§ Sir C. Cole
presented a petition from the creditors of the Swansea bank of Gibbon and Eaton, in favour of the bill before the House for promoting a better arrangement between Debtor and Creditor. The petition went to point out the serious inconvenience which occurred, as the law now stood, in vesting the property of merchants, bankers, and others engaged in trade, who might be involved in difficulties. It often happened, that when the majority of the creditors were disposed to invest the property in the hands of trustees for the benefit of the whole, one obstinate creditor, by holding out, and taking out a commission of bankruptcy, involved the property in legal proceedings to such an extent, that that property, which would, under a different system, pay a large dividend, was wholly absorbed in law expenses, and thus lost to the creditors. The petitioners, therefore, prayed, that the bill which allowed the majority of the creditors to enter into arrangements for the security of the property, might be binding on all; and that after such arrangement had been entered into, no creditor should be allowed to sue out a commission of bankruptcy. They gave an instance of the evil of which they complained, in the case of the Swansea Bank.
§ Mr. Bright
said, that great evils had arisen from the difficulty complained of, which ended, in many instances, in a total loss of the property to all the creditors. The object of the bill which he had introduced, was to cause the agreement of the majority of the creditors to be binding on the others. Since the bill was introduced, he had received several communications, which showed the immense losses which had accrued from the want of such a measure. These losses fell with great 878 severity on the middling classes of traders. He would bring on his bill to-morrow, and so convinced was he of its necessity, that he would not abandon it, until he had ascertained the opinion of the House to be against it.
§ Mr. Lockhart
thought that, to render the measure productive of the intended good, it should be carried much further. The mere prevention of an investment of the property of a trader from being considered an act of bankruptcy would not be sufficient; for it often happened that acts of bankruptcy were committed before such investment was made. Now, it would be necessary that the bill should extend to prevent those previous acts of bankruptcy from affecting the trust deed for the benefit of the creditors. The bill which had already passed, making the issuing of commissions of bankrupt null and void, unless such commissions were, issued within six months, was not carried: far enough; and unless some improvement on this point were made in the present bill, it would be inoperative.
§ Mr. Bright
was afraid of the difficulties which would be opposed to the suggestion of the hon. member. At the same time, he would be disposed to adopt any practicable course to make the measure effectual.
§ Ordered to lie on the table.