§ Mr. M. A. Taylor
said, that, some short time since, he had introduced a Bill to enable the Lord Chancellor to issue Commissions de lunatico inquirendo in a different manner from what had been heretofore the practice. Since then, the noble and learned Lord, as he had that day informed him, had turned his attention most seriously to the subject, and had consulted some of the Judges; and as their opinion was, that the Lord Chancellor possessed power to issue such Commissions, in the manner the Bill was meant to prescribe, that noble and learned Lord said, he should, on proper occasions, issue such Commissions without the further sanction of any legislative enactments. Doubts had before been raised upon the subject, and the object of the Bill was to put an end to, those doubts; but as the minds of the noble Lord and other eminent Judges were, he understood, now made up on the point, it would be unnecessary to advance his Bill beyond the present stage. It was due to the noble and learned Lord to state, that he wished to do all in his power to prevent expense; that he did not think the present tribunal the fittest for such inquiries; that he had already expressed his disapprobation of entertainments being given to the commissioners and the jury each day. The Lord Chancellor stated his intention of exercising, in future, the power which it was now agreed that he possessed, of 548 issuing commissions to Judges of the superior courts, with juries summoned in the ordinary way, to try questions of lunacy. To give the House some idea of the enormous expense against which the Bill was directed, he had to state, that the costs of the petitioning party alone, in the Portsmouth case, amounted to 23,000l.! He concluded by moving, that the order for the second reading of the Bill be discharged.
Mr. R. Gordon
was very glad that the hon. Gentleman had withdrawn his Bill, because it only gave power to the Lord Chancellor which he already possessed. What they wanted was a real and efficient bill to remedy the evils of which they had so much cause to complain.