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BANK OF ENGLAND'S II NEW TERMS.I

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BANK OF ENGLAND'S II NEW TERMS. I MR. BEHENXA'S ELOQUENT SPEECH. OPTIMISTIC OF THE FUTURE OF LLANELLY. BILL TO BE PROMOTED THIS SESSION. At the monthly meeting of the Harbour Trust on Monday, the Chairman (Mr D. James Davies) in connection with the promotion of the Harbour Bill, under which it is sought, to renew the Harbour loan cf £ 237,000 with the 5? ?, -ears at 3 per Bank of England for 55 years at 3 per cent., and under which the Bank are prepared to advance a further sum of £ 40,000 for 271 years at 4 per cent., moved the following motion:— "That the Trust do invite the Urban Council to join with them in the matter of the new loan arrangements with the Bank of England, and in promoting the contemplated Harbour Bill necessary to confirm such arrangements, and undertake that any costs or expenses in- curred by the Council in or about such mat- ters will be discharged or refunded by the Trust." In doing so, Mr. Davies said it was purely a formal matter, and that it was the advice of counsel that they should act jointly with the Urban Council in the promotion of the Bill. The object of the motion was to in- demnify the Council against any costs in doing so, and, as they were aware, according to one of the provisions in the Bill the first in- stalment. of the new loan would go to meet the costs of the Bill. Mr. G. F. Blake seconded the motion. Mr. W. B. Jones: Is it our Bill, or that of the Council? The Chairman: It is our Bill. Mr. Nathan Griffiths: But promoted by the Council? j??iiitly iii(? The Chairman: Promoted jointly by Hw Trust and Council. This is done upon 11w advice of counsel. Mr. Griffiths: And we undertake that any expense incurred by the Council shall be de- frayed by us. The Chairman: Yes: it will be repaid to the Council. When we borrow we shall, according to the terms of the Bill have to make applica- tion to the Board of Trade, and the Council will then be repaid any expense they may have incurred. Mr. Griffiths: But there is a resolution to be submitted to the Council to-night, whereby it is proposed "that the costs, charges, and expenses in rel-itioii to the promotion of the said Bill be charged upon and paid out of the district fund and general district rate under the control of the Council." The Chairman: Yes: tint is in order to conform with the Boiough Funds Act, hut the ultimate result of this will be that we shall be paying all the costs as a Trust. Mr. W. B. Jones: You say, Mr. Chairman, that we are advised to invite the Council to !s Bill, and, bat join us in the promotion of this Bill, and that it is our Bill. When the monies are borrowed will they he borrowed by the Council or by the Trust? The Chairman: By the Trust. Mr. W. B. Joiies: And the Council will be- come the guarantors for the amount that we owe at the present time, and also become re- sponsible and see that the interest owing is paid regularly ? The Chairman Yes, that is the position. I may say that during the negotiations things have materially changed. When the letter from the Bank came before us in the fh'st in- stance, they required that the Council should take over the loan. That is not the case now. It will not be a town. but a harbour, loan, with the Council as guarantors. Mr. ]). R. Edmunds enquired whether ::n estimate had been prepared of what the Bill would cost. The Chairman replied in the negative. Mr. Edmunds thought an estimate should certainly have been prepared, ami reminded the members that the last Harbour Bil1 cost £ 8000. "lie Bil! The Chairman: We have now a rough flt'iif of the Bill. and it only comes to nine clauses altogeiher. You cannot comparo it really B I l i l?o" with the Bill because t.ad.-»->d tiP TO that was a writ for tire recovery of the whole money. That went on from time to time, and all the while we had to deal with Messrs. Freshfield. Mr. Edmunds: But surely we can have an estimate of what the cost is going to he. be- cause we are not only making arrangements for the repayment of the existing loan, hut also for a new loan, and there is still the pos- sibility of opposition. The Chairman: I can. ask the Clerk whether whdhcr he is prepared to give an approximate esti- mate, but I don't think-- Mr. W. B. Jones (interrupting): You had better not. because when we had a petition to Parliament, the estimate of the cost was £ 24, and when we came to pay it came to £ 14-4. Mr. Edmunds: That was a very moderate excess indeed, compared with the estimate and the actual cost some years ago. Mr. John John: This is opening our eves a great deal in the method of estimating by solicitors (laughter). The Clerk said that the motion was purely a formal one. It was now some considerable time since the Trust approved of the tennis of the Bank. and they had been acting jointly with the Council in the negotiations. It was advisable, with the view of getting things to fit in with the Borough Funds Act, to pass a resolution in the form submitted by the Chair- man. Mr. W. B. Jones: When has the Bill 'to he deposited ? The Chairman: To-morrow. I think. I Mr. Edmunds: Is the draft here for inspec- tion { The Chairman: Yes. Mr. Edmunds: Then I take it. that i' will be read to US The Chairman: I don't think it is necessary, hut it wi!l l)e read to the Council this even- ing. We hove conic to these terms, and we must proceed with great haste to get the Bill I admitted as a late Bill this session. Ie we de- lay matters it will mean that we shall be losing dhe per cent. interest on £ 237,000 for I the year. Mr. Edmunds: The. motion mate" that the Trust undertake that any costs or expenses in- curred by the Council will be discharged or refunded by the Trust. Another circular has. I understand, been issued, convening a meet- ing of the Council for to-night to consider this resolution, after it has been passed by The Chairman (interrupting): No; to con- sider a formal resolution, notice erf w hich, has been given in the papers. Mr. Edmunds: But nothing will lie done if this resolution is not. passed, by us. The Chairman, continuing, sail the object of his motion was to indemnify the Council against the costs of the Bill. Mr. Edmunds: All this interruption is a little embarrassing to a speaker, Mr. Chair- man. In the notice convening this evening's meeting there is an agreement come to, the contents of which are known to the Council-— The Chairman: No. M.r Edmunds: Or, at any rate, they will he made known ,to-night, because the ciivular specifically refers to a draft agreement. That draft agreement, I submit, should be referred to here, because we. are the party borrowing, and we only invite the Council, to give colla- teral seeuritv. Since the parties interested are in agreement there can ho no hfcrm in having it read, so that the ratepayers also may know irije position. The Chairman: is no harm at all in having it read, only I \vanb:d to save time. Mr. Edmunds: Yes, but it is rushing mat- ters. The Chairman: But the principles of the agreement have been approved of by both the Council and the Trust. Mr. Edmunds: Yes, but. surely the town should also know how things stand. The Chairman: They do know. Mr Edmunds: Will you give me a guarantee that the meetings have been held in public? The Chairman: Yes, and the letters giving the terms have been published, and the only question that has been taken since then has been the drafting of the agreement. Mr. Edmunds: But the drafting is every- thing. The Chairman asked the Clerk to read the draft. Mr. W. B. Jones: Is there any necessity of reading the draft agreement before we pass this resolution? Mr. Nathan Griffiths: Yes, certainly. Mr. Edmunds: We are asked to close our eyes and open our mouths. Mr. W. B. Jones said that all the facts were known to the Trust, and they had been given to the Council. Besides, it had been unani- mously decided that they should adopt the amended terms, and he was very sorry that Mr. Edmunds was not present when the reso- lution approving of the terms was passed. Had he been present he would not have asked the questions lie ha.d that day, and thus wasted so much valuable tirne. i Mr. Nathan Griffiths said that although he was a member of the Trust and the Council he was totally ignorant of the terms of the agreement until that afternoon, when he made it his business to see the Clerk, who very cour- teously explained to him the position. There were ether Trustees who did not know the terms, and if they were blind enough to swallow the resolution without first listening to the draft agreement being read, they could, of course, do so. The Clerk then explained the draft agree- ment at some length, and when he mentioned the fact that the first clause was that, subject to the due performance on the part of the Trust cf their obligations, the Bank would lend to the Trust L40,111, and that there was a proviso that out of the first advance the interest on the arrears should be discharged, Mr. W. B. Jones asked, "Is that included c i "Il ?" The Clerk replied in the affirmative. Mr. Jones: I thought there was an objection to it. The Clerk: Yes: but I don't think the ob- jection is insurmountable, for this reason. The interest on arrears is being reduced gradually and I anticipate that before the Bill comes before the Committee of the House the in- terest OIl arrears will he still further reduced. If the dock continues to do as it is doing, the interest on arrears will have disappeared by the time the Royal Assent is obtained. Mr. Edmunds: I thought Mr. Jones knew all about that. The Chairman: I said there were points of draughtmanship that were altered at the last moment. Mr. W. B. Jones: That clause,. was in the first draft that we had before us, and the reason why I asked was that counsel seemed to think there would be a difficulty over the matter. I only wanted to know whether it had been amended. The Clerk: And you would probably have asked the question in committee. Proceeding the Clerk, in explaining another clause, said the Trust went under covenant to the Bank for the repayment of £ 237.000 by 110 equal half-yearly payments of the existing debt would he wiped out. That was on the basis of 3 per cent.. They would re- member also that the Bank had laid it down that ;hey had to get a stringent clause oblig- ing the Trust to make punctual payments in respect of principal and interest. They had put forward a clause which was a very com- mon thing in mortgages, where the mort- gagee laid it down that he must have punc- tual payments, and that was to make the Trust under covenant to pay one per cent- above the interest due unless payments were promptly made. He was glad, to say that the Bank had agreed that there should be a month within which payment had to be made. The effect of the clause would be that if the Trust were now more than a month in default they would be under liability to pay one per cent. interest more. That was made appli- cable to the old and new loan. The old loan was repayable at 3 per cent., and the the new loan at 4 per cent. But if overdue the rates would he 4 peil- ceiic. and 5 per cent. respec- tively. Mr. I). Richards: Have any changes been made in the terms since the last, joint meeting ? The Chairman replied in the affirmative, and said there was no difference in the main principles. I Mr. Edmunds suggested that the draft I agreement, should be discussed clause by clause. The Chairman: I really think the facts should all be before us. Mr. Edmunds: My mind is not as compre- hensive as yours, and I don't think it is fair to proceed in this way. The Chairman: It will assist, you to have all the clauses before you. Mr. Edmunds: But, Mr Chairman, I am the best judge of my intellect. The Chairman: I happen to know what the clauses are, and you don't. "r. Griffiths: Who are the- mortgagees? The Chairman: The Bank of England, I take it. Mr. Griffiths: Then, according to the agree- ment, the Trustees of the mortgagees are still eligible to sit. on the Trust. The Chairman: I don't gather that. Mr. Edmunds: I was going to make the sug- gestion that this was a convenient opportunity to knock off the ex-officio members. The Chairman: We are making it a purely financial Bill. The Clerk, replying to, Mr. Griffiths's con- tention that the Benk's representatives would still be eligible to act on the Trust, said it. was incorrect. Mr. Griffiths: Read the clause, please. I read it myself only two hours ago.. The Clerk: Is your point this: that in spite of the abolition of the Joint Committee the Bank are still entitled to appoint representa- tives on the Trust? Mr. Griffiths: Yes. The Clerk said that the section referred to by Mr. Griffiths, which was in inverted commas, was not a clause in the agreement at all. Mr. Edmunds: Are we to pay the Bank of England's costs in connection with this Bill? The Chairman: Yes: I may say that both the Bank's solicitors and Mr. Nairne, the cashier, have, said that, they will keep the costs down as much as possible on this occa- sion. Mr Edmunds asked whether the mortgagees would have anything to say if the Board of Trade and ratepayers agreed to an advance of any of the new loan of £ 40,000. The Clerk replied that they would have something to say should the Trust be in arrear in their payments. Mr. Edmunds said, in regard to the clause dealing with the interest to lie paid, he hap- pened to be engaged in doing exactly the same tiring, and he had two contplaints to make. In the first place, the difference be- tween 3 and 4 p&r cent, was out of proportion to what was ordinarily charged. When pay- ments were not punctually made in accor- t dance vvkh a deed, trie increased interest pay- able was from TO A per cent. Then .again, supposing there was, owing to exceptional de- pression- in the town. one default, it should he ( made clear in the agreement that the in- crease.! interest should only be in respect of The Clerk: So far as the latter pobit made by that half-year. it )ii] 'N'apl)lies to Mr. Edmunds is concerned, it only applies to t!icha!f-yc:n'in vl'?ch the dpf.n?t fakes place. M.. Edmunds: I certainly think that an ad- I ditional one per cent. in a large loan of this kind is excessive. Mr. W. B. Jones: But Mr. Edmunds forgets that the Bank are going to reduce our present interest by one per cent. The difficulty is that unless we pay under the new agreement we shall have to pay under the old regime. Personally, I think the Bank have dealt handsomely with us. I believe you, Mr. Chairman, unintentionally misled Mr. David Richards when he asked if there was any- thing new in the attitude of the Bank. The Chairman: I think Mr. Richards asked whether there was any change in the terms, and what I said was that there was a, change in our favour. Mr. W. B. Jones: You omitted to say the change was in our favour. The Chairman: I did not answer him as fully as I intended. Mr. Edmunds: According to the. agreement you are going to pay principal and interest in equal half-yearly payments, and there will be no sinking fund. What has become of the sinking fund? The Clerk: There has been no sinking fund for the last five years. Mr. Blake said the Bank had abandoned the appointment of an official receiver, which was a very forcible weapon, and had given them most reasonable terms instead. Mr. Griffiths: It is well that it should be known that these terms mean the granting of an unlimited rate to the Bank. The Clerk: No; it is a. limited rate. Mr. Blake expressed the hope that it would not go forth to the public that they were going in for an unlimited rate, because it was nothing of the kind. Mr. Griffiths: Certainly it is. Mr. Blake: You have spoken about fifty times already. Please let me do so once. Our liability per annum is limited, and when per- sons say otherwise they say that which is in- correct. Mr. Griffiths asked the Trust to assume for a moment that Nature diverted the river, and blocked up the entrance to the dock, with the result that no revenue could he derived from the harbour. He submitted that in such an event the town would be called upon for the full amount. Mr. W. B. Jones: 'Supposing the entrance to the dock were closed, and the river was diverted to Swansea, if Mr. Griffiths can take it there, our indebtedness to the Bank after all would be £ 8822 a year, and they cannot ask for a penny more. A 2s. 2d. rate will cover it. How can it therefore be an unlimited rate? But with the Harbour revenue as it is at present, a rate of Is. 5d. in the £ will cover it. If you have no faith in the prosperity of the town, you had better contifiue to do as much damage as you can by proclaiming what you have just said. I think it a scan- dalous shame that persons like Mr. Griffiths should go about the town telling people that which he ought to know is not true, and thereby endeavouring to thwart our efforts to do that which we are trying to do for the benefit of the ratepayers of the town. If they only give five minutes' consideration to the matter they will find that it is a limited rate, and not an unlimited rate, and Mr. Griffiths knows it. The Clerk: The position is as Mr Jones puts it. You have, in round figures, to pay on existing loans E8822 a year, and it is interest- ing to note just precisely where we are at pre- sent with regard to the precept. Without making any anticipations of, what the amount is likely to be in the future, I can give you the actual figures which were paid by the Council to the Trust during the last twelve months. The two precepts, leaving out the shillings and pence, came to £ 8055, and as you have to pay £ 8822 to the Bank you are left with a balance of P.233 to the good after you have paid your proportion of principal, which you are compelled to pay at present, and interest. So you have £ 233 without taking into account a single penny from your docks. Supposing an earthquake took place, and took away the bar and the dock, and left the town severely alone (laughter), -'t would mean that you could pay your instalment, and* still be left with over it200 to the good. Of course, if you go on borrowing portions of the £ 40.000, you have to go into another little calculation, and it is this: for every L100 you borrow you have to pay £6 Os. Id., which would pay it off, capital and interest, in 27i years. Capt. David Thomas sail they were beggars and could not, therefore, he choosers. He had not heard from any of his colleagues a way of getting better terms, or any means of getting out of the difficulty. If they did not accept these terms they would not get any better from any other source. Mr. W. B. Jones: No, nor as good. Capt. Thomas: We shall, therefore, have to abandon our scheme for the improvement of the harbour, upon which we are unanimously agreed, if we refuse these terms. Mr. E. L. Behenna: What is the total amount, of tonnage we require in Llanelly to cover the interest charged absolutely? The Superintendent: That has never been worked out with any exactitude. Mr. Behenna: Can you give me an approxi- mate figure? The Superintendent: You would have, to do more than double your present trade in the North Dock. Mr. Behenna, having thanked the Chairman and Mr. Griffiths for their kindly words of welcome, assured the Trust that anything he could do personally would be done in the in- terests of Llanelly. He pointed out that the shipments of coal at Llanelly from the col- lieries with which lie was connected amounted to fifteen thousand tons last year, and up to the present this year he had shipped 11,000 tons. He had no hesitation in saying—and he wanted Mr. Nathan Griffiths to listen to him- that, had they been in a position to send boats of larger tonnage to Llanelly they would have shipped a great deal lllore-ancl this was not an optimistic view, because his mind rather tended the other way—they would have shipped at least 50,000 tons at Llanelly up to the present week from January last. If any member of the Trust called at his office in Swansea he would be happy to give him docu- mentary evidence of this. If they turned to their tide-tables they would find that they I were in a period of low water, and as a result, he had been compelled to load a. boat of 1400 or 1500 tons at Swansea. They would recol- lect that he recently commenced shipments of this class at Llanelly, and he was glad to say that the people were highly delighted with the attention and despatch given the boat. They said they would without the slightest demur send their boats again when they had freights. He. had made certain proposals to a German firm, but, unfortunately, on referring to the Llanelly tide-table it was found impos- sible to get the boat here. They would thus see that they stood to gain by improving their channel, so that, whatever the techni- calities of the Harbour Bill were, lie urged upon them—and he was speaking as an active shipper, who was anxious to see the port floi.irisli--to hurry the matter forward. They had either to stand still or go forward, and they could not go forward unless they deepened the -channel. The sooner they deepened it the better. He ha.d not the slightest hesitation in saying that from the four collieries, the output of which he con- trolled, he would be able to work up a trade for Llanelly of 200,000 tons per annum, and there was other tonnage that could be got in addition. He desired Mr. Griffiths to carry that statement to the Council that evening. In order to show the disabilities under which they laboured, Mr. Behenna pointed out that an eloquent epistle written by the Superin- tendent had been translated and sent. to a. French firm, who were prepared to send a hoat here for trial. Unfortunately, the boat would not be ready until May 12th, and the consequence was that the trial had to be put off to a future date because of the low' tides. In regard to the local collieries they. were at a given moment obliged to clear the place, and as they had no certainty about Llanelly they had to take the coal to Swansea. When [ they were able to load at Llanelly, they found that their coal was at Swansea, and, having regard to these disabilities, the Trust had either to make terms with the Bank and get to work, or remain still. There was another point of interest, and that was the question of pilotage. He had received a letter from Mr. Rees, and compared the charges with Swan- sea. At Llanelly they charged for a boat of 1600 tons £ 8 15s., inwards and outwards; at Swansea, the same boat, would be dealt with for £ 4 12s., so that they had a difference of £ 4 3s. in actual pilotage inwards and out- wards. Of course, Mr. Rees argued that dispatch should compensate for that; but owners did not look at it in that way at all It might work all right at present, when boats were plentiful, but when boats were scarce, and freights plentiful, they would go to the cheapest ports. He desired to urge upon the Trustees the fact that they had behind them .an important coalfield. It was to their in- terest to develop Llanelly, and it was to the interest, of the Trust to develop the port, and he wanted Mr. Griffiths, in particular, to re- member that what he was saying was an ab- solute fact. They were losing now at Llanelly at least fifty per cent, of stuff which they could deal with, provided they had the facili- ties. Until their channel was deepened they could only go on in their present happy-go- lucky fashion; but once, that was brought I about he repeated that the collieries with which he was connected would alone bring a trade of at least 200,000 tons per annum to Llanelly. He was not sufficiently versed in II their financial position to enter into detailed discussion, but from what he had gathered it seemed to him that the terms proposed were such as could certainly be accepted by any authority. In his opinion, the town of Llan- elly could not do better than accept the Bank's terms, and get to work as soon as possible. Mr. Edmunds said that, lest it might be construed that he was opposed to the pro- posals, he might say that, apart from a few minor details, he was in entire agreement with them, and was going to vote for them. Mr. Nathan Griffiths said lie was pleased to hear Mr Behenna's speech, which would carry more weight with the ratepayers than any other speech he had heard or made (laughter). After further discussion it was unanimously decided to approve of the Chairman's motion. The Chairman then formally moved that the seal of the Trust be affixed to the petition for leave to bring in the Bill in the next Ses- sion of Parliament as a late Bill. Mr. W. B. Jones seconded, and the motion was unanimously agreed to.

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