The LORD CHANCELLOR
moved the Second Reading of the Suitors in Chancery Relief Bill, which, his Lordship said, had now come up from the Commons, where it had undergone very great discussion and consideration, after having been framed on the Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the subject. He entirely concurred in the general principle of the Bill, which might be truly called one for the relief of suitors in Chancery; not, indeed, that he could venture to promise the suitors any immediate relief as re- 834 garded the expenses of litigation, because, although this Bill would remove a great portion of the burdens which now pressed upon the suitors' fund, yet (as in all such cases) the expenses of the alteration—the compensation to old officers whose offices had been abolished—would exhaust so large a portion of the money saved by the new regulations, that it must be a considerable time before the suitors would derive that relief which the Bill was undoubtedly calculated ultimately to afford. The Bill would abolish foes and copy-money in the Court of Chancery, substituting for them a scale of stamps. It would also transfer from the suitors' fund to the Consolidated Fund the judicial salary of the Lord Chancellor, and the salaries of the Lords Justices and the Vice-Chancellors, amounting altogether to 28,000l. a year, so that the country now took upon itself to bear, as indeed it ought to bear, the payment of the salaries of the Equity Judges. The Bill would, moreover, abolish many offices of the Court of Chancery, and would regulate and reduce the salaries of those which remained. Indeed, he believed that the number of officers attached to the Lord Chancellor, could not be further reduced consistently with the discharge of his duties. The Bill also contained an important provision, which, although it had not perhaps found a very fitting place there, he was unwilling to strike out. Its object (an obviously just one) was to prevent the poor man who became a lunatic from being burdened with the same heavy expenses which fell upon the rich man. It would, however, be necessary to exercise great care in carrying out this provision, in order that, while doing justice to the poor man, they should not throw upon the property of the rich an unfair share of the cost of the administration of the affairs of lunatics. He hoped their Lordships would agree to the second reading of this Bill, which, in order to avoid any impediments being raised, he proposed to pass without amendments, though he must guard himself against being supposed to approve of the framing and wording of some of the clauses.
§ LORD LYNDHURST
said, that he quite agreed with his noble and learned Friend with respect to the general merits of the Bill; but, although he should not oppose the second reading, he should in Committee move two or three amendments, in order to prevent any injustice being done.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
said, by this Bill the clerks who were transferred with the 835 equity jurisdiction from the Court of Exchequer to that of Chancery, would only be entitled to compensation according to the number of years they had been clerks in the latter court; now, he thought they should be allowed to claim upon the number of years they had been engaged in both courts.
§ Bill read 2ª (according to Order) and committed to a Committee of the whole House To-morrow.