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Small Claims

Oral Answers to Questions — Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury) 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

What assessment she has made of the administrative procedures for those recovering small claims following a court determination.

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

The courts offer a range of effective enforcement methods, each tailored to dealing with different financial set-ups, without which it would be far easier for recalcitrant debtors to avoid their responsibilities to judgment creditors.

Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury)

Is the Minister aware that for people who achieve the feat of obtaining a small claims court ruling there is a major bureaucratic obstacle course involving four separate processes, in each of which there are up to three consecutive applications to the courts with form-filling? Can she get rid of some of that red tape?

Photo of Bridget Prentice Bridget Prentice Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs

I understand the issue that the hon. Gentleman raises, which he has also raised with my noble Friend Baroness Ashton, in respect of one of his constituents. We made improvements in enforcement methods in April 2002. The target recovery for 2005–06 is 85p in the pound, but we are actually recovering 93.8p in the pound, so those improvements are beginning to take effect. We continue to monitor the situation and have publicised further improvement proposals in the White Paper, "Effective Enforcement". Those changes need primary legislation and we shall ensure that it is brought forward when there is parliamentary time.