§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
rose for the purpose of laying on the table certain Bills having reference to Chancery Procedure. Their Lordships would recollect that about the middle of November last he made a very full statement of certain measures which he intended to propose on the subject of a reform in the Court of Chancery. The kindness of his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack had con- 4 tinued to him the facilities which he had before enjoyed with respect to the officers of the Court, and he was now able to ask permission to be allowed to lay the Bills on the table. On the occasion in question he had entered so fully into the provisions of the several Bills, that he should now content himself by shortly stating what their operation would be. The first Bill was for the further relief of suitors in the Court of Chancery, and its object was by a proper and new arrangement in the Accountant General's office, and by the proper management of the funds under his care, to enable the Court to reduce the expenses of litigation to such limits as might be desirable, in order to prevent improper litigation. He had no doubt that by the working of this Bill, and by the due administration of the funds, the expenses of suits in Chancery would be greatly reduced; and not only that, but that funds sufficient would be obtained to enable the Government at no distant day to erect courts for the administration of justice by the new Vice-Chancellors, with rooms attached, by which the new system might be fairly developed; and shortly afterwards to relieve the Consolidated Fund of the 26,000l a year which it now contributed towards the payment of Judges in the Court of Chancery. He believed it would also prevent not only the brokerage and jobber's profit, but unnecessary sales of stock; and that system would cease to operate which had been considered so unseemly by which the Court of Chancery shared in the brokerage, and which formed a part of the fund. That would be entirely swept away, and the funds would never be operated upon by sales or purchases to a great amount with moneys belonging to the suitors. Another provision was, by the proper distribution of unclaimed dividends, to give to the Court new funds by which they would be enabled further to relieve the suitor. The noble and learned Lord then presented a Bill for the further Relief of the Suitors of the High Court of Chancery.
The LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that of course any measure which had for its object the saving of expense to suitors, deserved the most serious consideration; and whether the measure of his noble and learned Friend would have that effect, must depend on a variety of details in the Bill, and the mode in which they would be likely to work. His noble and learned Friend had had the kindness to 5 send him a copy of the Bill; but he must fairly confess that he had been as yet unable to make himself master of its details; and he made this avowal the more frankly, because the measure did not, strictly speaking, deal with the legal question, but with a financial one. The question as to how the transfer of funds at the Bank of England would or would not be likely to operate to the benefit of the suitors of the Court, was one which required grave consideration. He did not for a moment mean to say that the Bill was not a very salutary measure; but it depended on a variety of details, and the keeping of the accounts of funds amounting to above 48,000,000l. sterling, and it must be looked at with great attention before the House would give its assent to such a measure. He hoped, when the Bill was printed, that it would be allowed to lie on the table for some considerable time, so that due consideration might be given to a measure in which their Lordships took so deep an interest.
§ LORD ST. LEONARDS
intended to move that the Bill, with the others which he was about to introduce, should be referred to a Select Committee.
§ Bill read 1a.