HL Deb 20 May 1851 vol 116 cc1158-60

said, that by the direction of the Select Committee, to whom their Lordships had referred the Bill for the Registration of Deeds and Assurances affecting Land, he had to report that Bill, and to state briefly the course adopted by the Committee. He was particularly anxious to do so, as a rumour had been industriously propagated by the enemies of the measure that the Committee had qua-relied, and found the measure wholly valueless. So far was this from being true, that the Committee was throughout unanimous, and entertained the most auspicious hopes that the measure would now pass into a law; and the Committee first took into consideration the petitions against the Bill which the House had referred to them. He believed that all the petitions were from solicitors. One, which was from the solicitors of London, confined its objection to the principle of the Bill, stating that in their experience there had been few instances of persons who had purchased landed property losing it through a bad title. He believed that was true; but the allegation of the frequent occurrence of such losses never was made a foundation of this measure. Its foundation was the enormous expense and trouble arising from the existing state of the law, and from the necessity of taking precautions to guard against danger. There wore also petitions from country attorneys, not objecting to the principle of the Bill, but praying for district register offices; and he could not help suspecting that the hope of being registrar, or deputy or assistant registrars, in these various districts, had influenced the opinions which they had formed upon the subject. The Committee, however, were of opinion that there must either be one registry for England and Wales, or that the measure must be abandoned altogether. These district offices would entail an enormous expense, and the work could not be done by them nearly as well or as conveniently as by one metropolitan office. All England and Wales might now he considered one great city; and such was the facility of communication with London, that it was frequently more easy to get at the metropolis than at the county town. The next question was, whether maps should be issued as supplemental to the indexes; and upon this point the Committee, after hearing the question elaborately argued, came to the conclusion that maps would be highly desirable, but that at present there were not maps in existence sufficient to start the measure, and that it would be necessary to postpone it for an indefinite time, if they were to wait for them. It had been supposed that by the maps of the Ordnance Survey, and the maps for the commutation of tithes, and for the parochial assessments, maps might have been found for every part of the kingdom, that would have formed a foundation for the registration of deeds; but it was found that the Ordnance maps were very far in arrear, and that those for the commutation of tithes and the parochial assessments were very imperfect. He hoped, however, that in the course of a few years there might be accurate maps for every county in England, which might assist the system of registration. The original Bill had been drawn introducing maps; but the Committee had directed it to be re-drawn, omitting the clauses which related to the maps, and in that shape he now had the honour of presenting it to their Lordships. He trusted that the time had now come when this great measure would at length be passed into law. It was most violently opposed now, as it was twenty years ago, by the attorneys, who thought that it would diminish their business. He believed, however, that this was an error; for when conveyancing was simplified and the expense lessened, he had no doubt that the business in this branch of the profession would be greatly increased. He had no doubt that the attorneys would use all their influence against the Bill in the other House of Parliament, where, no doubt, from their connexion with many of the Members, they had great influence. He hoped, however, that their Lordships would show their approval of the measure by the unanimity with which they gave it their support. He begged to present the Report of the Select Committee with Amendments, and to move that the Bill be reprinted in its amended form, and taken into consideration on Friday next.


said a few words in approval of the Bill.


thought this measure would be a great boon to the country. The conviction of the necessity of such a measure was the growth of many years, and had received the sanction and support of all the law Lords and of noble Lords of all political opinions. The only parties who were opposing it were those interested in the continuance of the evils of the present system—the attorneys and solicitors. He regretted the opposition of the solicitors to the Bill. They objected to a central registration, but they admitted that the local system was imperfect. They objected to the depositing of the original deeds, and thought that it would be enough to deposit memorials; but it was notorious that memorials were quite insufficient, and that they sometimes misled. As to the expense, he believed that a central registration would be less expensive than a local system.

Motion agreed to. Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Mouse on Friday next.