§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, that several hon. and learned Members connected with the Court of Chancery, who were not then present, objected to the Bill in its present shape. The Bill 1431 had been mutilated and utterly spoilt by the Lord Chancellor. It was now a very different measure from that introduced in conformity with the recommendations of the Chancery Commissioners.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he had no hesitation in saying that this measure, taken in connexion with the one which followed in the Orders of the Day, would effect a greater amount of practical good in the administration of Equity in this country than had been accomplished since the time of Lord Hardwicke. The Bill came before Parliament recommended by the Report of most able Commissioners, whose suggestions were confirmed by the Lord Chancellor, and sanctioned by all the law Lords in the Upper House. The Bill would, he believed, make that cheap which had hitherto been dear, and substitute rapidity for delay. Under these circumstances he felt justified in calling on the House to read the Bill a second time, and to defer the consideration of its details until it went into Committee. The hon. and learned Member for Southampton was not justified in saying that the Bill had been mutilated. He would undertake to say that no Chancery lawyer would get up and tell the House that the recommendations of the Commissioners in their Report were not fully, fairly, and substantially carried out. There were one or two deviations which had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) at the commencement of the evening. Since that allusion was made, he had spoken to those interested in the subject, and reference had been made to the Lord Chancellor, who, he might state, did not consider those variations as material to the principle of the Bill, regarding them as points which might fairly be considered in Committee; and he might state, that neither the Lord Chancellor nor the Government were going to take their stand upon such variations, in case the House should think fit to change the Bill in those respects. These two Bills were of much importance in three respects—as preventing expense and delay in bringing the cause to a hearing, in the conducting of the cause, and in the consequential inquiry on the hearing of the cause. In these three respects the recommendations of the Report of the Commissioners had been carried into effect; and he hoped this stage of the Bill would not be objected to, reserving to the hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite the ful- 1432 lest opportunity of considering the details of the measure in Committee.
§ SIR ALEXANDER COCKBURN
said, he had no wish to throw any obstacle in the way of the Bill; but, having understood that it came far short of the recommendations of the Commissioners, all he wanted to suggest was, that it was an inconvenient hour to proceed with the debate. After what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, however, he would not further object to the second reading of the Bill.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
begged to express his earnest desire that this Bill should be read a second time. He had the honour of serving on the Commission from whose recommendations the Improvement of the Jurisdiction of Equity Bill and the present proceeded, and it was with much satisfaction he could state that the Report of that Commission was unanimously adopted, and that all their proceedings were conducted with the utmost cordiality. He was glad also to say, that these two Bills very fully and fairly, in his judgment, carried out the recommendations of the Commission. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State had truly said that in both Bills there were certain things that appeared to be deviations from those recommendations—in both Bills something having been added, and something omitted; but, at the same time, seeing that communications had been made with the highest authorities in the law, and after the announcement made by the right hon. Home Secretary that recommendations would be favourably received by the Government, he was very sanguine in the expectation that before they went into Committee an adjustment might take place, which would enable the Commissioners to state that they were satisfied, not only in the main, but even with the particular shape assumed by these Bills. Surely, under those circumstances, it would be most desirable to give them a second reading, and thus assist in effecting a reform in the law which would confer honour on the Parliament that passed it, honour on the Government which proposed it, and in which he, for one, rejoiced that he had had the honour of sharing.
§ MR. JOHN STUART
said, that to satisfy everybody on so difficult a subject was hardly to be hoped for; but that this Bill did in the main carry out the recommendations of the Commissioners, he thought that they might all now, on the 1433 assurance of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) feel entirely satisfied. For his own part, he wished to express the gratitude that he felt to the Members of the Commission. He thought, indeed, that they might have gone further and done better; but he bowed to their authority, and accepted the measure which was founded on their recommendations.