HL Deb 01 June 1880 vol 252 cc884-6

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2ª"—(The Earl Cairns.)


When the Bills which my noble and learned Friend is now introducing were before your Lordships in the last Session of Parliament, it may be recollected I was of opinion that the two principal Bilk relating to settled lands and to the law of conveyancing and real property would effect material and substantial improvements in the law as it at present stands. Having expressed that opinion, I now in no way recede from it. But the Government consider that it will be their duty during the interval between the present and next Session to consider deliberately and maturely various branches of the law relating to land and real property, to some branches only of which these Bills have reference; and they think there might be some inconvenience if they were to take any definite part at present with respect to these Bills, which might, perhaps, afterwards be found to clash, in a manner which it may not be possible at this time accurately to foresee, with other changes to be hereafter proposed. Underthesecircumstances, the course I propose to take is certainly not to throw any obstacle in the way of the passing of these Bills through your Lordships' House in the form which my noble and learned Friend may think best; but the Government reserve to themselves the freest action as to the course which they may pursue with respect to these measures if they should go down to the other House of Parliament.


said, he was very glad to find that his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, on a further examination of these Bills, did not see reason to recede from the favourable opinion he had expressed of them when they were introduced in the last Parliament. He owned, however, that, in the circumstances, he could not help regretting the statement of his noble and learned Friend that no assistance need be expected from the Government in passing the Bills into law. It was quite true that the Bills dealt with only a part of the whole question of land in this country; but as what was contained in them had met with, as far as he could observe, unanimous approval, he could not see why they should not become law, even though Her Majesty's Government intended at a future time to go into the whole of the Land Laws. He was afraid, from what his noble and learned Friend had said, that not only would these Bills not become law this Session; but that in a future Session proposals would be made the effect of which would be to endanger, if not prevent, their passing into law. All he could do was to ask their Lordships to give their assent, and then the Bills would go down to the House of Commons. As to the steps which might be taken there, he could not, of course, anticipate. It would be for that House to say whether they would press upon the Government the desirability of passing the Bills into law in the present Session. As he explained the provisions of all four Bills in the last Parliament, he would confine himself on the present occasion to moving the second reading, and saying that he proposed to take the Committee on each of them next Thursday week.


said, that in Committee he should propose that so much of the Bill as related to a tenant for life making improvements out of his own funds should be made retrospective, and to take effect, if desired, during the life of such limited owner.


believed that, if the principles of the noble and learned Earl's Bills had met with that unanimous approval of which the noble and learned Earl had spoken, it was because they had never been carefully considered. If the Bill now before their Lordships ever became law, it would be an absolute destruction to all settlement of land. It gave power to the tenant for life to convey absolutely, without interference by any party, the freehold estate of which he had the life interest. There were certain safeguards in the measure, but none which would prevent that. In this Bill the present, Government had a measure of Radicalism which they could not exceed.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole Souse on Thursday the 10th instant.

On the Motion of Earl CAIRNS, the Limitation of Actions Bill, the Conveyancing and Law of Property Bill, and the Solicitors Remuneration Bill were also severally read 2a and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 10th instant.