HC Deb 14 July 1838 vol 44 cc200-2

The House resolved in Committee on the Imprisonment for Debt Abolition Bill.

On Clause 86,

Mr. Sheppard

moved the addition of the words "within the space of three years after the date of the aforesaid discharge," in line 40, in order that the judgment might not take effect beyond that term.

Mr. Warburton

thought it was hardly worth while to make any amendments on such a miserable abortion of a bill as this. Letthe bill go forth with all its imperfections, and let the responsibility rest with the other House, which had passed, and the Government, which had sanctioned it. He was only induced to consent to the passing of the bill from the conviction that an efficient change would be brought about sooner if this measure were adopted, than if the law were allowed to remain in its present state.

The Attorney-general

resisted the amendment, as making a very important alteration in the system that now prevailed. That part of the system to which it related, if altered at all, ought to be wholly re-modelled.

Mr. Harvey

said, it almost seemed from the tone taken by the Attorney-general as if that House had little to do with the bill in the way of deliberation, and must be content to take it as it stood, or not at all. For his part, he confessed, he was not so unfavourable to the bill as the hon. Member for Bridport. It was obviously not a perfect measure; but it made several most important improvements on the present law. If the bill should pass, the fraudulent debtor would no longer have it in his power to set his creditors at defiance, and live in a state of criminal affluence within the walls of a prison, but would be brought before a competent court, and compelled to surrender whatever property he possessed. On the other hand, the creditor would not be allowed, as at present, to keep the debtor in prison for an interminable period, in the indulgence of a spirit of censurable vindictiveness. They were not now, in his opinion, in a condition to discuss the whole law of debtor and creditor, and therefore, although he thought that many useful improvements might be made in it, he was disposed to acquiesce in this bill.

The Attorney-general

was only anxious not to hazard, by too many amendments, at this late period of the Session, the passing of a measure which all must look upon as extremely beneficial.

Mr. Hume

wished, that insolvents should be put on the same footing as bankrupts. It was very hard to allow a judgment to hang over an insolvent which would prevent him from ever re-establishing himself in business.

Mr. Freshfield

objected to the amendment, as causing an inconvenient alteration in the existing law. In the Insolvent Debtors' Court, there were at the present moment between 100,000 and 200,000 judgments, which were liable to be enforced at any time.

The amendment withdrawn, and clause agreed to.

The House resumed, the report to be brought up.