Page images
[ocr errors]

This they had a right to do, by express law. The report of the committee of 1803, What was now proposed was a far inferior had been much dwelt upon by the hon. power, capable of being used only when the gentleman, as being iu opposition to the other had ceased. It was a power to relieve proposal now bronght forward. But the the owners from the necessity of sailing court of directors were of precisely the at inadequately low peace rates of freight, contrary opinion. They founded the prewhen the war prices of stores still in a sent measure upon the basis of the report certain degree continued. Not possess of 1803. It so happened, that three meming this power, the directors recommend. bers of that committee were at that mos ed an application for it to parliament. ment connected with the company, and In point of reason and policy, the mea two of them members of the direction, süre ought to be adopted even for the of whom he (the Chairman) was one. maintenance of the present shipping sys- They were all of the same opinion, now, tem. On the other hand, as he had said that they held then, neither of them had in before, and it could not be too often re the smallest degree altered his sentiments peated, if the general court determined upon this subject, nor did they think to drive the owners to the last extremity, themselves to be now acting inconsistentthe company must sustain a positive, greatly with the report of the committee of disadvantage in the consequences of their 1803. On the contrary, they considered own excessive rigour.

that the present was distinctly and exactThis was a short view of the case; and ly, a measure of the same kind, which he should hope that the proprietors would that report finally produced. not shut their eyes against their own in From the tenour of what the hou. genterests. The company had an important tleman had said of the great change that stake depending, and as already shewn, had taken place in the year 1796, in the but one alternative :-either they must shipping system of the company, it might drive the owners to distress, perhaps to seem as if the whole of that change had desperation, and endanger the system it been effected from without the bar by self, or, they must consent to the propo the proprietors only; but friendly as he sed modification under the sanction of a (the Chairman) was to the change, he remedial law.

must be allowed to say on the authority The hon. gentleman spoke a great deal of the records, through which he had traabout opening the door for private influ velled, that the first movements towards. ence and favouritism ; and it would seem emancipation from the old system origias if he had been rummaging the proceed nated in the court of directors long before ings of the committee of shipping, in or the subject was taken into consideration der to enable him to throw ad captandrim by the court of proprietors. It was very aspecious colouring on these insinuations. true, that the change was very ably conHe (the Chairman) could only say that tended for in the court of proprietors, sethe proceedings of the court of directors veral of whom distinguished themselves in in shipping affairs, had long been printed support of it, and by their co-operation for the use of the proprietors, and were with the court of directors, it was at at all times liable to their inspection. If length carried ; but without meaning to still it was to be objected, that the propo claim any undue merit for the directors, sed measure would be open to abuse, he he thought it right that this couduct, as had only to say, that if no discretion commencing the efforts which produced whatever was to be left to the directors, that important measure, should be fairly if the proprietors were to put no confi understood. gence in them, of course they could have The hon. gentlemau had on that occaDo power at all. If the court of directors sion, argued against the use that had been were really to possess. no discretion in the made of the report of 1803, in the present innumerable variety of cases that occur- question, alleging that it proceeded upon red in the company's affairs ; if they were the expertation of a renewal of the war, and to be so regulated by acts of parliament therefore militated against the measure

and bye-laws, that they could not stir now agitated. But the hon. gentleman < one step beyond the letter of such acts was totally mistaken.

The report of 1 and laws, the consequence would be, that 1803 which was completed in February

the transaction of the company's concerns of that year, after a deliberation of sevecould not go on. It, was impossible for ral months, was framed entirely on the the court of directors, as at present con contemplation of a state of permanent stituted, to proceed with the affairs of peace, as the whole scope of it will shew. - the company, without a certain degree of In March following indeed, the king's discretion ; in the nature of things, they message to the House of Commons, revicould not otherwise be efficient if those ved the prospect of war, and this certain

Who at present exercised the office, were ly narrowed ihe magnitude of the ques***not fit to be entrusted with the discretion, **now required, they could not be fit for

* There were four or five connected, and three the situations they held.

or four then in the direction,

The present

tion that was to be settled with the ow prospect of a permanent. peace ; whereas ners, confining it to those who fitted out then, the peace proved unfortunately to between the peace of Amiens, and prepa be of short duration. But undoubtedly rations for the renewal of the war; but as he had already stated, the committee the act of parliament of 1803, framed af- of 1803 proceeded entirely on the belief ter the renewal was certain, made proyi- that a permanent state of peace was comsion, not for war allowances, which for menced, and on that principle they remer acts had done, but for the grant of commended their measure. an allowance beyond the peace rate of committee acted upon the same principle, freight to the ships fitted out after the and they recommended a like measure, ; return of peace, and before the renewal oply with this additional circumstance, of the war.

that there was now a more certain prosAmongst other observations made by pect of durable tranquility. The act of the hon. gentleman in the course of his parliament now proposed, was of the speech, one was, that the present ship same nature, in respect to allowances, as ping committee had not even read the re the one passed in 1803. port of the committee of 1803. Surprized The honourable gentleman had chosen at so strange an assertion, he (the Chair to animadvert upon the measure recently man) felt himself obliged to give it the adopted of the company's becoming shipmost positive contradiction, as not having owners themselves-a measure which he the shadow of foundation, Why, the was pleased to treat with great disappropresent committee founded their report bation. Now for his own part he (the upon that of the committee of 1803. The Chairman) said he was thoroughly conreport of 1803 was distinctly brought be vinced no measure could have been taken fore them. It was distinctly read, parts more clearly salutary for the interests of of it more than once, with deliberate con the company, and it must be supposed that sideration, yet the hon, gentleman ven if the honourable gentleman were better tured to assume, that the committee had acquainted with the nature and tendency. not read the report at all. He (the Chair- of it, and in what manner the whole had man) only mentioned this, as one of the been conducted, he would not have venways in which the hon. gentleman had tured on the censure he had dealt out. chosen to reason before the court. No He (the Chairman) only desired that the doubt the committee of 1803 laid it down measure might be examined with candecidedly, that a case of loss must be dour and intelligence, and he was contentmade out, before it would be expedient to ed to stand or fall hy it. Anil he was interfere in behalf of the owners; and free to confess that he took an active they added, that such loss must appear part in recommending that measure to to be almost a ruinous loss; they admit- the court of directors. It was very: true ted too, that it was certainly a subject of that there were men who could not be grave consideration. The observation to expected to view it with approbation. this effect in a passage of the report of Those who were, or thought of being own, 1803, was as follows :-“ It is not every ers of ships, were not likely to think it claim of this sort that could be enter right that the company should become tained, but only a case of loss, which dis- ship-owners themselves, and so interfere tinctly and fully made out, that the ow with shipping concerns. But with a view, gers would be subjected by going on on to economy the scheme would be found the terms of their contracts to ruinous decidedly advantageous. By having ships loss." He quoted this, and one or two of their own the company could so far other passages to shew, that the commit- have their freights cheaper than on hired. tee of 1803 looked exactly to all the ships, and they could thus also from their things which were now looked to by the own experience have a standard by which present committee. They looked to the to judge more accurately of the rates of preservation of the system, and the pe freight proper to be given both in peace cessity of relieving the owners from the and war to ships engaged on contract, ruinous loss; they considered, that the Nothing so effectually answered this ruin of the owners would materially af- end as to make the experiment themfect the system, and injure the company. selves : and what they had hitherto done Upon these views it was, that the court in this way had answered the putrpose of directors that day recommended an ap most effectually and had been highly beplication to parliament to obtain their neficial to the company. The court of sanction for affording the relief required ; directors had certainly in the course of and that the court of proprietors resolved the year thought it their duty to purchase on that application; what was then adopt two ships for the company, but they had ed, was all that the present general court been obtained op such favourable terms were now adyised to adopt. He knew of no that in the course of their service they difference in the circumstances, only in would more than clear themselves. The that which he had already mentioned, honourable gentleman had argued upon namely, that the country had now thé this subject particularly with reference

to the India trade and had talked of the þest tést of the conduct of the directors ; losses sustained by the company in that and if the proprietors thought fit to enter trade. He was uot aware that the hon. into such examination and to inspect the gentleman's views upon that subject were general list of their naval commanders supported by any just authority. He was and officers, they would find that the come not aware of any losses sustained by the manders and principal officers chosen company by their trade with India. He were considered with reference to chathought the fact was otherwise. At the racter, experience, and distinction in time indeed of the charter it suited their 'the service, and the officers of inferior opponents to represent their India trade' station, whose services could not have as a losing one, and on this topic exager been distinguished, were taken with a ations might have been made by gentle- ' general regard to their standing and men who had a particular purpose to character. Nothing therefore could be serva ;

but whatever might be the result more unfounded than this charge of the of the company's Indian trade it was how hon. gentleman. ever comparatively a small object when The hon. gentleman had adverted to considered with reference to their trade the case of ships which having been tento China, in which most of the compa-' dered at a higher peace freight were exny's own ships are to be employed, there cluded by the lower tenders which brought being two of them only out of the seven in the ships that are now in the predicawhich they will possess at all fit for the ment of asking for reljef. But the hon. India trade; so that the honourable gen gentleman here raised an argument upon tleman has been very infortunate in his his own mistake. The tenders which had speculations on this subject.

been rejected were not tenders of ships The honourable gentleman spoke of the already in existence, but tenders to build; patronage which this new system of ship the general practice of the company being building on the company's own account, to engage ships to be built for them, not would confer upon the directors them to take ships ready made. These tender's selves. He said that the chairman would to build having been rejected because they have a captain; the deputy chairman were the higher, (the directors being would have a captain, that all the di obliged to take the lowest) the ships ofrectors would have their captains; and fered on those tenders were not builtthat consequently, a wide door would be they therefore cannot come at all into open to private if not to corrupt influence. question in the present argument. The Now he must contradict the honourable persons tendering, were hence not in the gentleman in the strongest and most di situation described by the hon. gentleman rect terms that one gentleman could em of persons who had actually built ships ploy to another, and to assert, that there for the exclusive service of the company, was no existence in point of fact for his and had been disappointed of engaging statements. He could not imagine from them. This may be taken as another inwhat quarter the honourable gentleman stance of the way in which the hon. geucould derive his information : but it was tleman represents the proceedings of the totally at variance with the open and court of directors. known proceedings of the court of direc The hon. gentleman complained that tors in selecting commanders and officers the committee of shipping had given -vo for the company's own ships. The court estimate of what they meant to allow to had formed a code of regulations determin- the owners now in question. He (the ing and detailing the principles and rules by Chairman) had given on the last day of which the selection should be made. Those the court's meeting, a very sufficient rearegulations were printed for general infor son for that omission. It was not the mation;

and so far from any thing being business of the committee to make the done, in the way assumed by the hon. gen owners privy to what they proposed to tleman, no appointment took place by do, and what they thought the owners private or individual nomination. The should have. If the committee were to names of the candidates, their services announce that they meant to allow a cera and their pretensions were all exhibited tain given sum, why the owners would take and contrasted, and their characters scru that as a basis on which to try to raise a tinized, and then the appointment was further superstructure-in short, being so made not by partitioning patronage, or in far put at ease, they could without basarddividual nomination, but by general vote, ding any thing, contend for more. It was which as far as consisted with other pro the business of the company to make the per considerations had respect to senio best bargain they could: but how could this rity of rank. The interest of the com be effected, if as the hon. gentleman-inpany, in short, had been consulted both sisted, the views of the committee and their in the rules for selection and in the man mode of calculation were to be previously ner in which those rules had been fol- laid open to the public ? All that he (the lowed up. An examination of the pro- Chairman) could say was, that the diroc ceedings in this business would be the tors were determined to give as little as

possible, and would keep down the al- company's service than they must pay if lowances as low as they could. Within they were obliged to take up other ships. the last few days, the company had re This was a clear result from the whole of ceived tenders for new ships to be built, the case ; upon that ground he would and the lowest of those tenders was 261. stand, and it was one of the grounds on per ton peace-freight. It was to be pre which the measure was pressed on the sumed that the persons proposing those consideration of the general court. If tenders had made them as low as they the hon. gent. supposed that there was could afford. Surely then, if 261. per any one member of the court of directon was an equitable freight for ships to tors who wished to mislead the propriebe employed next year, something must tors upon this subject, he was grossly be necessary in the present year for ships mistaken. The directors had no wish which are engaged to sailat 171. 181. or 191. whatever, of their own, upon the subject, per ton peace freight. If 261. was a fair unless that the company's interest might price in the present tiine, how could the be consulted in the best manner. They ships in question afford to sail at their were obliged to bring the measure forold freights ?

ward, as in their view a matter of the The hon. gentleman found fault because most pressing urgency. They regretted different rates of allowance were given to the necessity of it in the year 1803 ; and different slips. This in the nature of they were actuated by the same feeling things must be the case ; and if the hon. now. No member of the court, however gentleman had adverted to the reason of active he might be, or however deeply init, his observation must have been spa

terested in the welfare of the company, red. Ships were paid different rates for lamented the necessity of this measure different voyages, because the cost of out more than he (the chairman) did: but fit is greater in some voyages than in there was in fact no other resource left others. The amount of allowance for in than the expedient now proposed. stance to a ship for repairs and other dis Gentlemen might say a great deal about bursements upon the second voyage, when preserving the integrity of that system, she is still very new, must be far more and all that sort of argument, in which than would be required for a ship upon he agreed with them, as an abstract proher fourth voyage, when she needs a hea position : but if they meant to follow up vy repair. This was the whole of the their doctrine practically to all the extent history of the case, and it accounted for to which it would bear upon the present that difference in the rate of allowance to ship-owners, he could not go along with different ships, which excited the hon. them, because that would, in another and gent's observation, and which after all a worse way, affect the system itself. For could refer only to war allowances ; the if those owners could not sail with any freight in peace being by contract one and thing like the peace-rate of freight now the same for all the voyages.

claimable, the consequences were inevitaThe hon. gentleman complained that ble : the company could not have the there were no dates given to shew when ships. They would be exposed to consia ship's service commenced or the length derable inconvenience on this account. of time for which she received the war They must have recourse to another class allowances. The hon. gentleman was of ships, and if the company were to emquite mistaken in his assumption. All ploy new ships, even upon the same systhese dates were to be found precisely tem, they would cost more than the old stated in the company's records, and if the ones. This was the short state of the case hon. gent. had read those records he and, without wishing to tire the court would have found this to be the fact. by going into other observations in answer 9 The hon. gent. had made a computa to the hon. geutleman's statements, many tion of what the company would pay if of which really had no bearing upon the they adopted this proposal of the court of question, and which, without inquiry, he directors; and had said that it would might not be prepared to go satisfactory amount to somewhere between four and into. Ashamed also of detaining the court five hundred thousand pounds. He (the so long upon a subject which might be fully chairman) must beg to demur to any cal discussed in half an hour, he would raculation produced by the hon. gent. until ther sit down and hear what others had soine satisfactory grounds were made out to say on the subject ; but before he did for his views upon the subject. To esti so, he would, upon recollection, just admate the amount in the gross would lead vert to one or two points. Of the necesto no certainty. ; but he (the chairman) sity of preserving the present shippingcould only say, that whatever the differ system he had declared himself an advoence might be, the court might depend cate. Among the reasons which he had upon it, from the information which the for being so, one was, the beneficial in? directors had upon the subject, they would fuence of it upon the finances of the kave to pay less in giving some additional company. This might be illustrated by a allowance to the ships already in the comparison of the rate of freight paid in

the last year of the old shipping system in justice to themselves and the company 1795, which was the secood or third year at large, to negative his proposition. of war, with the rate paid on the present Mr. Lowndes requested permission to system in 1815, twenty years afterwards, trespass on the time of the court for a few and the whole of that period, with hardly minutes. He must own he was thrown any intermission, a period of war in into a more awkward dilemma, than ever which the price of all things had risen he was before in that court: for when he enormously. It had been the practice expected that the court of directors should of the company, under the old system, to not give the appointments of the compajudge of the rate of freight proper to be ny to their own relations, he felt that given for the season, by the cost and out such a principle ought to apply to all men fit of a new ship in that season, of which who were to do their duty fairly." Now an estimate was regularly prepared by the on the present occasion, he felt pretty master attendant. The practice of prepar- much in the same situation in which he ing such extracts as are useful for various had no doubt the directors were placed purposes, is continued still. In 1795 the upon the subject of their patronage when cost and outfit of a ship of 800 tons was a relation was in view. He, Mr. L. sat £28,337. The rate of freight at that 'beside a very intimate friend of his, who time, exclusive of some appendages, was a great ship-owner, and he felt very which are much the same at both periods, awkward in giving a vote against his intewas about £37 per ton. In the year rests. But however, he would endea1815 the cost and outfit of a ship of the vour to act as an honest man, and he same size was 38,5151., and the rate of wonld not suffer his great friendship freight, including the same appendages, for his honourable friend to bias his 321. per ton. The cost of the ship is candid opinion. With respect to the 10,0001. more, the rate of freight 51. less; speech of his hon. friend (Mr Hume) he whereas if the freight had risen as thought it one of the mosi lumiuous he the cost of building and outfit rose, had ever heard in that court. It was full which was the practice of the old system, of the marrow of argument. It was not the present rate must have been 501. like a dish of alamode-beef, here and instead of 321., that is, it would have been there marroio, and a piece of fat-but it above one half more. So that at the end was in fact a marrow-pudding from be! of twenty years of war, when all things ginning to end.- (Loud laughter. He have exceedingly risen, the freight is 51. hall often heard his hon. friend with great less per ton, than at the beginning, and delight; but on the present occasion he -181. less than it would have been if the had surpassed himself. But though the practice of the old system had continued. made this acknowledgement of the pleaAnd the amount of this såving, upon the sure he felt from that speech, in some annual tonnage of the company, it will parts of it he differed from his hox'. not be difficult to compute.

friend. In the first place, his speech con It could not here be the wish of the di tained an insidious attack upon the court rectors to change the present shipping of directors, as to the manner in which system. But the company were now they connected themselves to the ship-owbrought to a crisis when it was absolutely ners ; although he himself was one who? necessary to act either upon oue or the supported the plan, but certainly to a liother mode which was in question. It mited extent, for the company to build was for the court to judge which of these their own ships. What did his hon. modes they would adopt. He must say friend state upon this subject ? Why, 'he on the part of the court of directors that stated in round numbers, that the court there was no standing still upon the sub had voted a million of money for shipject. Their leading object in bringing building when only a single ship was prothis matter before their constituents was posed to be built. Now his hot. friend the preservation of the system, and the was rather incorrect there; for he did not benefit of the company.' They laid the consider where all this money was to interest of the ship owners in the back come from. Having detected his friend ground. They had been actuated, he in this error, he must be a little cautious must be allowed again to say, by public in giving credit to many other things that considerations, and he must add it to be he had stated, particularly when the hop: his firm persuasion that unless the ser Chairman proved, that with regard to the vices of the present ships were retained, subject of patronage in the appointment the inconvenience to the company and to of captains to the company's own ships, the system would be greater than any the whole was only an illusion of his hon: possible advantage they could derive from friend's imagination. After this, he must proceeding to enforce the existing con be a little cautious of giving full weight to tracts.

the arguments of his speech : avd he must With these views, he strenuously op- consider that the use of eloquence was posed the amendment of the hon. gent; frequently to make fiction like truth: and and he submitted that the court onght; by the way if it was not for this faculty

« PreviousContinue »