HC Deb 16 May 1806 vol 7 cc248-50
Mr. W. Smith

rose, to move that the report of the committee on Messrs. Chalmers and Cowie's petition should be referred to the committee. He trusted he had shewn, that he had never been disposed to give away the public money on any occasion that did not strongly call for it. But though he was now about to propose that a large sum should be voted for certain individuals, he only, in doing so, did justice to those individuals and to the country. He then stated the case in nearly the same terms as he did on a former occasion, when moving for the committee to consider the petition. In the year 1800, when the scarcity was so great, it was suggested to the committee of provisions, that a large supply of herrings might begot for this country and our colonies from Sweden. Messrs. Chalmers and Cowie undertook the business, and a bill was passed to permit the importation free of duty. About a fortnight after the bill passed, in consequence of the dispute with the Northern powers, an embargo was laid on Swedish vessels; and the effect of this. was, that the adventure totally failed, for government had not granted protections for importing the herrings, though they had been purchased. An immense loss was incurred; and it was under these circumstances that compensation was required. The loss was proved by sufficient vouchers. But it was said, that the loss might have been incurred though there had been no embargo, and that these merchants had the monopoly of this business, and that the chance of great profit ought to be set off against the loss. He contended, that the loss would not have been incurred, had it not been for the embargo; and that the merchants had not the monopoly of the business, for that the transaction was perfectly known to the public, and any one might have engaged in it. As to the treasury minute that had been drawn up, before the case had been referred to a committee, and as the minister of the day had agreed to refer the matter to a committee, this was a proof that he had formed no decided opinion upon it. These merchants had certainly calculated on a reasonable profit, about 1200l. on a capital of 30,000l. He only wanted for them, however, the difference between the money laid out of their pockets, and that received into them, To this, even on the principles stated in the treasury minute, they were entitled, as the transaction was such as imposed an implied pledge, that the parties would be indemnified against any loss from such a cause as this. He concluded by moving, "That the report of the committee on the petition, should be referred to the committee of supply, with a view to move there for a sum of 30,000l. as an indemnity to Messrs. Chalmers and Cowie."

Mr. Haskisson,

as he only meant to propose a less sum, would not oppose the speaker's leaving the chair.

Mr. Long

asked the hon. gent., whether it would be proper to go on when the house was so thin; for, as there were differences of opinion, he might find himself in a minority.

Mr. Smith

complained that this question, if it was to be asked at all, had not been asked before he had made his statement.

Lord H. Petty

expressed his wish, that the business should be deferred.

Mr. Rose

said, that something ought to be granted; but 30,000l. was by far too much.—After a few words from Mr. Vansittart, Mr. Long, and Mr. W. Smith, the motion was withdrawn, and a notice given for bringing forward the affair on Monday. —The Speaker having left the chair, the house went into a committee of supply; and on the consideration of his majesty's message, it was resolved, that a grant of 10,000l. should be made for the establishment of the present earl Nelson; 90,000l. to be vested in trustees, for the purchase of a house and estate for the said earl and his heirs; and 20,000l. to be vested in trustees for the use of the two sisters of the late viscount Nelson. The house resumed, and the report was ordered to be received uu Monday.