§ Order for Second Reading read.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
moved the Second Reading of this Bill, which he said it was most important should be advanced a stage. He believed there was no objection to the principle, and the details of it, he suggested, should be discussed in Committee.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he must express his regret that one of the most important features in the measure, 1430 as recommended in the Report of the Commissioners, had been struck out of it, not in the House of Lords, but by certain authorities out of that House, to whom the Bill had been submitted. The feature to which he alluded was the provision for getting rid of what was technically known as forms of actions, which were, he believed, too often a stumbling-block in the way of justice. Notwithstanding this omission—which, however, a noble and learned Lord in the other House, whom he rejoiced to see again taking part in public discussions, had promised to introduce a Bill to supply—the measure was the most important improvement in the administration of public justice which had been mooted during the last half century. It must not be supposed that the duties of the Law Commissioners, of whom he was one, had terminated with the production of the Reports which formed the groundwork of the present Bill, and the Bill for the reform of the Court of Chancery. They had yet a good deal to do before they could remove all the technical difficulties which formed such serious obstacles to the due administration of justice. He believed that they should go further than they had yet ever attempted to go, and that they ought to appoint a further Commission—a mixed Commission of the Common Law and Equity members of the profession—for the purpose of inquiring into the propriety of amalgamating the two systems, and effecting a general codification of our laws. He had no hesitation in saying that those laws were at present in a state which was disgraceful to a civilised country. They were a scaled book to the subjects of the Realm, and it would require the whole life of a man to make himself acquainted with them. It was not enough that they should improve their procedure; they ought to codify their laws, which were scattered through the Statute-books, and which it required a lifetime to enable a man to become acquainted with.
§ Bill read 2o.