§ The Lord Advocate
, in moving the second reading of the Bankrupts' Estates Scotland Bill, said, that as the enactments of it were the same in all respects as the Bill which passed through the House last Session, it was unnecessary for him to take up time by entering into any general view of the nature of the Bill, the object of which was to carry into effect improvements in the sequestration law, which had been contemplated and under consideration for a period of about twenty years. He was desirous, however, to point out the circumstances which had hitherto prevented the country receiving the benefits of the improvements called for, although many Bills had been brought forward by his predecessors in office and by himself. These arose chiefly from the great difference of opinion in different parts of the country, with regard to the nature of the provisions which ought to be adopted. It was contended by many persons that the sequestration of bankrupt estates should be carried on in the Supreme Court, as hitherto. On the other hand, it was not less strenuously urged, that sequestrations might be commenced and finished in each of the Sheriff Courts throughout Scotland. There were great objections to both those courses of proceeding. If sequestrations might be commenced in each of the Sheriff Courts, from the very limited jurisdictions, and many individuals and companies carrying on business in different counties, there might be jarrings and conflicting proceedings in each sheriffdom, and there would also be a want of general superintendence and check to prevent abuse taking place in particular districts. On the other hand, the expense of the procedure was much greater by the details of sequestration being confined to 770 the Supreme Court than if they were carried on in the parts of the country where the business was conducted. The Bill reconciled those difficulties, by providing that all sequestrations should commence by proceedings in the Supreme Court, and the management be conducted by the sheriffs in the different counties, subject to appeal to the Court of Session. This arrangement would not satisfy persons of extreme opinions either way, but it was approved of by the great majority of persons who had directed their attention to the subject, and whose opinions were subject to no bias. Another difficulty arose, from many individuals who had devoted a great deal of time and attention to the subject being unwilling even to consider any clauses which deviated from their expressions or views. Many persons engaged in particular branches of trade wished the Bill to suit the mode of carrying on their business, without regarding the difficulties it might give rise to, or the frauds which might take place from the arrangements they suggested. It was extremely natural they should do so, for their experience arose from the transactions with which they were most familiar. The Bill had also at one time been so framed as to nearly meet the views of the greatest commercial town in Scotland, but when further improvements and changes were made to place it more in accordance with the views of the rest of the country, they complained that any other suggestions had been listened to or adopted. He trusted that there would be a general feeling of conciliation in the country, and all the local interests, to consider the present Bill, and adopt the improvements which it contained. If not, the law must remain on its present footing. He had been ready to receive suggestions from every quarter, and he had adopted them freely. He was still ready to make any further alterations in the Bill, or to correct any errors which could be shown to exist in it, and with these observations he recommended the Bill to the attentive consideration of the House.
§ The Bill read a second time.