HC Deb 01 December 1959 vol 614 cc984-6
13. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the terms of the resolution sent to him by the Scottish Council of Women Citizens' Associations concerning personal credit schemes and what was the nature of his reply.

32. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take the steps necessary to bring personal credit schemes within the terms of the Moneylenders Acts, 1900 to 1927, as regards advertising and interest rates.

Mr. N. Macpherson

I regret that I am unable to add to the reply my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Dunfermline Burghs (Dr. A. Thompson) on 26th November and the Scottish Council of Women Citizens has been so informed.

Mr. Hannan

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the resolution is only one of many letters which hon. Members on this side of the House have received about this important matter? Will the hon. Gentleman consult the Secretary of State with a view to the right hon. Gentleman consulting the Lord Advocate in order to get an early decision on this matter, which is causing grave anxiety?

Mr. Macpherson

I am sure there will be no untoward delay but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, criminal proceedings are pending and it would not be advisable for me to comment.

Mr. Rankin

While judgment must be suspended at the moment, will not the hon. Gentleman also consider ensuring that where promoters of such schemes are taking, or propose to take, action against borrowers, that also will be suspended until we get the verdict of the courts?

Mr. Macpherson

That will be a matter for the promoters themselves.

Mr. Rankin

But when a case has been submitted to the courts, it is the business surely of the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate, who has made the submission, that all actions pending on these matters should be suspended?

Mr. Macpherson

I suggest that it would depend on the circumstances in each case.

Miss Herbison

Is the Under-Secretary aware that our courts are cluttered with such cases, and that there is a very strong feeling in Scotland that if we must suspend judgment on one issue it ought to be suspended on others? Is he further aware that many of those people who are being taken to the courts have already paid very high rates of interest? In one case that I know of the rate was 33.65 per cent.

Mr. Macpherson

The Question I have been asked is whether this action comes within the terms of the Moneylenders Acts. It is not possible for me to answer that Question at the present time.

Mr. Lawson

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter at the earliest possible moment.