§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been drawn to the large number of private arrangements with creditors made during the last four or five months; whether he has any ground for believing that a large proportion of them are not for the benefit of creditors; and, whether he will introduce or support a Bill making void any deed of arrangement which is not registered within one week of its execution?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
The system of private arrangements with creditors is not a new one. Such arrangements were made when the Act of 1869 was in force, as well as under the Act of 1883. Only a few instances have actually come under the notice of the Board of 24 Trade; but I have some reason to believe that these arrangements have somewhat increased in number, although not to the extent currently reported. I am not able to state the actual terms of these deeds; but some general opinion may be formed upon the subject from the fact that such deeds usually grant a debtor's discharge without any reference to misconduct or any formal investigation into the causes of his bankruptcy, that ordinary creditors have no security that under such arrangements particular creditors have not retained property acquired by fraudulent preference which under the Act would have been distributed among the general body of creditors, and that creditors who agree to such arrangements thereby divest themselves of all control over the estate or its realization. As regards the third Question raised by the hon. Member, I think it is too early to attempt fresh legislation, and it is my hope and expectation that the costs of proceedings under the Act will be found in practice much less than the cost of these arrangements. If so, we may assume that this fact, coupled with the other disadvantages attending such arrangements, will soon make them unpopular. In the meantime, however, the subject will be very carefully watched, and I shall endeavour to collect as much information as possible.