§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ EARL CAIRNS,
in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he had a few words to say in respect of it and of the Settled Land Bill, the Conveyancing and Law of Property Bill, and the Solicitors' Remuneration Bill, which also stood on the Paper in his name for second reading that evening. When introducing those four Bills in the early part of last year he explained very fully their various provisions; but he might, however, again state that the Bill under notice proposed to reduce the time within which actions might be brought on ordinary civil contract debts from six 334 years to three, and on speciality debts from 12 years to 20. They had now been 12 months before the public; they had been very much discussed; and he thought he was not wrong in saying that, with only one exception, that of the Settled Land Bill, their provisions had met with anything but disapproval. Regarding the Settled Land Bill, he knew there were many persons who thought legislation on the subject ought to be of a more extended and wider character than that proposed by the Bill. But those who took that view admitted, he thought, that so far as the Bill went it had their approval, and that it would be a great improvement on the present law. On the other hand, there was nothing whatever in the Bill which would prevent anyone who thought further legislation desirable from proposing such legislation; and he was satisfied that it would be impossible to exaggerate the benefit which would arise from these Bills if they became law in the present Session. Now, he did not ask Her Majesty's Government to displace any of their own measures in favour of his; but he did ask them, if their Lordships should think it right to pass them, to give their assistance in passing those Bills through the other House, and he made that appeal more hopefully because his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack had expressed his approval of those Bills. He would conclude by moving the second reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The. Earl Cairns.)
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that, in his opinion, the Limitation of Actions Bill and the Solicitors' Remuneration Bill stood on a different footing from the two other Bills of his noble and learned Friend; and he had no reason to suppose that the Government would be unwilling to lend their assistance in passing them. But the provisions of his noble and learned Friend's other two Bills, the Settled Land Bill and the Conveyancing and Law of Property Bill, might require to be materially modified if any comprehensive measures dealing with the subject of land transfer and the modification of the Law of Settlement were brought under the notice of Parliament. Those subjects were considered to need careful consideration by Her Majesty's Government, and they 335 had hoped to be able to give them that consideration during the last Recess; but owing to circumstances which their Lordships were aware of—Irish questions having to be dealt with—Her Majesty's Government were not now hopeful that, in the present Session, they would be able to bring in Bills relating to the transfer of land, or to settled estates in England. His noble and learned Friend had alluded to the opinion he (the Lord Chancellor) had expressed on these Bills. That opinion was expressed before he was a Member of Her Majesty's Government; but it had undergone no change. He thought that if the general law as to real property wore to remain, in other respects, substantially as it was, those Bills would introduce most useful and important improvements. On the other hand, he was not prepared to say that if that law were to be materially altered, the provisions of those Bills must not undergo modification. When his noble and learned Friend introduced his Settled Land Bill, he (the Lord Chancellor) expressed his opinion that the provisions which his noble and learned Friend limited to future settlements ought to be extended to existing settlements, without the checks, as to existing settlements, which were now in the Bill; and if the Government could be induced to give their assistance to passing that Bill, he thought it could only be on such a change being made. In making those remarks, he simply expressed his own views, not being authorized to announce that the Government would depart from the position which they took up last Session in respect of those Bills, and which at that time he explained to their Lordships' House.
THE EARL OF BELMORE
intimated that, in Committee on the Settled Land Bill, he would move an Amendment for the purpose of extending the proposed limit—21 years—of leasing powers.
§ On Question? Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.
§ Then, SETTLED LAND BILL [H.L.], CONVEYANCING AND LAW OF PROPERTY BILL [H.L.], and SOLICITORS' REMUNERATION BILL [H.L.], severally read 2a (ac- 336 cording to Order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Six o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter before Five o'clock.