HL Deb 11 July 1837 vol 38 cc1861-3
Lord Lyndhurst

asked what Government proposed doing with the Imprisonment for Debt Bill, which had been lying, as it would appear, without any one to patronise it, for the last few days?

The Lord Chancellor

said, that the Bill had been in progress through Parliament during both last Session and the present; that this Session it had been delayed a very long time in the House of Commons, but he felt satisfied, that the delay was not attributable to those who had had the care of it in that House. It had arisen from the pressure of other business, and the Bill had been unavoidably postponed to a period of the Session, when he feared it would not be convenient for their Lordships to deal with it, unless they were prepared to agree, without much discussion, to its details as well as principle. Now, he had taken steps to ascertain whether it was probable that their Lordships were so prepared or not, and the result of his inquiry had been, that although there was not much difference of opinion as to the principle of the Bill, the details were likely to lead to considerable discus- sion. Under these circumstances, he did not think it would be fair to press it upon the House, because their Lordships could not give it that attention and consideration which its importance required, and which he was sure they were desirous of bestowing upon it. He would not, therefore, name any day for the second reading, but he would take the opportunity of stating, that he would, at the earliest period possible next Session, call their Lordships' attention to the subject, convinced as he was that some measure similar to that which had been brought forward in the House of Commons was due to the debtor as well as essential to the interests of the creditor.

The Marquess of Lansdowne

said, that in consequence of what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord respecting the Bill, he deemed it necessary to state, that while he entirely concurred in the propriety of the reasons which induced his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack to withdraw the Bill, he wished it to be understood, that it was not withdrawn from any doubt as to its importance, or any hesitation on the part of the Government to offer it as a measure, in principle at least, which they conceived it to be the duty of Parliament to adopt, but that it was withdrawn solely on the grounds stated by his noble and learned Friend.

Lord Brougham

lamented exceedingly, that this very important measure could not become law this Session. He did not object to its withdrawal at present, but he did hope that bringing it forward at the earliest possible period next Session, would not be the only security that would be offered of giving the measure a chance of passing. Unless the business in both Houses of Parliament should be conducted in a very different manner from that in which it had hitherto been, other and better security would certainly be necessary, and might be had by bringing a Bill into that House, and sending it to the House of Commons. He was firmly convinced, that had this Bill been first brought into their Lordships' House, instead of the other, it would now be the law of the land. Not this alone, but a much larger measure, had passed the House of Commons the Session before last. There was every reason, therefore, to believe, that if the lesser measure had received the sanction of their Lordships' House, it would not have been delayed long in its passage through the other. He cast no blame on those who did not agree with him in the propriety of this course, but he could not avoid expressing his regret that the present measure had not begun in that House.

Subject dropped.