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Bcci

Volume 201: debated on Monday 13 January 1992

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4.55 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the liquidation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International on Tuesday 14 January 1992."
The matter is specific because, as the House knows, the High Court adjourned the application for provisional liquidation on 2 December until tomorrow to give further time for the provisional liquidator, Touche Ross, and the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi to have further discussions about the best solution for depositors and creditors. On 3 January, the court in Luxembourg ordered the liquidation of the Luxembourg bank.

At my meeting an hour ago with the provisional liquidator of BCCI, Mr. Christopher Morris, he told me that his recommendation tomorrow would be that the bank should go into liquidation. It seems that the longest provisional liquidation in banking history, and the largest international insolvency of all time, is about to come to an end. The bank that for six months has refused to die will be given its last rites tomorrow at about 11 o'clock.

The matter is important because there are 32,000 depositors and 1,200 former members of staff of BCCI whose lives will be dramatically affected by the decision tomorrow. Depositors risk their businesses at a time of deep recession, and for many, these businesses represent a lifetime's work. In addition, there is the knock-on effect of further job losses. The 1,200 former members of staff risk the repossession of their homes because they cannot afford the mortgages, have no jobs and have little prospect of employment. The anxiety, hardship, distress and worry extend to the poll tax payers in 30 local authority areas—from the Western Isles in Scotland to Southwark in London—where councils deposited in BCCI.

The matter is urgent because, on 20 December last year, the Prime Minister wrote to me saying that he was not prepared to intervene. Parliament needs an opportunity to persuade Ministers of the need to intervene to support the negotiations.

In addition, no details of the settlement agreement have been released, although Mr. Morris helpfully told me this afternoon that he expects an announcement within the next month. The depositors need an opportunity to examine the settlement agreement before the bank goes into liquidation, and this House needs an opportunity to discuss the matter and to deliberate upon whether this course is in the best interests of depositors and creditors. We need a full debate on the Floor of the House to show the depositors and former employees that the House cares and to enable Members with a constituency interest to contribute before an irreversible decision is taken tomorrow.

The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the liquidation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International on Tuesday 14 January 1992."
I have listened with concern to what the hon. Member said, as I too have constituents who are affected by the collapse of this bank. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have to decide whether to give the matter precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that, in this case, the matter that he has raised does not meet the requirements of the Standing Order, and I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.