HC Deb 21 February 1831 vol 2 cc779-80
The Sheriffs of London

presented the Petition of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London, in Common Council assembled, praying for an amendment of the Bankrupt Laws.

Mr. Alderman Wood

supported the petition, and represented, that the abuses of the present system called loudly for a remedy. The manner in which accounts were kept tended to gross frauds. Seventy Commissioners made a bad Court, and there was not a merchant or trader in the city of London who would not rejoice to see it abolished. Among the Bankruptcy Judges there should be at least one mercantile man; for the decision of the questions which came before them rather required a knowledge of business and accounts than of law. He hoped to see a speedy reform.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

also supported the petition, and condemned the expense and abuses of the present state of the law. It was not the Corporation of London alone who complained of the evil, but the whole country felt the necessity of a change. The number of sinecure offices, now connected with the Court, yielded at least 6,000l. a year, and it ought to be reformed, if it were only to get rid of them.

Mr. J. Smith

was glad that the matter had been taken up in the way it now was, and hoped, that before the end of the Session there would be an alteration of the law. The number of Commissioners ought to be reduced, and the Court ought to sit continually.

Mr. Warburton

said, that nothing could be worse than the present system. Of twenty-three lawyers who had given their opinions before the Committee of which his hon. friend opposite had been Chairman, and before the Commissioners of inquiry, one only had been in favour of the existing system. The primary tribunal and the court of appeal were equally unsatisfactory. They provided the maximum of expense and delay, and the minimum of justice.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that only one system could be worse than the present Bankrupt-laws in this country, and that was the system which prevailed in Ireland. He did not, however, agree in the opinion, that the Judges of the Bankrupt Court should be merchants; no man could make a good Judge who was not acquainted with law.

Petition laid on the Table.

Mr. Alderman Thompson

presented a Petition to the same effect from (he Bankers, Merchants, and Traders of the City of London. The Lord Chancellor was about to bring in a bill on this subject, for which he felt bound, on behalf of these petitioners, sincerely to thank that noble and learned Lord. He understood that the principle of that measure was to be, that there should be one Court, sitting from day to day, for the despatch of business. Whether there ought to be one Judge, or three, or five, he did not now offer an opinion, but he had no doubt the alteration which was to be made would be for the butter. The present expense of the Bankrupt Court exceeded the expense of cither the Court of King's Bench or the Common Pleas, and nobody could for one moment think of depreciating the utility of these Courts, by comparing the business they transacted to the business of the Bankruptcy Commissioners.

Petition to lie on the Table.