The Co-operative Commission was an independent commission established in February 2000, with the support of the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, and was officially announced of 24 Feb that year.
It was called into existence in response to two events: the impending merger of the Co-operative Wholesale Society and the Co-operative Retail Society in Apr 2000, and the threat of demutualisation of the co-operative societies (particularly the Co-operative Wholesale Society due to its size and value of its assets). The merger gave the Consumer Co-operative Movement the chance to assess how it can conduct business to be a more successful united front whilst maintaining its co-operative ethos. Demutualisation could thus be avoided by building stronger more unified co-operative society. The Commission was brought in to research and recommend ways in which this could be implemented, and "modernise" the Consumer Co-operative Movement, recommend co-operative business practices to the societies (particularly the new Co-operative Group), and establish the Consumer Co-operative Movement as successful and strong.
The Chairman of the Commission, appointed by Tony Blair, was John Monks (General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress), the Secretary was Allan Donnelly (CEO of Sovereign Strategy and Chairman of Northern Infomatics Applications Agency). Also on the Commission was Hazel Blears M.P., Lord Simon of Highbury C.B.E., Lord Fyfe of Fairfield, Gerald Hill, Mervyn Pedelty, David Pitt-Watson, Bill Connor, Bob Burlton, Pauline Green, and Alan Middleton.
The Commission formally met nine times throughout the year 2000. In conducting its work the Commission posed questions to co-operative societies regarding the aim of the Consumer Co-operative Movement and whether this aim was being met and in the right way. It posed this question through a series of regional hearings with co-operative societies, the Co-operative Congress of May 2000 and other conferences, and appealed to everyone through issues of the Co-operative News. Individuals and organisations sent in their submissions. The Commission also established a Technical Working Group and commissioned certain organisations to give their thoughts in response to these questions. also consulted were members of the Queen's Counsel. They were further supplied with, as well as actively collected, other statistical information, research and supporting papers.
The Commission's report, The Co-operative Advantage: creating a successful family of Co-operative businesses, which revealed the findings of its research and gave its recommendations to the Consumer Co-operative Movement, was released for inspection by societies in Feb 2001. Regional meetings were held in order to give the Commission a chance to explain its findings to the co-operative societies and co-operators, as well as giving them a chance to pose questions regarding those findings.
This is not the first Independent Commission set up by the Consumer Co-operative Movement. In 1955 the Co-operative Independent Commission was established with a similar remit in response to the rapid growth of the Consumer Co-operative Movement.
Source: The Co-operative Advantage: Creating a successful family of Co-operative businesses