Orders of the Day — Consumer Credit Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 9th June 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry Shadow Minister (Higher Education and Intellectual Property), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 1:00 pm, 9th June 2005

I shall come on to that point. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention and hope that he can be persuaded to serve on the Committee yet again. He addresses extremely important issues and the sort of problems that need to be stamped out. There is no doubt that most people practising in the field operate reasonably and responsibly, but if people step over a mark, they need to know that legislation will be there to clamp down on certain activities.

Debt itself is not bad, as the Minister said, but unaffordable debt certainly is. As we have learned, debt that is affordable one year might not be the next if employment circumstances, people's income or interest rates change significantly. That explains why we should be worried about the growing level of debt in Britain, which is rising at a staggering £1 million every four minutes. That means that personal debt has already risen by £10 million during the course of the debate. In 2004 alone, debt increased by £116 billion, which was the largest single increase in debt since the Bank of England was founded in 1694. According to the charity Credit Action, total personal debt in Britain has broken through the £1.1 trillion barrier. As my right hon. Friend Mr. Letwin said when he was shadow Chancellor:

"It took 600 years of banking history for household debt to reach half a trillion pounds. Now, under seven years of Labour, this has doubled."