OUR LONDON LETTER.
ANGLO-COLONIAL NOTES. London, August 13. NEW ZEALAND LOAN AND MERCANTILE. In the Chancery Division' on Tuesday Mr Justice Stirling heard the petition of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company for a reduction of their capital. Mr Buckley, Q C., in supporting the petition, remarked that the case presented some features of interest, having regard to the large amount of the proposed reduction and to the manner in which that reduction was to be borne by the different classes of holders of the company’s stock and shares. Having detailed the history of the company as briefly as possible, from of its inception down to the reconstruction, Mr Buckley said that soon after the formation of the new company the directors found it necessary to revalue the whole of the assets. The investigation set on foot by the directors of the new company revealed the fact that, in order to reduce the assets in the books of the company to their approximate actual values, it would bo necessary to write off a sum of about £2,500,000, whereas the tola! paid-up capital only amounted to £1,180,263. According to the present scheme of reduction, which had been regularly approved by resolutions of the debenture and shareholdu - -, it was proposed to write off the amount paid on the preference shares anil the amount paid in advance of calls on the f.illy-paid ordinary shares altogether, and at the same time to write off So per cent, of the nominal amount of the A debenture stock and the entire nominal amount of the B debenture stock. It appeared, therefore, that under the scheme the prior lien debenture stock was the only stock which remained unaltered as regarded its capital and income rights. Every £IOO of A debenture stock was to be split into three parts—£4o being represented by a new second debenture stock carrying interest at 4 per cent., £3O by a third debenture stock, and £3O being written off altogether. The whole of the B debenture slock wis also to be written off, and a niw class of shares to be created ranking next after the third debenture stock. These shares, of which there were 10,000 at £l, were entitled to a non-cumulative preferential dividend of £4 per cent., together with a right to (iO per cent, of any surplus profits remaining after payment of the preferential dividend. As to principal, these shares had certain rights to preferential payment in a winding up. The general effect of the changes produced by the reduction wai to reduce the total paid-up shares and debenture capital from £5,938,908 to £3,44.9,441, and at the sune time to reduce the fixed interest charges from £145,120 I o £104,240 per annum. It appeared lhat having regard to the position of the company the only alternative to a scheme of arrangement was liquidation, which would certainly involve total loss to the B debenture stockholders and to all coming after them, and probably also to the A debenture strckhoVc rs. Under tleie circumstances the petition now came before the Court for sanction of the resolutions which had been pasted by' the share aud stock holde:s. The only opposition came from a gentleman named Edwards, who appeared in person and staled that he was the holder of £2,090 in B debenture stock and also of 200 ordinary shares, in respect of which he was still liable to calls to the amount of £1,700. He submitted that it was inequitable that bis claim against the company in respect to his debentures should bo wiped off, while he was still left un ler liability in respect of his shares. Mr Justice Stirling, in dealing with this opposition, said that every one must regret the position in which Mr Edwards f mr.d himself, but from a legit point of view the case was very simple. Ho was hound by the resolutions which hd been passed by the majority of the debenture-:.ciders, aid i was impossible for the Court in this p.odeeding to release him from the liability on his shares. His Lordship, however, could not say that the alleged grievance was sid'dcient to cause tnc Court to abstain from sanctioning the scheme. Having fully considered the details of the schcmej Hi.-, Honor said he had com 3 to the conclusion that it was fair and reasonable as betwci it the different elastes tf share and stock holders, and lie accordingly' made an order sanctioning the scheme. Mr Buckley, Q C., Mr Jenkins, Q. C., and Mr R. Younger appeared for the company, and Mr Hastings, Q,C., turn! Mr Theobald for the trustees of the A and B debenture stockholders.
PRODUCE NOTES. The Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Agricultural Produce (Marks) Bill have deli'. •creel themselves of tlris interim pronouncement: Your Committee are of opinion that at this late period of the session it is nut possible to complete the evidence which bears upon the Bill referred to them. They consider, therefore, that it is not practicable to proceed further with ilie simo during the present session, and that it be report d to the House without amendment. Your Committee are of opinion that the identification of foreign meat and cheese is desirable, ami that there would be no great difhcuPy hi carrying this out in the case of foreign carcasses and cheeses.
Your Committee are also of opinion that any legislation t in the direction of marking meat would be inadequate unless means be taken to distinguish between British or Irish meat on the one hand land (1) that produced in onr colonies and (2) that produced in nil other countries and landed here alive to be slaughtered at the port of debarkation on the other. This is hardly soul-satiafying, but it is very much what one expected from the Committee, for during the inquiry its members, including Mr Wingfield Digby, of “cancer and other horrible diseases ” notoriety, have never in their examination of witnesses displayed any grasp of their subject or the issues involved. The truth of the matter is that meat-marking cannot bo carried out successfully except inder conditions which would be unduly harassing to retail traders. If the law were made so that every butcher dealing in imported meat was compelled to signify the fact by a prominent notice board, and bo made liable to a thumping penalty for wilful misrepresentation to customers, the needs of the case would, I think, be well met.
BOYCOTTING CO OPERATORS The Now Zealand co-operative societies Will be keenly interested in the struggle which is now proceeding in Scotland between the butchers and co-operators. The former object to collectivism in trade, and are engaged in trying to break up the successful co-operative trading societies which have their headquarters in Glasgow. Instead of adopting the legitimate meihods of trade oompetilim, the butchers are trying that dangerous double-edged weapon the boycott, Their plan of campaign is simple and drastic. They instruct the cattle salesmen at the markets to decline the co-operators’ bids, the loss of their own custom being the penalty of disobedience. The salesmen were loth to adopt such tactics, but they have mostly caved in to the flsehers. The societies then turned to the farmers and bought direct from them, but the Glasgow Fleshers’ Trade Protection Association counters them here by threatening to boycott all farmers who do not pledge themselves neither to deal with co-operative stores nor with any of those who deal directly or indirectly with such stores, MINING NOTES. As the days draw in so the spirit of the Speculator in mines seems to rise. We may now be considered to be fairly into the holiday season, but somehow the effect of the autumn exodus from town has not yet appreciably affected price ; indeed, so far as New Zealanders are concerned the general tendency during the past week has been toward a higher level. I hoar on good authority that the proposed amalgamation of Komata Reefs and Queens has now assumed a definite shape. The shareholders are to.be called together shortly to sanction an arrangement on the basis of ono Reef share being received in exchange for four Queens. If the scheme goes through the Reefs Company will have £45,000 available foe working capital—a sufficient sum surely to meet efery requirement till the day of dividends. A CRITIC OF COROMANDEL The New Zealand correspondent of the ‘ Sketch ’ gives the readers of that journal some gossip on the subject of the Coromandel gold area which will by no means bring comfort to speculators in the shares of mines oitside the Hartridga group. He opens with a general condensation of the field, for,
through confessing to a “sneaking kindness for the district,” he calmly tells us that he knows that nob one mine in a hundred can ever succeed, that many of them were never floated with any idea of success, and that many of the companies have dragged on a miserable existence for years. Later in hia article ho hedges a bit and says: “It would be somewhat unfair if I condemned right away half the mines in Coromandel, bt ernse I have no scientific grounds fur my belief that nine-tenths of them will never pay," In the next breath, however, he teiis us that none of the mines he has seen outside the Hodgv-managed group seem to him worth mention, that half of them are not worked with any energy, that some of them have machinery which is useless, and that others have never seen gold and are not hkcly to. In conclusion, he says :
Mining is cheap in Coromandel, and there is some water power, but not much. The old Knpanga has found gold at 910 ft, and refractory as the ore is it might pay for treatment if the values are right. . . . The Kapauga has a valuable asset in the enormous tailings heap, but no attempt has been made to treat the tailings, which are one mass of mineral. It should pay the company to scud out an expert to report upon this enormous dump, because I for one will not believe that it is barren. I have seen the mill, and lam sure it docs not catch half the gold. Kapanga might be saved by its tailings heap, as many another mine has been. . . . Coromandel has a bad name, but we cannot get away from the Jlauraki record, which is magnificent, and what llauraki has done any of the others may do. But for sheer downright gambling Coromandel stands clear ahead of all the other mining fields I have ever sc-.n. There are few prizes here, and many blanks. The host thing one can say is that the prizes, when won, are simply magnificent. The Coromandel folk are not like those at the Thames. They do not claim to have a wonderful goldfield, or declare that their deep levels are the richest. They disarm criticism by admitting all their failings, and they make no boom or bounce. “We are what we are,” they humbly say ; “you must take us for better or worse.” ASSASSINATION Of THE SPANISH PREMIER,
If one reflects on the terrific upheaval of public feeling throughout the Empire which would certainly result if the Premier or any other leading English or colonial statesmen were to be shot dead by a dynamitard, it is impossible not to marvel at the comparative indifference with which the assassination of Ssnor Canovas has been received in Spain. Nobody sec-ms to mind much or even to wonder that it should have been feasible to commit su-.-h a crime in a particularly public place. And yet the circumstances were most extraordinary. Santa Agueda is a fashionable resort, and it? sulphur baths are well known. The murderer, Golli by name, is a familiar figure to the police. He is by birth a Neapolitan. But he bus lately been living at Barcelona, a favorite resort of Anarchists, and was employed in the active service of tiuir assi ciations. Whe.n such a man comes tostiyatthe same hotel with the head of the Government the most innocent and least aaspi.ioua of policemen might be expected to perceive lhat something was wrong. If a dyi amilcr on being released by Sir Matthew Ridley were immediately to take lodgings at Hatfield and follow Lord Salisbury about fie II r.fordshire roads, as Golli is said to have followed Seuor Canovas, he would certainly be watched and possibly arrested ; but the serene optimism of the Spanish policrwas undisturbed and undiaturbable. The', oid not iuteiferc. They may almost he said to have made a ring for Golli. Now they see it all. They surely have seen it before, Golli was an intimate ftiend of Asoheri, executed for the Anarchist murder in the Change Alley of Barcelona. He absconded as soon as that outrage had becu perpetrated, and short of actually’ labelling himself in astassiu or applying for a homicidal license lie did everything in bis power to make the police acquainted with hia designs. But the police would not be warned So long as the horse was in the stable they declined to shut the door. Golli disdained ail subterfuge. He left Madrid at the same lime with the Prime Minister for the same destination. He seems to have behave I in every respect like a conspirator. He kept aloof from other p oplc, except that hefollowed Ssnor Canovas •-wrywhcTO. He paid the second ihss tariff at Hie hotel, and was obligingly ■i I lowed by the proprietor to use the first chi-s roi in ■, where he could without difficulty approach Ssnor Canovas. There can bo id reasonable doubt that this murder, committed by an Italian, was the vengeance of the Anarchists for the execution of B u celon.i.
With regard to (he personality of Senor Cinovas a ‘Daily Nows’ correspondent wrote ;
. 1 '1 .- r *y, _ In'iH-ant, ami witty" are three adjective-! applied to Senor (Janovas, whose nssassi'mlion is .'icing universally deplored.' I l-fuaturod lie innloubt’aUv was. He was short, 'thick awkw.ir.lly built; his discolored amt prominent teeth, barely hidden by a short scrubby moustache ; his features were coarse and irregular his cheek bones very assertive, and he bad a bad squint. His wit partook of the sarcastic and Ins hnn-mut.-i were dreaded by his political opponents equally with his mordant satire. Yet lie carried all before him for many years, and has been the most powerful statesman Spain has known during the past half century. The profound disdain Senor Cauovas had for rank is to lie put down to the fact of bis humble birth; for he was the sou of a peasant, ami was horn in becoming a workman on a railway before studying law ami migrating into journalism. He had a great capacity for learning, and during his early manhood wrote poetry and one or two romances before beguininghis long parliamentary career. A self-made man, he paid no heed to the prejudices of rank, ami although a Conservative of the most extreme type, looked with contempt oil the pride of birth of the hidalgo? and grandees witli whom he come in contact. Yet these men wore_ his great political supporters, and regarded him alike as the saviour of their caste ami their chief bulwark against revolutionary doctrines. They forgave his domineering spirit because of his strength and ability to maintain the position he took up. With the greatest belief in his own powers, ho was able to show that the belief was well founded. For a quarter of a century he has been a political Triton anion? the minnows; not so much the leader of his party as the ruler of the country; carrying the masses with him in extreme crises by the wonderful power of his oratory. During the present regency Senor Canovas lost none of bis power, but his brusquerle probably made him feared rather than loved. The story goes on that he was not a persona ffrata to the youthful monarch. One day, it is recorded, S ;nor Canovas, entering the Royal presence, addressed the young King as “ Bubi”—the pet name used in the family. This familiarity greatly olfended the little King, who, with ill-disguised contempt exclaimed; ‘lam only ‘ Bubi ’ for mamma • for you I am el Key.”
THE QUEEN’S PORTRAIT. It may be of interest to soma of your readers to know that Messrs Downey’s Jubilee portrait of the Queen (with the Royal autograph across the corner) is by Her Majesty’s special command “non-copy-right, and may be reproduced in colonial newspapers,” etc , free, gratis, for nothing. 1 gather this from a rather interesting article in the ‘ Chronicle’ on Jubilee photos, which states amongst other things that the Baker street firm have reproduced this picture in a dozen different ways. Penny prints have been sold by the hundred thousand and collotype prints, photogravures, platinoiypes, silver prints by the thousand. Lantern slides innumerable’bave been furnished with it, and for people of wealth enamels on copper, silver, and gold, in gria bleu and rouge sanguine, at so many guineas the square inch, have been supplied. One could not expect to go much higher than that, and yet the feat has been, accomplished, and watch dials, with the “four generations,” including the Jubilee portrait, are now being turned out at a price which may be belter left to the imagination. So much for the authorised Jubilee portrait. But there was another one in the field, and as it was taken ten years ago, and thus could be put on the market much earlier, it also had a very considerable sale, so that between this, that, and the other, it is impossible to say how many millions—in one form or another —of Her Majesty’s portraits have been put into circulation this year. Among the men of the reigning house, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Connaught are the favorites to the photograph-buying public; among the Princesses, the Princess of Wales easily '- a J :ea fifat place, but the interviewer was told by Mr Downey that by far the most popular photograph now on sale was that of the three children of the Duke and Duchess of York.
NEW ZEALAND LEGISLATION AND THE .SHIPPING TRADE. I referred last mail to some intsresting correspondence between the secretary of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom and Mr Reeves respecting the recent New Zealand legislation, which compels shipping companies trading between New Zealand ports to adopt the heal tariff of seamen’s wages. The following further letter® bearing upon the New Zea'land Shipping Act, 1896, have appeared in * The Times’:— My attention has been directed to a letter appearinK in your issue of the 3rd inst, in which Mr W._ H. Cooke, the secretary to the Chamber of ..hipping of the United Kingdom, expresses bis
opinion that the letter which he addressed to the Premier of New Zealand on July 0, and which you also publish, will serve to show myself and the public the reasons why British shipowners object to the New Zealand Shipping and Seamen’s Act Amendment Act, 189ti. It appears to me, however, that Mr Cooke's letter to the Premier emphasises the point of my letter published in your issue of July 29—namely, that the New Zealand law, to which Mr Cooke states British shipowners objected, applies only to vessels engaged in the coastal trade of the colony.— l am, etc., W. P, Reeves. Westminster Chambers, 13 Victoria street, London, S.W., August 9.
Whilst thanking you for publishing my letter of the (ith ult., addressed to the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier of New Zealand, on the above subject in ‘ The Times’ of the 3rd iust., I thick that it is only fair to Mr Seddon that I should ask you to publish the enclosed copy of his reply to my letter, which has only reached me since I sent my letter to him of the (ith ult. to you for publication. It will, of course, be my duty to lay Mr Seddon’s letter before the next meeting of the Executive Council of this Chamber, aud to take their instructions thereon ; but 1 may, in the meantime perhaps be permitted to remark that the analogy which Mr Seddon seeks to establish between a wages contract legally filtered into between shipowners and seamen in the United Kingdom for a period of twelve mouths or upwards—which it is now proposed to set aside by an Act of the New Zealand Legislature—and the marriage with a deceased wife's sister contract seems to me to be somewhat far-fetched. —I am, sir, your obedient servant, W. H. Cooiif, secretary. Cnumber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, 5 Whittington avenue, Leadtnhall street, London, E.C., August 7. Hotel Cecil, Strand, W.C., July 23,1857. . (Rood. Tilth.) Dear sir,—On receipt of your letter of July (! the same _ was formally acknowledged. 1 notice in perusing the communication in question that you stated that it was understood at the interview that the object of the Now Zealand Government was to restrict the New Zealand coasting trade to the British Hag. I stated at the interview, which was certainlysomewhat unique, that the legislation in question would assist in maintaining the position of your trade with the Mother Country; that it prevented foreign vessels, or vessels even under the Hag, coming and periodically depleting the coastal trade, to the detriment of the colony ; and that in some cases the ships were maimed by colored and underpaid lab. r. I further pointed out to you that those engaged in the colonial tiadehave not complained at the legislation, and that it does not affect anyone unless they accept freights from port to port, and by this voluntary action bring themselves under the Act in question.
As to the law of contract, it is unnecessary for me to point out to you that so long as contracts are within the law they hold good. Contracts entered into and within the law in New Zealand, if outside the luv obtaining in Groat Britain, would be void. In self-governing colonies wo find it necessary in our own interests to pass legislation local in application ; hut that it would be well to have a codification and consultation for commercial laws I admit, and to this end a commission has already been appointed. But in respect to the legislation of which you complain we are within our constitutional rights. There is no disadvantage to shipowners, while there is a distinct advantage to the people of our colony.
In conclusion, I wish you to clearly understand that it is the desire of the Now Zealand Government to work harmoniously with those controlling trades and commerce, and, so far ns we can reasonably do so, encourage close relationship, and I may say that I am astonished that any objection should be taken to the legislation which is the subject matter of your communications. 1 am sending a copy of this letter to the Secrctiry of State for the Colonies,—l am, etc. R. J. Seddon. W. H. Cooke, E-q., secretary. Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom, 5 Wittington avenue, Leadonhall street, r-S. Apropos of the law of contract and your contention that all contracts made should have Oncct within the Liupire—iu New Zealand marviage with deceased wife’s sister is a legal aud binding contract; iu England the children of such a marriage would be illegitimate, the contract would be null and void, and the parties by law held to be living in adultly. Finally ‘The Times’ has the following : Sir, —The letter of Mr W. P. Reeves, which appears in ‘ The Times’ of this morning, iu which lie repeats that the above Act “applies only to vessels engaged in the coast il trade of the colony” as though that fact ought to entirely remove the objections of British shipowners to the Act in question-seems to me to show that he still fails to grasp why Britisli shipowners trust that the Act in its present shape will not receive the Royal assent.
In order to nmke the matter dear to him and to the public, I will, with your permission, put a concrete case. * Suppose that X is a British shipowner who charters his vcs-el from, say, London t; Auckland with the intention of, after she has di-'charged her outward cargo there, employin'' her for two or three months in the coasting trade of New Zealand and then sending her to India or China to load home to the United Kingdom. Suclia' round voyage" as this would probably occupy about twelve months, and therefore X engages the officers, engineers, and crew to serve on board of his vessel at a Boaid of Trade office, on a Board of Trade form, in the presence, of a Board of Trade official in London for a period of one or two years, at a fixed monthly rate of wages, mutually agreed upon between them at the tun*, and which is entered upon the snips ai\:c cs ot agreement. When, how-vor the vessel arrives in New Zealand the New Zealand Legid ilure steps in, and by the Act which it has just passed says to X: “The wages contract which was entered into by you in London with your craw, and which tiny agreed to serve under for a period of one or two years, is merelv so much wasti paper, and so long as you are trading coastwise here you must pay your crew whatever may happen to In the ‘current wages’ in New Zealand 1 \\ hen the ship sails in the case of which I am supposing, from New Zealand to India or China, the rate i f wages agreed upon in London would again become c imperative. But I leave to your readers to imagine the demoralising effect upon the discipline on board of the ship (on which the safety of life and property at sea so largely do lend) which would be produced when the crew, after revelling in the wages which may have happened to have been current on the coast of New Zealand, are called upon to revert to the lower rate of wages which they had agreed to receive when they signed the ship's articles in London. A our commercial readers will also see that if wages are thus artificially inflated in New Zealand, the British shipowner must, in order to cover his enhanced wages bill, demand huffier freights than he otherwise would havedone whilst his vessel is engaged in the coasting trade in New Zealand and thus the consumers -(.<•„ the inhabitants of New Zealand—of the goods which are carried on board of the vessel must pry higher for their commodities than they otherwise would have nre led fo have done. Quite apart, however, from this prrfc alar instance of the shipowner and the seam-in and the'r mutual wages contract, the question seems to me to he a most important and far-reaching one—viz., How far is the Legislature of a British colony entitled to pass local Acts the effect of whiehis to set aside commercial contracts legally entered into between two contracting parties in Great Britain? I say commercial contracts” advisedly, for—pare Mr Seddon—l submit there is no real analogy between a contract in which a rp’.e fon solely of pounds, shillings, and pence is involved and the deceased wife’s sister contract which he cite?, hut respecting which theological and social considerations are the determining factors. If the pernicious example which has been set by the Legislature of New Zealand in the New Zealand Shipping Act of 1896 is to he followed by the Legislatures of other British colonies in similar matters, an appalling prospect is indeed opened out to the commercial classes in Great Britain. In conclusion, I venture to express the hope that the Secretary of State for the Colonies, recognising the importance of the principle which is involved in the New Zealand Shipping Act, 1898, will make his voice heard with respect to it in suitable representations to the colonial Governments, and with na uncertain sound.—l am, etc., W. H. Cooke, secretary.
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OUR LONDON LETTER., Evening Star, Issue 10428, 24 September 1897
OUR LONDON LETTER. Evening Star, Issue 10428, 24 September 1897
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