HL Deb 01 June 1869 vol 196 cc1083-5

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, its object was to amend the law relating to mining in Cornwall and to facilitate arrangements for working the existing system. The distress which existed in the mining districts of Cornwall, and which had led to the emigration of a considerable number of miners, had induced the consideration of a variety of remedies with a view of re-invigo- rating the mining interest. This measure is one of them, and as the Cornish-men know well what is best for their interest, and earnestly support this Bill, he (Lord Portman) could safely advise their Lordships to pass it. It was only due to the inhabitants of that great county to state that, in spite of the great pressure to which they had been subjected, they had refused to solicit any extraneous aid, and had, within their own borders, raised all the funds necessary to meet the emergency. They were, therefore, entitled to the utmost consideration of Parliament, and they looked forward with hope to the future on account of having discovered a means of working the ore more cheaply, and of having also discovered large lodes of tin where it could least have been expected—for hitherto tin had been found above the copper; but, the latter having been worked through, tin had been found below it, and was likely to prove exceedingly valuable. It had seemed desirable that there should be greater facilities given for improving the "cost-book" system, being that by which the mines were principally worked. Under this system a body of neighbours put their funds together and worked a mine at their own expense, the accounts being adjusted at monthly or quarterly meetings; but in course of time, many of those shares had become the properly of persons living in all parts of the world, rendering it very difficult to enforce the calls which were necessary for the working of the mine. Moreover, whereas formerly sixteen shares was the usual number, and latterly 200 had not been unfrequent, now 6,000 or 7,000 are more usual, and the holders are scattered all over the world. It was, therefore, proposed to apply the Law of Partnership in such a way as would facilitate the working of the "cost-book" system. The latter part of the Bill had been suggested by the Vice Warden of the Court of Stannaries, Mr. Smirke, who deserved great credit for the pains he had taken to carry on the business of the court in a most satisfactory manner. He (Lord Portman) could have wished that the Bill had been placed in the hands of one of the Law Lords, who would have better understood the subject, than he could pretend to do. But ha had taken the responsibility as the Cornish mine-owners desired him, as Warden of the Stannaries, so to do. He would readily attend to any suggestion that may be made to him prior to the going into Committee.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.