HC Deb 03 April 1856 vol 141 cc441-3

Order for Committee read.


in moving that the House should go into Committee on this Bill, said, that as the law now stood, the married woman was enabled, by going before a Commissioner for taking acknowledgments, and being separately examined before him, to convey away any interest which she might possess in real estate, whether in possession, reversion, or remainder; but to the case of personal property a totally different principle was applied, and he saw no just reason for the distinction. It was with the view, therefore, of making all property alienable, and enabling those who were desirous of selling or mortgaging their reversionary interest to the greatest advantage, and adapting it to the exigencies of their families, that he had brought forward the measure; and he trusted the object contemplated would meet the sanction of the House.


said, he was sorry the Bill had come before the House in the absence of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General. [Mr. MALINS intimated that the Solicitor General approved of the measure.] He very much regretted to hear it: for instead of its being a Bill to enable married women to settle their property in reversion for the benefit of their families, children, or relations, he was perfectly convinced its effects would be to enable the husband to use his right and influence to get hold of the property and dispossess them of it. That objection he had urged on a previous occasion, and to the present moment he had heard no satisfactory answer to it; indeed he believed that no such answer could be made. It was true, with reference to landed property, that they could take the acknowledgments of married women to part with that property; but his hon. and learned Friend seemed to forget that the landed property which came in that way to married women was comparatively small in amount, and that to enable the husband, through his right and influence, to sell the reversionary interest of his wife in personal property for the payment of his debts would operate to the great disadvantage of those who came after her. If the Bill were confined to enabling the married woman to make such a settlement as if she were a femme sole, for the benefit of her relations after her, a better Bill could not be introduced. One clause, however, he was thankful to his hon. and learned Friend for having inserted. It was that which provided that the power of disposition hereby given to a married woman should not enable her to dispose of any interest in personal estate which might be settled on her upon the occasion of her marriage. Thus the deliberate act of the lady, when she was acting under the advice probably of her guardians, certainly of her friends, and made a settlement which the husband was not to defeat, was by this clause completely and fully protected. In the main object of his hon. and learned Friend he quite concurred, but he was most anxious to protect the interests of the married woman.


said, he agreed in much that had fallen from his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole), for though he was not disposed to give a negative to the principle of the Bill, still its provisions required serious consideration. It was necessary that they should legislate in this particular case with extreme caution and prudence. He therefore entreated his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Malins) not to press the Bill through Committee that night.

House in Committee.


said, he must again appeal to the hon. and learned Member to agree to postpone further proceedings.


said, he had no objection to comply with the request, provided he could be secured an early day for the discussion of the measure—not otherwise.


said, he would suggest that the Bill should be passed through Committee then, and further proceedings postponed for a week, in order that the opportunity might be given for considering and preparing Amendments.


said, he would agree to that course as proper and expedient.

Bill passed through Committee.

House resumed.