HC Deb 08 August 1842 vol 65 cc1128-43

House in committee on the Bankruptcy Law Amendment Bill.

On the 49th clause, appointment of official assignees,

Mr. M. Phillips

said, that as the bill did not state the precise mode in which remuneration was to be afforded to these officers, he should be glad if any hon. Member would point out what was to be the extent of remuneration, and under what authority it was to be levied? The public would thus be better enabled to judge of the expense that would be incurred by the working of this system. The bill was introduced at so late a period of the Session, that he had had no opportunity of consulting any persons relative to it, except his own immediate constituency. He was inclined to believe that the ex- pense would be increased under this measure, and that in many instances the bankrupt's estate would be divided under disadvantageous circumstances. The fiat should, in all cases, be worked with as much expedition and as cheaply as possible. He made these remarks before, so far as he knew, any appointment of official assignees had been made, and therefore his opposition to that part of the bill could not be attributed to any personal feeling.

The Attorney-General

was quite sure that his hon. Friend had no other object in view than to make the bill as perfect as it could be made by the labours of the committee. After the ample consideration which this subject had undergone in both Houses of Parliament, he did not think that any hon. Member had a right to complain that he had been taken by surprise. Lord Brougham's Bill, which entirely altered the law upon this subject., had been introduced at a later period of the Session, and yet that bill had been passed. That the new system bad produced great advantages was proved by official documents. In 180 estates, under the new system of proceeding by fiat, the proportion of debts collected was 72½ percent. In 180 estates managed under the old commissions, taking them as they came, without selection, the amount of debts collected was only 38 per cent. The benefit which had been derived in collecting small debts of 1l., and under 2l.—of 2l., and under 5l.—of 5l., and under 10l., was very great. The report on the subject set forth, that the advantage of the present system was made perfectly clear from the fact, that since it was carried into effect, all the debts not exceeding 11. amounted to 2,885l.; of which 2,125l. was actually collected; above 1l., and under 2l" the total was 1,399l.; the sum collected, 1,079l.; above 2l., and under 5l., the total was 1,925l.; the sum collected, 1,618l.; above 5l., and under 10l., the total was 1,139l.; the sum collected, 845l. Thus, out of a gross sum, composed of small debts, amounting to 7,348l., 5,677l. had been collected; being not less than 77 per cent. With respect to the remuneration of official assignees, the hon. arid learned Gentleman read the clause in the existing act, showing that the reward depended upon what the court from time to time might see fit to order. It was generally done by a per centage, as for example, 5 per cent. for debts collected under 100l.; between 100l. and 500l., 2½ per cent., and so on, diminishing according to the larger amount collected. There was no inflexible rule, and it was competent to the court to introduce such new orders as they thought proper. If they proceeded on a certain scale it was impossible to avoid complaints, that occasionally large sums would be paid to the official assignees for comparatively little labour, whilst in other cases they might receive a very trifling sum, although they had had great labour; but the commissioners so endeavoured to adjust their scale as to avoid that inconvenience, and he believed they had succeeded in that by adopting a scale which did, on an average, give a fair remuneration. He trusted that under these circumstances the hon. Member opposite would see that extending the system now adopted within forty miles round London to all parts of the kingdom would be a great boon.

Sir T. Wilde

had no hesitation in giving this bill, upon the whole, his decided support. The most valuable part of the alteration that had taken place in the old law, was the appointment of official assignees. As to remuneration, the course adopted hitherto had had the effect, not to give too much, but too limited, a remuneration. If it was required to get respectable persons who could give security to be assignees, remuneration proportioned to the services rendered by those persons must be allowed, otherwise respectable persons could not he obtained. Those persons frequently held large sums of money in their hands, which it was of importance to prevent their detaining in their possession, and to compel them to pay into the bank. To effect that object, a provision would be introduced into the bill to the effect that if the commissioner or judge should find, that the assignee retained in his possession any sum exceeding 200l., beyond forty-eight hours, he should either have to pay, as a penalty, excessive interest on the sum, as was the case under the old Bankruptcy Act, or be subjected to the forfeiture of his office. Thus perfect security could be obtained against the faults of the official assignee. He would state, that during an experience of twenty-five years before the alteration in the law took place, not a bankruptcy estate be- came the subject of investigation that the 1 bankrupt was not ruined. Since the al- teration a great improvement had taken place.

Mr. R. Scott

wished this part of the bill to be referred to a select committee. There appeared to him to be no reason why official assignees should be paid more than accountants of the estate.

Mr. B. Wood

proposed an amendment to the effect that moneys should be received, not by the official; assignee alone, but jointly with one of the assignees chosen by the creditors.

The Solicitor-General

said, that the reason of this system of official assignees working so well in London was this: that they had also the management of the estate, and were enabled to collect debts, which could not have been got in under the old system. They could not get trade assignees to act in the same way, and what was now proposed by the hon. Member for Southwark was to clog the official assignee by obliging him always to have one of the trade assignees with him when be received money in respect of the bankrupt's estate.

Mr. Hardy

thought there could at least he no inconvenience in limiting the receipts of the official assignee to the amount for which he might have given security. Where sums exceeding that amount were to be paid in, then he should be associated with the trading assignee.

Mr. Hawes

observed, that no human system could supply complete checks. It would be vain to make any attempt to prevent all possible evils, and therefore he should say, that they ought to place some reliance upon the power of the Lord Chancellor and something also upon the influence of publicity; but as to a complete system of checks and prevention, he altogether despaired of seeing them introduced into any legislative measure. In case of any misconduct, the trading assignee might call the official assignee to account, or at least might make such an application to the Court as would answer all the purposes of justice. It was well known that the commissioners readily listened to any well-founded complaint, and he was justified in saying that there did not exist men of higher honour than the commissioners, or better men of business than the official assignees.

Mr. Beckett

contended, that the power ought not to be taken altogether out of the hands of the creditors' assignee. The plan of official assignees had not by any means worked so well as some hon. Members seemed to think. He desired, for example, to ask this question—Had not Mr. Abbott been a defaulter to the extent of 60,0001.? Mr. Clarke was a defaulter to the amount of 10,000l. It was understood to be Mr. Abbott's practice to withhold the funds of the estates with which he was connected till the dividend was on the point of being paid, and owing to such abuses, as well as upon other grounds, he did hold that the present system of official assignees required a very material alteration. He would suppose that the owners of a large manufacturing concern suddenly became insolvent—that a commission of bankruptcy issued—that the creditors' assignee was desirous of working up the stock for the benefit of the estate▀×could he do so where the official assignee had taken possession of the whole property in the manner of a sheriff's officer? He had looked at the matter with most anxious attention; he had listened to all that had been said on both sides, and he must be permitted to say, that the promoters of the bill had not made out a sufficient case. Looking impartially at the measure as it stood, he must declare himself wholly against passing such a bill at such a period of the Session, and for this amongst other reasons—that the House did not possess sufficient knowledge on the subject. If he thought himself entitled to ask for such a thing as a matter of favour, he would request the right hon. Baronet near him to postpone the measure till next Session; and he would beg the right hon. Baronet to recollect, that no one demanded such a measure; neither the commissioners nor the people made any requisition on the subject. If the committee decided to go on he should not persist in moving to restrict the powers proposed to be given. If, however, he should "urge that proposition and be defeated, then he would ask leave to propose that an annual return be made to Parliament, brought down to the 31st day of December in each year, and be presented within two months of the meeting of Parliament, such return to set forth the total amount of monies received by assignees to bankrupts' estates, distinguishing the amount received for each estate, and the balance in hand on account of' each, as well as the total balance; those several accounts to be signed by the Accountant-general of the court,

Sir J. Graham

said, he was surprised at the appeal which had been made to him. It must, of course, be in the recollection of hon. Members, that before the House resolved itself into a committee, the question of postponement had been very seriously discussed and decided in the negative. He did not undervalue the objections which had been made to the measure, but he did not think that a more effectual remedy for the acknowledged evils of the law could at this moment be adopted; nevertheless, he did not disguise from himself that the bill when passed into a law would meet with some opposition, and that opposition would be still more difficult to deal with if directed against a postponed measure, rather than against one not passed into a law. There was a very large amount of local influence which could be called into activity against it—there were 700 commissioners, all members of the legal profession, who, with their friends, would array all their power against the measure; and, considering it to be the best that under present circumstances could be carried, he must adhere to the determination which he had already expressed of not consenting to its postponement. In confirmation of the views of those who were engaged in promoting the bill, he should, with the permission of the House, read to them an opinion expressed by Lord Eldon more than forty years ago. It was reported in these words:▀× Upon this subject his Lordship observed, with warmth, that the abuse of the bankrupt law was a disgrace to the country, and that it would be better at once to repeal all the statutes than to suffer them to be applied to such purposes. There is no mercy to the estate—nothing is less thought of than the object of the commission. As they are frequently conducted in the country they are little more than stock in trade for the commissioners, the assignees, and the solicitor. Instead of solicitors attending to their duty, as ministers of the court, for they are so, commissions of bankruptcy are treated as matters of traffic. A taking out the commission, B. and C. to be his commissioners. They are considered as stock in trade, and calculations are made how many commissions can be bought into the partnership. Unless the court holds a strong hand over bankruptcy, particularly as administered in the country, it is itself accessory to as great a nuisance as any known in the land, and known to pass under the forms of its law. Upon this he should observe, that those who opposed the bill were bound to show, that since the year 1801, when Lord Eldon delivered the opinion which he had just read, a material change had taken place in the practice of which that noble and learned person so justly complained. There certainly had been a change in the metropolitan district, and the effect of the present measure would be to extend the metropolitan system to the provincial districts; and from the information that he had received from various quarters of high authority, he thought himself justified in saying that the great commercial community of London were decidedly favourable to the proposed system. He recently had the honour of meeting a deputation at which three metropolitan Members were present, on which occasion he took the liberty of asking them whether on the whole they thought that the experiment of the official assignees had been successful or other. wise? They stated, that at first: there had been a good deal of suspicion entertained with respect to the official assignees, but the system gradually advanced in public estimation, The public knew that the assignees were under the strong hand of the Lord Chancellor, and it was well known that the least irregularity was visited with immediate correction. For these reasons, he must be allowed to say, he thought that the promoters of the bill would act a most unworthy part if they did not proceed with and bring to maturity a measure which had the support of the great commercial communities, and which had received the sanction of the Lord Chancellor, and of the Master of the Rolls.

Mr. B, Wood

stated, that, one of the objects which he had in view was to render the creditors assignee a check upon the official assignee. During the existence of the law there had been three defaulters. The bill under the consideration of the House did not contain a single clause to protect the estate of the bankrupt from frauds of a similar character. If the estate were protected, he should be satisfied. He proposed that the trade assignee should also sign the receipt, and thus a greater security would be afforded against a mal-appropriation of the property.

Mr. Hardy

could not see what objection could be urged against the adoption of the proposition. Could it not be provided, that in all cases where a sum of money was held beyond the amount of the security, one of the trade assignees should be associated with the other, and thus afford a security against the commission of fraud? He did not wish to make any alteration in the portion of the bill relating to official assignees, but he thought that when the official assignees had possession of a larger sum than that for which they had given security, a control ought to be exercised over them in order to prevent the occurrence of cases similar to that of Abbott.

Mr. Hawes

referred to a case which had come before the Lord Chancellor very recently. Out of five commissioners named, one had been selected to move the fiat—his name had since very properly been left out—three were creditors to the estate, and one was a debtor.

Mr. Jervis

said, that the hon. Member for Lambeth had not been more happy in his selection of cases than had been the right hon. Baronet himself. The hon. Member for Lambeth cited his case, and in the face of that gave his support to the bill. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the opinion of Lord Eldon on the state of the bankrupt laws. That opinion was, he believed, delivered in 1801. So little did the right hon. Baronet know of the question, that he was obliged to refer to the opinion of Lord Eldon to strengthen his argument on the subject. He thought that it was not right to press a matter of so much importance at so late a period of the Session, particularly as the hon. Member for Leeds and other hon. Members connected with mercantile matters, had expressed an opinion in favour of the postponement of the bill. It appeared as if the bill had been brought forward at that advanced period, and hurried through the House with the view of preventing the 700 commissioners from having an opportunity of stating their views on the measure before the House. He considered the objections which had been urged against the clause to be well founded. What they said was this—Do not invest all the power over the property of the bankrupt in the hands of the official assignee.

Sir T. Wilde

said, that though he should be happy to see the bill postponed until next Session, he did not concur in the objections urged against this particular clause by the hon. Member who had preceded him. He would address himself, therefore, to the particular clause which they were considering when the hon. Mem- ber for Leeds led the discussion into the general question, whether the bill should pass or not. The objections urged against this clause were founded on great and essential mistakes. Most of those objections which his hon. Friend had pointed out might easily be remedied. The hon. Member for Leeds said, that the official assignee took possession of the estate immediately, and that there was not sufficient control or security for the creditor. In order to form a judgment on this matter, it would be necessary to compare the present state of things with that which existed previously. The mode of working a commission in London and the country before the new arrangement was this:—The warrant was directed to a person called a messenger. In the country, generally, the messenger was the sheriff's bailiff. In London there were certain persons appointed by the Lord Chancellor, generally persons of no property; the property was seized by a man employed for 5s. a-day, and so the estate remained until the second public meeting, when the assignee was appointed. There was an exception, where a trade had to be carried on, or where there was an extent on the part of the Crown. On these occasions an application was made for the appointment of an official assignee. Therefore you had to compare the responsibility of the bailiff, who had given no security to the creditors, with the official assignee appointed by the Lord Chancellor, and who had to give security. No comparison could be instituted between the two persons. The duty of the official assignee began with the issuing of the commission. So much for the first stage. What was the second? The hon. Member for Leeds said, " Suppose you wish to redeem property, see what advantage you deprive the estate of by not allowing the trade assignee to interfere." The rule now prevailing in London with regard to official assignees was this:— There were orders made by the commissioner that the official assignee should not retain more than 100l. in his hands, balance of a particular estate, and the aggregate amount of his balances on all the estates to which he was assignee could not be more than 1,000l.; the rest ought to be paid in in the name of the Accountant-general in Bankruptcy. The hon. Member for Leeds said, suppose you wanted to redeem property? He thought that there was not the slightest difficulty in doing so. Let them suppose the condition of property before the appointment of assignees—there was no one to represent the estate at all who could advance the money. The only mode would be by a general meeting of creditors, who must advance the money out of their own pockets, that was, if it occurred before the appointment of assignees. Under the bill, as it stood, there would be quite as much facility in obtaining funds to carry on trade, to redeem pledges, or to do anything for the benefit of the estate, as there was now under the present system. Supposing it were necessary that 1,000l. of the funds which had been realised were wanted to pay dock dues, so that certain goods might be entered, the assignees would call a meeting by advertisement in the Gazette —they would, at that meeting, receive authority from the body of the creditors—that authority would be laid before the commissioner, and the matter would be at once done. So that, in fact, all the bill would do would be to prevent the misapplication of the funds, while every facility was given to apply them for the benefit of the estate. Then, with respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Southwark, it would be admitted, that under the old system, the assignees being themselves deeply engaged in trade, did not spend their time in attempting to get in small or difficult accounts; they were generally left to themselves, and, in many cases, the money which they did succeed in collecting they paid in to their own account at their bankers, and traded on the credit it gave them, and sometimes years passed over without any dividend being declared. The bill provided for the appointment of official assignees, who might in the collection of money proceed without the concurrence of the trade assignees, and by their means the debts would be better looked after and sooner collected to be divided amongst the creditors of the estate. The bill, however, expressly gave the trade assignees alone the power of saying how, when, and in what manner the effects belonging to an estate should be converted; but money once collected was locked up in the hands of the Accountant-general in Bankruptcy, where it lay till it was required. All that the bill provided was greater security against the mis-application of the funds, and surely that was not an object likely to be objectionable to those engaged in trade and liable to suffer from bankruptcies. The object of the clause under discussion was to provide the means for as large and as early a dividend as possible, and, in his opinion, it would be effectual to that end. It might be asked why the present provisions were not extended to the country when the new system was first introduced? He remembered very well what was the reason given by those who introduced it; they were anxious to try the system in London first. The official assignees were obliged to keep their books in a clear and accurate manner; those books were at all times open to the inspection of the trade assignees; therefore, if the latter did their duty, the system provided for a diminution in the expense of working the commission, the certainty of the debts being collected, and a greatly increased security for all the funds realized; and he said that, notwithstanding the defalcation of the three individuals who had been alluded to, those defalcations arose from matters which might easily be controlled. Why should not the system work as well in the country as in London? He had always taken a deep interest in the bill, and when it was before the House on the first occasion, he was aware that much suspicion existed in the minds of eminent men, both professional and mercantile, with regard to the appointment of official assignees. He had of late made inquiries on the subject, and he knew that that prejudice had been entirely dissipated. He highly approved of the system, he thought it would prove of great utility in the country as well as in London, and although lie could have wished that the bill had been more maturely considered, still, as the bill was to pass in the present Session, he would give the clause his earnest support.

Mr. Baldwin

thought the bill would prove the means of much saving to estates, and a benefit to the country. The official assignee system had proved most useful in London, and he should certainly vote for its extension.

Mr. M. Philips

said, there was no doubt the trade assignees would still be possessed of considerable powers even if the bill passed, but why should they be deprived of the power to perform the last act? Why take from them the control of the funds? Why should they not in all things act conjointly with the official assignees? He, as the representative of a large manufacturing and mercantile community, felt himself compelled to give his support to the amendment of the hon. Member for Southwark. He thought it most desirable that a trade assignee should be appointed, who might exercise some check upon the acts of the official assignee.

Mr. B. Wood

wished to state, that his object was that trade assignees should be appointed, who might act as a check upon the official assignees with respect to the sums of money received. He would be quite content if, in each case, one trade assignee was appointed. After what had taken place, he could not, with confidence, intrust the receipt of money to the official assignees alone, and he thought they ought to be accountable to responsible parties. It had been stated that, within a short period, two instances of improper conduct had occurred on the part of official assignees: but he believed the fact was, that three such cases had occurred. He might state that, in one instance, an official assignee was appointed, who, at the time of his appointment was known to be insolvent, and who had judgment debts hanging over him; and he believed that individual had not been in office six months before he defrauded several estates of the money placed in his hands. He thought, after such occurrences, they ought not to legislate without requiring something like reasonable security for the future. He considered that no official assignee ought to be allowed to receive money, unless the name of a trade assignee was appended to the receipt.

The committee divided on the question that the word " alone " leaving the power in the hands of the official assignee, stand part of the clause.—Ayes 52; Noes 16: Majority 36.

List of the AYES.
Arkwright, G. Eliot, Lord
Baird, W. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Baldwin, B. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Baring, hon. W. B. Flower, Sir J.
Bentinck, Lord G. Follett, Sir W. W.
Blackburne, J.I. Ffolliott, J.
Bolder, H. G. Forbes, W.
Bruce, Lord E. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Clerk, Sir G. Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E
Corry, rt. hon. H. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Darby, G. Gore, M.
Dick, Q. Goulburn, rt. hon. H
Douglas, Sir C. B. Graham, rt. hon. Sir. I
East, J. B. Hamilton, W. J.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Peel, J.
Hawes, B. Polhill, F.
Herbert, hon. S. Pollock, Sir F.
Hodgson, R. Pulsford, R.
Hope, hon. C. Somerset, Lord G.
Jermyn, Earl Stewart, J.
Jones, Capt. Stuart, H.
Knatchbull, rt. hn.SirE Taylor, T. E.
Lincoln, Earl of Wood, Col. T.
Lowther, J. H. Young, J.
Lyall, G.
Marsham, Visct. TELLERS.
Meynell, Capt. Fremantle, Sir T.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Pechell, Capt.
Aldam, W. Philips, M.
Brotherton, J. Scott, R.
Cobden, R. Sheppard, T.
Hardy, J. Trotter, J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Williams, W.
Jervis, J.
Langton, W. G. TELLERS.
Masterman, J. Beckett, W.
Morris, D. Wood, B.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 58,

Mr. Jervis

said, he wished to know upon what statistics it was proposed that the number of the commissioners should be confined to ten. He did not see when Manchester alone would give occupation to three courts, how ten could perform the duties.

Sir J. Graham

said, that perhaps the number was less than might be required. The number of commissioners in London was six, and they performed the duties for forty miles round London; but the Lord Chancellor having communicated with those commissioners, they took upon themselves to discharge the duties for 100 miles around the metropolis. This would include Brighton and many other large towns. If six commissioners were sufficient for the metropolis and 100 miles around, and the commissioners, after ten years' experience, were content to undertake the additional duty which would be thrown upon them, he thought that ten might, perhaps, be capable of doing the remaining business. He had, however, no objection that they should be increased to twelve.

Mr. Jervis

said, that if persons living at 100 miles from London were obliged to come up to the metropolis to prove small debts, it was another objection against the bill, because it was tantamount to a denial of justice.

Sir J. Graham

then proposed to amend the clause, by substituting the number twelve for ten.

Mr. Jervis

said, it was evident that the bill had been brought into the House in such a state that the right hon. Baronet did not himself know how many persons would be necessary to work the measure he proposed. There was nothing on the face of the bill to show whether it was to be worked by a central board or by circuits. He thought it was too bad to bring forward such a bill as the present at so late a period of the Session. The responsibility of the alterations proposed in the measure by the right hon. Gentleman must not rest upon him; he would not be responsible for the insertion of the words ten, twelve, twenty, or two hundred. He believed the bill was nothing but a job, and it had been brought forward at the present late period of the Session, in order that it should not incur formidable opposition.

Sir. J. Graham

said, that the hon. and learned Member certainly over-estimated the value which he attached to either the suggestion or the censure of the hon. and learned Gentleman. As to the bill being a job, he was willing to leave it to the country to decide whether that was the character of a measure with such limited patronage. He believed the country would not accuse the present Government with being guilty of jobbing by countenancing the present bill. The Government had determined to support the Insolvency Bill; that bill, as well as the present, imposed fresh duties, and he was afraid, therefore, that ten commissioners might not be sufficient, and therefore it was, that he proposed to insert not less than twelve commissioners.

Mr. M. Philips

was sure the objects of the measure could not be worked by the present number of commissioners; but he thought they might try if ten were not sufficient before twelve were appointed.,

Sir J. Graham

proposed to insert the words " not exceeding twelve," but he could assure the hon. Member that an attempt would be made with ten, to see how the measure would work.

Mr. Jervis

observed, that as to the Insolvency Bill, he did not believe it would pass this Session. Disclaiming again being any party to the bill, he would not divide after the explanation of the right hon. Baronet.

Clause, as amended, to stand part of the bill.

On clause 64, relating to the jurisdiction of courts acting under fiats of bankruptcy,

Sir Thomas Wilde

objected to this clause, upon the ground that it gave power to the local commissioners to make orders and regulations which heretofore could only be issued by the Lord Chancellor, or the Court of Review.

The committee divided on the question that the clause stand part of the bill: Ayes 59; Noes 21: Majority 38.

List of the AYES.
A'Court, Capt. Hogg, J. W.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Hope, hon. C.
Baring, hon. W. B. Howard, P. H.
Bateson, R. Inglis, Sir RAH.
Blackstone, W. S. Irving, J.
Boldero, H. G. Jerkin, Earl
Botfield, B. Jones, Capt.
Broadley, H. Kemble, H.
Burdett, Sir F. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E
Burrell, Sir C. M. Knightley, Sir C.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Lefroy, A.
D'Israeli, B. Lyall, G.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Eliot, Lord Marsham, Visct.
Escott, Meynell, Capt.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Pollock, Sir F.
Flower, Sir J. Round, J.
Follett, Sir W. V. Scott, R.
Ffolliott, I. Sheppard, T.
Forester, hon. G.C.W. Somerset, Lord G.
Fuller, A. E. Stuart, H.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Trench, Sir F. W.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Verner, Col.
Graham, rt. an. Sir J. Wall, C. B.
Hamilton, W. J. Wood, Col. T.
Harcourt, G. G. Young, J.
Hardinge, rt. TELLERS.
Henley, J. W. Fremantle, Sir T.
Hodgson, R. Pringle, A.
List of the Noes.
Aglionby, H. A. Hawes, B.
Bowes, J. Palmerston, Visct.
Bowring, Dr. Pechell, Capt.
Brotherton, Philips, M.
Bryan, G. Plumridge, Capt.
Cobden, R. Tuffnell, H.
Duke, Sir J. Williams, W.
Duncan, O. Wood, B.
Duncombe, T. Wyse, T.
Elphinstone, H. TELLERS.
Ewart, W. Wylde, Sir T.
Ferguson, Col. Jervis, T.

Clause ordered to stand part of the bill.

Clauses 65 to 74 inclusive were agreed to.

On clause 75, fixing the salaries of the judges, commissioners, and other officers,

Mr. M. Philips

entertained a strong and decided objection to this clause. He conceived that the proposed salary of 2,000l. a-year to each of the London commissioners, and of 1,800l. to each of the country commissioners, was infinitely too high. Such an amount of salary was not necessary to secure the degree of talent requisite for the proper discharge of the duties which these commissioners would be called upon to perform. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) would consent to a reduction of these salaries.

The Attorney-General

defended the clause. The object of it was to secure the best services which could be got, and the payment of high salaries was to be justified on the ground that persons qualified for the situation would have to sacrifice their professional income by accepting the situation.

Mr. M. Philips

thought that 1,500l. should be inserted instead of 1,800l. When they came to the proper part of the clause, he would propose an amendment to that effect.

Mr. B. Wood

thought 2,000l. a-year too high a salary for the town commissioners. He begged to propose as an amendment, that 1,800l. be substituted for 2,000l.

Sir T. Wilde

did not think the salaries at all inadequate for the services which the commissioners would have to perform. The increase of business which the bill would cast upon the town commissioners fully entitled them to the additional amount of 500l. a-year.

Mr. Wood's

amendment withdrawn.

Mr. M. Philips

proposed as an amendment, in line 7, that 1,500l. be inserted instead of 1,800l., as the salary of the country commissioners.

Sir T. Wilde

thought it would be better if the salaries were allowed to remain as proposed in the bill.

The committee divided on the question that the words one thousand eight hundred pounds stand part of the Ayes 78; Noes 13: Majority 65.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Blackstone, W. S.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Boldero, H. G.
Baring, hon. W. B. Botfield, B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Broadley, H.
Blackburne, J. I. Bryan, G.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Irving, J.
Clerk, Sir G. Jermyn, Earl
Corry, rt. hon. H. Jervis, J.
Darner, hon. Col. Kemble, H.
D'Israeli, B. Knatchbull, rt. hn. SirE.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lefroy, A.
Eliot, Lord Lincoln, Earl of
Elphinstone, H. Lyall, O.
Escott, B. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Farnham, E. B. Masterman, J.
Ferguson, Col. Meynell, Capt.
Fitzroy, Capt. Newry, Visct.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Flower, Sir J. Paget, Col.
Follett, Sir W. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Ffolliot. J. Peel. J.
Forbes, W. Polhill, F.
Fuller, A. E. Pollock, Sir F.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Ponsonby, hn. C.F.A.C
Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E. Pulsford, R.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Round, J.
Gore, M. Sheppard, T.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Somerset, Lord G.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Stanley, Lord
Grant, Sir A. C. Stewart, J.
Hamilton, W. J. Stuart, H.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Hardy, J. Verner, Col.
Hawes, B. Wilde, Sir T.
Henley, J. W. Wood, Col. T.
Hervey, Lord A. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Hodgson, R. Young, J.
Hogg, J. W.
Hope, hon. C. TELLERS.
Howard, P. H. Fremantle, Sir T.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Duke, 'Sir J. Pechell, Capt.
Duncombe, T. Plumridge, Capt.
Ewart, W. Scott, R.
Hume, J. Williams, W.
Humphery, Ald. Wood, B.
Martin, J. TELLERS.
Morris, D. Philips, M.
O'Brien, J. Brotherton. J.

Remaining clauses disposed of.

House resumed. Bill to be reported.