§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Munro) rose.
§ Mr. MUNRO
This Bill was introduced last year in a very similar form by my predecessor in office, and having been introduced and read a first time was printed and circulated. It was then considered by practically all the important legal societies in Scotland. Representations were made by these various bodies. They were submitted to the representative Committee from whom the Bill originated and so far as the Committee thought proper, effect was given to these representations. The Bill comes before the House now, not merely with the Scottish Office at its back, but also with the imprimatur practically of all the legal societies of importance in Scotland who have considered the matter. According to the strict feudal law no transmission of a feu in Scotland was possible without the consent of the superior of the feu. That was relaxed by a series of statutes and the superior became bound to receive a new proprietor of the feu on payment of a certain fine. The amount of that fine or price was what is called in Scottish law composition. Composition represents a year's rent of the subject, subject to certain deductions. This arrangement was found very difficult, and it was unpopular with the proprietors of the feus. Accordingly, in an Act of 1874, a certain amount of relief was afforded 603 both to the superior and also to the proprietor; but there was no compulsion in that Act. The purpose of this Bill is to engraft upon the existing law of Scotland a scheme for the compulsory and equitable extinction of casualties, and that within a reasonable time. To do that a scheme has been devised which will operate automatically, but at the same time I think quite fairly and at a minimum of expense. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed."] As the extinction is compulsory it has been thought proper to compensate the parties. The principle of compensation follows the principle of the Acts of Parliament which have preceded this Bill, and it will be found in Committee that that principle operates fairly from the point of view of the superior and the point of view of the proprietor.