I follow my ministerial colleague in thanking my immediate predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr Foster), for the smooth handover into this post; it is always a good idea to be nice to the Chief Whip.
My Department established the community shares unit in October 2012, with £590,000 of funding over three years. Since then, communities have raised £16 million from 70 share offer launches. That is a significant increase on the £3 million raised the year before.
I welcome the Minister, who was a very good member of the Education Committee under my chairmanship, to his new job. Is he aware that crowdfunding is how we could get a real renaissance of communities up and down the country? It is in peril at the moment because in the private and social enterprise sectors it is threatened by inappropriate regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Mr Speaker, there are many distinguished alumni of that Committee, and I greatly enjoyed my three and a half years under the hon. Gentleman’s chairmanship.
The hon. Gentleman is chair of the Westminster crowdfunding forum. At the moment, the sector is completely unregulated; I am aware that the hon. Gentleman has recently raised concerns in The Sunday Times. If he has specific concerns about the heavy hand of regulation, he should write to me and I shall raise the matter with colleagues at the Treasury, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office.