HC Deb 10 February 1857 vol 144 cc454-5

said, he wished to inquire of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade whether, in consequence of the doubts which had been thrown by a court of law on the validity of advances on the hypothecation of goods or warrants, it was the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill upon the subject during the present Session?


Sir, the case of "Kingsford and Merry," to which the question of the hon. Member relates, is one the decision in which undoubtedly led to great hardship. That decision was of this nature. A man named Anderson obtained from Kingsford certain goods by means of false representations. Anderson pledged those goods to Merry, and having failed to pay for them, Kingsford brought an action against Merry to recover their value, and judgment was pronounced in his favour, so that not only was that rule of justice violated, which says, "That in the case in which one of two innocent men must suffer, the loss must fall upon the party by whom such suffering was occasioned;" but Kingsford himself was allowed to be the agent in recovering money from a person who was deceived by his own default. I do not for a moment doubt but the case has been decided according to law, but I do not think that any one can fairly contend that the decision is in accordance with substantial justice. I have therefore no hesitation in saying that there would be no difficulty in introducing a measure which, while it would put an end to that licence of pawning and selling stolen goods which is now enjoyed by the thief through the instrumentality of market overt, would give to fair traders in the exercise of their ordinary business a greater degree of protection than is at present extended to them. It is not, however, enough for the Government to know that a case involving, features of great hardship has been decided, we must also be convinced that our interference in the matter would be satisfactory to the mercantile classes; and upon that point I am sorry to say my mind is not made up. It is quite true that a great meeting was held in the City of London upon the subject; and a most influential deputation waited upon Lord Stanley of Alderley and myself at the Board of Trade with reference to it; but I am bound to say that the chairman of the meeting in question was opposed to the object which it had in view; and it is certain that gentlemen of very great influence in the City of London entertain sentiments directly at variance upon the point with those to which the deputation gave expression. The only answer which, under these circumstances, I can give my hon. Friend is, that we shall be quite ready to bring in a Bill upon the subject as soon as we are satisfied that such a measure will meet the wishes of the mercantile classes, whose interests it would mainly affect.