Orders of the Day — Consumer Credit Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:43 pm on 9th June 2005.

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Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Trade and Industry) (Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs) 5:43 pm, 9th June 2005

I remarked earlier to my hon. Friend, who is acting as my Parliamentary Private Secretary, that the maiden speeches reminded me of my maiden speech and that my by-election victory was on 9 June 1994, so I am celebrating my 11th year in the House today. One important thing for me over those 11 years has been that we should agree and work together when we can. Clearly, politics plays a part in our proceedings, which is why the hon. Member for Wealden made his political points about the state of the economy. All I would say in response to him is that with low interest rates, low inflation and more people in work than ever before, we have a sound economic platform.

We cannot be complacent about examining what is happening to individuals and their circumstances, which is why the Government wanted to introduce the Bill. However, the Government have to work with industry and stakeholders to ensure that they present effective legislation that can work. The consumer credit White Paper showed the need to reconsider legislation, owing to the 30-year interval since the Consumer Credit Act 1974, but it was important to move forward with the consent and support of the industry and stakeholders. Those stakeholders will be heartened by today's debate, because there has not been a party political divide between people's viewpoints. It was clear that people felt, as Mr. Bacon indicated, that some practices, which are perceived to be outrageous approaches to vulnerable people, are immoral.

As the Minister responsible for the Bill, I wanted to bring it back to the House quickly, given that we only just failed to get it through in the last Parliament. The Bill fell because there was inadequate time to discuss it in the Lords after the announcement of the general election, but I wanted to keep the momentum going. Those of us with experience of such matters, whether we are lawyers or involved in the industry, know that people try to move in different directions when consensus breaks down, so it becomes difficult to keep momentum going. It is important that we keep the momentum going, because the Bill and its principles will affect vulnerable people, in particular.