HC Deb 29 February 1884 vol 285 cc320-2

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that, when the Bill was mentioned last night, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) expressed a desire to receive some explanation of its provisions. He (the Solicitor General) had given the hon. and learned Gentleman explanations which were perfectly satisfactory. The Bill was introduced for the purpose of providing that, in case of an appeal from a County Court exercising its jurisdiction under the Bankruptcy Act, the appeal, instead of being taken to the Court of Appeal, should be taken to a Divisional Court, consisting of the Judge in Bankruptcy and one other Judge. There was now a considerable block in the Court of Appeal, and it was felt that the Judge in Bankruptcy, with another Judge, would form a very satisfactory tribunal for the hearing of bankruptcy appeals. The Bill provided that from the proposed Divisional Court there might be an appeal in the same way as now to the House of Lords.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Solicitor General.)


said, he was gratified to hear the statement made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) urged, but in vain, similar views to those the hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed to the House in the Grand Committee which sat last year; but neither the hon. and learned Gentleman nor the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) could see the least force in the arguments which he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) advanced. He pointed out that the bankruptcy appeals would unquestionably block the Court of Appeal, and the suggestion he made was that an appeal from the County Court should lay, not to the Court of Appeal, but to a Divisional Court. That was precisely the plan which the Government had found it necessary to adopt; and, under the circumstances, he, of course, could not object in the least to this amending Bill. He had no doubt that other Amendments which were opposed in the Grand Committee would, in due course, find a place on the Statute Book.


was of opinion that the time of the Judge of the Bankruptcy Division of the High Court of Justice was spent in trying Quarter Sessions cases on Circuit with very little advantage to litigants.


said, he thought the Solicitor General would support him when he said it was not always of advantage to have a Judge who was an expert in the line of professional business which came before him. The present system, in some respects, was a weak one. It was inconvenient that, instead of there being a direct appeal from the Bankruptcy Court, the Act provided for a still further appeal. There was an appeal to the Bankruptcy Judge in cipher, and then an appeal to the Court of Appeal. This seemed to him to be an unnecessary extension of litigation in the case of just those who were least able to pay for it.


said, he did not wish to prolong the debate; but he certainly thought there was one observation which should be made. They had been treated more than once on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to an eulogium of the work of the Grand Committees, and the particular work which had been singled out for special praise had been this Bankruptcy Act. It was worthy of remark that, at almost the commencement of the Session, one of the few Bills it was absolutely necessary to bring in to prevent a block of business that was intolerable was a Bill to amend the Act which was the result of so many anxious weeks' work in the Grand Committee on Trade. He was not one of those who regarded the Grand Committees as having been a successful experiment. There was one Committee that was absolutely useless, and they had another the result of which they were able now to test for the first time. The ink of the Statute was hardly dry when down came the Government to say that the state of things which existed was intolerable, and that they were bound, at 1 o'clock in the morning, to ask the House to say nothing, but, for goodness sake, to let them bring in a Bill to amend the work of the Standing Committee—the one work which they had been so ready to praise as establishing the success of the Grand Committees. He did not give any opinion as to the value of this amending measure; but it might be found by experience that the work of the Grand Committees in many other respects was a failure, and required amendment, and that this was only the first of a series of amending Bills which were necessary to put into shape the unsatisfactory fruits of the labours of the Grand Committees.


said, he wished to call attention to one class of appeal. There was an appeal from the County Court to the Divisional Court, and then the appeal section, in the last line but one, said— Unless it seems fit to the Divisional Court or Court of Appeal to appeal to Her Majesty's Court of Appeal. There was no special Court of Appeal described in the section, and he did not understand the thing. There seemed to him to be some mistake.


said, he observed the language referred to by the hon. Member, and would look into the matter. The meaning of the section was clear, and several Acts of Parliament contained words precisely similar. What was meant was, that there was not to be an absolute right of appeal, but that permission to appeal must be obtained from the Divisional Court or the Court of Appeal.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.

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