§ (The Lord Chancellor.)
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he understood that some noble and learned Lords were anxious that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee; but he did not see any reason to think that they would not be able to dispose of the Bill satisfactorily in a Committee of the Whole House. He had been favoured with numerous Amendments, but there was only one of considerable importance, which related to compensations. There was none with respect to the principle of the Bill, and there was nothing that he saw to prevent their Lordships from going on with the Bill at once in Committee.
§ Moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee."—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ LORD ROMILLY
said, he should feel very much obliged to his noble and learned Friend if he would allow the Bill to be referred to a Select Committee. It would not in the slightest degree delay the Bill. He would undertake himself to adjourn his Court for two or three days; his noble and learned Friend opposite had consented to aid him, and 16 so had Ms noble and learned Friend (Lord Westbury) near him. He was quite sure that, while there would be no real delay to the progress of the Bill by referring it to a Select Committee, they would be enabled to deal with it in a much more satisfactory manner than would be possible in a Committee of the House. He regretted to say that he had a good many suggestions to make which he had not yet been able to put into the form of Amendments. His noble and learned Friend seemed to think from the fact of the Bill having been in their hands for six or seven days that there had been sufficient time to draw up Amendments; but he must remind his noble and learned Friend that he had six hours every day to spend in his Court, and he really had not been able to consider the mode of putting his Amendments into shape. He held in his hand a letter signed by six firms of solicitors of the City of London, all of the very highest eminence, and they were of opinion, with respect to Clauses 6, 7, and 11, that if the Bill passed in its present shape, any trader's credit might at any moment be utterly destroyed. There were many other points which he could mention and to which he should be desirous of calling attention in Committee, but he would reserve these matters for the Report. He earnestly hoped his noble and learned Friend would allow the Bill to be referred to a Select Committee.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, there was one thing for which he did not think their Lordships' House very well adapted, and that was to go through a Bill of that kind late in the evening with an attendance of from ten to twelve Members, and his noble Friend (Lord Redesdale) in the Chair with his powerful energy to dispose of Amendments. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had said that the Amendments, though very numerous, were, with one exception, not very important. For himself he must say he had endeavoured to read the Bill and understand it, and there were a great many Amendments which he should wish to introduce, but of which he had not been able to give notice, sitting, as he had to do, on appeals in that House during the day, and in the evening having other business to attend to. As the noble and learned Lord (Lord Romilly) had promised to 17 devote two or three days to the subject, he would willingly join Kim, because he believed the matter could be dealt with more satisfactorily in Committee than it would be in the Whole House.
§ LORD WESTBURY
said, although he had promised the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack to do his best to avoid sending the Bill to a Select Committee, the number of the Amendments of which notice had been given, extending over fourteen pages, obliged him to come to the conclusion that the Bill could best be dealt with in a Select Committee, upon which he would be most happy to serve; and he had no doubt that in the course of three days the Committee would arrive at very satisfactory conclusions. He would do nothing to imperil the Bill, but its provisions were of very great importance, and required to be carefully considered. He was delighted to find that one of the main features of this Bill was the appointment of a Chief Judge in Bankruptcy—an arrangement he had always advocated, and, indeed, had incorporated in his Bill of 1861; but when that proposal was struck out of that Bill its vital principle was gone, and on this account he objected to the enactment being described by his name.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, that the present proposal for the appointment of a Chief Judge in connection with all existing machinery of the Bankruptcy Law was a very different thing from the proposition of his noble and learned Friend's Bill to abolish the Commissioners and appoint a Chief Judge in their stead. He agreed in the desirability of referring the Bill to a Select Committee.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
feared that a reference of the Bill to a Select Committee would cause it to be postponed to another Session. This would be greatly regretted by an immense number of mercantile men, who did not wish to see in another year that 6,500 bankruptcies out of 9,000 should yield no dividend. During the afternoon he had been waited on by a large deputation, representing thirty-seven Chambers of Commerce, most earnestly praying that the Bill should pass this Session. Their Petition he had already presented to their Lordships' House. Besides this, the Bill had been considered in the other House by a number of Gentlemen eminent as barristers, solicitors, and 18 mercantile men, who sat day after day in Committee of the Whole House; and, surely, if this could be done in the other House of Parliament, their Lordships could consider the Bill in Committee of the Whole House, especially as that Committee would be more select than the Committee of the House of Commons.
§ LORD ROMILLY
then moved an Amendment to leave out all the words after ("That") and insert ("the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.")
§ On Question, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Motion? Resolved in the Negative. Bill referred to a Select Committee accordingly; The Committee to be named on Monday next.
§ And, on Monday, July 19, the Lords following were named of the Committee:—
|Ld. Chancellor.||L. Westbury.|
|Ld. Privy Seal.||L. Romilly.|
|V. Halifax.||L. Colonsay.|
|L. Overstone.||L. Cairns.|
|L. Helper.||L. Penzance.|