§ Order for Committee read; House in Committee,
§ On Clause 1 being read,
§ MR. HENLEY
asked if the Bill had the approval of the Government? It would completely alter the distribution of the personal property of intestates, and he hardly thought it safe to proceed with a measure of so sweeping a character unless it had received the sanction and approval of the law officers of the Crown.
§ MR. COLLIER
said, it appeared to him that the Bill was intended to secure three objects—first to abolish certain peculiar customs; second, to place the children who had lost their mothers on a footing with those who had lost their fathers. Those two objects he thought beneficial. But there was a third object in which he could not agree, namely, the distribution, making all the children equal to the heir. 718 He thought that was bad. If the mover would withdraw that portion of the Bill he would support it.
§ MR. MALINS
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. L. King) proposed to abolish the customs of London and York, which established a different distribution of the estates of freemen of the city of London and persons residing in the city of York from that which applied in other parts of the kingdom. He (Mr. Malins) agreed in the desirability of abolishing customs that interfered with the general law of the land, and he thought that that part of the Bill which related to advancements made to a child by a father, and advancements made by a mother, was also unobjectionable. He was not disposed to dissent from the principle of the Bill, but he considered that some of its details, affecting the rights of heirs-at-law, were open to objection.
MR. LOCKE KING
expressed his readiness to accede to the suggestions of the hon. and learned Gentleman, with the view of amending the clauses to which he had referred. He thought the abolition of the existing customs would place heirs-at-law in a much more favourable position than they held at present.
§ MR. NAPIER
considered that it was advisable, whenever it could be done, to have uniformity of legislation for the United Kingdom, and asked whether it was intended that the Bill should extend to Ireland?
§ MR. DUNLOP
thought that the hon. Gentleman had, on the whole, done wisely in taking that course, but he regretted that the objection had been made. The Scotch law was much more accordant with justice than the English; and he was sorry that it had not been adopted. He had himself passed a Bill through the House which assimilated the Scotch law with that of England, except upon this point; but that he could not prevail on himself to give up.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
suggested that some inconvenience would be occasioned if the Bill came into operation immediately upon its passing. He thought its operation should be delayed for, say a period of three months, in order that persons who had made dispositions of their property depending on the existing local customs might be enabled, if they thought fit, to alter the distribution of their estates.
§ MR. MONTAGU CHAMBERS
observed that this Bill was most admirably drawn, presenting a view of the state of 719 the law which was at once intelligible, not only to lawyers, but also to persons who were not lawyers, and he would recommend it as a model to all parties who were concerned in the preparation of Parliamentary Bills.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 10 postponed, in order that the words might be inserted to extend the operation of the Bill to Ireland.
§ Other clauses, with some amendments, agreed to.
§ On the Motion of Sir FREDERIC THESIGER,
§ A Clause was added to the effect that the Bill shall not come into operation till the 1st of November, 1855; and the
§ House resumed.