HC Deb 30 March 1859 vol 153 cc1147-8

Order for Second Reading read.


said, that in the absence of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Atherton) he rose to move the second reading of this Bill. No less than four Mortmain Bills had been passed by that House which the movers had not succeeded in carrying through the other House of Parliament. The object of this Bill was to remove some technical difficulties which arose under the 9th Geo. IV., and which stood in the way of settlements and devises for charitable purposes; and he trusted that it would be committed to some noble Lord who would see what were the difficulties of passing such a measure through the other branch of the legislature. In Scotland real estate of the value of £400,000 had recently been left by a deceased gentleman chiefly for charitable purposes, and as the law of Scotland did not interfere with the will, the bequests took effect. In Ireland, where, to use the mildest term, the Protestants believed that the people were more susceptible of influences brought to bear at the deathbed, the only restriction on a devise by will of real property for charitable uses was that provided by the 16th section of the Act of 1844, which required that the will should be made three months before the death of the testator, and that the will should be registered in Dublin; while in England there was an absolute prohibition to the devising by will of real property for charitable uses. He thought, that an amendment of the English law in this respect was absolutely necessary, and the Bill would remove the difficulties which were now experienced by charitable persons who wished to endow schools, hospitals, places of worship, and other similar institutions, and would afford them cheap, effectual, and easy means of carrying out their wishes.


said, he did not propose to enter upon the general question of the policy of the Mortmain Laws, and he was certainly not inclined to relax them. Undoubtedly, if the Bill went as far as the hon. Gentleman's speech he should not assent to the second reading, but he found that its object was simply to obviate a construction of the Mortmain Act which invalidated bequests of an unobjectionable character. He should not, therefore, object to its being read a second time; but he must at the same time observe that the Bill involved questions of detail which would require very careful consideration in Committee.

Bill read 2°, and committed for Wednesday, 20th April.