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Copper Miners In England Company's Bill

Volume 114: debated on Friday 7 March 1851

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Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

was opposed to the second reading of this Bill, and should move its postponement, which was an important one, and created a new species of legislation. The Copper Miners was an old chartered company, formed for the purpose of working the copper mines in England. They became greatly involved, and borrowed a great deal of money upon debentures. The object of this Bill was to oblige the creditors to become partners in this bankrupt concern by threatening them with the loss of their money if they did not do so. He had no interest directly or indirectly with the company; but he knew a certain Baronet who had lent 1,000l. to them, for which he held their debentures. If the Bill passed, he must either surrender these debentures and become a shareholder receiving 10s. in the pound, or submit to all these claims against the company being annulled and determined. It was, however, the capital of the company and not the shareholders that was at present liable. He contended that such legislation would be most dangerous and improper.

Amendment proposed, "To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day Six Months.'"

supported the second reading. He knew officers, and officers' widows, who had put about 60,000l. into the debentures of the company because they were aware the Bank of England had lent the company 270,000l., and therefore thought they were entering upon a safe and secure investment. They were now involved in the distresses of the company, but they thought it better to get 10s. in the pound than nothing, and, therefore, eight-ninths of the shareholders had petitioned Parliament in favour of the Bill, which also was supported by the Bank of England. If the House refused to refer the Bill to a Committee, instead of getting 10s. in the pound, those poor people would get somewhere about 9d. in the pound possibly.

looked on the Bill as an attempt to support a mischievous system. The Bank of England, no doubt, would support it, because they were the last lenders. He had no interest in the company one way or other, except in so far as he used large quantities of copper, and would therefore be glad to see them succeed; but he was satisfied those who now supported the Bill would hereafter repent if it became law.

as sheriff of the county where the company's works were situated, had once to execute a levy upon them to the extent of half a million sterling, and from what he saw on that occasion felt bound to protest against such a Bill being sanctioned by the House. He felt every sympathy for the parties who had been mentioned, but he must say they had embarked in the company with their eyes open. If the House entertained a Bill on such principles, they would inflict a heavy blow on the manufacturing and commercial industry of the country, from which it would not soon recover.

said, that if the Bill was not carried, the creditors would lose every shilling of their money.

in supporting the second reading of the Bill, said that he had done so on the representations of the hon. Member for Glasgow, who he (Mr. Brotherton) believed understood the case thoroughly. He knew enough of it himself to be convinced that for the sake of the creditors, the shareholders, and the public, it was the duty of the House to let the Bill go into Committee.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 123; Noes 66: Majority 57.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed and referred to the Committee of Selection.