HL Deb 18 April 1872 vol 210 cc1468-70

(The Lord O'Hagan.)

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.


moved an Amendment that the Order be discharged and that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. He did not do so in any spirit of hostility. It was not, he contended, an easy matter to adapt all the improvements which had of late been made in the English Law of Bankruptcy to the case of Ireland, and therefore it was desirable, if not absolutely-necessary, that a Committee upstairs should carefully examine the details of the measure, in order to make them practicable and satisfactory; one great advantage of the reference being that the Select Committee might have upon it the names of noble Lords learned in the law who understood the subject.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he should not do so if he thought that, by referring the Bill to a Select Committee, the passing of the Bill in the present Session would be endangered. But he had no doubt, having regard to the period of the Session, that it would be in the power of the Government to pass the Bill through the other House after it had passed through the Select Committee and been read a third time here. He found it would be possible for the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, within two or three weeks of the present time, to attend the Select Committee for three or four days, and he had no doubt that during that time the whole measure might be usefully considered. It consisted almost entirely of a transcript of the main provisions of the English Act of 1869, applying them to Ireland; but whether they ought or ought not to be so applied depended so much upon local knowledge that he hardly felt himself qualified to express an opinion without obtaining the information which a Select Committee would afford. One of the principal objects of the Bill was to throw down the distinction between traders and non-traders, so as to make both of them subject to jurisdiction in bankruptcy. He had himself taken a prominent part in bringing about the change of the law in that respect in England; but he thought it could not be very well applied to Ireland unless they established a provincial administration of the bankruptcy law in that country. Now, in abolishing the insolvency laws, they would give rise to many cases involving small amounts which would have to be sent to the Chief Court in Dublin, and the delay and cost of such a proceeding would amount to a denial of justice in a great number of small cases without some system of provincial jurisdiction. Then it was most important that the status of the assistant barristers, to whom now the administration of the Land Act was committed, should be improved. They were now practitioners in the Courts of Law; but they ought to be made Judges exclusively, and ought to be armed with equity and bankruptcy jurisdiction. That would give a great security for the satisfactory administration of justice in the sister kingdom. It was with these views that he desired to see the Bill referred to a Select Committee, and not from any wish to cause delay or to frustrate the object of those who wished to have the Bill passed in its present shape.


said, he would assent to the proposition that both Bills—this and the Debtors (Ireland) Bill—should be referred to a Select Committee. The Bankruptcy Bill was really not one of an ambitious character. It took out of the Irish Bill the provisions which had been found suited to Ireland, and from the English Bill those which had been tested by experience, and adopted amendments which had received the sanction of legal gentlemen of great experience in bankruptcy matters. He apprehended, therefore, that the business of the Select Committee would be very simple, and its labours not very prolonged. He should himself endeavour to attend its sittings as often as possible. But he hoped another year would not be allowed to pass without removing that disgraceful difference which existed between the law of England and Ireland on the subject. In Ireland there existed imprisonment for debt, while in England it had been abolished. In Ireland non-traders were not affected by the bankruptcy laws, but in England they were. It was the duty of the Legislature to put an end to such a state of things.

Motion agreed to; Order discharged; and Bill referred to a Select Committee.

DEBTORS (IRELAND) BILL (NO. 52); Order for the House to be put into Committee on this Bill also read and discharged, and Bill referred to a Select Committee.

And, on Monday, April 22, the Lords following were named of the Committee:—

D. Devonshire. L. Chelmsford.
V. Lifford. L. Westbury.
L. Steward. L. Monck.
L. Saltersford. L. Hylton.
L. Foxford. L. Cairns.
L. Somerhill. L. Kildare.
L. Monteagle of Brandon. L. O'Hagan.