Coming soon: points from the Select Committees’ inquiries into BHS.
You can follow progress on (i) the Work & Pensions Committee page: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/bhs-inquiry-16-17/ and (ii) the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee page: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-innovation-and-skills/inquiries/parliament-2015/the-sale-and-acquisition-of-bhs-inquiry-15-16/
Extracts from Parliamentary Debates
I appreciate that this page will have limited appeal, but as I often word-search the Hansards (verbatim reports of debates in the Houses of Commons and Lords) for comments relevant to insolvency, I thought I might as well copy-and-paste them into a document to save others the trouble.
I do not try to provide a complete account – not least because I have to work to pay the bills! – but I shall try to pick up at least the most eventful sessions.
11/03/2015: The House of Lords considers amendments to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
“A most satisfactory compromise” is agreed on creditors’ (and contributories’) meetings. The Act will now include the thresholds that had been destined for the Rules: at least 10% in value, or 10% in number, or 10 creditors (or, where relevant, contributories) will be able to request a physical meeting. HoL 11-03-15
04/03/2015: House of Commons’ BIS Select Committee
Sarah Albon (chief executive, Insolvency Service), Phillip Sykes (R3 vice-president), Bob Pinder (regional director, ICAEW) and others give evidence. Questions are raised about the ethics of secondments to banks and the Committee Chair stresses that the Service is expected to subject pre-packs to “very close monitoring”. The Insolvency Service also proposes to review the IP levy to ensure that the Service is properly resourced. HoC BIS Committee 04-03-15
04/03/2015: Proposed amendments to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
Extract of proposed amendments regarding creditors’/contributories’ requests for a physical meeting. This was to be provided in secondary legislation, but, due to the level of attention this topic has attracted, the government is now proposing specific criteria for consideration by the HoL. HoL amends 04-03-15
03/02/2015: The House of Lords debates the Deregulation Bill
Clause 17: Authorisation of insolvency practitioners. Baroness Hayter leads the charge seeking an amendment so that only personal insolvency-only new IP licences, and not corporate-only ones, are allowed. Despite reporting strong opposition to the introduction of partial licences by most regulators and IPs, especially those in smaller practices, resistance comes in the form of the question, why should people seeking to specialise be trained outside their field? There still seems to be some belief that someone who saves c.£4,000 in their early years will be able to administer insolvencies cheaper and thus return more to creditors. Baroness Hayter seems to express some exasperation at the government’s failure to listen to R3, the ICAEW, and IPs and withdraws her amendment. HoL 03-02-15
21/01/2015: The House of Lords’ Grand Committee considers the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
Over 2½ hours of debate on the insolvency provisions. Lots to highlight: some lack of understanding revealed over the need for Administrators to stay in office; a small win with LASPO (Baroness Neville-Rolfe agreed to consider urgently with MoJ); the potentially “crippling” effects of removing the power for office holders to hold physical meetings, especially S98s (although amendments to the current Bill strongly resisted); enthusiasm for regulating “bad pre-packs”; the first public reference to plans affecting IP fees: “ensuring meaningful information about the likely fees and costs of a case is provided up-front to creditors”; the suggestion of a statutory system of redress for IP complaints is kicked back into the grass; the debate on Chapter 11 doesn’t really get off the ground; reference to an InsS and Intellectual Property Office work programme to engage with IPs; plea for more money for DRO intermediaries; and reference to online bankruptcy applications to be introduced in 2016. HoL 21-01-15
19/01/2015: The House of Lords’ Grand Committee considers the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
Attempts to change the disqualification regime to treat non-executive directors differently come to nought: HoL 19-01-15
02/12/2014: Second reading in the House of Lords of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill
Comments espousing the virtues of Chapter 11 are “warmly received”, whilst pre-packs fare worse despite one Lord recounting an apparent success story: HoL 02-12-14
14/11/2014: The House of Commons’ Committee stage report on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill
A handy summary of the Bill as it emerged from the House of Commons. The insolvency provisions are covered from page 24 to 32. Highlights for me include: the minister’s assurance that, “as a result of improved efficiency, resources were available” to the InsS to deal with the “enhanced regime” for director disqualifications and that she would make sure that it “continued to be adequately resourced”; some nonsense written about the IP’s time taken up “needlessly” with physical meetings (but is this not spent also in virtual meetings?); and resistance to limiting the reserve power for a connected party sales “ban” to only pre-packs. HoC report 14-11-14