HC Deb 21 May 1823 vol 9 cc376-7
Mr. Hobhouse

presented a Petition, which was signed by between 2,000 and 3,000 respectable tradesmen of the city of Westminster. They prayed for a repeal, or a considerable alteration, of the Insolvent Debtors' act. The House was aware that from the time of passing that act, petitions had poured into the House from all parts of the country, praying for its repeal. The petitioners saw nothing in the existing law which could recommend its continuance. They did not merely complain of it, but they had taken the liberty of pointing out the manner in which they conceived the grievances it occasioned should be remedied. The petition had been very maturely considered at two numerous meetings of the inhabitants of the city which he had the honour to represent; and persons whose opinions were upon most other occasions opposed, had in this instance agreed upon the resolutions which were embodied in it. The suggestions to which he wished more particularly to draw the attention, of the House were, that the laws relating to insolvents should be assimilated as much as possible to the bankrupt laws. The petitioners were of opinion, that the interests of the debtor and creditor would be better attended to if a meeting of the insolvent's creditors should take place within ten days after his commitment. At that meeting, two-thirds of the creditors should have the power of coming to a decision, which should be binding upon the others. They recommended also, that if creditors should be proved to have participated in the fraud of the insolvent, they should be subject to punishment by the commissioners of the Insolvent Court. When he stated that 3,000 individuals had taken the benefit of the insolvency acts, between the 1st of February and the 12th of March last, the House would see that the effect of the act was inconsistent with the protection due to creditors. He denied, on the part of his constituents, the truth of the representation that they thrust their credit upon customers. On the contrary, it required their utmost skill and address to guard against the artifices of persons who afterwards became insolvent. The petitioners recommended no severe measures, but such as, knowing the vicissitudes to which men in trade were exposed, they would themselves be willing to submit to if they were exposed to that necessity.

Ordered to lie on the table.