Press Release 50 25.1.99
Storyline: There is a need to remove the idea of windfalls from the conversion vote process.
Martin Bell MP has issued the following statement: "While I understand the importance given by the Government to members democracy in Building Societies, I am concerned that votes for conversion are backed up with what can only be described as a bribe. Imagine any other sort of election: for Parliament perhaps. When the voter is told in advance that if a particular side wins then each voter is in line for a financial windfall, which way would many vote? That is the position in which many Mutual Building Societies have been put in."
I suggest that members should be allowed a democratic voice in the future direction of their Societies, but the distorting effects of a windfall should be taken out of it. Remove the element of bribe, and a truly democratic decision will result. Since it may well fall to Parliament to decide whether Mutual Building Societies are allowed to continue their good work or to disappear, it might well be time for MP's to declare on the Register of Members Interests their Building Society accounts."
Mastin Bell MP:Note to the editor1: Due to a very busy schedule and existing commitments Martin Bell MP regrets he is unable to give further comment or take part in interviews on this matter. Please contact anv of our spokespeople for further comment
Note to the Editor2: This year has seen the wholesale assault by carpetbaggers on a number of important building societies. It has become even more important for the Government to put an end to this misery by at some point introducing legislation to protect the mutuals.
Patrica Hewitt for the Government, while acknowledging the huge contribution made by Building Societies nevertheless believes that members democracy must decide the issue.
Bob Goodall Co-ordinator "Save Our Building Societies" campaign