§ 8 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 10th July be approved.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of the regulations is to increase the minimum debt required to support a bankruptcy petition—or in Scotland a petition for sequestration—and the minimum debt required to support a petition for the compulsory winding up of a company. The increase is proposed in order that the amounts originally laid down in Acts of Parliament are kept, so far as seems appropriate, in line with present day values. The regulations are, in fact, the first legislative step towards the major reform of insolvency law to come in the wake of the Cork report. The proposals in the White Paper A Revised Framework for Insolvency Law, published in February this year, included reference to the increases in limits which are in the regulations before your Lordships.
§ Until Section 1(1) of the Insolvency Act 1976 came into force on 20th December of that year, there had been no change in the figures prescribed in legislation 600 since 1914. The position was at that time adjusted, but only partially, by increasing the figure prescribed by the Scotland Act and the Bankruptcy and Companies Acts from £50 to £200, and the figure prescribed by the Administration of Justice Act 1965 from £100 to £400; that is relating to county court administration orders. The 1976 Act also gave to the Secretary of State power to make regulations as now put forward, whereby the sums specified inter alia in respect of these minimum petition debts may be increased or reduced.
§ The increases which I am now proposing to your Lordships, while moving further towards parity with present day prices, still fall far short of what would be necessary if the full impact of the upward movement of prices were to be brought to bear, for let us remember that we are talking about prices which were originally fixed 60 years ago. On those grounds, I ask your Lordships to approve these regulations. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 10th July be approved.—(Lord Belstead.)
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, we on this side of the House are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, for his explanation of the contents of these regulations. We entirely support them.
On Question, Motion agreed to.