HC Deb 20 March 1861 vol 162 cc131-2

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of the Public Charities Bill, stated that its main object was to provide a more convenient and less expensive mode of appointing trustees of unincorporated public charities. Instead of the present methods, the Bill enacted that when any vacancy occurred in the trust of a charity the vacancy shall he filled up by election; a certificate of that election shall be drawn up by the chairman, and attested by two witnesses within three months; this certificate shall be presented to the Judge of the County Court of the district, and within one month thereafter the Judge shall give a certificate as a confirmation of the election. A second proposition was to provide some regulations by which trustees absent from this country might be relieved of their trusts.

Motion made, and Question proposed—

"That the Bill be now read a second time,"


said, that great care was requisite in dealing with a subject of this kind, or they might augment inconveniences instead of diminishing them. Giving every credit to the hon. Gentleman for his intention in proposing this measure he could not agree with any one provision in it. In the first place, in cases where a trustee might be elected, the Bill provided that the certificate of such election should be drawn up by the chairman of the meeting, who was required to swear to all the particulars contained in it. He would be a very bold chairman who would do that. Then the certificate of election was to be lodged with the Judge of the County Court, who was thereon to issue another certificate in confirmation of the election; this certificate, when signed by the Judge, and sealed with the seal of the Court and duly registered, was, by the Bill, to be thenceforth received, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, as full and conclusive evidence of the truth of all the facts, matters, and things respecting the charity contained in such certificate. Now, all facts regarding the title or the transmission of the title of the property of a trust required the utmost caution; and he thought the existing law had amply provided against any difficulties of that kind by the appointment of official trustees for public charities; and that provision of the existing law embraced every description of charity. The machinery of that law was of the simplest kind; the official trustees were made the legal custodes of the property of a trust, and the necessity for a continual conveyance and reconveyance of the estate was obviated. By investing the estate of a charity in these official trustees the evils complained of were avoided. But by the present Bill a little knot of men might come together and elect a person quite unqualified as a trustee, and the Judge of the County Court, who could have no information on the matter except from the declaration of the chairman of the meeting, must confirm the election; and the certificate of the Judge, who could know nothing, would become, not only the evidence of the qualification of the trustee, but of the ownership of the trust property. The present law did not require this kind of interference; he, therefore, could not consent to the second reading of this Bill.


said, that after the statement of the Attorney General he should not proceed with the Bill.


felt obliged to the Attorney General for the clear manner in which he had pointed out the objections to the measure.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.

House adjourned at eight minutes before Six o'clock.