§ Lord Redesdale presented his Bill for amending the Act of last session, for the relief of Insolvent Debtors; which was read a first time, and ordered to be printed.
§ Lord Ellenborough
moved the second reading of his temporary Insolvent Debtors' Bill; wishing that it might go through this stage in regular course, in order that, in the event of its not being found practicable to render the Act of last session effectual for its object this Bill might pass before the recess.
remarked upon the inconsistency of sanctioning a Bill, professing to repeat the Act of last session, at the same moment that they entertained a Bill for amending that Act.
§ Lord Redesdale
also observed upon the inconsistency of sanctioning a Bill, the principle of which was to repeal the Act 206 of last session, whilst a Bill was before the House to amend that Act. With respect to the difficulties stated to exist in the execution of the Act of last sessions, persons had been industriously employed to disseminate objections which did not exist in point of fact, while the difficulties that had really occurred might be easily obviated. His lordship then entered into a detail of some length, for the purpose of shewing the ease with which the real objections to the Act might be got rid of, by declaring and enacting the power of the commissioner to remove from place to place; by declaring and enacting the express obligation upon gaolers to bring up their prisoners; by appointing an officer to take a provisional assignment of the debtor's effects, similar to the clerk of the peace at the sessions; by repealing the court of appeal; by substituting a recognizance, to be given by the debtor (as to the liability of his future property, under the direction of the court), instead of an engagement; and, finally by giving a discretionary power to the commissioner to authorize justices in quarter session to discharge debtors; reserving to himself to have persons brought before him, where he saw a necessity for investigation, which would happen comparatively in but few instances. This latter clause, if the House agreed to add it to the Bill in a committee, would answer all the purposes of the noble and learned lord's temporary Bill, without the objections which applied to all temporary insolvent Acts. Under Acts of the latter description, the future property of the debtor was rendered liable, but in manner that rendered it only attachable by bringing actions; and thus it might happen, that one creditor obtaining execution might get all the effects of the debtor, nothing being left for the other creditors, while the debtor might by this procedure be ruined. Under the Act of last session, on the contrary, the future property was only tendered liable, subject to the discretion of the court; and thus, if he attained the means, a gradual mode of payment might be resorted to, under the authority of the court, which would preserve the debtor from ruin, and be more just to the creditor, in the equal distribution of funds, for payment.
§ Lord Ellenborough
was desirous of its being distinctly understood, that he had thrown no obstacle in the way of the Act of the last lesson: but on the contrary he had suggested many propositions for what 207 he considered the improvement of it. He still urged the second reading of his Bill, that it might be in readiness in case it could not be found practicable effectually to amend the Act of last session.
§ Lord Redesdale
did not mean to accuse the noble and learned lord of throwing difficulties in the way of the Act of last session; but where some officers attended the court, whilst others chose to disobey the orders of the commissioner, without assigning any reason for so doing, it was dear that a disposition existed somewhere to thwart the execution of the Act. As to the suggestions of the noble and learned lord, they chiefly related to the form of the jurisdiction to be erected.
The Lord Chancellor
was desirous of giving every possible assistance to render effectual the act of the legislature. He thought, however, that it would be advisable to forward the temporary Bill a stage, in order that it might be available before the recess, in case they should be unable to agree upon a proper Bill for amending the Act of last session.
was decidedly hostile to pressing a temporary Insolvent Bill at the present moment; particularly a Bill which stated, what had not been proved, that the Act of last session had been found ineffectual. It was not his practice to deal in insinuations: it might have been by accident that the commissioner was not appointed till two months after the passing of the Act; it might have been by accident that the marshal of the King's bench, when the court at length met, chose to disobey the order of the court, and to assign no reason for such conduct; but, with all the circumstances in view that were notorious to the public, it was a little too much to say that the Act had been found ineffectual; particularly when, after all, the difficulties started had been found to be merely such as might be easily removed. He could not consent to resort to the mischievous principle of temporary Insolvent Bills, when they had the sound principle of legislation before them already, embodied in an Act which only required some trifling amendments. It was an observation of Mr. Horne Tooke's, when substitutes were resorted to in a time of scarcity for fine flour, "Do not," says he to some persons, "touch the barley brown bread now offered to you as a substitute; for if you do you will never get a morsel of white wheaten bread as long as you live." so he would say; do not resort to 208 the mischievous temporary palliative of Insolvent Bills, when you have the means of rendering effectual an Act founded on a great principle of legislation.
The Lord Chancellor
admitted that there was an irregularity in agreeing to the second reading of the temporary Bill while the amending Bill was in progress: but still it was necessary that the temporary Bill should be in such a state of forwardness as to render it possible to have it passed before the recess, in case the other should be found incapable of execution; and therefore the irregularity must be submitted to.
The temporary Bill of lord Ellenborough was then read a second time, with an understanding that it should be committed on Thursday.