said, he intended o postpone the Second Reading of the Imprisonment for Debt Bill, as he had that of the Bankruptcy Bill, in order that time might be given for the Government measure on the same subject to be introduced; and if it contained the whole of his plan, it would supersede these Bills altogether, or if it contained a portion, it would supersede them pro tanto. The whole, together with the measure of the Board of Trade and that of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cranworth), would probably be reserved to a Select Committee. The Government plan would probably be brought forward by the Attorney General, and when his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack (Lord Chelmsford) had spoken of his (Lord Brougham's) having more knowledge of the Attorney General's proceedings than himself, he was not aware of the circumstances from which that intercourse arose. At the great meeting of the National Association for Promoting Social Science held last autumn, when two of the present Ministers, Lord Stanley and Sir J. Pakington, presided over different departments, and Lord John Russell and Mr. Adderley over others, at Lord John's suggestion the delegates from the great commercial towns had held meetings upon the whole bankrupt law, and had undertaken to frame a plan in accordance with their own views. At the general meeting of the association it was resolved that the plan so framed should be laid before Sir F. Kelly, who had taken part in the proceedings of the association; and before him, therefore, now become Attorney General, that plan of the commercial bodies will be laid—if it has not already been. He (Lord Brougham) never regarded his two Bills as a substitute for the plan of the commercial body, but as deserving of Parliamentary sanction, whether that plan should be adopted or not. They provided an effectual remedy for the greatest of the defects now justly complained of in the bankruptcy procedure, and it was the greatest fallacy to represent them as throwing upon the Consolidated Fund a burden of £400,000 or £500,000. Any person who looked at the note of explanation appended to one of these Bills, 573 would perceive that less than £80,000 is the sum required in relief of the suitors, and in giving the necessary increase of the numbers, and the salaries of the County Court Judges, that there is a saving of £19,000 to the suitor, and therefore to the public, that the necessary increase of business and of the fee fund must, in the course of a very short time, relieve the Consolidated Fund of the whole of the weight for a time laid upon it, leaving the whole £19,000 a clear gain by the plan, and that the recourse for a time to the Consolidated Fund is fully justified by the fact, that nearly half a million has been already levied upon suitors in bankruptcy for the payment of the officers, and of compensation, all of which ought to have been paid out of the public income.
§ Order of the day for the second reading read, and discharged.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter past Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, Half-past Ten o'clock.