Papers of the Co-operative Commission 2000

Scope and Content

The majority of the collection is concentrated in the years 2000-2001. It is comprised of the working papers of the Co-operative Commission including its meeting and conference papers, its final report, internal correspondence and with submitters. It also includes the submissions sent in to them by individuals and organisations (with any supporting documents) from all over the UK, the Technical Working Group and members of the Queen's Counsel.

The types of records include printed emails, typed letters, manuscript letters, reports, printed presentation slides, some photographs, newspaper articles, academic papers, CDs, a cassette tape, a VHS tape.

The items included in the catalogue that predate the Co-operative Commission are newspaper articles and other such reports sent into or collected by the Co-operative Commission to support their work.

Administrative / Biographical History

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


The collection has been arranged in accordance with the original bundles in which they were donated.

Access Information

Some material in the collection is covered by data protection and is closed. Please see the archivist for access details.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the National Co-operative Archive in 2005.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled Feb 2012-Mar 2012 by Heather Roberts, Trainee Assistant Archivist, National Co-operative Archive.

Appraisal Information

Any duplicates have not been retained.

Any sticky notes and address labels have been removed from the collection and replaced with photocopies.

Any ring binders have been removed and their contents transferred to archival quality files.

Custodial History

The collection was compiled by the Co-operative Commission 2000, after which it went to the Co-operative Group before being donated to the National Co-operative Archive.


None expected.

Related Material

Another collection of interest is the papers of the Co-operative Independent Commission 1955-1958. These are held at the National Co-operative Archive (GB 1499 CIC).