§ Order for Second Reading read.
, in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, its object was to carry into effect some of the changes in the Law of Bankruptcy, and assimilate the Scotch law to that of England and Ireland. So far as the general principle of the Bill was concerned, he believed Her Majesty's Government, represented by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, approved of it, and would assent to the second reading, reserving the power to make Amendments, if necessary, in the details in Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. M'LAREN)
said, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), he cordially approved the 1520 leading provisions of the Bill. Until the measure of last year, there had been no provision in the law of Scotland for bankruptcies in which the claim of the largest debtor was below the amount of £50; and unless there was a creditor to the extent of £50, or three creditors whose aggregate claims amounted to £100, it was impossible to render the debtor bankrupt, although there was a process by which he might himself apply to have his funds sequestrated for the benefit of his creditors. By the Act of last Session, abolishing imprisonment for debt, the power was extended to creditors; but, unfortunately, in this Act no provision was made for the discharge of the debtor, and the forms of bankruptcy were kept up solely to make the unfortunate man the servant of his creditors for the term of his natural life, or until he could pay 20s. in the pound. He believed the House would be of opinion that this distinction between large and small estates, not being founded upon justice, ought not to be maintained. With regard to the other provisions of the Bill, he desired to reserve his opinion, and was not sure that he should be able to support the Bill in all respects. The particular portion of the measure, however, relating to the discharge of the bankrupt was worthy of consideration, and upon that ground he thought the Bill might receive the consent of the House to the second reading.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he did not wish to oppose the Bill on the Motion for second reading; but seeing that the latter portion of it, to which reference had just been made, was to be treated in Committee, he would merely state that he reserved to himself freedom of action when that stage was reached. It was not to be understood that he assented to all the clauses of the Bill by consenting to the second reading.
§ DR. COMMINS
pointed out that there was no provision in the Bankruptcy Act to give the debtor who had no creditor for £50 the benefit referred to by the learned Lord Advocate. England and Ireland in this respect were, therefore, in precisely the same position as Scotland. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) appeared to think that the debtors of the poorer class in England were allowed the benefit of the Bankruptcy Act. He should be glad to 1521 see the Bill extended to England and Ireland.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.