HC Deb 22 November 1948 vol 458 cc872-3
70. Mr. Lipson

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present number of undischarged bankrupts; what check is kept on their financial activities; and whether he will consider taking action to strengthen the existing law on the matter.

Mr. H. Wilson

It is estimated that there are 60,000 undischarged bankrupts. In general, no check is maintained, but if the Official Receiver obtains information suggesting that an undischarged bankrupt is committing bankruptcy offences or possesses after-acquired property, he takes whatever action is appropriate. The answer to the third part of the Question is in the negative.

Mr. Lipson

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether some more stringent check ought to be kept on the activities of some of these gentlemen, in view of their mode of life and their financial dealings?

Mr. Wilson

Without a very large additional staff equipped with special police powers, it would be impossible to keep track of some 60,000 undischarged bankrupts.

Major Haughton

Would the President of the Board of Trade agree that it would be possible, without a great addition to the staff of inspectors, to insist that an undischarged bankrupt should report periodically?

Mr. Wilson

I would like to look into that. I would not agree without considering it.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas

Would it not be a practicable method of making such persons reveal their position if the identity card of every undischarged bankrupt was marked "undischarged bankrupt" so that its production could be demanded by anyone who was interested?

Mr. Wilson

I do not think that would be a desirable recommendation.

Mr. Drayson

Is it not desirable that undischarged bankrupts should not frequently change their names, which leads to confusion?

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the register of undischarged bankrupts is available for inspection at a fee and could not greater use be made of it? No doubt it is worth looking at, but the register seems a little old-fashioned.