§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, observed that he had already stated its principal objects to the House, and upon that occasion he had mentioned the fact that the cost of obtaining by private Bill those powers in dealing with real estates which by the present measure it was proposed to grant upon application to the Court of Chancery was from 500l. to 1,000l. At the time he made that statement a noble Lord seemed to doubt that the expense was so great; and he (the Lord Chancellor) had therefore instituted an inquiry, the result of which was, that he found he had stated a very moderate amount, for although there were a few isolated cases in which the cost of such applications amounted to 750l., the majority cost much 873 more, and in some instances the expenses had risen to 1,500l. There was no good reason why people should be put to such an expense, especially as most of the applications were made at the recommendation of the Court of Chancery, and it seemed absurd that, after that Court had investigated the cases, it should have to send them to the Legislature to do that which it would be better for the Court itself to do. By the provisions of this measure he expected that the free disposal and application of property held under settlement would be greatly facilitated. He proposed to give the tenant for life, as an incident of his life estate, the power of granting agricultural leases for a term of fourteen years.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
expressed his great satisfaction at the introduction of such a measure, the principle of which he fully approved, although he might have some objections as to details.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he was disposed to agree in the opinion entertained of the measure by his noble and learned Friend who had just sat down. He thought that by the powers given under it for the improvement and management of estates without incurring the inordinate expenses attendant upon private Acts of Parliament, a very valuable addition would be made to the law regarding landed property; but he had some apprehension with respect to the effect of the clause, authorising the interference of the Court of Chancery, which, it seemed to him, went further than was necessary. If that Court should have the power to authorise the sale of property, then, instead of being made instrumental for the improvement of property, it would be converted into the means of effecting the alienation of property.
§ LORD HATHERTON
highly approved of the measure. He was at a loss to conceive the reason why some general measure of this kind had not been passed long ago, which would obviate the necessity of passing so many private Bills, at an enormous expense, through the House. He thought that to carry out properly the objects of this measure large powers should be given to the Court of Chancery.
THE EARL OF WICKLOW
thought that so excellent a measure should be extended to Ireland. The only words in the Bill to which he objected were the words "or 874 Ireland," which exempted that country from the operation of the measure.
THE MARQUESS OF BATH
suggested that, previous to the clause in reference to leases being brought before the Committee, the noble and learned Lord should be prepared with instances illustrative of the mode of granting building leases in this country. He understood that a change had been made in the mode of granting them, and that the length of leases for building purposes was much shorter than was the custom some few years ago.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he had no objection to the Bill; but he hoped that in the inquiries that were to be made under the Bill in the Court of Chancery, the same care would be given to the question under consideration as was given to the Bills brought for effecting similar objects before their Lordships' House. Unless some new regulation was introduced for the purpose into the Court of Chancery, he feared that such a relaxation of the law of settlement would be introduced as was not contemplated by the noble and learned Lord who introduced the measure.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
quite concurred with the noble Lord as to the necessity of keeping a strict watch upon the proceedings of the Court of Chancery in connection with the powers to be given under this Bill. For that purpose regulations would be framed in accordance with, the practice adopted in that House. As to the power of sale given to the Court of Chancery, he thought that the Bill would lose half of its efficiency if such power were not conferred. He would also mention that the Court of Chancery would have the power of authorising the sale of an estate only when it did not appear on the face of the settlement that such a sale was contrary to the wish of the settler. He was favourable to the extension of the Bill to Ireland; but to provide for any objections that might be made to it on that ground he thought it safer to introduce the words objected to by the noble Earl (the Earl of Wicklow), which it would be much easier to strike out if the extension to Ireland were generally approved of, than to make any addition to the Bill. He would take care to communicate with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland upon the subject, and, if practicable, he should be most happy to extend the measure to Ireland.