HL Deb 22 June 1852 vol 122 cc1131-3

presented a petition from the Managing Committee of the Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association, praying that the provisions of the Bill may be extended according to certain views mentioned in the petition. The petition contained points which he considered of great importance, and to which he wished to call the attention of his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack. The Bill to which his remarks had reference stood for Committee that evening, and was founded on the recommendations of the Report of a Select Committee of the other House of Parliament. In that report it was recommended that orders of course should be abolished, with certain exceptions to be decided on by the Lord Chancellor. Now, on looking at the Bill, he found that it did not contain any reference to those orders of course. This was a matter closely connected with the remarks which his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack had made on the second reading of the Bill. He wished to ask his noble and learned Friend to explain why the recommendation of the Select Committee had not been acceded to. The petition also recommended the entire abolition of the Accountant General's Office, on the ground that the Bank of England afforded a suffi- cient guarantee for the security of all sums paid into it. Another point in the petition well worthy of consideration was, that fees for services not now rendered were still paid into the suitors' fee fund. Now, in that fund there was a surplus, and that surplus ought not to be paid into an accumulating fund, but ought to be applied to the reduction of fees. The petitioners desired that his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack would take measures to secure the application of that fund to other purposes than that of forming an accumulation fund.


observed, that as he had heard nothing before of the omissions in this Bill to which his noble and learned Friend had called his attention, he could not be expected to meet him on the moment with a satisfactory answer. With regard to the abolition of motions of course, he could give no explanation of the causes why they were not provided for in the Bill then before their Lordships. He had had nothing to do with the preparation of the Bill. The Bill was introduced into Parliament before the present Government came into office, and came up in its present shape from the other House of Parliament; he, therefore, thought it to be his duty to take it up with the sole view of passing it through their Lordships' House. It was a Bill on which many persons set great value, and he really believed that it was a valuable Bill. He was, however, of opinion that there were many clauses in it which required revision; but it was now so late in the Session that he could not undertake to revise and correct them himself. He had, therefore, only this choice left to him—either to let the Bill drop, which would have given satisfaction to no party, and would have created great dissatisfaction in the House of Commons, or to let it pass in its present shape, and to correct its errors when they became apparent in its operation. He could not send it up for consideration to a Select Committee of their Lordships at this period of the Session, and he was therefore under the necessity of moving either that it be now read a second time, or of allowing it to drop for this Session. With regard to the proposition for the abolition of the Accountant General's Office, it was quite impossible for him to give at once a hasty opinion; but with regard to the surplus of the Suitors' Fee Fund, he was of opinion it should be applied to the relief of the present suitors, because nothing was more vexatious than to go on abolishing unnecessary offices and diminishing the expenses of the Court of Chancery, and yet to find that the suitors had to pay the same amount of fees. He should, therefore, have very great satisfaction in addressing himself, as soon as possible, to providing a remedy for that state of things.


said, that he was informed that the accumulated fee fund now amounted to 200,000l. He was quite satisfied with the answer which he had elicited from his noble and learned Friend on that point; but he was sorry that his noble and learned Friend had not been able to give him a more satisfactory and conclusive answer on other points.

Petition to lie on the table.