I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 98 together.
Last year, I secured the agreement of Government to draft legislation to ease the regulatory burden on co-operative societies and to make it easier to start up and run a co-operative as an alternative form of enterprise organisation. I hope to publish a Draft Bill during 2012 and I expect that the amendments I am proposing will make the co-operative model more attractive for those wishing to use it.
By introducing these legislative changes for co-operatives, the Government is recognising the value of the co-operative business model to our economy, particularly at the present time. The primary objective of these legislative changes is to provide a regulatory environment that is supportive of the co-operative movement and of its capacity to contribute to economic and social well-being into the future. By applying the limited resources of my Department in this way I hope to play my part in facilitating the development of co-operatives in the International Year of Co-operatives.
My responsibility lies in the legislative provision for co-operatives in general. Any initiatives to facilitate or promote the development of co-operatives in particular sectors, for example group water schemes, renewable energy or agricultural co-operatives, would be a matter for my colleagues in the respective Government Departments.
In relation to ILO recommendation 2002 (R193), this is a matter which will be considered in the context of a wider review of the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, work on which is dependent to an extent on progress made on the finalisation and enactment of the Companies Bill, which is my priority in this area at present.