§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, it might be convenient to their Lordships that he should now state the course he would have to take with regard to its further progress. There were certain alterations, more formal than substantial, which required to be made in the Bill; and, therefore, he proposed that their Lordships should go into Committee on it pro formâ on Monday with a view to its recommittal; 981 and he would propose to have it considered by a Committee of the Whole House, in the usual way, on Monday week.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a (according to Order) and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.
§ LORD ROMILLY
, without wishing to retard the progress of the measures, hoped the Bills relating to Land Transfer would be sent to a Select Committee. He desired to ask his noble and learned Friend whether there were any objections to that course?
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I do not know, my Lords, whether I am in Order in speaking at this moment in answer to the question of my noble and learned Friend; but as I understand my noble and learned Friend to express a wish that the Bills which have just been read should be referred to a Select Committee, I desire to state to your Lordships the considerations which make me anxious that such a course should not be adopted. Personally, I should be extremely glad on any criticism of these Bills either in Committee or elsewhere, because in point of fact the danger in respect of criticism of Bills of this character is not that there will be too much, but that there will be too little of it. If, however, those Bills are referred to a Select Committee, arrangements must be made to enable my noble and learned Friends who usually sit with me to hear appeals to give their attendance on the Select Committee, and that cannot be done without for some time closing this House to appeals which are now pending. Unfortunately, owing to the period at which the Session itself began, the judicial business of this House was commenced six weeks later than the usual time, and consequently we have not advanced as far in the appeal list as we could have desired. I therefore deprecate any further subtraction from the time that may remain in order that those Members of the House who attend to hear appeals should be present on the 982 Select Committee. Again, we are not at this moment burdened with any great amount of business in the afternoon, and I do not know of any more convenient period when your Lordships can give your time to the consideration of these Bills than two or three hours in the evening. For myself, and I think for some of my noble Friends, it is the most convenient period of the day for such a purpose. I think, my Lords, the consideration of those Bills can proceed quite as satisfactorily in a Committee of the Whole House as it could in a Select Committee.
§ LORD SELBORNE
I quite concur with what has just been said by my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack. I would say further, my Lords, that I have observed with regret the tendency in this House to refer Bills to Select Committees. Among other objections which may be urged to this course is, that it may lead the outside world to suppose that your Lordships' House has less business to do than it really has, and gives less time to business than is really the case. When your Lordships go through the clauses of such Bill as these in the House itself, at least the public will know what you are doing. In Committee of the Whole House we shall have the advantage of the attendance not only of the Law Lords, but of, I hope, many other of your Lordships, and I think the business will be as well or better done.
§ LORD O'HAGAN
My Lords, I desire to make some observations on the Land Bills of my noble and learned Friend, especially with reference to the experience of the working of Land Bills elsewhere. I think, however, that these measures ought to be gone through here, and not in a Select Committee. The general subject has been so long and so largely considered that I do not think there is any occasion for another Select Committee.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I have enjoyed much satisfaction in hearing expressed so much better than I could have expressed them, objections which I have long felt and sometimes endeavoured to urge against sending Bills to Select Committees.