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tain of being able to obtain a loan under any other than oppressive terms? The persons, who formed this class, generally stood in need of but small sums; their necessities were pressing, and therefore they were exposed to the most grinding demands. However, they would have no choice; they would be obliged to submit to the terms imposed upon them, let them be ever so oppressive.

In answer to these observations, Mr. Serjeant Onslow argued, that money was like land or houses, which, when men borrowed, they paid for the use of. As the rent both of houses and land was unrestricted, he did not see why the rent of money for there was nothing magical in the term interest should not be equally so. It could not be denied that the best and readiest security, which could be offered for money at the present day, was land. The fact was, that money could be at all times obtained on good security, at its fair market value. To reduce it to that value, or to prevent its being carried higher than that value allowed, the present measure was introduced. The land-owner and the merchant would always obtain it at its fair price; but as to the person who had no security to give, he did not know any change of the law which could put him into a better situation with respect to the terms on which he could obtain a loan, than he was at present. He contended, that, on the ground of good policy, there was no just cause for continuing the present restrictive laws.

In the course of the discussion, Mr. C. Wynn stated, that not only was he himself friendly to the abolition of the Usury laws, but the chancellor of the Exchequer, and the president of the Board of Trade, had, on more than one occasion, defended the policy of doing so; and he was confident that all his colleagues, with the exception, perhaps, of the right hon. secretary for Foreign Affairs, who, to the best of his knowledge, had never taken the question into his consideration, were strongly in favour of it. They had left the House, because they anticipated that the division on the bill would not take place till a late hour, and that their presence would not be wanted to render the question successful. He had stayed behind at the request of his right hon. friend, the president of the Board of Trade, to declare the opinion of ministers on this bill, in case such a declaration of opinion should be rendered necessary.

Notwithstanding this important declaration, the bill was rejected by a majority of 45 to 40.

Besides some essential improvements in the constitution of juries in Scotland, the form and course of proceeding in the court of session underwent a great alteration in the present year. The act introducing these alterations was the result of the labours of the committee, which had made its report in 1824: and the effect of them was, to diminish greatly the succession of steps which intervened between the commencement and the termination of a suit.

CHAP. VI.

Combination Laws-Mr. Huskisson's Motion for a Committee-Report of the Committee-Bill founded upon the Report-Debates on the Bill-Corn Lans-Alterations in our Colonial Policy-Diminution in our protecting Duties-Measures for the Relief of the Shipping Interest-Surrender of the Charter of the Levant Company.

THE mischievous effects arising from Mr. Hume's act, repealing both the statute and common law against combinations among workmen, had been too serious to be overlooked; and on the 29th of March, Mr. Huskisson called the attention of the legislature to the subject. Mr. Huskisson, after alhuding to the hurried and inconsiderate manner in which that alteration in the law had been made, stated, that, since the passing of the act in question, he had in his official capacity received information of the conduct adopted by bodies of workmen in various parts of the country. These were, many of them, very painful accounts; and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department numerous reports had been forwarded, detailing most atrocious acts of outrage and violence, on the part of workmen combined against employers. All those classes of workmen who had misconceived the real object of the legislature in the late act, had manifested a disposition to combine against the masters, and a tendency to proceedings destructive of the property and business of the latter, which, if permitted to remain unchecked, must terminate in producing the greatest mischiefs to the country. Indeed, those mischiefs were rapidly grow

ing, in some districts, to so alarming a pitch, that if their progress was not speedily interrupted, they would very soon become, rather a subject for Mr. Peel to deal with in the exercise of his official functions, than for him (Mr. H.) to call the attention of the House to as a matter of trade. These things could not remain much longer in their present condition. Unless parliament should interfere to place them on a different footing, his right hon. friendarmed as he was by the state, with the authority of calling in aid the civil power for the protection of the property and liberty of the king's subjects, must so interpose against what he could not but consider a very formidable conspiracy in certain bodies of men, calculated to place that liberty and property, and perhaps life itself, in great jeopardy, as regarded certain individuals who employed large numbers of labourers and journeymen. As a general principle, he admitted that every man had an inherent right to carry his own labour to whatever market he liked ; and so to make the best of it: and, accordingly, he had always maintained that labour was the poor man's capital. But, then, on the other hand, he must as strenuously contend for the perfect freedom of

those who were to give employment to that labour. Theirs was the property which rendered that labour necessary-theirs was the machinery on which that labour was to be employed-theirs was the capital by which its employment was to be paid for. Át least, therefore, they were entitled to an equal freedom of action; and that property, that machinery, and that capital ought to be as sacred and unfettered, as the labour which was the admitted property of the workman. If their right and title and freedom in all these matters could not be secured, there would not be long retained in the country the means of employing labour; and the workmen themselves would be the victims of a delusive system of attempted influence and intimidation over their employers.

Mr. Huskisson then entered into various details to show the nature of the system, which was, in several quarters, now acted upon. Meetings had been held, and associations formed, in different parts of the country, which, if persevered in and prosecuted successfully, must terminate in the destruction of the very men who were parties to them. To illus trate this, he produced two papers, which developed what were the views of the workmen, and their proposals in respect of the right which they had assumed, of interference with the property and concerns of their employers. The first was entitled, "The Articles of Regulation of the Operative Colliers of Lanark and Dumbarton:" The second was a similar production of "The Ayrshire Association;" and he could produce, he added, many other systems of rules and regulations,

each of them absolutely forming as regular a constitution as any of those which were daily arising from the new governments that were springing up in every part of the world. These Associations had their delegates, their presidents, their committees of management, and every other sort of functionary comprised in the plan of a government. By the 9th article of one of the sets of regulations, it was provided, "that the delegates from all the different works should assemble at one and the same place" on certain stated occasions: so that this provision regarded not a combination of all the workmen of one employer against him, or even of one whole trade against the masters; but something more formidable and extensive; namely, a systematic union of the workmen of many different trades, and a delegation from each of them to one central meeting. Thus there was established, as against the employers, a formal system of delegation -a kind of federal republic, all the trades being represented by delegates, who formed a sort of congress. Another regulation was to this effect-"Each delegate shall be paid out of his own work" (the earnings which he was to be permitted to make, and of which a portion was subscribed by every member having employment, for the purposes of these associations), "with these exceptions only-the president, the secretary, and the treasurer, are to be paid out of the general funds. The delegates are elected for six months, and may be re-elected." So that here was a tax levied upon each workman, for the maintenance of general funds applicable to purposes of this mischievous character. The 11th article declared, that "It is the

duty of these delegates, 1st, to point out the masters they dislike:" -a duty in itself sufficiently dangerous and illegal:-"2nd, to warn such masters of the danger in which they are placed, in consequence of this combination." Here, therefore, was an acknowledgment of the danger of such associations, admitted by the parties themselves. But what followed? "And, 3rd, to try every thing which prudence might dictate to put them (the masters) out of the trade"-not, let it be observed, every thing which fairness and justice might dictate to workmen who sought really to obtain a redress of grievances; but, every thing which "prudence" might dictate. In such a position, " prudence" must be understood as implying merely that degree of precaution that might prevent the "Union" from being brought within a breach of the law-such as the crime of murder for example. Now, was it fit, or right, or reasonable, that persons engaged in commercial or other pursuits, such as mining, for example, should, by combinations thus organized, and by pretensions of this kind, be kept in constant anxiety and terror about their interests and property? The 13th article was as follows:-"These articles may be modified and altered at any meeting of the delegates; and if sanctioned at such meeting by twothirds of the delegates present, they shall be final. The power of levying money from all the members of the association must be left to the general committee." So that these were not to be voluntary, but compulsory contributions, actually "levied" upon all the parties to the union." All laws passed at the meetings of the dele

gates will be binding on all whom those delegates represent." Now, one of these laws was, "that there should never be allowed to be any stock of coals in the hands of any of the masters;" because, if such stocks were allowed, the masters would be less dependent on the workmen, and might possess some means of rescuing themselves from the tyranny and control of this association or union.

Other associations, however, were governed by regulations, if possible, more extraordinary. One of these regulations was, that no man coming into any given district or county within the control assumed by the associating parties, should be allowed to work, without being previously amerced 5., to be applied to the funds of the association: and another of the regulations was, that any child, being permitted to work or assist (as for instance, a man's son), should at ten years old, be reckoned a quarter of a man, and pay a proportionable amercement accordingly. In like manner, it was provided, that any man being called in by any collier to his assistance, should not be at liberty to work under him, unless previously adopted, like the collier, by the society, and unless, like him, he should previously have paid his 5l. Now, in this part of the empire there could not exist any doubt whatever, looking to the artificial situation in which this country was placed in regard to many of its institutions, and particularly with regard to the poor-laws, that parties, who were liable some day or other to become reversionaries on that immense fund, had no right to take measures that had an obvious tendency to throw them on that fund, and so increase the burthen which its

support imposed upon the country. And, without desiring to restrict the right or choice of any individuals as to the legal disposal of their means, he could not help asking, whether this amercement of 51. and this subscription of 1s. aweek to the funds of the association, which every member of it was called upon to pay and contribute, would not produce to each of the parties, if placed in a savingbank, far more beneficial and advantageous results? What could be the meaning or motive of creating all those presidents, and permanent committees of management, if there were not among these combinations many persons anxious for the enjoyment of the power and distinction which they considered the attainment of certain posts like these would confer upon them? And, was it not in human nature almost an invariable principle, that, in all contests for all kinds of power, the most artful were those who usually obtained their object and seated themselves in places of authority? This consideration rendered it still more necessary to look narrowly at the constitution of these assemblies.

Another of their rules was, that every measure to be adopted should previously undergo a full discussion, and that the majority should bind the rest-a very proper rule in Debating-societies, no doubt; and one, he believed, very generally adopted in them; but it was one, which, under these circumstances, he could not approve, for he thought it to be, in its consequences and application, inconsistent with that freedom from all external control, which the masters or employers were obviously entitled to, in the administration

and management of their own property. The 22nd of the articles was in these terms:-" that no operative, being a member of this association, shall be at liberty to engage himself for any given time or price, without the consent of the committee of management." Why, if a system of this kind was to extend itself through the population engaged in all the different branches of mining, manufactures, navigation, and shipping in this country, in what a painful situation would every person concerned be placed? Who would, for an instant, endure a control of this oppressive, of this destructive nature? Yet, such a control, under the prevalence of such principles, might exist: and, he was sorry to add, that it did exist. For example, it existed in that most important branch of our commercial greatness, our coasting trade. There had been a society formed, called the "Seamen's Union:" the principles and object of which had been promulgated in the form of a dialogue between Tom and Harry. In this, as in other combinations, the association had come to the determination of not submitting to the authority of any persons whom they had not among themselves appointed or approved. In the same manner they who were employed as seamen in the coasting trade would not put to sea, unless all the rest of the crew were members of their union. And another of the ar ticles agreed upon by this union, was, that men thus employed should do nothing which they had never before been called upon to do as seamen. A case had occurred very recently, in which a vessel, coal laden, got on a sand-bank at the mouth of the river. It became

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