§ LORD CRANWORTH
, in moving the third reading of the Declaration of Title Bill, said, he desired to state for the information of those noble Lords who had not been members of the Committee that this Bill, together with the Security for Purchasers Bill, and four others relating to land, had been referred to a Select Committee. The object of these two measures was to facilitate the transfer of land by a mode which appeared to him to be extremely simple and inexpensive, and little calculated to cause inconvenience. His noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had introduced a Bill with a similar object, but of a much more extensive character than his (Lord Cranworth's), being one of those which had gone before the Select Committee. Two other of these Bills had been introduced by the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Chelmsford), having for their objects the more easy conveyance of land and the registration of the same. The fifth Bill, that introduced by Lord St. Leonards, was of a totally different character to the other measures. All those Bills had been carefully considered by the Select Committee. It was impossible that all those five Bills should pass, for some of them were inconsistent with each other. and therefore His noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Chelmsford) withdrew his Bills. The Committee, however, came to the conclusion that his (Lord Cranworth's) Bills were consistent with that of his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack. Both were permissive, and the object of his (Lord Cranworth's) Bill was, first, to enable persons to obtain from the Court of Chancery a declaration of title. The first of his Bills was founded on the principle of the Encumbered Estates Court, now the Landed Estates Court, in Ireland, of which they had had about fourteen years' experience, and during that long period, no error, or next to none, had been discovered in the title of any estate dealt with by that Court, and he thought that 1191 what had answered so well in Ireland could not answer ill in this country. It would establish no new tribunal, but leave to the Court of Chancery to deal with those questions of title in the same way as it dealt with other questions that came before it. The Bill could certainly do no harm; he believed that it would do much good. The measure embodied in the second Bill further provided for the continuity of title once it had been established in the way pointed out. The noble and learned Lord concluded by moving that the Declaration of Title Bill be now read 3a.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he was not disposed to object to the third reading of his noble and learned Friend's Bill, although he did not approve of all the provisions which it contained. There was no doubt that it was exceedingly desirable that some measure should be passed whereby an absolute and indefeasible title to land should be given to purchasers. The only question for consideration was, what tribunal or authority should have the power to secure that title. He should not himself have supposed that the Court of Chancery was the best tribunal for the purpose. As had been stated by the noble and learned Lord opposite, the Irish Encumbered Estates Court had been found to answer most admirably the purpose for which it was created. Property to the amount of £20,000,000 had passed from one hand to another through the medium of that Court, and about one-seventh of the whole area of Ireland had been transferred. It was considered by the public very desirable that a somewhat similar tribunal should be established in this country. He (Lord Chelmsford) accordingly introduced a Bill with that object; but the Committee to whom it was referred came to the conclusion that the amount of business likely to be transacted would not warrant the establishment of a distinct Court. A Bill was then introduced by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack which he (Lord Chelmsford) could not but think was open to a serious objection—namely, that it would be productive of great expense. If the business to result from the Bill now before the House was not large, there was no necessity for such a measure. If, on the other hand, it proved to be not only large, but increasing, it would be impossible for the Court of Chancery to discharge the duty to be imposed upon it. He was, however, extremely desirous that some measure of the kind should be tried, 1192 and would therefore support the Bill, although it differed so essentially from that which he had introduced.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill Read 3a, and Amendment made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.