§ Mr. Nigel Griffiths
I am pleased to report that I have laid before Parliament today the Consumer Credit (Increase of Monetary Limits) (Amendment) Order 1998. This order is subject to the affirmative procedure and will be debated by both Houses of Parliament.
I will then lay two other associated Orders, the Consumer Credit (Further Increase of Monetary Amounts) Order 1998, and the Consumer Credit (Realisation of Pawn) (Amendment) Regulations 1998.
The main thrust of these amendments will be to increase protection for consumers and unincorporated businesses by raising the upper limit for regulated credit and hire agreements to £25,000, from the current level of £15,000, which has not been changed since 1983. This will bring under regulation most unsecured consumer loans and many loans for house purchase and other loans secured on property which are currently above the regulated level.
Because many people who borrow small amounts are among the more vulnerable consumers, I have decided not to raise the upper limit on small agreements or to change the exemption limits for connected lender liability.
The upper limit relating to the consumer's right to terminate a hire agreement after 18 months will be raised from £900 to £1,500.
The fees which consumers pay for copies of documents and other services and the exemption limit on the notice of intention to sell pawned goods will be raised to reflect inflation since the last rise.
The consumer's liability following misuse of a credit card will remain at the current level of £50.
To give the credit and hire industries time to make the necessary administrative amendments, the changes will come into force on 1 May 1998, after the Increase of Monetary Limits Order has been debated and received the approval of both Houses.