HC Deb 18 April 1855 vol 137 cc1530-1

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of the Bill said, that its object was substantially to assimilate the law which now prevailed with regard to the property of intestates in Scotland with that in England and Ireland. In England, if one of a family predeceased his father, his brother or sister, the children of the deceased would take their father's share; but in Scotland that was not the case. The present state of the law was considered a great hardship, and the change would be hailed as a great boon. There was one provision of the Scotch law which he did not wish to alter. In England, if an intestate left both real and personal property, the heir was allowed both to take the real estate and to share in the personalty. In Scotland the heir was allowed the option either of taking the realty alone, or of collating; or, in other words, of adding the realty to the personalty, and sharing with the rest. He thought that that was the fairer rule, and he did not propose to make any change in that portion of the law. He had proposed, however, to make heritable bonds, which were almost identical with English mortgages, likewise divisible amongst the younger children; but, as that was a subject which ought perhaps to be taken up by the Government itself, he was willing to strike the clause out of the Bill, and to leave it to the House to declare by a separate enactment what should and what should not be regarded as real property.


said, he could not allow a change of so much importance in the law of Scotland to be made without making a few observations on the subject. He was glad the hon. and learned Gentleman had turned his attention to this subject, which was one of great importance and surrounded with difficulties. Lord Campbell had some years ago introduced a measure of a similar nature, and two years ago he (the Lord Advocate) had been pressed to bring in a Bill dealing with the question. On looking carefully into it, he found that it so branched out, and was so full of intricacies, that he asked the learned body to which he belonged to appoint a Committee to consider the provisions that would be desirable to carry it into law. He had sat on that Committee, and many of the principles contained in the Bill now before the House were approved by that Committee. Under these circumstances, although he objected to some of the details and propositions of the measure proposed by the hon. and learned Member, he did not mean to object to the second reading of the Bill.

Bill read 2°.