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in the wasteful manner he had already described. He rejoiced that the time had come when the necessity of the abolition of imprisonment for debt was generally acknowledged. Seven years ago, earnest as he was on this subject, he was obliged to qualify the measure he brought in. But while their Lordships were asked to abolish imprisonment for debt under the present Bill, he trusted they would consider the condition in which the poor man now stood, of being imprisoned under the operation of the County Courts. He had before described the hardship of the situation of the humbler classes in this respect. He had given instances to prove that the poor man always had to buy his commodities at an expense of 10 or 20 per cent more than if he possessed greater means. He had asked their Lordships to strike at the present system, under which the poor were liable to be sent to prison for forty days unless they were able to pay their former debts, as well as to find the means of present subsistence out of their earn

--which would be far better, more in accordance with our practice, and equally effective-by attaching the duty of collecting such estates to the chamber of a Judge, and requiring the estates to be realized and administered under his immediate superintendence. With what facility and economy estates could be collected and administered in the chambers of a Judge his noble and learned Friend (the Master of the Rolls) could testify. He had had the pleasure of examining some of the Returns connected with the estates of deceased persons, and found that such estates could be administered in the Master of the Rolls' Chambers at less expense than that incurred by executors who did the work through a solicitor in the ordinary manner. Then, why should they not let a Judge in Bankruptcy do that duty in the same way? Why not let him follow in the footsteps of his noble and learned Friend? If the assets of a deceased person could be collected in that manner so could the estate of a bankrupt -the work in the two cases was of pre-ings. Under this Bill there would be cisely the same character. He entreated their Lordships, therefore, to have recourse to that mode of procedure, and not any longer to allow the realization of bankrupt estates to be committed to a Commissioner who had not the same responsibility or authority as one of the eminent Judges of the land. Let there be a Judge in Bankruptcy charged with the duty of administering the law, and having under him a great court or chamber to realize and administer the property under his judicial superintendence; and thus they would get rid of the swarm of auctioneers, accountants, messengers, and other creatures who now crawled and fed upon the body of bankrupt estates. At present, no sooner had there been an adjudication of bankruptcy than some solicitor, or firm of solicitors, received a copy of a statement, probably from some inferior officer of the Court, and then a communication was immediately sent round to every creditor offering to undertake the business of the bankruptcy, and to do all that was necessary in the most expeditious and economical manner. The creditor was also requested to sign a paper annexed to that communication, and when that had been done the solicitor went before the Court, and said he had authority to act for the creditors. He accordingly chose an assignee, a creature of his own, and then the estate was wound up

bankrupts who had contracted debts to a large amount, and the Court was not, except in certain cases, to consider whether they had been contracted fraudulently or not. But, if so, how could they allow so unjust a law as this power of committal by the County Courts to remain in operation against the poor man? He trusted that their Lordships would approve the measure which he brought forward in 1864. The Government of that day were not quite prepared to accept it, although he was glad that some of its provisions had since become law. Another question was, how far they would allow recourse to be had to the Bankruptcy Law where the debtor had no assets? The Law of Bankruptcy had grown, in a great degree, out of imprisonment for debt, and had properly been described as an execution for the benefit of all the creditors. Equal distribution was the object, and if there were no property bankruptcy was useless. It was proposed by his noble and learned Friend that the bankrupt should give a certain notice of his condition before he applied to the Court, but the notice would be disregarded, for no one would attend to it. In fraudulent cases, the common course of proceeding was that when a man in trade found himself involved in debt, he generally made a bill of sale in favour of some creditor-perhaps his father or his brother- and then he went into the

Bankruptcy Court to whitewash himself. He was whitewashed; he came out a new man; and he entered into possession of the property which had been kept for him during his bankruptcy, and this course he frequently pursued four or five times over. But he (Lord Westbury) said do not let the debtor be adjudged a bankrupt unless there was something for the Bankruptcy Law to do. The object of a Bankruptcy Law was to take the estate of the debtor and to divide it equally, speedily, and economically among the creditors. Why should a debtor be permitted to go into the Bankruptcy Court, and to put the country to expense, when he had not, perhaps, a shilling to give up? He entreated his noble and learned Friend (the Lord Chancellor) to put a limit, and not put the Act in operation unless there was a certain amount of property to be divided. It was said in the House of Commons that such a provision would only act as an inducement to a debtor to get a quantity of goods into his hands upon the eve of his bankruptcy so that he might have something to surrender; but surely the law would discover and punish a fraud of that kind, and it certainly could be no reason why the general principle of not opening the doors of the Court except to those who honestly required its aid should not be carried out. Then arose the question whether the future property of the bankrupt should be liable to his creditors. A man came to the Bankruptcy Court to be relieved from the contract into which he had entered to pay his creditors in full. He was relieved accordingly; but was he to be absolutely and for ever relieved, or only relieved under certain conditions? This matter was much discussed in the other House, and the question was whether the debtor was to be discharged if he paid a certain dividend, or whether they would make his future estate liable? He begged to call his noble and learned Friend's attention to the very imperfect manner in which this clause of the Bill was worded, and the impossibility of giving effect to it. There was another difficulty in giving effect to a Bankruptcy Act. If a creditor thought he could get anything out of the debtor he employed a solicitor. By doing so, and by incurring an expense of £40, he might get a certain sum for himself, which, if divided equally among the creditors, would only increase his dividend, perhaps, about 1s. in the pound. The evil to be redressed was that there was no prosecutor, no pro

visions which could be put in motion by the Judge, no mode by which that could be done which justice demanded. There was a clause by which the debtor was to be summoned, and then inquiry would be made whether he was able to pay any sum towards the discharge of the debt. The cost and difficulty, and the necessity of employing a solicitor, would deter creditors from availing themselves of the process proposed in the Bill. In framing his Bill of 1861 he acted in deference to the opinion of a large meeting of Members of Parliament and delegates of Chambers of Commerce at which it was insisted that everything ought to be given to the creditors, who had a right to do what they chose with a bankrupt's estate. He endeavoured to correct the evils to which this system would have given rise by the introduction of a Chief Judge; but that proposal was rejected by their Lordships. The consequence had been that the Bill had not worked satisfactorily, and the present and any future measures would prove equally unsatisfactory unless remedy were provided for creditors who were utterly defenceless, supine, or apprehensive of incurring cost. Were a competent tribunal erected to collect and administer the bankrupt's assets, the frauds and plunder now complained of would be prevented, and confidence in the administration of bankruptcy would be restored, for creditors would feel some assurance of receiving what an estate was capable of producing, without being subject to the present enormous deductions.


LORD CHELMSFORD said, it was a striking proof of the inherent difficulty of this subject that the measure of 1861, though framed by the noble and learned Lord who had just spoken (Lord Westbury), after having directed his acute and intelligent mind to the question, proved so unsatisfactory that within three years fresh legislation was generally called for. That demand led to an inquiry by a Committee of the other House, and a Report was presented in 1865, upon which, as had been stated by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, the present Bill was founded. The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Westbury) had attributed the entire failure of the Act of 1861 to an alteration made by their Lordships, which he had compared to taking the mainspring out of the works of a watch. That mainspring was the appointment of a Chief Judge in Bankruptcy, grafted


would appoint their trustee and inspectors,
and the latter would probably be creditors
themselves, while the former might or
might not be so. The trustee would be
checked by the inspectors, and they in turn
would be checked by the accounts being
audited by the Accountant in Bankruptcy.
His noble and learned Friend near him
(Lord Colonsay) would correct him if he
was wrong in saying that this system in
Scotland had worked in the most satisfac-
tory manner; and he was told that upon
an average the creditors obtained 88 per
cent upon the gross assets, the expenses
being no more than 12 per cent.
hoped, therefore, though his noble and
learned Friend on the Woolsack did not
anticipate that an entirely satisfactory Law
of Bankruptcy would ever be passed, that
the measure, which had adopted in some
of its details the system which had proved
so successful in Scotland, would be found
equally successful by the commercial com-
munity of this country. The measure
was so important and so complicated that
its details could not be satisfactorily dis-
cussed in that House; he therefore agreed
with his noble and learned Friend that it
was desirable that it should be referred to
a Select Committee, where it might re-
ceive the attention of noble and learned
Lords who had devoted special attention
to the subject, and who might put the
measure in the best possible shape. Under
these circumstances, he would not think
himself justified in trespassing any further
on their Lordships.

upon the existing system-for the Com-system. It would get rid of the solicitor, missioners were not to be superseded. the accountants, and the trade assignee, What the functions or utility of that Chief who he feared had generally been a mere Judge were to be it was impossible for tool in the hands of the solicitor and those who were conversant with the sub- accountants: it would give creditors what ject to understand, and his noble and the commercial world had long desired learned Friend (Lord Cranworth) and him- control over the bankrupt's affairs, self were unable to obtain any satisfactory not only by a preliminary arrangement explanation on that head; all his noble among themselves, but even when the and learned Friend (Lord Westbury) could matter had been brought into Court, for say was that the Chief Judge was the the Court would only decide questions of keystone of the arch. Had it been pro-law which might arise. The creditors posed to remove the Commissioners their Lordships would, no doubt, have acquiesced in the appointment of a Chief Judge, for such a proposal would not have differed materially from the present proposition by which the three Commissioners were to be Judges of the Court. If it had been proposed to abolish the Commissioners, he (Lord Chelmsford) for his own part would have seen no objection to the appointment of a Judge; but he could not see any reason for the creation of a new Judge if the existing Commissioners were to be retained. As to the miserable dividend which had been derived in many cases, his noble and learned Friend had entirely forgotten that this had arisen under his own measure of 1861; and he made no reference to the alteration now proposed, which would reduce the expenses to a very small amount, and would leave creditors, he believed, in every case a considerable dividend. For many years he (Lord Chelmsford) had thought that the only mode of dealing with bankruptcy was to encourage in every way an arrange. ment between the debtor and his creditors, and that if they could not agree and the matter were brought into the Court it should be left entirely in its hands. Upon consideration, however, and ascertaining the opinion of the commercial world, he was satisfied that the plan now proposed and which was based on the Scotch system, was the only one which would prove efficient and satisfactory. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Westbury) had fallen into some misapprehensions with reference to the Bills introduced in 1866 and 1867. The former, brought in by Sir Roundell Palmer, then Attorney General, was mainly founded on the Scotch system; it did not prove a failure, for circumstances prevented its passing. In 1867 a very similar Bill was introduced, but, the Reform Bill occupying the whole attention of Parliament, it did not pass. Now, the present Bill was founded altogether on the Scotch

LORD ROMILLY regretted that their Lordships should be called upon to read the Bill a second time so soon after it had been placed in their Lordships' hands. Through the courtesy of his noble and learned Friend he got a copy of it on Wednesday last; but in the case of a Bill of 504 clauses it was impossible to satisfy himself thoroughly about it. The measure seemed to go in the right direction, but to do so timidly. He agreed in all that had

been said with respect to the defects in that it would probably be found not satisour Bankruptcy Law; but the great defect factory-it would probably add one more of all he believed to be the complicated to the list of failures which had charactermachinery and the enormous number of ized all attempts at legislation on this subofficers created for the purpose of its ad- ject. If the Bill should come before their ministration. It was unquestionable that Lordships from the Select Committee, he much larger dividends were received un- would propose several Amendments which, der the old system of commissions directed in his opinion, would be required for putby the Lord Chancellor than under the ting the measure on a better footing. system of Bankruptcy Commissioners and THE LORD CHANCELLOR, in reply, official assignees. The Bill ought, in his said, there were one or two points which opinion, to put an end to the whole system had been adverted to on which he wished of judicial establishments, of course giving to avoid misunderstanding. In the first proper compensation in the case of exist-place, he wished to observe that it should ing interests. In 1854 a Commission, not be supposed that the Bill had been precomposed of very eminent persons, was pared in any haste, for it had occupied the appointed to inquire into the Law of Bank- attention of the draftsmen for nearly two ruptcy; and a solicitor of great experience years, and had derived the advantage of gave evidence to the effect that he had the considerable amount of criticism which administered an estate in bankruptcy in had been passed on the subject in the which the dividends amounted to £32,000 House of Commons. His noble and learned and the expenses to £880, and another in Friend near him (Lord Westbury) had rethe Court of Chancery the assets of which ferred to the manner in which the adwere £17,000 and the expenses only £55. ministration of the bankrupt's estate was There might be some little difference from clogged by officials, and the expense the one being an insolvent estate and the thereby engendered. With every word other not; but the great difference arose that had been said on that subject he from the circumstances to which he had agreed. These things were the scandals referred. There were two branches of of the Bankruptcy Court-the question every Bill on this subject-the one which was how they were to be removed? Before dealt with the voluntary system under the Act of 1861, his noble and learned which creditors wound up estates for Friend had made much the same observathemselves, and the other with the com- tions as he had done to-night, and they had pulsory system. If the creditors wished been frequently made by the whole comto wind up an estate for themselves mercial community. But what were the under deed of arrangement, or under the remedies which the commercial community trustee system of Scotland, it was quite proposed, and had his noble and learned proper that they should be allowed to do Friend sufficiently weighed those remedies? Why, seventy delegates, representing thirty-six Chambers of Commerce, had said that a thorough reform in the Law of Bankruptcy was needed, with a view to a speedy distribution of the estate and the suppression of fraud, that the provisions of the Scotch Law had proved eminently satisfactory in accomplishing those objects, and that in any measure for the reform of the Law of Bankruptcy those provisions should be copied as closely as possible. This is what the Bill proposed to do: all the creditors would have to do would be to bid the officials of the court "farewell," to appoint their own trustee, and make their own bargain for the collection of the estate, and over that trustee they would have their own inspectors. expenses now so much complained of might, he thought, be reduced to the level of those in Scotland. By a very accurate Return it appeared that the total ordinary


But for that purpose it was not necessary to give the powers of a judicial establishment. He could not help thinking there was too much in the shape of trustees and officials in the Bill. There were very many clauses of the Bill which would require great consideration in the Select Committee, and it would be necessary also to go through the Bill in that House after it had come from the Committee. One great cause of expense, and a great evil in itself, was the attempt to induce creditors to make personal attacks on the bankrupt for the purpose of punishing him because they had lost their money. But punishment was quite distinct from the collection of debts, and the two things should be kept entirely separate. He was not at all sanguine about the success of this measure, and he could not help thinking that his noble and learned Friend was right when he said


House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.

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Monday, March 23, 1868.

Aldam Leatham, esquire, for Huddersfield.
SUPPLY-considered in Committee-ARMY ESTI


Resolutions [March 20] reported.
WAYS AND MEANS-considered in Committee-
Consolidated Fund (£6,000,000).
PUBLIC BILLS Ordered- Perth and Brechin
Provisional Orders Confirmation; Petty Ses-
sions and Lock-up Houses, &c.*

expenses were about 14 per cent, and if { BANKRUPTCY BILL (No. 31), and JUDGsome occasional and extraordinary ex-MENT DEBTORS BILL (No. 32), read 2a (acpenses were added the amount would be cording to Order), and committed to a 23 per cent, which was the highest Committee of the Whole House on the under any circumstances. The commercial First Sitting Day after the Recess at community said "We desire nothing Easter. better than to collect the debts of our debtors on those terms;" and the Bill proposed to arm creditors with those powers. But his noble and learned Friend said "that will require very little judicial machinery." So said he; and he hoped that in a short time the judicial machinery would be much less indeed than it was at present. It would therefore be very unwise, in the expectation of that result, to sweep away the existing judicial machinery for the purpose of restoring it in another form. Well, then, with regard to the suggestion of a Chief Judge in Bankruptcy, he thought that nothing could be more inconvenient than to multiply special courts for special purposes. If a first-class Judge were set up to deal with the law of debtor and creditor alone, you could not find sufficient work for him, unless you concentrated all the bankruptcy business in London. Such Judge must be occupied, not with administrative, but judicial business. You would not set him to do the work of an accountant; he must deal with grave and solemn questions of law, which alone would not employ the time of a superior Judge. Again, nothing could be more delusive than to compare, THE IRISH CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT. as his noble and learned Friend (the Master of the Rolls) had compared, the expense of administering estates in Chancery and of administering insolvent estates in bankruptcy. In Chancery there was little or no controversy about debts or about the conduct of a trader; no questions arose respecting a trader's discharge; and to set up a sort of Vice Chancellor in Bankruptcy with an army of chief clerks, who would become Judges themselves in a short time, would be, instead of an improvement, a great evil. The chief evils of the existing system of bankruptcy were the evils of too much official interference and too great expense. In that sentence all the defects of the Law of Bankruptcy were comprised; and the best way was to make the creditors themselves the masters of the estate, through the intervention of a trustee appointed by themselves to administer it.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2o accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on the First Sitting Day after the Recess at Easter.

First Reading-Perth and Brechin Provisional
Orders Confirmation [74]; Petty Sessions
and Lock-up Houses, &c.* [75].
Second Reading-Land Writs Registration (Scot-
land) [56]; Indian Railway Companies
[55]; Inclosure [73]; Marine Mutiny; Re-
gistration of Writs (Scotland) [62].
Committee-Oyster and Mussel Fisheries * [54].
Report-Oyster and Mussel Fisheries * [54].
Third Reading—(£362,398 198. 9d.) Consolidated



MR. GLADSTONE: The Motion, Sir, that I propose to make on the subject of the Irish Church will be in the form of three Resolutions to be moved in Committee on Acts relating to the Established Church in Ireland, and the terms of the three Resolutions will be these


"1. That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary that the Established Church of Ireland should cease to exist as an Establishment, due regard being had to all personal interests and to all individual rights of property.”

"2. That, subject to the foregoing considerations, it is expedient to prevent the creation of new personal interests by the exercise of any public patronage, and to confine the operations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland to objects of immediate necessity, or involving individual rights, pending the final decision of Parliament."

Her Majesty, humbly to pray that, with a view "3. That an humble Address be presented to to the purposes aforesaid, Iler Majesty would be graciously pleased to place at the disposal of Par

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