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to Cocker, that while the Government have been paying 42,6701. a year for the purpose of supporting savings banks upon the present imperfect and insecure basis, for the sum of 50,6701. a year, being only 8,0001, a year more, that "perfect security ” which is so desirable might have been given to these institutions. If the above course be in accordance with sound theories of political economy, then we would throw aside such principles altogether, and allow ourselves to be guided by common sense, or by any of those other numerous motives by which human conduct is regulated.

It is also probable that in future the losses would be much less, for the failures in Ireland were very gross cases, and not likely again to occur.

It has, however, been contended, that the greater portion, if not the whole, of the loss sustained by the Government has been incurred through the Commissioners investing the moneys belonging to savings banks in Exchequer bills. “ From the best calculation he had been able to make," observed Sir H. Willoughby in the debate in 1850, “he believed that the savings banks were losers to the extent of 2,000,0001. by these transactions, not including the amount of interest lost by investing in worse security than the funds." i Sir. H. Wil- . loughby subsequently observed that this was the “real cause of the apparent deficit.”

During the late war the public mind was accustomed to the perusal of very large sums in the expenditure of the country; but even in time of peace, the whole sum which has been lost to the depositors through the defalcations in savings banks during a period of forty years would appear insignificant and trifling in comparison with many very moderate items of public expenditure even for one year.

Independently of the question of guarantee, there are many matters connected with the general management and control of savings banks which require revision and improvement.

We hope that during the recess the attention of Government will be directed to the present subject, with a view to the intro

· Hansard, vol. cx. 3rd series, p. 913.

duction, at an early period of next session, of a practical measure, calculated to meet all the difficulties of the case.

We have devoted considerable, but we hope that it will not be deemed too much, space to the examination of the present question. There are, indeed, many topics of reform at the present day more attractive and interesting; but we believe that there is not any more important or more intimately connected with the welfare and prosperity, not only of the industrious classes, but of the community generally.

Art. III.—THE PRESENT STATE OF DOCTORS'

COMMONS.

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VIE temporary miscarriage of the Solicitor-General's Bill

gives occasion to revert to this interesting topic. Another session has passed, and still continues in England what Voltaire in his age called, “ Cette guerre si ancienne et si interminable entre la jurisdiction séculière et la discipline ecclésiastique.” The labours of the reformers of the ecclesiastical judicatures stop at a similar point to that of the reformers of our sewers; and the nation can no more obtain the boon of one probate, than the metropolitan residents can obtain the analogous concession of a general sewage. As often as the public feeling has been expressed upon these subjects, so often has it been obstructed and defeated.

But who are the obstructors in the first of these matters ?

Certainly not the practitioners of Doctors' Commons, for they have submitted to the convictions of reason, and to the prospective advantages of the public, with an honest conscience and a good grace.

Certainly not the primate and his suffragans, for they have long since made the creditable discovery that by abandoning Doctors' Commons and the Consistories, they would offer up an

VOL. II. NO, III,

M

agreeable sacrifice of much popular dislike, and reserve to themselves only political influence and the comforts of immoderate wealth. To whom, then, is the obstruction imputable ?

To the House of Commons—its follies and its factions, its imperfect machinery for legislation, and its ample means of bavardage. It is due to faction alone, and not to any native fault, that the best-considered and best-prepared Bill of the session, anxiously watched and expected by the outside public, has been temporarily withdrawn by its author. In consequence of this, the British people has still to pay for five or six probates, when one should suffice; and must still blunder on in the worse than Cretan mazes of local jurisdiction, without the aid of any clue to be given by modern legislation. How long the wished for reformation is to be delayed is in the fates solely, for no human intelligence can prophesy its consummation, unless only the Government will leave its trifling with law-making, constitute this a measure of the Cabinet, and stand or fall by it.

Abstractedly, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction can have no rational and conscientious defenders. Its foundation, being local, is necessarily imperfect and insufficient, and it has only been the abilities of the distinguished judges who have at various times presided in Doctors' Commons, coupled with the high character and painstaking conduct of the practitioners, that have preserved it in the public estimation. In the dioceses it has been simply contemptible; and this natural imperfection and insufficiency has been aggravated to an intolerable extent in later years, by the modern dispersion of wealth into every division of the United Kingdom. The ramifications of railways -a system the reverse of funding-have displaced and multiplied the situs of the personal riches of the empire. A man of moderate means, nay, of humble means, now constantly leaves effects in the two grand mediæval divisions of England-the provinces of York and Canterbury. But this is not all; a person may not only have 201. of funded property in the one province, and a share or two of the same value in a northcountry railway, i.e. in the other province; he may also have a debenture for 201. on the Caledonian line, and a railway-share of the same value in the sister island;

he
may

hold a leasehold term worth 51. in a royal peculiar; and to crown the misery of his successors, he may die in a Yorkshire manorial court, leaving the contents of his cottage, with a pig, perhaps, and a brood of ducks.

As these disjecta membra must be gathered in, so the executor, for that purpose, must prove the will six times over in respect of one personal estate in one and the same kingdom; and the comptrollers of taxes and the Government informers will take care, for the protection of the revenue, that there shall be a probate for each fragment; consequently, the crowning evil of all this is, that a larger total is collected for the separate probate duties than if the same impost were levied on one aggregate. This is readily illustrated. A person leaving separate sums of 201. in four independent jurisdictions will have to pay four times more duty on the same estate in the separate successions, than if there were one succession only. Each probate will be taken for 1001., and the whole estate is under that sum.

Six sets of courts and their ministers may thus on occasion be required to do separately what one Court would by itself do better. Thus the great practical blot of the present testamentary jurisdiction is its multiplication of probates and administrations, by which is caused a needless and sumptuous repetition of the same succession.

For this blot Doctors' Commons is not personally blameable. The gentlemen practising there are not legislators, but only the servants of the public, bound to execute what the law commands. Many of these gentlemen, however, have done all that could be expected of high-minded and intelligent men. They formally announced to Sir Richard Bethell, and through him to the country, that his measure had their approval or adhesion. They did so because they saw that it hit the blot which the public deplores,and which none were better enabled to descry than themselves. We think that the public has reason to congratulate itself upon having such a high-minded body of men amongst its servants, under the state of facts which we have described. The United Kingdom has come to an agreement upon one pointthat there should be no more than one probate and one adminis

tration. But the mode of effectuating this conclusion may be twofold; and while Sir Richard Bethell's Bill realized one method, that of Sir Fitzroy Kelly represented the other.

The Solicitor-General's Bill provided that there should be one probate and one administration for all England, and that one Court, to sit in London, should exercise jurisdiction in these matters, and also over all points connected with them. A sufficient staff for carrying out these objects was proposed. There was, of course, not to be another Rev. Robert Moore-that

gentleman was to be the last of his once-prevailing class, and no other long-to-be-remembered son of a forgotten archbishop was to be grafted upon the public, to wrest from the working and qualified official the profits of an office for which he had no legal adaptation. It was proposed that nepotism should die, and that the officials should labour in their vocation.

The happy thought of the administrative part of the Bill was the appointment of “official proctors.” This was an idea as original in its conception as it would have been incalculably beneficial in the results of its operation. The proctors now existing are, as regards the voluntary or common form business, the sworn ministers of the Court, and assist the public in elucidating and proving all the preliminary points on which claims for probate and administration are founded. This is an office of responsibility, requiring a special experience and a peculiar peritia. It is in fact one part of the securities of the public, through which a fraudulent application is made impracticable; or if made, it is rendered easy of detection, and of course condignly rejected.

The existing securities in the person of the proctors now practising were to be abolished by the Bill, and their select functions were to be transferred to a more limited body, appointed for the spécialité; and these official proctors were to guide and assist the public in the same general manner as the present proctors do now.

As regards the public, this was a masterly idea. It would also otherwise have been a grand step in the right direction, that the public, in matters of voluntary jurisdiction, should be enabled to transact their own business themselves, if they should

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