Clause 3 - Power to modify, etc. to assimilate to company law

Part of Industrial and Provident Societies Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 13th February 2002.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 11:30 am, 13th February 2002

It is not my intention to debate parish councils, Mr. McWilliam, but there is an obvious analogy with the effect of secondary legislation on such organisations. In that instance, a power was given in primary legislation to the Government to introduce model rules. The implication of that primary legislation was that the model rules would allow flexibility, but in the end they did. My concern about the new clause is how can we contemplate what the implications of suddenly being liable for a range of new criminal offences might be for certain officers and committee members of friendly societies? At present, they are not liable because they are not directors of companies. If the hon. Gentleman wants to turn all friendly societies and industrial and provident societies into companies, that could be achieved through legislation.

There are important distinctions between industrial and provident societies and companies. I do not share the hon. Gentleman's belief that assimilation between industrial and provident societies and companies is, by definition, a good thing. The retention of the differences may be valuable.