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Cork Committee On Insolvency

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Minister for Trade when he expects to announce his conclusions on the recommendations of the Cork committee on insolvency.

I understand the wish of my hon. Friend that the Government should make an announcement on the recommendations of the Cork committee. I shall do so as soon possible. I am still waiting for replies from several major bodies which have been consulted.

Notwithstanding what my hon. Friend may feel about the commercial sector bearing too heavy a burden of the rates, is it not grossly unfair that local councils should have the same preferential powers as the Inland Revenue and be able to bankrupt a company for the non-payment of rates and thus prejudice the position of unsecured creditors? Will my hon. Friend therefore pay particular attention to Sir Kenneth Cork's recommendation on that aspect?

Yes. The report contains complicated recommedations. I am trying to pull out one or two parts on which we can act to stop the various abuses. For example, I am seeing whether we can strengthen the powers to deal with directors who take advantage of their position.

Does not the Freddie Laker fiasco prove the importance of legislating quickly? That matter involved the loss of £250 million of other people's money and 17,000 Skytrain ticket holders were left in the lurch, despite what Tiny Rowlands said in public. Now Sir Freddie Laker, with Tiny Rowland's help, is able to set up in business again. Does that not make the present insolvency laws a welsher's charter?

It took the Cork committee a long time to report on this complicated matter. We must be careful, before introducing new legislation, to ensure that it benefits the people it is meant to benefit.

Order. I hope that hon. Members will find a word other than "welsher". It is a loathsome expression.