Friday, 20 January 2012

The oldest ex-MP was an early profit-sharer

I am grateful to Liberal Democrat News and to Jonathan Calder for information about Theodore Taylor. This gentleman holds the record (beating Labour's Manny Shinwell by about six months) for the longest-lived  member of the British Parliament. He was 102 when he died in 1952.

But he also deserves to be remembered as a pioneer of profit-sharing in British industry. He joined the family cloth-making business of J T & J Taylor Ltd. in 1866 and eventually became its head. In 1896 he transformed the business into a private limited company. This, after paying five percent on capital, distributed the remaining profits to all workers employed for a year or more. Eventually the majority share ownership passed to the workforce.

Incidentally, although talk of co-operatives in the wake of Nick Clegg's speech has been dominated by the names of John Lewis Partnership (employee cooperative) and the Cooperative Society (customer cooperative), there are hundreds of others including the worldwide chemical specialists Scott Bader and smaller ones throughout the UK. There is a 22-page list at Co-operatives UK.

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