§ House in Committee (according to order).
§ LORD COLERIDGE
said, he wished to call the attention of the noble and learned Lord to the clause in the Bill which proposed to abolish the Office and all the machinery for taking the acknowledgments of married women. He should submit to their Lordships that the abolition of this Office was unwise and inexpedient. The whole scheme and the functions of the Commissioners were regulated by Act of Parliament; and, so far as he knew, the law in many cases operated for the protection of persons who ought to have a certain protection thrown over them. The scheme was very inexpensive, and he believed that the Judicial Bench was in favour of the retention of the present system. He submitted that it was hardly worth while, under the circumstances, to abolish this Office.
§ EARL CAIRNS
said, that the clause to which the noble and learned Lord referred passed through their Lordships' House last year without opposition. The Bill containing the clause passed a second reading in the other House and was referred to a Select Committee. There was a preponderance of opinion in the Committee in favour of the clause; but in order that the passing of the Bill should not be endangered the clause was withdrawn. He now asked their Lordships again to send the clause to the other House in the present Bill. For many years there had been a great feeling that the system of the acknowledgment of the deeds of married women was entirely useless and very expensive. He did not speak of the fees paid to the Commissioners; but in order to take an acknowledgment complicated machinery had to be set to work and solicitors employed, and, as a consequence, great expense was occasioned. If it were attempted to justify the continuance of this system on general principles he would point to the whole tendency of modern legislation as being contrary to it. As an evidence of that, he would refer to the Bill which had recently been introduced by his noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, by which married women were given con- 871 trol over their property as if unmarried and with similar rights in respect of property as men. He regarded the present system of taking acknowledgments as one which caused great expense, and was productive of no advantage whatever.
§ Bill reported without amendment; amendments made; and Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next.