§ The LORD CHANCELLOR moved the Second Reading of this Bill, the object of 1307 which was to assimilate the law of Scotland with respect to entails to that of England. He did not apprehend that any of their Lordships would be of opinion that the present defective state of the law of entail in Scotland was such as ought to be continued. The present state of the law did not affect merely private individuals, but the country generally. There could be no doubt that the agricultural interests, and those of all who were concerned in the landed property of the country, were affected by a law which prevented the sale of landed property in many cases. Long experience had proved that the law of entail in this country was satisfactory, and that they would have a safe precedent to guide them in respect to Scotland. The three first clauses of this Bill were framed with extreme caution, in order to assimilate the law of Scotland with that of England. The Bill provided that parties wishing to disentail their estates should first have the consent of the parties next entitled; whatever interest there might be beyond the three was not to be considered, when opposed to the vast advantages which must accrue from the assimilation of the law. The measure was one which would confer a great boon on Scotland.
The DUKE of BUCCLEUCH
said, it was not his intention to offer any opposition to the second reading of this Bill; but he must state his opinion, that there never had been brought under their Lordships' consideration any measure of so sweeping a character as this; affecting the possession and inheritance of property in Scotland. It was no small alteration in the law which was proposed; at the same time he was not prepared to say that some alteration was not necessary in the existing law of entail in Scotland. He knew there was a prejudice against this law as it was in force in Scotland; but he believed its general practical operation had been most beneficial to the country, and that it had often protected property which under different circumstances would have been split up in small portions. He believed that this Bill in some instances went beyond the law of England. He would not trouble their Lordships with any further observations, but would consent to the second reading; and he moved that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
After a few words from Lord CAMPBELL in support of the Bill,
The DUKE of ARGYLL
said, that the clamour and agitation which had been 1308 raised against the present law in Scotland, had been raised by those who knew little or nothing of its working, and in places where there was a tendency to democratic opinions. This Bill was a great and important change in the present system, which should not be lightly consented to; and, like his noble Friend (the Duke of Buccleuch) he should consent to the second reading of the Bill, and support the Motion for referring it to a Select Committee.
The DUKE of MONTROSE
expressed his satisfaction that the noble Lord who moved the second reading of this Bill had consented to its being referred to a Select Committee. He had no doubt that such a course met with the approbation of nearly every noble Lord present.
The EARL of MINTO
said, that he believed the object of the Bill was to assimilate the Scotch law of entail to the law of England, and therefore he entirely approved of it. A feeling of discontent had arisen, in consequence of the present law, which was by no means confined to democratic towns, and which this Bill was in every way calculated to remove.
§ Bill read 2a.
§ House adjourned.