§ On the order of the day for the second reading of this Bill,
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, he must complain that a Bill of this importance, hurried through the Lords as it had been, should be fixed for a Government night, when, if it came on at all, it must be discussed at so late an hour that any satisfactory consideration of the matter would be out of the question. The measure was a special piece of legislation intended to meet a particular case, and there were many grounds why the House should devote particular attention to it.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he could assure the House that his only object in bringing forward the Bill was to amend what appeared to him and other Gentlemen of the Bar, as well as to a large portion of the community, to be serious defects in the existing law. He 667 would name Friday for the second reading, with a view of giving himself an opportunity of then naming a future day, which he did not feel at liberty to do without consulting with some gentlemen with whom he was acting in the matter.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that the Bill was looked upon in Ireland as one framed for the purpose of screening from their lawful responsibility the shareholders of the bank of the late Mr. John Sadleir, who had once been a Lord of the Treasury. He had received several communications, stating that the Bill, which had been passed through the House of Lords, was one calculated to still further swindle the depositors in a concern which the Master of the Rolls in Ireland had declared was the greatest swindle he had ever known, his Honour basing that statement on a document published a few days before the stoppage of the bank—a document, he (Mr. Whiteside) was sorry to say, signed by a Member of that House. The Master of the Rolls had stated that that document contained some of the foulest statements he had ever read. The depositors in the country parts of Ireland had presented a petition to the House praying to be heard by counsel, and proposed to show that every shilling which the shareholders possessed ought to be made available before the victims were swindled out of all their deposits by that swindling concern. Was that House prepared to pass a Bill ex post facto to screen the bank of Mr. John Sadleir? If his hon. and learned Friend imagined that such a Bill as that was to be passed by that House he was greatly mistaken. At all events it was too serious a matter to be entered into at two o'clock in the morning—a favourite hour for considering Irish Bills. [An Hon. MEMBER: This is not an Irish Bill.] That is quite a delusion. It is an Irish Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he hoped that a discussion would not now be entered into on a measure for the consideration of which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wallingford (Mr. Malins) had expressed his intention to give time.
§ MR. I. BUTT
said, he did not think that those hon. and learned Members who had expressed their opinions as to the objects of this Bill were entirely to blame, seeing the circumstances under which it was introduced to the House, and the early day named for the second reading. He would have been perfectly satisfied with 668 the assurance of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wallingford that abundant time would be given for the consideration of the proposed measure were it not for the qualification which he annexed to that promise—namely, that he would give time so far as was consistent with the object which he had in view. That qualification of his hon. and learned Friend was of very little value if his object were to press on the Bill. The Bill had come down from the House of Lords. ["Order, order!"] He hoped he was not out of order in saying that the Bill had come down from the House of Lords; and, further, that it was a measure which should not be pressed through the House of Commons without due consideration, having regard to the feelings entertained in Ireland in respect to the effects which it would have in that country.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he hoped it was unnecessary to assure the House that his object in taking charge of the measure was not to screen the concern alluded to, or to work injury to any person. He believed that the measure was called for, but he had no desire whatever to press it hurriedly through the House. As he had before stated, his reason for wishing to have it placed on the paper for Friday was, that some day for the second reading might then be fixed, so that the Bill might be duly considered; but in the absence of those with whom he was acting in the matter he did not now feel at liberty to name any day beyond Friday.
§ Second Reading deferred till Friday.
§ The House adjourned at Two o'clock.