HL Deb 17 August 1835 vol 30 cc574-5
Lord Brougham

called the attention of their Lordships to a Bill of very great importance which had just come up from the Commons, and of which he should immediately move the first reading; it was the Bill for the Abolition of Imprisonment for Debt. Great care end consideration had been bestowed on the Bill in the House of Commons. It had been discussed in a Committee above stairs and it bad been discussed in the House. He therefore trusted that their Lordships would throw no obstacle in the way of converting this Bill into law.

Lord Lyndhurst

admitted that the Bill was a Bill of great importance, and that it had undergone much discussion and examination in the other House of Parliament. That was a reason why it should undergo great discussion and examination in their Lordships' House. He considered it to be quite impossible that the Bill should pass without being sent to a Committee up stairs. Whatever opinion he might entertain on the merits of the Bill, he must say that it was quite impossible, unless their Lordships were prepared to sit there six weeks longer, to give it the important consideration which it required in the present Session.

Lord Farnham

wished to remind their Lordships that this Bill applied the principle of the bankrupt law to every acre of landed property in the country. The Commissioners named in the act would have power not only over the property, but also over the persons of their Lordships. He complained that the House of Commons had not examined any witnesses connected with the landed interest as to the propriety of this Bill. The Bill itself was said to be founded on the fourth report of the common law Commissioners; but he would undertake to prove on a future occasion that the most obnoxious principles and provisions of it were not contained in the recommendations of the Commissioners. He hoped that their Lordships would let the Bill be printed, and would then take it with them into the country, in order that they might be acquainted with its provisions at the opening of the next Session of Parliament.

Lord Brougham

lamented that the noble Baron had not pursued the line adopted by his noble and learned Friend and himself, in resting their observations simply upon the course which had been adopted in the other House, and which ought to be adopted by their Lordships, regarding it. He himself had not said one word about its details; he had merely said that he approved of its principle. The noble Lord, however, had attempted to stigmatize the Bill by a premature advertisement against it. No one knew better than he did what this Bill was, as it had originated in a statement which he had made some years ago in the House of Commons on the abuses existing in the practice of the common law. A representation of a measure in its principles, in its provisions, in its details, in its effects on personal liberty and on real property, more unlike the thing to be described had never been given in this world by any one man of any one measure, than the description just given by the noble Lord was unlike the real Bill. Supposing that he had been inclined to let this Bill go over to another Session, he could not now, after the appeal made to noble Lords on a subject which they all regarded as dear to them, he meant their personal liberty and their real property, allow it to be run down with the landed interest and the aristocracy of the country without standing up on some future occasion to show what the Bill really was. He should be most ready on a future occasion to meet the noble Baron on this Bill. He did not deny that the observations of his noble and learned Friend deserved attention. He would not pledge himself to abstain from proceeding with this Bill, nor would he state how he would proceed until he had taken further time for consideration.—Bill read a first time.

Viscount Melbourne

moved the Order of the Day for the Committee on the Corporation Reform Bill.