HC Deb 10 May 1824 vol 11 cc608-9

Lord Stanley having moved the second reading of the bill for incorporating the Manchester and Salford Loan Company,

Mr. Huskisson

said, that he should certainly object to bills of incorporation, unless where charter was first regularly obtained from the Crown. This was the old and the regular course of parliamentary proceeding.—Having obtained their charter from the king in council, the company came to the House of Commons for further powers; and he saw no reason for deviating from the established practice. Legislative incorporations involved numberless difficulties, many of which could scarcely be dealt with. A charter from the Crown might be revoked, if it was abused, or if the company failed to fulfil their undertakings with the public; but this could not be done in the case of a legislative enactment. To authorize an unlimited number of trading companies in such a manner, would be to do a material mischief to the country. He held in his hand the charter of the first company formed for lighting London with gas. According to the letter of that document, the power was given by the king and might be revoked in case the company abused it. Here, then, was a means by which that particular company could be dealt with; but how could government deal with about forty companies (not royally chartered) which had been since formed for lighting different parts of England by gas? companies were going on to form themselves into corporations for every purpose—no matter what—of trade. How was the public to proceed in case they neglected to fulfil their conditions? Parties might go to law, and get a verdict; but how and where were they to levy? He would not object to giving bodies who might be about to do business on a large scale, the power of suing and being sued collectively; but he certainly should oppose the taking every wild and idle speculation that might offer itself, out of the general operation of the laws of the country.