MSPs attack new debt recovery law

NEW debt recovery laws will be even worse than the notorious poindings and warrant sales they are intended to replace, Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan claimed today.

The Debt Arrangement and Attachment Bill, published by Justice Minister Jim Wallace yesterday, proposes more debt advice and incentives for out-of-court settlements, but still allows seizures of goods as a last resort.

And Mr Sheridan, who embarrassed the Scottish Executive two years ago by winning parliamentary approval for the abolition of poindings and warrant sales, said: " It is just a new form of warrant sales and could even be worse. The good proposals are seriously undermined by introducing a new and very punitive recovery procedure."

He was backed by Scottish Nationalist justice spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham, who branded the bill "an insult to the democratic process".

She said that the bottom line was that warrant sales would still remain.

"When we voted for the Abolition of Poinding and Warrant Sales Bill, the members of Scotland’s parliament made it quite clear we wanted an end to those invasive and archaic practices.

"But I can see little difference between a warrant sale and an auction of attached articles. Indeed I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that some of the measures contained within this bill aren’t more draconian than those we voted to abolish."

The Scottish Executive insists only people who can pay but won’t will be subject to any enforcement action.

But solicitor Mike Dailly, who drafted the Bill to abolish warrant sales, said: "My experience of people in debt is they don’t engage in the court process.

" Under this bill, if people don’t engage in the process, I can see these exceptional attachment orders just being granted anyway and the situation will be worse than it is at the moment."

But a Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "No-one will end up with the threat of enforcement if they are willing to seek help."