Amendment 16

Part of Financial Services Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 14th April 2021.

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Photo of Lord Naseby Lord Naseby Conservative 5:30 pm, 14th April 2021

My Lords, Amendment 37C is an issue of fundamental importance to young people who are disabled and have taken up child trust funds. The amendment before us is key. We had a thorough and competent speech from my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham, but I have just listened to another speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, and we have to find common ground between the two.

I declare a past interest as, when I joined the Commons in February 1974, I took an interest in the friendly society movement, which I continued until I left in 1997. I was then asked to become chairman, which I was from 1998 to 2005, of the Tunbridge Wells Equitable Friendly Society. That interest was declared at that point. In the days of the child trust fund, the Tunbridge Wells Equitable Friendly Society traded under the brand of the Children’s Mutual. It is my recollection that the Children’s Mutual was a brand leader, and we put a huge amount of effort into it. We liaised with the authorities involved at the time—not just the Government of the day but others. I am saddened and disappointed that, somehow or other, this issue got through the net. Unfortunately, the coalition Government tragically decided—George Osborne was one of the key players, of course—to wind it up. That was a great error, in my judgment.

We come to the current position, and I am pleased to hear the industry’s concerns, but I am disappointed that there has been no mention of the Association of Friendly Societies. I am sure that the majority of child trust funds were sold by the friendly societies, and I would advise those involved to make sure that the Association of Friendly Societies is involved now. On my own initiative, I will contact the Tunbridge Wells Equitable Friendly Society to suggest that it helps and is involved.

I am not sure why we have the same problem with junior ISAs. I declare an interest here, because I contribute to the junior ISAs of my four grandchildren, who are eligible. I am disappointed, although I was not involved in the legislation on junior ISAs in depth, that the same problem appears. I do not want to add to the concerns of my noble friend on the Front Bench, but, until recently, a large number of grandparents had been buying National Savings certificates, and I wonder whether the same problem is lying there and has not been raised by anybody else.

This is a serious problem. I have faith in my noble friend on the Front Bench, and I hope that he and those involved will look at it seriously. If there is anything that I can do to help resolve this issue, I will do my best to, because it is important.