§ House in Committee (according to order).
§ LORD HERSCHELL
My Lords, I pointed out on the Second Reading of this Bill that Clause 1 as it stood would have no operation, and that the words "loan" and "only" ought to be struck out, with which I think my noble and learned Friend was disposed to agree. But I have considered the matter since then, and it appears to me that even then this Bill would be likely to have little or no operation. It is only to apply to a provision under a will or deed (chiefly wills) for the accumulation of property for the purpose of purchasing land; it does not prohibit any other kind of accumulation, and it does not, of course, prohibit the investment in land of the accumulated money; it would not even render it illegal for a person to express to his Trustees his desire that they should so invest it, provided that he did not impose it upon them as a legal obligation. The real truth is, therefore, that anybody, desiring to do that which you are going to prohibit by this Act, can do it just as well, for all practical purposes, after the Bill has passed as before. If that was not the intention it seems to me that it should be carried out in some more effectual way than is done, or we shall be passing an Act with apparently the intention of preventing accumulations which would not prevent them at all. My Lords, I have had several communications upon the subject of Clause 2; I am not going to allude to them now, as we are on Clause 1, further than to toll your Lordships that serious objection is taken to the form in which the clause stands; and I would ask my noble and learned Friend whether it would not be well to defer this measure to the next Session, or the next Parliament, and really to consider whether there is any use in it in this form, and whether it could not be put into a shape that would render it more effectual?
§ * THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, I cannot help coming to the conclusion that the Bill may require more consideration than it can really 1543 receive at this time. I do not know whether, if it passes through Committee now, it will be proposed to negative the Reference to the Standing Committee; but I think this is a Bill which ought to go to the Standing Committee. My noble and learned Friend has pointed out that, so far as the operation of Clause 1, as it now stands, is concerned, it would be so easily evaded as practically to amount to very little. The direction in which the clause points commends itself to my mind now, as it has done always; but I cannot help thinking that it would not be a very easy thing offhand to meet that objection, if the limitation as to investments in land is to remain at all. I will not go into any other criticisms that might arise as to the imperfection of the means provided for determining who is to take that which may be directed to be accumulated. But with regard to Clause 2, I must say that I certainly myself understood it not to be retrospective. Doubts, however, were thrown upon that point on a former occasion, and I am not prepared to say that the words "as from the passing of this Act" may not introduce such a doubt. Certainly I think it would be a very grave matter to pass a measure of this kind which was retrospective, without having clearly in view before you the cases to which it was expected to apply; and, if there is in any part of the country an apprehension that in any cases it might work injustice, that seems to me a cogent argument against dealing too heavily with the matter.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, in the face of the objections that have been made to this Bill, I certainly do not think I could ask your Lordships to allow it to leave this House without its having undergone examination by the Standing Committee; therefore I shall move that it be referred to that Committee; and, indeed, I should have taken advantage of the suggestion made by my noble and learned Friend opposite to remove the same objections myself. I assume that the Bill will have to go to the Standing Committee, and, if there we can agree upon something which will effect the object of the promoters of the Bill, I shall be very glad to have as- 1544 sisted them in their views. But, at present, I do not think it would be a convenient thing to amend the Bill as it now stands here. I shall therefore ask your Lordships to remit it to the Standing Committee.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
I do not know that this is the time to say so, but it is not very convenient to send the measure now to the Standing Committee to be considered. It is a Government Bill, and, therefore, the ordinary difficulties of private Members do not apply; but I should have thought, if it was a Bill to be pressed, it might have been sent up before. At the present time it is very difficult to get the Members of the Committee together.
§ Bill reported without Amendment; and re-committed to the Standing Committee.