to a company
James continues: “They would also help to improve the utility of the co-operative society legal form in areas such as community business and worker buyouts, allowing co-op founders to make more optimal choices when it comes to incorporation and business model. They would also help to keep more common wealth circulating within the co-operative economy.”
The Bill would need amending. While this can be dealt with without significant technical difficulty, government’s time and attention is stretched very thin. Now more than ever, we would have preferred to ask government to support a Bill without the need for substantive amendment. We have asked MPs and Government to support the passage of the Bill to Committee Stage, where it could be amended as necessary.
We will have to wait for the Second Reading to know government’s decision.