The Lord Chancellor ,
in opposing the motion, said, he did so without the slightest intention of casting any imputation on the persons who composed this company; many of whom he knew were highly respectable. The learned lord then proceeded to show that the company was instituted on unfair pretensions. It was proposed, that it should lend on pledges sums under 10l. at a lower interest than the pawnbrokers. Now, as the number of persons composing the company might amount to about 7,000, was it fair that a body so constituted should compete with individuals? The result would be a monopoly, the establishment of which could not be for the interest of the public. This company might lend at a low interest all competitors were driven out of the market, and then do as they 1350 pleased. The power of suing the clerk was no advantage to the public. If a judgment was got against tile clerk in a civil action, and he could not pay, was the prosecutor to proceed against all the 7,000 partners? If a criminal action might be successful against the clerk, those who had the option of bringing it were placed in the difficulty of either punishing the innocent, or of abstaining from seeking any redress whatever. For the encouragement of companies of this kind it would, perhaps be thought necessary to repeal the act of Geo. 1st, called the "bubble act;" but, if that were done, he should not much care, for he could tell their lordships' that there was hardly any thing in that act which was not punishable by the common law. The learned lord re-stated the opinions he had at different times in that House, as well as in the court of Chancery, delivered on the subject of joint-stock companies, and concluded by moving, that the bill be read a third time that day three months.
§ Lord Dacre
said, that as to the advantages of the bill, surely, to lend small sums under 10l. at an interest of 20 per cent less than that charged by the pawnbrokers was of itself a benefit to the country. He contended, that the lord chancellor had not taken a correct view of the preamble of the bill. It embraced not only pawn-brokering, but also advances on goods and profits. The learned lord had also overlooked the effect of certain clauses in the bill, which made every member of the company liable in person as well as in purse. It had been admitted by the learned lord, that the bill had been drawn by an able hand; and he had the opinion of an authority, only second to the learned lord, that it contained nothing that could be legally objected to. The bill was calculated to afford great benefit to the country; and it would therefore, be matter of deep regret to him, if it should be rejected.
The House then divided: For the third reading; Content 14; Not content 27; Majority against the bill 13.