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Warrant Sales

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether he will arrange to meet the Scottish Law Commission to discuss the abolition of warrant sales.

Bearing in mind that it is about 10 years since the Law Commission started looking into that matter and over a year since it published its findings, will the Government consider introducing a Bill this Session to abolish warrant sales or, failing that, give support to a Private Member's Bill similar to the one that I tried to introduce last Session? That Bill was supported not only by Labour Members but by Conservatives who want an end to that inhuman practice which causes untold misery to many low income people and their families.

It would be difficult for the Government to support the hon. Gentleman's Private Member's Bill that he introduced in June, because he never published it, so we do not know what it contained.

Order. Out of the kindness of my heart, I shall call the hon. Gentleman for a second supplementary question, so I hope that the House will now subside.

Published or not, it would not be possible to give support to such a Bill. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Law Commission published proposals that are the subject of comments and criticisms that are still coming in. Warrant sales are part of the law of diligence and cannot be separated from it. Whatever reforms are made, warrant sales will continue to be part of the characteristics of Scots laws as of all other laws.

Will the Solicitor-General for Scotland now consider withdrawing his untruthful reply to me earlier? The Bill was published and the names of some of his hon. Friends appeared in support of it. In view of the support not just from Labour Party Members but from even the Scottish Tory Reform Group, will the Solicitor-General consider introducing legislation to ban that practice? Otherwise, he and he alone will be out of step even with members of his party in Scotland.

On Armistice Day I would want to apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I said anything inaccurate. If he published his Bill. I am sure that it has been extremely useful to all hon. Members. My information is that he did not publish it, but it will never see the light of day in any event.

Will my hon. and learned Friend accept that I was not a signatory to that Bill? Will he further accept that, none the less, a great number of my hon. Friends are concerned about the law of diligence and warrant sales and are looking for reforms in that direction?

Yes, Sir. I know that people are concerned about that law. I also hope that they are informed about it. The recent survey of Defenders in Debt Actions in Scotland is one that I hope that those who propose changes in the law will have read before they do so.

Some of us are informed about this matter and are fed up with the continued delay. It has gone on for years. There is no reason why there should not be an immediate and radical reform of the whole business.

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is talking about that enormously long period when he was Secretary of State for Scotland and did nothing about it himself.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory reply given by the Solicitor-General for Scotland, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.