HC Deb 15 July 1856 vol 143 cc943-4

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1.


said, that by the present Bill the stamp duty on the proxies of the shareholders of a company was reduced from 2s. 6d. to 6d. At the meetings of large railway companies there was great abuse in the system of voting by proxy, and he did not think that the proposed reduction would abate the evil. He wished to propose as an Amendment that the duty should be reduced to 1d., and, if that proposition were carried, the shareholders might make it compulsory on the directors to send a stamped form of proxy to every shareholder, and thus nearly every proprietor might be represented at the meetings.


said, the reduction of duty effected by the Bill would be considerable. If shareholders would not be inclined to pay 6d. stamp duty for a proxy, they could not attach very much importance to their vote when great pecuniary interests were concerned. It had been represented to him by several persons connected with railroads, that the reduction of duty to the amount stated in the Bill would be satisfactory, and he trusted that the Committee would approve it.


said he would beg to remind the right hon. Gentleman that there was a Return before the House, which showed that the capital embarked in railways amounted to over £300,000,000 sterling. while the number of proprietors was 167,000. Well, of that number it would appear that four-fifths were non-resident, and of that proportion only one-twentieth sent in proxies. The proposed reduction in the stamp was, no doubt, very considerable; nevertheless, the tax was still too high. Take the case of a great company like the London and North-Western, with 12,000 proprietors. Why, the sum levied by means of the proxy votes on the occasion of an important meeting would amount to a very heavy item. He believed, if the tax were reduced to 1d., then it would become the policy of railway directors to issue proxies to all non-resident shareholders.


said, he thought no further reduction was required than was proposed by the Bill.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to; as were the remaining clauses.

On the Motion of the CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER a new clause was added to the Bill, exempting from the duty admissions to the freedom of the City of London by redemption.

In reply to Mr. COWAN,


said, he could not hold out any hope that the benefit of the reduction would be extended to instruments by which creditors empowered a few of their number to represent them at meetings, as that class of instruments had an affinity with powers of attorney rather than with proxies.

House resumed.

Bill reported, as amended.