§ MR. ARCHIBALD HASTIE
said, he must beg the right hon. Gentleman to postpone the second reading of this and the Joint-Stock Companies Bill to a later day, because, if they really, possessed that intrinsic merit which was claimed for them, they would meet with the general approbation of the country, and no inconvenience could be occasioned by giving hon. Members a sufficient time to enable them to make themselves masters of their details. He felt quite certain that the country would be unanimous in rejecting the Partnership Amendment Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, and he thought that the other would be found susceptible of great improvement; he hoped, therefore, that the Government would consent to put them off for a fortnight, feeling satisfied that the effect of such a postponement would in reality be to facilitate their progress if it could be proved that they were the valuable measures the right hon. Gentleman supposed them to be.
§ MR. LOWE
said, the principles of the Bills,—namely, limited liability, and the necessity of amending the Joint-Stock Companies Act—were not in contestation in that House, but the means of carrying them out depended upon details respecting which there might be considerable differences of opinion, which, however, could be expressed more properly in Committee. If he were to postpone the second reading beyond Friday, the Bills must stand over until after the Estimates had been disposed of, and perhaps could not be read a second time before Easter. The Bills were important, and should be considered as speedily as possible, but the hon. Member for Paisley objected to them in toto, and, therefore, although the hon. Member was not in a hurry to pass them, he should feel it his duty to press the Bills for a second reading on Friday.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he must complain that no sufficient notice had been given of the intention to postpone the second reading of the Bills until Friday. He had come up from the country expressly to consider them, although they had only been in the hands of Members since yesterday. The Bills related to very important and complicated subjects, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would really facilitate his object if he would allow a longer time to elapse before taking the second reading. The effect of taking the second reading of the Bills on Friday would be, that hon. Members would feel obliged to resort to the objectionable practice of raising a discussion on going into Committee; and as it was quite impossible that any hon. Member could, in the short time allowed, make himself acquainted with the nature of the details, he thought that they were quite justified in asking that the second reading should be postponed for a week.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he concurred in thinking that some further delay should take place, in order that hon. Members and the commercial community at large might make themselves acquainted with the measures now proposed. If the second reading should be pressed on Friday he would feel it his duty to take the sense of the House upon it.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, he believed on the contrary, that the commercial community 261 of the country knew nothing at all about the Bills, nor had any opportunity of seeing them. He believed the Bills would prove like that of last year, perfect delusions. They were taught to expect a sort of millennium from the operation of the Limited Liability Act of last Session, but he had looked for it in vain. His impression of the present Bills was, that on examination nothing commercial would be found in them; but that they were purely philosophic in their nature.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) should have been inconvenienced by the change of day for the second reading, but the alteration had been made in deference to the suggestions of the noble Lord the Member for Hull (Viscount Goderich). He could not undertake further to postpone the second reading of the Bills, as he could not bring them in on Wednesdays, that day being inconvenient to members of the long robe who were anxious to be present, and if the Bills were not taken on Friday they could not come on for three weeks, as on Monday the Government intended to take the Estimates, and to proceed with themde die in diem. He would gladly consult the convenience of hon. Gentlemen, but the business of the Session must be done, and the Bills would not be committed until three weeks after the second readings. He therefore hoped, as the discussion must really be upon details, and not upon principles which the House had already adopted, that he would not be considered discourteous if he felt bound to press the second reading of the Bills on Friday next.