HC Deb 02 May 1820 vol 1 cc53-4
Lord Althorp

moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the Insolvent Debtors act. In the present stage he should only advert to two leading distinctions from the present bill which he intended to introduce; the first was, to empower commissioners out of court to inquire into the affairs of the debtor: and the second was, to grant creditors the power of compelling reluctant debtors, when imprisoned, to be released by the act.

Mr. Lockhart

wished that the subject should be treated upon as extended a basis as possible, and that provision should be made against a class of prisoners who had formerly taken the benefit of the act, though it was not intended for their relief; he meant those who were confined in consequence of actions for damages, having inflicted upon their fellow-creatures severe personal injuries. He could not help observing that, as the case stood at present, persons were brought up and examined in a very slight degree only by the court; and if no one appeared against them, they were discharged. It frequently happened that, by this course of proceeding, man}' were discharged who were little deserving of the benefit of the act. The creditors found that they had lost a great deal of money already; and were unwilling, by appearing, to lose more, besides the sacrifice of much trouble and time. In making these observations, however, he did not mean to advert to the situation of those debtors who now crowded our prisons, and who had been led to expect relief under the enactments of such a bill as that passed during last session. He was very willing that they should take their discharge under it, in the best way they could.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.