HL Deb 15 March 1858 vol 149 cc167-9

rose to move that this Bill be read a second time, in order that it might be committed pro formâ, and might receive various Amendments which he wished to introduce. This, he would observe, was not the only measure on the subject of bankruptcy which their Lordships would have to consider. There was already another Bill before the House; he understood that the Attorney General had a Bill in preparation in which he had great hopes, from communications he had had with the law officers of the Crown, that many of the most important portions of his own Bill would find a place. At the recent Congress on Social Science, Lord John Russell had suggested that the Chambers of Commerce ought not to content themselves with merely sending deputies and receiving their report, but that they should meet again in order to express their views on the subject of bankruptcy. Persons for whose benefit a particular system had been established might not be altogether safe counsellors with regard to the alterations they wished to be made; but they were witnesses beyond exception with regard to the existence of the evils they complained of in the system itself. Accordingly, the Chambers of Commerce had met and prepared a scheme which had been sent in to the law officers of the Crown. To these four Bills might be added a fifth—namely, one that was in preparation by his noble and learned Friend, the late Lord Chancellor. If all these measures were introduced into the House, the inevitable result would be that they would be referred to the same Select Committee which would be able, he had no doubt, to compound a satisfactory measure out of the ample materials so submitted to it. Under these circumstances, he now moved the second reading of the Bill which stood in his name, with the view of having it committed pro formâ to-morrow.


requested his noble and learned Friend to postpone to a future day the advance of his particular measure a single stage. He admitted that the state of the law, both as regarded bankruptcy and insolvency, was most unsatisfactory; that there had been very extensive complaints for a considerable time throughout the commercial world, and that there had been a loud demand for an amendment of the law. He agreed, also, with his noble and learned Friend that in dealing with this subject it would be necessary, in the first place, to revise the whole of the law, and the result of such revision would be, he hoped, the introduction of very material amendments. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General (Sir Fitz Roy Kelly) had turned his attention very closely and particularly to the subject, and he believed that he would be prepared, with the sanction of the Government, to introduce a measure of a very comprehensive and extensive description, which would probably include all those matters to which the attention of his noble and learned Friend had been more particularly directed. He believed that in a short time his hon. and learned Friend would be prepared to introduce such a measure to Parliament. The Bill of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) proposed to deal with only one portion of this vast subject; but it could not be denied that it would be very inconvenient that that there should be anything like piecemeal legislation on so important a matter. His noble and learned Friend proposed to abolish all the District Courts of Bankruptcy; but he (the Lord Chancellor) was afraid that there would be a most formidable objection to his Bill, seeing that it proposed to saddle the Consolidated Fund with an annual payment of no less than £400,000. However, whether that were so or not, he put it to his noble and learned Friend whether it would not he advisable to postpone the further consideration of this measure, in order that he might ascertain what were the intentions of the Government on the subject—in fact, until the Bill of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General was introduced in the other House. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) would then be able to judge whether the whole subject had been properly dealt with, and possibly he might find that, owing to the comprehensive provisions of the general measure, his own Bill upon only a small portion of the subject would be unnecessary.


consented to postpone the second reading.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read, and discharged.