HC Deb 20 May 1930 vol 239 cc194-6

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will be able to announce the personnel of the committee he has promised to set up to inquire into the operation of hire purchase agreements in Scotland and the imprisonment of debtors for failure to maintain their payments: and whether he can also state the terms 'of reference to that committee?


My right hon. Friend hopes to announce at an early date the personnel and terms of reference of this committee.


How early a date, because this matter, as shown by the hon. Gentleman's figures last week, is very important, and there is a great deal of hardship to certain people in Scotland?


If my hon. Friend will be good enough to repeat the question in a fortnight's time, I hope to be able to give an answer.


Does the hon. Member not think that the Government have set up far too many committees already?

18. Mr. N. MACLEAN

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the proposed committee which is to be set up to inquire into cases of imprisonment under hire-purchase agreements, he will suspend the penalty of imprisonment for failure to implement the decree ad factum practandum, e.g., for debt, until the committee has submitted its Report?


My right hon. Friend has no power to take the action suggested by my hon. Friend.


In consideration of the fact that Scotland is the only part of the British Isles where people can be imprisoned for debt, and that, as shown by his figures last week, the matter is a very harsh one and that the prisoner can be imprisoned for an indefinite period, will he take steps to prevent this being continued while the committee is in process of being constituted?


My right hon. Friend is legally advised that he has no power to interfere with the action of the pursuer who gets the decree of the Court.


It is not a matter of the pursuer. It is the action of the Court in putting people into prison for an indefinite period pending the will of

STATEMENT showing in the case of Local Authorities that have proceeded with the erection of houses with financial assistance in terms of Section 1 (3) of the Housing, etc., Act, 1923, the number of houses completed, the number of occupants, and the amount of owners' rates payable annually:—
Local Authority. Number of houses completed at 17.5.30. Number of occupants. Total amount of owners' rates payable annually on basis of 1929–30 rates.
£ s. d.
Airdrie Burgh 507 2,535 2,212 7 9
Hamilton Burgh 262 Information not available. 1,259 19 1
Coatbridge Burgh 224 1,155 1,008 0 0
Upper Ward District of Lanark. 100 Information not available. 598 0 0
Middle Ward District of Lanark. 1,600 Do. 10,227 0 0
Glasgow 4,036* Do. 17,170 0 0
* Number of houses completed at 30th April, 1930.

the pursuer himself, and that is why I am asking if something cannot be done to put a stop to it in the meantime?


My right hon. Friend simply cannot interfere with the Statute.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the cost per prisoner is placed against the person who puts him there, and is he prepared to see that the cost will be sufficient to maintain a prisoner fully, or, in other words, to make the cost much higher than it is for simply throwing people into prison.


That point is presently being considered by the Minister.