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CHAPTER IV.

Customs Bill— Discussions in the House of Commons upon various

Articles in the New Tariff-Mr. Plumptre opposes the Reduction of Duty on Hops--After some Debate, his Motion is negatived by a Majority of 47Mr. George Bankes moves the omission of articles of Silk Manufacture--Remarks of Mr. W. Ellis, Mr. Brocklehurst, Mr. Hawes, Lord George Bentinck, Sir Robert Peel, and Mr. DisraeliMr. Bankes's Motion is rejected by 220 to 114—Mr. W. Thompson opposes the Reduction on Foreign Spirits-After a short Discussion, the Amendment is negativedMr. W. Miles moves an Amendment for exempting Live Animals from Reduction of Duty-A desultory Debate takes place, which ends in a Division in favour of the Government by a Majority of 39–– Timber DutiesThe Marquis of Worcester leads the opposition against the proposed Scale- Remarks of Mr. H. Hinde, Mr. Cardwell, Mr. A. Chapman, Mr. G. Palmer, Mr. Warburton, Mr. Hume, Lord George Bentinck, Sir George Clerk, and Mr. C. Buller-The Resolution is affirmed on a Division, by a Majority of 123-On the Third Reading of the Customs Bill being moved, Lord George Bentinck moves that it be read a third time on that day six monthsHe is answered by the Chancellor of the ExchequerSpeeches of Mr. G. Bankes, Mr. Hawes, Mr. Plumptre, Mr. Hudson, and other members-Lord George Bentinck withdraws his Amendment, and the Bill is passed-Debate on the Second Reading in the House of Lords on the 4th of June-Lord Dalhousie introduces the measureThe Duke of Richmond moves that it be read a second time on that day six monthsSpeeches of the Earl of Wicklow, Lord Ashburton, and Lord Monteagle, after which the Bill is read a second time without a DivisionThe Duke of Richmond, on going into Committee, moves that Counsel be heard against the Reduction of the Silk DutiesThe Earl of Dalhousie opposes the motion, seconded by Lord Ellenborough and the Duke of Wellington-Lord Brougham supports it-It is negatived by 78 to 74Lord Stanley opposes the Preduction of the Timber Duties, but without successOther Amendments are proposed and negatived— The Bill is read a third time, after an ineffectual opposition by the Duke of Richmond-The Budget-The Chancellor of the Exchequer makes his Financial Statement on the 29th of May-Various Comments upon it by Lord George Bentinck, Mr. Charles Wood, Mr. Hume, Mr. Hudson, and other members,

so supe

NHE debates in the Ilouse of the English hops were T'Commonse supon the Bill for rior

. reducing the Customs Duties, which Mr. Plumptre's views were supformed one branch of Sir Robert ported by Colonel Austen, Mr. Peel's great scheme of commercial Knight, Mr. A. J. B. Hope, Mr. reform, were not very protracted, Frewen, and Lord George Benthe efforts of the Protectionist party tinck ; and opposed by the Chanbeing mainly directed to the oppo- cellor of the Exchequer. sition to the new Corn Law, which On a division, 91 voted for the has formed the subject of the pre- resolution, and 44 against it ; Miceding chapter. Upon a few only nisterial majority, 47. of the articles included in the The reduction being proposed on Tariff a stand more or less vi- articles of silk manufacture, Mr. gorous was made ; but none of George Bankes moved their omisthese attempts to defeat the Minis- sion from the list. He was preterial scheme proving effectual, re pared to meet Sir Robert Peel's sistance to the principle of the challenge to show that any mameasure was felt to be useless. terial interests had been injured We shall give a specimen of some for any length of time by reducof the discussions which took place tions of duty. In 1832, six years in both Houses upon particular after the reductions made by Mr. items in the new Tariff.

Huskisson, the silk trade urged such Upon the article of hops, Mr. grounds for inquiry, that the House, Plumptre first took the sense of the then under the control of a Whig House. He alleged that the home- Government, could not refuse the grower could not maintain his posi- appointment of a Committee. The tion upon a protecting duty of 458. Committee sat for five months, but per cwt., the amount now pro,

the inquiry was brought premaposed. It would throw much land turely to a close by a new election, out of cultivation, and many persons and no report was presented to the would be deprived of employment. House. The Committee, indeed, If the Excise duty were remitted, divided

upon

a report submitted to the hop-growers would be satis- it; but Sir Henry Parnell gave a fied.

casting vote against it. The facts, Sir Robert Peel reminded Mr. however, proved that Mr. HuskisPlumptre of the alarm which was son's experiment had been producfelt in 1842, when it was proposed tive of much injury to the operato reduce the duty from 91. to tives. The manufacturers might 41. 10s. The cry was that land be satisfied with the change ; but would go out of cultivation owing wages had been reduced one half, to foreign competition ; but it ap or more, and the poor-rates had peared that, during the three years been largely increased, in Covensince 1842, only two cwt. of fo- try, Macclesfield, and other seats of reign hops had been brought in, the silk manufacture. The means and the whole amount of duty re- of employment, too, had been largely ceived had been 101. in the three dimnished. Mr. Brocklehurst, of years. He could not consent to Macclesfield, stated, that in 1824 repeal the Excise duty. As to fo- there were 276,000 spindles in that reign competition, he did not think town, and that the mill-people enthere was anything to fear from it, gaged in the trade were 10,000. In

In those years

1828, two years after the completion last speaker, inasmuch as it was of the alteration of the duty, there the interest of the wholesale dealers were 159,000 spindles, and the in silk to repeal all the duties which mill-people had been reduced to now prevented the free importation 5,254. 'In 1831, the spindles were of foreign silk manufactures. He reduced to 122,000, and the mill- entered into details. people to 3,000. In 1824, the Sir George Clerk met these and wages of able-bodied men in Mac- Mr. Bankes's figures by a counter clesfield were 188. per week ; in array. Reference should have been 1828, 88. 6d.; in 1831, 4s. 7d.; and made to the state of the silk trade the wages of the women and child during the time that it enjoyed the dren exhibited a similar reduction. highest state of protection, as in These results ought to be a warn 1812 and 1816. ing to the House not to interfere the utmost distress and misery further in the way of reducing prevailed at Spitalfields and other duties. He denied that the work- districts. The manufacture had ing classes were in favour of the not prospered under prohibitory change, and quoted from several duties. From the year 1765 down reports to show that the number of to 1817, including the first triennial silk-mills had fallen off of late period referred to, the silk trade years, while other kinds of factories had only doubled the amount of the had multiplied in number. He re raw material worked up in it in a ferred, also, to the fact that many period extending over more than of the Spitalfields weavers had been fifty years ; but since 1817 the obliged to betake themselves to amount of raw material had been other employment. In Dorset, trebled, leaving out of considerathere used to be two very large tion the waste silk, and the “knubs establishments for the manufacture and husks.” In 1824, an impulse of throwing silk, but now there was given to the silk trade by was only one. The Vice-President taking off restrictions. In 1825, of the Board of Trade might say the number of mills and spindles that the silk trade was now in a were more than doubled ; and since flourishing condition ; but Mr. that time the quantity of work Bankes's reply would be, if that which the spindles were enabled to be the case, do not interfere with accomplish was greatly increased. it.

Something had been said about Mr. W. Ellis, from an experience wages : but upon no subject was it of thirty-five years, undertook to more difficult to obtain accurate say, that it would be very much information. He believed that silkto the interest of the Spitalfields weavers were paid for their work weavers that all protection were by the piece. The improvement in abolished: thus would persons of looms during the last twenty years large capital, with skill and enter had made a great difference. The prize, be induced to enter into the invention of the jacquard loom itself trade; and the Spitalfields manu enabled the workman to dispense facturers would then be found not altogether with the assistance of a only the rivals, but the superiors boy, which was formerly necessary. of the French manufacturers. In 1844, Mr. Saunders, one of the

Mr. Brocklehurst was not at all inspectors of factories, stated in surprised at the observations of the his report, that the mill-owners

were

complained that they could not get town had stood still, while St. hands enough, and that children Etienne, its rival in France, had who worked only half time were flourished beyond all other towns making as much wages as men in France. The same gentlemen did formerly who worked for ten told him that the rate of wages at hours.

Coventry had been reduced 20 per Mr. Newdegate assured the cent.; did the House expect to House, that mills had been erected grind down these weavers any on the faith of the protective prin- more? ciple being maintained, not one But in the amendment proposed stone of which would have been to the House, the silk manufaclaid had the owners, a year ago,

turers and riband weavers known what would be the policy not the only persons concerned : it of the Government.

included milliners and dressmakers; Mr. Hawes entered into a va and he told the House that the riety of details, to show that the dressmakers amounted to no less a progress of the silk manufacture number than 106,000. The House clearly illustrated the soundness of was going to reduce the protection the free-trade principle. With re on silk dresses from 21. 10s. to gard to the Spitaltields weavers, 11. 108., which affected 106,000 the remark of Mr. Deacon Hume dressmakers in England ; the numwas, that their trade was invaded ber in London only, he was inby Manchester before it suffered formed, was 15,000 ; the persons from the competition of Lyons ; affected were more than one-third in fact, that the free trade which of those engaged in the cotton prevailed among the Manchester trade. These helpless females could manufacturers gave the first blow not make themselves heard in the to the fettered and restricted trade House ; and it was probable that of Spitalfields.

dismissal from their employment Mr. Adderley and Mr. E. Ellis would be the first notice they supported the reduction.

would receive of the existence of Lord George Bentinck thought the measure. In 1831, many of that the true test of the prosperity them were thrown out of employof a trade was the general rate of ment; some of them were driven wages in it. It had been shown to the workhouse, and others to to demonstration, that wages had prostitution ; and this, they might been greatly reduced in every depend upon it, would be the conbranch of the silk manufacture sequence of the proposed reducsince the alteration of the law from tion. protection to free trade. The num Sir Robert Peel asked the House ber of the Spitalfields weavers had to contrast even the present state also been reduced from 14,000 to of the silk trade with the aspect it 9,000 ; that fact was a pretty presented under a system of total strong proof of the injury inflicted prohibition. He quoted evidence on the silk manufacture by free to show the miserable condition of trade. He had lately conversed the Spitalfields weavers in the with three Coventry manufacturers, years 1812 and 1816, when protecwho told him that since free trade tion was complete. The local Comin silk only two mills had been mittee charged in 1816 with giving erected in Coventry. In fact, that relief mentioned, that "they have

witnessed an extremity of suffering average consumption between the of which those who are not them- years 1834 and 1843 had risen to selves accustomed to explore the 3,742,000 lbs. abodes of poverty can form but an “ We see that the import of inadequate idea. They find num raw material has in creased." "Yes,' bers who had been accustomed to you say,

but we include waste support their families respectably, silks, knubs, and husks.' If you reduced, from long want of em want a conclusive proof of the ployment, to sell or pawn their beauty of your machinery, you will furniture, which had been pur- find it in the fabrics wrought from chased with the savings of former these very articles. The terms years, to obtain food."

Sir Fowell may be vulgar—they may not suit Buxton, who bore an active part in the refined lips of some honourable relieving this distress, spoke of the gentlemen-but, with your skill and great anxiety displayed by the suf- capital, you have converted them ferers to get into a workhouse ; into beautiful fabrics, and added and in one of his speeches he made greatly increased value to the raw an appeal to the ladies of England material.”' against giving an undue preference If the feeling of the trade was to the French silks, to the great taken as a test, Sir Robert claimed discouragement of the home manu it as favourable to his scheme. He facture. This showed that at that had received no hostile representaperiod of perfect protection French tions ; and he ventured to say, silks were largely imported, in that had Coventry itself felt any spite of the strict revenue laws alarm at the lowering of the prowhich existed. Let the House tection from 30 to 15 per cent., compare the state of matters in silence would not have been main1816 with what they were in 1845. tained. From Spitalfields the GoMr. Howell says,

Throughout vernment had not received many the entire district a general scarcity representations; and, altogether, of hands is noticed, and a conse Ministers had a right to believe quent rise of wages. In the silk that the trade in general was satisdistricts particularly hands are very fied with the measure, searce ; and I have been informed The test adopted by some of that instances are not wanting the Protectionists - the declared where children working half time value of the exports during the have got as much wages—and in last five years-was altogether falsome cases it is said that they get lacious. more-than they did when they The cost of production has been worked ten hours. I am told that diminished — during the last five a rise has also taken place in the years, greatly diminished; the imwages of those who work ten and provements in machinery, and the twelve hours respectively." greater skill of our workmen, have

The test of the prosperity of caused a diminished cost of producthe trade was the importation of tion: during the last five years, also, the raw material. From 1814 to the duty on the raw material has 1823, the importation of raw silk been much diminished; it would be averaged annually 1,521,000 lbs.; strange indeed if the declared value but under the moderate duty sub- of our exports had not diminished. stituted by Mr. Huskisson, the During the last five years, there

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