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become too severe for the con titled to demand. In stating the history tractor to execute." This was his opi of the shipping transactions, he found so nion on the 9th of January 1807, when many deviations from the law, that he he had, in 1803, when the first applica was really ashamed to have occupied the tion for relief was made, stated, “ that attention of the court so long on the subthe act of the 39th of George III, cap. 89, ject ; but he felt that it was necessary, is a bar to the relief prayed for. There lest the court should hastily and unadvi. is no power given to make any allowance sedly agree to the resolution then before for additional charges arising to the them-a resolution which went to give owners after peace is made.” But yet, in the directors a right to grant 5,0001, to 1807, when the case was put to him one owner, and 10,0001. to another, withagain, he gravely stated, that the direc out any farther trouble or inquiry. At tors did possess the power to alter and present, it ought to be observed, they were regulate contracts.” He seemed to think not apprized of the sum that would be that the power of the directors could re necessary for the relief of the different lease individuals altogether from their claimants. Now, if a person came to a contracts--that there was nothing to body of men, and said, “I want some control or oppose them. The directors, assistance from you,” would they not very however, felt differently. They knew that naturally ask, “what is it you do want? no discretionary power was left them, by have you made a calculation of the sum the act of parliament. They, therefore, necessary to remove your distress ?” said to the owners of the Baring, United Could that individual expect relief, if he Kingdom, and Marchiones of Exeter, did not state what his necessities requiwho had contracted for a certain peace red ? but the committee of shipping freight, and specific war contingencies, though they recommended relief, had “ Proceed on your peace freight, we laid no estimate of the sum that would cannot relieve you from that, but we will be required, before the court. In the let you have an increase of the war con absence, therefore, of direct information, tingencies, from 181. to 241. per ton." they must take the best data they could This was accordingly done, and they re get. They must, then, look back to 1803. ceived 5l. or 61. per ton, above what At that period, 50 ships received aid, they had contracted for. Such was also comprising 44,473 tons—which, on an the case of the Astell. When she was average one with another, of 61. 10s. per built, the directors had no power to give ton, gave a result of 295,6981. expended by her any terms different from those on the company in relief to the ship-owners. which the Prince of Wales was contracted In examining the shipping proceedings of for, on the bottom of which vessel she that day, he had been led into an inexpliwas built. The opinion of Mr. Adam cable labyrinth. He saw no data on which was, however, acted on, and an altera the directors appeared to have acted, when tion was made. In speaking on this sub- they gave to some of the claimants ject, one could scarcely have patience, 2,5001. and to others 17,0001. He when so palpable a contradiction was de was anxious to know, in consequence of tected. The learned counsel might sup a question put by an hon, member of the pose his latter opinion to be correct-but court (Mr. K. Smith,) whether it was yet he believed few persons would be found determined, how many ships should be to agree with him. He conceded to the relieved, at present, and on what scale directors a most extraordinary right-a that relief would be afforded ? No answer right to release from the binding power having been given, he wished to see the of a contract. Now, he would contend principle that had been acted on in that a contract once entered into ought to 1803-because, though in reality the take its course,-it ought to be completed, proceeding at that period was no precein toto ; but here the contractor was at dent, he thought, perhaps, it might be once released from the specified war con adopted as one by the directors. He tingencies, and received a greater sum. could, however, find no principle-he It came merely to this :—the court of di could discover no system. He went over rectors on application made to them, said all the papers, some of them printed, and to the owners of the Astell" by the others in manuscript, but he could light terms of your tender, you are bound to go on no data to explain the reason of the six voyages for 201. 178. per ton peace apportionment that took place in 1803. freight, and 10 per ton, war contingen He thanked the court of directors for cies making a total of 301. 178. ; but we their indulgence, in suffering him to have will not be so hard on you as to insist on access to those documents; and he hoped your fulfilling the contract ; let your peace he should not be considered to have acted freight continue, and we will increase the ungratefully in making such a use of war contingencies.” They did so-on them—but, on the contrary, that his her first voyage, the war contingencies conduct would be looked upon as fair, were raised to 181. 10s. per ton; being open, and manly, since no individual could 81. 108. more than the owners were en suppose he was interested one way or
other. The result, as he had before observ to 2,000,0001.? were they now to grant a ed, of the relief granted, in 1803, to fifty discretion, which was formerly abused ? ships, carrying 44,773 tons, was 295,6981.; which was so dangerous, that the legislaand, as no data existed, by which the ture had been called on to step forward reason for giving 2,5001. to one ship, and and redress the evil-to shield the direc17,0001. to another appeared, he had tors from temptation which human na taken a general average of 61. 108. per ture could not resist ? The court, in deton. Now he would ask, did not this ciding this question ought to recollect, facility of granting money, afford a great that the various coutracts were not entertemptation for breaking down the sys ed into by hasty or inconsiderate men tem, instead of supporting it ? Was it but by gentlemen, members of the court, not most dangerous to place in the hands who had grown grey in calculation, and of any body of men, a power, to disburse, who had sent in their tenders coolly and as they thought proper, large sums of deliberately. It was but justice that the money? To give 5,0001. to this appli- proprietors should know who were the cant--10,0001. to a second-and 17,0001. applicants. He should therefore read to a third ? Now, he held in his hand a their names. The parties were :---Capt. list of thirty-four ships, at present claim- Murray, J. Forbes, Timbrel and Smith, ing relief. Of these the last six had a Charles Christie, W. Sims, Henry Bonspecies of remuneration laid down in ham, R. Borradaile, R, Hudson, J. P. their mode of contract. It was agreed, Larkins, James Sims, James Walker, that 40,0001. should be paid for the hull ; John Wordsworth, George Gooch, W. but, if it came to more, the overplus was Agnew, J. Cord, Robert Williams, and to be given to the owners—if it cost less, Sir R. Wigram. From this list he could the difference was to be restored to the select three or four gentlemen whose bond company. Those vessels were, there he would take for half-a-million.-(A fore to be set aside. The remainder, Laugh.)--and whose knowledge of fiamounting to 28, comprised 26,440 tons, gures and of calculations, from the cradle which, at the same allowance of 61. 108. upwards, is a sufficient proof that, in a per ton, granted in 1803, (though, on the case of this kind they would not act hasprinciple on which relief was now de- tily or precipitately. When therefore, manded, the high price of stores, &c. it those contracts were deliberately entered might as well be 101. 10s.) would give a into, was it not a matter for most serious total
consideration to weigh and examine the For one voyage of...... £171,860 consequences well, before they proceeded For two voyages.......
343,720 to abrogate the nature of instruments For three voyages.:
515,580 thus solemnly agreed to ? He had shown lu fact, dealing on a fair scale, and acting to the court the amount of the relief with all men alike,-supposing it a mere granted in 1803—he had also pointed out question of money, unconnected with the probable amount of the aid now callany other consideration, they would not ed for,—and he had stated the names of be able to get rid of it for less than the individuals by whom the application 500,0001. Without meaning to detain was made; all of which were circumthe court much longer, he thought he stances of great importance. Confidence might safely be permitted to say, that towards public functionaries, in general, the nature of a contract was such, that was wise, as the interest of the great boevery commercial man must desire it to dy for whom they acted was concerned. be held sacred. It was on his strict ad For instance, he conceived, that business herence to his contracts, that the stabi- which twenty men would perform very lity of the English merchant depended; badly might be excellently done by the it was the correct fulfilment of his agree- zealous exertions of three or four; he was ments, that established his fame all over ready to place a fair and just confidence the world ; it was his punctual discharge in the court of directors, while they exeof every engagement into which he en cuted the regular duties which their office tered, that exalted his credit and cha- imposed on them; but still he could not rácter-and gave to his word, in foreign support them in doing that which was dicountries, more weight than even the rectly opposed to a positive act of parliabonds of others carried with them. ment. The legislature had not given the (Hear! hear !)—Did it not behove the directors any discretion to abrogate concourt, then, to take care how they for a tracts—it would be well, therefore, bemoment departed from that just and fore the court opened the door to the exupright principle ? If, in the dealings of a ercise of such a power, that they should private man, a strict adherence to con weigh, with scrupulons exactness, the tracts was expected, how much more probable consequences. But the companecessary was it in their case, when they ny, it was said, would gain by the meaconsidered the immense magnitude of their sure. This was a strange conclusion”intransactions--when, in the very last deed. “ It is much better," observed the year, their freight and tonnage amounted friends of the measure, that you should
do this, “ than suffer these ships to be lowed up by those proprietors who had lost to your service." Now what was the applied for relief. fact ? Some of the ship-owners said,
Mr. Loundes—" The directors voted will not go at the lowest freight of the for the increase of their own salaries." season-we will have more than others The Chairman called the hon. proprigo for.” It was then immediately said, etor to order. “ If you do not comply with this demand, Mr. Hume proceeded. He was disposed you will have no ships—it will not be pos to think, that the gentlemen behind the sible for you to carry on your trade.” He bar, voted, on the occasion alluded to, had felt it necessary to examine into this al not as the court of directors, but as inlegation, that, if they rejected the proposi dividual proprietors. He drew a very tion of the owners, they would be distressed wide distinction between gentlemen vofor shipping, and could not proceed with ting as proprietors on their own affairs, and their trade. How, then, did this fact voting as directors. He always considered stand ?. If the whole of the ships which the executive body to act as directors, were to load for the next year, were re but to vote as proprietors. Though there fused to the company, unless larger rates was no express act of parliament by which were given (but they would not be re gentlemen interested could be prevented fused, for the owners had no other em from voting on any occasion, yet he ployment for them, and must come round) thought a certain degree of delicacy was they would not have a very extraordinary connected with the question-how far amount of tonnage to provide. Five ships persons, petitioning the court for assistwere to go to China, carrying Tons. ance, could, with propriety, support their
4,800 own proposition by their votes ? He did And eleven to India
9,330 not say, that it was illegal, or, in the
strict sense of the word, improper, but Making a total of ........ 14,130 he would put it to their own feelings of
delicacy to decide, whether it was altoSo that if those individuals refused to gether right for them to divide on the complete their contracts, the company subject of a remuneration to be granted would have to look for 14,130 tons of to themselves. “Having said so niuch” shipping. This would be the whole ex observed the honourable proprietor, “ I tent of the deficiency. Now he had think it proper to récapitulate, in a few spoken to Canada merchants, and other words. That the proposition now before persons who were in the habit of employ the court appears to me to be a measure ing large ships, and they said, there was hostile to the present system of fair and no dificulty in getting the necessary quan open competition. It is against the byetity of shipping, if the company would laws, of twenty years standing. It is provide for their expensive outfit. He agaiust the spirit and letter of the 39th did not, therefore, think, that the com of George III, cap. 89. It is against the pany would suffer either loss or difficulty, second section of the very act that enashould the owners refuse to complete bled the company to give relief in 1803. their contracts. He had stated the ut It is against tlie whole of the practice since most extent of the deficiency, to provide 1793. It is opposed even to what the for which was much better than to sanc committee of shipping allege to be a pretion a breach of agreement.' Suppose the cedent, and which, if it be a precedent, cost of fitting out other vessels amounted being a bad one, the sooner it is got rid to 300,0001. Let it be paid, and, by the of the better. It is against all the facts measure, the company would probably and arguments that have been given in save 3 or 400,0001. ; but even if they writing, to induce the court to agree to lost by it, he thought the question of it. It is against the whole spirit of the money was nothing, when compared with shipping-laws. It is contrary to the real the mischief which would probably arise arguments of the special committee of from a dereliction of principle. To avert 1803, and of the present shipping comthose mischiefs, if possible, it was his mittee on the subject, though it is not intention to move an amendment to the opposed to the false conclusions drawn by resolution, and he thought it was fair to the latter. It is, I think, a deviation state, that he meant to press it to a di from common sense, as far as agreements vision. He knew it was a matter of ex between man and man are concerned. treme delicacy to appeal to individuals It is as ridiculous as if we were requestinterested on any subject, as to the pro ed to meet together for the purpose of
priety of their voting on a motion con breaking our own necks.-(A laugh.) nected with it. But, though this was If this principle of abrogating contracts, the case, he could not avoid expressing a at pleasure, be established at an expense wish, as the directors were not in the of from 3 to 500,0001. is it not tempthabit of being present at any decisions in ing men not to adhere to their engage
which their individual interest was con ments? I am sorry for those owners, cerned, that the principle would be fol- 'who, from concurring circumstances,
have been obliged to apply for relief and be admitteil, on a comparison with the I would have been most happy to have very high rates of war contingencies afforded it, were I not, prevented by a which they have received from the comstrict adherence to the rule of right. I pany during a long war. That the meaadvise the court, not to disgrace them sure proposed by the court of directors, selves by any application to the legisla- instead of fixing a given scale of allow ture ; since from the section of the act ance (if any allowance were necessary) of the 43d of the King, which I have equally applicable to all the owners, read, it is likely that such application would leave it in the power of the disecwill be rejected. If we wish our state tors to make any, and what increase, to ments to the legislature to be respected, particular owners, according to their on this or on any other occasion, let us lay pleasure, or regard for the party :-And it down as our rule of conduct, to act the court, fearing that such an infraction upon principle. I now beg leave to move, of the principle of public contract, might as an amendment,-“ That all the words lead to a return to that practice of priof the original motion, after the word vate contract, and partial selection, rès" That' be omitted, and that the follow- pecting the article of shipping (which ing be substituted–That it appears to cost the company 1,938,5351, last year), this court, that, by a resolution of the and to save them from the ruinous effects general court, dated April 30, 1793, it of which practice, the legislature enjoinwas unanimously deterinined, " That a ed the present system of fair and open
permanent system of hiring or building competition. This court doth therefore ships should be established, upon prin- recommend, that the application of the ciples of fair, well-regulated, and open owners be rejected.
competition :'-And that by an act TheChairman rose and said—Although passed in the 39th year of his present it was the wish of the court of directors, Majesty's reign, cap 89, it is enacted, and most certainly his own, that this " That all ships for the company's ser subject having been brought by the court
vice, shall in future be taken up by before their constituents should be consipublic contract; and that advertise- dered by those constituents; yet the speech ments shall issue for the same, particu- of the honourable gentleman, who had larising the dimensions, equipment, just sat down, contained so much perstores, &c. required, as to the same version of fact, and so much allusion to ships ;' and enacting, ' That the pro circumstances which could not be known posal, specifying the lowest peace to any of the proprietors, that he took freight shall be accepted without fa the liberty of offering himself thus early
vour or partiality :' That by adher in order to obviate some of the mis-stateence to this system, many millions ster ments and misapplications, as he conceivling have been saved in freight ; and ed them to be, of the honourable gentlethis court would regard a departure from man, and to throw some true light on the system so established, as one of the the subject. greatest evils that could happen to the It would not indeed be his object to company, especially any such deviation as follow the honourable gentleman at any might directly or indirectly induce the great length, although the honourable ship-owner to look to subsequent consi- gentleman had thought proper to occupy deration, or indulgence, from the favour the time of the court for more than two of the directors, or his influence with hours: he (the Chairman) had more rethem, either by releasing him from his spect for that court than to wish to encovenant, or increasing the rate of freight gross the rest of the day by endeavouring beyond the sum fixed and contracted for, to answer all the perversions of the hon. under the pretence or allegation of un gentleman ; he would, however, with the expected rise in the price of stores or permission of the court advert to a few other articles :-That this court cannot of the most material of those statements but regard the application of the owners which had been made; and he trusted he to be relieved from their contracts, and should be enabled to shew that they were their refusal to furnish their ships, for either inaccurate or irrelevant. the present season, at the peace-freight He was not aware of the propriety of which they deliberately agreed to (on ac- introducing as the honourable gentleman count, as it is alleged, of the price of had done, so many topics upon a quesstores, wages of men, expences in India, tion so simple in its own nature : but the &c. not having as yet attained the stan honourable gentleman had thought fit to dard they expected) as wholly unreason declaim, at an inordinate length, upon able, as the owners must be sup matters which had no real relation to posed to have calculated upon these as that question,-a question which might well as every other contingency, when be fairly and fully discussed in a quarter they spontaneously made their tenders, of the time which the hon. gentleman and entered into their contracts :-And, had occupied. especially, as a loss, if any should occur One of those irrelevant topics, into in completing their contracts, could only which the honourable gentleman had gone
into detail, was the old shipping system. peace freight. The reason for these conInto that system he did not chuse to ditions was that no discretion might be follow the hon. member, however much left to vary the rate of freight from voyhe might be disposed to do so, if that age to voyage. The extraordiuary exquestion bore at all upon the present penses incident to a time of war were case, for he had felt it his duty to take necessarily left to be settled between the an active part in opposing the old ship directors and the owners according to the ping system, and might be presumed circumstances of the time. No doubt therefore to be somewhat acquainted with the effects of this system had proved very it, and with the system substituted in its salutary to the company they had procured place, in the introduction of which he their ships on terms proportionably reahad been a humble labourer, as he had sonable. He was not prepared to say also ever since anxiously watched its that it had answered equally well to the progress, and sought its permanence. But ship-owners. There was certainly one he was at a loss to conceive how the de inconvenience in the nature of the systails of the old shipping system could tem-that of engaging at one rate of throw any light on the present proceed- freight for six voyages which might be ing, unless a kind of analogy was intend reckoned twelve years, a period liable to ed to be made out, that as the old system many changes; but in a time of peace was supposed to be very much upheld by the inconvenience might not be great; it private influence and favouritism, so some was after a war that the peace prices of thing of the same nature might have oper stores might be expected to vary from ated in the present proceeding. But he what they had been before the war. It: could in the most serious manner state was impossible to foresee when this new that if ever there was a question which system was introduced (1796) that the came before the court of proprietors with war in which the country was then enout any influence, it was the present gaged, would last with hardly any interquestion. He did not know that a single mission for twenty years. Every man member of the court of directors had knows what the effects of a war of such been canvassed by any one individual wlo. length must 'lave been upon all the branches was either a ship-owner or any way di of commerce and every thing which relatrectly or indirectly connected with the ed to civil life. The prices of all the arti. present shipping interest. For the court cles necessary to the outfit of ships had of directors and for himself especially, risen to an enormous amount, beyond all he distinctly declared that they had been human foresight. Of course ships could induced to recommend the proposed mea not now on the return of peace, be fitted sure, not primarily or chiefly as it re out at any thing like the amount of outfit spected the interest of the ship owners,
before the war. Hence the present great but upon a general consideration of the difficulty. During the war, as, by agreetrue practical interests of the company, ment, the owners were allowed what the connected as they must be with the prin extraordinary expenses of war required ciples of equity, sound policy, and gene above the peace rate of freight, they ral utility.(Hear I hear ! hear !) might do well enough, and some expe
It should be observed that the court of rience a profitable result; though he directors were placed in a dilemma, for thought in general their gains had been which no practicable remedy appeared, but moderate, otherwise he should not be but the one proposed. They had not so ready to propose relief to them on the brought themselves into this situation. present occasion. But according to the It was produced unavoidably by the course actual cost of stores of all kinds, of of public events. The great crisis at of ship building and repairs, it was which Europe had now arrived involved plainly impossible that the ships could in its the difficulties and inconveniences not, be sailed at the peace rates of which occasioned the measure now in freight for which they had engaged, withquestion. Events which the company out ruinous loss to the owners, and could not controul had occurred to render eventually the loss of the service of the necessary, even to the continuance of ships to the company, who would in conthe substantial benefits of the present sequence be obliged to hire other ships, shipping system, that some modification less fitted for their employ, at higher of it in so extraordinary a case should rates of freight than would be given to take place.
the existing ships even if the proposed riIt was well known that one principle measure were adopted. This would be in the new shipping system of the com further explained in the sequel. pany, was the principle of fair and open But to proceed to some of the statecompetition. Tenders of contract were ments of the honourable gentleman. The invited from all parties upon this prin honourable gentleman bad laboured to ciple; the ships were to be tendered for shew that the grant of the proposed retheir whole duration, usually reckoned lief was against the system which bad six voyages, at one permanent rate of been so bighly extolled against the bye..