HL Deb 14 March 1853 vol 125 cc122-3

wished to put a question to the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen) on a subject of very great importance. Their Lordships were aware of the great anxiety prevailing amongst all the mercantile classes in this country, and in a great degree also amongst the same class in Scotland and reland, upon the subject of the difference between the mercantile law of England and Ireland on the one hand, and of Scotland on the other. In England and Ireland, as their Lordships were aware, the land was for the most part alike; but in Scotland, the land differed greatly from that which prevailed in Great Britain. The consequence of course was, considerable inconvenience in commercial transactions between parties residing in those respective countries. The trading communities were alive to this inconvenience; and a conference had been held on the subject in the metropolis in the month of November last, attended by delegates from all the great towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The result was, that a deputation headed by the Earl of Clarendon went to the noble Earl then at the head of the Government (the Earl of Derby), who expressed a great desire to accede to their wishes by appointing a Commission to examine the whole of this important subject. The defects of the present laws were undeniable, and the advantages that would result from their assimilation equally so. The principle of the banking laws, for example, required investigation, and the possibility of assimilating them must be thoroughly sifted by full inquiry and evidence on the subject. This was the opinion, he believed, of the trading classes in the provinces, and it was shared by the great mercantile body of the capital, as was proved by the signatures of 220 of the principal firms in the City appended to a memorial on the subject. There was much anxiety existing that the mercantile law of England should be extended to Scotland, rather than that of Scotland to England; but he believed a preferable result would be, that a system superior to either should be created by the amalgamation of both. He begged to ask the noble Earl, whether it was intended to take any measure with a view to the promotion of an object so desirable?


said, their Lordships were probably aware that, at the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons which sat in 1851, a Commission had been issued to inquire into the law of partnership. His opinion was, that the whole subject adverted to by his noble and learned Friend, deserved the attention of Her Majesty's Government, and he thought he might say that a Commission to examine and inquire into it would be issued accordingly.