§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading rend.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, explained that it had been introduced into the other House in consequence of the impossibility of passing a comprehensive measure during the present Session, and that its object was to check the abuses attendant upon the power given to three-fourths of a bankrupt's creditors to withdraw the case from the Court of Bankruptcy and distribute his assets. In order to prevent such arrangements being improperly made by pretended or partial creditors, the Bill required a debtor, within a week of the execution of any composition deed, to file a schedule, verified by oath, giving every particular of his assets and liabilities, and it also required creditors to prove their affidavits in the same way as if the matter was before the Court of Bankruptcy.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a—(The Lord Cranworth.)
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that when the Government felt constrained, by the pressure of business, to withdraw the Bankruptcy Bill which they had introduced, and which had made considerable progress in their Lordships' House, one of the causes of his regret was that the public would be deprived of the benefit of the alterations with respect to composition deeds which the Bill provided. He felt much rejoiced, therefore, that the other House of Parliament had taken this branch of the subject into consideration, and that the present measure had been introduced by one of its Members (Mr. Moffatt) in order to obviate the inconveniences arising from the present state of the law. The Bill which was now proposed for second reading in reality embodied the clauses upon the subject which were contained in the Government 867 measure. He thought the passing of this Bill would effect a great improvement in the law; and, although it was a pity that a larger and more comprehensive reform could not be carried out, he thought it would be well to at least go the length here proposed. He could not at first sight understand the petition which had been presented against the Bill by certain traders. No doubt it was natural that those persons should feel some anxiety regarding a Bill which had only been before Parliament two or three weeks but no apprehension need really be felt, for the clauses embodied in the measure had for a long time been before Parliament and the country. He hoped therefore that their Lordships would read the Bill a second time.
§ LORD OVERSTONE
said, he should be glad to see this measure passed; but he thought some consideration ought to be given to the petition referred to.
§ LORD WESTBURY
said, that he would not oppose the Bill, because he thought that if it were thrown out much disappointment would ensue. At the same time he thought, if it were necessary he could demonstrate that everything proposed to be done by the present Bill might have been done under the Bill of 1861. If the law had been properly understood and properly carried out by the machinery originally provided for the purpose, this Bill would have been wholly unnecessary, and no failure would have occurred. He had no objection to offer to the provisions of a Bill for the purpose of applying in a more effectual manner that remedy which might have been provided, and ought to have been provided by the Bill of 1861.
§ LORD ROMILLY
said, this Bill proposed a very important change in the law, which no one of their Lordships he believed, had had the opportunity of considering for more than half-an-hour. The Bill, in fact, was not delivered at his house until after he had left home that morning. He was informed that it contained exactly the same set of clauses as those contained in the Bill which had been introduced by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, but which had been withdrawn. However this might be, it was a matter of great importance that time should be given for consideration, and he hoped his noble and learned Friend would postpone the Committee for at least a fortnight in order to give their Lordships an opportunity of mastering the details.
§ Motion agreed to: Bill read 2as accordingly and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.