HL Deb 09 February 1858 vol 148 cc967-8



presented a Bill for the further Amendment of the Law of Property, and moved that it be read a first time.


took the opportunity of expressing a hope that the present Session would not be allowed to pass over without some attempt being made to amend the present defective state of the Law of Bankruptcy.


said, he thought that the law as it stood offered great temptations to traders to contract debts fraudulently and recklessly. If a specu- lation turned out a profitable one, so much the better for them; if, as was most often the case, it became a losing concern, the worst thing that could happen to the creditor would be for the debtor to go through the Insolvent or Bankruptcy Court. Great care ought, no doubt, to be taken to protect honest debtors, but some additional protection ought also to be given to the injured creditor.


said, he would remind his noble and learned Friends that while in the opinion of some the law had been too much relaxed in favour of the debtor as against the creditor, he was beset with innumerable applications to support the principle of the measure brought in by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), which abolished the punishment of imprisonment for debt. If that were done, then he should like to know how the fraudulent insolvent or bankrupt was to be dealt with. He could not be transported; consequently, there remained only the punishment of imprisonment. Granted that the present state of the law was in an unsatisfactory state, he wanted some one to suggest a tertium quid, and to say what there was between releasing these parties and letting them go scot free, and putting them in prison. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Campbell) would confer an incalculable benefit on the commercial community at large if he could suggest any other mode than that of imprisonment as a punishment for those who incurred debts fraudulently, or refused to pay their debts.


There ought to be a more stringent examination of the debtor in order to ascertain under what circumstances his debts were contracted. At present it was hardly worth the creditor's while to go into court and oppose a bankrupt or an insolvent.


No one could feel more strongly than he did the force of the observations of his noble and learned Friend. He agreed that some more stringent law, and a more stringent practice under that law, were necessary to prevent the frauds of debtors, and to put an end, as far as possible, to the unworthy competition of tradesmen to surpass one another, not in the excellence of their goods, but in the facilities of offering credit, whereby they themselves were sufferers in the end, and the morals of the community were greatly injured.

Bill read 1a

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