Clause 12 — Insolvency

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:18 pm on 7th March 2011.

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Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Scotland) 8:18 pm, 7th March 2011

I support clause 12, but I have a couple of questions about its implications. As the Committee will be aware, this clause and attendant issues were the subject of detailed scrutiny by the Calman commission. It was corporate insolvency practitioners who pressed the case on that commission for introducing such a clause, which effectively re-reserves some aspects of corporate insolvency work.

The Scottish National party has responded with a blanket, knee-jerk reaction against the proposal, because it does not believe that powers should be re-reserved. The Labour party takes a different view. The Calman commission examined the range of powers as a whole, and determined which, in Scotland’s best interests, should be devolved and which should continue to be reserved. As we all know, it concluded that there should be some changes, but not too many. We accept that recommendation, and also the comments of the LCM Committee, but the

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations—from which Members will no doubt have received a briefing—has expressed concern about the implications for registered social landlords. Housing policy is, of course, devolved.

I am aware that, as no registered social landlords have been affected yet, the position is theoretical. However, on 25 February the Secretary of State told the convenor of the LCM Committee that the Government did not intend to cause any difficulty relating to housing policy, that they would consider introducing section 104 orders when that was necessary and appropriate, and that discussions were taking place between the Scotland Office and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. May I ask the Minister to confirm his intentions, so that we can ensure that the federation’s concern is not used unduly as an excuse to oppose the clause merely because it re-reserves a power, and that it is being dealt with?