Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 2005

– in the House of Lords at 4:01 pm on 26th May 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

My Lords, all the orders are fairly small, but I will not say that they are not of substance, because they are. This order would introduce provisions broadly in line with those dealing with insolvency already in force in Great Britain by the enactment of the Enterprise Act 2002. I shall comment briefly on the order.

The main purpose of the order is to modernise personal and corporate insolvency law in Northern Ireland thereby providing a stimulus to enterprise and encouraging entrepreneurship. The main changes brought about by the order are to give bankrupts their discharge after one year instead of three years; to remove the right of creditors with security in the form of a floating charge over a company property; to appoint an administrative receiver except in certain specialised cases and to introduce instead a new improved company administration procedure.

The order is alleged to be non-controversial but I am about to find out about that. A small number of replies were received following the consultation in Northern Ireland; the majority were favourable. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 24 January be approved.—(Lord Rooker.)

Photo of Lord Glentoran Lord Glentoran Spokespersons In the Lords, Northern Ireland

My Lords, this is the first opportunity that I have had to congratulate the Minister on his appointment both as Deputy Leader of your Lordships' House and a full-time Minister of State for Northern Ireland. I welcome him into the latter role in particular. He will have a full and difficult period, I am sure. He can look forward to support from this side of the House as long as he goes down the roads that we think are approximately right. When Her Majesty's Government cease to do that, I shall point it out strongly to him, as I am sure he will understand. Having said all that, I look forward to working with the Minister very much. I welcome the order.

Photo of Baroness Harris of Richmond Baroness Harris of Richmond Other Whip, Spokesperson in the Lords, Northern Ireland Affairs

My Lords, I, too, welcome the Minister to his post, but I shall reserve a little more to say about him when we debate Northern Ireland on 9 June. We look forward very much to a good working relationship and I am sure that we will move forward in that spirit.

We also welcome the order and the consultation process that resulted in the change to Article 17(6) so that it defines a pre-commencement bankrupt in terms of bankruptcy rather than the presentation of a bankruptcy petition, having occurred before the coming into operation of paragraph (1) of that article. There is also a change to paragraph 8 of Schedule 5, which has been amended to refer to interim bankruptcy restrictions orders.

Although it is helpful to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, we must continue to take into account the different experiences in different parts of the United Kingdom and make changes where appropriate.

Photo of Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville Conservative

My Lords, as we are only two or three gathered together, all with some familiarity with this subject, it would be churlish of me not to join in welcoming the Minister.

I recall that in one of the crime Bills for which the Minister was responsible in a previous capacity, I made suggestions arising out of a Select Committee report in the other place about the manner in which the proceeds of those engaged in the drug trade might be clawed back. He responded in Committee that he was not wholly familiar with Northern Ireland—he has been frank throughout—but he very graciously ensured that my suggestions were incorporated into the Bill on Report. So he starts, in personal terms also, with an enormous fund of goodwill in this place.

As I have been engaged in both debates today, I have not picked up a copy of the order and therefore have not looked at an explanatory document. Is it the case that the order would have come through even if Stormont had not been suspended, or is it an action that the Government are introducing in their capacity as being responsible for the Province while suspension is in place?

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their kind words of welcome. I am very grateful and have been touched by supportive comments all around the House and on my four quick visits so far—they will always be quick—to Northern Ireland. I will do my best. I have made clear that it is not an area that I know in detail. If I get things wrong, people will point it out to me. I do not carry much baggage with me but I will bring to bear what experience and goodwill I can in the issues that I have to deal with. I very much look forward to the debate of substance on 9 June. Obviously, that would be the better time.

I am very grateful for the acceptance of the order. The answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, is "Yes".

On Question, Motion agreed to.