HC Deb 08 August 1855 vol 139 cc2020-2

[Progress, 6th August.] Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 19 inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 20.


said, he should move the omission of the clause. He wished to know whether it was consistent with justice, that in the event of an application being made to the Lords, and assented to by them, the present Bill Should never operate with respect to that application, if, by some accident the assent of the Commons had not been obtained to it? There would be neither sense nor reason in such an enactment, which would imply that Parliament could not trust the Court of Chancery, to which it gave great powers in other cases, to judge whether in a particular instance it ought not, on facts which had satisfied the House of Lords, to consider the matter. It was impossible to comprehend that principle. He did not mean to say that there should be an appeal from Parliament to the Court of Chancery, but Parliament meant an Act of Parliament, and not the resolution or decision of a single House of Parliament. The clause was aimed at a particular individual—Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson; and it was intended to prevent the Court of Chancery ever hereafter considering the merits of his application. A more miserable thing for Parliament to do he could not conceive.


said, that Sir Thomas Wilson's application had nothing whatever to do with Hampstead Heath, but had reference to some grass fields in the neighbourhood of the Finchley Road; and there was no reason why that land should not be built on, except the interest of some neighbouring proprietors. There was no justice in such a clause as the present, excluding a particular individual from the benefit of the Bill.


said, Sir Thomas Wilson's Bill was rejected in consequence of a report from the Judges to the effect that what he proposed to do was inconsistent with family settlements. If the Bill had been refused on the ground that the inclosure of his own land would interfere with Hampstead Heath, then the refusal would have been most unjust; but he thought that the principle on which the present clause was founded was correct. He, however, agreed that, where an application to Parliament only failed through an accident, then the Court of Chancery should not be prevented from considering the case, and he should, therefore, propose that the clause should be amended so as to confine its application to cases where Parliament, after exercising its judgment, had refused the application.


said, that some of those family settlements endured for forty years, and that a proposition made at one period during that term might be objectionable, and yet at another period, under altered circumstances, very proper and deserving of consideration. He consequently thought that the clause should be so altered as to allow an application to the Court of Chancery after the lapse of a certain time.


said, he was opposed to the first part of the clause, but trusted that the latter part, requiring the publicity of applications, would be retained.


said, he thought the Court of Chancery might be safely entrusted to exercise a jurisdiction in the matter. The clause was directed against Sir Thomas Wilson, and if he should apply to the Court of Chancery the refusal of the House of Lords would be an important element in the case, and no doubt would be duly considered by the Judge. He did not see why the case of Sir Thomas Wilson should be distinguished from all other cases. He was the mere tenant for life, not having the leasing powers which were usually found in every properly-drawn settlement. He, therefore, protested against such an exceptional species of legislation, and should vote for the omission of the clause.


said, he thought that the Court of Chancery ought not to have the power of overriding the decision of Parliament, which would be the effect of the Bill. If the clause was struck out, upon the application of Sir Thomas Wilson to have the benefit of the Bill, no one could appear before the Judge in Equity to oppose on behalf of the public; the application to do so would fail, for nobody could have a locus standi. Thus the matter could be got through sub silentio.


said, he should support the clause, as he thought the Court of Chancery ought not to have the power of adjudicating upon a subject with respect to which the Houses of Parliament had expressed an opinion.


said, he would suggest that the clause should be amended by limiting the prohibition to cases in which Bills had been rejected by Parliament on "public grounds." As it stood at present the clause was most objectionable.


said, that, as to divide the Committee in its present state would only lead to an adjournment, by which the other business on the paper would be thrown over, it would be better to report progress.

The House resumed.

Committee report progress.

The House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock.