I beg to move, amendment No. 17, in page 73, line 41, after first 'debt', insert
'(other than an auction under section 23(5) of the Conveyancing (Scotland) Act 1924)'.
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendment No. 18.
This is a highly technical amendment.
Amendment agreed to
Amendment made: No. 18, in page 73, line 43, at end insert—
'(aa) the debt is a debitum fundi; or'.;—[The Solicitor-General for Scotland.]
Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen's Consent on behalf of the Crown, signified.]
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.I should like to thank right hon. and hon. Members for the general welcome that they have given the Bill. The welcome was not as unqualified as we might have wished, but nevertheless it ensured that consideration of the Bill both here and in Committee proceeded in a constructive manner. As I mentioned in Committee, the Bill was dealt with expeditiously, but that did not prevent us giving a good airing to the main points at issue. I am grateful to my hon. Friends for their contributions and particularly to the Scottish Law Commission. It was a long time in gestation of these proposals, but now that we have concluded consideration of them, I am sure that in Scotland it will be considered that its deliberations and our own have been worthwhile in bringing about a reform of this part of the private law of Scotland which has been long awaited. Much of the humiliation and embarrassment that has been at the centre of attention in recent years as a result of warrant sales will be part of our history and not part of our present practice.
It would be churlish and ungracious of me not to acknowledge that the Bill is a substantial improvement on the present system. Although I have a number of serious reservations about it, I welcome the Bill and I hope that it will become an Act in the fulness of time. As the Solicitor-General for Scotland, my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) know, we have been opposed to the present system for many years. It is humiliating to ordinary people and is fair neither to debtor nor creditor. We still have some substantial reservations about it and about debt arrangements. We hope that the Solicitor-General will keep an open mind on that.We have serious reservations on the whole question of whether warrant sales should still continue. Over the past few weeks the Solicitor-General has tweaked our tails by asking what we have in mind to put in its place. If he pressed me too hard I would have to say that I would go and ask my noble and learned Friend the Lord Morton of Shuna. That is the best answer I can think of at the moment. The only other reservation I have is a purely personal one. The only private Member's Bill that I have got through the House in the past 23 years is now being repealed by this Bill, which I welcome. I will not have my name on the statute book ever again but, that apart, I give a general welcome to the Bill.
I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Glagow, Rutherglen (Mr. MacKenzie) who was extremely helpful throughout our proceedings on the Bill, as was my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow. Govan (Mr. Millan). I would also like to thank my other hon. Friends for the contribution they have made to our constructive response to the Government's Bill.We said on Second Reading that we welcome the Bill, and we do. In Committee we attempted to offer some constructive suggestions and we regret that the Solicitor-General for Scotland did not find it possible to accept all our proposals. Nevertheless, it would be churlish not to acknowledge that the Bill is a progressive measure. We would, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, have acted differently on matters such as medical aid. I will not go any further on that because I am worried about his blood pressure. We might even have gone further on the arrangements which the Law Commission suggested about multiple debt. We would have gone much further on many other aspects of the recommendations of the Law Commission. We still feel a repugnance about having any sales at all in a household. However, that said, there is no doubt that, given some of the scars of the past and some of the social stigmas which were inflicted upon families and upon communities, the Bill as it now stands does represent progress. For our part we shall represent our views as the Bill is enacted and we shall monitor the legislation. We regard it as an extremely helpful Bill and we have said so at each stage of its consideration. We also feel — this should be put on record — that it represents a framework for future legislation. I look forward to the Labour Government that we can expect in the not too distant future, as readers of The Guardian will have noted this morning. When that day comes we shall be well on our way towards the abolition of warrant sales, which Opposition Members see as the ultimate and urgent objective.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.