§ MR. W. BROWN
rose to move for copies of all applications made by the London, Liverpool, and North American Screw Steam-ship Company to the Board of Trade for a charter, and of all correspondence between the said company and the Board of Trade on the subject thereof; and of all letters, memorials, and other communications received by the Board of Trade from other persons, companies, and associations relating to such application. The hon. Gentleman (who was very imperfectly heard) observed, that his Motion arose out of a feeling that injustice might be done in consequence of an application which had been made to the Board of Trade by the London, Liverpool, and North 1072 American Screw Steam-ship Company to grant them a charter, limiting the individual liability of the shareholders. Those on whose behalf he spoke, considering that this would be a very dangerous precedent, sought no such privileges for themselves. They considered that it would be a direct interference with private enterprise, and a direct violation of the principle that unrestricted competition should be the policy of nations. They deemed it to be most important that the Government should not grant to one class of Her Majesty's subjects privileges which were not enjoyed by all, when no necessity was made out for such a course. It could not be denied that an immense amount of the shipping of the United Kingdom was already engaged in the trade which was now sought to be monopolised. Already screw steam-ships were trading, and many others were being built for the purpose of carrying it on. Cunard's line alone had several vessels of this description on the stocks, and none of these sought any exclusive benefits or privileges. His views upon this subject were fully set forth in a memorial from the shipowners of Liverpool to the Board of Trade, which with the permission of the House he would read:—The Memorial of the undersigned Shipowners of the Port of Liverpool,Sheweth— That your Memorialists have observed that an application by the London, Liverpool, and North American Screw Steam-ship Company, for a Charter, with limited Liability, is still under the consideration of your Honourable Board.That your Memorialists have an immense stake in the Shipping of this country, and they have embarked their capital therein, willing to incur all the responsibilities and risks of Shipowners, to the fullest amount of individual liability, and content to compete, fairly and freely, one with another, like any other unprivileged class of British Traders.That to encourage by a Charter, with Limited Liability, a body of Speculators to compete with your Memorialists, at a very small risk to themselves, and to deprive your Memorialists of a very considerable portion of that trade which has been created by their industry and perseverance through all difficulties and disadvantages, would not only be most unjust and injurious to your Memorialists, but a great discouragement to all future private enterprise.That the granting of such a Charter is not called for by any public necessity at the present time; and there can be no doubt, that if your Memorialists and others engaged in Shipping are not discouraged (as they will be if such a Charter as the one sought for is granted), an almost unlimited amount of Capital will, in a few years, be invested in Screw and other Steam-ships, to trade between this Country and North America.That it is only by encouraging free and un- 1073 privileged competition between Shipowners, not favouring one class or body more than another, that this Country can continue to experience the Benefit of a still further extension of Nautical Science, and of successive Mechanical improvemants connected with Steam-ships and Shipbuilding generally, such as of late years have contributed so much to the public convenience and advantage.The hon. Member then proceeded to state his surprise that a banker, one of the hon. Members for the City of London, had accompanied that deputation who were seeking to obtain for their company limited liability. He presumed it was merely to introduce his constituents to the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade, for no man knew better than he (Mr. Master-man) if a Joint Stock Company wished to open an account with a London banker, if he found connected with it men of great wealth and respectability, who were responsible for the whole amount of their fortunes, there was no difficulty; but, let the very same men be united in a Joint Stock Company with limited liability, and seek to do business with them, prudence would make him view the account very differently. He thought it would not be disputed that Joint Stock Companies necessarily carried on their business more expensively and with less economy than private individuals; and where they were chartered with limited liability, in any-trade, they discouraged private competition. And what was the effect? If they were successful, the public must pay more for their services; if they were not able to pay their debts, their creditors must suffer, as they had no claim on the private fortunes of the partners. As credit was one of the elements of the power and greatness of this country, anything that impaired it in the least was a positive injury to the State. Here, with the exception of the Bank of England, railroads, and a few marine companies, where the funds required were too large for individual means, or where the nature of the undertaking was of great benefit to the State, but of doubtful or speculative advantage to the stockholders, had charters of limited liability been granted. Here were cases made out, but there was none for Canada. Look at France, where limited liability was common. The credit of France, compared with that of England in foreign nations, could not be spoken of in the same day. He knew, from his own experience, that, in the worst of times, bills on England, with respectable drawers, were saleable, 1074 because they had no limited liability. It was different with French bills, for they had no knowledge in foreign countries of who the partners were, or to what extent limited liability would operate against us, and consequently they were in worse credit than we, and we should preserve our 'vantage ground by every means in our power, and not impair it. There was nothing, he said, of which the House should be so jealous as the introduction of a system which, under the name of joint-stock companies, would interfere with the commercial credit of this great country. He hoped, therefore, the President of the Board of Trade would grant the papers which he had moved for, in order that those gentlemen who considered that it would be unwise in Government to grant the privileges that were now asked for might have an opportunity of seeing on what ground they were sought, and of answering the argument that might have been put forward on their behalf, which he had no doubt could be done in a manner quite satisfactory to the Government. He hoped the Government would not in this case depart from the Resolution which the House had agreed to only a few nights ago, by a majority of nearly five hundred, that unrestricted competition should be the policy of this country, which forbade special privileges to any company. It was an important fact, that many of the States of America, which, prior to 1837, granted charters of limited liability to their hanks, had found them productive of such serious consequences that they had refused to renew them on the same terms. In the State of New York they required caution money; in some other States they made the stockholders liable for more than the amount of their stock. When these shrewd people were retracing their steps from known evils, he trusted this country would not allow that most important element— credit—which had contributed so much to the prosperity of the country, to be impaired by granting charters of limited liability. At the same time he did not deny that, with places very remote, where the undertaking was speculative, and where private capital was inadequate to the under-taking, but where it was of importance to the nation to have a quick and safe postal communication, to encourage a new trade charters might be granted as the exception, but not as the rule. But none of these requirements were necessary in the North American trade. There was abundance of money seeking employment every- 1075 where that there was the least prospect of turning it to account even for a moderate return. He admitted that the Board of Trade had a difficulty to contend with, where such contradictory views were impressed on the right hon. President; but forty years' experience in business had convinced him of the danger that would arise from granting charters of limited liability. For these reasons, he hoped the returns would not be refused, because limited liability would impair the general credit of the nation; because it would injure most important interests, without any corresponding benefit to the State; because there were ample funds to meet the requirements in question; and because we had already a most efficient postal communication by the Cunard line, which had no special privileges of limited liability. All this showed that the joint-stock company in question had no special case that ought to induce the Government to meet their views. Having stated his opinions, he would trouble the House no further than to thank them for the indulgence they had accorded to him. To the hon. Member for Kidderminster, he (Mr. Brown) said, all he wanted was a fair field and no favour, and that we should maintain the vote of unrestricted competition. To the hon. Member for Cork, he would say, that wherever cargo was to be got it enabled ships to carry passengers cheaper than where there was no cargo; but as his object was to get an expression of the opinions of the House, rather than divide on the Motion for papers, he would withdraw it; at the same time, although there might be a difficulty in granting papers in negotiation with foreign Government?, he saw none on the present occasion. He assured the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade that his asking for those documents was not for want of confidence in or respect to him, and he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would decide as he conscientiously believed to be right.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That there be laid before this House, Copies of all applications made by the London, Liverpool, and North American Screw Steamship Company to the Board of Trade for a Charter; and of all Correspondence between the said Company and Board of Trade on the subject thereof; and of all Letters, Memorials, and other Communications received by the Board of Trade from other Persons, Companies, and Associations relating to such application.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the hon. Gen- 1076 tleman had been kind enough to remark that he (Mr. Henley) was placed in a difficult position in the office which he had the honour to hold; and he thought the House would admit that the hon. Member had done everything in his power—everything, indeed, that a man could possibly do —to make the duties of that situation, not only more difficult, but almost impossible for him to fulfil. What would have been the fair course to be pursued by any hon. Member entertaining the views which the hon. Gentleman no doubt conscientiously held on this question? It might have been open to him to have waited to see what judgment the Board of Trade should come to on the matter; for he begged the House to understand the question was still sub judice. But the hon. Member (Mr. Brown) —who claimed for himself such powers of unrestricted competition—was not content to leave the question to the jurisdiction of the appointed tribunal, but at once endeavoured to bring the question under the discussion of that House—for that was what he was attempting to do by his present Motion. Surely, a fairer way would have been to at once move the House to rescind the power of the Board of Trade to grant charters altogether. That would have been a plain and intelligible course—a course which everybody could have understood; and though there would probably have been some difference of opinion on the question, they could all have fairly debated it on its general merits. But he must contend— and he hoped the House would support him in this view—that it was a most unfair manner of proceeding to raise a general question of this vast importance—the question of limited liability—on a particular case, and that case still sub judice. But was this all? In his short speech the hon. Member had made an admission which at once cut the ground from under his feet. He admitted, he said, that there might be cases of an exceptional character, in which it might be proper to grant charters. But the hon. Member must excuse him for saying that he and the other gentlemen who had memorialised the Board of Trade on this subject, hardly condescended to notice the exceptional character of the present application until he (Mr. Henley) called their attention to it—he meant the Company's proposal to open a steam communication with Canada. But he would not enter into the merits of the general question on this occasion—because it was not on that ground that he objected to granting 1077 the papers—although the hon. Gentleman had made use of some arguments which did not bear out his general views-—he said, for instance, that, if limited liability was established, persons would not be compellable to pay their debts; yet, while holding these views, he said that charters might be granted in cases which were exceptional, notwithstanding this result. The ground on which he asked the House to resist the Motion was this: The matter was at present sub judice. If the House chose to take the matter into its own hands, let them do so; but while it was sub judice, he maintained that the papers ought not to be granted. When he had once come to a determination on the question, he should be ready to produce any papers that Parliament might call for; but until that was the case, he hoped the House would support him in resisting the Motion.
§ MR. JAMES CLAY
said, that although at first sight it might seem of small consequence whether a charter was or was not granted to this company, it involved, in point of fact, a very great principle— namely, whether any persons under any circumstances were to have special privileges as against their competitors in trade. If this charter were granted, what would become of the principle that unrestricted competition was to be the governing principle of our commercial legislation? If this charter were granted, the applicants would have the advantage of limited liability, whatever that might be, and by the amount of that advantage their competitors would be restricted in their competition. But the right hon. Gentleman had said that the hon. Member (Mr. Brown) ought not to have taken the course he had adopted until he (Mr. Henley) had decided the question. With great deference to the right hon. Gentleman, he begged to say that it would then have been too late to agitate the subject. He agreed, however, with the right hon. Gentleman that the best course which those who thought as he (Mr. Clay) did on this subject, could adopt, was without delay to bring before the House the question whether, under present circumstances, and with the commercial principles which the House had recently sanctioned, the power of granting charters ought to be left with the Board of Trade. He believed that the principle on which the Board of Trade had hitherto acted in occasionally granting charters of limited liability to companies, was to grant them only in cases in which the capital was of 1078 such magnitude, or the risk so great, as to be beyond the reach of private capital or private enterprise. Now, the present ease fell within neither of these conditions —the capital was not large, and the risk not unusual. It was represented that hitherto we had had no steam communication with Canada; and that was true, but the reason was, that hitherto it had not been found profitable. But circumstances had changed. The development of the screw, by diminishing the cost, had increased the profit of such voyages, and private enterprise was now ready to enter upon the trade in question. They would only be too ready, indeed, to enter upon it if they could get the bonus which, as he understood, the present company had secured for themselves—not, indeed, from the Board of Trade, but from the local Legislature. But, supposing that private enterprise was not likely to enter upon this trade, and that it might, therefore, be right to grant a charter to this company for the purpose, that would, at the best, only furnish an argument for granting a special privilege for a special purpose, but not for granting a charter to a company which sought the wider privilege of competing for a share of the trade with the United States —in other words, which sought to enter into direct competition with the magnificent service by which that trade was at present conducted, and which would be injuriously affected by such privilege being granted to their opponents. It would be easy to show that this company had less than the usual claim for a charter, because they had already secured a grant in their favour of 24,000l.—namely, 19,000l. from the local Legislature, besides being exempt from dues, and 5,000l. from the railway that ran to their port. But he took his stand on the general principle that now-a-days no body of men could be permitted exclusive privileges against their competitors in trade. At the time when the power of granting charters of limited liability was conferred on the Board of Trade, the principle of unrestricted competition was not so generally acknowledged as at present; but now he was strongly of opinion that the power of granting charters ought to revert to Parliament—not that he distrusted the Board of Trade on the matter, still less the right hon. Gentleman who was at present at the head of! it, whose attention to all matters that were brought before him, and whose courtesy to all who had occasion to see him, every one gratefully acknowledged— 1079 but the cases in which charters ought to be granted were so few—he greatly doubted, indeed, if there should be any—hut the cases at any rate were so few, that the consideration of them would not sensibly affect the labours of Parliament, while the importance of the principle which they involved was so great that Parliament alone should decide as to the exceptions. If the system of granting charters of limited liability was to be allowed to continue, the logical and inevitable result would be, that we must adopt the French system of partnerships en commandité; and he, for one, was not prepared to say that that could be adopted without serious disturbance to our commercial system, and without serious limitation of that credit which, along with, or rather the rather the result of, our capital and energy, had made our commercial enterprise the envy of the world.
§ MR. LOWE
said, he could imagine no course more inconvenient than, when a matter had, by Act of Parliament, been referred for adjudication to a specific and responsible department of Government, for the House of Commons, while the matter was still undecided, to employ itself in debating the question on its merits. And therefore on the claim of the company he should not say a single word, not doubting for a moment that it would be equitably and properly dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, on whom, by virtue of the Act of Parliament, that responsible duty devolved. Had he (Mr. Lowe) had the least notion before he came down to the House that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brown) had involved a question of so serious a character, he would have taken pains to prepare himself for its discussion in a manner worthy of its importance. But, little right as he had to trespass on the attention of the House, he could not keep his seat and hear an hon. Gentleman rise in his place and call upon the House to take measures which would have the effect of eliminating from the field of common exertion a formidable and new competitor, and yet say that they ought to do so on the principle of unrestricted competition; for if there was any meaning in the petition to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, it was this—that those who were already concerned in the shipping trade with North America were anxious that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade should not, by granting a charter to the Screw Company, raise up a new and formidable competitor to share 1080 with them the profits of the enterprise, and to diminish the freight and passage to the consumer. He must say he thought it rather too much, when Gentlemen came to the House and asked them to interfere with the important duties of a department of Government, in order to prevent a competitor being introduced into the field of enterprise—it was too much, he said, to colour such a Motion with the name of "unrestricted competition." It was precisely the reverse. The law, as it stood at present—the law of unlimited liability —was a restraint on competition. If there was no law of unlimited liability there would be much more competition in the different trades than there now was, and many articles would be cheapened to the consumer. But it had been the law of England for sixty years that if any person entered into competition in any branch of trade, he must do so under the very highest penalty, namely, that if he were unsuccessful he must lose his last shilling and his last acre. Was this a law; to encourage the competition of capital, which told the capitalist that whatever he did with his capital, he must do under the very highest penalty—under the penalty of prœmunire —a total loss of his goods— and all this to deter him from embarking his capital in trade! That was the present restrictive state of the law. The House of Commons had been recently asked to bring their financial policy into unison with their commercial policy, and adopt the principle of unrestricted competition; now he (Mr. Lowe) thought they would do wisely if they followed up the same principle with respect to legal policy, and swept away all those institutions and laws which tended—as this law manifestly did—to restrain, embarrass, and hinder the competition of capital in different trades and employments! What was the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade empowered by Act of Parliament to do? What he was empowered to do was, pro tanto, as often as he should see that a case was made out, to break down the present fettering law and give the capitalist power to compete with other capitalists, without the penalty which the law of unlimited liability attached to such a course. The provisional power given to the Board of Trade was, in reality, a power to remedy the injustice of the law of unlimited responsibility. And this power was now attacked. It was said it was opposed to free trade. What had been its results, he would ask? 1081 Had they been unfruitful? What was it that had covered our land with railroads, and our seas with steamships and mercantile fleets, except the power of suspending and annihilating the law of unlimited liability? But it was said that such a state of things was injurious to credit. That was the concern of those who gave credit. If any one should think, upon consideration, that the credit which unlimited liability gave, was better worth having than the credit which limited liability offered, he was at liberty to make his election. But, on the other hand, if he preferred the credit which limited liability and publicity offered, he had a right to do so. It was for the public to decide how much credit they would give in either case. It was no part of our laws to settle people's private affairs, or to interfere to prevent the public from protecting themselves. But what was done with advantage in France and in the United States of America, might, he thought, be done with advantage in this country also. He (Mr. Lowe) trusted that the day was not far distant when Parliament would relieve the Board of Trade from the invidious and annoying duty which had been cast upon it, not by taking away the power, which had been so beneficial, of permitting large associations with limited liability, but by leaving it to every set of persons who wished to associate their capital for a common enterprise to do so without having occasion to go to the Government at all, or spend one shilling in fees or stamps merely (as in America) by making known to the public the amount of capital they put into the concern, so that the public might be aware with what they dealt. He must crave pardon for having trespassed thus upon the House, but he could not sit silent when he heard an attempt made to fetter the freedom of competition under the name of unrestricted competition itself.
§ MR. ROCHE
said, that he Would vote with the right hon. Gentleman if he persisted in refusing the correspondence, having confidence in his exercise of the powers entrusted to him. He would, observe, however, that the company had put forward in their prospectus that it was intended to open communication between Ireland, Canada, and the United States; and he thought the way in which the question affected Ireland had been entirely left out of consideration. It was a point, however, of very great importance. The emigration from Liverpool alone had, in the present year, been over 1082 200,000 persons, and no one could imagine the sufferings of those individuals from the insufficient accommodation afforded at very high rates. He hoped the Government would not forget this circumstance, and on them he was quite content to leave the responsibility of deciding between the con-tending parties.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
remembered, years ago, a chartered company which issued 30,000l. of bills, and got them discounted by a number of shopkeepers. The bills were dishonoured, and he recollected meeting the representative of this chartered company, who coolly said, "We are not personally liable; we are sorry for you, gentlemen, but we cannot pay the bills at present, and we are not personally liable." If the company had not been chartered, they would have been under the disagreeable necessity of paying their debts. Before charters were granted he thought great care should be taken; for in the course of his experience he knew many companies — shipping companies — which never would have paid their debts if they had not been personally liable. He considered the principle with regard to these cases to be that what could be accomplished by private enterprise should not be subject of a charter. Conceiving the great object was to have a discussion, he should recommend the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the Motion under the circumstances which had been stated by the President of the Board of Trade.
§ VISCOUNT GODERICH
did not apprehend that there was any ground for imputing a desire to eliminate from the field of commerce a new and powerful competitor. All that was sought was, that there should be in this case the same freedom of trade as in others. It was not usual to grant a charter to one company which would come in competition with other companies not having charters; and in this instance it would be the more unfair, because the established companies had sunk three millions of money in the undertaking. The hon. Member for the county of Cork (Mr. Roche) was anxious to get cheaper freights for Irish emigrants; he however, did not see how the hon. Gentleman would obtain that object if he advocated the establishment of a company which by these special privileges would speedily drive all other persons out of the trade, and thereby raise freights to monopoly prices. The objection to the Screw Company was, that, if they obtained these privileges, they would inevit- 1083 ably establish a monopoly by extinguishing all competition. He ventured to believe that the establishing steam communication with Canada was only an excuse for an attempt to engross the whole trade with North America. If it was not an excuse, the bonus of 24,000l. from the Canadian Government, besides special exemption from tolls, would surely be sufficient to induce them to do the little they were required, namely, to send one ship a month at first, and afterwards one ship fortnightly.
§ MR. JAMES MACGREGOR
had certainly brought under the notice of the Board of Trade a memorial, setting forth the claims of this new company for a charter; and in doing so had not desired to establish what had been termed a monopoly. The Iron Screw-ship Company would not displace any other company in the same trade, for he understood that no British ships were employed in the Canada trade from the port of London. His object in bringing the memorial to the notice of the Board of Trade was because he thought that to build British ships of British iron to trade to British ports, was doing a public service; and he could not help thinking that such a purpose must prove generally beneficial. If Dr. Johnson was right in saying that a ship was a prison with the additional disadvantage of the risk of being drowned, he thought that a man who assisted emigrants to make a shorter voyage did a service to his country.
concurred with the noble Lord (Viscount Goderich) that by granting this charter the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) would be violating the great and important principle of unrestricted competition. No charter could be given without granting exclusive privileges, and no exclusive privileges could be granted without interfering with individual adventurers. When a great work could only be accomplished by the congregation of an immense capital, which could not be obtained without a charter, a charter might be granted; but that was the only exception which he admitted. But it was not usual to ask for documents pendente lite; and as the Motion, by its wording, might seem to cast some suspicion on the President of the Board of Trade, and after the explanation which had been given, he hoped the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Brown) would withdraw it.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
understood the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) objected to this Motion because the ques- 1084 tion to which it referred was now pending, and he seemed to consider that sufficient ground for not laying the papers on the table of the House. If any public inconvenience would arise, it was undesirable for any Member to press for the production of papers; but with regard to foreign affairs, when a discussion with a foreign country was in progress, it was not proper to produce the papers until the discussion was ended. But it was usual when questions of great importance were pending before other departments, to produce papers and correspondence on both sides before those questions were definitively settled. It appeared to him that calling for these papers by no means cast the slightest imputation upon the right hon. Gentleman that he would act unfairly in discharging his duty, and it had always been the practice to grant such information unless the public convenience could be alleged against the concession.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, letters and papers on the subject were coming in day by day, and therefore, before he saw the whole case before him, he thought it would be inconvenient to lay the papers on the table of the House. As the whole case was not before him, he could not form a judgment upon it, and on those grounds he considered it inexpedient to accede to the Motion. That was what he had intended to express by his previous statement. He still thought it was inconvenient to agree to the Motion, because only half the case would be before the House.
§ MR. TURNER
had been surprised to hear an hon. Member advocate the grant of a charter on the ground of unrestricted competition. The company came for privileges not enjoyed by shipowners in general, their object being to induce a number of persons of small capital to embark in the undertaking. Unless there was a want of capital in the trade—unless a charter was necessary on grounds of public utility, it was surely unjust to allow a company to overbear private individuals. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) said, the law of unlimited liability prevented many from embarking in trade. He had no question such was the case, and very properly. Euglish people were quite prone enough to speculation, as successive panics, which occurred periodically, proved; and if the parties were not liable to the extent of their whole property, those panics would be of much more frequent occurrence. They all recollected the American panic 1085 of 1837 and 1839, and the East Indian panic of 1847, which were traceable entirely to excessive speculation. He was in America in 1837, and in one of the largest streets in New York there were not two solvent firms. The law of unlimited liability was in effect, that no person should be induced to enter into any engagement without seeing his way clear to perform that engagement. He hoped the President of the Board of Trade would be very cautious in granting a charter for any object which private means and private enterprise could accomplish. In this instance private means were quite sufficient, and if the principle was adopted in this case, every large proprietor of ships in the United Kingdom would have as good grounds for demanding the same privilege. The effect of the incorporation of this company would be simply to raise their shares to a premium in the market; and, under all the circumstances, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would exercise great caution in granting the charter.
§ MR. R. M. FOX
begged leave to set the House right with regard to this company, of which he would state in the outset that he was one of the directors. The Government of Canada was anxious to obtain steam communication with this country; but private enterprise had been appealed to in vain, and at last this company was started. The opposition to the charter did not proceed "from private enterprise," but from parties who received from Government 140,000l a year for carrying the mails; and it also came from the Collins line, who were strongly aided by the public money of another country. He would also call the attention of the House to the fact, that the incorporation of the company would enable them to offer very great advantages to the Irish emigrant, who would avoid the miseries of going to Liverpool, and might embark either at one of the western ports, or at some port of call, such as Cork or Belfast. The fact that men of the highest station in Canada and Newfoundland (which island was deeply interested in this matter) were connected with the company, ought to have saved them from the imputation of an anxiety to raise the value of their shares in the market. It was a bonâ fide undertaking, which was intended to be carried out without asking for a single shilling from the Government. A contract had been entered into with the Government of Canada, and if the charter 1086 was granted, there would be steam communication between the two countries; if not, he believed that Canada would go without it for a very long time.
§ MR. V. SCULLY
said, it might be a reason for not granting a charter in this case if there were no peculiar facilities granted to other companies; but they knew very well that there were two large and powerful companies who were largely assisted by this country and the United States, and in consequence they had a monopoly now. He wished strongly to impress upon the House the importance of steam communication between Ireland and Canada, which appeared to have been left entirely out of consideration.
§ MR. HUDSON
said, the Act of Parliament left it to the Board of Trade, whether a charter should be granted or not, and his constituents were quite satisfied with the sound judgment of the President of the Board of Trade. In many of the principles laid down he perfectly concurred; but there were cases where it was most desirable that limited responsibility should be given, but the Board of Trade might foster projects which did not come within the scope of private enterprise. He thought that private enterprise was much more likely to be successful, than enterprises undertaken by companies managed by boards of directors. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not persevere in the Motion he had made.
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
was of opinion that, if the President of the Board of Trade would leave the matter to the enterprise of private parties, steam communication would be established not only between England and Canada, but between England and China. Screw-ships were building for the latter trade. Emigrants, he believed, would be as well accommodated by a company without a subsidy or a charter, as by one with a subsidy or a charter. He recommended his hon. Friend to withdraw the Motion.
§ MR. W. BROWN
said, what they wanted was, "a clear stage and no favour" for any company whatever. He should be extremely sorry to ask for papers, the production of which would embarrass the right hon. Gentleman. If there was any negotiation going on with any foreign State, there might be a difficulty, but there was no difficulty in the present case; but as the right hon. Gentleman was of a different opinion, he would withdraw the Motion, 1087 and lie trusted and was confident that he would do justice to all parties.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
expressed his conviction that steam navigation to Canada would be as effectually carried out by private enterprise from Glasgow and Liverpool as by means of any charter whatever.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.