HL Deb 23 August 1831 vol 6 cc451-3

Lord Wynford moved the third reading of the Fraudulent Debtors' Bill.

Lord Plunkett moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a third time this day six months. He need not go into any arguments on the subject, as the noble and learned Lord had not answered the arguments which he (Lord Plunkett) had, on a former occasion, brought forward against the Bill. The noble and learned Lord had contented himself, according to the report of some newspaper, with observing that the weakness of his (Lord Plunkett's) opposition confirmed him in the opinion that the measure was good.

Lord Wynford

replied, that he had no opportunity of answering the noble and learned Lord on the occasion alluded to, as the noble and learned Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench had requested that the third reading should be postponed, to give him an opportunity of examining and considering the Bill, which that noble and learned Lord had had no previous opportunity of doing, on account of his absence on the circuit. He hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would allow him to say a few words, for he did not mean to enter again at length into the argument. The noble and learned Chief Justice did not attend, and the fair inference was, that he was convinced that the measure was a good one. It was some time since he had heard the objections of the noble and learned Lord, and did not recollect, that he took any prominent exception to the Bill, except that it extended the Bankruptcy-law. But it was not a general extension of that law. It was merely its extension to a class of persons of a certain description; and the question which their Lordships had to decide was, whether the Bankrupt-law, should not be extended to cases, where persons had no other means of following out the effects of judgments recovered. In that respect the law of this country was in a worse state than in any other civilized nation on the globe. In this country the effect of judgments recovered could not in many cases of common occurrence be obtained, and there was no way to remedy the defect except by the extension of the principle of the Bankrupt-laws to such cases. It was impossible that the Bill should do any mischief. It did not extend the Bankrupt-law generally. It did not extend the principle of imprisonment for debt, but the contrary; for it went to compel prisoners who had property, to give up that property to pay their debts, and thereby to procure their discharge from prison. The Bill was in their Lordships' hands, and in whatever manner they thought proper to deal with it, he felt satisfied in having done his duty. If this evil was left unredressed, when so unobjectionable a measure for its removal was submitted to Parliament, he would never again boast of the laws of England. He might admit, that causes were well tried, and just judgments given, but to many of those judgments there were no means of giving effect. It was manifest that, in this particular, the industrious wanted protection. His noble and learned friend had said, on a former occasion, that persons, merely for going abroad for their amuse- ment, or for their health, might by this Bill be made bankrupts. No such thing; but only if, after having gone abroad, they continued abroad in order to defeat the just claims of their creditors. It was only putting them in the situation of all merchants, even the most honourable; and then it was to apply only to persons going abroad with a knowledge of the existence of this law, and remaining abroad—not for health or amusement—but to defeat the just claims of their creditors—the fact that such was the purpose of their remaining abroad, being to be found by the verdict of a Jury before the law could have any application. He left the Bill with their Lordships.

The question was put, that the word "now" stand part of the question.—Motion negatived without a division.