Clause 2 - Community benefit societies

Part of Industrial and Provident Societies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 10:45 am, 13th February 2002

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 propose to leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (1), and amendment No. 6 is consequential upon that.

Paragraph (b) introduces the entrenchment of rules. I agree with the Minister that that undermines the sovereignty of members. No Parliament can bind its successors, so why should one group of members of a community benefit society be able to bind its successors for all time, and curtail their freedom of choice to reach a different view? If the regulator or the registrar adopts a policy on public interest grounds,

he—or a subsequent regulator or registrar—can change it. That must also be the case with regard to members of a society: they should be able to reach a different conclusion in different circumstances that we might not be able to foresee now. That is why I am concerned about the entrenchment provision in paragraph (b).

Paragraph (c) is the most severely restrictive part of the clause, because it restricts flexibility and undermines a provision in the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. It entrenches assets, and that is unacceptable for the reasons that have been adduced in our debate. I hope that the hon. Member for Harrow, West, will adopt a similarly flexible approach to these amendments as he did to previous ones.