HC Deb 24 November 1980 vol 994 cc187-8
1. Mr. Tilley

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what plans he has to promote the formation of worker co-operatives.

The Secretary of State for Industry (Sir Keith Joseph)

The Department has no plans to introduce any measures additional to those already in existence.

Mr. Tilley

Will the Secretary of State speed up his review of the work of the Co-operative Development Agency, so that he can renew its grant quickly and it can continue with the work that it is already successfully carrying out of promoting not only the formation but the expansion and survival of worker co-operatives? They seem to many of us on the Labour Benches to be one of the major hopes for providing new worthwhile jobs in inner city areas.

Sir Keith Joseph

Provided that they are unsubsidised, the Government regard co-operatives as a perfectly valid manifestation of private enterprise. We wish them well. However, that does not mean that the organisation concerned must continue to receive subsidies from the taxpayer. We shall be reviewing the performance of the agency in due course.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

Rather than promote worker co-operatives, will my right hon. Friend press his colleagues in the Government further to extend profit sharing so that more employees can share in the profits that they have helped to create?

Sir Keith Joseph

I have read my hon. friend's work on the subject, and I agree with his purpose. Sadly, however, manufacturing industry in Britain is currently, after allowing for inflation, making virtually no profit. The first priority must be to obtain the co-operation of the trade unions and the work forces in allowing management, as conditions allow, to rebuild some real profit.

Mr. Les Huckfield

We find the Secretary of State's reference to the CDA worrying. Does he appreciate the need for his making his policy, including that in respect of the future financial support of the agency, as clear as possible as soon as possible?

Sir Keith Joseph

The current grant to the CDA does not expire until November 1981. We have warned it that we shall review its effectiveness before then. Of course, its effectiveness will be manifested to a large extent by the degree to which it becomes independent of the taxpayer.

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