HC Deb 25 June 1940 vol 362 cc299-300
50. Commander Locker-Lampson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a moratorium was introduced at the outbreak of the war in 1914 although the financial condition of the country was not as precarious as on the outbreak of the present war; that little protection is being given under the Courts Emergency Powers Act to small people who have been sued and summoned; that hundreds of soldiers overseas have had their lives complicated by debts which would not have existed had a moratorium been introduced; and will he now introduce a moratorium?

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

I have been asked to reply. The moratoria introduced at the beginning of the last war were before the then Courts Emergency Powers Act, which was regarded as replacing them, and they in fact were not extended beyond November, 1914. I think the hon. Member under-estimates the value of the protection given by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, but I would refer him to the Courts (Emergency Powers) (Amendment) Bill now before the House. If the Bill is read a Second time, it is proposed to move Amendments which will afford further protection to debtors, particularly in certain cases to those who are serving in the Forces.

Commander Locker-Lampson

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for his answer, may I ask whether he is aware that there are soldiers who have been made bankrupt since they have been serving overseas?

The Attorney-General

I shall be very glad indeed if my hon. and gallant Friend will send me particulars of any case that he has in mind. This is a difficult question and we shall be glad to give any information in a case such as that to which he referred.