HC Deb 24 March 1841 vol 57 cc577-89

On the Order of the Day for the further consideration of the Report on the Copyright of Designs Bill,

Mr. Labouchere

wished to throw out a suggestion to the hon. Gentleman who had introduced this bill. From communications which the hon. Gentleman had had with the Board of Trade, he perceived that it was the intention of the hon. Gentleman to propose a number of alterations in the bill as it stood, in its printed form before the committee. He would suggest to him whether it would not be better, and save even his own time, that the bill should be considered in committee in the form in which it was intended to stand. He could assure him that he did not offer this suggestion from any desire to prevent the bill from being fairly discussed—he had no such intention. But, from all the experience which he had in the conduct of bills in that House, he was satisfied that much time would be saved by the House having the bill before them in the state as nearly as possible in which the hon. Member desired it to pass. At the same time, if the hon. Gentleman believed that by not adopting this suggestion he would best promote the object which he had in view, he would offer no opposition. The hon. Member would act upon his own discretion.

Mr. E. Tennent

said, that as far as he was concerned he should be very glad to accede to the suggestion, but there was a number of individuals in town watching the progress of the bill, to whom it would be highly inconvenient that the points on which he and the right hon. Gentleman differed, should not be settled that even- ing. In fact, the greater part of the amendments he had to propose were mere verbal amendments. He thought that there were but three points on which it was likely that any difference would arise between the right hon. Gentleman and himself, and he must, therefore, decline agreeing to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hume

said, the hon. Member was scarcely in a condition to proceed with the bill. The bill which the hon. Member obtained leave to bring in was, to regulate the law as to copyright of designs on woven fabrics of cottons, &c.; but the bill now before the House extended its provisions to designs of metals, mixed metals, glass, shawls, and every other description of our manufactures, and must take all manufacturers in those branches by surprise; they had got no notice whatever of the intentions of the hon. Member. Even now the preamble of the bill was incomplete. If the hon. Member had intended to include every sort of manufacture whereof designs formed a part, he ought to have said so in his preamble in order that all who were to be affected by it might have had notice. He was aware that the bill had brought many gentlemen from distant parts of the country to London, but the question was not one of convenience to them, but whether the House of Commons ought to discuss a bill so different from that which the hon. Member obtained leave to bring in. In his opinion each of the articles enumerated in the bill ought to have been proposed in a committee of the whole House and there discussed. That not having been done, he would ask the Chair whether they were in a condition to proceed with the bill. He submitted to the hon. Member that the best thing he could do would be to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, amend his bill, and give notice to all whose interests were to be affected, and bring it on on a future day.

Mr. E. Tennent

said, the hon. Member had stated this measure ought to have originated in a resolution of the House. Now, if he would turn to the votes of the 8th of March, he would find a resolution had been actually passed. [Mr. Hume—Read it; there is nothing about glass or metal in it.] The bill was drawn in perfect accordance with that resolution. As the preamble of the bill was now univer- sally conceded, and the necessity for extending the present term for calico-printing admitted upon all hands, it would be imprudent for hint to support his present motion, which he believed would be unopposed, by anticipating the arguments upon particular provisions of the bill, all of Which would be naturally raised and discussed in the committee itself. On one point alone he was anxious to inform the House, inasmuch as he was now enabled to do so upon sound and unimpeachable authority. Much importance had been attached by the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, and by the House generally, to the sentiments of the trade itself upon this important point, and very strong representations regarding it were made in former stages of the bill. He was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did attach considerable importance to this point, since on a question of minute manufacturing economy, on which the majority of the Members of the House were but imperfectly informed, the wishes of those directly interested should naturally form an important element in the consideration which would lead to a conclusion upon the question. The parties opposed to the measure had not failed to avail themselves of this feeling, and the right hon. Gentleman was induced by representations to believe that, although the majority of individuals embarked in the trade, numerically considered, were in favour of the bill, still they were individually those of the least weight, and that both the majority in amount of production, the majority in amount of labour given, and the majority in point of gross value of goods produced, were adverse to extension of the copyright. Now, since the bill was last before the House, a strict and conscientious scrutiny had been made upon that head, the statistics of the trade had been accurately ascertained and the result was most decidedly the very reverse. The House was aware that in Scotland, where there was a most extensive trade, every printer without exception, had petitioned in favour of the bill. In Ireland, where the trade was more limited, the case was the same; and in all England, with the single exception of Lancashire, the printers were unanimously favourable to it. In fact, in England, Ireland and Scotland piracy and copying were unknown, except in the single instance of Manchester; and from Manchester alone, the solitary seat of piracy, the opposition to this bill emanated. The results in detail of the inquiries to which he (Mr. Tennent) had alluded were as follows:—

"Comparative Statement of the Houses in Great Britain and Ireland, for and against Copyright Extension.
Locality. Firms. Printing Tables. Cylinder Printing Machines. Flat Presses. Two to Four Coloured Presses. Hands employed. Production. Number of Pieces.
Manchester. For 48 5,849 233 16,082 6,134,000
Against 36 2,319 149 7,450 4,470,000
Neutral 14 997 64 3,200 1,920,000
Scotland. For 67 5,660 75 206 14,230 4,175,600
Ireland. For 5 455 21 1,400 293,000
London. For 9 559 11 82 32 1,090 150,000
Total: 179 15,839 553 288 32 43,862 17,142,600
Out of 179 firms in the three kingdoms thirty-six only against us. Of near 16,000 priming tables, 2,319 are against us. Of 553 cylinder machines, 149 only against, leaving 404 cylinders. Of 43,362 hands, 7,450 alone are employed by the opponents of protection. And of the enormous production of upwards of 17,000,000 of pieces, 4,500,000 only, or thereabouts, are produced by the copyists. All England, with the exception of this fraction of Lancashire and the neighbourhood, all Scotland and all Ireland, have petitioned for protection and extension. The petitioners for extension have more than doubled since last Session. Three houses of great magnitude, and very largely in the export trade, have petitioned for protection, they proving, in the opinion of competent judges deeply interested in the question, the groundlessness of the apprehensions respecting mischief to our foreign trade. The general result of this statement is, that the production of the copyists, as regards the amount of production, is about one-fourth of the whole, instead of being more than double the amount, as stated last Session before the committee; and the value, piece for piece, inclusive of the fine productions of London, the shawls of Scotland, and the highest class prints of Lancashire, is not more than half the value of the production of the extensionists, or about one-eighth of the value of the whole production of the trade. This result, it would be perceived, was independently of the petitions from other parties interested—namely, the drapers, and, above all, the designers, and pattern- drawers, who were most actively alive to the importance of the bill to their future interests. In fact, without the security of this bill, schools of design would be a mere delusion. What security would a young man have, after having studied at one of these schools, for the exercise of his profession, unless he was so protected by a copyright, to give him some property in the produce of his own labour and ingenuity? In the committee of last Session it was stated by Mr. Henry, an extensive printer in Ireland, that, being most anxious to extend the knowledge of design, he had paid nearly 1,000l. a year to artists in his own employment, and had vacancies for numerous pupils whom he invited to become students at his works under their tuition. But when he applied to their parents to permit them to attend they invariably declined; they begged he would teach them any other branch of the manufacture. They understood, they said, that original designers were so little in demand, owing to the prevalence of copying at Manchester, that when their sons were educated as designers they would be unable to find employment. The hon. Member for Kilkenny was anxious to educate the public taste by throwing open public galleries and admitting them to exhibitions of art. All this was most useful, most essential; but he would tell that hon. Member that the public taste was already in advance of the manufacturer. The appreciation of the public already discriminated between the beauty of the productions of France and those at home, and gave double or treble the price for the one that they would for the other. It was now time to educate the designer, and to encourage his employer to give full development to his talents. The one was to be done by schools of design, but the other could only be done by an effectual copyright, such as would protect manufacturers in giving employment to the pupils of those schools when their education was complete. He would not, as he had said, anticipate the arguments upon special clauses of the bill, but would now move the Order of the Day for the House going into committee. He moved that the Speaker do leave the Chair to recommit the bill.

Mr. Hume

objected to the recommittal of the bill, as it was contrary to the rules of the House. He begged the Clerk would read the motion upon which the bill was first introduced to the House, and they would then learn what were the intentions of the hon. Member.

The Clerk read the Order of the 9th of February, as follows: Designs Copyright—acts relating thereto read; considered in committee;— (In committee.) Resolved, that the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a bill for extending the term of copyright in designs for printing woven fabrics and paper hangings. Resolution reported; bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Emerson Tennent and Mr. O'Connell.

Mr. Hume

wished to know whether the hon. Gentleman meant to introduce glass, metal, carpets, and other articles in that bill, when that resolution was agreed to. Me complained that the House and the country were taken by surprise, because the rules of the House carefully guarded against any alteration being made in matters affecting the trade or commerce of the country, and they required that every such alteration should be made in a committee of the whole House. Resolutions ought to have been proposed in committee to include gluss, metals, as well as woven fabrics and paper hangings. He submitted, that no such matters being included in the resolution, the hon. Gentleman's bill was irregular, and having stated thus much, he hoped to hear if there was any resolution of the House, or any instruction to the committee to depart from the rule laid down so carefully for so many years.

Mr. Labouchere

said, he did not rise to express any opinion on the technical point that had been raised. The rule was, that all bills relating to matters of trade should be introduced in committee, but on questions like the present, the House only required a resolution of a general nature. The hon. Member said the hon. Gentleman opposite had attempted to take the House by surprise, but if the hon. Member recollected the discussion that took place on the second reading, the hon. Member would allow that this was not the case. It was then, he believed, unanimously agreed, that whatever might be the opinions respecting particular points of the bill, that the law on this subject, instead of being scattered in four or five, acts of Parliament should be collected into a single bill; and, therefore, to go into committee on the present occasion, could not be a surprise on the House. He should regret, that any technical point should prevent their proceeding to the discussion of the bill in Committee. The hon. Member had objected to glass, metals, &c, being included in the bill, and said that the question had not been raised before; but it should be remembered, that they were about to consolidate the laws on copyright of designs. It was therefore, not right to object to the course adopted as unfair, because the bill which had been drawn up for particular cases, had now become a general bill.

Mr. Warburton

said, that if a bill were introduced into the House, affecting trade and manufactures, and during the progress of the bill, it was desired to introduce a clause affecting any particular trade or manufacture not before mentioned in the bill, that clause must be introduced in a committee of the whole House. It was like a money clause in a bill. The House at present did not know what part of the bill was original, and what was not; and he would suggest to the hon. Gentleman, that he should follow the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade, to reprint the bill, with indications in the margin as to what was the old law, and what was new.

Mr. Williams

said, that on the second reading of the bill, the hon. Member had been requested to consolidate all the acts relating to copyright of design. But the bill now under discussion contained many important provisions, which were not to be found in the bill as it stood when it was read a second time, nor in any of the acts which it purported to consolidate. He wished to draw the attention of the House to three most important articles of manufacture, in which it was proposed to make great alterations. It was proposed to extend the copyright of designs on carpets, on glass, and on shawls, from twelve months to three years. There were also other most important provisions which were not to be found in the bill as it stood when it was originally introduced, nor in any of the laws at present in existence on the subject which it was proposed to consolidate. There was one provision of this nature of great importance, which had been introduced into this bill, and of which all those interested in the trade ought certainly to have had due notice. By the 6th clause it was provided that no person should apply such design to any manufacture, or any part or portion of such design, either by adding to such design, or subtracting or taking any parts or portions from such design. Now, what would be the effect of that clause? Why, if any calico printer ordered his designer to furnish ten or fifteen patterns, containing the common objects which usually entered into the composition of patterns, it would be perfectly impossible for any patterns to be drawn by any other person during the continuance of the copyright. He entirely acquitted the hon. Member of any intention of producing such an extraordinary effect, but the fact was, the hon. Member for Belfast had undertaken to legislate on a subject with which he had no practical acquaintance, and that such, therefore, should be the effects of his legislation could not be a matter of surprise. A measure of such importance to manufacturers generally ought not to be left to the care of an individual Member. The Government ought to have taken up the subject, and no one was so fitted to introduce such a measure as the President of the Board of Trade. It was too much that a question of this great importance should be left to be brought forward by Gentlemen who were totally unacquainted with those manufactures which were to be so much affected by this bill. The object should be deeply and seriously considered by the Government before they undertook to support a bill which would effect so great a change in many important branches of our manufactures. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the bill had stated to the House that he intended to make many important alterations in the bill. He understood that it was also the intention of Gentlemen who were opposed to this bill to propose extensive alterations. Now be thought that the alterations to be proposed by the promoters as well as the opponents of the bill ought to be submitted to the House before it was proceeded with in committee. The bill as it then stood was encumbered with many unwise provisions. It was very necessary that they should see what alterations were intended to be made. He therefore, hoped that the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the bill would give the House a fair opportunity of going into the question. This was the more desirable, because the subject was only understood by very few Members of that House. He would undertake to say that there were not twenty Members of that House who could judge of the practical effect of this legislation upon the trade of the country. He hoped the hon. Gentleman, in justice both to the House and to himself, would consent to have the bill reprinted with the alterations which he himself intended to propose, as well as the amendments which were intended to be proposed by the opponents of the bill.

Mr. Mark Philips

thought it only due to the hon. Member for Belfast, to declare his belief, that he had not taken any steps in reference to this measure, which could justly draw upon him the animadversion of the House. He was quite certain that the hon. Member had not introduced the additional subjects into the bill, without the knowledge and concurrence of the House. But the question for consideration was, whether in the steps which had been taken with reference to this bill, they had adhered to the strict rule applicable in such cases. They ought to have gone into a Committee of the whole House, upon the proposal to consolidate the former acts in reference to this subject, and he trusted that the House would adhere to the regular course. In making this remark he had no intention to delay the measure any more than was absolutely necessary. He was quite prepared to go on with it, if such were the decision of the House, but he must say, that some of the clauses of the bill were not so generally known as they should be, and as the hon. Gentleman had intimated his intention of making some further alterations, he would suggest to him, whether it would not be better to have the bill reprinted before it was considered by the Committee. Perhaps the Speaker would have the kindness to state what was his opinion upon the point of form. He apprehended that they ought first to have gone into Committee on all the subjects mentioned in the bill, but that, if they had omitted what was regular with reference to some of those subjects, they were still in a position to go into Committee on the clauses of the bill which did not refer to them. It was a question of convenience to the parties out of doors whether it would be better to go partially into Committee, or wait until the bill had been printed, with the amendments.

Sir Robert Peel

said, the standing order of the House was, that no bill relating to trade, or the alteration of laws concerning trade, should be brought into the House, until in provisions had been first considered by a Committee of the whole House, and agreed to by the House. He thought it would be too much to contend, when the bill had been brought in, in pursuance of a resolution of the House, and at a subsequent stage, it was proposed to append to it an article not originally included, that it was absolutely necessary to have a distinct committee in reference to that particular article. If for instance, in the case of a bill relating to linen, cotton, and muslins, it was proposed to add calico, it would, in his opinion, be perfectly open in committee upon the bill, to add calico, without going through the form of a resolution. In the present instance, glass undoubtedly was not an object similar to those originally included in the bill. They ought not to legislate in reference to glass, without giving the glass manufacturers the advantage of the decision of a Committee of the House upon that subject. It appeared to him, that the main point of difference was, the extent of the measure. The question with which the House would have to deal was, the extent of the protection; and it appeared to him that it would be desirable to adopt the course pursued by the noble Lord in reference to the Poor-law, namely, to take the sense of the House upon one or two main points. It would be very satisfactory to those who were waiting in London to know what was the sense of the House, in reference to the articles to be included.

Mr. Hume

appealed to the Speaker, whether, in point of form, they could proceed with the bill. It proposed to alter the laws relating to trade in a variety of articles, and with respect to them, the bill was not founded upon a resolution of the whole House in Committee. If the rule was a good one, as he believed it was, it ought to be adhered to strictly, as it had been on former occasions.

Mr. Goulburn

wished to state how the case stood. On the 9th of February, his hon. Friend, the Member for Belfast obtained leave to bring in a bill, founded upon a resolution of a Committee of the whole House, for altering the law of copyright, with respect to woven fabrics of cotton, &c, and the bill, in strict conformity, be brought in. In the discussion on the second reading of the bill, it was suggested that the principles of the bill might be extended, with great advantage, to other manufactures, and the committee was instructed accordingly. Under such circumstances, he apprehended that the rule was this—the committee might proceed with the bill, for it was clear that if the House gave an instruction to a committee, which they had not power to do, on the third reading, those clauses which violated the forms of the House would be struck out. The bill had been brought in strictly in conformity with the terms of the resolution. On the second reading, it had been suggested by a right hon. Gentleman connected with the Government, that it would be desirable to extend the bill, and that it should refer to and consolidate the laws relating to the copyright in other articles than those mentioned in the original resolution, and an instruction had been given to the committee on the bill to that effect. Now the question was, whether it was competent to give such an instruction, no resolution having been previously taken relative to those other articles which it was proposed to affect. He believed the usual course, when an instruction to the committee on a bill was improperly given, was to proceed with those clauses which were not affected by such instruction, omitting those clauses in respect to which the rules of the House had been violated, to be introduced at the third reading, the authority of a Committee of the whole House being in the mean time obtained, or rejected as contrary to the rules of the House.

The Speaker

apprehended, that nothing could be more regular than the manner in which the bill had been originally introduced; but at a subsequent period an instruction was given to the committee on the bill to insert clauses relating to certain other articles of trade, not stated in the original resolution of the committee on which the bill was founded. Now, there could be no doubt that, if any change of the law as to any one of those articles of trade were proposed, such alteration should be founded on a resolution passed in a committee of the whole House to consider the act relating to those particular articles. He apprehended, however, that there could be no objection to going into committee for the purpose of considering the other clauses of the bill. If the instruction only contem- plated a consolidation of the existing laws, no previous resolution, he apprehended, would be necessary; but if it were intended to alter those laws, there could be no doubt that such a resolution must be taken.

Mr. Warburton,

with great deference to the opinion expressed by the Chair, imagined that if they were to go into Committee with the view of proceeding only with those clauses which were in accordance with the existing law, and excluding from their consideration all that related to any alteration of the law, they would find great difficulty in proceeding at all with the bill as it now stood.

Mr. E. Tennent

found the objections so numerous, and the difficulties so increasing, that he must consent to the suggestion of the right hon. the President of the Board of Trade. He would go into committee, pro formâ; but, considering the great importance of the bill, and the interest taken in it by both sides of the House, he trusted the noble Lord would consent to give him an early day for its consideration.

Lord J. Russell,

being most anxious to proceed with the Poor-law Amendment Bill, could not give the hon. Member any other day, before Easter, than Wednesday next.

Sir R. Peel

said, as his hon. Friend, from the course which the discussion had taken, would, of necessity, have to make many alterations, he could not be expected to go into committee, pro formâ, immediately; he could not be prepared to strike out the clauses respecting glass, &c, on the moment. It should then be postponed till to-morrow, that the bill could be reprinted in the state in which it would be submitted to a committee of the whole House.

Mr. Hume

suggested, that the bill should be withdrawn altogether, and a new bill introduced, which, he was satisfied, would meet with no opposition till it arrived at its present stage.

Sir R. Peel

thought the most judicious course would be to bring in a new bill. From the disposition the hon. Member had shown to meet the views of the House, he was satisfied, that no obstacles would be thrown in the way of advancing it to its present stage.

Mr. Sheil

said, there appeared to be a general feeling, that the bill should be withdrawn. He must say, however, that be was partly to blame, because he had suggested to the hon. Member to consolidate all the acts referring to Copyright of Designs. The suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, to let the bill drop, and bring in a new one, appeared to be a wise one. He could then take a resolution which would form a basis sufficiently extensive to embrace all the points included in his bill.

Sir George Clerk

thought leave might be given to bring in a bill to-morrow, and the discussion in committee might take place next week.

Motion withdrawn.

Copyright of Designs Acts read, and a committee thereupon ordered on the following day.