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fectly legitimate on the part of the govern- | a preference would be given to those lines ment, for great political and commercial pro- that would be entirely under British conjects to make a payment wholly irrespec- trol. It appeared to him to have been a tive of the profit and loss that the company very great mistake in the original arrangewould otherwise sustain, and to pay a certain ment with the Atlantic Telegraph Comsum of money in aid of the company to carry pany, that the line which went from one out the object. In that case the Govern part of the British dominions, Valentia in ment knew the full loss the public had to Ireland to another, Newfoundland, was to sustain in case of failure ; the loss was be in any way connected with a foreign known, and whether the object was equiva- Government..lle thought that allowing lent to the probability of loss was a matter the United States Government any control for consideration. With regard to subma- whatever over any line from one part of the rine telegraphs and cables, and Post-office British dominions to another, was one of and packet communication, he thought the greatest possible errors ; but he inthat absolute and unconditional guarantees ferred from what had been stated by the could hardly be consented to by the Go. noble Earl, that such an error was not vernmeut. A conditional guarantee—that likely to be repeated. He concurred with was to say, not a payment made but as what the noble Earl had said as to the consured to the company, in addition to the ditional guarantees; but there was one interest given by the Government - was precaution that had not been mentioned ; legitimate where the risk was great and that if they secured to the Company a certhe prospects of profit in case of success tain profit on their capital, it was absoconsiderable ; but a subsidy ought to be lutely necessary that the Government should granted only where the prospects of re- have some control over their working exmuneration in any other way were not such penses, and so have the means of asceras to justify the matter being undertaken taining that jobs were not perpetrated or as a mercantile speculation, and when the extravagance permitted. He could not attainment of important political and com- help concurring with the noble Lord who mercial objects justifies the payment of had put the question in thinking that it was such subsidies from the public funds. In of great importance that they should, as soon every proposition that may be submitted as possible, have an independent sea-line of to the Government for electric telegraphs, telegraph to Malta-a line from some point he thought when projects were in other near the Land's End to Gibraltar, and respects equal, the Government ought to brought up to that central point in the give a preference to those schemes which Mediterranean, Malta—and it ought to be provide that the whole line of telegraphic accomplished as soon as circumstances percommunication shall be, if not upon British mitted. territory, at least exclusively and absoutely LORD STANLEY of ALDERLEY said, under British control. Having stated the he also concurred in the desirableness of rules upon which he thought these propo- having the telegraphic system placed under sitions ought to be considered — namely, English control, and as far as possible on the solvency of the company, the magni- English territory. The monopoly that had tude of the object to be attained, the pros- been conferred on the Atlantic Telegraph pect of better offers, the risk to be run, Company had prevented any others from and the interests to be served—the terms entering into competition with them, and must always be a matter of calculation in that being the case he had boped that the each separate case ; but it was impossible Government would hesitate in giving any to lay down any rule as to the proportion- pledge or promise of guarantee or subsidy ate assistance which Her Majesty's Govern- until the Company had given up that monoment ought to give, but he boped he had | poly. If the aid demanded was to be enstated distinctly the principles by which, iirely contributed by the English Governin dealing with the subject, he thought went, it was all the more essential that Her Majesty's Government ought to be the Government should cancel the privilege guided.
of monopoly, and that the line should be EARL GREY said, he had heard with under the entire control of England, and great satisfaction the noble Earl's state. irrespective of American control altogement, and thought that the principles ther. He wished to know whether, in the he, had enunciated were perfectly sound case of the Red Sea line, there was an aband right; and, above all,' he had heard solute or a conditional guarantee. From with great satisfaction the intimation that what he had heard he was rather inclined to believe that there was an absolute guaran- | the measure as effective as possible, and tee irrespective of its operation. He had would refrain from moving the omission of always expressed an opinion that the whole the clause, but would leave the matter to of the electric telegraph communication of be dealt with by his noble and learned this country and its connection with fo- Friend (the Lord Chancellor) in considering reign countries should be brought under the some Amendments which he intended to general postal arrangements, and that the propose hereafter. expense should be defrayed by the Govern- Clause agreed to. ment. Great advantages in the shape of Clause 2, (Present Power of Arrest unconcentration and a saving of expense affected in certain Cases). would result from such a system.
LORD TEYNHAM expressed his opinion THE EARL OF DERBY said, he was that in no instance ought the personal quite ready to admit, that the terms ob- liberty of the subject to be vested in his tained by the Red Sea Company, owing to fellow-subject, but should only be taken circumstances, were of a very favourable away under the immediate supervision of character. In one sense the guarantee the law. In a Return just made of the might be considered absolute on a certain proceedings of County Courts in 1857, he amount, but, on the other hand, the Com. found that the total number of warrants of pany contracted to the Government to have commitment issued by the registrars of the line laid and placed in working order ; County Courts was upwards of 27,000, so that it was not until the line was in that while the actual arrests were only 10,620. state that the guarantee of the Govern- So that upwards of 17,000 warrants had ment came into operation. As to the At- been held against debtors which had not lantic Telegraph Company, he was glad to been put in force. If a creditor had at say the Government had insisted as a first his option the power of arresting a debtor, condition in the negotiations now pending he might sell that power not only for that the monopoly of the Company should money, but for any and everything that be abolished, and that the Government the covetousness of the human heart de. should be at liberty to sanction and assist sired. That power ought never to be left any company which might be disposed to in the hands of any man. He trusted that undertake to lay down other lines. If the the noble and learned Lord would reconGovernment guaranteed a particular Com sider the clauses relative to the power of pany, it was not the interest of the Go- arrest, so that this power might remain vernment to diminish the profits of that from first to last in the hands of the Company by encouraging a number of Court. competing lines. But the principle adopted
THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, the was to repudiate any monopoly, and to hold law was not altered by this clause. the Government free to agree with any
LORD TEYNHAM said, his desire was other Company if they should think it de- that it should be altered. sirable to do so.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, it
was proposed by this Bill to abolish arrest DEBTOR AND CREDITOR BILL.
in execution, except in certain cases. There were three classes of cases in which
there was arrest in execution-first, where IIouse in Committee (according to order). judgment had been obtained in actions of Clause l (Arrest in Execution restrained) tort : that was the law under the Insolvent
LORD WENSLEYDALE objected to Act; second, where the Judge at the time the clause and the clauses which followed, of trial, or a Judge afterwards, certified because they would totally abolish im- that the debt had been incurred under false prisonment for debt except in certain spe- , pretences or breach of trust, or that the cified cases.
He thought it was often the defence had been vexatious and frivolous : fear of arrest which prevented non-traders that was the law under the 7 & 8 Pict., running into most extravagant expenditure, by which arrest on executions for less than and he was supported in his objection to £20 was abolished ; and third, where a the total abolition of imprisonment for debt, creditor had reason to believe that bis not only by the petition which he presented debtor was about to abscond ; which also 10-day, but by the Reports of Royal Com- was the law under the 1 & 2 Vict. He missions composed of many learned men, could not understand, therefore, why the who, in 1832, 1840, and 1854 had con- noble Lord should desire an alteration in sidered the subject. He wished to render the Bill for the purpose of taking from the
creditor any power he might possess under but he thought it could not be but that the it of arresting the debtor. If the noble creditors selected to manage the affairs Lord wished to have an alteration in the would neglect, after a time, the interests existing law, he should propose a distinct of the other creditors. For that reason he Aniendment.
could not help most deeply deploring that LORD TEYNHAM said, he did not wish his noble and learned Friend had been in. to do away with arrest when the debtor duced to listen to suggestions to put it in was deserving of imprisonment, but he the power of creditors to place the affairs wished to render the arrest certain in such of the estate under the old system if they a case ; the arrest being always in the pleased. He knew that this clause would, power of the Court alone, and execution to a certain class of persons, be a very never issuing without arrest actually taking great sop, and that there was a wish among place.
a great mass of professional persons to see The LORD CHANCELLOR suggested this clause passed. But that ought to that as there were penal clauses in the pre-eminently put that House upon their Bill, it would be better that the noble Lord guard and induce them to take care they should propose an Amendment when they did not do anything which might result in were under discussion.
causing grievous loss to small creditors, Clause agreed to.
who looked to them for protection. For Clauses 3 to 12 agreed to.
these reasons he thought this clause ought Clause 13 struck out.
to be onnitted. It was evident that the noble Clauses 14 to 92 agreed to with verbal and learned Lord opposite (the Lord ChanAmendments.
cellor) was distrustful of the principle reClause 93. (Creditors may choose cognized by his clause, inasmuch as by the Trustee instead of Assignee.)
95th clause he provided that the creditors LORD CRANWORTH said, he objected if they thought fit, might appoint a Comto the alteration in the law which was mittee of their own body to check the trusproposed by this clause, and which he did tee or assignee they might choose. It was not think would be conducive to the in- a vicious principle to get rid of the public terests of creditors. The effect of the functionary in question, whose payment clause was that the system, which was depended upon the realization of the profounded by the Act of Lord Brougham in perty, the economy and the expedition ob1831, with regard to official control, should served in obtaining it. Now, the trustee be abolished. The proposed abolition of to be appointed under the clause in question the present system of the law would lead had no such interest in the cheap or speedy to much wrong being committed. On a realization of the property or in getting rid recent occasion the noble and learned Lord of the expense of litigation. (the Lord Chancellor) said that he could THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, the bring as many witnesses to give their evi- great difficulty the Government had to dence against official assignees, and that overcome in this matter was to understand they should be abolished, as could be what was the best course to adopt among brought in favour of their retention. Under the conflicting opinions by which they were these circumstances, let their Lordships besieged upon this subject. His noble and calmly look at the question, and see upon learned Friend (Lord Cranworth) had prewhat the arguments rested. Before 1831 sented that evening a petition, signed by the estates of insolvents and bankrupts 800 merchants and bankers of the City of were managed by persons selected by the London, objecting to the abolishing of creditors and under that system the funds imprisonment for debt; last Session he of the estates were so badly collected and (the Lord Chancellor) presented a petition administerd that in many cases credi- signed by 4000 merchants and bankers, tors, though no doubt angry at first at praying that they might have a greater conthe loss sustained, wrote off the bad trol over the effects of bankrupts. In order debts from their books and forget them. to give their Lordships a sample of the feelUpon the creation of the official assignees ing out of doors on this subject he would in 1831, those officers in a very short call their attention to a paper which had time collected and distributed more than been sent to him. There were two classes £2,000,000 of money belonging to various of persons who formed different opinions estates which had lain neglected. It was on this subject-one desiring publicity, the now proposed to revert to the old system other secrecy. The gentleman who sent by giving the creditors power to dispense him the paper to which he had alluded with the service of the official assignee ; ' said, “ he did not think any legislative
assistance should be given to enable any LORD ST. LEONARDS was of opinion creditor to control any minority of creditors, that the creditors ought under due regula. however small. He would not allow 99 tions, particularly giving publicity to the creditors out of a 100 to control the hun- transaction, to have the power to appoint dredth man; and he believed that nothing their own trustees : there was no danger was so agreeable to some insolvents as in these times that creditors would not secrecy, and nothing so disagreeable as look after their own interests. publicity. He considered such people to LORD CRANWORTII said, he would be in a conspiracy against all honest men.”
bis objections further. He (the Lord Chancellor) believed that this Clause agreed to. Bill would meet the demands of the commer- Clauses 94 to 110 agreed to, cial community in every possible way, inas- Clause 111, (Estate Tail of Non-Trader inuch as it would combine publicity with Insolvent not in Possession—not to be secrecy by making it optional with the credi- barred without his Consent.) tors to have either a private or a public in- LORD CRANWORTH said that this and vestigation into the affairs of the insolvent. the following section would commit a most A noble Lord, who was supposed to repre- monstrous and unmitigated injustice. Un. sent to a great extent the views of the com- der the present law an insolvent was forced mercial community on the subject under to give up the whole of his property, and discussion, (Lord John Russell) had intro his noble and learned Friend did not produced in the other House a Bill in which pose to alter that provision in respect to he had gone even further than the Govern- traders ; but when a non-trader became ment in dispensing with the services of insolvent it was proposed now for the first official assignees, inasmuch as he proposed time to enact that, if he had any real proto make it compulsory on the creditors to perty in reversion, it should be sold at the decide whether they would choose an offi- time when it would be most convenient to cial assignee or appoint their own trustee, himself to sell. The reason given was that whereas the Bill of the Government left it otherwise “
" vindictive creditors might entirely at the option of the creditors to dispose of the property at a time when it select their own trustee or to make use of would be productive of but little advantage the official assignee in that capacity. His to the insolvent. But meanwhile the credinoble and learned Friend said it was very tor might be ruined if his debts were not at hard upon small creditors that they should once paid. What answer was it in such a be overborne by a smaller number of larger case to say what the reversionary interest creditors, because the latter would select a would produce more if the sale were deman who at first would do his duty, but layed until it came into possession ? Why, would gradually become negligent, and delay might ruin the honest creditor and then the small creditors would be placed in drive him into the Gazette. In some other the hands of a solicitor who would only respects the Bill was perhaps rather too work for his own advantage. He (the Lord favourable to debtors ; but this seemed to Chancellor) had had some little experience him the introduction of a principle which in commercial affairs, and he always found he deeply regretted should originate in this that creditors, whether large or small, House. It would put abroad the notion were likely to look after their own interest, that they were legislating for the sons of and that if they were to choose a trustee the landed aristocracy at the expense of instead of an official assignee, they would the honest tradesman. take care that he did his duty. The ques
LORD WENSLEYDALE entirely contion really was this, considering the diffi- curred in these objections to the clause. culties of the case, and that the greater Every man who incurred debts should be part of the commercial community were liable to the sale of his property to satisfy desirous of having a greater control over those debts, and if any loss were sustained their affairs than they now possessed, had in selling, the insolvent must expect to the Government not chosen well in adopting bear it. He could not conceive why the that system which they found was desired | debtor should be called upon to postpone by a very considerable class of the com- his claims. Such a principle was quite mercial community, being perfectly aware unprecedented. that if they adopted a different system THE LORD CHANCELLOR thought they would not have disarmed opposition. that as the Bill for the first time compelled Under these circumstances, he trusted uon-traders to surrender their property for their Lordships would not consent to the the benefit of their creditors, it was right clause being struck out.
that settled estates in renainder should be
protected in the manner proposed by the made to render liable the after-acquired clanse. If the sale of a reversionary interest property of an insolvent non-trader for were forced, it might not be worth one-half payment of his debts. or one-twentieth of the sum it would fetch THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, that when it came into possession. It did not the clause in its existing right seemed just take away the property from the creditors. and right, and therefore he trusted their Creditors were still to receive, to the ex. Lordships would not assent to any alteratent of their claims, the produce of the tion. By the existing law bankrupts were estate ; but they would not be empowered discharged by their certificate from all claim to sell it before it came into possession, on after-acquired property ; but insolvents unless the insolvent consented. It did not were obliged to give a warrant of attorney prevent the sale with the consent of the before they were discharged, which allowed debtor.
the creditors on application to the court Lord CRANWORTH said, it was true to issue execution against such property. that you could not now force an insolvent The practice of the insolvent Court had non-trader to surrender all bis property, been never touch property subsequentbut you could imprison him until he did. ly acquired by an insolvent's own indusThis Bill now substantially took away the try, and only to require a third of other power of imprisoning for debt, and he en property coming to him by bequest, to tirely approved of the proposal; but surely be given up for the benefit of the crediit ought to be accompanied with even more fors. Such a practice showed an impresstringent powers of enforcing the distri. sion that the system was not a just one, bution of property
It was said that these and the Government considered that when estates would realize much more when they it was proposed to abolish the distinction came into possession ; but that might not between traders and non-traders, and to happen for fifty years, and in point of fact compel non-traders, for the first time, to they might never come into possession; for if distribute the whole of their property for the tenant iv tail in remainiler died without the benefit of their creditors, it would be issue in the lifetime of the tenant for life, only just and fair to place them on the they could not be sold at all, but would same level as bankrupts. Since by the pass to the ulterior remainder. When, alteration of the law they were about to therefore, it was said that the sale should allow the creditor to strip the non-trading not be anticipated, so as to guard the in- debtor and turn him naked on the world it terest of the debtor, non constat but that by seemed to him they ought to extend to bim delay that interest might become wholly the same benefits which were given to the exhausted. He was sure the clause would trader debtor. He mentioned, on moving be misunderstood and misrepresented out the first reading of the Bill
, that the power of doors, and it would be said, not with of the Court to compel the application of out the appearance of truth, that their after-acquired property principally affected Lordships were passing a law to prevent small traders, as of 1,042 persons who the sons of landed gentry from being im- applied last year for the protection of the prisoned, and at the same time to prevent Insolvent Court only fifty were non-traders their reversionary interests from being sold and of above 4,000 who applied in the for the benefit of their creditors.
country, there was a much smaller number. The LORD CHANCELLOR said, it There were very few cases in which the had been observed that a reversionary in power was ever exercised, and he knew terest might not come into possession at all; no valid reason why insolvents should not but what would be the value of such an have the same benefit as bankrupts, when interest if it were forced to a sale ? they were to be made obvoxious to the
The EARL OF DERBY thought the com- same liabilities. pulsory sale of reversions would be most Lord CRANWORTH said, the blame objectionable.
to be ascribed to a non-trader for getting Clause agreed to.
into debt was much greater than the blame Clauses 112 to 140 agreed to.
attributable to a trader, and he feared the Clause 141. (If suspended on Rehearing public miglit think the change was made subsequent Creditors to prove first against to protect non-trading spendthrifts-song subsequent Property )
of the richer classes—wbose after acquired LORD WENSLEYDALE intimated an property was now liable. Although there opinion that some provision should be might be some doubt, his feelings inclined