Previous SectionIndexHome Page

12.23 pm

Mr. Chope: The final part of the contribution of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South–East (Mr. Turner) must have been the result of his drinking from one of those bottles of special real ale with which he was presented by the Campaign for Real Ale—

Mr. Turner: Not this morning.

Mr. Chope: The hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that the promoter of the Bill, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas), had dealt with it admirably. I would like to add that the hon. Gentleman has done so in an exemplary fashion. Indeed, if other Members who introduce private Member's Bills use his experience and follow his example, they will do extremely well. He realised that in order to get a private Member's Bill on to the statute book, one must be clear about one's objectives; one must be prepared to listen to points of view from both sides of the House; and one must conduct oneself with good humour and keep in touch with people who have expressed an interest in the subject. He has done all those things. From the moment at Second Reading when I first expressed misgivings about clauses 2 and 3, he went out of his way to try to accommodate my concerns.

I am only sorry that now, at Third Reading, the Bill completely lacks the content of the original clause 2, because although I had reservations about it—as did the Government—the clause could probably have been amended to make it acceptable if work had been done on it earlier. I share the frustration that the hon. Gentleman must feel that although, having managed to secure his place in the ballot, he chose and identified his piece of legislation very early, Treasury officials did not get to grips with the detail of the Bill until the eleventh hour. If more thought had been put into it earlier, we might have been able to progress clause 2. The hon. Gentleman also understood the concerns that were expressed about clause 3; as a result, the latest version is a great improvement on the original.

I hope that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East and others will not rue the day that they chose not to support my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) in his new clause 3, which would have produced a better Bill. Their decision is understandable if—as might be the case—they were threatened that if the Bill was amended in that way it would not receive Government support at Third Reading, but let us hope that Labour Back Benchers' faith in their Government will be fulfilled and that there will be a significant reduction in the fees that clubs and industrial and provident societies are charged. I have my doubts about that, but time will tell whether I and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire are right or whether Labour Members were right to put their trust in the Government.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Harrow, West on the Bill. I and my party support its Third Reading and hope that it passes through the other place without significant—or perhaps any—amendment, because if it is amended, it may encounter difficulties in terms of time in the House and fail to reach the statute book.

19 Apr 2002 : Column 851

12.27 pm

Dawn Primarolo: I echo the comments made by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) on the excellent and dedicated way in which he has guided the Bill through the House.

The quality of debate on Second Reading, in Committee and in the Chamber today has been high. That shows that at last, after a very long time—stretching back beyond even the stewardship of the Labour Government—we are on the verge of fulfilling the desire of the industrial and provident societies to reform themselves and update their legislation. The House has recognised the significant part that industrial and provident societies play in the wider mutual sector and how much positive will there is among Members of Parliament to ensure that we maximise the benefits that those societies can offer to their members.

There are currently just under 10,000 industrial and provident societies in the United Kingdom, with assets totalling over £60 billion. They, with other classes of mutuals in the United Kingdom—building societies, friendly societies and credit unions—form a distinct and important part of the economy, and the Government believe that mutuals of all kinds should have an opportunity to develop and play an important role in offering consumers choice and innovative services. The mutual advantage—not having external shareholders to satisfy, so that organisations can concentrate on providing goods and services for their members and for the wider community—makes mutuality a distinct and potentially very useful alternative model for business, as hon. Members have said. We believe that mutuality has a great deal to contribute, now and in the future, offering particular benefits to individual members and to the communities in which they are based. It is because we recognise the value and potential of mutual societies that we have recently been involved in several initiatives to help them maximise the benefits that they can offer to their members.

I realise that some people are disappointed that changes made during the Bill's passage through the House make it less ambitious than they would have preferred, but it is important that there should be time to consult and to consider its detail. Despite that disappointment, and in addition to recognising the hard work of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West, those who supported and advised him, and the Treasury officials who have stood ready at all times to give the advice that they are required and able to give—private Member's Bills are dealt with in a different way from other Bills—we should not underestimate what the Bill will achieve in its current form.

19 Apr 2002 : Column 852

A more robust demutualisation procedure should bring more confidence in, and strength to, the society form. The ability to update industrial and provident society legislation through secondary legislation will ensure that the legal framework for societies need never fall further behind the framework applying to companies. Over time, the Bill's provisions will have a much more profound effect. They will allow industrial and provident legislation to catch up in areas deemed appropriate, thereby helping to create a genuinely level playing field with companies and across the mutual sector.

During the Bill's passage, we considered several other provisions that are not current features of it. Although, for differing reasons, it has not been possible to accept them, the debates and the analysis undertaken have served a useful purpose. For example, we have been able to explore areas in which the movement might benefit from an updating of its legislation. We have also examined the issues surrounding asset "lock-in" and why it may be advantageous to certain parts of the movement, and what issues need further consideration. We have discussed at length fees, the relationship of all societies to the Financial Services Authority, and particular problems with fee levels that have been identified in certain areas.

The performance and innovation unit has undertaken its own analysis of the legal framework of the social enterprise sector, and it hopes to report later this year. Whatever its conclusions, I believe that the discussions and the work that we have undertaken during consideration of the Bill have given us a much better idea of how to help the movement grow, and of how we might take forward any recommendations that the performance and innovation unit makes. The Government believe that, where appropriate, it is essential to help industrial and provident societies to operate on a level playing field with companies and other mutuals. The Bill provides an important stepping stone towards achieving that aim.

Once again, on behalf of the House I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West on introducing this very useful Bill. I am delighted to hear that his reading matter will now move on from the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts. Perhaps he will read the Red Book and the Budget papers, before finally alighting on something a little lighter. I recommend the Harry Potter novels, for example, which provide amazing relaxation. My congratulations are sincere. In terms of the procedures of the House, the difficulties associated with private Member's Bills are enormous. He has done an excellent job and this is an excellent Bill. The Government certainly want to see it on the statute book.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

19 Apr 2002 : Column 851

19 Apr 2002 : Column 853

National Heritage Bill [Lords]

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 1

Compensation to affected parties

(1) If, pursuant to this Act an ancient monument is declared which results in any third party suffering financial loss directly as a result of such declaration (including a loss as a result of such third party being unable to exercise fishing rights) then compensation shall be paid to the third party as a result of such declaration.
(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision relating to the compensation to be paid under subsection (1).'.—[Mr. Greg Knight.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

12.35 pm

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Earlier this week, when I tabled new clause 1, I think that I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) an attack of hypertension because she was very concerned that my aim might be to talk out the Bill. No such anxiety arose with my dear hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Sir Sydney Chapman), who is very laid back about such matters. May I tell both of them that I am not here to wreck today's proceedings?

I introduce this primarily probing new clause because the Bill is strangely silent on what happens if someone suffers a financial loss as a direct result of the declaration of an ancient monument. If the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England makes a decision as the result of the Bill and that decision results in others being out of pocket or losing out in some way, surely compensation should be considered. If no compensation scheme covers the scope of the Bill, surely one needs to be introduced. That is the aim of new clause 1.

I am quite happy for the details of such a scheme to be decided by the Government and I do not seek to prescribe in the new clause how it should be set up. I am confident that the Government would ensure that fair provisions were introduced if such a measure were needed, but we need to examine the principle of awarding compensation to those who lose out through no fault of their own, and we need to debate and clarify that issue before proceeding to Third Reading.

Next Section

IndexHome Page