« PreviousContinue »
upon it, whether it would be desirable to raise a loan for this purpose, but the Government would use their best efforts to promote the growth of cotton in India. On the 5th of July, the Earl of Shaftesbury entered more at large upon the subject of public works in India, and the means of promoting an increased cultivation of cotton in the country. The noble earl moved “that an address be presented to Her Majesty, to assure Her Majesty that this House had regarded with great satisfaction the progress of public works in various parts of India, and to beseech Her Majesty that, with a view to confer further benefit on that country, she will be pleased to take into her immediate and serious consideration the means of extending throughout it as widely as possible the best systems of irrigation and internal navigation.” He prefaced his motion by dwelling upon the importance of an adequate supply of cotton to this country, and the expediency of encouraging the growth of cotton in India and Australia. The principal requisites for promoting the growth of cotton in India were an extensive system of irrigation to fertilize the soil, and a system of inland navigation for carrying the produce to the coast. India, from its conformation, presented great facilities both for the purposes of irrigation and the construction of canals, labour being plentiful and cheap. In addition to other advantages, these works were extremely profitable, they protected the districts they traversed from famines and floods, and, at the same time that they promoted the
general welfare of the country, they increased the revenues of the Government by rendering salt cheaper, and thereby increasing the demand for it. Having shown that by the opening of the Godavery all these benefits would be gained, Lord Shaftesbury proceeded to describe the capabilities of India for supplying England with cotton and flax, if only it could be made sufficiently remunerative by providing roads and canals to bring it down for shipping from the interior. At the same time that the promotion of cotton cultivation would benefit India, it would do more than anything else to put an end to slavery in America. If it were once proved to the natives that cotton-growing would return a profit, and that a steady demand for it would be kept up, they were sufficiently alive to their own interests not only to grow cotton, but to use the best inventions for cleansing and preparing it. In conclusion, he showed by statistics the enormous increase in the value of property in districts properly irrigated. In those districts the revenue had increased, famine had disappeared, and aprofit of 118 per cent, for many years had been yielded on the original outlay. By developing these works, the Government, he was convinced, would increase their revenue, augment the comfort of the natives, and obtain a better market for our own manufactures. Lord Lyveden expressed an opinion that the public works were not being pressed forward as quickly as before the Mutiny. Lord Overstone thought that it would be better to leave such works to private enterprise, espe
cially as he had heard that they
had proved highly remunerative. He therefore moved the previous question. The Marquis of Clanricarde blamed the Government for the dilatory manner in which they had set about these works. Although they had been proved to be highly remunerative, the Government had hesitated to borrow money for the completion of these works, while they had not scrupled to borrow for the unprofitable fortifications at home. The Duke of Argyll said that the revenues of India were al
ready greatly burthened by the expenses of the Mutiny; that they were now pledged to the amount of 57,000,000l. on account of public works, and had still further engagements impending. Under these circumstances the Government did not feel justified in entertaining proposals for a further advance.
Lord Shaftesbury having made a few remarks, and recognized the difficulty of carrying out the motion which he had brought forward, the previous question, as proposed by Lord Overstone, was adopted.
MISCELLANEOUS MEASURES.—Law of Bankruptcy and Insolvency.
Progress of the Attorney-General's Bill for the Consolidation of this branch of the Law in both Houses— Important alterations made in the Select Committee of the House of Lords—The Law Lords are much divided in respect to some provisions of the Bill -- An Amendment is carried by Lord Chelmsford against the opinion of the GovernmentSome of the alterations meet with disfavour in the House of Commons, and the further progress of the Bill becomes doubtful-Controversy between the two Houses — The Lords persist in retaining certain Amendments which the Commons disapprove of-The Government ultimately make a concession to save the Bill, and the Measure becomes Law.—Consolidation of the Criminal Law-Seven Bills arc introduced by the Law Officers of the Crown, founded on the Report of the Criminal Lau Commission, to amend and consolidate the Statutes relating to Indictable Offences - The Bills are referred to a Select Committee in the House of Commons, and are eventually passed—Further progress in the purgation of the Statute Book by the Repeal of Obsolete Acts.—MARRIAGE WITH A DECEASED Wife's SISTER.-A new Bill to legalise these Unions is introduced by Mr. M. Milnes ---Mr. Walpole enters a Protest against the Principle of the Measure-Upon the Second Reading being moved, Mr. Hunt moves an Amendment, and a Debate takes place-Speeches of Mr. Denman, Mr. Whiteside, Sir M. Peto, Mr. Pease, and other Members—The Amendment is affirmed, on a division, by 179 to 172, and the Bill is dropped. - Other Law Reforms.- Alteration in the Law regulating the making of Wills by British Subjects Abroad—Two Bills, proposed by Lord Kingsdown and the Attorney-General, are enacted for this purpose.-- Post OFFICE Savings' BANKS.- A measure for affording increased security and convenience to depositors in Savings' Banks through the medium of the Post Office, is proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer— The Bill meets with general support, but is opposed by Lord Monteagle in the House of Lords—It is passed into a Law.— NATIONAL EDUCATION.—The Report of the Royal Commissioners on this subject is presented to Parliament, and occasions much interest—The Earl of Shaftesbury, in the House of Lords, takes exception to part of the Report containing ani. madversions on the Ragged Schools—His Speech - He is answered by the Duke of Newcastle, who vindicates the Report, and refers at some length to the Evidence taken on the subject- A general Debate on the Recommendations of the Report takes place in the House of Commons,
on the Motion of Sir John Pakington—He enters fully into the subject, and is followed by Mr. Henley, Mr. Lowe, and other Members— On moving the Vote for Irish Education, Mr. Cardwell earplains the results of the System, and the Intentions of the Government—A Resolution, directed against the Irish National System, is moved by Mr. Isaac Butt—Observations of Mr. Lefroy, Mr. McEvoy, Mr. Cardwell, Sir Hugh Cairns, Mr. More O'Ferrall, Lord John Russell, Mr. Monsell, and Sir George Lewis—Mr. Butt's Resolution is negatived by a large majority—Revision of the Liturgy—Lord Ebury presents a Petition in favour of this object, and offers some Remarks—The Bishop of London, in answer, refers to the subject of Subscription to the Articles, and Revision of the Liturgy—The Business of the Session being concluded, the Prorogation takes place by Commission on the 6th of August—The
Royal Speech.-Results of the Session.
N the first chapter of this volume an account has been given of the introduction of Sir R. Bethell's Bill for the consolidation of the Law of Bankruptcy and Insolvency. The prolonged and often interrupted discussions which took place on this measure during its progress through both Houses of Parliament extended nearly to the close of the session. The debates in both Houses were, as might be expected, chiefly sustained by members of the legal profession. On the second reading being moved on the 14th of February, Mr. Roebuck took exception to some of the proposed enactments. He objected that, in appointing a Chief Judge, the Bill merely created additional expense, and that it did not provide for uni
formity of decision. It professed
to abolish the distinction between insolvency and bankruptcy, but did not do so; it was only an alteration of the law, but alteration was not reform. The Bill would make the administration of the bankrupt law more expen
sive. It was an attorney's Bill, and would advance their interests.
Mr. Moffatt commended the
ability shown in the Bill in dealing with complicated and difficult matters, and pointed out some clauses which he considered defective. Mr. Bovill objected that, contrary to what the country had a right to expect, the Bill did not attempt to consolidate the bankrupt law, and every one would be embarrassed by the state in which the law would be left. He condemned the retention of the Commissioners of Bankruptcy (alleged last year to be useless), when a Chief Judge, with 5000l. a-year, was to be appointed, whose duties were now performed satisfactorily by the Lords Justices. Messengers and official assignees were to be retained; so that there was no substantial alteration, but additional expense. He stated other objections to the machinery of the Bill, admitting, at the same time, that it contained some valuable provisions. Mr. Hadfield believed that the commercial community would be grateful for the measure. The Attorney-General vindi. cated the course he had taken in confining his Bill principally to what was new, and in not re-enacting what was already in
the Statute Book. He replied to the objections of Mr. Bovill and Mr. Roebuck. He frankly admitted that there were many things in the Bill regarding which different opinions would exist, and, in Committee, he should be happy, he said, to receive and consider whatever criticisms might be offered upon them.
After some remarks from Mr. Malins, Mr. James, Mr. J. Ewart, and other members, the Bill was read a second time.
Having passed through the remaining stages in the House of Commons, with little alteration in its details, the Bill was sent to the Upper House, where it underwent a more searching scrutiny, and was considerably modified. The Lord Chancellor moved the second reading on the 16th of April. The noble and learned lord stated that he anticipated no opposition on the part of the House to the measure, as he believed that the objections formerly entertained against it by their lordships had been met by the Bill before them. Having traced the course of legislation in respect to bankruptcy in this country, he dwelt upon the admitted evils of the present system—unnecessary delay and excessive official charges — evils which caused the trading classes to shun the Court of Bankruptcy and to settle cases by winding them up privately. Briefly touching upon the state of the law of insolvency, the abolition of the distinction of traders and nontraders, and the proposed alterations, he proceeded to explain the object of the Bill, and entered at some length into its various details.
Lord Chelmsford thought that the Bill, without considerable alterations, would hardly acquire the confidence of the country. In his opinion, the AttorneyGeneral, in drawing up this Bill, had listened too much to the Mercantile Law Amendment Society, who represented one party on bankruptcy, and, consequently, had run entirely counter to the views of the other. By so doing, the interests of the smaller estates had been sacrificed to the larger, and the machinery which this Bill proposed to introduce would be found far too cumbrous for smaller bankruptcies. In the case of the larger bankruptcies, there would be a struggle for the post of creditors' assignee, while in that of the smaller, the creditors would decline to appoint an assignee, and the estate would be left to the official assignee. There was also some danger of a collision between the creditors and the official assignees, and in that case what would become of the estate? The result of the present measure, with its proposed system of accounts and checks, and the addition of the creditors' assignee, instead of diminishing, would increase the the expenses, and lead, by collision between the assignees, to a complete dead-lock. In regard to the abolition of the distinction between traders and non-traders, he strongly objected to the retrospective clauses, and hoped that the House would agree to the amendments which he intended to introduce to prevent such an effect. Having strongly condemned the idea of adding a jurisdiction in bankruptcy to the various duties of the county court judges, he expressed a fer