HC Deb 03 May 1971 vol 816 cc1008-10
31. Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Attorney-General whether pursuant to Section 54(4) of the Administration of Justice Act, 1970, it is yet possible to specify a date for the coming into force of Section 13 of the said Act.

The Attorney-General

My noble Friend is waiting for the Attachment of Earnings Bill to be passed before bringing into force Section 13 of the Administration of Justice Act, 1970, as the Bill will consolidate Section 13 of the other statutory provisions relating to attachment of earnings. If, as appears likely, the Bill receives Royal Assent later this month, the Lord Chancellor intends to make an Order bringing the relevant provisions into operation on 2nd August, 1971.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Does my right hon. and learned Friend appreciate that that will bring satisfaction to many people, like the constituent who wrote to met on this matter last week, who, while they have very strong cases of liability in respect of these small debts, at the moment shrink from bringing proceedings in the county court because of the difficulties of execution? Will he do all he can to see that that timetable is maintained and, if possible, accelerated?

The Attorney-General

I will certainly so assure my right hon. and learned Friend. It is hoped that the Bill will receive the Royal Assent on 12th May. There is then certain subordinate legislation to be introduced, and it is hoped that this will be brought into effect by the beginning of August.

Sir Elwyn Jones

Is the right hon. and learned Gentlemen satisfied that the machinery will be ready for the implementation of these proposals by August? They are important proposals, since they serve the dual purpose of easing the collection of civil debts and reducing the number of people who go to prison for non-payment of civil debt. Could he give some assurance about the machinery aspect?

The Attorney-General

I believe I can. Of course, there will be six weeks; it is necessary for litigants and advisers to familiarise themselves with this new procedure, which, under the 1970 Act, will greatly reduce the numbers of people who will go to prison for debt. I think the six-week period should give people enough time to familiarise themselves.