HC Deb 12 February 1895 vol 30 cc562-4
SIR W. H. HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can state to the House the quantities of raw cotton imported into this country, and the quantities of cotton yarns exported in each of the five years 1890 to 1894, inclusive, and the percentage of increase or decrease during that period.


I presume that the hon. Member put this question down on account of the statement I made and the figures I used the other night, which were to show that in the year 1894 there had been no marked or special falling off in the volume of the cotton trade. I will not give all the figures in detail, but the figures which the hon. Member asks for will be found, as regards the importation of the raw material of cotton, in the Board of Trade Returns for December 1894, p. 34, and the last number of the Statistical Abstract, p. 85. There is a little difficulty in all these Returns, arising from the fact that in some instances the figures are given in hundredweights and in others in pounds. The figures for 1894, in pounds, were 1,788,116,512—i.e., 372,000,000 more than in the preceding year, 1893. It is objected that the year 1893 was affected by the cotton strike, but the figures for 1894 were 13,000,000 higher than those for 1892. They are 206,000,000 lower than those for 1891, the year of great prosperity; but only 5,000,000 lower than those for 1890; while they are 80,000,000 higher than the average of the last 15 years. It is upon that ground that I stated there was no exceptional fall in the year 1894. Then as to cotton yarn, figures for this will be found in the Board of Trade Returns for December 1894 p, 58: and the last Statistical Abstract, p. 91. The figures for 1894 were 236,000,000 1bs., or 30,000,000 more than in the year 1893, and 3,000,000 more than in the year 1892. They are 9,000,000 less than in 1891 and 22,000,000 less than in 1890. They are, more, however, than they were 15 years ago. This does not show any special fall in the year 1894, which is better than the two preceding years, but not so good as the years of great prosperity, 1890 and 1891. I observe that the hon. Member makes no inquiry as to the export of piece goods, for obvious reasons. It will be seen by the Board of Trade Returns for December, 1894, p. 68 and the Statistical Abstract, p. 91, that the export of piece goods was 5,312,753,900 yards, by far the highest figure yet recorded—660,000,000 more than in 1893; 439,000,000 more than in 1892; and 188,000,000 more than inl890, the highest figure previously reached, Therefore, it is clear that on this head the volume of trade has not diminished, but increased. I referred to the evidence that employment in textile factories had not diminished (Statistical Abstract, p. 182) It is true that those are returns which are only given at five years' interval, and only come down to the year 1890. Therefore, these figures do not apply to the last five years; but, taking the Returns from 1870 to 1890, it will be found that the spindles and the persons employed have increased in number. In 1870 the power looms were 440,000; in 1890 they were 615,000; the persons employed in 1870 were 450,000, and in 1890, 528,000; or 78,000 more. I am sorry I am not able to give the figures for the last five years, which, of course, are of importance, but I think I have given, as far as I can, the facts on which I based my statement that there was no exceptional depression an the year 1894.

SIR W. H. HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)

said the reason why he had not referred to piece goods was that the right hon. Gentleman had not referred to them in his statement.

MR. G. WHITELEY (Stockport)

asked if the figures were not, in some respects, misleading, and whether the large increase in piece goods towards the end of 1894 was not entirely due to the expectation that the cotton duties would be re-imposed, but that they would not be reimposed till March.


I do not think the figures are at all misleading for the purpose for which I gave them. I did not use them at all with reference to profits, but with regard to the amount of employment. What you have got to look at is the quantity of material worked; and I admit, of course, that in the thriving times of 1890 and 1891 things were better, and that in the years of 1892 and 1893 they were worse. In 1894, they were better than in 1893.