THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF ONSLOW)
My Lords, you will be aware that we have before us nearly every Session what is known as an Estate Bill, a Bill dealing with settlements, wills and things of that kind—a personal Bill. The procedure in the case of such Bills is rather peculiar: before being given a Second Reading the Bill is referred to two of the Judges of the High Court, who make a Report upon it. That has been the practice for a great many years. I think that it was instituted before the Act of 1876, which gave your Lordships' House the advantage of the presence of the Law Lords. It has worked very well, and we arc grateful to His Majesty's Judges for the assistance which they have given us and for the trouble they have taken; but it is rather a cumbersome procedure, and, now that your Lordships have the advantage of so much legal talent to advise the House, it occurred to me that we might perhaps substitute a different and more convenient procedure and save the Judges the trouble.
I therefore ventured to consult my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, and I have been able to secure his concurrence in the course which is proposed in the Standing Order which is printed on the Paper. The Standing Order is really a very simple one; it merely substitutes a Committee for the two Judges. Your Lordships will see of whom it is proposed that the Committee should consist: the Earl of Donoughmore, Viscount Hailsham, Viscount Maugham and Lord Romer, to- 212 gether with the Chairman of Committees. The proposal is that this Committee should act in exactly the same way as the Judges have acted, and report in the same manner. I wanted to bring this before your Lordships' House at an early date, because it may be that Estate Bills will come before us—I have not heard of any as yet—and it is desirable that the agents and any parties interested should be aware of this change in procedure, which is not really a very big one, and which will make no difference to them, since it merely substitutes a Committee of your Lordship's House for two of His Majesty's Judges. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Standing Orders relative to Estate Bills be amended as follows: