HC Deb 08 February 1838 vol 40 cc912-4
The Attorney-General

said, that in rising to move for leave to bring in several Bills to amend the law as it at present stood with regard to real property, he should feel it necessary to occupy the attention of the House only for a few moments. The Bills which he proposed to introduce were substantially the same as those which had been introduced in a former session, and they were founded on the report of the Real Property Commissioners. The first was a Bill to facilitate the enfranchisement of lands of copyhold and customary tenures. He had wished to abolish the tenures altogether, as he knew they were attended with very great inconvenience, in producing disputes between the lords of ma- nors and others, but he was not bold enough to bring in a measure so sweeping in its provisions. His Bill was, therefore, only to facilitate the enfranchisement of lands. The second Bill was introduced with a view of remedying some of the inconveniencies with regard to copyhold tenures, such as holding courts, making surrenders, and with regard to leasing copyhold lands; and it was entitled a Bill for the amendment of the law relating to lands held by copy or court-roll. The third Bill was to authorise the identifying or ascertaining the boundaries of manors and lands, where such boundaries were confused or unknown. The limits of manors he knew were ill-defined, and with a view to their being properly settled he proposed that referees should be appointed to ascertain them. The fourth Bill was for abolishing customs relating to lands in certain cases. He desired that the general law should be that of primogeniture, but there were some cases in which it was proper that the old law should be continued. In the case of the custom of gavelkind, which existed in the county of Kent, he did not propose any alteration. It was, in his opinion, mischievous, for the effect of it was, that in the event of the death of a man with seven sons and seven daughters, his property would not go to the eldest son, nor would it be equally divided among his children, but it would be parted among the seven sons, and his daughters would not receive anything. The people of Kent, however, were satisfied with the custom, and it would be better to allow it to remain. He had wished to abolish heriots altogether, as well as copyholds, in accordance with the Bill he had formerly brought before the House; but he felt that he could not now extend his proposed measure so far. The only other subject to which his Bills referred was the law of escheat. He desired to bring in a Bill which would very much modify the existing law; but he did not think that it was necessary now to go into the particulars of it, but hoped that the second reading would not be opposed when the Bill might be referred to a Select Committee of Members; and he hoped that those Gentlemen who were connected with the legal profession would give him their assistance.

Mr. Goulburn

did not oppose the motion of the learned Attorney-General; but he was glad to find that he had omitted in his Bill the clause which had before been introduced with regard to compensation for heriots; for he thought that that could never be persevered in with any prospect of success. The learned Attorney-General had thrown out that it was his intention to call upon those hon. Members connected with the legal profession who were in the House to afford their services on the Select Committee. Now, with all respect to those hon. and learned Members, he should suggest that the Committee should not be entirely formed of such persons, but that some of those Members of the House who were acquainted with the subject of manors generally, should be also selected; for he was of opinion that the legal Gentlemen would suggest merely those amendments which affected the technical portions of the law, and which would facilitate the transfer of large properties, but which would not touch upon the real justice of the case.

Mr. Aglionby

hoped that the learned Attorney-General would not confine his Bill to defining the limits of manors only, but that he would direct his attention also to lande within manors.

Leave given.