HL Deb 25 March 1836 vol 32 cc589-90

Lord Plunkett moved the second reading i of the Irish Bankruptcy Courts' Bill.—There was no subject which required more than the bankruptcy laws legislative explanation and enactment, and accordingly various measures had been passed on the subject. He wished to extend to Ireland the benefit of the principle on which the Act of the 6th of George 4th, and of the 1st and 2d of William 4th was founded. The present Bill was, therefore, in a great measure, a transcript of those Acts. Under the last mentioned Act a Bankruptcy Court had been erected, in order to relieve the Lord Chancellor from the labour of deciding in bankruptcy cases. But the circumstances were different in Ireland, where the labour of the great seal was comparatively much lighter. It was, therefore, not considered necessary to encumber this measure by the introduction of machinery similar to that which was found in the last-mentioned Act. The manner in which bankruptcy business was now conducted was generally condemned by the profession. There were twenty-five Commissioners, divided into five sets. They were employed only a few hours each day, and, besides acting as Commissioners, they followed their professional avocations. In consequence of the existing system, the same bankruptcy case might be heard on different days by different Commissioners, and, in the end, might be decided by those who knew very little of the circumstances that had previously transpired. This necessarily occasioned much dissatisfaction. It was proposed by the Bill to do away with those twenty-five Commissioners, and to appoint one Commissioner, who would be fully competent to perform the duty, by giving up his whole time and attention to it. The situation would require a man of talent, ability, and learning, and it was agreed that he should receive a salary of 1,500l. per annum. He (Lord Plunkett) had asked the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to name the person who, in case the Bill passed, would be fit to fill the office? But his Excellency was pleased to consult his (Lord Plunkett's) judgment, and he selected Mr. Macann, King's Counsel, a gentleman of great respectability, of more than twenty years standing in the profession, and who possessed the confidence of the bar and of the public generally. It was also proposed, in case the business increased considerably, and that it became absolutely necessary to do so, to appoint a register of the court, with a salary of 300l. per annum. There was also a clause by which it was intended to compensate the present bankrupt commissioners.

The Bill read a second time.

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