« 이전계속 »
founded. The owners asked the court assertion of the hon. proprietor who had for a compensating allowance in this case, not the opportunity of being present at and if they could not give it of themselves, their discussions, and of judging of the requested that they would apply to par different opinions and arguments which liament for leave to grant them such an had terminated in the production of that additional allowance as the 'exigency of report. He was sure that a sound exathe times should be found to require.' mination of the subject would clear the What had the court of directors to do committee from the imputatious cast on under such circumstances ? doubtless to them by the hon: proprietor. That comfollow that course which best consulted mittee was composed of twenty-one genthe interest of the Company. They had tlemen, any of whom, if he excepted himtwo modes of acting before them. The self, might stand in competition with the first was to adhere rigidly to the terms of hon. proprietur that had attacked them, the existing contracts, and to insist on for talent, integrity, and respectability. the performance of them by the owners They assembled to do their duty fairly-, at all events. The consequences must ob- aụd they had, iu his opinion, done it subviously have been ruinous to the owners; stantially. In the recommendation they they could not go on sailing their ships' submitted to the house respecting the at the contracted rates of peace freight matter immediately in question, they had and the existing prices of stores. From not varied materially from what the dithis inability their ships would be unem rectors themselves, sanctioned by the senployed, ard in fact thrown out of the ser timents of the proprietors, had proposed vice. They might prosecute' the owners to the house to be done. With respect for the penalty of the not-performance of to the number of ships claining compentheir contracts, and for damages from thie 'sation, of which the directors, bad laid a wanit of the use of ships, but in the mean list before the house, the committee nad time the Company would be driven to thought that those of the extra class did very serious inconvenience by the loss of not clearly appear to be entitled to any the only fleet of ships then in existence' compensation, and that of the regular calculated for their service. They could · ships, there were three which stood upon not immediately create another fleet, and particular conditions that ought to be atit was in proof that they could not con tended to in settling with them, and six tract for new ships at so cheap a rate as which had been contracted for upon terms they might continue the old set. The not consonant to the law then existing, Company were certainly not to act from and which therefore must be left out of the priuciple of serving the interest of the the scheme of compensation, because a owners, but if their own interest re coinmittee of the house could not propose quired that course which would also be to the house to sanction the allowance of beneficial to the owners, this last cir such compensation in á case where the circumstance was no objection, but i'a law of parliament had been infringed. ther a recommendation. All this had And with regard to those ships which been stated to the court of proprietors in should receive compensation, the comthe year 1815, and their consent had mittee were of opinion, that in thie mode been given to an application to parliament of conferring it, respect should be paid as for the proposed powers. Some difficul far as was practicable, consistent with the ties occurred which prevented the prose object in view, to the principle of contract, cution of the business in parliament in and therefore, that the penalty provided the session that immediately followed, for in the contract, on the non-perforbut it was brought forward there in the mance of the stipulated number of voyanext. The House of Commons appointed ges at the contract rate of peace freight a committee of their náinber to investi should be .forfeited, the forfeiture to be gate the allegations contained in the Com deducted from the additional allowance pany's petition. The committee had sat granted ; and the maximum of this alfor two months, a great deal of evideuce lowance beyond which the relief intended was laid before them, and they made a could not go, was fixed at £26 per ton, report on the whole of the subject to the which was the lowest rate of freight at house. Upon that report the hon. proprié- which the Company had contracted last tor had thought proper to animadvert. It year to have ships built for them. This, was unnecessary for him (Mr. Grant) to en said the hou.' director, was all that the ter into any vindication of the conduct of committee had" proposed; and what, he. the committee. It was not a subject cog- asked, was the grand objection to it? The nizable by that court. The court had no hon. proprietor spoke as if he supposed power to alter or controul what the com that the cominiitee of the House of mittee had done. But he could not doubt Coinmons did not understand what they that the public would be more disposed to were doing as if they had no evidence rely upon the deliberate investigation of a before them which ought to be trusted. body of gentlemen so constituted as that The hou. proprietor stated this broadly, committee was, than upon the solitary He said, that, according to the report,
the question was decided on “ the evi- peculiarly equipped, were requisite for dence of the owners and their agents ;'' those objects, particularly for the Chiua but the committee had stated no such trade. A certain class of ships had in thing. With respect to the accounts of consequence been formed expressly for the owners, it was observed, in the com their service. That class of shipping now mittee's report, that they had “10 other existed. There was perhaps three milway of verifying them, but by the evi lions of money invested in it. Could dence of the owners themselves, or of this mass of shipping be at once set aside, their agents ;" but they neither said, nor even if the Company could do without meant to say, that the general principle them? They were built for the Company, of grauting relief was deciiled ou such and could be employed no otherwise. If testimouy. If the hon. proprietor would they were set aside, the Company must look closely into the proceeding, he would build again, and they could not, as already find that the committee had examined said, have new ships at so little au exmany other gentlemen besides the ow pepse as ibat at which they might retaia ners of ships claiming relief, and other the old. This was tlie present alleruadocuments than those they had produced. tive. The owners had contracted witha Under these circumstances, it appeared the Company at rates at which they could most clearly that the hon. proprietor not sail their ships ju present circuinhad set out under the influence of a gross stances--what then was to be done? mistake. What, however, he wished Were they to be allowed what was furparticularly to observe, was, that the com ther necessary to enable them to continue mittee, arraigned as it had been, had done varigating these ships, or were the Comnothing but what the court of directors pany to get rid of seventy or eighty thou. had themselves proposed, excepting only sand tons of shipping, and leave their futhat they had introduced certain modifi tire suppy to chance? - Hear ! hear !)cations, which in their judgment seemed What he (Mr. G.) wished to see, was, proper. He (Mr. Grant) could ouly say, the interests of a great number of indivi. that, if the hon. proprietor had sat among duals tairly protected, and a capital of them, he would have heard every thing £3,000,000 sterling preserved from dewhich he had urged that day fairly inet, struction, and preserved, too, for the adBut in fact his argument went against vantage of the Company. But, if the granting any relief at all, and this ques Company got rid of those ships now in tion had been otherwise decided by the tlieir service, how, he would demand, Company as well as the committee. were they to supply ihe vacuity thus occa
The committee were censured for not sioned ? How were the Company to be going beyond what was proposed to them indemnified for the loss which they must --for not proceeding to an entire revision necessarily sustain? of the shipping system-tor not introdu The hon. proprietor had said a great cing new regulations. But the House of deal in order to prove that ships of a Commons did not give them that power small size, which could be procured at a nor would the time have sufficed for cheap freight, were the best for a voyage such an extended inquiry. If they had to India. But was it to be forgotten that embarked in it, there would have been the Indian trade formed only ai inconsino report during the present session, and derable branch of the Company's comthe distresses of the owners would have merce, and that for the trade to China, been increased.
incomparably the most important, it was The hon, proprietor thought the Com- agreed on all hands that large ships were pany were giving too large a freight for the most proper. These must be contheir ships, and that nothing but ruin structud expressly for the purpose, and could follow. He had mentionell the cannot be regulated by the rate of freight to present very low rate of freight for pri be paid for small ships occasionally hired, vate ships hired for one voyage to India. with such equipment as they may happen No observation had been made that day, to possess for a voyage to India. Besides, with respect to the rates of freight, by ei the system of the Company, who were ther of the gentlemen who had spoken, of their own iusurers, had long since settled which the directors were not fully aware. it with universal consent, that their ships But there were many other things to con
should be fitted for defence as well as for sider with respect to this subject. The commerce, and they had answered both occasional rates of small ships for a sin purposes. How, he would ask, could gle voyage could not be made a criterion this part of the systein be altered with for the regulation of the Company's advantage ? But for ships so constructed, freights. The Company, it had been long doubtless a higher freight must be given. since seen, could not become dependent They had tried lately at what rate they on, occasional or fortuitous supplies of could engage new ships to be built and sbips. They must be at a certainty in constructed for the China trade. The. this matter, and experience had shewn lowest was £26 per tou, and the highest that ships of a very large description, and went as far as £30. Such was the state
of the case with respect to far the larger feeling any partiality towards the shipping and most important class of the Compa- interest, of which indeed he had never by's ships, those required for the China given any reason to be suspected, it aptrade.
peared to him, that the best course the With regard to the rate of freight to Company could pursue for their own inIndia, he wonld make one or two re terest, was to make up such a rate to marks. In the first place, if they could the owners of the present ships as might get ships at £14 per ton, still they could enable them to go on. Perhaps what not disiniss those which they had enga. was intended to be granted to them ged at £18 per too. The Company had would not completely defray their exmade those contracts under proper cir penses, o!, at all erents, afford them any cumstances, and they could not at their profit; but it would have the effect of pleasure annul them. But what was the keeping them alive, and of continuing state of this India trade, and why were them in the Company's service instead of such low freights offered ? Because, at throwing them out of it. For it should the conclusion of the war, numbers of be observed, that though it might be easy ships were thrown out of employment, to throw the owners out of their service, and being able to do nothing better, pre it was not in the Company's power to ferred even taking half-freights to remain- compel them to sail for what they pleased ing wholly inactive and unproductive. to give. The Company, he was convinced, Can the hon. proprietor imagine that the would act more wisely and more ad. trade could be carried on forever on vantageously for themselves, by grantthis principle? Surely neither lie, noring an increase of allowance, than by deany other person, could be so sanguine. - stroying the efficiency of those ships alto(Hear ! hear !) - It was impossible, gether. No man, who considered the therefore, under these circumstauces, se subject fairly, could doubt, that it was riously 10 agitate the question of the safer and better for the Company to reCompany divesting themselves of the ships taju the present slips, and to make an. they now had. If, indeed, they conld adequate allowance to them, than to pro. hope, for a long time to come, to procure ceed with a severity that would throw propor ships at £12 or £14 per ton, them out of the service. If the Company then, indeed, it might be proposed to pay entered into new contracts, they could not a large sun of money in order to get rid of get ships of the same description as those the existing contracts; but till it was employed in the China trade, at so low a. clearly demonstrated that such would be rate as £26 per ton. And here the hon. the case, he thought the safer mode would director wished to observe, that the genbe, not to direst themselves of the fleet tleman who commenced this debate seemthey at present possessed. The great, ed to have confounded two things which the only point in question was, to do were perfectly distinct. The directors that which, in the existing state of things, would not be obliged to grant the allowappeared to be the best for the Company. ance specified in the bill, or any part of As the contracts for the ships now em it. They were merely to be authorizert ployed in the Company's India trade to grant it if they thought fit, under cershould expire, it might be proper to form tain regulations to be prescribed in the ina class of vessels smaller than those now tended act, and one of these was that the in use. This certainly would be much allowance shall diminislı as the price of cheaper, and to this the court of direc stores falls. The hon. proprietor had tors liad adverted. They had such a plan blamed the court of directors because the in contemplation, but more than this, and proceedings in parliament were not subattention to the scale of equipment for the mitted to the proprietors. Now the fact ships they should employ, they could not was, that every thing which had been propose.
done was laid before them. He should here state again, what he Mr. Hume.-“ Not for their approbahad repeatedly mentioned before, and tion." what it was most material to observe, Mr. Grant continued.-It was not likenainely, that the Company's ships engag ly that they shonld submit a measure ed for the Indian trade could not sail, which originated with a committee of at present, for their contract rates of the House of Commons, and which was peace freight. One of two things then to be considered by that house, to the must be done: either to allow nearly such proprietors for their approbation. The a rate as they could sail for, or by insisting proceedings of the liouse could not be rigidly on the literal performance of their made dependant on such approbation. contracts to turn them in effect out of the The directors were not under the necesservice, and look to the creation of a new sity of even laying the proceedings before set of ships. Which of these two modes the general court, though they had done was the best ? After a long considera
matter of information, and a tion of the subject, after more than twenty very unexpected discussion had arisen in years experience in that house, without consequence. There appeared indeed to
be a disposition in some part of the gene it, and the persons who by offering the ral court to look at all these things with lowest had become the contractors, he was suspicion. There was no ground for it. convinced, had not on the whole, includHe could assure the gentlemen whom he ing the war extraordinaries, received more was now addressing, that he would not than a reasonable return for the capital give up the Coinpany's privileges in the they had employed, if indeed, in general, Howse of Commons, or any where else; they had received so much. and that in advocating the present mea The hon. proprietor had instanced the sure he felt that he was supporting the ship Cabalva and the vessel belonging to true interest of the Company. The pro Mr. Mangles, and complained that the pose:l measure was a matter of necessity; committee liad actel very inconsistently in no degree was it a matter of choice. in not having made any provision for The directors were convinced that ships them. What was the fact? Why, that could not sail for the present contract those ships were taken up under circumrates, and that it was better to grant the stances more than questionable in pojut increased allowance than to give up the of law and the committee said, “it is existing body of shipping and to go into impossible for us to take cognizance of the market for others. Upon this ground these claims; they do not come within the alone all that had been done was done; purview of the petition, which is to lessen and his confirmed opiniou was, that the the severity to which the owners are subplan proposed was by far the wisest and ject under the existing act of parliathe best. 'True it is, said he, that this is ment." He (Mr. Grant) would be sorry a deviation from the strictness of the ex to doubt that the lon. gentleman had the isting system, and it may reasonably be juterests of the Company at heart, but he urged that it goes to weaken it, as setting thought the long resolutiou he now mored au ill example for the future. No man tended essentially to injure the Company, could be more anxiously desirous of up The hon. gentleman had, in that resoluholding the entireness of the present tion, taken as he thought a very perverse shipping system than himself. He had view of the subject, a view that did not labonred earnestly in co-operation with seem to him to be fair or candid, nor led others to establish it, and he knew that it to any beneficial practical result. On this had been productive of great and solid ad ground, the hon, director could not but vantage to the Company, but he thought disapprove of bringing forward such a he was taking the only way that remained proposition. He believed the committee to preserve the bory and substance of the of the House of Commons were actuated systein. The present measure had that by vo motive but the desire of doing the for its object. The measure had grown best that the case appeared to require; he out of a war of unexampled length, which thought the course they had adopted was had never allowed the system its natural the proper mode, and unless a better mode operation. And as to the example which were pointeil ont, le, for one, conceivel this measure would affordd, it was to be that this ought to be followed. If any observed the owners can nerer receive a improvement in it were discovered, he boon of this kind, unless the Company would be most willing to concur in it. shall chuse to ask and shall obtain the The hon. proprietor bad appealed to sanction of Parliament for it. Now the sonething said before the committee of occasion for this, such another occasion the House of Coinmons, in confirmation as the present, cannot occur again till the of his argument respecting the rate of present peace (which lie hoped would be a Indian freight. One gentleman, it was said, long one) is over, and the war that shall quoted £14 as the peace rate of freight. succeed it shall also terminate; futurities Now he begged to observe, that the statealtogether presenting a period of probably ment alluded to was given as loose opivery long duration. Under all these cirs nion, and not offered evidence. cumstances, the hon, director thought What was so said had reference to the it was more advisable and practicable for present moment, when there was a glut a'l parties to come to an agreement of of ships in the market, which the owyers, this sort, than to destroy the present sys did not know what to do with. This was tem, which might be the rnin of some per not a fair criterion by which to judge of sons, and the discomtiture of the whole what the real and permanent rate of lubody of ship-owners, who would find it dian freight should be. impossible to go on at the contract rates. With respect to what had been said of How they came into this situation was the Company's being obliged to act luder another question. The Company had the direction of the House of Commons not placed them in it; they had placed and of the board of control in this buthemselves in it by being the lowest bid siness, lie certainly did not wish to ders, and the Company were obliged to crease the power of either over the Comaccept of the lowest tender. But the
pany; and he wished with all his heart Company had not lost by the tenders being that they had been under no necessity to so low. They had reaped advantage from seek their assistance as the present. But,
as the case stood, they had no other mode honorable and deserving men properly of proceeding in order to effect the mea reqnited for their services; but at the sure in question. Parliament having re same time he was also most anxious to gulated the shipping system of the Com see that object effected in a manner most pany, he thought wisely and beneficially convenient to the Company. The fact for that body, no deviation, even in a single was, that the scale of equipment adopted instance, could take place in it without by the Company was equally upnecessary the sanction of the same authority., for the safety of their trade, as it was too
As to the board of, control, it might enormous for the owners to hear; and as bę perhaps thought that it aimed at an it was an easy and perfectly safe plan to increase of its power, but in the present reduce that scale, it ought to have been case he did not think it was the wish of done before this application for relief by that board to be at all engaged in the pre other mean's had been made. If the court sent measures, still less to carry it farther of directors were desirous that these genthan it had gone. It was certainly true tlemen should continue to serve them, they that in the committee the president of ought so far to lighten their burthen as to that board did approve of inserting in the make it worth their while to continue in committee's report a recommendation of a their service. This was his view of the further revision in the next session of case, and, with all due submission to the Parliament, of the shipping system of the court, appeared to be the proper mode of Company; and to such a proceeding, lie saving the owners and saring the Comsupposed, the hon. proprietor could feel pany consistently with their respective inno oljection.-(Hear ! hear!) On the terests, He was unwilling to enter into present occasion, the necessity of the the consideration whether the committee measure proposed was evident, and he and the directors had acted with any crishould therefore decidedly support it. minality in this business; but certainly
Mr. Hume in reply said he had no dis he objected from the first to the proceedposition, at that hour of the day, to tres ings of the court of directors anticipating pass at any length upon the attention of what would happen, and fearing that that the court. There were however many proceeding would be followed up by some points stater by the bon. director who ruinous measure such as the one now prospoke last, which required much conside posed. The hon. director who spoke last ration ; but in the present state of the had observed that the president of the court, he was unwilling to avail himself board of control had shewn no wish to of the privilege of reply by going over all do any thing in the committee that was the topics embraced in that speech: improper. His (Mr. H.'s) objection to however as to some of the leading points the conduct of the president of the he should make one or two remarks. He board of control was this ;—that his was disposed freely to admit that the ships wishes ought to have been out of the pow applying for relief could not, under question It was his duty to have conthe present regulations, afford to sail at troled the expense of the Company, and their present contract rates of tourage ; to have prevented them from embarking but he totally differed from the hon. direc in a course of policy which endangered tor as to the mole of remedying the evil their best interests. The power vested complaineil of. The court of directors in him was given for that express purhaving heard, on a former occasion, the pose, and therefore his wishes or his instatement of the owners respecting the clinations had nothing to do with his duty. difficulties under which they laboured, and The wishes of the right hon. gentleman that the principal cause of those dificul might incline him to trample on the rights ties arose from the enormous expense of of the Company which it was his duty to their outfit, it might have been thought protect. His wishes might incline him to that the court of directors, instead of pro involve the Company in a ruinous expense, posing to give the owners an additional which it was his duty to check and conrate of freight, would have been prepared trol. To talk, therefore, of that right with a reduced scale of equipments, so as hon. gentleman's wishes and inclinations, to ease the burthen of the complainants was what the legislature never contemand prevent the necessity of a fresh de plated. mand upon the purse of the proprietors. With respect to the ships for the China It struck him to be the wisest policy for market, there was no occasion to call the the court of directors to pursue, consider hou, director's notice to the evidence be. ing the change of times and circumstances fore the committee to inform his mind which had involved the owners in ex upon that subject. But a question was penses that they could not afford to de put to Mr. Staviforth as to the compafray. Reducing the expense of the outfit rative strength and goodness of those and delays on the voyage would be by far ships, as required by the regulations of the best way of relieving the owners, the Company, with ships of smaller diwithout incurring any expense to the mensions; and Mr. Staniforth said, that Company. Most anxious was he to sce three small ships to carry four hundred