HC Deb 13 July 1989 vol 156 cc583-4W
Mr. Maples

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what decisions have been reached on the future of the Co-operative Development Agency; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Cope

The ceiling of financial provision available to support the CDA under current legislation will be reached in 1990–91, and we have been considering whether there is a case for any further support.

The CDA itself considered the issue and proposed that it should become a body mainly devoted to the promotion of employee share ownership, particularly employee share ownership plans. It proposed that its existing role in providing a central forum for co-operative development should be drawn from and financed by those using it, and that much of its work to promote co-operative development could now be carried out by other organisations.

The Government are firmly in favour of measures to extend the financial participation of employees in their employing organisations but we see no need for public support for another body to promote ESOPs, when there are a number of private organisations interested and active in this field. The Government did, however, agree with the CDA's view that its original remit could now be carried out by other organisations. We therefore consulted relevant organisations in the co-operative movement seeking their comments on a proposal to wind up the CDA by the time its current grant ceiling is reached.

Fourteen organisations commented. A number were opposed to closure, largely on the grounds that the CDA should continue to provide a central focus for co-operative development; others pointed to the overlap between the CDA's work and their own. Careful consideration of all the comments made has confirmed our view that the work of the CDA has now reached the stage where it can be carried on by the well-established network of local agencies and other business support bodies, including the new training and enterprise councils which will include co-operatives as well as other forms of business in their plans for enterprise support. We do not consider that co-operative organisations need a Government-sponsored body to co-ordinate or represent them or to take on new functions.

Our decision is therefore that the agency's life should not be extended when current funding runs out. We

Col 1 Col. 2 Col. 3
Annual percentage. Increase in Hospital and Community Health Services pay and prices (England) Welsh DHA Revenue Allocations: Inflation Assumptions2 Annual percentage. Increase in GDP (Wales)3
1978–79 9.6 9.04 12.1
1979–80 20.5 7.94 14.8
1980–81 28.0 24.84 13.2

propose to wind up the agency by order, under the affirmative resolution procedure, during the next parliamentary session. The Government will continue to take a keen interest in co-operatives, which we see as one expression of the fast developing enterprise culture in Britain.

I would like to express my appreciation to the chairman, director, board and staff of the CDA for the enthusiasm and commitment that they have shown. They have achieved a good deal over the past II years and deserve credit for a job well done.