§ Mr. Keen
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if action is being taken to bring the scale of fees for industrial and provident societies into line with those now established for limited companies; what efforts his Department is making to ensure that the deregulation initiative guarantees a level playing field between industrial and provident societies and private companies; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mrs. Angela Knight
I have been asked to reply.
As part of the Government's deregulation initiative, we intend to bring audit requirements for industrial and provident societies broadly into line with those for companies. This will involve a relaxation of the requirement to prepare and submit accounts and an increase in the audit thresholds. A consultation exercise on these and other deregulatory changes to the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts was carried out earlier this year. The measures will be implemented through an Order under section 1 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. The draft order will be laid early in the next session.
The Government have no plans to bring the fees for industrial and provident societies into line with those for limited companies. The higher fees in part reflect the more detailed registration procedure for societies, which is needed to ensure that they are either bona fide co-operatives of that they operate for the benefit of the community and so do not need to be registered as companies. However, the Government keep societies' fees under annual review.