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respect to England, requiring considera-bered Estates Court was very great indeed, tion; and, therefore, he could not under- not to those under its operation, but to all take to make any pledge on the subject. those outside of its operation. The value He had thus disposed of all the questions of real property throughout Ireland was asked by his noble and learned Friend, affected by those operations, because the except the question of costs in the Court forced sales in that Court led to the depreof Chancery. His noble and learned ciation of the whole rental and property of Friend was wrong in supposing that the Ireland, and because by a sale under that object of the Commission was to increase Court a better title could be obtained from fees already settled-the question of fees a person in debt than from a person who in the Court of Chancery had yet to be was perfectly solvent. It was a state of inquired into, and it was now under con- things that ought to be put an end to, and sideration. in altering the law no principle should be adopted with respect to Ireland that would not be equally applicable to real property in every other part of Her Majesty's dominions; because it was not fair or wise to say that property in Ireland should be treated in an exceptional manner. He wished he could feel confident that that principle would also be adopted with respect to the Tenants' Compensation Bill. He denied that Ireland now presented an exceptional case; and they should not apply a law to that country that was not applicable to England or any other part of Her Majesty's dominions. It had been said that extraordinary circumstances justified the application to Ireland of an exceptional principle. He did not admit that extraordinary circumstances would justify the adoption of such a principle for permanent legislation; but even if they did, the extraordinary circumstances that had been urged as a justification had totally disappeared in Ireland. He had given notice of a Motion for certain returns with regard to the relations of landlords and tenants in Ireland; and he was sure it would appear from those returns that there were no more disputes there than in any place else, that there was no litigation between landlord and tenant of any consequence in that country, and that there was the utmost confidence under the present state of the law on the part of the tenant who took land from a landlord. But there was not confidence amongst persons who wished to invest money in real property in Ireland in what might be the course of legislation. There was great doubt and apprehension entertained by persons who were going to purchase property in the Incumbered Estates Court in Ireland, or who desired to invest their money in property in Ireland, in consequence of the Bills that had been introduced into the House of Commons. He hoped the Government would be unanimous in adhering to sound principle, and that no principle
LORD CAMPBELL thought that these desultory discussions, without any Motion being before the House, respecting mea sures that were pending, was very inconvenient. During the time he was connected with the Government the practice pursued was, before any important question was brought forward, to subject it to discussion by the leading Members of the Government who were likely to take a part in the debates for carrying that measure through. He did not think that that course had been pursued by the present Government, although he had no doubt of their sincerity in seeking to attain a sound and an enlightened measure of law reform. He had no doubt that the affairs of the country would be safe in their hands, and he was prepared to give them his sincere and disinterested support; but he questioned whether they could successfully carry out any great measure of law reform, unless there was full concert between all the Members of the Government before that measure was brought under discussion in Parliament. He would, therefore, advise the Government that, before any measure of law reform was proposed, they should be certain that all the Members of the Government were prepared to support the whole measure.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE said, that not being acquainted with the merits of the legal measures generally, he would not express any opinion upon them; but with respect to the measures that related to Ireland, he wished to make a few observations. He had heard with great satisfaction that the Government were determined to act upon the Report presented, though not published, and to do away with the anomalous state of the law which now prevailed in Ireland in reference to the Incumbered Estates Court, and to transfer the business of that Court to the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery. The grievance arising from the operations of the Incum
would be entertained by them except one that bounty in some instances was held
LORD BERNERS moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for a Return of Regiments of Militia. embodied in each month to the present time, stating the effective Force of each when embodied and at the present time; the Number who have volunteered from each Regiment previous to and since their last training; the Number re-attested within the month stated in circular, distinguishing those retained for future training; and Number of those discharged in consequence of their wives and families becoming chargeable to their parishes. The noble Lord said he was informed that those returns could be made out in a few hours. He thought it was only right that their Lordships should know not only the present effective force of the militia, but also the progress that had been made in the embodiment of that force since May last. He did not make the Motion in any hostile spirit to the Government, but only for the purpose of obtaining information. He found by the papers that from May to September there were eighteen regiments embodied, and from September to December, thirty-seven regiments, and since that time 20,000 men. He wished to call the attention of the noble Lord the Secretary of War to one or two measures that were prejudicial to enlistment. Since the order of the Minister of War had issued-the order that each private re-attested should receive a bounty of 1., a circular had been issued which limited the payment of the bounty to one month. It came within his knowledge that the privates considered that order a great grievance. The promulgation of that circular had virtually stopped the enlistment, and he hoped the noble Lord would be induced to extend the limit to four or six months, or remove the restriction altogether. The bounty, under the original Act, was to be given to the men after they had completed their twentyeight or fifty-six days' training. That was looked upon as a nominal but not a real bounty. He was informed that 11s. of
LORD PANMURE had no objection whatever to the returns being made, but did not promise that it could be completed within the time the noble Lord anticipated. Ile was sorry to find that the noble Lord had thought it necessary to revive a subject that had been already submitted to the House, and by the introduction of which the ranks of the militia regiments had been to a certain extent depopulated. The period of a month had been fixed upon in the circular in consequence of a statement made to him by several officers of militia, that after a month's absence amongst their friends, many of the men, having spent their money, would voluntarily return, therefore he had fixed in the circular one month as the period during which, if they rejoined the force, the 17. should be paid to them. In all arrangements of that kind some definite period must be fixed, but a circular of that kind was not to be considered as unalterable. In many instances the colonels of regiments had asked for a prolongation of the time, stating that it would be of great service in getting back a number of men, and he had at once consented to prolong the period for a fortnight. He had not been asked to grant a longer period than six weeks, though, if a longer period were necessary to get back men to the ranks of the militia, he should be very glad to give it, but that must depend upon the representations of officers commanding the regiments of militia. With regard to the deductions referred to, the same practice prevailed without complaint in the regular army, and as of course they could not alter the arrangement with regard to the militia without altering it also in regard to the army, he could hold out no prospect of any change being made, and it was not deemed desirable to make a change in the practice with respect to the militia. Motion agreed to.
Committees, yet even he would admit that they were attended with great difficulties. Before such a Bill was allowed to pass, it was referred to two Judges by a standing order of their Lordships' House; that, he thought, involved the inconvenient course of mixing up judicial and legislative matters, and it was incumbent on their Lordships to make some better provision in regard to this class of Bills. Again, these private bills were attended with great expense. He had a list of sixteen cases of private bills taken at haphazard within the last five years, and he found that the average cost of each of these sixteen bills, which were for leasing, for sales in exchange, or for mining, was 1,2701. There were fourteen or fifteen of these bills every year brought in; so that from 17,000l. to 20,000l. a year was spent on this species of private legislation to enable parties to do what they ought to have the power of doing without an Act of Parliament. But that was not all; for though 1,2001. was the average cost, persons having small properties were absolutely debarred from obtaining the required powers, except at a
THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, he wished to call the attention of their Lordships to the subject of Estate Bills, and would conclude by laying on the table a Bill to provide for the cheaper and more expeditious granting of powers hitherto obtainable only through special Acts of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord said the necessity for the legislation he proposed arose from the fact-notorious to every one-that the greatest proportion of the landed estates in the country was held by persons who were not the absolute owners in fee simple, but who had only limited interests under marriage and other settlements; the consequence of the general use of settlements being that the present possessors of property had only life interests in it. He would not stop to inquire whether it was a beneficial state of things, but he would take the facts as they stood; merely observing that he thought that, on the whole, the limitation of property by marriage and other settlements had been conducive to the welfare of individuals and beneficial to the community. Their Lordships need not, how-ruinous cost, yet it was as important to ever, speculate on the policy of settlements the owner of a settled property of 2001. or of property; but he desired them to con- 300l. a year to make the most of it, as to template what had been the evil results the owner of a property of 100,000l. a from them. In consequence of the owner year. The expense was, in fact, a bar to not being the absolute owner, he was not such applications, and it was a mockery to able to deal with his property in the most tell the owner of a small property that he beneficial manner, sometimes for himself could get relief. That being the state of the or his family, and in other instances for case, what was the remedy to be found? He the community at large. It was usual in saw no difficulty in recommending one settlements to give a power to grant agri- which experience had already approved in cultural leases, but something more was analogous cases, by enabling similar things wanted; settlements frequently omitted to be done without the interference of the to provide for leases for the working of Legislature. By the Ecclesiastical Leases mines, &c.; sometimes the power of grant- Bill, ecclesiastical persons requiring the ing long building leases was wanting, and power of leasing were enabled to do so. in other cases powers were required for A similar power was given in the Charities exchanging or for selling a portion of the Act of two years ago, and the Charity estate and investing the proceeds in land Commissioners had reported that these more advantageously situated. In well- clauses had been exercised with great drawn settlements these matters were benefit. The Municipal Corporations Act generally provided for by anticipation, but gave similar powers. It might, of course, it often happened, especially in small be said that these cases were not those of estates, that they were overlooked. How tenants for life, but they stood in the same was this want at present remedied? category as the cases to which he now By a very objectionable and expensive referred, and afforded an illustration of the course-by the very objectionable mode kind of provision which those who had of obtaining the required powers by pri- limited interests in property demanded. vate and special Acts of Parliament-by It was a rule with his noble friend the privilegia granted to meet each case. Chairman of Committees that, if an apAlthough these Acts of special legislation plication for an Estate Bill came before him were managed very ably by his noble recommended by the Court of Chancery, Friend (Lord Redesdale) the Chairman of it was adopted. [Lord REDESDALE: That
was not an absolute rule.] No, but that was the ordinary rule. He proposed that any person whose necessities required that powers should be given of leasing either agricultural or mining property, of granting building leases, or the sale or exchange of property, should apply at once in a summary manner in the Court of Chancery to one of the Judges at chambers. The Judge, if he approved, could give the requisite authority at once, and his authority would be just as good as if an Act of Parliament were passed. The result of this change would be a saving of some 20,000l. a year, besides the facilities which would be afforded for the advantage of property as well as the present possessors. The Bill which he proposed to lay on the table had one further object. He thought that a tenant for life should have the power of leasing without applying to the Court of Chancery. This was not new legislation, for it was so old as the time of Henry VIII., at which period tenants for life were empowered to grant leases for 21 years. He proposed by this Bill to enable tenants for life, unless where the settlement forbade such a power, to grant agricultural leases for a term, not of 21 years, as was done by the Act of Henry VIII., but for a term not exceeding 14 years. In the case of mining leases, he proposed that a certain portion of the rent should be retained for the benefit of the inheritance. The noble and learned Lord then presented, A Bill to facilitate leases and Sales of Settled Estates.
LORD LYNDHURST thought the country would be very much indebted to his noble and learned Friend for the introduction of this Bill. The expense of obtaining Acts of this kind, as stated by his noble Friend, was hardly credible, though he new of his own knowledge that in the case of a noble Lord in that House, who found it necessary to apply to Parliament for certain Acts granting him leasing and other powers, which he considered necessary, the cost of obtaining them exceeded, he believed, the sum of 5,000l.; while in another case the cost of passing the requisite Acts of Parliament amounted to something more than 6,000l. The observation of his noble and learned Friend was exceedingly just when he declared that the expense of these Bills was such that the owners of small estates, who might be equally entitled to obtain powers from Parliament, were excluded from privileges which the owners of larger estates ob
tained, so that the present system operated with the utmost injustice. His noble and learned Friend had also stated with great propriety that there could be no objection to give this power to the Court of Chancery instead of vesting it in the Legislature, because everybody knew that if a case was recommended by the Court of Chancery to this House it passed the Legislature almost as a matter of course. He thought, therefore, that giving the Court of Chancery the power of dealing with these applications instead of recommending proceedings to that and the other House, was a proper provision. The principle involved in the Bill had been over and over again recognized by Parliament, and he thought that their Lordships could have no objection to adopt it. As to the particular clauses, of course they had as yet no opportunity of judging of these, but he highly approved of the principle and objects of the Bill, and believed it would be hailed with the greatest satisfaction by the whole country.
LORD REDESDALE said, he did not think the whole expense of obtaining these Acts would be saved by the new scheme proposed. One great object which they would have to keep in view was that persons should retain the security they now had that the intentions expressed in their wills would be fairly and reasonably carried out. Under the present mode of procedure they certainly had that security, and no doubt the noble and learned Lord had taken care to provide that except where special and strong reasons existed for a different course, the arrangements contemplated by a testator should not be interfered with. As to the expense of obtaining these Acts it was unquestionably heavy in many instances, though he did not think, if the whole number were gone through, it would amount to anything like what the noble and learned Lord had stated. The heavy costs mentioned by the noble and learned Lord behind him (Lord Lyndhurst) must have been occasioned by many more than one Bill.
LORD LYNDHURST: Yes; in the one case there were five, and in the other six Bills; but in each instance they were applicable to one property.
LORD REDESDALE: That explanation set the matter in rather a different light. Many of these Acts were got for not more than 500l., and, unless under special circumstances, he did not see why
they should necessarily amount to so high a sum as had been alluded to.
LORD CAMPBELL rose to express his entire concurrence in the principle of this Bill. The object in view was a most laudable one, and he earnestly desired that that object should be gained :—it would tend to the better cultivation of the soil, and add to the general prosperity of the community. No doubt the measure was framed with great caution, so as to guard against an improper interference with settlements, and against the conferring of powers not contemplated by testators: has an example, he would refer to the Bill of Sir Thomas Wilson, as to which Parliament, by repeated decisions, had expressed its belief that Sir Thomas Wilson, by granting powers of leasing with respect to certain estates, and witholding them in other cases (although he did not expressly forbid them), really indicated his wish that they should not be granted. Would the powers of enclosure sought for by the heir of Sir Thomas Wilson be granted under this Bill? He hoped not. He hoped that the repeated decisions of the two Houses of Parliament upon the construction of the will would not be reversed, and that they should not unhappily live to see Hampstead-heath covered with houses, streets, and squares. He viewed with satisfaction the introduction of the Bill and trusted it would meet with the approbation of all their Lordships and the support of the Government in the other House of Parliament.
Bill read 1a.
House adjourned till Monday next.
Friday, May 11, 1855.
MINUTES.] PUBLIC BILLS.-1° Thames Embank
ment and Railway.
2° Downing Street Public Offices Extension.
MILITARY ADMINISTRATION IN
MR. T. DUNCOMBE said, that he had lately asked whether there would be any objection to lay upon the table the Report of the Commissioners who had been appointed to inquire into the system of military administration in France; and he wished to know if the Government could now state whether that Report would be produced? VISCOUNT PALMERSTON stated, that Her Majesty's Government had applied to
the French Government for permission to make inquiries into the detailed arrangements of the military departments in France, and their application had been received with the courtesy which might have been expected from a Government with whom our relations were of so friendly
character. He must say, however, that the inquiries which were made related to matters of so confidential a nature-to the internal arrangements and organisation of the French army-that Her Majesty's Government would not think themselves justified in laying the result of those inquiries before Parliament, without ascertaining whether the Government of France had any objection to such a course.
THE BOARD OF ORDNANCE-MILITARY
MR. EWART wished to ask the Clerk of the Ordnance, what measures had been adopted by the Board of Ordnance for investigating and deciding on mechanical and other inventions laid before them for the more vigorous prosecution of the war, and what has, so far, been the working of such measures?
MR. MONSELL replied that, until lately, such inventions as those to which the hon. Gentleman referred had been investigated by a Committee consisting of ex officio Members, and which did not comprise any Members who were appointed strictly on account of their scientific knowledge. The late Secretary of War, the Duke of Newcastle, seeing that the then existing state of things was not satisfactory, added very considerably to the numbers of the committee, and placed upon it many men who were eminent for their scientific attainments, including Mr. O'Brien, professor of mathematics; Mr. Abel, instructor in chemistry; Mr. Anderson, inspector of machinery; Captain Boxer, Professor Wheatstone, and Mr. Gregory. The committee had since been working very satisfactorily; they held meetings two days in the week; and a sub-committee had been appointed for the purpose of eliminating those inventions which were really worth considering from the enormous mass submitted to the committee. During the six months previous to the commencement of the present year, 221 inventions were submitted to the old committee. From the 30th of January to the 30th of April in the present year, 451 inventions had been submitted to the committee; there were now remaining for consideration, 181; the remainder had been disposed of.