HC Deb 23 January 2003 vol 398 cc431-2
12. Mr. Gareth Thomas (Harrow, West)

What plans he has to reform industrial and provident society legislation; and if he will make a statement. [92744]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly)

The strategy unit has conducted a review of the legal forms available to social enterprises, including industrial and provident societies. The report made recommendations to improve the current legal framework, which have been the subject of a public consultation. We are currently examining responses received and considering options for taking forward the recommendations.

Mr. Thomas

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply and for the way in which she has engaged with the issue of industrial and provident society reform over the past 18 months, but does she recognise that there remain significant unnecessary differences between the accounting requirements and the insolvency and business rescue requirements of industrial and provident societies and companies? Will she consider what further opportunities there are to make the necessary corrections to those regimes?

Ruth Kelly

My hon. Friend makes important points in respect of industrial and provident society legislation. It is the Government's intention to update that legislation in line, for example, with company law when company law is reformed. It is also important that he drew attention to administration procedures during the recent passage of the Enterprise Bill and secured an enabling clause that will allow us to make the changes that he proposes. We are considering what our priorities for the sector should be and hope to make progress.