HL Deb 21 April 1864 vol 174 cc1401-17

rose to call attention to the Returns which had been made to the House under the Land Transfer Act (Parl, Paper, No. 23). He had moved for these Returns because he wished to know how far the operation of the Act had realized the high expectations which it had excited when it was passed, and to what extent persons for whose benefit it was intended had availed themselves of its proposed advantages. Their Lordships were aware that, for a long time, there had been a great desire for the introduction of some scheme which would simplify titles to landed property, and facilitate its transfer. Various attempts had been made from time to time to legislate on the subject, and at last, in 1853, their Lordships passed a Bill which was sent down to the House of Commons and referred to a Select Committee. That Committee recommended that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire into the whole subject. Accordingly, in 1854, a Commission was appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the registration of titles to land, with reference to its sale and transfer. That Commission was composed of persons who were eminently qualified to form a correct judgment on the subject. The Chairman was his right hon. Friend Mr. Walpole, and his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe), and other gentlemen of great legal experience were members of the Commission. That Commission examined a great number of witnesses, and obtained information in answer to a circular from all parts of the kingdom, and in 1857 they presented a very able and elaborate Report. He would not enter into the details of that Report; it would be sufficient to say that the Commission rejected the idea of a registration of assurances, but strongly recommended that a measure should be passed for the registration of titles. To show the extravagant expectations that; were then formed, it would be sufficient to say that one of the great objections felt to the adoption of a measure for the registration of assurances as distinct from a registration of titles was the enormous accumulation of deeds which was likely to take place—it being calculated that no less than 300,000 deeds would be the annual average amount which would be registered. The registration then proposed was of a very simple character, and related only to fee-simple titles, and leases of a certain term with a distinct register of charges and incumbrances. In the consideration of this subject it was necessary to bear in mind that there were two parts perfectly distinct, though often blended; one as to the declaration, the other as to the registration of title. There might be a declaration of title without registration, and there might be a registration without a declaration of title. No one was better acquainted with that distinction than his noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Cranworth), who, when he occupied the Woolsack in 1858, introduced a Bill to facilitate the declaration of title (Transfer of Land Bill). The Bill passed that House, and was sent down to the House of Commons. That was the state of affairs whoa a change of Government took place, and his noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Derby) succeeded to office. There was a very general desire for a measure of this description, and an able Report on the subject as a guide, and the Government of his noble Friend accordingly thought it their duty to introduce one. An hon. and learned Friend of his (Sir Hugh Cairns), then Solicitor General, was intrusted with the duty of introducing the measure into the House of Commons, and it must be admitted that it could not have been in better hands. He founded himself almost entirely upon the Report—in one respect he departed from it. The Commissioners had adverted to the suggestion of establishing a Lords' Tribunal and had rejected it. His hon. and learned Friend struck with the success of the Incumbered Estates Court in Ireland proposed to create a separate court for the purpose of a judicial declaration of titles. He embodied the measure in two Bills, one for the declaration of titles, the other for a registry founded entirely upon the system proposed by the Commission. In this respect the measure had an advantage over the Land Transfer Act, because you might have stopped short and been contented with the establishment of title; but in the Act the ascertainment of title is only a preliminary to registration, and having once begun you must go on or lose your outlay. The Bills were received with great approbation. My noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, then a Member of the House of Commons, said, In all its stages the measure will receive the most cordial support from my hands, and I trust that so great a measure of legal reform, and one so well calculated to confer advantage upon the community, will be successfully carried through both Houses during the present Session. And the right hon. Member for Kidderminster, Mr. Lowe, who was upon the Commission, said— The introduction of this measure reflects the highest credit upon the Government. The measure thus favourably introduced was, however, dropped, in consequence of the change of Government. It was not likely that a measure to which the attention of my noble and learned Friend had been so long directed would be allowed to sleep after he received the great seal. His opinions, as he told us, had undergone considerable fluctuation upon the subject. On introducing the Bill, he said— In 1853 a Bill for the Registration of Deeds passed your Lordships' House. It came down to the other House, and I felt that, individually, I could not take any part in support of that measure. The measure was referred to a Select Committee, and I had the honour of bringing before that Committee the plan which I had then formed for the Registration of Titles. But that plan consisted merely of this—the putting of certain names upon the Registry, as if they were the absolute owners of the fee simple of the estate, and letting all persons who had partial interests in the property depend for their security upon the system of caveats and checks. I have always felt that that was a very imperfect mode of proceeding. Of course, the word "always" must be a mistake for "since," for my noble and learned Friend signed the Report of the Commission which recommended this very plan. However, it was clear that the mind of my noble and learned Friend was not (to use the phrase of the day) running in a groove on this subject, and that the public was likely to have the result of his matured and deliberate opinion. The Government were, therefore justified in holding out expectations in the Speech from the Throne, that measures for the improvement of the law would be laid before Parliament, and among them will be a Bill for rendering the title to land more simple and its transfer more easy. What the other measures were he had been unable to discover. They were probably like the words "and Company" in the name of a firm, which are frequently used when it consists merely of an individual, or like the predictions in Moore's Almanac, which can be made to fit any future event. However, it was evident that it was to be the great work of the Session, and that the Government meant to found political capital upon it. My noble and learned Friend said, on introducing the Bill, "that a measure more important to the landed interest had never been introduced into Parliament."

The Bill was referred to a Select Committee, with two other Bills introduced by Lord Cranworth, and the two Bills of Sir Hugh Cairns, which were laid upon the table for reference to the same Committee. In the Committee, Sir Hugh Cairns' Bills were speedily disposed of. The principal objection to them was the expense which would be occasioned by the creation of a new court. Upon this, he (Lord Chelmsford) said that if expense were the objec- tion, he should prefer Lord Cranworth's Bill to the Lord Chancellor's, whose registrar was only a judge under another name. It is curious that this very remark was made by the Attorney General when the Bill was in the other House, and who, in answer to an objection by Sir Hugh Cairns to entrusting the great power of giving an indefeasible title to a registrar said— Except that the officer was to be called a registrar and was not to have so large a salary as a judge, he saw no difference between him and a judge. But the Lord Chancellor's and Lord Cranworth's Bills went through the Committee, passed the House of Commons and became law; and the Session closed with a triumphant note of congratulation upon the event, the Royal Speech containing this passage— The Act for rendering more easy the transfer of land will add to the value of real property, will make titles more simple and secure, and will diminish the expense attending purchases and sales. The noble and learned Lord's Bill having passed into law, it became necessary to establish the machinery for carrying it into operation. A principal registrar was appointed at a salary of £2,500 a year; an assistant registrar at £1,500 a year; a chief clerk at £400, and a second clerk at £200 a year. He would admit that this was a moderate staff for the business that was expected to flow in. The selection of the principal registrar did infinite credit to his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack. It was not a selection from party motives, for the learned Gentleman in question, when a Member of the House of Commons, was an opponent of the Government. There could be no doubt that the registrar was selected for his fitness, and was eminently qualified for his office if there were any duties to perform. He was exceedingly desirous in the last Session to know what business had been transacted, and obtained a Return in February, 1863, which stated that there had been several applications for registry, but that no single estate had then been registered. It might have been said that the measure at that time had not had a fair trial, and he, therefore, forbore to make any observations upon the working of the Act. In March of the present year, when it might be supposed that time had been given for the Act to come into full working operation, he moved for another Return. He found that since the passing of the Act there had been sixty-five applications in all, of which eleven had been withdrawn. Only nine titles had been registered; but there were two others ready to be entered on the register, so that eleven might be taken as the total number placed upon the register. There were forty-six applications still to be decided on. The value of the property — as far as could be ascertained — was £1,500,000; and there were nineteen applications in respect of estates, the value of which was not yet known. The information as to acreage was also incomplete; but it appeared that there were not more than 4,787 acres. [The LORD CHANCELLOR: Those are the pending applications.] He thanked the noble and learned Lord for the information, but he was, of course, obliged to confine himself to the facts disclosed by the Return. He believed that the description of the property to which the applications applied, would be found to justify the expectations entertained by a noble Lord who was a member of the Committee on the Bill, that the measure would be principally beneficial to those who possessed building land in the neighbourhood of towns which they were desirous of selling in lots. But the worst part of the story was still to come. The expectations which had been held out that 300,000 deeds would be registered annually, of course, made every one believe that such an establishment would be self-supporting. But he regretted to say that those anticipations had been utterly disappointed. What did their Lordships suppose was the amount of fees which had been received from the passing of the Act down to the 1st of March last? £180. He was unable to say what the other forty-six applications, if carried out, were likely to produce, but he was afraid their Lordships could hardly expect that they would yield sufficient to cover the expenses of the present year, much less of that which had already passed. The measure itself, bearing in mind the great expectations excited in reference to it, and the fact that it was considered the great political achievement of Her Majesty's Government in the year 1862, must be pronounced, he regretted to say, a complete failure. He had no doubt that the mind of the noble and learned Lord by whom it was framed, having been directed to the subject, he would be able to assign some reason why the measure had not found that favour with the public which was anticipated. To him it seemed that the public had deceived themselves. They thought they wanted a measure of the kind, and when it was offered they found they were mistaken. Its provisions in some degree departed from the recommendations of the Commission of which the noble and learned Lord was a Member; because, disguise it how they might, the Bill was not one for the registration of title — in its results it was an Act for the registry of deeds. As such its principle had been strongly objected to on all sides, and by no one more strongly than the Members of that Commission of which the noble and learned Lord was a Member. He had been anxious to produce these facts before their Lordships, in order that if there were any defects in a measure which seemed to be so ardently desired, which for many years had been so perseveringly called for, and which yet had entailed a charge upon the revenues of the country, without affording any corresponding benefit, that Act might be amended and brought more into accordance with the public requirements, so that ultimately a measure might be passed productive of those effects which had been so sanguinely anticipated.

[The speech of the noble and learned Lord was in great part inaudible, owing to the bustle and distraction occasioned by the presence of General Garibaldi.]


My Lords, I may say with very great sincerity that I am obliged to my noble and learned Friend for having called your Lordships' attention to this subject. I may say that he has done so with my entire consent and concurrence; for when there is an institution of this kind in existence, particularly a newly-established one, it is right and fitting that its progress should be brought before Parliament. I have not the least complaint to make of any of the observations of my noble and learned Friend, although to some of his representations I shall feel it right to reply. I am not at all sore at the criticism he has applied to this Act. But, with regard to the expectations raised in 1862 and to the expenditure which the Act has entailed, I have this consolation that had the measure introduced in 1859, under the auspices of my noble and learned Friend, been passed instead, it would have caused an expenditure at least double in amount. My noble and learned Friend, therefore, judging from the importance which he attaches to considerations of expense, must have reason to rejoice that the Bill to which I refer was not passed into law. I may, perhaps, set my noble and learned Friend right upon one point. It is perfectly true that in the Report made by the Commission in 1857 I concurred with the majority of my Colleagues in recommending the system of registration which was afterwards embodied in the Bill introduced under the auspices of the Government of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) in 1859. But had my noble and learned Friend examined into the question, he would have found that I then entertained views identical with those which were finally embodied in the Bill I afterwards originated; but I thought it right not to imperil the Report at the time by insisting on those opposite views. When Lord Derby's Government brought in a Bill in 1859, I thought it becoming and right to give it a steadfast support, and, had the Government continued long enough in office to carry that measure, I should never have set up in opposition to it any proposal of my own. But when the Government of their successors was formed, and I had the opportunity of dealing with the subject, I undoubtedly reverted to the opinions which I had originally entertained. My noble and learned Friend was in error on another point. Before the Committee to which your Lordships thought it right to refer the various measures brought forward on this subject in 1862, the Bill produced under the auspices of my noble and learned Friend was rejected, not on the grounds of expense, but because the principle upon which it proceeded was the creation of an artificial ownership for the purpose of registration. The question put to the Committee was, whether they would approve registration being based upon a footing of an artificial kind created for the purpose, and not being the real title, or whether they would desire to have a registry that should be a perfect mirror in its faithful reflection of the actual existing ownership. I believe the Committee were almost unanimous in the conclusion which they came to, that if they were to establish a registry, that registry ought to proceed upon the basis of actual and not fictitious ownership. And it was on, that ground, being in conformity with the opinions which I have always entertained, that the Bill of 1859 was postponed, and a preference given to the measure eventu- ally passed into law. But I repeat that had the question arisen under the Government of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), I should have persevered in giving to the Bill emanating from his Government my most hearty support. Passing over this personal matter, I am very desirous of giving to your Lordships' an exact statement of the present condition of the system, its promises for the future, and of the reasonable grounds which exist for expecting that it will eventually succeed. The apprehensions which have been expressed in consequence of the small modicum of success hitherto attained are, I think, unfounded; particularly when we refer to the history of the early stages of measures now of acknowledged and general utility. Of measures passed by the Legislature in modern times, I believe none have been more useful, none more resorted to, than the Copyhold Enfranchisement Act, passed in 1841. How many instances of applications were there under that Act the first year after it was passed? One. In the next year there were twelve; in the next, twenty-nine; in the next, forty-nine—so slow was its progress; but in the year 1861, twenty years after the passing of the measure, its utility was so generally recognized that the applications under it were no less than 786. The Act authorizing the making of exchanges under the powers of the Inclosure Commissioners was passed in the year 1845. In the first year there were only ten cases under it; in the second year, twelve cases; in the third, thirty-nine; but, in the year 1862, seventeen years after the Act passed, there were no less than 246 cases. These instances show the slowness with which the utility of institutions of this kind is recognized, and with which they are adopted. Let the House contrast with them the facts as to this measure of 1862. My noble and learned Friend has twitted me with not having that vast amount of business that I anticipated. Will he permit me to remind him that the Bill for the registration of assurances was compulsory; but Parliament refused to make this measure compulsory, and I was obliged to adopt the voluntary principle, and leave parties to find out its utility for themselves; and, when they had found it out, to get over the opposition of their solicitors in order to get their titles registered under this Act. The measure did not come into operation, until the end of October, 1862. The orders putting it into operation were signed by me on the 15th of October, 1862, and we then had to issue a general notice that the Act had come into force. From that time until the 1st of March in the present year—the date to which the Return comes down—there have elapsed only sixteen months. In those sixteen months, notwithstanding the most determined opposition on the part of the great body of solicitors throughout the country, there have been brought into this Office very nearly two millions worth of property. Is that a failure? Contrast it with the instances which I have given, and tell me whether it is not in truth great evidence of success in an institution of this character. In addition to the Return now before the House, I have this morning received from the chief registrar a letter, which tells me that since the 1st of March there have been additional applications, comprising between 1,700 and 1,800 acres of land, and including property exceeding £130,000 in value. Now, what have been the obstacles to a general registration of titles? They are such as your Lordships will most readily understand and appreciate. The mode of remunerating solicitors in this country is unfortunately very bad and very erroneous in principle. The solicitor is paid according to those erroneous principles upon which the Legislature acted in former days, when it appointed a tariff of wages for artisans and different persons employed in trade and other occupations. He has prescribed for him by the Legislature the charges which he shall make, and, unfortunately, those charges are calculated according to the length and repetition of his deeds. He is obliged to make everything as long as ho reasonably can, and he is obliged to continue a system of the greatest complexity and of minute involution of facts and circumstances, because there is no other mode by which he can obtain his bread. These are the reasons why — though I readily bear testimony to the honourable conduct and feelings of the great body of solicitors—it is utterly impossible to expect that they can adopt any other course than that of opposing an institution of this kind, that will actually take the bread out of their mouths, and deprive them of the chance of getting any fair remuneration for their skill. The best informed among them have said with great justice, "The law, as it now stands, rewards us for prolixity and fines us for brevity. "That is an exact representation of the law. Accordingly I have made another attempt to make the Act work by preparing a Bill enabling the Lord Chancellor, with the aid of the other Judges, to establish a system of remuneration of solicitors upon an ad valorem principle; and I earnestly desired and trusted that the solicitors would give me their assistance and enable me to introduce a practice which would render this system of conveyance of property compatible with the liberal and fair remuneration of solicitors. I am sorry to say that I have not received the assistance which would have enabled me to accomplish that object. I hope next week to make a new attempt to do so by introducing a Bill which I trust your Lordships' will receive, and which will, by the authority of the Legislature, alter the law upon the subject of the remuneration of solicitors. Allow me for a moment to point out to you how plainly the solicitors threatened that they would join in a body, upon the principle of self-preservation, to oppose the system which I was introducing. I will take only one or two extracts. A paper was presented to this House by the Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association, in which they say this— It will be impossible to establish any new system of transfer of land until it has been made the interest of the profession of solicitors to support such change. That was telling the truth openly and fairly, and that has been the reason why this plan has been kept from the knowledge of the people, and why, whenever any landowner has asked his solicitor, "Why cannot I put my title upon the land register, and then I can go into the market with a piece of parchment showing exactly my interest in the estate and the estate itself, and all these masses of dirty, musty parchment may be sent to the fire?" The answer has been, in the great majority of cases, "You will incur I know not what danger"—and all sorts of legal hobgoblins have been conjured up to frighten the questioner from resorting to this office. I appeal to your Lordships. Does any one of you know anything about your title to your estates? Is there not dwelling upon every estate, or rather sitting upon the shoulders of every landed proprietor, a solicitor who guides him in all things, controls him in all things? Can he ever shake off that Old Man of the Sea? Why, my Lords, it is impossible. Talk of a priest-ridden country—there may be such things —but that we are a lawyer-ridden country with regard to the condition of real property is a truth beyond the possibility of denial by any one who is conversant with the subject. What has thrown light upon every subject of knowledge? It has been the introduction of printing. Why has not printing been introduced into legal deeds? Why is it that you have presented to you a mass of parchment so repulsive in its character, so utterly forbidding in its condition, its language, and even in the style of its writing, that you surrender up yourselves in despair? You do not know what you are signing. It may be a consignment of your property to some condition of things from which you can never extricate it; but you blindly accept it. All other mysteries have been unfolded, but this thing which comes home to you all is still a sealed book. The Scripture declaration is verified to the letter. "The lawyers keep the key of knowledge to themselves, and load men with grievous burdens heavy to bear." I have in my hand for your Lordships' inspection one of the new deeds—a Certificate of Title under this Act. It is a piece of parchment written on one side only, and is the result of the investigation of an abstract of title extending over 150 sheets — there is an accurate map of the property—there is the accurate result of the title, and there is a copy of the entry on the register, and according to the Act the owner of this property will, when he wants to sell it, have nothing to do but to carry this document to the auctioneer, and the purchaser will have nothing to do but to see that the document corresponds with the entry in the book of register; and then, instead of entering into an investigation lasting for six months, or perhaps for two or three years, he can go to the registry, ascertain the fact, and, upon the payment of 5s. or 6s. beyond the price of the moderate stamp imposed by the Government, he has his name entered upon the book, and has given to him a document corresponding with this, and the estate is conveyed to him for ever with an indefeasible title. If the owner of land with this kind of title wants money he has nothing to do but to hand over this document to the lender with a corresponding statement, which maybe secured at the cost of half-a-crown. This he may do by way of mortgage; but if he simply requires a loan, without mortgage, he has simply to go to his bankers with the document, and to say to him, "Will you lend me £5,000 or £10.000?" He can then deposit it with the banker by way of collateral security to his personal credit, and his banker would receive it with the most perfect confidence, because, while the document is in his hands, there can be no possible dealing with the land, and the document itself proves the indefeasible title of the landowner. I am happy to be able to add that, by the great assistance which I have received from the Inclosure Commissioners, I have, in bringing out this scheme of registration, obtained the invaluable services of Colonel Leach, one of the officers engaged on the Commission, and we have been enabled to adopt a system of mapping which gives the most accurate delineation of the area and boundaries of the land to which the certificate of title refer, in such a manner that the document carries with it the most conclusive evidence of everything which it is important to know with regard to the subject matter, and which may be delineated at an expense not exceeding £5, I have here a letter from a gentleman who, hearing that this discussion was about to take place, writes to mo to say; that having some time ago purchased forty-two acres of valuable land, for which he gave £4,000, he was desirous of having his title placed upon the register. He applied to his solicitor with that object, but his solicitor expressed his indisposition to be a party to the transaction, saying that it was against the spirit and the law of his caste. The consequence was that the gentleman himself went and got the title registered. He has furnished me with the details of the whole amount he had had to pay for the registration of his title to the land which was likely to be sold for building purposes, and the whole expense of putting his title upon the register, and emancipating the land and its owners for ever from all parchments and mystification was £29 7s. 1d. These are proofs that this, after all, has not been an ill-considered measure; and I may, perhaps, without being open to the charge of vanity, be allowed to say that having given many years' anxious attention to the subject, and having framed this Bill, every word of which I drew with my own hand, I look upon it as matter of great satisfaction to be able to state that there has not been found a single difficulty in the working of the measure. It is undoubtedly true that your Lordships' and the other House of Parlia- ment in dealing with it, very wisely and very prudently inserted several precautionary provisions—especially in reference to public notices — and these necessitated certain preliminary proceedings, which, of course, produced delay, and in some degree generated expense. But what, after all, does the delay of a month or two amount to when the land is placed in a position in which it can be carried into the market with perfect security, thus enabling a man to complete his contract within a week or two, without any doubt as to the money, and without the vexation of having over and over again visits from a solicitor; while under the present system he would probably have to wait for months, and perhaps for years, before the matter could be brought to a satisfactory conclusion? These, my Lords, are the great objects which I desired to carry into effect. My noble and learned Friend (Lord Chelmsford) taunts us a little with having spoken somewhat too triumphantly of the measure in the Speech from the Throne; but I must say that the language of that Speech, in which I had some little concern, is as little triumphant, in my opinion, and as moderate as it can possibly be. The passage which my noble and learned Friend alludes to simply expresses a hope that the measure would be productive of general utility; and I can scarcely imagine that my noble and learned Friend will continue to be of opinion that in saying so we were going too far. I may add that I thank my noble and learned Friend for having given me an opportunity of making this statement. I beg of your Lordships to bear in mind how great is the infliction in the shape of taxation on the landed interests, owing to the state of the law, which it is the object of the Bill to do away with. You could not grant a lease, you could not sell a bit of land, you could not make a charge or a settlement, without having to go through operations so laborious and expensive, that the most ordinary acts connected with real property involved you in a bill of £100 or £150 or more. Let any noble Lord run up in his memory the sums he has paid to his solicitor from year to year, and then he will be in a better position to perceive how important is the change. And was all the perplexity and confusion—the solicitor alone was familiar with the title to his estate, and an enormous amount of expense and burden was the consequence—was all this necessary? By no means. All that is wanted is this —that the title should be examined; that the result of the examination should be duly recorded, and the record continued in a simple manner, so as to prevent the intricacy—frequently the inaccuracy—which was the result of the law as it stood; then the titles to real estate will become transparent and clear and certain, precisely in the same manner as the title to stock in the funds, to railway stock, ships, or any other analogous form of property. That this measure has been a failure I entirely deny. That it will be a failure is a thing which I venture humbly to anticipate as impossible. I have had the good fortune to assist in the passing of some measures of legal reform, and of originating others; but if there is one measure on which I could put my finger with the hope of being hereafter remembered, it will undoubtedly be this Bill, when its utility and the relief which it is calculated to give to the owners of landed property shall have been fully developed. I will further only trouble your Lordships with one or two instances of the slow progress made in the case of the solicitors. I hold in my hand an article from a well-conducted journal which concludes with the following sentence adverting to the mode of remunerating solicitors:— This must be borne in mind when the scale of costs comes to be settled. If it be not, it will be so much the worse for the chances of this new legal department, so far as the amount of its business is concerned. That is a prophecy which those who made it had the means in their own hands of fulfilling, and which they have certainly not failed to some extent to carry into effect. These are the occasions of the slow progress of the measure; but I do not think your Lordships will be disposed to regard that progress as very slow when you take into account the great confusion which the Bill was introduced to remove. There are many other circumstances connected with the subject which I should be glad to lay before the House, but I feel that I have already trespassed too long upon its attention. I am very thankful— and I speak with the greatest sincerity— to my noble and learned Friend for having brought this matter forward, and I trust he will concur with me hereafter in—if I may use a familiar expression—saying a good word of the Bill, which I assure him I introduced in the earnest but humble expectation that it would prove to be of the greatest possible service to the landed interests of the country.


said, they all had the same object in view in the various alterations which they had suggested; and he hoped that they would all rejoice as the present measure became more and more successful. He must say he thought it scarcely fair to describe this measure, which had only been in existence sixteen months, and which had had great difficulties to encounter, as a failure. If his noble and learned Friend (the Lord Chancellor) could succeed in framing any measure to institute a more rational mode of remunerating solicitors, it would be worth all the Bills upon this subject; but he must express very great doubt whether such a measure was possible. An ad valorem remuneration had been talked of; but to that there was the greatest objection, for it would give to the rich a monopoly.


said, that some years since an alteration had been made in the law of Scotland, with the view of shortening documents of title. As feudal superior of certain lands in Scotland, he had been called upon to sign many charters which were of great length and full of recapitulations. When the alteration of the law took place, he had a charter brought to him to sign, which only consisted of half a page instead of thirty pages. He was sorry to say that he had never signed but that one short charter, for the lawyers persuaded their clients that it was much safer to have everything recapitulated. This showed how hard it was to bring about a change of this sort. As to registration of titles, he must say that that worked remarkably well in Scotland.


said, he had heard with great satisfaction the statement of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. He was sure that if the noble and learned Lord would allow the document which he had read (the Certificate of Title under the Act) to be printed and circulated, it would produce a great effect on the public mind, and would do more than anything else to make the measure intelligible to the public.


said, he should have great pleasure in directing the document to be printed. It must be understood that it was an exact transcript from the register of an existing estate— the names, of course, being omitted, and it represented the abstract of a title extending over 150 sheets.