Tony Blair is backing a wide ranging commission to examine the future of the UK Co-operative Movement. This will be just the second full-scale review of the Co-op in its 150 year history. The commission, which will sit for six months, is being chaired by TUC general secretary John Monks and will bring together leading figures of the Co-op, Labour Party, trades unions and business community. CWS chief executive Graham Melmoth said on Thursday: "We believe the time is right to look at the values and structures that make us different from a plc. We want the commission to help us identify opportunities to modernise and change so that our unique consumer ownership, once again, becomes a major asset of our brand." The movement comprises 45 autonomous societies covering food retailing, banking and insurance, farming, funeral homes, opticians, travel agencies and engineering. They are linked through the Co-operative Union, which embraces a political party that sponsors some Labour MPs. The movement is still controlled and owned by its members, including customers. The commission, which will be advised by Warburg Dillon Reed, will look at a range of issues, but its brief will be to review the role and purpose of the movement and recommend any changes necessary to ensure its future success. This could include assessing benefits from merging the 45 Co-ops. Tony Blair said: "The Co-op Movement represents a vital part of UK business." lThe next round of talks to decide the merger of CWS and CRS takes place on Saturday March 4. {{NEWS }}