The Lord Chancellor
said, that he held in his hand a Bill which, with their Lordships' permission, he would lay on their Table, the object of which Bill was, to prevent delays in conducting the business of the Court of Chancery. Their Lordships were aware, that, very early after his Majesty had done him the honour to intrust 646 him with the Great Seal, he had intimated his intention of bringing up the arrear of appeals in the Court of Chancery with all possible despatch; and this object had been, in a great degree, accomplished, and his labours were drawing to a close. A few cases, however, still remained to be disposed of; and the last Seal after the Term having taken place last Wednesday, after which, according to the practice of his predecessors, affidavits could not be read, and therefore appeals could not be heard, he could not finish these few cases. He believed it would not be illegal for him to adopt a contrary course, but it would be very unusual. He wished, therefore, to be empowered to have affidavits read, and appeals heard, after the last Seal, either in or after Term. The practice which he wished to alter was merely matter of form; but as there were some doubts whether he ought to alter it on his own authority, he had prepared this Bill, to give him the power which he required for the benefit of the suitors. It was highly expedient, that he should have this authority, for it often happened, that the losing parties, or those who were likely to lose, used every expedient in their power to delay the proceedings, and to prevent a final decision, as long as possible; and, for this purpose, advantage was taken of every informality, an instance of which had occurred within this last hour. Parties of that, description had other parties to back them—solicitors and others, who had some interest or object in delaying the final judgment; and time was thus consumed in useless discussions upon mere matters of form. He wished to have the authority of the law to assist him in his endeavours to accelerate the progress of Chancery suits: and he hoped, therefore, that those who thought, delay bad, and despatch good; who thought justice ought to be cheap and speedy as well as sure, would support this Bill. Here he begged leave to say a few words in answer to those who said, that he had not of late paid the usual degree of attention to the hearing of appeals in their Lordships' House, the arrears of which he had promised to bring up. In the first place he answered, that he had already reduced the arrear of appeals in their Lordships' House to a mere trifle, and all the cases had been disposed of, that had any existence in their Lordships' House previous to the present Session; and in the second place he answered, that it appeared to him, that the most 647 convenient plan would be, to dispose of the arrear in the Court of Chancery, in order that the different parties and solicitors interested in them might return to their respective homes; and after he had so disposed of them, he would give his whole attention to the Appeal-paper; and he trusted, that there would be no cause to complain of any unnecessary delay.
§ The Bill read a first time.