HC Deb 20 September 1831 vol 7 cc258-61
Mr. John Campbell

brought in a Bill for establishing a General Registration of Deeds affecting all Real Property in England and Wales. [Bill read a first time.] The hon. Gentleman said, in moving that the Bill be read a second time, he should avail himself of the opportunity to make a very few remarks on its nature and tendency. It agreed substantially with the bill which he had the honour to introduce in the last Parliament upon the same subject. One clause had been since added to meet the objections of hon. Members who feared the private affairs of landed proprietors might be exposed. In his own opinion, this clause was unnecessary, because he believed, the better all matters relating to real property were known, the more advantage there would be to the owners. Besides, if impertinent curiosity was to be feared, how much could it be gratified by the examination of wills at Doctors' Commons, which any person could do by the payment of a shilling. A clause, however, had been inserted to obviate the supposed difficulty. When the former bill had been before the House, the noble member for Yorkshire had expressed a wish, as that county had a register, that it might be excluded from the operation of the present Bill; the same entreaties had been addressed to him by others, but after the most full consideration, he had considered it desirable to include that county. He should content himself with these few remarks at present, and begged leave to move, that the Bill be read a second time the 4th of October.

Mr. O'Connell

said, he was convinced, from practical knowledge, that a greater benefit could not be conferred upon this country, than to establish a general registry, with regard to landed property. He concurred with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced the measure, that publicity was not a good ground of objection. As it was not for the interest of the public that a tradesman could conceal his affairs, the same rule held good with respect to landed property, and it was more desirable that the public should have the means of ascertaining the validity of titles to such property. In consequence of the want of some general system of registration, great inconveniences prevailed, and the value of such property was, in many cases, much deteriorated. He thought, therefore, the prejudices that existed were unfounded. He had some experience of the working of such a system in Ireland, and it had improved the value of property by several years' purchase.

Mr. Strickland

said, that there were points in the Bill to which he had considerable objections, especially as far as the county which he represented was concerned. He knew it had been stated by the hon. and learned Member, that the Yorkshire register was imperfect; he admitted that the indexes were so, but means were now in progress to improve them. When the measure had been first introduced, considerable sensation had been excited in consequence of its being supposed, that title deeds were to be deposited in this proposed general registry office. That had afterwards been explained, and it was now understood that copies only were to be registered. He believed even that was unnecessary; he thought to register memorials of them would be sufficient. He approved rather of local than general registers. Those of Yorkshire were maintained at a small expense, and yet answered the purpose perfectly well. He should, therefore, wish that county to be excluded from the operation of the Bill, however others might be dealt with.

Mr. Slaney

said, he very much approved of the Bill, which, in his opinion, would much improve the value of land. It would increase the facilities of transfer—bring more land into the market, and furnish additional employment for the poorer classes. He believed that it would give a fresh stimulus to several national undertakings, such as the improvement of roads, the straightening of water-courses, &c. by allowing the exchange of land for such purposes, which was now extremely difficult in consequence of the complexity and confusion of titles. He thought his hon. and learned friend, who had brought the matter before the House, deserved the thanks of the community.

Mr. Paget

said, he was decidedly of opinion, that every measure which would facilitate and simplify the transfer of landed property was of great advantage; he understood the Bill before them had this object in view, and should therefore, give it his decided support.

Mr. Crampton

thought, that a general registry throughout the kingdom would tend to give stability to titles, and facility to purchases. In Ireland a registry had been found most useful in its operation. Without giving any opinion as to the machinery of the present Bill, he could not help saying, that his hon. and learned friend, in bringing this measure forward, was conferring a benefit on the country.

Mr. Gore Langton

said, that as a large portion of his constituents were against the principle of the Bill, he should feel it to be his duty to give it his decided opposition.

Mr. Jephson

thought, that the business of the registry office could not go on well, unless the greatest publicity was given to its proceedings.

Mr. Hume

hoped, that ample opportunity would be given to discuss the principle of the measure, which had already been found to be extremely useful in Scotland and Ireland. He was convinced that if its principle was fully understood in the country, there would no longer be any opposition to it.

Mr. John Smith

thought, that the effect of this registry would be to increase the value of property; and he trusted that his hon. and learned friend would persevere in the Bill.

Mr. John Campbell

must be permitted to remark, in reply to the hon. member for Yorkshire, that if local registers were established, local practices would prevail in the different counties, which would lead to confusion. With regard to memorials, which the hon. Member thought might answer the purpose instead of the deeds being copied, it was found that the latter plan would be cheaper, because the former must be drawn up by a lawyer, while any law stationer could make copies. With respect to the general principle, he would only say, it was very remarkable that no county which had once adopted a register had ever laid it aside. He did not intend unduly to press the Bill forward, but he did not despair of seeing it pass into a law this Session.

Sir John Sebright

expressed his entire approbation of the Bill. A measure of the kind he knew, from his own experience, connected as he was with landed property, to be necessary to preserve the value of that property.

Bill to be read a second time on the 4th of October.

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