HL Deb 31 May 1870 vol 201 cc1698-700

asked the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, as to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the Real Estate Succession Bill? That was one of the measures announced in the Speech from the Throne to be brought forward by the Government; it was, therefore, to be presumed that they had made up their minds on the subject before Parliament met. He need not say that a measure relating to the succession to real estate must have a most important bearing on the constitution of their Lordships' House, and all the Members connected with it. On a former occasion—on the 17th of February—when the question regarded the business before the House, he drew particular attention to that Bill, and suggested that it was one which might very wall originate in that branch of the Legislature. No notice was taken of that suggestion; but, on the 18th of March, the Bill was brought in and read a first time in the other House of Parliament. Notice was also given of the second reading for the 28th of March. That day came, and the Bill was deferred till the 2nd of May. It was afterwards deferred till the 16th, and then, on Friday, the 13th, it was deferred till the 16th of June. There it now stood. But the most extraordinary thing connected with the Bill was that, though brought in and read a first time on the 18th of March, it was not printed, or in the hands of any one till the 13th of May. He thought such procedure very unusual. The Bill, as he had stated, now stood for a second reading on the 16th of June, and was not likely to reach their Lordships' House till that period of the Session when it would be extremely difficult to consider it. Under these circumstances, he should like to know the reason for all this delay, and what the intentions of Her Majesty's Government were with respect to this Bill?


thought his noble Friend had certainly travelled a little beyond his Question. He was prepared to give an answer to the Question, of which his noble Friend had given Notice, What were the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the Real Estate Succession Bill? but he confessed he was not prepared to answer him categorically as to all the proceedings in relation to it in the other House, although, if his noble Friend had apprized him of his wishes in that respect, he should have been prepared with all the dates and figures. The Bill had been prepared for some time; but the subject was by no means an easy one. Though the Bill was confined to a very few clauses, the subject was one for very grave and anxious consideration. It was considered in its principle, of course, before it was announced, and also after it was announced in its details. It was announced with the expectation that it would have a very liberal acceptance on the part of the legal profession; but a very eminent member of that profession announced in the other House, on its introduction, that it would be opposed. The Bill then became an opposed Bill, and their Lordships might take almost judicial notice of the fact that the Irish Land Bill had been for some time pending in the House of Commons. A very considerable time had also been occupied, and a good deal more would be spent, in discussing other Bills—the Education Bill, the Universities Bill, the Extradition Bill, and two or three others, all of which would require to be brought on in due course. The Bill in question had been set down on the earliest day that could be conveniently fixed, regard being had to the progress of other measures of more leading importance which must be carried through. Like other measures, it must take its chance of being discussed in regular course. It was the intention of the Government to proceed with the Bill, and, if possible, to carry it up to their Lordships' House. If that was not possible, they could do nothing more than retain it for another opportunity. At the same time, he could not sit down without saying that, notwithstanding all the noble Lord's exhortations that these legal Bills should be introduced in that House, he did not find, practically, much encouragement to follow the suggestion; and he certainly was not disposed to take that course.