HC Deb 10 April 1818 vol 37 cc1289-91
Mr. Alderman Wood

rose to move for leave to bring in a bill on a subject, in his judgment, of the highest importance. It had for its object to procure employment for the millions of persons in the united kingdom, particularly in Ireland, who were now unhappily without any means of exerting their industry. In that stage of the measure, and in so thin a House, he would not trespass on its attention by entering into a statement of the merits of the measure. In Ireland it had been for a long time the law to permit persons to embark a certain capital in trading partnerships, under a limitation of their liability only to the amount of the capital embarked. Defects had since been found to exist in the statutes under which that permission was granted. One part of his object was, to correct those deficiencies by amendments, and to them he could not anticpate any objection. With regard to this part of the united kingdom, he conceived it would be highly advantageous to extend the same permission as existed in Ireland. It would be open to the consideration of the House to judge of its merits when the bill should be printed. He had then only to move for leave to bring in a bill for the better employment of the poor in the fisheries, trade, and manufactures of the country, by the encouragement of partnerships.

The Speaker

observed, that the motion could not be received. The course to be pursued by the worthy alderman was, to move for the House to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on the subject, and to let a resolution to the effect proposed by the worthy alderman grow out of that committee.

Mr. Alderman Wood

having changed the form accordingly, and moved for the House to resolve itself into a committee,

Mr. Grenfell

said, he did not mean to oppose the motion of his hon. friend, which notwithstanding seemed a most extraordinary one; for thus promoting the employment of the poor was neither more nor less than doing away with all the existing laws for the protection of trade and commerce, and particularly with that of the 6th Geo. 1st for preventing the formation of joint stock companies. If he understood the bill at all, it was to encourage such companies, by individuals subscribing a certain sum, and releasing themselves from all responsibility that should exceed the sum they subscribed. Such a measure would strike at the root of the whole commercial system of this country. He knew that in many parts of the continent such a system was adopted, but it was so contrary to the system on which this country had ever acted, that he should feel it his duty to oppose the proposition in every stage.

Mr. Alderman Wood

thought his hon. friend had certainly mistaken the nature of the measure. It was not a bill that the great capitalists of this country ought to be alarmed at; and the House could deter- mine whether it should go with any amendments that might be proposed.

Mr. Grenfell

replied, that if its object was only to amend the existing laws of Ireland, he should not give it opposition; but would it not go to the extent of allowing manufacturers and traders in this country to deposit any sum they pleased, being liable only for what they advanced?

Sir J. Newport

hoped the House would, at all events, entertain this bill; for he would take upon himself to say that such defects had been found in the acts of the 22nd and 26th of the king, that they had ceased to be operative. It was peculiarly necessary for Ireland, that the principles of some such measure should be reduced to practice, and by the means of capital— the only thing wanted to give employment to the mass of unemployed poor.

Mr. Finlay

knew that a similar practice prevailed abroad, but here he was convinced that it would be attended with the greatest possible disadvantage to trade and commerce. He hoped the worthy alderman would so separate the two objects, that if what related to England were rejected, that which related to Ireland might remain.

Mr. D. Gilbert

considered the measure to be one which would affect a fundamental principle in our commercial system, and therefore it would require the most deliberate attention of the House.

Leave was given for the appointment of the committee.