Clause 12 — Insolvency

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 7th March 2011.

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Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 9:00 pm, 7th March 2011

Following our meeting with the federation, I wrote extensively on the specific points that I had raised. My interpretation concerned whether Westminster would be as responsive as the Scottish Parliament if new issues arose. It is extremely important to take on board that this is about new issues and not about the adequacy of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010. That Act is in place, as are the arrangements for insolvency. The issue is whether, if the arrangements that have been put in place did not work and other arrangements had to be brought in, that could be done expeditiously in the House of Commons, and I believe it could. Indeed, one Opposition Member is the former distinguished Communities Minister of the Scottish Parliament and I cannot imagine that she would allow the Government to sit idly by while there were requests for changes to insolvency procedures in respect of registered social landlords in Scotland. That issue is not a basis for continuing concern, but we are committed to the dialogue involving the Insolvency Service and the federation.

It is important to re-emphasise the point that the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk confirmed—that the Scottish Parliament’s current powers in relation to RSLs are not whole powers regarding RSL insolvency. They relate only to the winding up and only where it concerns a moratorium on the disposal and management of property held by an RSL, so the Scottish Parliament is not currently able to make provision for all aspects of the law on RSLs. The view of the Calman commission was that the ability to make provision in this area was fragmented and should be returned to Westminster to deal with that fragmentation. Clearly, there are Members who could never agree with the return of powers to Westminster, however sensible that might be, but I hope that on this occasion they will accept that the measure will benefit Scottish business and will not be detrimental to the RSL sector. On that basis, I hope that the Committee will not divide on clause 12.