HC Deb 21 March 1854 vol 131 cc1078-9

, in asking for leave to lay upon the table a Bill to amend and consolidate the Law of Bankruptcy in Ireland, said, he was sure he should be acting most in accordance with the pleasure of the House, and also with the nature of his subject, which, at best, was not a very interesting one, if he did nothing more at this stage of the measure than state in a few sentences what were the objects of the Bill, postponing until some future opportunity any discussion as to its details. He would proceed, therefore, at once to explain the objects of the Bill. It had been a matter of complaint for a long period, and by a great number of mercantile firms in Ireland, that the scale of fees in bankruptcy was exorbitant, and was infinitely higher than prevailed in this country. And on a comparison of the two scales he had himself ascertained that in cases of the first class, while in England the whole of the fees would only reach to 15l., in Ireland they might amount to between 70l. and 80l. Now, the consequence of that was apparent in the fact, that during the last ten years persons had been so entirely deterred from driving debtors into the Bankruptcy Court of Ireland, that the number of bankrupts in that country had not averaged more than sixty-three per annum, a number which it was quite absurd to suppose represented the real state of trade there, if reference were made to the proportion of population between the two countries. The first effect, then, of this Bill was to make provision by which the scale of fees payable in Ireland should be assimilated to that existing in England, and get rid of this preposterous discrepancy. His second object was to enable examination as to matters of fact to be taken in different parts of the country throughout Ireland, instead of compelling persons to be brought up to Dublin to be examined before the Commissioner, thus involving a great expense and a great waste of time. The third object of the Bill had regard to the fact that the Irish law of bankruptcy, being in many respects behind that prevailing in England, he wanted to bring up the law of Ireland to that of the sister country. And fourthly, and lastly, he wished, once and for all, to repeal a large number of old Statutes which existed in Ireland, and through which parties had to wade in order to discover the enactments in force in Ireland on the subject of bankruptcy; so that by this means every one would have the whole bankruptcy laws of Ireland contained within the four corners of this Bill. Such were the simple objects of his Bill, and he hoped it would not prove objectionable to any quarter.


seconded the Motion.


said, the objects proposed to be carried out by the Bill of the hon. and learned Gentleman were most desirable, and he could assure him he would be most happy to offer every assistance in his power to facilitate their promotion.


said, that, as a person engaged in commerce, he wished to observe that there was one part of his hon. and learned Friend's plan which he could scarcely see how it could be carried out, namely, as to the examination of witnesses. If witnesses were not to be produced before the Commissioner in Dublin, no opportunity would be offered of cross-examining them to ascertain if their statements were borne out. He had no doubt, however, that a great deal of the present expenses of the Bankruptcy Court could be saved by the reduction of several sinecure offices, one of which, for instance, was the registry of bankrupts. He also thought that the salaries paid to the messengers of the Court were enormously high. He begged to thank the hon. and learned Member for the Bill; he believed that no one was more competent to deal with the subject than he was.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Cairns and Mr. Napier.