§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he was anxious to hear from his hon. Friend (Mr. Goldney) what object he had in view in making the alteration in the law which this Bill would effect. When the Bill was read a second time, he was unfortunately absent from the House, and did not hear his hon. Friend's explanation. It seemed to him no good object would be gained by passing the measure, for it could not be said that the law in force did not work well. The present law was settled upon recommendations of the real property Commissioners, and he could not see why it should be altered.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, his object was to get rid of a cumbrous mode of proceeding at present in existence, and which was no security to married women, or to the public, but which put parties—particularly those having small properties—to unnecessary expense. The law now required that a married woman should acknowledge every deed executed by her, which purported to pass her estate or interest, before two commissioners, but only one of them was required to be a disinterested party, and the other was generally the married woman's soicitor. The certificate of such acknowledgment, and an affidavit of the facts, had now to be sent to London to be registered; but what he proposed was that there should be an endorsement upon the deed itself, instead of such registration. Since the Act of 1834 was passed, he understood that the expenses under it—and what he deemed wholly unnecessary expenses—had amounted to £1,500,000. 1417 His Bill would give every protection to married women's rights. They would have an independent person to explain to them their rights, and to ask them if they knew what they were about before they would be allowed to execute a deed. The Law Institution had accepted the measure after making one suggestion, which would be remedied in Committee. As there was nothing in the Bill which at all militated against a married woman's rights he hoped the House would allow it to proceed.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that the Jaw which his right hon. Friend sought to alter was settled after much consideration, and was adopted on the recommendation of some of the most eminent lawyers of the time, with a view to protect married women in disposing of their property. These piecemeal reforms, brought in to disturb a large plan of legislation, were not desirable. As it now stood the Bill merely dispensed with the certificate of the execution, and with the registration of that execution. He could not agree with his hon. Friend that this was a matter of no importance. The opportunity of search which this registration afforded was of such importance that since 1860 no fewer than 700 searches had been made. That showed the necessity of the existing system. He also objected that the Bill abolished the employment of the officers employed under the present Act, and provided no compensation. He trusted the House would not pass a Bill, the object of which was to disturb what had been so carefully settled by legislation. Thinking that no sufficient grounds had been shown for altering it, he moved that the House do go into Committee on the Bill that day six months.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Attorney General.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he must persist in taking the sense of the House. His object was to get rid of an unnecessary, cumbrous, and expensive machinery, and to remedy the inconvenience felt by parties sending home powers of attorney for the sale of laud from the colonies. The oppo- 1418 sition was not to the measure itself, but was founded upon the fact that the Bill would remove the present registrar and I the two clerks employed under him.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, he opposed the Motion for going into Committee—not because the Bill would deprive an officer of salary without providing compensation, which would in itself be a hardship, but because the measure was unnecessary. Under the present law ample protection was afforded to married women according to rules laid down by the Court of Common Pleas. Those rules gave the utmost security to married women in transferring their property, and it was for exceptional cases, where a spendthrift husband, attempted to get possession of his wife's, property, that the protection was necessary. The hon. Member, to be consistent, should have proposed to abolish the acknowledgments altogether. That the certificate was not useless was proved by the fact that since 1860 there had been 700 searches, and during last year and the present year about 150.
§ Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee deferred till Friday 15th March.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Twelve o'clock.