|Proceeds of Crime Bill
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 594 and 597.
Mr. Foulkes: This is the ancient matter to which the hon. Member for Surrey Heath referred. The Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 repealed the Bankruptcy Act 1621, but there remains the possibility of a challenge under the 1621 Act in relation to transactions entered into before 1 April 1986. Similarly, there is always the possibility of a challenge at common law to a gift by an insolvent donor on the grounds that the gift amounts to a fraud on his creditors.
Amendments Nos. 593 and 594 are designed to ensure that, if a person whose estate has been sequestrated makes a tainted gift that is subject to action under the confiscation legislation, no creditor can obtain a court decree to make the tainted gift part of the debtor's estate. Amendment No. 597 makes similar provision with regard to tainted gifts made by a company that is being wound up under the Insolvency Act 1986.
I am grateful to have an opportunity to speak about an amendment that relates to Scotland. I dare say that I would have had many more such opportunities if there had been less badinage about the all-party rugby group and other ridiculous interventions.
The Chairman: I said earlier that I intended to suspend the sitting at 7 o'clock, but it is no part of the Chair's business to seek to curtail debate, nor is it in the interests of the House for legislation to go through unnecessarily undebated. I am conscious that dealing formally with a considerable number of amendments has taken up a lot of time that hon. Members would have wished to use for debate. I shall therefore be as lenient as reasonably possible now, given the kind understanding of the Officers of the House.
Mr. Hawkins: I can be brief. I remind the Minister that the discussion about the all-party rugby group was started not by an Opposition Member, but by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok. He sought
Column Number: 1270support, to which I was happy to respond.
The Chairman: Order. The Chair's leniency stops short of badinage.
Mr. Hawkins: I am grateful for that ruling, Mr. Gale, particularly at 6.59 pm.
May I simply adopt what I said mistakenly earlier? The group of 32 amendments under clause 402 was so huge that I misread them, and in fact amendment No. 593 was one of the few that were not in that group. Rather than repeat anything, I shall adopt what I said then. It is a delicious irony for a pre-Act of Union piece of legislation to be invoked by a Scottish Minister of a post-devolution Government.
The Minister expertly read out his speech, as always. It is peculiar that we are discussing things that might arise under an Act that was passed as long ago as even 1986.
Mr. Grieve: Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be nice if the Minister read out the relevant portions of the 1621 Act to allow us to understand whether they are in intelligible English?
Mr. Hawkins: I am sure that they will be in either Jacobean or Caroline English, which may or may not be easy to understand. However, we can be confident that any Act of Parliament of 1621 would be shorter and more effective than many pieces of longer and more complex legislation.
Mr. Foulkes: Let me point out to the hon. Gentleman that he is havering—I am not referring to a London borough. I hoped that I had made my explanation in perfect English, although if he wanted to hear it in any other language, I would be happy. When I made my earlier remark about badinage, the reason why I looked directly at him was that I do not have eyes in the back of my head. If I did, I would have looked at the other person to whom I referred.
Mr. Hawkins: I am grateful for that illuminating intervention. I refute the charge that I am havering, because I thought that the word—in English or Scottish—referred to jostling between two positions and not making up one's mind. I am clear that Government amendment No. 593 is good. I do not oppose it, and nor am I havering. I simply wanted to make some observations. [Interruption.]
The Chairman: Order. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is havering, but there is a lot of chirruping going on.
Mr. Hawkins: I will leave the matter there, although it is unfortunate that the Minister did not respond to the invitation by my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield to go through the Bankruptcy Act 1621.
In the past, I have suggested that if I am ever lucky enough to win a high place in the private Member's Bill ballot, I will introduce an automatic repeal of legislation Bill, saying that for every page of statute law a Government introduce, they must find at least one page—and preferably more—to repeal. The fact that the Bankruptcy Act 1621 is still referred to in 2002 and is brought back into legislation by a Government
Column Number: 1271amendment suggests that it alone is relevant among thousands of pages of otherwise useless and outmoded legislation.
Mr. McCabe: Will the hon. Gentleman follow that principle and consider whether for every contribution that he makes in Committee, he could reflect on irrelevant contributions that waste time, and find out whether he could save on those?
Mr. Hawkins: That could be described as an oxymoronic intervention, because it wasted more time.
I have said enough, although I am pleased that a piece of legislation from 1621 is still thought to be important.
Mr. Foulkes: The Bankruptcy Act 1621 is, of course, only a short title for the1621 Act of
I hope that that convinces the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 594, in page 232, line 43, after 'preferences)' insert ', or otherwise,'—[Mr. Bob Ainsworth.]
Clause 407, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2002||Prepared 29 January 2002|