HL Deb 14 March 1907 vol 171 cc162-3
The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Onslow)

My Lords, with the permission of your Lordships, I should like to say a word with reference to a Bill which is not before the House to-night, but which was before us last night, and upon which a question was put to me by my noble and learned friend Lord Ashbourne—I refer to Baines' Name Bill. As I had received no notice of the intention of the noble and learned Lord to call attention to it, I was not in a position at the moment to explain exactly what the Bill was. The Bill is a peculiar one. It is not, as the noble and learned Lord seemed to infer, a Bill to change a man's surname—that undoubtedly could be done without an Act of Parliament—but it is a Bill to change a Christian name. It so happened that the testator in this case left the property to this man on condition that he took certain names to the exclusion of all others—that is to say, to inherit the property he was obliged to drop his Christian names. As the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack observed, if by Act of Parliament you take property away from A and give it to B, you obviously do something which the general law of the land did not intend. But in this case, although there were remainders over from the first legatee the same condition was imposed, and therefore everyone would have had either to relinquish the property or ask Parliament to pass a Bill. I must say that this seems to me an unreasonable clause for a man to put into his will. At the same time I do not think there was any way of settling the matter except by asking Parliament to sanction a Bill, and it was for that reason that this Bill was introduced.