HL Deb 05 February 1856 vol 140 cc215-7

, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said it would not be necessary to detain their Lordships with more than a very few observations, for the measure was nearly identical with one that had obtained their sanction in the year previous. When, however, that Bill went down to the other House some alterations were made in it, and the consequence was that the Bill did not pass into a law. Now, as he (the Lord Chancellor) thought the measure was better without those alterations than with them, he had simply re-introduced the Bill in the shape in which it had left their Lordships' hands. The first and principal of the alterations made by the other House was the insertion of a provision by which the Court of Chancery was precluded from the power to grant leases wherever application had already been made to either House of Parliament, and had been refused. The objection to that alteration lay in the difficulty of defining in what an application to either House of Parliament should consist. It was well known that the clause was intended to apply to a particular case, namely, to certain lands in the neighbourhood of Hampstead; but he would remind their Lordships that by the Bill, the Court of Chancery would be restrained from acting in opposition to the presumed intention of the parties; and the same reasons which had induced Parliament to reject the private Bill referred to, would prevent also the Court of Chancery from interfering, He had consequently brought forward the Bill in its original shape, leaving the Parliament to deal with it as they pleased.


thought the House should take care not to give the Court of Chancery power to do that which they had refused to do themselves. By the Bill they would, in point of fact, entrust the Lord Chancellor with legislative powers; but they ought surely not to permit the noble and learned Lord to reverse the decisions of Parliament itself. With respect to Sir Thomas Marion Wilson's will, the Judges, to whom it had two or three times been referred, had decided that the enclosure of Hampstead Heath would be contrary to the provisions of that document.


said, he approved of the Bill, and also of the motives which had dictated the clause in question; but he thought that the clause itself was most inartificially drawn.


said, that the Gentlemen who had applied for the private Bill which had been referred to had never had the least wish to enclose any part of Hampstead Heath whatever. The Bill referred to entirely different property, and would not deprive the public of any enjoyment they derived from that favourite place of resort.


regretted that any mention of a private Bill should have been introduced into a discussion upon a general question like the present; but he must confess that he did not think it unreasonable to say that, when questions of this kind relating to settled estates had been adjudicated upon by Parliament, the Court of Chancery should not have the power of reversing that decision. If this were the object of the clause introduced by the House of Commons, he did not think it an unreasonable one, and he looked upon it as one to which their Lordships might fairly and properly assent. He thought it would be entirely unreasonable, however, if, when a question of this sort had been simply under the consideration of Parliament, and had not been adjudicated upon by them, it was hold that the Court of Chancery could exercise no power with respect to it.


again urged the difficulty of defining what should constitute an application to Parliament. A party might apply for a Bill with regard to certain fields, and that might be refused. But if he afterwards applied to the Court of Chancery with respect to other fields adjoining, would that be considered a matter which had been adjudicated upon? He would, however, yield to the wish of their Lordships, whether they desired a clause to be inserted in the Bill in compliance with the decision of the other House, or whether they would send the Bill down as it was, and afterwards agree to any clause that might be inserted by the Commons themselves. He considered the measure to be of far too great importance to be risked upon a point like that which had been raised.

Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Friday next.

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