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aldermen of London, and the magistrates of Middlesex, Westminster, and the liberty of the Tower, are severally empowered to regulate the wages, which are to be paid to the journeymen silk weavers by masters residing within those districts; and that if masters, so residing, employ weavers in other districts, they are liable to ruinous penalties.

"That, by an act of the 32nd George 3rd cap. 44, the provisions and penalties of this statute are extended to manufactures of silk mixed with other materials; and by an act of the 51st George 3rd cap. 7. the provisions for regulating the wages. and prices of work of the journeymen weavers, mentioned in those acts, are extended to journey women also.

minant advantages, as entirely to confine the sale of English manufactured silks within the British dominions. Of late years, however, Bengal silk has been so greatly improved in quality, and so prodigiously increased in quantity, as no longer to leave the trade in its former state of nearly total dependence on Italy. From documents of unquestionable authority it appears that, in the year 1770, the annual supply from Bengal and China was about 100,000 lbs. weight only; that in 1780 it amounted to but 200,000 lbs. ; | that in 1800 it was 292,385 lbs. ; and that in 1820 it had increased to upwards of one million of pounds: which, added to the amount of raw and thrown silk drawn from Italy, will give a total of silk imported into Great Britain, in the year 1820, of 2,547,212 lbs. weight: exhibiting a two-fold increase during the space of twenty years, and greatly exceeding the consumption of the French manufactories. "That, important as this manufacture is acknowledged to be, and much as it has recently been extended, it is still depressed below its natural level, and prevented, by existing laws, from advancing to a far higher degree of prosperity than it has hitherto attained; and which, under more favourable circumstances, it would, without difficulty, realize. Possessing, as this country does, access to an unlimited supply of silk from its eastern possessions, an indefinite command over capital and machinery, and artisans whose skill and industry cannot be surpassed, your petitioners hesitate not to express their conviction, that, by judicious arrangements, the silk manufacture of Great Britain may yet be placed in a situation ultimately to triumph over foreign competition; and that silk, like cotton, may be rendered one of the staple commodities of the country.

"That, since the passing of these acts, a great variety of orders from time to time have been issued by the magistrates, interfering in a vexatious manner with the minutest details of the manufacture; such as limiting the number of threads to an inch; restricting the widths of many sorts of works; and determining the quantity of labour not to be exceeded without extra wages. That from the total omission in these acts of all limitation in point of time, within which informations may be brought, as well as from the impossibility, proved by experience, of bringing under specific regulation the infinite variety of articles to which silk is now applied, penalties may be incurred to an enormous amount, for the breach of some order of which the manufacturer may be totally unconscious.

"That, by the operation of this law the rate of wages, instead of being left to the recognised principles of regulation, has been arbitrarily fixed by the award of persons, whose ignorance of the details of this very intricate and complicated manufacture, necessarily renders them in"That, in addition to the pressure of competent to give a just decision; and the heavy duties, imposed on the raw material result of this mode of regulation has been of this manufacture, the London branch to fix the labour of many sorts of goods of the trade is further depressed by inju- so extravagantly high, as to drive the dicious and vexatious restrictions on the manufacture of them altogether from the wages of labour, by which the operations districts within the operation of the act, of your petitioners are so fettered and to other parts of the country, which are embarrassed, as to compel them to seek free from magisterial interference. That relief from your honourable House. By these acts, by not permitting the masters the 13th George 3rd cap. 68, intituled to reward such of their workmen as exhibit an act to empower the magistrates to superior skill or ingenuity, but compelling settle and regulate the wages of persons them to pay an equal price for all work, employed in the silk manufacture within whether well or ill performed, have matheir respective jurisdictions," and com- terially retarded the progress of improve monly known by the name of the Spital-ment, and repressed industry and emulafields act, the lord mayor, recorder, and tion. VOL. IX.

L

"That these acts totally prevent the use of improved machinery; it having been ordered by the magistrates, that works, in the weaving of which machinery is employed, shall be paid precisely at the same rate as if done by hand; thus, while every other branch of our national manufactures has enjoyed the full advantage of this powerful auxiliary, and while improved machinery has been kept in full operation, by our foreign rivals, the London silk loom, with a trifling exception, remains in the same state as at its original introduction into this country by the French refugees. Your petitioners beg to state that they are in possession of improved machinery ready to be applied to several important works, but which they cannot use with success or profit, while under the restrictive operation of these acts.

"That the fixed rate of wages which, under all circumstances, the manufacturer is bound to pay, has had the effect of compelling him, whenever a stagnation in the demand takes place, immediately to stop his looms; and the distress consequent on such a suspension of work has been manifested by the appeals repeatedly made by the districts concerned in this manufacture to the charity of the public, and to the aid of parliament.

"That the inevitable tendency of the provisions of these acts is, to banish the trade altogether from the vicinity of the metropolis, strong symptoms of which are manifesting themselves every day. Many works of the first consequence, which would have afforded employment to thousands of hands, have already been transferred to Norwich, Manchester, Macclesfield, Taunton, Reading, and other towns, where they are performed at from one half to two thirds of the price for which under these acts they can be made in London, Westminster, or Middlesex.

the ruin and misery here anticipated, yet your petitioners respectfully submit to your honourable House, that such an event would still be most undesirable; the neighbourhood of London being, from its proximity to the largest market and to the seat of fashion, the most eligible and appropriate spot on which this manufacture could be conducted.

"That several of your petitioners were examined on the subject of these acts before the select committee of the House of lords, appointed to inquire into the means of extending the foreign trade of the country in 1821, when, after a full and complete investigation, their lordships are understood to have reported that unless some modification takes place in this law, it must be, in the end, ruinous to the silk manufacture of Spitalfields, and as injurious to the workmen, as it will be to the employers; which report your petitioners are informed, was afterwards laid upon the table of your honourable House, and to which report, and the evidence on which it was founded, your petitioners respectfully beg to refer, in proof of the foregoing allegations.

"That, in the experience of your pe titioners, these acts have frequently given rise to most vexatious regulations, the unconscious breach of which has subjected manufacturers to ruinous penalties; that these provisions have prevented the introduction and improvement of all machinery by which labour might have been facilitated and cheapened, and prevent your petitioners from affording relief to their workmen in times of stagnation of trade, by compelling your petitioners instantly to stop their looms; and that the operation of these acts is rapidly banishing what yet remains of the trade in Spitalfields, to places which are free from such restrictions.

"That, notwithstanding these and other grievances to which your petitioners are subjected by the operation of these acts, still it is not so much their desire to seek relief from their operation in the particulars lastly stated, as to be exempted from the arbitrary, injurious, and impolitic enactment which prevents them, while they continue to reside within certain dis

"That the removal of the entire manufacture from the metropolis, which your petitioners deem inevitable if these acts be allowed to continue much longer in force, cannot but be considered as a great and extensive calamity, involving the destruction of large capitals, long invested, and hitherto productively employed; and consigning to distress a numerous population, which it would be impossible to re-tricts, from employing any portion of their move, and which for a long period has depended upon the London silk manufacture for the means of subsistence. That even if the removal of the trade could be effected without entailing upon thousands

capital in such other parts of the kingdom as may be deemed most beneficial'; thereby depriving them not only of the fair exercise of their privileges as free subjects, and totally preventing all the

public benefit which would arise from a
competition between the London and the
country manufacturers, but depriving
them also of all hope of ever participat-
ing in the foreign trade of the Empire.
"Your petitioners, therefore, most
humbly pray your honourable House, that
for the reasons and under the circum-
stances hereinbefore set forth and re-
ferred to, the several acts of the 13th
George 3rd cap. 68, the 32nd George
3rd cap. 44, and the 51st George 3rd cap.
7, in so far as they relate to the manufac-
ture of silk, or of silk mixed with other
materials, may be repealed: or that your
petitioners may have such further or other
relief in the premises, as to the wisdom
of your honourable House may seem
just and proper, and their case may re-
quire-

&c.

And your petitioners shall ever pray,

Mr. Ricardo could not help expressing his astonishment that, in the year 1823, those acts should be existing and in force. They were not merely an interference with the freedom of trade, but they cramped the freedom of labour itself. Such was their operation, that a man who was disposed to embark in the trade could not employ his capital in it in London; and, as it might be inconvenient, in many instances to carry that capital out of London, the trade was necessarily cramped and fettered.

intention, on the earliest possible day, to submit a motion to the House for the repeal of the acts in question.

Lord Milton rejoiced in any prospect of getting rid of the obnoxious statutes, and observed upon the absurdity of raising a duty upon raw silk imported. Under the present system, a duty was levied upon raw silk imported, and, on the other hand, a bounty was given upon the exportation of manufactured silks. Now, great diffi culty was found in apportioning the bounty, particularly upon goods com posed of silk mixed with other material. Would it not be wise, and generally convenient, to get rid of the duty on one hand, and the bounty on the other?

Mr. F. Buxton gave the petition his decided support, from a conviction that a compliance with its prayer would tend to better the condition of all connected with the trade, and of none more than the workmen.

Alderman Thompson bore testimony to the pernicious operation of the law, which he hoped to see repealed, and trusted that the trade would be relieved from the duties on raw silk.

Mr. W. Williams said, that the restraints of the existing law had driven one considerable branch of the silk-trade from Spitalfields to Norwich.

Mr. Ellice hoped that the parties who supposed themselves interested in the existing restraints would be afforded time to

Mr. Wallace perfectly agreed in think-petition. ing the acts unjust to the merchant, unjust to the manufacturer, and, above all, unjust to the workmen. He thought them a disgrace to the Statute-book.

Mr. Huskisson fully agreed in the propriety of repealing the acts. He could only account for the existence of such statutes by their having been passed at a time when the silk-trade was almost confined to Spitalfields. Since the manufacture, however, had been carried into other parts of the country, the provisions of those acts must be got rid of, or Spitalfields would be deserted. His attention had been drawn to the subject almost immediately upon his coming into office; but he had abstained from bringing forward any specific measure, because he wished to convince the manufacturers first of the necessity of an alteration. Some prejudice, and indeed, a good deal, still existed among the workmen; but the House really ought to act for them without reference to those prejudices. It was his

Mr. Huskisson said, he would propose his resolutions on Monday, and move for leave to bring in a bill for an alteration of the law, in the different stages of which the parties alluded to would have sufficient opportunity to present their petitions.

Ordered to lie on the table.

SCOTCH LINEN MANUFACTURE.] The House having resolved itself into a committee on the Scotch linen manufacture acts,

Mr. Huskisson said, it was his intention, in proposing that committee, to move for the repeal of several statutes, which imposed regulations injurious to the trade. These statutes had been passed at a time when the House was in the habit of interfering with the business of individuals. The 13th of George the 1st was in itself a striking instance of the absurdity of such enactments. It professed to regulate, not only the shape of the cloth,

but the number of threads in every hank of yarn. Another object of the bill would be, to abolish the use of the stamp on linen, which was found to be an instrument of fraud instead of a security against it. If, however, there were any so prejudiced in favour of the custom as to wish to preserve it in their manufacture, the bill would leave them free to do so, removing, however, all the penalties from those who wished to dispense with it. The right hon. gentleman concluded with moving, that the chairman should be instructed to move for leave to bring in the bill.

Sir R. Fergusson expressed his thanks to the right hon. gentleman for the pains he had taken to remove the vexatious enactments under which the trade had so long suffered, and declared his conviction that the intended measure would be received with satisfaction and gratitude by the people of Scotland.

Mr. Maberly concurred in approving of the measure, but regretted that it should be found necessary to continue for a single day so useless an expence as the stamp commissioners. He trusted, however, that they would be enabled to put an end to that board in the next session of parliament.

Sir H. Parnell thought, that as the same system must produce the same evils in Ireland, the benefit of this measure ought to be extended to that country.

Mr. Hume agreed that it would be an advantage to Ireland; but as there were prejudices in that country which might throw obstacles in the way of its execution, he thought the right hon. gentleman had done right not to mix up the case of the two countries.

Mr. Ricardo thought, that if it could not be done at present, it ought as soon as possible to be extended to Ireland.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.

SHERIFF OF DUBLIN-INQUIRY INTO HIS CONDUCT.] The House having again resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House to inquire into the Conduct of the Sheriff of Dublin, sir Robert Heron in the Chair,

Mr. John Jackson was called in; and examined

By Colonel Barry.-What is your situation? -A jeweller and Tunbridge warehouseman, in Grafton-street, Dublin.

Do you recollect being present at any party, at the house of Mr. Sibthorpe-I do. On the 17th of December; there were present,

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By Mr. Jones. At what time did this party begin in the evening?-About past 8; I remained till about past 11.

Do you mean to say, that for all those hours you sat nearer sheriff Thorpe than M'Connell did?—I mean to assert it.

Some part of the night.

Were there cards playing in this room?—

syllable that sheriff Thorpe uttered on that Do you mean to say that you heard every night?-I am very certain I heard all that could have been said, unless it was whispered.

By Colonel Barry.-Such a remarkable expression as that must have attracted your attention if it had been made use of?-Most undoubtedly it would.

By Mr. R. Smith.-Was there any conversa tion whatever respecting the trials about to not known whether the trials would commence come on?—It could not be possible. It was or not, at that period.

Was there no conversation at all about the riot? There was.

Did you hear sheriff Thorpe utter any sentiment of approbation, or of commendation of what had been done ?-I did not.

Did you hear any body say a word about marquis Wellesley?—Not one person.

Do you recollect holding the knave of clubs in your hand?--I did not, on that occasion.

Do you know any body who did on that occasion?-I do.

Do you recollect his playing it ?—I do.

What did he say?-He made a reflection upon the lord mayor. I believe it was tantamount to damning the lord mayor.

Do not you recollect that some person said, "I wish I could have a lick at him?"-I do not recollect that part.

What sized man was he who used that expression?-Short.

What was his name?-William Graham.

little man?-I believe I do remember an exDid any lady remind him that he was a very pression of that import.

What did the lady say?-That she thought his expression was very extraordinary for a man of his stature to make use of respecting the lord mayor.

Are you a conciliation-man, or a Protestants

ascendancy-man, or a purple-man, or what? I am in favour of Protestant ascendancy. By Mr. Brougham.-During the whole of the time, are you certain there was no person, except Mr. Graham, between you and Mr. Sheriff Thorpe ?—No, there was no one.

What called your attention particularly to that night, and to your relative position?From a question I merely asked of Graham, relative to the transactions at the theatre.

What was that question ?—I asked him if it was a fact that a bottle was thrown; and his answer I do not precisely recollect.

How do you happen so particularly to recollect their positions ?-They were standing with their backs against the piano.

How do you happen to recollect that so particularly?-From an expression that M'Connell made use of.

What was it?-He made use of some gross reflection upon the misconduct of those that were termed the rioters at the theatre.

By Mr. R. Smith.-How long was it after this evening, that you heard M'Connell had stated such an expression to be used at Mr. Sibthorpe's, as has been put to you?-I am confident it was less than a week.

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are sure you recollect every expression made use of by sheriff Thorpe, during the evening? I am not certain to every expression.

By Mr. Brougham.-Did you come into the room with sheriff Thorpe ?-No: I preceded him, I rather think; I am not certain on that head.

Did you leave the room before sheriff Thorpe P-No, after him.

You are not certain whether sheriff Thorpe was in the room when you arrived there, or whether you were there first yourself?—I am pretty sure he was.

Was Mr. M'Connell there before your arrival?—No.

Are you now as sure Mr. M'Connell came into the room after you, as you were about a quarter of an hour ago, that sheriff Thorpe came into the room after you ?—I did not think it of consequence to ascertain whether it was the case or not.

Then, having forgotten the gross expression used by M'Connell, and having forgotten the precise answer to your question respecting Graham, how does it happen that your reason for recollecting the positions of the different persons in that room; was M'Connell's gross By Mr. Plunkett.—Did you pay more atten- expression, and your question about Graham? tion to sheriff Thorpe than to any other person-At the time, I was informed of M'Connell's in the room, during that evening?—No, I did

not.

By Mr. Goulburn.-Will you take upon you to say, that no person in the room, during that evening, could have said any thing without your hearing it?--I think it is impossible.

Did you not hear some person say, "I wish the devil had the marquis Wellesley?"-I did not.

By Sir G. Hill.-You heard, within a few days after you had been in this company, that it had been stated by M'Connell, that sheriff Thorpe should have made this declaration about his having the Orange panel in his pocket?—I did learn it, in a very few days after.

Did that tend to call your attention more particularly to all that had passed in that company? It led me to endeavour to recollect more minutely than I otherwise should have thought necessary.

By Mr. Thompson.-Who commenced the conversation about the riot at the theatre ?Sheriff Thorpe and Graham first commenced a conversation upon that head.

By Mr. F. Burton.-What was the gross expression, relative to the conduct or misconduct of the rioters, that M'Connell made use of?—I do not recollect it; but I considered it so at the time.

What was the question you asked Graham respecting the rioters?—Whether a bottle had been thrown.

What was Graham's answer?—I think he said not: that it had not been thrown.

How happens it, that you forget the gross expression made use of by M'Connell ; you are not certain to the answer of Graham; and yet,

giving the information that was stated to me, I endeavoured to recollect as minutely as memory would serve me, the relative position of every person, and as much of the conversation as I could recall to mind.

You never attempted to recollect the answer to the question about Graham, or the gross expression of M'Connell ?—The answer of Graham about the bottle, was, as I said before, that it was not thrown.

How long have you been sure that he said it was not thrown?-Ever since he made use of the expression. I have no reason for subsequently recollecting more than I should at the moment when the conversation occurred.

Then, is your reason for now recollecting so accurately the position of different persons at that time, the conversation which you had two days after that time, respecting what passed between sheriff Thorpe and M'Connell ?—The reason was, I was shocked at the conduct of M'Connell, in making use of expressions that never occurred.

Which expressions you have now forgotten? -I allude to the information, I ought to have said, that M'Connell had given, respecting the conversation that night.

Then M'Connell did not make use of any expressions that night?-Only such as I considered as applicable to Graham.

And those you forget?-I cannot recollect precisely; I considered, at that moment, that it was a gross expression.

Did you go away before sheriff Thorpe left the party?-After.

Who went away with you?-I think Graham and M'Connell and myself went out nearly at the same time.

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