§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he plans to introduce measures to permit building societies to offer personal equity plans to the public.
§ Mr. Ian Stewart
The Government believe that building societies have a potentially important role to play in encouraging the growth of wider share ownership through the personal equity plan scheme announced by my right hon. Friend in his Budget speech. To this end, the Government will be introducing amendments to the Building Societies Bill which would give the societies power to undertake investment business for the purpose of providing personal equity plans. This will enable the societies to be plan manager; and to offer a wide range of schemes which will be possible under the Government's 621W proposals. The power will be available only to those building societies with commercial assets of £100 million or more, and the business will have to be undertaken by a subsidiary of the society which may be wholly owned or a joint venture with another investment business, and which will require authorisation under the financial services legislation. Societies under the £100 million threshold will be free to market plans on behalf of a plan manager.
The amendments will be tabled as soon as possible.