§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed."
said, he would recommend 207 the withdrawal of the Bill at the present advanced period of the Session.
said, he must complain that the Bill would not work, especially in mercantile cases, where it would disturb all cases in bankruptcy and insolvency, and lead to collusive proceedings between tradesmen in England and Ireland. There would be no longer any safeguard against preferential payment by creditors. He should be better satisfied if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would give his assurance that the measure would work, on which he entertained great doubt.
MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, he could not concur in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's opinion of the Bill, for he had well considered the objections urged against the measure both in the Select Committee and in that House, and his opinion was, that its principle was sound. The principle was, that if judgment was recovered in one country, it might be executed in the other. At present a judgment being given in Ireland, execution could not be enforced in England, and vice versâ. That was remedied by the present Bill. There were undoubtedly some safeguards which would be necessary to prevent the abuse of the Bill, but those could be introduced in Committee.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he should be glad to see the principle adopted if it could be done safely. When the Bill first came down from the Select Committee it was looked upon with great suspicion by the Government. The Bill placed the judgment in the hands of one Court, and the execution of it in another, a practice which would inevitably lead to great confusion. How was the question to be properly tried? It would be a much wiser plan if the judgment issued by any one Court could be executed by that Court in any part of the United Kingdom. If any measure was passed, it should be a much more extensive one than the present. The process of the Bill was not a sufficient improvement on the present system to be set against the inconvenience it would occasion, and the frauds which it would give rise to. If those powers were given to the Court, the power of changing the venue should be given at the same time. He should therefore move that the Bill be committed that day three months.
§ Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words "for this day three months."208
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he had been a Member of the Select Committee on the Bill, and was aware of the apprehension with which it was viewed. But he had never felt any of the fears which had been expressed even by his right hon. and learned friend the Attorney General for Ireland. He thought hon. Members were too timid in respect of new Bills. All laws would be evaded and abused. The principle of the Bill was so good, that abstractedly it would be well if the decision of Courts in all countries could be executed everywhere. That, however, was impossible; but in the three kingdoms, where the Courts were governed by the same principles, it was absurd to have three distinct rules applicable in each of them. As far as regarded Scotland, he was perfectly satisfied with the Bill, and had no fears that its provisions would be abused in that country. The opponents of the measure seemed to be apprehensive against frauds, which could, he was certain, be prevented by the most ordinary care on the part of the Court. He trusted that they would allow the Bill to go to Committee, that such safeguards as might be necessary, if any were necessary, might he adopted.
said, that to make the Bill safe they must adopt stringent regulations, which, he apprehended, would create great difficulty. He could not see the way to carry the measure out so as to remedy existing inconveniences. All approved of the principle; but there was no lawyer there who would undertake to work it so as to avoid the perplexities which it involved. If the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland would undertake to reconsider the Bill, he should be satisfied; otherwise he must vote for the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend.
§ MR. BAINES
said, he believed that the principle was not only a valuable one, but might be carried safely into effect. The law officers, both in England and Ireland, approved of the Bill; the Law Society of Ireland, which had once opposed it, now consented to it. Under these circumstances, therefore, he trusted they would let the Bill go to Committee, believing that the difficulties would vanish as they were practically approached.
§ MR. G. BUTT
said, that after giving much consideration to the Bill his opinion was decidedly in favour of its principle. 209 That principle was, that there should be a reciprocal power of enforcing in one part of the United Kingdom the judgments obtained in any other part, taking care that the proceedings adopted for that purpose should not give facilities for undue preferences or for the commission of fraud; for, undoubtedly, facility of enforcing judgment was a very great boon. What the House, however, had to do was to take care that the machinery was well guarded; and it seemed to him that the machinery of this amended Bill would substantially accomplish the object and principle which they were all desirous of carrying out. Under those circumstances he hoped the Bill would be committed, and rendered as safe and useful a measure as possible.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he had communicated with several of the mercantile classes in Ireland, and that they were unanimously opposed both to the principle and the details of the measure. They represented that Ireland, as the poorer country, was unfortunately the larger debtor, and that the practical effect of the Bill would be this—that the English creditor, instead of taking proceedings against traders in Ireland in the courts of law of that country, would take those proceedings in England, where the debtor had not the ordinary means of defence at his command, and thus inflict great hardship and injustice upon him. In his (Mr. Vance's) opinion, the law, as it at present stood, gave sufficient remedies to the creditor against the debtor.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he could not understand the difficulties urged against the Bill. It was high time that the distinction in legal process between the three countries should be abolished. He sincerely wished that hon. Members would take more pains to get over difficulties and less to find them out. He highly approved of the Bill, considering it a most useful one.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he had sought assistance from all quarters for the last two years. In order to put the Bill in a perfect state. He had already made several alterations in the measure which he thought would protect it against abuse; and he had given notice of a further Amendment for that purpose. If there was any difficulty in Ireland it rested with the Irish merchants to take such precautions as would obviate it.
said, he thought that as much delay would arise under the present measure as under the old practice.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he would not press his Amendment, notwithstanding he believed that the measure could not be made safe, but being willing that they should try their hands at it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill committed for Wednesday next.