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

Again, that has to be seen in the context of what the Government are trying to achieve across the piece with the work in the Treasury on financial inclusion. I take the point about the onus being on responsible lending. Notwithstanding what the hon. Member for Wealden said about civil servants having the answers and Ministers following the line put to them, I was struck by the quality of some of the interventions.

I undertake to consider what can be done on credit issues, but the alternative dispute resolution is important and should not be put to one side—nor should the distinction that enables courts to consider such things. The existing extortionate credit test is not appropriate and has not worked, but we are moving in the right direction. Our proposals should be considered against the background of working with the industry and stakeholders to achieve something that is workable. If all that happens is that the industry sticks its foot out because it does not want to participate, it will find ways around the legislation. The idea is to go forward with as much consensus as possible. However, as I said, I shall consider things in great detail, before the Bill is in Committee, if that is possible, or while it is in Committee—certainly, before we discuss it on Report—to see what we can do for the most vulnerable people at the lower end of the market.

We used statutory instruments on consumer credit legislation to introduce transparency in the way in which agreements are drawn up. We also introduced the loan shark projects in Birmingham and Glasgow. I am happy to say that they are working well. So it is not just a case of what is in the Bill. The wider context has to be considered as well.

Again, we have heard the arguments for and against interest rate caps.