THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, there is some information on a matter personal to myself which I am anxious to give, as I think it important that it should be well understood, in reference to a discussion that took place in this House on Tuesday last. I find that the Bankruptcy Bill was read a second time in the House of Commons on the 14th of February; it went into Committee on the 18th of February; it was discussed very fully in Committee on the 18th, 21st, and 25th of February, and on the 18th of March. On the last of these dates the Bill, as amended, was reported; and on the 21st of March the report was fully 1856 considered; every part of the Bill was gone through, save a formal Resolution with reference to Stamp Duty, which was ordered to be considered, and was, in fact, considered and passed on the 22nd, and the Bill was ordered to be read a third time. On the 22nd of March a return from the Insolvent Debtors' Court clerks, which had been presented on the previous day, was ordered to be printed; and on the 22nd of March the House adjourned until the 8th of April; and on the 8th of April the Bill was read a third time and passed without discussion. I make this statement for the purpose of showing that the Return made by the clerks was not, as has been supposed and asserted, on the table of the House of Commons at any time during the discussion of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I have to express my deep regret that the noble and learned Lord should have thought it necessary to revert to anything which passed in the painful discussion on this subject which took place the other evening. The noble and learned Lord is entirely correct in stating that during the time when discussions were taking place upon the Bankruptcy Bill this Return was certainly not before the House, and consequently, as a Parliamentary paper, could not have been seen by the noble and learned Lord. But that does not alter the facts of the case. In order to show the sources from which the incomes of these officers were derived, a Return was moved for in the House of Commons immediately on the introduction of the Bill, and that Return was laid on the table of the House of Commons before the Bill was read a third time. The attention of every Member in the house of commons, and I should have thought more especially of the Attorney General, was called to that Return by the fact of its being ordered to be printed on the 22nd of March. According to the noble and learned Lord's perfectly correct statement, the Bill was not read a third time till the 8th of April, and I should have thought that would have afforded sufficient opportunity to the Attorney General, or whoever had the charge of the Bill, to supply any defect, or to correct any error, which by that Return was pointed out.