We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, I shall speak to the new clause which stands in my name as Amendment 15. In doing so, I reflect the privilege of working with the mutual movement for 30 years. In creating this amendment, it was very clear that the Bill as it stood left some gaps of the one-size-fits-all kind. I gave some examples on Second Reading and further examples in Committee. Indeed, I can record this evening in your Lordships’ House that there is one new mutual insurer now trading, for the first time in 20 years. It is a new military mutual, serving our Armed Forces. I cannot think of a better new mutual to stand on the market than one which serves our Armed Forces.
I pay tribute to the Front Bench and in particular to the Minister. I understood that the examples I gave of misunderstandings, or of being left out or not fully understood, have been looked at by Her Majesty’s Treasury. I think that they were found to be quite genuine cases. I recognise that Her Majesty’s Government reserved the right, from the start, to look at the wording of the original new clause that I had tabled. I always had an open mind that those words might have to be amended, if necessary. They have been and are now before us.
There is still a problem in the world outside in understanding this. Half the population is being served by mutuals, yet very few people in authority really understand the driving force behind the mutual movement and why it is growing today. There is a need for all of us in society, particularly the regulators, to have a better understanding. I question whether the new regulator has anybody senior who has ever worked in a mutual. If not, then I hope there will be some appointments made hurriedly.
As far as the mutual movement is concerned—the building societies, the mutual insurers, the friendly societies and credit unions, and of course the Co-Op—tonight will be a special night if this new clause is accepted. It will recognise that their future needs will have to be considered and be better understood, so I say a huge thank you on their behalf to your Lordships’ House if this new clause is accepted.