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subsequent to the first. The registers, if begun on a moderate scale and extended to realty as I have proposed, would become self-supporting after the lapse of two or three years.

While the subject announced by your Council for special discussion is that of Land Registration, I can hardly doubt that the larger subject of Land Tenure will find a place in the deliberations of this department. I must refrain from entering on questions which to me are of the deepest interest, remembering that the business of an opening address is to indicate principles rather than to discuss problems. I shall confine myself here to the statement of one principle of legislation which ought to govern every measure of land reform, a very obvious one, though frequently forgotten by land reformers, which excuse for stating it.

My point is this. To prohibit contracts into which parties desire to enter, and which are neither immoral nor hurtful, is not jurisprudence. To compel parties to enter into contracts of one description when they wish to enter into contracts of a different nature, is not jurisprudence. Jurisprudence assumes as its hypothesis a certain relation voluntarily entered into between two or more parties, and undertakes to define the conditions and consequences which flow naturally and equitably from that relation. There are land reformers whose mission it is to abolish ‘landlordism.' Others aim at the abolition of tenancy, a third set have declared war against mortgagors of their estates; and mortgagees, if they were not a very useful and influential class, would no doubt also fall under the ban of a sect of economists, if indeed their extinction is not involved in that of the other classes of contracting persons. I am not going to talk politics. My reforming friends may be quite right, and by and bye I suppose we shall come to a state of society in which there are neither landlords nor tenants, debtors nor creditors, and where the land takes care of itself. But jurisprudence has meantime to deal with very complex social relations, and as civilisation advances transactions become more varied and more complex. Complex and various as they are, jurisprudence must recognise them as the legitimate product of social devolop. ment. It would not proscribe a land system because it is intricate, any more than a zoologist would condemn a man because he was a highly organised human being, or cut off his legs and arms to bring him nearer to the ideal simplicity of the mollusc. The true function of the jurist, I venture to say, is to encourage the development of every legitimate social relation which men from considerations of convenience have established amongst themselves. It is his duty at the same time to hold the balance between contending interests fairly, and so to mould the institutions of his country that one class or interest shall not obtain a preponderating influence inconsistent with the free exercise of the personal and contract rights of other classes of citizens. We do not propose to abolish landlordism, because to do so would be an arbitrary interference with the free action of individuals; but we do aim at facilitating the acquisition of property by tenants in order that men, who have sufficient capital both to buy their land and to stock it, may be enabled to place themselves in a condition in which their capital will be best invested. We do not propose to prohibit the mortgaging of land ; because it is not for the advantage of the State that a man who can borrow at low interest by giving security should be compelled to borrow at higher interest, nor do we think that by paying higher interest for his loan he will have more money left to improve his land. But we do entertain, as a legitimate subject for the consideration of jurists, whether mortgages should be allowed to become permanent burdens on the land under the mischievous operation of the law of entail, because this is an incident of the contract with which the State may legitimately deal, and only involves that partial restraint on the mode of exercising a right or entering into a contract which every member of society must submit to in return for the protection which society gives to him against arbitrary interference with his actions by others.

I have stated my views on this subject without reserve, because, while I appreciate the value of many of the projects of law reform which have been matured by discussion in this department of the Association, I also feel that if we value our reputation as a scientific association we may render good service to the cause of law reform by endeavouring to define the limits of its application. We may, at least in some cases, furnish a criterion by which persons less conversant with juristic studies may discriminate between progressive and retrograde changes in the rights and relations of civilised society. Where a law ceases to represent the habits, wishes, and tendencies of society it is already condemned; where it is in accordance with those elements of public sentiment it is the duty of the jurist to recognise it, so as to give free play to the social forces which have brought it into operation.


M HE question as to how the time of Parliament is to be

I saved, how it is to be enabled to devote itself to the real work of legislation, instead of the quite unreal work of overcoming obstruction, which is becoming more and more the policy of opposition, has become a prominent one and will demand a practical answer. The Statute Book grows large when there is leisure to fill it; and a great deal of active or “ascendant” foreign policy, or the garrulous rhetoric which is at the disposal of some domestic grievances, has the effect of limiting the legislative activity of Parliament. A busy country makes few books, a fretted Parliament adds little to the Statute law. That we require a great deal of legislation is the creed of the times, a creed which is open to a good deal of question, as has been shown by Mr. Herbert Spencer, but it is the creed which is believed in. There is very little confidence felt in healthy development, but much in the medicine or surgery of permissive or prohibitory legislation. Once, it was thought sufficient if the law protected life and property from fraud or violence; but its sphere has been largely extended, and there are few of the observances of life or conduct with which it does not now interfere. Hence it arises that a small amount of legislation is looked upon as a reproach to Parliament, and that the question how the time of Parliament can be economised so as to enable it to legislate enough, becomes a matter of importance.

Curiously enough, one suggestion which has been made to meet this difficulty, is that Parliament should cease to legislate in relation to Private Bills, that it should delegate its functions in that regard, and that those functions should no longer be exercised centrally, but locally. This is a very grave proposition, and involves some nice constitutional considerations. The endeavour to devolve many of the functions of Parliament upon Courts or Departments only indirectly responsible to the public, is not unknown to free forms of government, but its success is incompatible with the best forms of such an institution. And altogether apart from the question of the economy of the time of Parliament it is a grave question whether such a delegation of real legislative power is wise or expedient. But this is a suggestion which, we have reason to believe, will be made

the ground of proposed legislation at no distant date, and it is our object here to consider whether the proposed change will have the desired effect, and whether, if it is carried out, it will be an advantage to the public.

It is said that the Private Bill legislation occupies a great deal of the valuable time of Parliament, and that the results of that legislation are unsatisfactory. These are serious charges, and if they are true some remedy ought to be found for the evils complained of. Changes have from time to time been made in the method of the inquiry into the proposals for Private Bills, and it seems now to recommend itself to the Government that further changes in the direction we have indicated are advisable. If Parliament has no time in which to do the important work demanded of it in relation to General legislation, if that is due to the fact that its members have to devote much of their time to the service of Committees on Private Bills, and if these Committees do their work ill, ought not the time of Parliament to be saved by a delegation of those functions to a tribunal which would discharge the duties devolved upon it in a way which would be satisfactory to the public ? That seems to be the argument which has led to the promise which we understand the Government to have given, that it will introduce a measure dealing with the method of inquiry into the expediency of Private Bills.

It is not very difficult to form some idea as to the direction of the proposed reform. The advocates of a change say that members complain very much of the irksome character of the duties upon committee, and they assert that the relief which has already been given to them by allowing many things which were formerly done by Bill, to be done by Provisional Order, issuing either from the Local Government Board or the Board of Trade, has been followed by satisfactory results. There is too, at the present

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