Following the work that we have been doing on this issue in Walthamstow for some months, this week I brought before parliament a motion to secure action to cap the costs of credit and so tackle the problems caused by legal loan sharking. Against a well funded high cost credit industry campaign against these proposals, we had the support of a wide range of organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Focus, the Church Poverty Action Group, Compass, the GMB, Unison, The Co-operative movement and the Better Banking Coalition. Within parliament we also secured widespread support from MPs across parliament including within the Conservative and Liberal Democrat backbenches for these proposals.You can find some of the press coverage – including the discussions I took part in on BBC breakfast news and on the Today programme – as well as an article I wrote about the politics of this proposal here.
Despite the matter being brought as a backbench issue, the Government threatened to vote down the idea by using its majority. Consequently, an amendment was tabled by them which watered down these ideas, seeking only that Government be asked to consider caps rather than introduce them. The Government also today used parliamentary procedure to prevent the second reading of the bill I have drafted with these proposals. It will come back before parliament for consideration again on the 14 October 2011.
Despite the actions of the ministers yesterday, I believe we are making progress in pushing for action to tackle legal loan sharking. Yesterday the vast majority of speakers in the debate from all parties set out their agreement with this proposal and called on the Government to support them even if they were being made to vote against them. I will continue to work with colleagues from across parliament and all those who are supporting these plans to increase the pressure on the Government to act. You can find the full transcript of the debate including my speech where I raised what these companies do to our community and pledged that we would not forgive or forget if Ministers fail to act to protect the poorest consumers here. Having committed to Walthamstow residents when I was elected that I would seek to act on the causes of poverty and debt in our society I want to reassure residents that I will not give up in seeking progress on this matter. I also want to thank all of you who have helped so far in this campaign.