§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. BIGGAR
Sir, with regard to this Entail Bill for Scotland, I do not think that, as far as my memory serves me, it has been explained at all to the House; and I think it is a very bad precedent for the Government to bring forward a Bill of such importance without giving any explanation whatever 561 with regard to the provisions of the Bill, or what is attempted to be done by it. This question of entail is one of a complicated nature, and not only is it one of a complicated nature, but this Bill raises the question of the desirability or otherwise of passing a law of this sort. I would say for myself that I think there is nothing more natural than that a person who amasses a large amount of property should be disposed to think that it should be entailed for his family, and that the property which he has amassed by honest industry should be continued in his family for generation after generation. Not only so, but that being one of the matters which is said to be very much implanted in the human breast, I think that a Bill of such magnitude should not be brought forward without proper explanation, and at a time when there is no possibility at all of examining into its provisions. The Bill is a very technical and complicated one, and it seems that it is very unreasonable that it should be carried forward; and I would be disposed also to say that, on general grounds, I am very much opposed to fragmentary reforms in the Land Laws. Even suppose it were conceded—which I do not all concede for myself — that it is desirable that an amendment of the Land Laws should take place, I am personally very much opposed to fragmentary reform, and for this reason, that reforms of a fragmentary nature lessen the chance of valuable reforms in the law. I believe in great reforms of the law; but I do not believe at all in these reforms of a small nature, and the same principle, in my opinion, applies not only to the law with regard to land, but applies equally with regard to all questions. One of the most pernicious customs in this House is the system of asking for small reforms on branches of great questions; and I think it is undesirable, for this reason, that any reform in the English or Scotch Land Laws should take place at this moment. But there is another question with regard to this Law of Entail in which I differ strongly, and have differed very much from some of my political Friends, and it is this. General experience is this—that landowners who own large estates are, as a rule, much more liberal in their dealings with their tenants than small landowners are. What is likely to result if you do away 562 with the Law of Entail? The result will be you will divide large properties into small properties. Each of the persons who gets a small share of a large property thinks that he is entitled to assume the same social position as the person who had the large property. And, Mr. Speaker, what follows, as a matter of course? It follows, as a matter of course—
§ And it being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.