« PreviousContinue »
fectual check were adopted, would pre- owners, in many instances, had the benevent the peace-rate from being kept up fit of the high rate, applicable to a period to a fixed standard. It might also in of war, it was not just that all the loss duce individuals to offer low terms, at should fall on the company. The court first, in the hope that they would after- therefore recommended, that the owners wards be able to get a compensation. should be called on for the payment of They might bid, not for what they could the penalty mentioned in their bonds, sail for, but cousiderably below the regu- being from 5 to 10,0001, for each ship; lar contract rate, with a view afterwards a deduction being made, in proportion to of regaining compensation, by which the number of voyages performed. As means the present shipping-system would there were five several acts, relative to be done away. The owuers might come the company's shipping, the court exforward, on a ground similar to that now pressed their opinion, that it would be advanced, and call for a rate of payment extremely convenient, if they were comgreater than what they had contracted prised in one act, such alterations being for. It was not merely to be considered made, as circumstances might appear to as an application for a grant of money, require. but was to he looked to with reference to A Report of the committee of shipping, its possible ulterior consequences.
It which was laid before the court of direcwas not every claim of this sort that could tors, held on Friday, the 1st of March, be entertained. Where a loss was fully was also read. It was, in effect, the and distinctly shewn, relief might be same as the preceding document. granted. But it would be necessary to The Chairman then, by way of introdistinguish between those who had gone ducing the regular consideration of the some of their voyages, and those who had subject to the court, submitted to the the whole to perform. It remained Proprietors the following resolution, for also to be considered, whether they the approbation : should be relieved at the expense of the “ That this court, taking into consipresent system, made to give up their deration the general advance occasioned in contracts; or whether such a plan should their price of Naval Stores, by the long be devised as would preserve the system, continuance of the late war, and the and, at the saine time, afford the relief other reasons on which the court of direquired. The committee would not give rectors have proposed to grant to the an opinion on this point, but, having stat owners of ships, engaged under the new ed thus much on this important subject, system, an addition, for the present year left the court of directors to devise such only, to their peace rates of freights, are measures as might appear most conducive of opinion, that although the owners of to the general good."--The reasoning those ships can have no claim to any inbrought forward here applied to the pre crease of rates spontaneously proposed by
The owners of ships now themselves, in the way of free competitaken up, could not withdraw themselves, tion, yet as the prices of naval stores without becoming subject to an action for have not, from the circumstances of the damages“; and certainly the peace-price time, fallen to a peace , level, and the of stores had not falleu so low as to ena owners are subjected to much expense in ble them to sail, without sustaining con the outfit of their ships, as at their peace siderable loss. The court, therefore, rates of freight must expose them to with the example before them, of the heavy loss, this court is willing, on the long deliberation on the subject, which present occasion, to grant to the said took place after the peace of Amiens, owners relief in the manner suggested by were of opinion, that the best and safest the court of directors, provided the same mode would be to adopt some general may be done with safety to the existing plan, which, while it preserved the pre- shipping system. And this court doth, sent system, might give relief to the thefore authorise the court of directors owners. They knew that no relief could to request the sanction of Parliament to be extended by them, without the con the grant of the proposed relief, with sent and approbation of the general court; such precaution as may prevent it from but they had desired their solicitor to lay affecting the stability of that system.” a case before their standing counsel, for He (the Chairman) had only to observe, the purpose of determining whether they in proposing this resolution, that it was, . could give immediate relief to the owners, in substance, y entirely, and, in words; by allowing them rate of freight, in time almost the same, with that which the of peace, higher than those they had con- court adopted in 1803, on a case exactly tracted for ; without applying to parlia- similar to the present. Though it was to ment.; On this point they had not yet be lamented, for different reasons, that heard Mr. Bosanquet's opinion. The such an occurrence had taken place, be. report then recommended, that the relief cause it rendered a proceeding necessary, granted in the case of 1804, should be that militated against the principle puragain resorted to; but stated that, as the sued for many years that of open com
petition and the adherence to one regular was nothing, whey the owner received rate-yet as it had happened but once 30 or 40,0001. to pay it.-- (Hear, hear.) before, and probably would not again, He wanted an estimate of the expenses for a considerably louger period, it was and he wanted to know, whether the aa inconvenience, he presumed, that might owners were willing to give up the extra well be submitted to, rather than give expenses, which would not be incurred up that system which had been so bene- by repairing in time of peace? These ficial to the company. Ou this ground, were considerations thåt ought to weigh he felt no hesitation in proposing the re with the court. They ouglit not hastily solution.
to adopt a resolution, in opposition to Mr. Hume suggested the propriety of the contracts made by the owners, an granting some delay, before the court in opposition to the terms wbich others came to a decision.
had offered, but which had been refused. The Chairman said, the court of di- Certainly the subject ought to be well rectors, in the view they had taken of considered before the resolution was athis case, were borne out by the opinion greed to—and, as the honourable Chairof the committee of 1803, whose deci man had observed that there was plenty sion was the result of a long and accurate of time, and that no necessity existed for consideration of the question. Acting a hurried proceeding, he hoped the court under the experience, and pursuing the would feel it more decorous, more proexample of that committee, they thought per, and more consistent with justice to that there was no occasion for deferring all parties, to postpone the question for the question. The directors were equally fourteen days, until gentlemen had an willing to consult the benefit of the opportunity of examining and understavdowners as the advantage of the company ing it. He did not wish to delay the and certainly there was enough of the business of the court unnecessarily--but, session unexpired to render hurry unne if his statement were correct-if this cessary. But, if there was no reason to were a proceeding which struck at the doubt the statements made by the owners, root of all contracts—then, he conceived which, he believed, they were ready to the proprietors would feel with him that substantiate, he could see nothing that a few days delay were absolutely necescalled for delay.
sary. Mr. Hume was satisfied that the im Mr. Lowndes, said, that he had alportance of this question demanded fur ways, in matters of contract, been surther time for consideration. Although, prized at one thing. When a parcel of he was ready, at all times, to admit, that contractors suffered loss by their speculathe proceedings of former days should be tions, they regularly called upon the pubattended to in that court, yet he thought lic to remunerate them; but, when they that the precedent of 1804 was a bad made cent. per cent. they would never one-and, looking to their fipances, at give up a farthing of it. He did not unthe present time, ought not to be acted derstand this. He could not tell why the upon. He wished the court to know public were to make good ail the losses, clearly the reasons why he objected to while the contractors pocketed all the this resolution. Those ship-owners, who gains.-(a laugh.) Some years ago, many now asked for relief from their present of our merchants imported great quanti. difficulties, had acted spontaneously. ties of grain ; and he was very glad of it, (Hear, heur.) In answer to the adver- for, but for the supply thus afforded, the tisement of the Company, who wauted country. would have been starved. When shipping, they became bidders. · Their the sale became slack, and the merchants tenders were lowest, and were conse began to lose, not at all recollecting the quently accepted of. It was for them to immense profits they had previously made, calculate the smallest sum they could they went to Parliament. For what? take. If they had not made up their Why to procure relief for the losses they minds on the subject, why did they send had sustained. But it appeared to him, in any tender? Why did they interfere that contractors ought to put up with with others, whose tenders being higher, the losses as well as with the gains. Now, were rejected and which, but for them, with respect to the shipping contract, he would probably have been agreed to. would mention a case in point, to shew Here was an end to all contracts, if an that there was a snake in the grass." He individual having,once agreed to certain would say this, although a gentleman, terms, were allowed to depart from them.' for whom he had the greatest respect, He wished to know, whether an estimate was a ship-owner. ': This proved, that had been formed of the probable expense friendship would not make him swerve attending the proposed relief?. It was from the execution of his duty: 1 Indeed, important that information should be if he were called on to give up either his given to the court on that point. It friend or his country, he would not hesisounded very well, to say, "deduct 5,0001. tate for a moment he would adhere to or 10,000 7. from oach shipBut that his country. 'Gentlemen must be aware,
that leases were often granted, in which co capable of sailing them-and, he bevenants were inserted, binding the lessee lieved, in many instances, they would be not to build on certain places, lest a Som-then let the proprietors see how they prospect should be shut out, or for any would be inconvenienced by it." He did other reason. Now, he recollected, when not mean to say that they would have uo the rage for building was at its height, houses were erected in the Old Crescent, The company were not in the power at Bath, though there was a penalty of of any set of men, and let not the ship10,000 1. for building on that spot. But owners value themselves on that point. how did the matter stand? The people But it would surely be more convenient found it was worth their while, such was to make use of the present ships, which the rage for building, to pay the penalty. were built for the company's service, They did so. They paid 10,0001. and than to go into the market and take up put 20,000 1. in their pocket. Was there any ships that might offer. not something of a similar pature, with If the judgment, given by the execuregard to giving up the penalty of 5,000 l. tive body, after long and solemn consior 10,0001. in this case ? Instead of deration, together with the evident nelosing 5,000 1. the contractors would pro- cessity of the case, were not sufficient to bably make 10 or 15,000). Therefore induce the court to entrust the power he called on the court to pause and de- called for in the hands of the directors liberate before they agreed to such a pro a power which they did not abuse at a' position, as the remitting 5,000 1. to each former period—he knew of no circumship. There would be an end to con stance that could lead them to agree to tracts of this nature, if they suffered such it. He conceived it was very advisable a proceeding. Each party should be bound, to avoid all unnecessary delay; and havin honour, to abide by his contract, ing made these few observations, he whether profitable or unprofitable. If it would leave the court to decide as they happened to be the latter, let the sufferer might think fit. endeavour to make a better contract the Mr. K. Smith, -"How far is it intended next tiine. He agreed with the honour to go back with this relief?" able gentleman (Mr. Hume) who un The Chairman" Not an hour." derstood this subject much better than Mr. K. Smith—“Are all the ships going he did, that it would be better to discuss out to be relieved ?" the question fourteen days hence, that The Chairman" Perhaps the hop. they might have time to consider and re gentleman may be amongst the very few flect, before they gave their judgment, in who will not seek for relief.-In that case a matter of such serious consequence. the company will not tender it."
The Chairman said, the honourable Mr. K. Smith said, though he might gentleman who had just sat down, had ask for relief, he felt that he was not mistaken one very material point, Instead one of those who, deserved it.-ra laugh) of giving up the penalty of 5,000 1. it was Ten years hence, in the event of a war, intended to press it--to make the owners they would be in the same state as they pay it as a part of the cousideration on were uow. Materials would be at the which the court would be induced to ac same price, ten years hence, as they were commodate, in some degree, those who now. Under these circumstauces, if genwere injured by the present peace rates, tlemen tendering at a fair, honest, and as contrasted with the price of stores. upright price, were thrown out of the An honourable member (Mr. Hume) had market, and lower tenders taken, what inquired, what relief was to be granted ? right had those who sent them in to comwhat the company would be called on to plain ? He would sooner forfeit his 5,0001. pay? The court of directors had not than give up his opinion on this point. thought proper to bring that forward. If However, it was inipossible for the ships they stated that point to the court, the to sail at the present prices--they could owners would soon be apprized of it, and, not sail, at the rates now tendered. under all circumstances, they would en Therefore, he asked, whether all the deavour to make the company act up to ships were to be relieved those built any incidental declaration on that head. two, three, or even ten years ago? They (the directors) were not so green The Chairman said, that was a quesas to act in that manner.-(a laugh) --. tion he was not prepared to answer, nor What they wanted was, to procure the did he think it at all material; because sanction of the court of proprietors to what the court of directors now proposed apply to parliament, and when they got to be adopted was a principle to be acted the necessary power from the legislature, on in cases of great necessity, and no they would make the best and most dis. other. With respect to the observation, creet use of it, for the benefit of the that ships' now tendered could not sail at company. It was important that the the proposed rates, he could only say, ships should be continued in the service that the honourable gentleman must of the companye If the owners were iu- know more on this subject--than the
court of directors, for they were not of exception, which went to prevent that acquainted with the terms on which the system from being destroyed was wise. ships were tendered. The hon. gentle- But let the court observe the situation in man had made a mistake, when he said, which they were now placed. They were that the same thing would occur, ten asked to do that which was done ou à years hence, if a war came on. He (the former occasion-and, on the precedent Chairman) denied this, It was after a then set, they were required to act now. war, immediately when peace was con If they immediately agreed to this propoeluded, that the inconvenience arose.- sition, they at once sanctioned the preIn time of war there was no difficulty cedent. The principle would then be whatever, the rates being established and adopted, that, whenever a peace came, settled ; but it was when war bad ceased, after a war, as the hon. Chairman had and, peace having succeeded, a sufficient expressed it, the company must resort time had not elapsed for things to find to the same mode. He did not mean to their natural level-it was then that the say, that it was not wise—but, as they inconvenience was felt. But the present were called on to establish a principle shipping system had operated so favour- that was to be acted on in future, and as ably for the Company, that he thought it it involved an exception to the general much better to pnt up with a temporary system, he submitted whether it was not inconvenience than to abandon it. more proper to deliberate on it, and comé (Hear, hear.)
to the result slowly and cautiously, rather Mr. S. Dixon wished to ask a question than hasten to a vote immediately, on a which would direct his line of conduct on proposition, the merits of which no genthis occasion. The hon. Chairman pro- tleman, who heard it now, for the first posed to go to parliament, for powers time, could uuderstand. He, for one, which the court of directors did not at could not give an opinion on it-and, present possess. Now he wanted to know, therefore, he requested that time might whether they meant to ask parliament be allowed him, in order that he might for specific allowances to be made to the examine the subject. Certainly, the proship-owners or, having received the ne position, coming from the court of di. cessary powers, would they reserve to rectors, deserved the most favourable conthemselves, as he hoped they would, to struction--and he felt, that, when he had decide how far each ship was entitled to examined it, he should perfectly agree relief? If a general principle were adopt- with them. But, looking to it, as affecta ed for all, it would be extremely dan- ing their future proceedings, to come to gerous-but, if the court of directors an immediate decision, when gentlemen exercised their discretion, on each clajm, had expressed douhts on the subject, he had no reason to doubt but that jus- would, to say the least of it, be very intice would be done both to the Company decorous. He should, therefore, support and to the ship-owners.
the suggestion, that the consideration of • The Chairman observed, that the hon. the proposition should be put off for fourgentleman had apprehended the thing teen days. A laugh had been excited, correctly. It was intended to call on not very justly, he conceived, at the exparliament, to give a discretion to the pression of a gentleman near him (Mr. K. court of directors, under the sanction of Smith). That expression in his opinion, the general court, to grant such allow did the hon. gentleman very great credit. ances to the ship-owners as might appear “ It is my interest,” said he, “ to have necessary. And, he would add, in order this relief; and, if other men seek for to satisfy some gentlemen, that all those and get it, I am willing to take it ; but, . transactions would be completely open to in this my interest is opposed to yours, the view of the proprietors. After they the proprietors. I say, as a proprietor, it had done any thing under the sanction against your interest to grant it.” This and authority of the court, it would be declaration gave him the very best reaopen to animadversion. Every allowance son for questioning the propriety of this granted, on account of any ship, would relief. The hon. gentleman (Mr. K. become matter of canvas, if the propri- Smith) seemed to say, that it was for etors pleased.
the benefit of ship-owners, and of all Mr. D. Kinnaird was anxious the court contractors, to keep them to the terms should consider whether it was expedient they had proposed. In order to encou to come to a decision now? From what rage real good capitalists to contract, and had originally fallen from the hon. chair not wild and visionary speculators, it man, there was no foundation for preci- was much better to make the contractors pitating the decision. And, what the now and then feel, that' they must not mon. gentleman had recently stated, speculate rashly, but send in fair estiplaced in a stronger point of view, the mates, and perform what' they had connecessity of delay. The hon, Chairman tracted to do, whether beneficial or not. allowed, that the shipping system should Those who asked a fair and reasonable be' preserved therefore, any resolution rate, were the persons whom the campa
ny ought to contract with—for there was of the majority of proprietors. He therea moral certainty that they would per fore would take the liberty humbly to adform their engagements. They ought ra vise, that the delay of few days should ther to deal with a man on a good sound be granted. He did so, on two grounds, principle, which offered a fair prospect-first, that the most jealous should be for the fulfilment of the engagement en satisfied that the great principle of the tered into, than take a smaller price, shipping system was not likely to be inleaving the company at the mercy of fringed-and next, that contractors should those who made the tender, to give up learn, that they were not, too lightly, to the contract, on paying 5,000 or 10,0001. be relieved from the fulfilment of their
Mr. R. Jackson. Having heard the pa contracts; for, when over, they thought pers read, and having attended to the they had nothing to do, but to get their clear and candid statement contained in claim for relief attended to by the directhem, and to the explanation given by tors, and that they would then pass the hon. chairman, the question appeared through the court of proprietors, almost to him to stand thus :-The law, if acted per forma, they would not care what low up to, might operate with somewhat of prices they tendered.-(Hear, hear.) As undue severity, and, therefore, the court surely as the concession of 1803, was now of directors were anxious to administer quoted as an authority for remission, so relief, under the circumstances of the surely would the present request, if too
The court had not yet had an op- lightly granted, be quoted for remission portunity of perusing the opinion of his on some future occasion ; and, instead of hon, and learned friend (Mr. Bosanquet) having fair tenders, all kinds of contracon the point propounded to him. But, tors and speculators would send in prohe believed, as far as he was acquainted posals, which, they were conscious would with the act, that the court of directors not remunerate them; and they would could not proceed withont legislative au depend on getting their claims to comthority. Therefore, if he understood the pensation easily passed through the court hon. chairmau rightly, it was intended to of proprietors, by which a good profit apply to the legislature, not for any speci- would be ultimately secured. For these fic allowance, but to enable the court of two reasons, he begged leave to advise directors, under the powers called for, to (and he felt that he would have the sancexercise their discretion, and act with tiou of every gentleman present for offerequity, under all the circumstances of the ing the suggestion) that a future day case. It might be questioned, whether should be appointed for considering the this was a dangerous power to place in question. In his opinion, it was most the hands of the directors, since it went proper that delay should take place, since to alter a system that had been acted on it would shew to the persons calling for for twenty years. He confessed he spoke relief, that their demand would not be with something like a practical feeling, complied with, except on māture deli(and he believed the same feeling was en beration-and it would give gentlemen, tertained by others) which he had spent not conversant with the subject, an ope so many years of his youth, in bringing portunity of investigating it, and thus forward and maturing. He was most enable them to decide correctly on the anxious that it should be preserved. He proposition. With these feelings, he ho. precisely hoped that it would be kept up, ped a few days would be granted for the because on its stability depended the great consideration of the papers. question, whether America or England The Chairman believed he could say should be the traders to the East Indies. with perfect correctness, that the court
- (Hear, heur.) Therefore, he looked of directors did not come forward, to with a strong jealousy, he trusted with a state any proposition against the sense laudable jealousy, to any proposition of the proprietors. If it were the wish which tended to alter it. This resolution of the court to delay this matter for a might appear to some to be an infraction short time, there certainly could be no of that principle which he was as careful objection to it. At the same time, he and as anxious as he could be to preserve. begged leave to state, that the court of It therefore came to this, whether the directors had offered to the consideration power sought for by the court of directors of the proprietors the resolution that had should be given on the mere ceremony of been read, because, in the former case, reading those papers, or whether indivi- of 1803, there was but one deliberation duals should have an opportunity of read on it. Besides there was this point to be ing and examining them, in order that considered that the present direction they might be satisfied, that the bill or was leading to a close, and it was better, act demanded, was as pure and perfect in in his opinion, that those persons, under itself, as he understood it was. To urge whom the business had originated, should this as a question would be useless-be finish it, than to leave it open for discuscause the wish of the directors, in a case sion, at a remote period. If, therefore, like this, would certainly be the feeling any near approaching day were proposed,