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Provision Of Conveyancing Services By Recognised Institutions

Volume 98: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1986

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Amendments made: No. 410, in page 216, line 15, at end insert—

'"recognised practitioner" means a sole practitioner for the time being recognised under this Schedule;'.

No. 411, in line 17, at end insert—

'"sole practitioner" means an individual carrying on a business or profession otherwise than as a member of an unincorporated association;' .

No. 412, in page 220, line 43. at end insert—

'Power of Lord Chancellor to make recognition rules in the case of sole practitioners

12. —(1) The Lord Chancellor may, in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph, make rules with respect to the recognition by him of sole practitioners as being suitable to undertake the provision of conveyancing services.

(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (3) below, paragraphs 2 to 6 and 8 and 9 above shall apply in relation to the recognition of sole practitioners as they apply in relation to the recognition of institutions, and accordingly, in the application of those paragraphs in accordance with this sub-paragraph, any reference to an institution shall have effect as if it were a reference to a sole practioner and any reference to a recognised institution shall have effect as if it were a reference to a recognised practitioner.

(3) In the application of those paragraphs in accordance with sub-paragraph (2) above—

  • (a) the reference in paragraph 2(2)(b) to negligence, fraud or other dishonesty on the part of officers or employees of recognised institutions shall have effect as if it were a reference to negligence, fraud or other dishonesty on the part of recognised practitioners or their employees; and
  • (b) paragraph 6(3)(a) shall be omitted.
  • Restrictions on conveyancing by unqualified persons not to apply to recognised practitioners in relation to acts done by their employees

    13. Section 22(1) of the Solicitors Act 1974 shall not apply to an individual by reason of any act done by any employee of his, if at the time it was done, the individual was a recognised practitioner.

    Penalty for pretending to be a recognised practitioner

    14. — (1) A person shall not describe himself or hold himself out as a sole practitioner for the time being recognised under this Schedule unless he is so recognised.

    (2) Any person who contravenes sub-paragraph (1) above shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale. ' . — [Mr. Ian Stewart.]

    10.3 pm

    I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

    Now that we have reached the end of the proceedings in this House on the Building Societies Bill, I should like to express my thanks to all those who have been involved in its passage through the House for the constructive and good humoured way in which the proceedings have been conducted. It has been greatly to the advantage of the legislation.

    I do not apologise for the fact that the Government have introduced more than 1,000 amendments to the Bill. It is an exceedingly complicated piece of legislation which completely recasts the law for building societies which has been on the statute book, in generally the same condition, for over 100 years. The number of amendments is testimony to the care that we have tried to take in order to respond to all the points that have been raised in the process of consultation and discussion and, indeed, in response to the many points that were put forward by hon. Members in Committee. We have gone rather rapidly through a number of groups of Government amendments, and we have been able to do so because the matters were fully debated in Committee and the amendments meet undertakings that we gave.

    I want to thank my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), for the enormous amount of work that he has done and for his help in taking the Bill through the House. I greatly appreciate his support, both professional and personal. I also want to thank my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for coming in at one or two crucial moments in our proceedings to deal with subjects on which I do not profess to have any skill or expert knowledge.

    My hon. Friends and other members of the Committee all approached the legislation in a most helpful way. I do not at all take it in bad part that they were sometimes fairly rough with me. I only hope and believe that the Bill is in better shape as a result of the process of give and take that we have been through.

    I thank the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) for the way in which she has handled the Bill on behalf of the Opposition. Like myself, she had difficult clauses of the Finance Bill to deal with last night, and we shall be doing so again tomorrow night. Dealing with the Building Societies Bill in between has not been an easy matter. I compliment her on the way in which she has done so.

    I also want to mention the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch), who has taken up temporary residence on the Opposition Front Bench for the purposes of this Bill. His interest in the subject over many years is well known to the House and he has acquitted himself with considerable distinction. I hope that he will continue to occupy his present position in some other capacity.

    I want in particular to express my gratitude to the chief registrar and the staff of the registry, who, in addition to their routine work, which is an important range of duties, have devoted an enormous amount of time during the past three years to preparing details of this legislation. Without their ready assistance, which I know has placed a great strain on their resources, it would not have been possible to get the Bill into this sort of shape.

    On 21 January I announced that Mr. Herbert Walden had agreed to serve as a part-time member of the Building Societies Commission. I am glad to be able to announce today that Mr. Sidney Procter and Mr. Geoffrey Sammons have also accepted invitations from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be part-time members of the Building Societies Commission.

    Mr. Sammons retired as senior partner of the firm of Allen and Overy in May this year, and his long experience of legal matters should be of considerable value to the commission. Mr. Procter retired as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group in 1985. He is currently acting as adviser to the Governor of the Bank of England on banking supervision and will continue to do so in future, providing an important link between building society supervision and banking supervision. The Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to allow him to relinquish his post as vice chairman with effect from 1 January 1987 to enable him to take up that appointment, and I am grateful to it for doing so.

    I can also announce that Mr. Ronald Devlin, currently assistant registrar of friendly societies, will be a full-time member of the Building Societies Commission when it is established. Clearly the commission will have a most important part to play in the implementation of this legislation.

    Finally, I should like to thank the parliamentary draftsmen for really heroic efforts in completing the Bill, and also the officials in the Treasury, who, during nearly three years of intensive work, have had to contend with an awkward Minister who questioned every proposal that they put forward. It was an enormous labour for them and they have done an outstanding job. In that tribute I include also the Building Societies Association, whose representatives and advisers have made themselves readily available to members of the Committee and other hon. Members, and I am sure that the Bill is in a much better shape as a result.

    This is the most fundamental legislation on building societies for over a century. It gives them new powers and will enable them to compete more effectively in a changing marketplace. The emphasis will still be placed firmly on the provision of services for savers for house purchase, but I hope that the Bill will also enable building societies to face the future in the confidence that they will be able to continue to serve the public as effectively as they have done for many generations. I am sure that they have the best wishes of us all in meeting the new challenges that they face.

    I think that the Bill leaves the House with the united support of hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber and of the building societies themselves, and I hope that it will not be too long before it reaches the statute book.

    10.10 pm

    First, I echo the Minister's words, because I believe that the Bill provides a framework for the building societies in a competitive market. As the Economic Secretary to the Treasury knows, we still have certain reservations about the Bill, but we wish the building societies well. We have emphasised during our debates the importance of their commitment to housing and their meeting of that social need in the past. We hope that in future the societies will remain as mutual organisations and will continue primarily to meet the housing need.

    I thank the Minister for his kind remarks about the conduct of the Bill in Committee, and I thank the Building Societies Association for the assistance that it gave to all members of the Committee during the passage of the Brill through Parliament. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) for agreeing to come on the Opposition Front Bench during the course of the Bill's passage through the House, for all the assistance that he has given me and for the wit that he has brought to the conduct of our debates. Perhaps we are not as anxious as the Minister seems to be for the Bill to return to this place and to face it all over again when we consider Lords amendments, but no doubt we shall face that prospect. We wish the building societies well.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.