HC Deb 22 July 1960 vol 627 cc1001-3
Mr. Chapman

I beg to move, in page 26, line 14, after "society", to insert: and provided that the resolution is signed by at least ten members of the building society". We are here talking about the circulation of special resolutions sent in by individual members of building societies. In the Bill as originally drafted this was covered in the Third Schedule. There the Government laid it down that any resolutions submitted by anyone would be circulated. To that Schedule I tabled precisely this Amendment to provide that when ten members signed the resolution the society should be obliged to circulate it.

That part of the Schedule disappeared in the course of redrafting and substitution by this Clause and I now find that the Government have swung from the extreme position which they took to the position of requiring that the member himself should pay for the circulation and have now come right back again to the position that formerly applied in the Third Schedule.

Mr. Speaker

Having listened to the hon. Member for a moment, I think it would be convenient for the House to discuss with this Amendment the Amendment in his name, to page 26, line 32, after "shall", insert: unless the resolution is signed by not less than ten members of the society, and

Mr. Chapman

That would be convenient, Mr. Speaker. We are now back with the position in the Third Schedule of the Bill as originally drafted, namely, that any special resolution must be circulated at the expense of the society. This matter requires some Amendment. I am informed that societies are quite fearful that if this stands they will have some cranks who will use this power to put down "nuisance" resolutions of no great importance and circulated to meeting after meeting at the expense of the society.

In some societies, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of members are involved. The expense of circulating them is considerable. In these circumstances it would be wrong to insist that any crank can have any special resolution circulated year after year at the expense of the society. It is not unreasonable to say that he must produce nine other members of the society who will support him. This is a matter of great importance. My Amendment would save societies a good deal of nuisance, and is a reasonable one to press.

Sir K. Joseph

I do not want unnecessarily to bring up the rather sore point about the privacy of the registers. The hon. Member speaks with great authority, but he is not at one with the majority of people in the building society movement, who welcome the privacy of the register. If the moving of a special resolution is to be dependent upon having nine supporters, that will almost certainly mean that members must be given a less restricted right of access to the register.

The movement has welcomed the maintenance, in broad principle, of the privacy of the registers. It must, therefore, accept the consequences of that. If one of the consequences is that it will expose societies to occasionally cranky special resolutions, then that must be borne by them as a minor result of their own desire to keep the registers as private as possible. This Amendment should not be accepted by the House.

Mr. Mitchison

It serves them right.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: In page 26, line 15, leave out from "to" to end of line 18 and insert: include in the notice of the meeting a notice specifying the intention to move that resolution as a special resolution at the meeting".

In line 21, leave out "twenty-eight" and insert "fifty-six".

In line 24, leave out "twenty-eight" and insert "fifty-six".

In page 26, leave out lines 26 to 40 and insert: (3) If a building society fails to comply with an application duly made under this section, the building society and every officer of the building society who is in default shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.—[Sir K. Joseph.]