HL Deb 30 May 1851 vol 117 cc255-9

having moved that the House should resolve itself into a Committee upon this Bill,


said, that it was highly desirable that a subject of so much importance should be most deliberately and carefully considered, before they proceeded to legislate upon it, and he thought that would be better done by a Select Committee, than in Committee of the whole House. In order that the Bill might be made as perfect as possible, he had drawn up some observations upon its clauses, and he would suggest that the further progress of the Bill should be delayed for a few days, to give his noble Friend (Lord Campbell) and the Members of the Select Committee time to consider them.


said, that he was exceedingly desirous that the suggestions of his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack should be carefully considered, in order, if possible, to obtain his support to the Bill. He would, therefore, willingly agree to any postponement which he might think necessary, in order that his suggestions might be considered.


said, that he was not satisfied with respect to the expediency of this Bill. Its result would be to compel every deed in the kingdom to be deposited in a registry office in the metropolis, where its contents might be examined into by every person who chose. Now it was impossible for any man who read the newspapers not to feel that a very improper use was often made of the right which the public possessed to inspect wills; and he therefore could not regard without apprehension a measure which proposed to extend this power of inspection to deeds. This Bill was different in principle from that which was in force in the county of York; for there the deeds themselves were not deposited in the registry office, but simply a memorandum, by means of which a person who had any right to inspect a deed could discover where it was, and thus obtain the means of doing so. The question at issue was not, as had been represented, whether there should be local registry offices, or one general office; but whether the present or the proposed system of registration should be adopted. This measure would impose a great hardship upon borrowers of small sums upon the security of landed property; for if their title-deeds were taken out of their custody, they would no longer be able to go to a banker, and, by depositing them with him, at once obtain a. loan. If this Bill passed, no sale or mortgage of land could be safely effected without the expense and delay of a journey to London, and a search in the general registry office there.


said, that it was highly expedient that all the delay necessary to the perfecting of this measure should take place; but he could not concur with the noble Earl (Earl Fitzwilliam) in wishing that that delay should prejudice the eventual passing of the Bill during the present Session. Several of the noble Earl's objections seemed to be founded upon a misapprehension of the provisions of the Bill. The Bill would not compel the deposit of existing deeds in a general registry office, though its principle did undoubtedly require that every deed to be hereafter executed should he deposited there. But he could not see how that would prejudice any one; for the owner of any property might have a duplicate deed, which would have the same effect as the original, in case that were lost, and the owner would, therefore, have exactly the same advantages which he enjoyed at present. Another objection taken by the noble Earl was, that the Bill required the deposit of the deed, and not merely of a memorial; so that all persons might come and see the whole of its contents. But that was now the law as regarded the North Riding of Yorkshire, where, if not the deed, at least a full copy of it, was deposited. This certainly was the case in Ireland (for the present Bill on this point was but a copy of one which passed with respect to Ireland last year); and he believed that the same was the case in Scotland. The reason why the same provision was not in force in the other ridings of Yorkshire and in Middlesex was that the memorial gave all the information necessary; if so, why not have the document itself, which could not deceive? He did not think that there was much danger that persons would inspect the deeds deposited without good and sufficient cause. That a person should he able to go and see whether a man had encumbered his estate or not, was the great object of registration, for if it was penal for a man to obtain money under false pretences, it was something like it to obtain credit under false pretences. If a party had encumbered his estate, why should not there be the means of discovering it? He doubted much whether the loan of money upon the deposit of title-deeds was a common transaction at present, while this Bill would provide a more honest, and not less ready, mode of effecting such loans; for, instead of obtaining the deposit of the deeds, the lender would then have the security of lodging a caveat against the sale of the estate. In the present days of swift and ready railway communication, he could not regard the fact of a journey to London being required for some purposes as a very serious objection. He believed that there would be greater facility of obtaining money by sale, or upon the security of land after the passing of this Act, than before. In his opinion, indeed, it was not necessarily part of a good system of real property, that it should be as transferable as a bank note. It was a peculiar description of property, with its own advantages and disadvantages; the main things were to secure facility and security in the ordinary modes of transferring it; and if, in order to accomplish that, it was necessary to sacrifice the interest of those who wished to transfer it like a bank note, he thought that that was a disadvantage which must be incurred in order to obtain a greater advantage.


said, it was desirable that the facts should be clearly ascertained on which the arguments were founded. He rather thought the noble and learned Lord had fallen into one or two mistakes in the statement he had made. From a gentleman in charge of the registration in the county of York, he understood that the three registries in that county were erected by three separate Acts of Parliament; that the West and East Riding registries had been the first established, and in them merely a memorial was required of the deed—that the North Riding registry had been the last established, and it gave the option of depositing either a memorial or the whole deed; but the practice was not to register the full deed, but merely a memorial of it. If that fact was of any value, to the present discussion, it rather tended to show that the registration of the memorial only was a more advantageous system than the registration of the full deed. In Ireland the practice, until it was altered by the Bill of last year, had been to register a memorial. He agreed with the noble Earl near him in saying that he was not satisfied with this Bill.


said, that in Ireland the registration was the registration of a memorial.


said, that by the first Registration Act, passed with respect to Ireland, the deposit of the memorial was sufficient. But that was found to be so inconvenient, that, by an Act passed last Session, it was enacted that in future the deed itself, at full length, must be registered. It had been considered deliberately for nearly twenty years, whether a memorial or the deed should he registered; and the almost unanimous opinion of those who had been consulted upon it—solicitors, barristers, and bankers—was, that it was preferable that the deed should be registered. Without such a registration we could not guard against the loss, suppression, forgery, or alteration of deeds, while it was much more economical than the deposit of a memorial; for the memorial must be prepared by a professional man, while a copy of a deed might be made by a law-stationer. He believed that no Bill had ever been prepared with greater care than the present one; but it proposed to deal with a most important subject, and he should not object to any alterations that could be suggested which might have the effect of improving its details. He would propose that the Committee should be adjourned to Tuesday next in order to allow time for considering the suggestions of his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack


expressed his strong objection to the deposit of the original deed in any public office. He had ascertained that he was perfectly right in the statement he had made as to registration at present in Ireland being by memorial. An Act passed last year to alter the law at a future period, but at this moment the law was as he had stated.

Committee put off to Tuesday next.

House adjourned to Monday next.