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For the LONDON MAGAZINE.
DEBATES OF A POLITICAL SOCIETY.
(Continued from our laft.)
BOUT five o'clock the order of the day was read, for the Houfe to go into a committee to take into confideration the prefent ftate of the linen manufature of Great-Britain and Ireland. A number of petitions were prefented from different places, ftating feveral evils, and fhewing how detrimental fome of the expected propofitions would be to the manufactures of this kingcom. Sir Thomas Clavering, chairman, ordered the petitioners to attend immediately, and ftate their objections to the committee. This mode of proceeding was very ftrongly refifted by Governor Pownall, Sir George Younge, and Mr. Dowdeswell, and as warmly -contended for by Sir Gilbert Elliot, Mr. E. Burke, General Conway, and Lord Frede rick Campbell; the motion was, however, put, and it was agreed, that the petitioners fhould be called in, but none appearing, the committee proceeded. The report of laft year was first read, and after that the feveral petitions which had been prefented by either party fince the commencement of the prefent feffions. A controverfy arole between fome of the gentlemen, whether the report should be read as it was only ex parte evidence, but it being proved that the committee which received the evidence was an open one, that point was given up.
Mefirs. Anderfon and Goldy were then called to the bar; the fum of their teftimony was, that the linen manufacture of Scotland had decreased between 2 and 3,000,000 of yards in the course of last year; that the value of what was ftamped during the fame period was fhort of the preceding year 226,cool, that the average price of the cloth foid in the year 1769 was 12d. 3-12ths the yard, and in the year 1773 but 9d. 5-24ths; that four whole counties, Glasgow and Pailley included, out of 6,oco looms, hid 2,500 unemployed; that the proportion of thole that were in general idle was at least 1-3d; that out of a certain diftrict in the county of Sutherland, 600 out of 1,800 fpinners had emigrated, and fo in propor-. tion from feveral other places fpecified; that fome of the linens of 1771 were still on hand unfold, that the trade, without the speedy interpontion of parliament, mußt be totally ruined; and, on the whole, that there were not, in the beginning of the preient year, much more than half the weavers
employed throughout the kingdom of Scotland and North of England.
The Houfe broke up at eight.
March 4. At five o'clock the order of the day for a further enquiry into the state of the linen manufacture was ordered to be read, on which Sir John Wrottelley defired, that it might be deferred a day or two longer, as the American papers flood for Monday.
Governor Pownall defired the fame, as, he faid, there were feveral other manufacturers who were in great apprehenfions from the decifion on the linen manufacture; that there were now people in town to defire longer time, from a county where the woo!len branch annually amounted to 3,195,000l. of which 2,000,000 worth was annually exported; that he thought fo valuable a body ought to be heard.
General Conway oppofed its being put off, and faid, American affairs had nothing in the leaft to do with this; that they had only four evidences to call in, to prove the ftate of the linen trade in Ireland-evidences were accordingly called in, who proved that the trade had been on the decline of late.
March 8. The order of the day for a further enquiry into the ftate of the linen trade
Governor Pownall faid he had evidence to fhew how materially this enquiry would affect the woollen trade. He was answered by Mr. R. Whitworth, Gen. Conway, &c. who urged, that this was not a proper time for fuch enquiry.
Evidences were called in from the counties of Wilts, Dorfet, Hants, and Somerlet, who proved that the linen trade had been on the decline of late years; that near one half of the looms were unemployed, and the confequence was, that the manufacturers were drove to great neceffity, and many of them become burthenfome to the parish. They were ex mined as to the growth of flex, and asked, how much an acre would produce? The answer was, on an average 255lb. which fold at 91, or 9d. halfpenny per pound; that the ground was 2cs. per acre, it coft 205. more to be cultivated fit for fowing, and the feed and labour after coft about 203. more, which made the whole expence on one acre 31. That the growth of flax was more beneficial to the farmer than wheat, although the ground did not bear flax every year; B the
Debates of a POLITICAL SOCIETY.
the ground the first year bore flax, the second wheat, the third barley, the fourth oats, and the fifth grafs, or lay fallow. They were asked their opinions, if laying a duty on foreign linens would enable them to fell their linens cheaper? The answer was, the price was too low already. If laying a duty on foreign linens would not make the prices of British linens dearer? No direct answer was given.
A difpute arofe between Governor Pownall, the lord advocate for Scotland, Mr. Ongley, Gen. Conway, Mr. Cavendish, Mr. Hopkins, &c. whether it was proper to ask the witneffes their opinions, or whether the witnesses were to declare any thing but fuch facts as had really happened; which difpute ended unfatisfactorily.
March 10. The Houfe refolved itself into a committee on the linen manufacture, when Mr. Clements was examined, and confirmed the evidence he gave last year before the committee, relative to the decline of the linen trade at Darlington, and its neighbour hood, in the county of York. He added fome further circumftances relative to its Aill more rapid decline fince that period.
Governor Pownall begged leave to lay before the committee fome very important information he had received from Ireland; he faid it was the report of a committee of the House of Commons of Ireland, fetting forth the claims that country had upon this to give it every poffible encouragement in the improvement of the linen manufacture, exclufive of all others; and another report from the linen-board, fhewing the prefent state of it, the caufes of its decay, and the probable means of retrieving it. He then produced a letter from Sir Lucius O'Brien, chairman of the committee, in anfwer to one he had wrote to him on the fubject, which accompanied the two reports. The first contained an hiftorical account of the steps taken im mediately fubfequent to the Revolution, to render the linen manufacture the ftaple of Ireland, as the woollen was of England; the ideas that prevailed on both fides of the water to effect it; the line then drawn to prevent the interference in future between the two; the feveral acts of parliament made in both kingdoms in confirmation of this convention; and laftly, the period which first introduced a jealousy, and broke that mutual confidence fubfifting between both kingdoms, in breach of the compact fo religiously obferved for the first three reigns fucceeding the Revolution. The report from the linenboard confirmed the parole evidence hitherto given at the bar, relative to the state of the trade, the number of unemployed looms, the ruin of the manufacturers, the decreafe in the export, &c. &c. Befides thefe there were a variety of other motives affigned, fuch as a want of the natural growth of flax and flax feed, ftagnation of credit, money
spent by abfentees, rife of rents, reftrictions> and difcouragements by the British parlia ment. The remedies propofed were, encouragements for the raifing and cultivation of flax, collecting the duties on foreign linens in the fpirit in which they were held as to the real value of the goods, conftruing fome of the acts of the British parliament in a liberal manner, with almoft an infinity of regulations, conformable to the idea which prevailed at the time Ireland relinquished all claim to the export woollen trade, in favour of England.
Thofe reports having taken a full hour and a half in reading, Governor Pownall moved, that Doctor Williamfon, a native of Pennfylvania, might be called in and examined. The governor called this witnefs, in order to invalidate the teftimony of those who attributed the migrations from the North of Ireland, to the decline of the linen manufacture in that province. His evidence was, that for the laft two years, eight thousand people each year had gone from the North of Ireland a Philadelphia, and for twenty-five years before there had gone between two and four thoufand. He was examined as to the state of indented fervants, how they were ofed on their arrival in America, and whether they were not fold in the fame manner as negroes? He answered they were fold for the time they had indented themselves, on purpose to defray the charges of their paffage, that during the time of their indenture they had no wages, only clothes; and when their time was expired, the laws of their country obliged their mafter to give them a new fuit of clothes, an axe, a hoe, and a mattock. He gave his opinion upon feveral other matters; when Sir Thomas Clavering faid, this was only hearfay evidence. The witnefs was ordered to withdraw. A debate, of a few minutes, arofe between Governor Pownall, Sir George Yonge, Lord Frederick Campbell, and Mr. Coxe, whether or not this was proper evidence, and whether it tended any thing to the point in question?
Mr. R. Fuller faid, his motive for enquiring into the manner in which indented perfons were treated in America, was, to thew our deluded poor how they were impofed upon, and that they emigrated to become flaves.
The witness was called in again, and gave a particular account of the ufage emigrants met with on their arrival in America, which was that they were treated kindly, and not with cruelty, as had been intimated.
March 16. A petition from the merchants of London trading to Hamburgh, and other parts of Germany, Holland, and Ruffia, was prefented, praying to be heard by themselves before the committee. A motion was then made by Governor Pownall, That Mr. Glover be heard as agent at the bar in their behalf. A very long debate en
Debates of a POLITICAL SOCIETY.
fued, Whether or not he should be permitted to a& in that capacity; which, after a variety of other propofitions, was confented to. Mr. Payne, governor of the bank, was next called to give evidence, and the questions were put to him by Mr. Glover. Mr. Payne's teflimony confifted of several computations and extracts, taken chiefly from papers before the House. The only matter of any great confequence was, that the importation of foreign linens had decreafed eleven million of yards in the year 1773. Several other debates occurred in the course of the evening relative to order, and the admiffibility of feveral species of evidence offered to be given.
March 22. The order of the day for the whole House to go into a committee for a further enquiry into the ftate of the linen trade was read, and Sir Thomas Clavering took the chair.
Mr. Glover and Mr. Payne were called in, the latter of which read an account of the rife of the linen trade in Scotland from 1757 to 1772, which was from nine to thirteen millions of yards, but in 1773 it had decreafed three millions of yards.
He then read a paper of the ftate of the linen trade in Ireland from 1757 to 1772, which appeared to be from thirteen to twenty millions of yards; and in the year 1773 it had decreased only forty-nine thousand yards. He was then asked if he knew any thing as to the decline of the trade, or the time and caufe of fuch decline? He mentioned, that the non-importation agreement in America had been a great detriment to the trade, and the late failures had greatly hurt public credit; but that the trade was now in a right courfe, and likely to flourish as well as ever. He read over calculations of the different average duties that German linens paid; he faid there were ten forts under that head, from 5d. to rod. per yard, and the average price was about 7d. per yard; but, by the fame calculation, they paid a duty of 8d. per yard.
Being examined touching the ftagnation of credit in June 1772, he entered very fully into that fubject, and among feveral interefting obfervations informed the committee, that if the circulation had continued another year, public credit must have been totally ruined, but that now it was happily upon the moft firm and stable foundation.
April 12. The House went into a committee to enquire further into the prefent ftate of the linen trade in Great-Britain and Ireland. Mr. Glover was called in, who examined Mr. Payne as to the different quantities of each fort of German linen he had made his average prices from. Mr. Philip Milloway was next called in, who was a great exporter, and spoke much against a higher duty being laid on foreign linens. Mr. James Pearfon was called in and examined for near an hour; after him Mr. Richard
Woodhall, an importer of diaper table cloths, &c. and then Mr. Ifaac Walker, a great exporter of foreign linens printed in England, who all feemed to fpeak much is preference of German linens, as being the most faleable at foreign markets, and moft durable for wear. A motion was then made for the committee to break up and the chairman to report to the Houfe that he had made fome further progrefs in the bufinefs, and ask leave to fit again. Mr. Glover engaged to finish the whole of his evidence in one day
April 20. The Houfe refolved itself into a committee upon the linen business, Sir Thomas Clavering in the chair, when Mr. Glover, agent for the company of Hamburgh merchants, called in Mr. Harsh, a German, who gave the Houfe a geographical account of every province, town, and village, throughout Holland, Germany, Pruffia, Hungary, Bohemia, &c. to which we export our woollen cloths, &c. He was very accurate in his accounts, and afforded the House great information.
Mr. Glover being asked if he had any more evidences to call? replied, no; but begged leave of the Houfe to make his obfervations upon the whole of the evidence that had been produced on the linen bufinefs. Leave being accordingly given, he, in a fenfible, fpirited, and judicious fpeech of upwards of two hours, fhewed the rife and progrefs of not only our linen, but woollen, and other trades. He likewife proved to the Houfe, the caufe of the decrease in the linen trade, that had been fo much complained of, which he attributed chiefly to the defperate state of public credit, occafioned by the vast quantity of paper circulation. He was very severe upon the Scotch, faying they were the perfons who first caufed and invented this paper circulation, and who would have brought us once more into the fame dreadful fituation as in 1772, had not parliament granted them (the Air bank) leave lately to borrow money on bonds. He faid, to impute the number of emigrations from Scotland, entirely to the decay of the linen trade, was an infult to common fenfe, for the decrease of their exports had not been fo much but might happen at any time from the fluctuation of trade. He was likewife very fevere on the cuftoms, in regard to the manner in which they made up their accounts, which he faid they were wrong in, and ftill kept on blundering to the end. He propofed to the Houfe feveral plans for remedying this evil, often repeating the dreadful confequences of a paper circulation.
After he had finished, Mr. Dempfter asked him to explain a small part of his fpeech, which he did not understand: he readily confented. Mr. Dempster proceeded to afk him, what he would wish to have done for B 2
Debates of a POLITICAL SOCIETY.
the weavers, and other poor tradesmen be
Alderman Hopkins, Gov. Pownall, &c. rofe, and faid the queftion was improper, and defired the witness might have leave to withdraw, which being granted, Mr. Dempfter rofe and faid, that during the years he had lived, he never faw fo abie an advocate as Mr. Glover that really, by the fenfible difcourfe he had then heard, it had greatly altered his opinion of the business.
The committee feemed rather at a ftand what to go about next, upon which Sir George Younge informed the Houle, that the Ruffia merchants intended to prefent a petition to the Houfe in a few days; he fhould therefore move, that the committee do adjourn, and afk leave to fit again on a future day. The committee accordingly broke up and adjourned until Monday next.
April 25. The Houfe refolved itself into a committee upon the linen butinefs, Sir Thomas Clavering in the chair, when Mr. Arbuthnot, an eminent callico printer, was called in, and gave the Houle an accurate account of the number of yards of each fert of linen printed, the expence of printing, and the excife duty on it, which amounted from 1770 to 1771, to about 103.0col. each year, but in 1773, to only 94,000l. He spoke greatly of the Dutch having got into the method of printing, and afforded the House much information.
May 5. In a committee to enquire into the pretent ftate of the linen trade of Great Britain and Ireland, Mr. Forfter, agent for the Ruffia Company, was called in, who, after explaining briefly the nature of the evidence he intended to produce, called Mr. Stratton, a very great importer of Ruffia linnens. His teftimony went to prove, after fpecifying the feveral fpecies imported, that no fubftitute whatever could be had to answer the demand; that the linens imported from Ruffia were almoft folely worn by the poor; and that if any additional duties were laid upon them, they would be equal to a prehibition. The laft witness examined was Mr. Kavanagh, a British merchant refident in Ruffia. He faid, that the experts from England to Ruffia were about 140,ocol. and the imports of manuf. &tures 200.cool. befides 100,000l. in materials not manufactured; that the manufactures, &c. confifled chiefly of all kinds of woollen goods, cutlery, hard ware, tin, lead, dye-ftuffs, carriages, and jewellery; that the woollens paid about 18 per cent, and the others about 30 on an average; that the Ruffia linens paid on importation into Britain 35 per cent. that the balance against Britain, in its trade with Ruffia, was from 800,000l. to 1,000,cool. per annum; that this balance arofe from the purchase of raw materials, which we could not do without; that in particular, in the article of hemp, all Europe beides could not
furnish a fourth of what we wanted; that the export of hemp from Ruffia was 20,000 ton, of flax 7000, of iron 30,000; that we could not carry on our linen or hardware manufactures, nor fit out our fleets, without thofe fupplies; that we were not only the moft favoured nation by treaty, but were actually fo, for that we were in the daily exercife and poffeffion of rights, liberties, and immunities denied to any other nation, or even to the natives. He enumerated feveral, among which the following are the most remarkable: An English merchant can have no foldier quartered on him; he is not liable to an arrest, but when his effects are found infufficient to discharge his debts; his books of papers cannot be feized on any pretence, nor even infpected without an apparent caufe: he is permitted to pay the imperial duties in the current coin of the country, a favour denied to any other foreigner, who is obliged to pay one half in Dutch dollars; befides which, he is exonerated from several fmall duties, which all other perfons, whether natives or foreigners, are fubject to. After Mr. Kavanagh had closed his evidence, Mr. Forfter, the agent, recapitulated the whole, and the committee adjourned to Thursday next.
May 12. Proceeded on the ftate of the linen manufactory. The evidence being clofed, the Speaker refumed the chair, and Sir Thomas Clavering reported that they had gone through the examination of witneffes, and moved that the report be taken into consideration that day fortnight. This produced a debate, Sir George Younge having moved that the words that day fortnight do make way for Tuefday next; but it being obferved that the business of the Scotch colliers ftood that day for twelve, Sir George moved, in addition, eleven o'clock; and the question being put, it paffed in the affirmative; and it being nine o'clock the House adjourned.
May 17. At four o'clock the House went into a committee of enquiry into the prefent ftate of the linen trade of Great Britain and Ireland. As foon as Sir Thomas Clavering took the chair, Lord Frederick Campbell informed the committee, that feveral propofitions which had been thought of by the promoters of the enquiry had been given up our account of the ftrong oppofition they would likely meet with, particularly from fuch gentlemen as imagined that the woollen manufacture might be thereby affected; that in the one he intended to offer, every objection of that kind would be precluded, and confequently he hoped to meet the concurrence of both fides of the Houfe; he therefore mo ved, that a bounty of three balfpence per yard be allowed on all British and Irish linens painted, printed and ftained, exported from Great Britain.
He was feconded by Lord Beauchamp, who
Debates of a POLITICAL SOCIETY.
Lord North faid he did not think the petitioners for relief had proved what they afferted in their petition, yet he could not think the propofition made by the noble Lord (Frederick Campbel) could any way affect the woollen manufacture: if it could, he should be much against it; otherwise not. A warm debate enfued, in which Mr. Byog, Gov. Pownall, Sir W. Meredith, Mr. Ryder, Mr. Pennant, Mr. Phipps, Sir T. Egerton, Gen. Burgoyne, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Fuller, Sir G. Younge, &c. contended, if a bounty was paid upon British linen it would materially affect the cotton manufacture, if not quite annihilate it, as it would render the linen cheaper than the cotton, and thereby give it a preference.
The motion was as ftrongly fupported by Lord Care, Lord Germaine, Sir Gilbert Elliot, Mr. Pultney, Mr. Dempfter, Gen. Conway, Mr. Townshend, Mr. C. Fox, Mr. H. Cavendish, Lord Advocate, &c. who aflerted the laying a bounty on linen would no way affect the cotton, faying, that if fome relief was not given to the linen manufacture it muft entirely perish.
At a quarter paft nine o'clock, the queftion was called for from all parts of the Houfe, and on the gallery being cleared, the Houle divided, for the queftion 63, against it 129.
A motion was then made," that the chairman do now leave the chair, without leave to fit again," which was carried without a divifion; confequently the linen bufineis dropt for the feffion. Thus a matter which had taken up a great part of the attention of two feffions of parliament, tavo reports, and twenty-seven days particular attendance in the committees, above and below ftairs, at length came to nothing.
The order of the day for the fecond reading of the Selby canal bill was read.
Sir George Savile, in a judicious speech, went through the whole of the business from its beginning last year, and pointed out how deficient the evidences on the fide of the bill were: he faid, they had accufed Mr. Burt (collector of the tolls on the old navigation of Air and Calder) of every fpecies of fraud and monopoly, on purpofe to make their own caufe appear good; but their evidences had not proved a fingle thing against him, unless it was, that he had encreased the trade of the country amazingly. Spoke much against the bill, and faid he hould be against its being committed.
it would be a means of rendering provifions cheap, by decreafing the number of expences that now attended trade.
Mr Howard fpoke much against the bill faid, it had been projected by a parcel of furveyors, whofe intereft it was to promote thofe things-that they drew people in to fubfcribe to them, by firft fubfcribing themfelves; then puffing what great profits would arife, until they got the fhares up to a high price; then they fold out, leaving the others to contemplate their folly.
Mr. Turner fpoke much in favour of the bill-faid, he knew it was oppofed by a party that the last time he was down in the country, he faw a number of ladies canvaffing at an affembly against the bill that they applied to him to attend againft the bill, but he was on the wrong fide of forty-leven, and refused their request.
The Solicitor General fpoke greatly against the bill, and stated how much it would injure private property he faid the honourable gentleman (Mr. Lafcelles) had confuted himself; for he propofed this new canal to engrofs the whole of the trade, and confequently one of his inns would be shut up that many of them last year had faid, "Never mind; let them have leave to carry into execution their canal: if they fail, the lofs will fall on themfelves." Now it would be otherwife, for immediately as they got the grant, they would raife money on the fuppofed profit, and if that fhould not anfwer, parliament would be blamed for having fuffered fuch an abfurdity to pass.
Sir Richard Sutton spoke against the bill, and mentioned the great inconvenience that would arife from fuch a measure, as it was meant to be carried over feveral coal-pits, whofe roofs already were fo near the furface of the earth, that fhould not those canals be made water-tight, the confequence would be, they would break through and ruin the colliery.
Mr. Curwen fpoke much against the bill, and related feveral accidents that had happened in his memory from canals being introduce near coal mines.
Mr. Wallace spoke a confiderable time in favour of the bill.
Mr. E. Burke ridiculed the whole of the evidence that had been offered on the fide of the bill-faid they had only one confiftent witness, and that was a perfon who frankly owned he knew nothing. He was amazingly fevere on Mr. Tr, who, he said, hid proved himself an uncorrupt member, not even to be corrupted by the tender paf. fions. He kept the Houfe in a continual laugh during the whole of his fpeech.
At three quarters poft nine o'clock the queftion was put, "That this bill be referred to a committee." For it 33, against it 05. So this bill, which had been long depend