HL Deb 25 May 1852 vol 121 cc1098-113

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


rose for the purpose of asking their Lordships to agree to the Second Reading of a Bill which had come up to them from the other House of Parliament, the object of which was further to extend the existing provisions for the Enfranchisement of Copyhold lands. He should not enter into any discussion with respect to the origin or nature of copyhold tenure —it was a subject which had puzzled antiquaries, and might well be left to their researches, while their Lordships applied themselves to the practical grievances to be remedied. He should, therefore, content himself with shortly calling the attention of the House to the evils arising from the present state of the law relative to copyholds, and to what had been done from time to time for the purpose of obviating or palliating those evils; and he would then briefly state the nature of this Bill, which had received the very general concurrence of all parties in the other House of Parliament. The grievances arising out of copyhold tenure, were not matter of recent complaint. The attention of the Real Property Commission, which was issued under the Great Seal, he believed during the time it was held by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lyndhurst), hut certainly during the latter part of the reign of George IV., was directed to this amongst other subjects; and in a very elaborate Report (he believed their third) which they made in 1832, they carefully pointed out and enumerated the evils existing in this part of our legal system. The general outline of those evils must be familiar to all their Lordships; but it might not be altogether without its use shortly to recapitulate some of the most prominent. Copyholds were a remnant, the last fragment in fact, of the laws of tenure that at one time prevailed nearly universally throughout this country. There was formerly the tenure by chivalry, by which the great lords held their estates; the tenure by free and common socage which now prevailed almost universally under the name of freehold; and the copyhold tenure—besides some other tenures to which it was necessary for him then to refer. One of the first Acts of the Parliament, after the restoration of King Charles II., was formally to abolish the tenure by chivalry, which had been practically abolished during the Commonwealth, and to reduce everything, with the exception of the copyhold lands, to free and common socage, &c.—to what is commonly called freehold. It was a very old observation made by a very acute writer, the author of the amusing Life of Chancellor Guildford, that it was somewhat unequal that when the great Lords abolished the tenures which pressed upon themselves, and substituted for them an excise upon the liquors consumed by the people, they left the minor tenures untouched and open to the same abuses which existed formerly. The consequences of these tenures were apparent, in the first place, in the payment of fines, rents, reliefs, and so forth, and in a number of services and dues that were payable by the tenants from time to time, and were calculated to inflict upon them very serious practical grievances. To two or three of the most prominent of those grievances, he would now direct their attention. In the first place, there was that strangest of anomalies that passed under the name of heriot. This was a custom which existed in very many manors, though it was not universal, and was not even confined to lands held by copyhold tenure. By it, on the death of a person holding land subject to the custom, the lord might seize the best chattel of which the tenant died possessed; in some manors the best live chattel; but in others there was no such restriction; in some cases it must be seized on the land, but in others it might be seized anywhere. Now, if that were stated to be a law existing in Madagascar, would they believe that such a thing could possibly exist where any law prevailed at all? He did not mean to say that practically it was any great grievance; for the feelings of men were such that no one who seriously attempted to enforce such a right would get any concurrence, and the lords were therefore frequently obliged to waive the right. Such, however, was the state of the law, and it was a blot on our judicial system that it should be so. Indeed, instances had occurred, in very modern times, in which this law had been enforced with very grievous practical hardship. He remembered that when he was a young man, the famous horse Smolensko, worth 2,000l. or 3,000l., was seized on the death of the late Sir Charles Bunbury; and a similar case occurred on the death of the late Sir Gilbert Heathcote. About thirty years ago, when the late Lord Abinger, then Mr. Scarlett, was on circuit, a rumour of his death was spread; and the first intimation that Mrs. Scarlett received of the supposed melancholy event (though the report turned out to he a mere invention), was, that the agent of the lord of the manor seized three of Mr. Scarlett's horses. Since he entered the House that evening, he had been told, and he believed it was true, that the Pitt diamond was at one time pledged to a pawnbroker who had a small copyhold tenement in Westmoreland, liable to heriot, and on his death the lord of that copyhold manor either did seize or intimated to the parties, that he had a right to seize this diamond; but he (Lord Cranworth) believed that he was a man of too much probity of feeling to do so, and gave up that to which he had perhaps a right. Another curious illustration of the absurdity of this law was exhibited in what had occurred to the late Sir Robert Peel; who, being the tenant of a manor to which heriot attached, was in the greatest apprehension that if anything happened to him, his celebrated picture, the Cha-peau de Paille, might be seized; and in order to free himself from that risk, he bought the manor of which the copyhold was held. Now if that was, as he believed, true, was it not a state of the law that was startling from its absurdity? He did not, however, put forth these hardships as the greatest practical grievances which flowed from this source—they arose from something of a much more commonplace kind. The ordinary copyhold tenure required that upon every death or alienation of a tenant, his successor should pay to the lord a fine which, in some cases, was called "arbitrary," which practically meant one year or two years' value of the land; while in other cases it was a fine of a shilling or five shillings, or some other sum of no real importance. It was stated by a gentleman who gave evidence before a Committee of the other House of Parliament which sat in the last Session, upon the Bill which was then before their Lordships, that in about two-thirds of the manors of England a fine arbitrary prevailed. What was the consequence? Let their Lordships reason upon it â priori. If the tenant laid out money in improving his land, should he derive the benefit of all he so laid out? Certainly not; for at his death his heir would have to pay to the lord two years' improved value. Mr. Blamire, a gentleman eminent in all agricultural matters, formerly in Parliament, who was many years at the head of the Tithe Commission, and who was also a Drainage Commissioner, and was therefore well competent to speak upon this subject, was examined before that Committee, and he then stated that the Drainage Commissioners never had an application to drain copyhold lands; persons would not do it. The very name of copyhold was repulsive to them. Every one who wished to drain wished to drain something of which he would have the entire and complete control. Mr. Blamire's experience was that the profit derived from laying out money upon drainage was from 12 to 20 per cent; the tenant then—and the country at large—were thus deprived of an immense annual advantage by the operation of this tenure. But the evil was not limited to the non-drainage of copyhold lands merely; copyhold land was not generally to be found in separate estates, but was usually mixed up with freehold land; and the practical result was, that the tenant occupying such estates, rather than drain the copyhold portion, abstained from draining at all. But draining was not the only important improvement that was checked by this system of tenure —building was prevented, and he believed by the general law of copyholds no man had a right to build at all, still less to pull down buildings on his land; and the effect of this prohibition was as widely mischievous as the regulation with regard to drainage. As an example of the effect that would be produced by the enfranchisement of copyhold, he might refer to a piece of ground near the Crystal Palace. It was copyhold held under the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and was let for only 30l. a year, while the land around it being free-hold was covered with buildings at most remunerative rents; at length, by an arrangement between the landlord and tenant, this land was enfranchised; it was immediately sold at 150 years' purchase, and was now, like the contiguous land, covered with houses at corresponding rents. These were among the leading evils of the system; and there were innumerable others; but if there were none besides the mystery and uncertainty attending the transfer of copyhold lands, occasioned by these complicated varieties of tenure, there would be quite sufficient reason for correcting the evil. He was not one of those who were so sanguine as to imagine that the transfer of land might be made as simple a matter as the transfer of stock; but there was no question that the transfer might be infinitely simplified, and he was very anxious that Parliament should not delay to take every practicable step in that direction. The special customs which existed in so great a number of copyhold estates, were in themselves a most serious impediment to this very desirable object. Nobody knew but that at the very moment, after infinite trouhle and expense, he was on the point of completing the purchase of an estate supposed to be ordinary copyhold, some special custom might start up, wholly altering the case so far as he was concerned. For example, he knew of one case in which a gentleman, having all but completed the purchase of an estate, which he had been assured, and which all the previous evidence went to show, was under ordinary copyhold tenure, was informed at the last moment that the tenure was borough English—that was to say, went in a course of descent to the younger and not to the elder son-—and, in consequence, all the trouble and all the expense that had been so far incurred were thrown away. Another vexation of the system was the requirement imposed upon the tenant of keeping the boundaries distinct between his intermixed copyhold and freehold lands—a requirement very difficult to be observed, but which left an opening for considerable vexation. One evil which had formerly existed with reference to copyhold lands, the difference required to be observed in testamentary dispositions as between them and freeholds, had been obviated by the Wills Act. Originally the laws applying to wills relating to copyholds were special, and distinct from those referring to freeholds. In 1837 the Wills Amendment Act altered this, and did away with the distinction. In 1838 the noble Lord (Lord Campbell), being then Attorney General, and he (Lord Cranworth) Solicitor General, three measures were introduced into the House of Commons. The first Bill contemplated the gradual enfranchisement of copyholds; the second referred to the fixing of copyhold boundaries; the third dealt with some details which he did not recollect. Those three measures were sent to a Select Committee, on the Motion of Sir Robert Peel. The proposal of the Committee, after taking evidence, was, that the enfranchisement and commutation should be placed under the direction of the Tithe Commissioners, who were supposed to be well fitted for such a management, as already dealing with germane affairs; and that, as in regard to the commutation of tithes, the enfranchisements should not be compulsory, but should be left to voluntary arrangement between the interested parties themselves. Legislation, however, was delayed until 1841, and then an Act (the 4 & 5 Vict.) was passed, providing facilities for enfranchisement in this manner—that it gave to those who were called "incompetent" persons, and who without that Act would have been helpless, power to obtain enfranchisement of their copyholds. It was further provided that even without absolute enfranchisement, the chief burdens of copyholds, such as fines, heriots, &c, might be commuted and turned into a rentcharge whenever the lord concurred with three-fourths of the tenants. But during the whole period since the passing of that Act, there had been only two instances of such a commutation—from whence he (Lord Cranworth) inferred that everybody wished to be a freeholder rather than a copyholder, even although they might get rid of the principal burdens attached to copyhold tenure by the commutation. Enfranchisement had gone on more rapidly, but not very rapidly; and it was the opinion of the Commissioners that it could not proceed rapidly until there was some more compulsory measure; and there had been only 400 cases altogether under the former Act. But this took place, that there never was a Session but in one House or the other there were discussions on the subject —discussions which showed that, sooner or later, the enfranchisement of copyholds must inevitably take place. Bills had been introduced by parties unconnected with any Government; but in 1848 Lord Cotten-ham brought in a Bill which was read a second time; but beyond that he (Lord Cranworth) could not trace it In the last Session two Bills were brought into the other House by two hon. Members, and were referred to a Select Committee. The Committee having gone through the Bills with great care and attention, had recommended a compromise, or an amalgamation of the two measures; and the Bill before the House was the result of that compromise. If their Lordships now read the Bill a second time, he should ask for a Committee pro forma to make some amendments, there being some inaccuracies in the language, which he wished to put in a more perfect form. The Bill had been considered by the Government in the other House, who had recommended certain alterations, and it now came to their Lordships for a second reading. He (Lord Cranworth) thought that no measure would be perfect which did not, on the same principle as the Tithe Commutation Act, embrace the question of a general commutation; but, as had been recommended by Sir Robert Peel, he thought it would be better to attain that object by steps. The present Bill referred to the facilities for enfranchisement given by the Act of 1841, to parties willing to adopt it; and its object was to enable, under certain modifications, either the lord to compel the tenant to enfranchise, or the tenant to compel the lord. This might operate hardly on a poor copyholder who did not want to be disturbed. The present Bill dealt fairly with that case; and would not allow either the lord or the tenant to claim enfranchisement, until the necessity for admittance arose either by alienation or death. The enfranchisement might be effected either for a rentcharge, or for a gross sum of money. If the demand for enfranchisement was caused by alienation, the party would be saddled with a rentcharge, or an extra sum beyond the fine, which would be no grievance to the purchaser, who would buy subject to that. In the case of aliena- tion by death, the person to whom the estate descended would take it—not as a copyhold, but as a freehold, subject either to a rentcharge, to be assessed, or an annual rent. There would be no hardship on the lord, because, either at the death of a tenant, or the alienation of the estate, he was entitled to a fine, for which he would now receive an equivalent, either in a gross sum or an annual sum to be assessed. It seemed to him that this Bill was a fair compromise, and that, at least it would be better than to allow the present disgraceful state of the law which now existed to continue; and he therefore moved their Lordships to give a second reading to the Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2ª."


said, that no doubt many evils had sprung from the tenure of copyhold, and his noble and learned Friend had stated them with his usual power, and had shown that it would be desirable to enfranchise copyholds generally, if it were possible to do so without trespassing too much on the rights of property. He had particularly alluded to the evils arising from heriots, which he (the Lord Chancellor) could speak of from personal experience; for he had some copyhold property, and not choosing to put his family to the inconvenience of having their horses or their "best chattel" seized by the lord at his death, he had caused the copyhold to be taken in the name of a trustee, to prevent the lord making that claim. He was, therefore, perfectly sensible of the inconveniences of the system, and no one would be more ready than he should to support any Bill which should remedy it. He thought, however, that his noble and learned Friend had rather exaggerated some of the evils of the present law, and overrated the good that would be effected by this measure. He agreed with his noble and learned Friend, that in point of law copyhold land could not be built upon, for that was considered as waste, nor could houses that had been erected upon it be pulled down. There were many localities in which great advantage had arisen in preventing them being covered too speedily with a dense mass of buildings. Reference had been made to Islington; but if a foreigner wished to know whether this institution were fit for Madagascar or for England, and he was taken over that portion of London, he would be astonished if he were told that this tenure had produced such consequences that a complete stop had been put to buildings in the heart of the metropolis. The lord had as good a right to the freehold as the tenant to the copyhold; and nothing but clear motives of public interest could justify the Legislature in interfering with the rights of the lords and the tenants. His noble Friend had put the question on too high a ground, by saying it ought to be placed on the same footing as tithes, which required to be dealt with by the Legislature in relation to the Empire at large. There was no such necessity as regarded copyholds. He agreed that any measure would be most desirable that would lead to the enfranchisement of copyholds; but it must be done without bearing hardly on the rights of parties. His noble and learned Friend had referred to the evils of the descent of copyhold property; but this Bill, as far as he understood it, did not in any way remedy those evils. He (the Lord Chancellor) denied that there was such a complication with regard to copyhold titles as had been stated by his noble Friend, and would assert that they were more simple than those relating to freeholds. He thought they were bound to protect the smaller tenants who preferred this species of tenure; which had the benefit of a registry which was local, accessible, and could not be overloaded, which was one of the evils attached to a general registry. This Bill would deprive the copyholders of that, while the expense attached to the tenure would be greatly increased. There need not be two deeds on every sale or transfer of estates which consisted of freehold and copyhold land. There were two documents; but that was no objection, for the tenant did not, generally speaking, pay more than he would pay if the estates were entirely freehold. As regarded he-riots and arbitrary fines, the abolition of them could not be too much facilitated; and any measure which would carry into effect more satisfactorily the law as it at present stood with regard to those subjects, would meet with his strongest support. Feeling as he did that the emancipation of copyholds, and the conversion of them into freeholds, would be a great public benefit, his objection to this Bill was, not that it would enfranchise copyholds, but that it was done in a compulsory, and that in a very disagreeable manner. It was said, that by this Bill there was no compulsory enfranchisement until admittance was necessary. But take a man with a small property—he would rather have a burden attending the enfranchisement fall on himself than upon his family after his death. Take the case, of which there were thousands in the country, of an ordinary copyhold farm at 10l. a year. The man who held it was perfectly contented with his tenure. He wanted to do nothing with it which he could not do as well with a copyhold as with a freehold. If he was forced to enfranchise his copyhold, he would have to pay the lord's fine, the fine to the steward, and his share of the expenses of the enfranchisement. In many cases the expenses would be more than the value of the property, and then the man's widow would be houseless. Suppose the money to be paid were raised by way of mortgage, or suppose it paid by a rent charge. If it was paid by mortgage, the party was subject to foreclosure; and if it was by rentcharge, it would probably amount to more than the rent of the property; and the consideration in many cases would exceed its value as a freehold. If he (the Lord Chancellor) had to choose between a compulsory general enfranchisement that should take place, whether the landlord or the tenant wished for it or not, and this Bill, he would prefer the compulsory enfranchisement. This Bill put the lord and the tenant in a disagreeable position. They would each have to watch the other in order to compel one another to enfranchise, and they would take every advantage of each other. Now, at present, he believed that enfranchisement was going on much more rapidly than his noble and learned Friend supposed, without the assistance either of the Commissioners or of the Act of Parliament. In times of prosperity, when money was plentiful, it progressed of course much more rapidly than at other times; but by this Bill the poor copyholders might be forced to buy at a disadvantageous moment. The lord might be compelled to enfranchise his good tenants, and the small ones might refuse, and be left on his hands; and he would ultimately be compelled in self-defence to force the poor cottagers to enfranchise their copyholds. Those evils were inseparable from a measure of this sort, though they did not attach to a general compulsory measure. At present the lord had as much right to the property in mines as the tenant had to the surface of the soil, and this Bill did not provide any means to enable the lord to get at the mines after the enfranchisement of the copyhold. He had made these few observations, not as wishing to obstruct the passing of the measure, in order to point out the difficulties of this subject; and he doubted the propriety of passing such a stringent measure as this without an urgent necessity. He should not oppose the second reading of the Bill; but as he thought it ought to be well considered, he should recommend its being referred to a Select Committee, there to be considered, as it ought to be, clause by clause, in order that their Lordships might understand upon what they were legislating. He could not say that this Bill was one which could be safely passed at once. It might be said, that referring it to a Select Committee would be to send it over the present Session. He had no such object, and he did not see why that should be the result; but even if that should be the necessary consequence of sending it to a Select Committee, he would think that a much less evil than, by legislating hastily, to break in upon the rights of property, as he considered the Bill in its present shape was calculated to do,


said, he had hoped that this Bill was of such a nature as to have obtained the cordial support of the Government; and that with the general concurrence of their Lordships it would have passed its second reading, and before the conclusion of the present Session have become the law of the land. But that hope had been dispelled by the speech which he had just heard from the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack. That speech was cheered by the noble Earl the Lord Privy Seal, and he feared was approved of by the rest of the Ministers. He had hoped that when the noble Earl on the cross-benches (the Earl of Elles-mere) withdrew his notice of Motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee, the second reading would have received the cordial support of the Government; but he was now afraid that they doomed it to destruction. This not only grieved but surprised him; because in the other House of Parliament this Bill was supported by Her Majesty's Government. The Home Secretary was not only a great statesman, but a great lawyer, and a consummate jurist; and if he (Lord Campbell) was not grossly misinformed, that right hon. Gentleman approved of the measure, although he considered it a compromise, and he undertook that it should receive the support of the Government. After that understanding, the Bill had now come before their Lordships' House, and the Lord Chancellor delivered a speech against it, in which he greatly mitigated all the evils arising out] of copyhold tenure, and impugned the principle of the Bill as well as its details. If the Bill was such as his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack had described it, the proper mode of proceeding would have been for his noble and learned Friend to have moved that it should be read a second time that day three months; his noble and learned Friend would have done much better if he had concluded his speech with such a Motion, rather than by proposing that it should be referred to a Select Committee. He was grieved that the Bill was likely to be defeated. He (Lord Campbell) imagined this Bill would have been one of the measures of reform which were to reflect credit on the present Government; he thought it might have been one of the topics on which they might have gone to the country. His noble and learned Friend on the woolsack had referred to the difficulties which stood in the way of the lord of a manor dealing with the minerals under a copyhold estate. To those difficulties he might have added others, which were incident to timber; for as the law at present stood the timber on land of copyhold tenure could he cut down neither by the lord nor by the tenant; and there was a saying in England that the oak was too noble a tree to grow on servile soil. Nor were those the only inconveniences arising out of copyhold tenure. In almost every manor there was a particular code of laws by which the copyholders of the manor were governed—for example, in almost every manor a particular rule of succession was adopted. In some it was the custom that the eldest son succeeded to the whole of the customary lands; in others the custom of gavelkind obtained, and then all the sons succeeded alike; in others, again, the custom of borough-English prevailed, and then the youngest son became the heir to the exclusion of the eldest. It had given him pleasure to hear from his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack a recognition of the value of the system of registration with respect to the deeds under which copyhold lands were holden: now this Bill did not propose to deprive the copyholder of that benefit; and he hoped before another year passed away that another claim which the Government would have to the gratitude of the country for the desire to pass useful measures of legal reform, would rest on the establishment of a general system of registration for deeds. According to the principles of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, this tenure was to be perpetuated, for it was idle to suppose that it would be abolished before many generations or many centuries merely by voluntary enfranchisements. The noble and learned Lord complained that the Bill did not go far enough, and said he would rather prefer that there should be a compulsory power given at once to enfranchise copyholds in all the manors in England. He (Lord Campbell) should be glad to see that carried into effect; but he could understand cases of hardship arising from the carrying out of such a sweeping measure of compulsory enfranchisement which would make him recoil from its adoption. Perhaps the Bill now under consideration might in some instances result in hardship; but, as a general rule, he believed its operation would be beneficial both to the lord and to the tenant. His firm belief was, that by allowing the Bill to have a compulsory operation on the two occasions of death and alienation, no evil would accrue, and much benefit would arise. If the admission was in consequence of the death of the former tenant, the money for enfranchisement would easily be raised on mortgage; and in case of a sale, the effect of the enfranchisement would be to enhance the price. If, on a trial, the compulsory power given by the Bill was found ineffectual, then his noble and learned Friend might come down in a subsequent Session of Parliament, and propose a measure which might compel the lord and the tenant to enfranchise all the copyholds in England. But he (Lord Campbell) repeated his belief that the present Bill, which merely allowed compulsory enfranchisement on the occasions of death and alienation, would have a beneficial operation. The present was an opportunity of making a great step in the right direction — of making copyhold enfranchisement compulsory on the two occasions he had mentioned, which might he done with perfect safety and advantage; and if it should afterwards be found by his noble and learned Friend that there were copyhold tenures which it would be disadvantageous to retain, his noble and learned Friend might then come to that House with a sweeping measure for their abolition. He (Lord Campbell) was not prepared at present to assent to a measure so strong; but he thought the one now under consideration might be safely adopted, and he hoped their Lordships would give their consent to its second reading.


said, that his opinion had been for a considerable time that some such measure as that before their Lordships was absolutely essential. He had come to that conclusion from the various discussions he had heard in that House upon the subject. He referred particularly to the time when the late Lord Cottenham brought forward a measure of this kind, and when that noble and learned Lord made a statement so admirably clear and lucid as to render the subject perfectly intelligible to the humblest intellect. With regard to this measure, he (the Duke of Cleveland) thought it would be allowed on all hands that it was desirable to get rid of the old feudal system of copyhold tenure. It tended to create a number of endless disputes, heartburnings, and bickerings, which would at once cease if copyhold property was enfranchised, not suddenly or abruptly, but by degrees and in the course of time. In some manors heriots and similar burdens were easily compounded for; but as there were good landlords and bad landlords, so there were good lords of manors and bad lords. Their Lordships had heard one case where a racehorse that had won the Derby, and was worth 4,000l., had been taken as a heriot. One serious evil, among others incident to copyholds, was, that in different counties different customs obtained. With regard to minerals, for example, in which he was interested, in the two counties of Durham and Staffordshire the custom differed materially. In Durham the lord of the manor had a right to break the soil of the copyhold property, and to work the mines underneath; but in Staffordshire he had no such right. In former Bills voluntary enfranchisement only was provided for; but he had no hesitation in saying that without some compulsory clause it would be impossible to carry out the objects of this measure. In his opinion it was most desirable that the Bill should be read a second time. He gave no opinion as to referring it to a Select Committee; he only was anxious not to endanger its progress through the House this Session.


had listened with much regret to the speech of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, because he understood the noble and learned Lord to be opposed to the principle of the Bill; and he must say he was surprised, after listening to that speech, to find that the noble and learned Lord adopted its principle by suggesting that it should be referred to a Select Committee. To that recommendation, however, he (Lord Beaumont) had no objection whatever, inasmuch as from a careful examination of the subject, and a minute perusal of the Bill, he thought it was in such a state as to require the revision of a Committee. He now rose merely to appeal to Her Majesty's Government, who he supposed intended to support the course marked out by the Lord Chancellor, that they should send the measure to a Committee with the sincere intention of endeavouring to make the Bill practicable, and passing it into a law in the present Session.


admitted there were many grievances in the present system of copyhold tenure, which he was anxious to see removed; but he wished it to be done in a proper and an equitable manner. The grievances in the case of heriots and fines arbitrary were very great, and operated to prevent the copyholders from effecting improvements on the land. But upon looking over the Bill, which he had done with the advantage of professional assistance, he must say he thought its tendency was more likely to produce suffering among the smaller copyholders, than to give them any effectual relief. To send it to a Select Committee was, therefore, in his opinion, the best and only way in which to treat it. He was always excessively jealous of Bills professing to deal with the property of the country which emanated from private hands, though the authors of them were, no doubt, actuated by a laudable desire to improve the law. Measures of such importance he should like to come stamped with the authority and responsibility of the law officers of the Crown. He deprecated giving rise to any claptrap about the House of Lords not passing the Bill; but he was satisfied that the Bill in its present state was not in a fit state to pass. He, therefore, supported its being sent to a Select Committee.

After a few words from the Earl of Powis,


expressed his apprehension that sending the Bill to a Select Committee practically meant that it should not become law this Session. If he thought the result would be otherwise, he should rejoice at the Bill going before a Committee, as his ardent wish was that the measure should become law in the most perfect state possible.

On Question, Resolved in the Affirmative.

Bill read 2ª accordingly.


moved that the Bill be sent to a Select Committee. As his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cranworth) had expressed some alarm lest the effect of sending the measure to a Select Committee would be to prevent its passing during the present Session, he hoped he would give him credit for stating that he had no such object; and on the part of Her Majesty's Government he might state that they had no such object, but that they would go into the Committee with the determination to give the measure their best attention, and to render their honest assistance in carrying-it into effect.


was, generally speaking, favourable to Bills of this nature being sent to a Select Committee; but, under all the circumstances of the case, to send the present measure to a Committee would, he feared, prove a delusion. The state of the Session, and various other considerations, induced him to believe that the effect would be to give the measure its quietus.

House adjourned to Thursday next.