HC Deb 29 July 1845 vol 82 cc1195-7

At the five o'clock sittings, the Report of the Standing Orders' Revision Committee was further considered.

Various Amendments were agreed to.

On Standing Order 39A, the Committee proposed that the amount of deposit on railway shares should be one-tenth, or 10 per cent., instead of 5 per cent.

Lord G. Somerset

said, the Committee made this proposition on the expectation that speculation would be as rife this year as it was at present, and in consequence of the recent disclosures in Parliament, it was necessary to procure a more respectable body of shareholders. The Amendment of Standing Order 128 had reference to Ireland, and required that notices to landholders should be deposited with the clerks of the Unions.

On the Question that the Amendment be read a second time,

Sir R. Ferguson

considered such a sudden call upon all railways would work most detrimentally to the schemes as public works, and prove a source of very considerable injustice to those persons who had already signed contracts upon the faith of their being required to deposit only 5l. per cent. He moved to omit the words "one-tenth" for the purpose of inserting "onetwentieth."

Sir G. Clerk

hoped the House would agree to the Amendment suggested by the Committee in their Report. Considering the mania for speculation which had been exhibited in this country during the past year, and the mode in which the share lists had been proved to have been filled up, he considered that the Committee were perfectly justified in their recommendation, and that the House ought, upon public grounds, to adopt it. Were the Standing Orders so amended, the public would have some security for the completion of the projects by the necessarily increased respectability of the parties promoting them.

Mr. Stuart Wortley

also suggested the extreme inconvenience that would be caused to shareholders in projected companies by the adoption of this rule.

Dr. Bowring

observed, that the effect of the rule would be to give an unfair advantage in the case of those railroads which were already formed, and to operate as a great injustice on those which were only projected.

Mr. E. B. Denison

said, that the effect of this order would be most unjust on those shareholders who had signed the Parliamentary deeds on the faith of the existing orders, and who had been led to believe that only a certain amount would be demanded of them until an Act of Parliament was obtained.

Mr. Greene

observed, that the injustice of the proposed arrangement might be obviated by confining its operation to companies hereafter to be projected, and not applying it to those which were provisionally registered, or in which the deposits had been paid and the deeds signed.

Lord G. Somerset

said, that some such regulation as this appeared absolutely necessary, in order to stop the mania for speculating in railway shares. He doubted very much whether the rule would be found to operate so injuriously as was supposed, and whether the cases in which the increased deposit would be readily paid would not so far preponderate as to render it scarcely necessary to consider the others.

Sir R. Ferguson

did not consider that the alteration would prove any guarantee that the share lists were not filled up by fictitious names in the very same manner as heretofore. However, as the feeling of the House seemed to be in favour of the proposition of the noble Lord, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment withdrawn. Numerous alterations in the Standing Orders agreed to.