Despite continued cross-party pressure, First Minister Jack McConnell's recent speech in Aberdeen made no commitment to fast-tracking bankruptcy reforms to bring Scottish law into line with the rest of the UK.
Entrepreneurial Exchange Chairman, Tom Hunter, responded by urging the First Minister to: 'accelerate, through a Sewel motion, the adoption of the parts of the Westminster legislation that can be readily brought in' or risk placing Scottish entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.
Exchange CEO, John Anderson adds: 'It's incredible that a paper The Exchange prepared on this issue back in 1999 has had an influence in the creation of new laws in England and Wales, and yet our own parliament is insisting on further consultation. In the meantime, Scottish entrepreneurship is suffering.'
The Enterprise Bill at Westminster, published in March, contained long overdue reforms to both corporate and personal insolvency law. However, because corporate insolvency is dealt with by Westminster and personal insolvency by Holyrood, Scotland looks set to lose out on the planned reforms. Dr Richard Simpson, Deputy Minister for Justice, said as recently as April 17th: 'We will be consulting in Scotland in due course...the Executive will publish a consultative document...we cannot give a date for that.'
Bill Fleming, Entrepreneurial Exchange Director and himself a discharged bankrupt, claims the delay is unnecessary: 'We don't need any further consultations, bankruptcy law reform has already been consulted exhaustively by the DTI. Our own paper...(is) being acted on in England but ignored by our own Parliament.'
The Entrepreneurial Exchange campaign to reform Scotland's antiquated bankruptcy laws has won widespread support from business and political communities. Campaigners believe punitive bankruptcy legislation has put the shackles on enterprise and business ambition, and does little to protect against genuinely fraudulent and reckless operators. With no commitment to easing the penalties on bankrupts, The Exchange believe the executive is failing to clear a major obstacle to boosting Scotland's lagging business birth rate.
Copies of the 1999 paper 'In Aid of Enterprise' are available on request from The Entrepreneurial Exchange.