HL Deb 26 March 1852 vol 120 cc171-4

seeing the noble Earl the First Lord of the Treasury in his place, begged to ask a question with regard to an Act of Parliament which would expire in the course of the present year—the Incumbered Estates Act. He had seen in the public prints some kind of notification that it was the intention of the Government to renew that Act for one year. If it was to be renewed for one year, he submitted whether there should not be a clear understanding that it would not he allowed to expire at the end of that year. If there was no such understanding, it would be believed that it was intended to allow the Act to expire at the end of the year; and the result would be further depreciation of property, and great injury to those whom the original Act was intended to benefit. If it was understood that the renewal of the Act was only preparatory to the introduction of a more durable measure in the next Session, the evil would be prevented; and with the view of drawing from the noble Earl the intentions of the Government, he begged to ask whether it was the intention of Government to renew the Incumbered Estates Act for one year, by introducing a Bill for that purpose in the present Session; and if so, whether it was their intention in the course of the next Session to introduce a more permanent measure?


said, the object which Her Majesty's Government had in view in the course they proposed to take, with reference to the subject to which the noble Earl had called attention, was precisely that which the noble Earl himself had in view—to prevent the inconvenience which must arise from a sudden and great accumulation of petitions for the sale of property. As the Act stood, the powers of the Commission expired in the present Session, and it was thought, if allowed to expire, the accumulation of petitions in the course of the year would be exceedingly inconvenient. Her Majesty's Government considered it advisable, in the first place, to introduce a Bill for the purpose of continuing the operation of the Incumbered Estates Act, and for receiving petitions for another year; and in the meantime the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was directing his attention to the practicability, if he thought the object practicable, of simplifying the proceedings of the Court of Chancery in Ireland in such a manner, by adopting several of the proceedings now carried on in the Incumbered Estates Court, as to enable the business done through that department to be transferred to the Court of Chancery after the expiration of the period for which extension was now sought, without diminishing the facilities of carrying on the ordinary and legitimate business of that tribunal. If it should be found that he was disappointed in the ex- pectations entertained of being enabled to introduce such improvements and ameliorations into the Court of Chancery in Ireland as were necessary for the purpose, he should not feel himself precluded, in the exercise of his discretion, from proposing to Parliament a further continuance of the present system. But he was sure the noble Earl would agree with him that, if it were practicable to combine the simplicity and cheapness of the present system with a recurrence to the more ordinary course, of appealing to the Court of Chancery, it would be a circumstance of unmitigated advantage.


entirely agreed with his noble Friend (the Earl of Wicklow), that nothing could be more destructive, or more calculated to prevent its beneficial operation on the relations between the proprietors and the land in Ireland, than an opinion that there would be a sudden termination, even at the expiration of a year, to that enactment, which had tended so much to mitigate the evils of that country. If such an arrangement as the noble Earl opposite had intimated, were practicable—and if it could succeed in the hands of any man, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) thought it would succeed in the hands of the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland—if it were possible to secure, through the medium of the Court of Chancery and the established course of law in that country, those benefits of cheapness, rapidity, and exactness, which had happily attended the progress of the Commission, no one could object to the Court of Chancery being so beneficially, and, he would add, so permanently employed. He rejoiced to hear that if, unfortunately, from any accident, that change to the medium of the Court of Chancery should be impossible, hereafter there would be a disposition on the part of the Government and on the part of the Parliament to prolong, as it might be necessary, the existence of the former Commission, which was now exercising an important effect on the state of a part of Ireland, and which was far from having accomplished more than a small proportion of the good which it was intended to confer. If any of their Lordships were desirous of making themselves acquainted with the effect of that Commission, with reference to the general principles of law and the sale of property, he would recommend them to read a work recently published by a Mr. Locke, of Dublin, who had made himself completely master of all the proceedings of the Commission, and not only set out the terms on which all estates had been sold, and the amount of capital invested, but the resources both in England and Ireland from whence that capital was drawn. It was a most curious and instructive sketch, and afforded satisfactory reasons for their Lordships determining to secure to Ireland the benefit of that which she had never before experienced—an expeditious, safe, and effective mode for the disposal of property.


wondered whether the noble Marquess had read the clever reply which had been given to Mr. Locke's pamphlet. If the noble Marquess had not, he should be most happy to forward that pamphlet to his Lordship. The noble Marquess must know that there was a great diversity of opinion in Ireland upon the operation of this Act.


hoped that in any renewed measure for the continuance of the Encumbered Estates Commission, the Act would be made to apply to the sale of all kinds of property; it would confer a great benefit on Ireland by facilitating the transfer of property and lessening the cost.