Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (241)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

241. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the agency responsible for the investigation of breaches of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 in relation to friendly societies; the way an investigation can be initiated; the powers it has in relation to breaches of the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14940/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Registrar of Friendly Societies has a range of functions relating to friendly societies and industrial and provident societies, dating back to the late nineteenth century, under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893-1978 and the Friendly Societies Acts 1896-1977. Under the legislation industrial and provident societies and friendly societies may register with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, subject to a range of obligations in relation to such registration. Principally, these include the following obligations: to register their rules and the titles and names of officers; to submit an annual return to the Registrar, specifying the receipts and expenditure, funds and effects of the society (as well as a copy of the audited accounts of the society); to submit a copy of all alterations of rules, new rules; and change of officers made during the previous year, and; to maintain a registered office and to notify the Registrar of any change in the registered office.

Breaches of the Acts may be dealt with by the imposition of a fine (where an offence has been committed) or by cancellation of the registry of a society. Offences include (but are not limited to) a failure to give notice, send any return or document, not allow anything to be done or sent which the Acts require; wilfully neglecting or refusing to furnish information required under the Acts; furnishing false or insufficient information; a refusal to attend or produce documents in relation to a dispute. The Registrar may cancel the registration of a society where it has been obtained by fraud or mistake, or where a society has wilfully and after notice from the Registrar violated any of the provisions of the Acts.

In relation to disputes there is provision under both codes of legislation for the parties to a dispute, by consent, to refer a dispute to the Registrar, unless the rules of the society expressly forbid such a referral. The Registrar may, with the consent of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, hear and determine such dispute, and may order the expenses of determining same to be paid out or the funds of the society or by such parties to the dispute as she thinks fit.

In the case of industrial and provident societies, the Registrar also has (with the consent of the Minister) power to appoint an inspector or inspectors to examine into and report on the affairs of a society, or to call a special meeting of the society, upon application to her by one tenth of the number of members of a society, or of one hundred members in the case of a society exceeding one thousand members. While I have set out briefly the broad detail of the main provisions in relation to the areas raised by the Deputy there are some differences between the bodies of legislation in the procedures applicable to friendly societies and industrial and provident societies, and the Acts should be read carefully in respect of each individual type of society to determine the rules applicable.