The BAD Act - the clue is in the name
The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee is taking evidence about the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill, which is presently before the Scottish Parliament. They are taking evidence - but are they hearing it?
We follow with interest the committee stages of the BAD Act. You can see the status of the Bill here. The proceedings are televised and you can watch recordings online, as well as reading the minutes of what is said.
ICAS's David Hill gave evidence but the committee - Mike McKenzie in particular - seemed more interested in having a go at him over professional firm's charge out rates rather than hearing what he had to say. ICAS speaks on behalf of 100+ insolvency practitioner who deal with the vast majority of personal and business insolvencies in Scotland. The evidence of the Association of British Credit Unions - who overall are generally a tiny creditor in insolvencies - seemed to be given much more weight.
Of course, there is a political agenda here, which is fine to a point. But the line that is constantly crossed is where the people to put together the policy - the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) choose to give themselves more power - and the Scottish Government rushes to support them.
Rachel Grant of the Law Society of Scotland's Insolvency Law Committee gave evidence on 30th October and expressed the Law Society's concern at the large number of functions it is now proposed to transfer from the courts to the AiB. "Matters of such importance deserve judicial scrutiny" she said.
At the same committee, Keith Dryburgh of Citizens Advice Scotland expressed his concern about the "huge pressure" they were under with increasing numbers and increasing complex cases. With the introduction of Universal Credit and welfare reform it is "imperative" that the bureaus were adequately resourced to deal with the increased demands.
Matters of such importance also deserve parliamentary scrutiny, and I remain to be convinced that is really going to happen here. For example, David Hill asked for changes and was told by the convenor that the committee has no power to amend the regulations. "Our choice is to recommend that Parliament either accept or reject the regulations". There is no revising chamber in Scotland, remember.
So what has to happen here is a committee with an SNP majority (5 out of 9 members are SNP) have to reject proposals put forward as part of their own programme? It looks like a really BAD Act is what we are going to get.