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Diligence

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:31 am on 8th June 2000.

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Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party 9:31 am, 8th June 2000

I welcome the minister's statement. I am tempted to ask whether he would have been making it if Parliament had not voted for the Abolition of Poindings and Warrant Sales Bill, but that might be pressing a rather tender spot.

Could the minister be a little more explicit about the time scale for this reform? He said that the Executive intends to introduce legislation in the parliamentary year 2000-02. That can be as soon as May next year and as far away as May the following year, with the resulting act not coming into force until considerably later in 2002. It would be helpful if the minister could give us a better idea of when he wants this legislation to be in operation.

My next point concerns the composition of the working group. It was not until I read the statement at 25 past 9 that I realised that I was getting an invitation to serve on the working group. With my committee convener's hat on, I would like to ask whether committee conveners are the most appropriate persons to serve on the working group, given that the three committees concerned will have to deal with whatever legislation emerges during stage 1 consultation and so on. The Parliament may want to consider whether committee conveners are the right people for this job. Conveners are meant to retain a sense of impartiality in their work, which may be difficult if they have had a hand in producing the legislation.

I want now to address some of the more specific issues that the minister raised. In his statement, he did not mention the system of summary warrants. The minister will know from the evidence that all three committees took at stage 1 of the Abolition of Poindings and Warrant Sales Bill that this aspect of current procedure was identified as a major problem area that needed to be overhauled. It does not include, for example, the time-to-pay orders that are popular in other areas of diligence. Can the minister confirm this morning that examination of the summary warrants system will form part of the working group's remit? That will be key to any change in the law of diligence.