HL Deb 20 July 1896 vol 43 cc117-8

, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, explained that it originated in proposals which he had more than once passed through the House for the appointment of a public trustee, and which he would have preferred to see carried out. But the present Bill was the result of a Select Committee of the House of Commons, and followed a system which had been successful in Scotland. Looking upon it as a step in the direction which he desired, and coming as it did from the other House with the assent of both sides, he desired to give it assistance, Its object was to appoint judicial trustees, to lessen the severity of the law against trustees, and to enable the Courts to give some remuneration to the judicial trustees, etc., appointed, who were to be under the supervision of the Courts, and, if no one else could be appointed, to appoint officers of the Courts to take upon themselves the duties. Also, in the event of an application being made to enable one of those judicial trustees to be appointed as an executor or administrator, as the case might be, where there was no one who would take that office upon himself. The old law had been very harsh indeed against trustees, and the result had been to create great difficulty in finding fit persons to take the office. Very great reluctance had been shown, in the circumstances, to undertake the duties of trustees, and the present Bill, he was certain, would not only make a great improvement in the existing law, but would supply a want which had for a long time been severely felt.


said he warmly approved of the provisions of the Bill with reference to the liability of trustees in cases of breach of trust, on whom the law had often pressed very unjustly. Trustees had acted for the most part gratuitously in those matters; still, the law had held them liable, although they might have acted honestly and reasonably, if upon the strict construction of the provisions, they could be said to have committed a breach of trust. We did not so deal with any other class of agents, and we had imposed upon trustees a liability which had undoubtedly been very severely felt, and which in many cases had operated unjustly. He was glad, therefore, that the noble and learned Lord had taken steps to remove what he thought was a serious blot on our law in that respect.

Read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.