Protective Provisions for Specially Formed Successors
Orders of the Day — Building Societies Bill
Mr John Butterfill (Bournemouth West)
I am extremely disappointed by my hon. Friend's response. She said that there would be complaints if we were to give protection, which tells me that she is missing the fundamental point. The bodies concerned have the protection now, and have enjoyed it since 1986. To my knowledge, there have been no complaints of abuse by them of that protection or abuse by any of the societies that have already converted. My hon. Friend is raising a false hare when she speaks of abuse. The system has existed since 1986 and it has not been abused.
We are seeking to give transitional protection and no more. My hon. Friend suggests that the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien) is confused, but it would seem that the confusion lies with my hon. Friend. It is inevitable that converting societies that are anxious to change their businesses rapidly will go on the acquisition trail. If the amendments are accepted, they will not go on that trail for mutual building societies, friendly societies or mutual insurance companies. They will confine their activities to businesses that will not lead them to the risk of losing the limited protection that is proposed.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Minister does not accept the amendment. Those in another place may take a different view. In the meantime, as I accept that there may be drafting defects, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.