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vent hope that their lordships Lord Wensleydale, in a short would not pass the Bill in its speech, supported the Bill. present state, but would, if a mo- The Lord Chancellor replied tion to the effect were made, refer to the objections which had been it to a Select Committee.
raised, and expressed his opinion Lord Cranworth thought the that it would have been better if Bill contained many excellent noble and learned lords had reprovisions, and considered the served their objections for the mode in which it was pro Committee. posed to abolish the distinc- The Bill was then referred to tion between traders and non- a Select Committee, principally traders most satisfactory; and composed of the Law Lords, at in regard to the retrospective whose hands it underwent conelauses, he thought they were to siderable changes in some of the a certain extent reasonable. As leading provisions, in opposition, to the extension of the jurisdic- however, to the wishes of its aution of the county court judges thors. In particular, the clauses to bankruptcy cases, judging from which provided for the appointthe report of a Commission which ment of a Chief Judge in Bankhad been appointed to investigate ruptcy were expunged. the subject, he thought that it When the Bill was subsewas impossible; on this subject, quently discussed in a Comand also on the transfer of the mittee of the whole House, duties of the official assignees, Lord Chelmsford moved the inhe should reserve his opinions. sertion of a clause limiting the He also thought that the duties operation of the new law to debts of the judge who was to preside contracted and liabilities in
irred over the new court required ex- after the date of the passing of planation.
the Act. It would be unjust, he Lord Kingsdown examined the thought, to attach consequences effects of the abolition of the dis- never contemplated to existing tinction between traders and non- liabilities by means of retrospectraders, and thought that while it tive legislation. was perfectly fair to give creditors The Lord Chancellor denied summary powers in the case of that the Bill was retrospective, the former, in the latter case it and opposed the introduction of would lead to many hardships, the clause, which had already, especially in the case of inex- after considerable discussion in perienced young men. He ob- the Select Committee, been rejected to the appointment of a jected by a large majority there. judge, as he thought ten com- The Bill merely provided that, if missioners were quite capable of a debtor chose to go abroad and dealing with the matters brought live luxuriously upon before them. As the measure perty of his creditors, he might was at present framed, he did be declared a bankrupt. He renot expect that it would con- gretted the course taken by the duce to lessen the expenses of Committee in reference to the bankruptcy. The Bill, he hoped, Chief Judge, and hoped that the would be considerably modified clause in reference to that funcin committee.
tionary would be restored.
the proLord Derby explained the cir- lation on this subject. As it was cumstances under which the evident that the Lords would not clause relating to the Chief recede from the amendments Judge was rejected, and sup- which they had made in the Bill, ported the amendment of Lord the Government finally resolved Chelmsford. In spite of the to offer a compromise—the apLord Chancellor's opinion that pointment of the Chief Judge, the Bill was not retrospective, he and the retention of the original thought it was so, and that it clauses relating to the creditors' would be injurious to the interests assignees, being insisted on, but of non-traders.
some other important points, on Lord Cranworth opposed the which the Lords had differed, clause as unnecessary. The Bill, being conceded. The Attorneyhe said, was not retrospective, General induced the House of but it provided a cheaper mode Commons to adopt this course of enforcing existing rights. in order to save the loss of the
Lord Brougham said that the Bill, though not without a proBill, as it stood, was not only re- test on the part of some memtrospective, but penally retrospec. bers, and a division by which the tive, for it imposed the punish- House decided on thus proceedment of imprisonment on the ing by a majority of 44. debtor for liabilities contracted The amendments of the Comprior to the passing of the Act. mons to the Lords' amendments,
After a few words from Lord with the reasons of the former Wensleydale, a division took for disagreeing therefrom, came place upon the clause, when the on for consideration in the House numbers were
of Lords on the 27th of July. For the clause
98 The Lord Chancellor then warmly Against it
61 supported the decision of the
House of Commons by which the
37 appointment of a Chief Judge The clause was therefore added was adhered to. The noble and to the Bill.
learned lord contrasted the public Some of the alterations made discussion which the Bill had rein the House of Lords were con- ceived in the House of Commons sidered by the promoters of the with the private consideration measure to be so material, espe- given it by the Select Committee cially the excision of the provi- of the House of Lords, and sions relating to the appointment having adverted to the inconof a Chief Judge in Bankruptcy, sistent conduct of the Conservaand to the retention of the ex- tives in the Lower House, who isting official assignees, that it supported the measure, with that was considered a matter of some of the Conservative party in the doubt whether the Governinent House of Lords, who had pursued would not abandon the Bill an opposite course of action, rather than accept it in its begged that the decision to be altered shape. Much apprehen- pronounced on that Bill might be sion was felt in the mercantile founded, not on party motives, community at the prospect of but on the intrinsic merits or another postponement of legis- demerits of the measure. Deny
ing that the appointment of a Lord Cranworth did not object Chief Judge could be termed to the series of abstract proposi“a job,” he declared himself tions just stated by the Lord solely responsible for such a job, Chancellor, but would have preif job it were, and then briefly ferred to have heard it proved showed the defects of the present that the officer proposed to be system, explained what changes appointed was necessary. Having were necessary, and defended the explained the mode of proceedmeans by which such changes ing in Bankruptcy, he contended were proposed to be made. The that the present commissioners appointment of a Chief Judge were in every way qualified to act would remedy the present con- as judges, and protested against fusion of administrative and judi- the appointment of an unnecescial duties, by introducing an sary judge for the purpose of officer to superintend the ad- hearing appeals. The Bill was ministrative part of the business, almost silent as to the jurisdiction and at the same time to exercise of the Chief Judge, and dwelt far a jurisdiction partly appellate and too much in generals and not partly original. By such an ap- enough in particulars. He bepointment, also, justice would be lieved the appointment of a Chief rendered more speedy and more Judge was not necessary, and was cheap, and the bandying of therefore objectionable. , suitors from one Court to an- Lord Chelmsford, having reother would be avoided. To ren- plied to the insinuations of der, however, these reforms com- the Lord Chancellor against plete and the Court of Bankruptcy the “ Select Committee," and self-sufficient, he contended that vindicated the decisions of that the Court should be one of ap- Committee as entirely removed peal, pointing out the fallacious- from party motives, stated his ness of the arguments that the opinion that the appointment of number of appeals in bankruptcy a Chief Judge was unnecessary, being comparatively few, there. as the duties which he would fore no Judge of Appeal was have to do were efficiently pernecessary. Certificates, as tests formed by those to whom they of character, would be made of were now entrusted. He refuted some value if a Judge were ap- the assertion that the Lords Juspointed, as they would be distin- tices of Appeal were overburguished by an uniformity of de- dened with work, by quoting the cision. In conclusion, he objected number of appeal cases heard by to the appeals in bankruptcy the Lords Justices, and denied being referred to the Lords Jus- that the proposed changes would tices of Appeal, as those func. be less expensive than the systionaries had quite as much as tem now in use, for he believed they could do without being sad- that they would tend to increase dled with additional burdens, and cost by augmenting the number he begged their Lordships to of appeals. Lord Chelmsford agree with the House of Com- then showed that the original mons in their rejection of their jurisdiction which the Bill preLordships' amendments.
tended to confer on the Chief
Judge was nothing but a pretence of the Bill in favour of the apfor making an appointment, and pointment of the Chief Judge, therefore hoped the House would for the reasons adopted by that adhere to its amendments, and House and transmitted to the spare the public the expense of a other House of Parliament; and most unnecessary appointment. although they still considered
Lord Wensleydale agreed with that the provisions of the Bill the opinions expressed by Lords were greatly impaired, and its Cranworth and Chelmsford. The chances of working well at the Lord Chancellor having replied, outset were very much diminished a division took place, when the by the omission of that portion House resolved to adhere to its of it; they considered that, even amendments, striking the Chief without that part of the Bill, Judge out of the Bill, by a ma- there was an amount of good in jority of 80 to 46.
it which was capable of working, Upon the question of creditors' although defectively, which ought assignees, however, their Lord to induce the Government to ships agreed to accept the Com- take the Bill mutilated and shorn, mons' amendments, and upon as he admitted it to be, rather some other points in difference than not have the measure at they made a similar concession. all. Under these circumstances,
In consequence of the course the Government had come to adopted by the majority of the conclusion to advise the the House of Lords, respect House-of course it was for the ing the office of Judge in House to consider whether they Bankruptcy, the Bill again ap- should adopt that advice-not to peared to be placed in great insist further on their disagreejeopardy. If the Commons de- ment to the amendments made clined to abandon their posi- by the Lords, but practically to tion, it was irrecoverably lost; and accept the Bill as amended by one of the few valuable measures the other House. which this protracted session Mr. Crawford, before taking appeared likely to produce would leave for the present of a subject have suffered another post- which he was sure would soon ponement. The days of the again occupy their attention, Session were now numbered, and wished to state that, representing nothing but a surrender of their as he did, a constituency which own opinion on the part of the had taken a deep interest in the legal advisers of the Crown, could question, he was disposed to avert the result. On the 31st concur in the course which the of July, the Attorney-General Government recommended the took the step which prudence House to pursue. He believed suggested, and moved that the the Lord Chancellor would find House of Commons should accept great practical difficulty in the the Lords' Amendment. He working of this Bill without the said that, although Her Majesty's Chief Judge ; but the responsiGovernment retained the opinion bility rested, not on the Lord expressed by its members in the Chancellor, but on those who discussions on the various stages had, as the Attorney-General said, mutilated the Bill. If it The Bills did not interfere were found that the Bill could with the common, or unwritten not be fairly carried into effect law, but, as the great bulk without the Chief Judge, another of our criminal law depended application would, no doubt, be upon statutes, these Bills would made to Parliament, and they deal with a very large portion would then know what course to of that law, which it would take.
consolidate and assimilate. ConThe motion of the Attorney- solidation and expurgation were General being agreed to, the the first step to a reformation Bill was passed and received the of the Statute Book, and the Royal Assent.
laws relating to crime were most An important step was taken easily consolidated. Although this year towards the improve- such was the limit of the attempt, ment of the Statute Law by the the advantage would not be inmeasures brought in by the law considerable, and it would be an officers of the Crown for the auspicious beginning of the imConsolidation of the Criminal portant process of general conLaw. For this purpose seven solidation. He gave a history of Bills, framed upon the recom- the progress of criminal law remendations of the Criminal Law form, and of the Bills which had Commissioners, had been intro. been prepared at different periods duced in the session of 1860, to effect the object, forming the and had passed the House of foundation of the present Bills, Lords, but, in consequence of which had not, he assured the want of tinie for their full consi- House, been framed without deration, were postponed. They great consideration. were again brought in at an early These Bills, being to some experiod of the present session, tent taken on credit by the and their objects having been House, by reason of the confiexplained by the Solicitor-Gene- dence placed in their framers, ral, they were referred to a Select and in the law officers of the Committee. In stating the nature Crown, on whose responsibility of these Bills to the House, they were proposed, underwent Solicitor-General stated that they but little discussion, and received were designed to consolidate the Royal Assent before the end and amend the Statute Law of of the session. Another measure, England and Ireland relating to for the purgation of the Statute offences against the person, to Book, by the repeal of a very malicious injuries to property, to large number of obsolete and iarceny and other similar of- expired Acts, between the 11th of fences, to indictable offences of Geo. III., and the 16th and 17th the nature of forgery, to acces- years of Her present Majesty, sories to and abettors of indict- was brought in by the Attorneyable offences, and to offences General, and carried through relating to the coin, and were Parliament. also intended to repeal certain A new attempt was made this enactments contained in seve. session to alter the law of marral Acts relating to indictable riage by legalizing unions with a offences and other matters. deceased wife's sister. The Bill