§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. JAMES RANKIN (Herefordshire, Leominster)
I rise, Sir, to move the Second Reading of the Corn Sales Bill. As it is a matter which I am afraid is somewhat dry and uninteresting, I will endeavour to state the case for the Bill as briefly and concisely as I possibly can. The objects of the Bill are extremely simple. Its chief objects are three. The first object is to bring about a uniformity in the methods of dealing in corn. The second is to lay down a rule that the method shall be by a reference to standard of weight, and not a standard of measure. The third is that the weight so to be used shall be a cwt. of 112lbs. The first two of these objects are undoubtedly matters of principle in the Bill. The third object—namely, that of the introduction of the cwt. of 112lbs.—although it is a matter of great importance, is not altogether one of the chief principles of the Bill, although it is a very important detail. I would say at once that this Bill does not in any way seek to introduce new weights or any alteration of our present ordinary system of weights and measures. It is not an indirect attempt to bring in a metric system or a decimal system, or anything of the kind. We intend to take the weights in existence, based, as the House is aware, upon the Imperial standard, and although those weights are based on a thoroughly unscientific unit, and might be much improved, so long as we are willing to take that unscientific standard of unit the promoters of this Bill have nothing to say against it. Before I proceed to explain in detail this Measure, I should like to say a few words as to the necessity for this Bill. In doing so I cannot do better than bring before the notice of the House two Returns, one a Board of Trade Return of 1879, and the other a Board of Trade Return also, presented in 1893 by Mr. Bateman to the Select Committee which sat upon this particular subject. In alluding to those Returns it will only be necessary for 536 me to trouble the House with a very few quotations in order to show the extraordinary number of different weights and measures which are at present in use for the sale of corn throughout the country, and the dire confusion which at present exists. According to Mr. Bateman's Return there are no fewer than 124 different weights and measures and so-called weighed measures, which are in use at the present time, although, of the last-named, there were no fewer than 110 in use in the different towns where the Corn Returns were collected, although those weighed measures are really not measures at all. These measures are very varied in their character; there is the bushel, quarter, coomb, boll of two or three different measures, and a variety of others, which I need not now refer to, and a great many of these are different in different towns. The weights are not so dissimilar; they may be summed up into three—the hundredweight, which is 112 lbs.; the cental, which is 100lbs.; and the stone, which is 14lbs.; and then we come to the weight measures, which are most numerous, most confusing, and most unscientific. Of these there are no less than 110 in use in the different towns from which the Corn Returns were collected. Now what are these weighted measures? If you ask the people in the different districts what they sell by, they will say they sell by the bushel, but if you probe them you will find it is not by the bushel measure at all, but some weighted standard which represents that measure. There are 110 of these weighted standards; they are not measures at all, and are of different weights in different parts of the country. The "bushel measure" never once comes into question except, for putting the grain into the sack; therefore, so far as the measures are concerned, there are very few measures in use in this country, except the ordinary bushel. Now there is a custom, which is called the Scotch custom, which makes it obligatory on the part of the seller to weigh up his grain to a standard measure. It is, to my mind, a very clever and useful arrangement, for the reason that it gives an indication of the quality of the corn sold; because, as everybody knows, a heavy corn is much better in quality 537 than a lighter corn, and that 100lbs. of heavy corn is much more valuable than 100lbs. of light corn, and, therefore, it is not at all a bad arrangement. But though this practice is carried out very conveniently in Scotland, they nevertheless sell there as much by weight, and witnesses who gave evidence before the Select Committee which sat in 1893 said that if the grain was not sold in that way it was weighed up to the amount that was stipulated for. Now, we know it is an impossibility to weigh grain which does not itself weigh the proper amount, but you can make up that weight if you add to it a little more, and that is what is done under those circumstances. Most of the Scotch witnesses seemed to consider that they had fulfilled their bargain to the letter when they had handed over to the buyer a grain of so many pounds to the bushel. But these "weighed measures," as they are called, are very confusing. They are confusing in two things—in the weight and the measure, which cannot be scientifically made to agree at all. Now, the difficulty which arises from this enormous variety of weights and measures is that the quotation of the prices in each different market, varies and differs for the same thing. In Hereford, for instance, the bushel is 62lbs., and in Monmouth the bushel contains 80lbs., although the people there are now beginning to use another weight. In Shropshire it varies from 65lbs. to 75lbs., while in another district it is a more curious weight still, being 73 1–3lbs. I should, I am afraid, weary the House if I take them through all the varieties of weights and measures that are given in this Return, but I would strongly advise any hon. Member who is interested in the Measure now before the House to look at the Board of Trade Return on this subject. Now, I would just like, while I am upon this part of the subject, to quote a letter which I have received from a gentleman very largely connected with corn sales, and I would point out that the great difficulty which arises in this matter is that the small dealers buy their grain by weight and sell it by the measure, and, of course, very often the weight of the bushel measure is not nearly so great as that at which the dealer has bought, and, therefore, he gets the turn upon the two 538 weights. For instance, they very often purchase at 42lbs. to the bushel, and sell by measure a bushel, which only weighs 38lbs., thereby gaining 4lbs. upon every bushel sold. It is not fraud, I know, because the purchaser asks for a bushel and he gets it, but at the same time I do not think it is fair to him, because, he does not know that the bushel at which the dealer buys and at which he sells are bushels of a different quantity. Now here is a letter from Mr. William Warburton, written some time ago. He was then the President of the Corn Exchange, Manchester, and in it he says that it cannot be disputed that many of the gentlemen who are opposing this Bill are grain and horse provender dealers, who buy by a certain weight and sell by measure, and he points out what I have already drawn the attention of this House to upon that subject—the dealers getting the turn between the two weights—and, therefore, I need not now repeat his words. That is a letter from a miller who knows the state of the country, and I think from that it will be seen that there is a very considerable amount of advantage to be derived from a certain method being adopted for the purpose of dealing with the state of confusion which exists in the weights and measures at the present time. But that is the reason why in some quarters the opposition to this measure arises. I think I shall be able to show in a short time that the opposition is very small indeed. Now there is also a great difference in the measures upon which freights are charged. On wheat from the River Plate it is on the 2,240lbs.—that, of course, is a ton. From Bombay it is on 2,216 lbs., and the freights from other places that I need not mention show the diversity and confusion which exists at the present time. This Bill, of course, would not affect the freights, but there is no doubt that if it is passed, and the uniform standard created, it would be very soon adopted by the shippers. There was so much difficulty arising out of the weights and measures with regard to the Corn Returns that it was found necessary, in 1882, to bring in the Corn Returns Act, which was brought in and passed by the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Under that Act it was laid down that the equivalent of a bushel for wheat, 539 barley, and oats should be 60lbs., 50lbs,, and 39lbs. respectively. That was a very great step forward, and assists in a very great degree to bring about the principle of uniformity, for it is now quite an easy matter to commute those bushels into one bushel, and so bring it into line with the ordinary bushel. But I would point out that when this Act was passed there was still a considerable amount of confusion, because many farmers make their return by the bushel, when in reality the sale was a sale by weight. So much for the state of confusion which now exists. I did not wish to weary the House, and therefore I have passed over these statistics very rapidly. I will now draw the attention of the House to, and deal with, the opinions upon the Bill. This is a very important matter. Of course I need hardly say I should never have attempted to introduce a Bill of this description into the House had it not been for the fact that I have been urged to do so through the opinions of the agriculturists, millers, and others. This is no fad of my own, although I do think that the state of the case is so bad—I might almost say disgraceful—that it certainly ought to be rectified. With regard to the opinions upon this Bill, naturally the opinions one would deal with first are those of the farmers. Now I have a list of 45 Chambers of Agriculture the whole of which have passed resolutions in favour of the first two objects of this Bill. First, there should be uniformity, and second, that that uniformity should be by weight. I do not in this Bill say what the weight should be, but a large number of the Chambers of Agriculture have done so. Let me take first the Central Chamber of Agriculture—the most important one in the Kingdom, and the focus of all the Chambers of Agriculture in this country—I find the Central Chamber of Agriculture has passed no less than eight resolutions in favour of this Motion—most of them in favour of this Bill of mine. I should tell the House that this Bill is by no means a new measure. It has been before the House, and the country for a very long time, and is very well understood. It was first introduced in 1883, and since then it has been brought forward five or six times, although only once has it been fortunate 540 enough to get as far as the Second Reading, and it was then suggested that the Debate should be adjourned in order that the views might be ascertained of a deputation which was then about to wait upon the President of the Board of Agriculture. We all know what the chances are of private Members getting their Bills through after that. It was never heard of again, and I was not fortunate enough to get the ballot again until now. Well, there have been eight resolutions passed by the Central Chamber of Agriculture upon this subject, the whole of which recognise and approve of the principles of the Bill which I introduced, except that they differ as to the weight to be adopted formerly they preferred the cental, and they now prefer the hundredweight, but that is only a detail. The great object of the Bill is uniformity, and as lately as this month—on the 6th of April—there was a resolution passed by the Central Chamber of Agriculture approving this Bill. I notice that there is not that agreement with the President of the Board of Agriculture as to the opposition to this Bill. I find that in almost every case where intelligent opinion has been appealed to it has always been in favour of the uniformity of weights and measures. But, of course, it is only natural that when the question arises as to what the uniform weight shall be, every district with a weight of its own prefers that weight to any other, and would not like to see that altered. Now, here I have the opinions of 45 Chambers of Agriculture, but those opinions have been challenged, and it was contended that they did not represent the opinions of the farmers. Well, if they do not represent the farmers' opinions, then I do not know where to find them. It is certainly impossible to go about asking the farmers what their opinion is upon the existing weights and measures, and if it were possible and that was done it would be of no use, because the question can be so put to the farmer that you will always receive such a reply as you desire. It is very easy to say to a farmer: "Look here, you do not want your weights and measures destroyed, do you?" and, of course, he would say "No." If, on the other hand, you said: "Do not you think it would be very much 541 better to have a universal measure?" then he would say "Yes." The farmers, as a body, like and desire to have uniformity, but the resolutions which have been come to have differed to that extant that some have been in favour of the cental and some in favour of the hundredweight. In 1883 the farmers were in favour of the cental, and now they stand for the hundredweight. I am myself quite indifferent as to which weight you take, because the great object of this Bill is to ensure uniformity in the weight rather than which weight shall be adopted as the standard. Now, having disposed of the opinion of the Chambers of Agriculture and the farmers' clubs, I pass on to the millers' associations and clubs. Eleven of these millers' associations have passed resolutions for this uniformity of weight, and no less than 34 corn merchants, who have extensive transactions all over the country, have also written letters approving the principles of the Bill. It would seem that in London people are opposed to this Measure, but they can give no sound or good reason for their opposition. I have here a letter, written in 1890 from a gentleman in Newport, Monmouthshire, Mr. Charles D. Phillips, the then President of the Monmouth Chamber of Agriculture, who had for this purpose sent out circulars asking certain questions, and to which he had received replies. Now, the first question he asked was: "Do you consider it to be of advantage that corn should be sold by a uniform weight or measure?" Out of the 85 replies which Mr. Phillips received, 84 were "Yes," and one "No." The next question in this circular was: "If so, do you prefer a weight or a measure of capacity?" and, in reply, 80 answers were for weight and five were for measure. Now it is quite apparent from these answers that there is no doubt in the minds of the farmers generally that they prefer uniformity of weight. Then there was another question put: "If a weight, what weight?" and with regard to the answer to that question I quite agree there is some difference of opinion. The answers are almost equally divided: there are 29 answers in favour of the hundredweight, or 112lbs., and 21 in favour of the cental, or 100lbs. Now, passing from that part of the subject, I come to the witnesses who were examined 542 before the Select Committee which sat upon this question in 1893. There were a great number of gentlemen, who were well qualified to give an opinion upon this subject, who gave evidence upon this point. I could not presume to quote largely from the Report of that Committee, or probably I might occupy the whole of the afternoon, but it is evident that a great majority of the witnesses were in favour of uniformity in weight; but I must, at the same time, admit that a considerable body of the witnesses were in favour of selling barley by measure. In the Eastern counties there are a great number of farmers who desire that the sale of barley should be by measure, but nearly all of them prefer to sell wheat and oats by weight, and the exception is, so far, only as barley is concerned. Now, Mr. Clare Sewell Read was one of the gentlemen who gave evidence upon this point, and, although he strongly contended that there should be measure and not weight for the sale of barley, he had to admit that if they had to sell it by weight, the Norfolk farmers would not object to 50lbs. as being the weight of the bushel. Now, I was a member of that Committee, and I questioned Mr. Read upon this subject. I said, "Then I understand you to mean that the minds of the Norfolk farmers are so instilled and imbued with the idea of the bushel measure, that they could not sell by any other reference whatever?" Mr. Read's answer was, "I say they could in time, but they would very much object to it, and it would take a long time to educate them." I then said, "I was a little surprised to hear you say that they would not object to the 50lbs., knowing the views of the Norfolk farmers, but I want to get at why you think, if they would not object to the 50lbs., they would object to 100lbs., which is just twice 50?" and he said, "I do not think they would object to it." I then said, "But the 100lbs. is a cental.?" and he answered, "Exactly." Then I put the question, "Therefore, what I want to get at is: do you think they would object to the cental?" Answer, "I do not think they would." I then said, "I am very glad to hear that admission. You do not think that the Norfolk Chamber of Agriculture has had the questions of sales by weight before it?" Answer, "Yes, they have; 543 but not the cental; they have had the question of sale by weight once or twice before them." Therefore the idea of the Norfolk farmers would seem to be that the disadvantage of sales by weight would be the question of the price to be fixed, but if there was no fixed price they could make it what they liked. The weight would be a safeguard, and a reference with regard to the price at which corn was sold. The price, as we know, has nothing to do with weight; the price is fixed by sample and sample alone. A light barley, if it is of better quality and of a better colour, and so forth, than a heavy barley, would not be affected at all by a uniform weight, and it is a fallacy which exists in the minds of the farmers that the price can be affected by the weight. It is the quality of the grain which affects the price. From Newcastle we had evidence which was very strongly in favour of weight, as opposed to measure; and, to a large extent, the evidence went in favour of the hundredweight being the uniform standard, and it is on the recommendation of the Committee itself that I have put the hundredweight into this Bill as the standard weight, instead of that of the cental. I would just like to read the evidence of one other gentleman, Mr. Alexander Macdonald, who is the editor of the Farmer and the Chamber of Agriculture Journal, and which is given on page 83 of the Report. For his own edification, this gentleman sent out a number of inquiries to different parts of the country, and received a number of replies in respect to those inquiries. From 1,216 farmers he received 1,136 answers, which were in favour of a compulsory weight being adopted. Now, that is a very large proportion indeed, to be in favour of any one particular thing, and that evidence alone would dispose of the contention that the farmers, as a general rule, are not at all in favour of a compulsory weight. Then he sent out a number of inquiries to millers, merchants, maltsters, etc., the replies from whom showed a distinct and large majority in favour of a compulsory weight. Then I should just like to quote the findings of the Committee. It was a Select Committee, and comprised a great many Members not in favour of the idea, and who repre- 544 sented certain constituencies whose views, of course, had been elicited—The Committee therefore recommend: 1st. That the sale of all cereals and the products thereof should in future be conducted in Great Britain as in Ireland by a reference to the hundredweight, or 112 Imperial pounds, and that no other weight or measure should be carried out in Great Britain to give effect to this recommendation. 2nd. They also recommend, that in every case where conversion of weighed, measure takes place the weights laid down in Section 8 of the Corn Returns Act, 1882, viz., 60lbs. for wheat, 50 for barley, and 39 for oats, as the units of conversion for wheat, barley, and oats, should always be published in the Return of Corn Sold in the London Gazette,. and a statement made to the effect that the prices quoted in the Gazette are the prices for the quarter of 8 bushels of such statutory weights. 3rd. Your Committee recommend, however, that the weight of the bushel of oats should be raised from 39 to 40lbs.It was that finding that encouraged us once more to ask the House for permission to introduce this Bill; and I am glad, at all events, of the opportunity it affords for discussion, and I hope it will secure a Second Reading. Recently petitions have been presented from a great variety of different Chambers—from Cleveland, from the North Riding of Yorkshire, from the Cheshire Union—which takes in a very large number of different Chambers—from Gloucester, Worcester, Derby, Kendal, Warwickshire, and other places. That shows that there is still a desire that this Measure should be passed. I might remark in passing that I have asked for this very often during the last 15 years, and I have no evidence that there has been any great change, of opinion in the country. There has been a feeling in favour of uniformity, and it has been a question of weight versus measure. I should like to say that there is evidence that the opinion of those who have practical dealings with the matter is in favour of weight rather than measure, because grain can be handled much more accurately by weight than by measure. We all know it is very easy to make the same bushel contain very different weights. It is easy, indeed to take oats, for instance, or barley, and make a difference very often of five, six, or seven pounds between the weight of one bushel and another. That is evidence that weight is a very much better standard of reference than measure. Now, 545 Sir, I think I have said enough upon that point to show the general drift of opinion. There is only one other class of opinion I will refer to, and that is the opinion of those who, though agreeing with weight, would like to see a set of weights for each different grain—that is to say, to carry out the principle of the Act of 1882. That is certainly an advance upon the position in which we stand now, but it would not be a satisfactory measure, because there are so many different grains. If we were only dealing with the three chief grains—wheat, oats, and barley—it would be different, but there are many other grains which have to be dealt with, and we should have to have at least a dozen ordinary weights for the different grains. That is the view taken by men well versed in this matter. To my mind it is a halting measure. I will now deal with the question of what weight it ought to be. That is an important detail. The only two before the country at all are the cental and the hundredweight. The cental was at one time, in the early eighties, the favourite weight with agriculturists. It had the strong recommendation that it was the weight used in the port of Liverpool, through which a very large amount of grain passed. For various reasons the opinion has changed among agriculturists, although it is unchanged with regard to the views of the port of Liverpool. They now prefer that the hundredweight should be the weight used, rather than the cental. The first reason is that the railway companies charge by the hundredweight, and that is a very substantial and good reason; secondly, statistics are made up in hundredweights by the Board of Trade; and, thirdly, the weights are the common weights which nearly every farmer possesses. Really, that difficulty about the weights is somewhat of a bogey. The weight is very convenient of itself, and a majority of people seem to desire it at the present time. I would point out that if you adopt the first two principles of this Bill—namely, uniformity and weight as against measure—it is necessary that some one or two weights should be fixed upon. You might possibly go in for the cental and the hundredweight, but that would be rather a rift in the idea of the Bill, though it would be a consider- 546 able approach towards uniformity. Everybody would have his particular weights, and it is, therefore, necessary to determine which weight it should be. I will admit that the change from the customary weight is a thing which may give rise to a little soreness, perhaps to a little trouble at first, while I am free to admit that I think that it would very soon be got over. Tables would be drawn up showing the comparative value of the hundredweight as compared with the bushel sold in the market. I do not think there would be very much difficulty. Such a thing as time—a very much more important matter—was changed in the middle of last century, and there was no great difficulty about that. So I do not think we need expect any great difficulty in this matter. I am told that there is no precedent for such legislation. That is not quite the case. In 1889 there was a Weights and Measures Bill passed which made coal saleable by weight only. I at that time sought to draft corn on to this Bill as well as coal, and I met with a large amount of success. Certainly, the Grand Committee was not on the whole against me. The principle was very generally accepted. Why coal should be sold by weight any more than corn is a matter I do not quite see. On the contrary, I see some good reason why corn should be sold by weight as well. The reason was, that selling coal by measure was open to a great amount of fraud. Now, selling corn by measure is also open to a certain amount of fraud and inconvenience. Therefore, I hope this House will not be frightened in this matter, and think that this is an infraction of the rights of the public, for they have themselves done the same thing in laying it down that a commodity in very general use shall be sold by weight. To pass to another point in the Bill, as to the grain to be included, we come to a much more difficult matter. There are a great many different grains in this country, and it is difficult to include them all. It would be rather a halting measure if some grains were left out. My own idea would be that this Bill should include all those grains which are included in the natural orders of Graminaecœ cerealiœ and leguminousœ—or grasses and peas. I am aware that 547 scientific definitions do not always carry favour in this House, and, as far as this Bill is concerned, it includes all the ordinary grasses. That is a clause which, of course, it would be easy to modify. I strongly recommend, if the Bill goes into Committee, that a wider and more scientific definition should be placed in the Bill. The next point I wish to lay before the House is the penalty. It has been suggested to me that this penalty is not sufficient. I should be very sorry if that should be so. This thing is a matter which ought to be brought on gently. I think the voiding of the contract is a sufficient punishment in the first place. That, of course, is a matter which can be dealt with later on in Committee, if the Committee are inclined to deal with it. That is the view held by most of the persons with whom I have had an opportunity of speaking on the subject. I should be very sorry indeed to see any other penalty placed upon the Bill except that of voiding the contract. It will be perceived that in the Bill there is an exemption of small quantities of corn under a hundredweight. The people who deal in small quantities seem to be anxious not to come under this Bill, though I personally should like that they should do so. I am sorry not to see my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon in his place, because he was very strong against this matter, and was one of the witnesses on the Select Committee. There is another gentleman, the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Dublin, who tells us that in Ireland they have had legislation essentially the same as this for years. The Irish people are very much in favour of it, and I should be very sorry indeed if they were not. I have gone through the principal points in this proposal, and I hope I have not wearied the House by quotations and figures. The present system amounts almost to a disgrace. Everybody admits it, but they do not wish their own particular weight interfered with. The Select Committee told us that they thought that in a very short time after the weight was laid down farmers and millers and dealers would soon fall into a line with it. I move the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. R. J. MORE (Salop,) Ludlow
I think it unnecessary to trouble the House with many facts and figures. I second the Second Reading of the Bill, because I was Chairman of the Select Committee which sat on the subject, and continued its investigations for part of three Sessions. During that time there was plenty of opportunity for adverse witnesses. We had witnesses from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and nearly every county in England—at all events, from every grain-growing county; and the result of that evidence and the decision of the Committee were in favour of selling by weight, and of that weight being the hundredweight. Some hon. Members who have not paid much attention to this question may think it is a question affecting one class. If it is a question of class, that class is one which was stated by Mr. Read in his evidence to be the largest interest in England. It is also, as he stated, the weakest interest. My hon. Friend has spoken of the opinion of the Chambers of Agriculture. Those are not the only large organisations. There is the London Farmers' Club, and the National Agricultural Union, which passed a unanimous resolution in favour of this Bill. That resolution was seconded by an eastern county man, a representative of Lincolnshire, who was strongly in favour of the hundredweight. This, I say, is not a question of one class. When the agricultural interest was strong in the House a Committee of 41 Members examined this question, and reported that the public had a right to know the true prices of grain. The daily bread of everyone is dependent upon it. They have a right to know the cost of the bread they eat. Four millions worth of clerical tithes are dependent on the price of cereals, and also, to a great extent, the fixing of those rents of which we hear so much in this House. I cannot conceive any point on which this House would more readily oblige all classes of the community than by providing that the buyer should get from the seller what he bargained for. Mr. Chaney, of the Standard Department, gave us conclusive evidence in favour of weight being the measure as between buyer and seller. This legislation was 549 passed by the Irish Parliament, a fact well known to hon. Members from Ireland, and I hope some of them will be here to support the Bill. The hundredweight was made statutory in Ireland by the Irish Parliament, and it prevails very generally. There are 600 markets where the hundredweight practically rules. There was also a resolution passed by the Corn Exchange of Glasgow in favour of a uniform weight, and through that Corn Exchange as much corn passes as is sold in all the rest of Scotland. They were at first in favour of the cental, but they afterwards said they would rather have the hundredweight. Some time ago, before the Committee sat, I myself introduced a Bill on this subject. Whereas my hon. Friend introduced a Bill making the cental the weight I introduced a Bill making the hundredweight the weight. It had precedence of other Bills, but it came on just before the General Election, when hon. Members' attention was devoted to their own constituencies. It transpired that the eastern counties made strong objections to it, but the mass of counties, from Scotland to Cornwall, were in its favour. It was agreed to refer the matter to a Committee. The Board of Agriculture had an inquiry. Lincolnshire, which grows the largest amount of grain of any county in England, was for us, Essex was for us, but Norfolk and Suffolk opposed the proposal. I am sorry that these hon. Members—Liberal Members—should support those who have such retrograde views. Mr. Stopes, who has had greater experience with barley than any man living, slated to the Board of Agriculture that he is certain that no transaction in barley has ever taken place without reference to weight. In the eastern counties they have a measure called coomb, which is entirely unknown to other parts of the world. It is stated that it will make no difference whether you sell 100 coombs at 36s. or 93 at 40s., that you get £180 for the one and you get £186 for the heavier, and that the farmer would really gain £6 by the transaction. That is the view of a most experienced judge of barley, and the most practical man in the kingdom. Now, another favourite argument is this fact, which I will call the attention of the House to. When Mr. Gladstone put 550 the duty on beer he ordered that the returns of malt by the brewers should be made in bushels weighing 42lbs. Now, 56lbs. of barley make 42lbs. of malt. That is another strong argument in favour of selling barley by weight. In view of that fact, the idea that eastern counties sell only by measure is really frivolous. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture should be troubled with this subject just after the Easter Vacation, for I fully recognise that he has had trouble enough lately. The question of the Corn Sales Return has lately been taken from the Board of Trade and put under the Board of Agriculture. We find by the Return which was laid before the Committee that grain is always sold by weight. It is extremely annoying to farmers and other people who go from one market or one county to another, and find that the weights are totally different, and it is against the interests of the farmer not to have the weights uniform. There is one point with regard to Norfolk to which I wish to draw attention. My hon. Friend referred to the Corn Returns brought forward by the late President of the Board of Trade, in which barley is to be converted into a weight of 50lbs. Now, as the Norfolk people have returned their barley in measure without regard to weight, they have caused the whole of the tithe-paying community to pay from £2 to £2 13s. a year more for tithes than they needed to have done. That is our strong point, because Norfolk is the largest tithe-paying county in England; it pays more tithes than the whole of Wales, and, as far as we can see, the Norfolk men, or many of them, were not disposed to pay more tithes or anything else at that time. The House is probably aware that the rum our of war has substantially had an effect on the price of wheat. However, Mr. Speaker, I will trouble the House no further than to remind my hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture how grateful the farmers have been to him for what he has done. But, as this has been an old grievance, I hope he will use his influence, as the ballot has been in favour of this Measure, and when this Session is passed we may go back to the farmers and say, 551 "The House of Commons has not forgotten you, but has made a material advance by removing one of your old standing grievances." I beg leave to second.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ MR. ABEL H. SMITH (Christchurch)
My hon. Friends who have just addressed the House on this subject will, I hope, forgive me for saying that, while they make an admirable case in favour of the principle of sale of corn by weight, they have said very little indeed in favour of the hundredweight. I may say that, if they had come down to the House to-day for the purpose of proposing an abstract Resolution in favour of the principle of selling grain by weight, I for one should have been very happy to support them, because I believe that is at the same time a more scientific and accurate way of transacting business. But I must say that I do not think that they have made out a case for the Bill which is now before the House. As the House is aware, this is no new question. My hon. Friends who spoke upon this side of the House have taken great interest in this question for many years, and while I admire the pertinacity and zeal they have shown in this cause, and while I have listened to their arguments to-day with great attention, yet I must say that I still think this Measure ought to be rejected. Now, Sir, my chief reason for saying that is this: I am convinced that the great body of farmers in this country, who are the people most concerned in this matter, are not only not in favour of this Measure, but they view it with very great alarm. But they are not the only opponents, for very large bodies of corn merchants in different parts of the country are also opposed to it. I will not, however, speak from their point of view, because my hon. Friend the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool and the hon. Member for Plymouth are well qualified to speak on behalf of the corn merchants of Liverpool and 552 London respectively. Now, I have said that this was no new question, and I should like to mention a few facts in connection with the history of it. This question of the sale of grain by weight has been under discussion from time to time for upwards of 100 years. As long ago as 1795 a Committee sat to consider the high price of corn then prevailing, just as in the present century we have had many Royal Commissions and Committees to inquire into the low price of corn, and they have reported—That the buying and selling of corn by weight, or by measure regulated by weight, is more certain and less liable to deception than by measure alone.They recorded their opinion—That the standard weight should be the pound, and that the standard bushel should be deemed equal to 60lbs. of wheat, 50lbs. of barley, and 40lbs. of oats, and that all contracts and bargains ought to be taken and adjudged to be according to the standards aforesaid.In 1834 another Committee sat to inquire into the prevailing practice of selling corn, and they found that there were three systems in use at that time, as, indeed, there are now: first, by measure; secondly, weight; and, thirdly, measure with a fixed weight per measure. They also found that a fourth system prevailed, which they described as "measure with the actual weight per measure in each case," which is more or less adopted in all the districts where measure prevails. I suppose they mean by that that in many districts corn was sold by what we now call the "natural" weight. The Committee reported in favour of uniformity of practice, and gave the outlines of a Bill to establish the use of measure combined with actual weight. Well, nothing more appears to have been done until the year 1869, when the Central Chamber of Agriculture took up the question and passed a resolution—That all sales of agricultural produce should be by weight, and that a standard of 100 lbs. should be adopted.This weight was legalised by an Order in Council in 1879, and as we have already 553 heard, this cental is now used in Liverpool, chiefly in the future market, but, has not become popular in other parts of the country. Now we come to the Select Committee, which has already been referred to so often, which sat in the years 1891–93. This Committee found that the ordinary method of selling grain in this country was by what they called "weighed measure" in bushels and quarters, and I think it is an admirable phrase. The most common was 504lbs for wheat for the quarter, 448lbs. for barley, and 336lbs. per quarter for oats. Also 480lbs. and 496lbs. were used for wheat. They also found that the cental was used in Liverpool, and that measure was largely used in the eastern counties, Kent and Sussex, while weight was much used in the North and in the Midlands. They also found, from the bulk of the evidence brought before them, that measure is much more largely used for barley than for other kinds of corn, as was shown by the fact, that in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and Suffolk, all barley is returned as sold by measure, and as much as 90 to 99 per cent. in Hants, Berkshire, Herts, Norfolk, and Kent. If I may be allowed to say so, I think the Report was somewhat inconclusive; it was to the effect that the preponderance of evidence was in favour of the hundredweight of 112lbs. for all sales of corn. "But," they go on say, and I venture to say it is rather a large "But"—A strong case has been made out for the cental, and that the use of the weights fixed for a bushel under the Corn Returns Act. 1882, had many adherents.On this preamble they founded their final recommendation, that the hundredweight should be made compulsory in all cases and all parts of the country. I may here remark that there were only six English Members who took part in the discussion, and they were equally divided, three on each side. At any rate, we may say that there was very little in the result of the investigations of that Committee to prove authoritatively that there was a preponderance of opinion in favour of the hundredweight. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that the great body of farmers do not desire the adoption of this Bill, and I think the description 554 which was given in the Report may be taken as a fairly accurate description of the custom now prevailing throughout the country. Wheat is generally sold by weight, or by weighed measure, which, after all I admit, is the same thing. Barley, for malting, is sold by measure in the eastern and southern counties of England, whilst oats are almost universally sold by weight. Now, the term "bushel" is a generally used term all over the country, and it is one with which people are familiar and know the meaning of perfectly well. But, as has been pointed out, the term is used for all sorts of different weights. I make out that there are 50 different kinds of bushels used in the sale of wheat, about 25 in the case of barley, and about 38 in the case of oats. In Shropshire, which is so ably represented by my hon. Friend who has already spoken, the term "bushel" may mean anything from 56lbs, to 80lbs., and a bushel of barley varies from 50lbs. up to 70lbs. In Cornwall they appear to call anything a bushel—some bushels there are 240lbs. Of course, we must all admit that this leads to very great confusion. But, Sir, I will say that if the farmers and others in Shropshire, and other parts of the northern and midland counties, are so very anxious to secure this uniformity, there is nothing on earth to prevent them securing it for themselves. I cannot imagine why the whole body of farmers in that county, if they are so unanimous on this matter, do not take the thing in hand and settle it for themselves. It appears to me that they have the remedy in their own hands, and there is no reason why they should not agree to adopt any standard weight or measure which they desire. I am anxious not to express an opinion on the legal question, but it seems to me probable that these "bushels," if they are not actually illegal, are, at any rate, contrary to the spirit of the Weights and Measures Act. A bushel is a measure of capacity, containing eight standard gallons. The Corn Returns Act of 1882, which has already been alluded to, lays down that a bushel of corn shall be taken to mean 60lbs. in the case of wheat, 50lbs. in the case of barley, and 39lbs. in the case of oafs. Now, the present Bill is to carry out the recommendation 555 of that Select Committee at which they arrived, but, I venture to say, on insufficient evidence. I would venture to remind the House that it is not an abstract Resolution in favour of the principle of sale by weight. It is a coercion Bill. The object of the Bill is to compel every man who has no familiarity at all with the hundredweight to use that term and no other. This compulsory measure will compel farmers and others to adopt a way of carrying on their business with which they are not familiar, and which they have no desire at all to adopt. I venture to say, Mr. Speaker, that this is a class of legislation to which I for one have a very strong objection. It has been said that the object of the Act is to prevent fraud, and that similar Acts have been passed to control the sales of coal and bread, but I do not think any such argument can be used with anything like equal force in the case of corn. The object of this Bill is not to prevent fraud—that is a laudable object as far as it goes—but to secure a uniform and a more scientific way of selling corn, which will render it much more easy for anyone interested in the matter to ascertain what the price of corn is throughout the country. In my opinion they would be unnecessary rules and regulations, which would interfere with the daily life and the daily business of an important part of the community. I quite admit that it is better to have a uniform system, but an overwhelming necessity must be proved before I would consent to legislation of this class which always fails to destroy well-established customs. Take the case of Ireland, to which my hon. Friend has alluded. It is perfectly true that in the last century legislation was passed making the hundredweight compulsory throughout Ireland. That Act has not resulted in making the hundredweight the prevailing measure in Ireland. I believe it is the case that it is only during the last few years that it has come to be used in Ireland and that even now throughout a very large part of Ireland the old-fashioned weights and measures are still used. If I remember right, reading the evidence of the Member for North Down, he said that it was within his own recollection that the hundredweight, even 556 in the north of Ireland, has come to be generally used. Now, I think that helps to prove my case, which is that such legislation is inefficient, and fails to carry out the object for which it was passed. I will give another instance. I have alluded to the Weights and Measures Act of 1878, and in that Act it was laid down that a stone shall be used for 14 Imperial standard pounds, and yet we see every day that the Smithfield stone of eight pounds is still flourishing, and I venture to think that in the London markets it will continue to flourish for many years to come. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I am not opposed to the principle of selling corn by weight, but I say there is no general agreement as to the best particular weight to adopt for all time, or whether there should be one weight for all kinds of corn, or a separate weight for each, as near as possible, to the natural weight. This Bill proposes the hundredweight, but Liverpool asks for the cental, and London objects to both. Allusion has already been made to that fact before the last Committee. I am not at all certain that if we were to adopt this standard the matter would be at an end. Therefore, until there is some general agreement throughout the country, I shall continue to oppose any such Bill. I believe the time for this reform has not yet come. The corn growers of this country have for many years past been carrying on their business under most unfavourable, and I may say almost ruinous, conditions, and I think it would be a most unfortunate thing if this House, by passing this Measure, were to cause dire confusion and make the position still more unfavourable. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, for the reasons I have endeavoured to explain to the House I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ MR. R. J. PRICE (Norfolk, E.)
I rise to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend, that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. I shall not touch on the historical points of view dealt with very eloquently and very fully by the hon. Members who have already spoken; I should like to deal with it 557 from the point of view of my hon. Friend opposite when he said that this was a case of coercion of a considerable portion of agriculturists by, possibly, a larger number of their brethren elsewhere. It is a fact, which is apparent on the face of the Bill, that it has not been supported, as regards backing, at all events, by any Member who sits for anywhere else than the western or northern portions of this kingdom, and it is also the fact that it is the great corn-growing districts in the eastern and south-eastern counties which are being attacked by this Bill. Now, my hon. Friend opposite spoke somewhat slightingly of our intelligence. He seemed to think that we did not know our own business as well as he knows it for us, and our arguments are said to be retrograde in every respect. The truth of the matter is we are doing the bulk of the business in English barley and wheat, and we entirely understand how to carry on our trade without any assistance from our Friends opposite. More than half the barley in this country is at the present moment sold by measure, and by measure alone, and it is of course, around the barley question that this controversy principally centres, as far as the eastern counties are concerned. My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford spoke of coal as if it were an analogous case to that of corn. It is perfectly obvious that the sale of coal by measure undoubtedly does give an opportunity for very distinct fraud, a fraud at the expense of the poorer part of the community. Coal, as everyone knows, is sold from door to door, and undoubtedly cases of fraud frequently occur. Coal, too, is a commodity which is practically always the same weight, and it can most conveniently be sold by weight, but grain has a different natural weight in all parts of the country. Moreover, dealings in grain are not from door to door, but from farmer to dealer, and from dealer to merchant. As a matter of fact, nobody ever heard of people buying corn at their doors. The ordinary individual buys bread at the door, but not grain. The cases are not analogous in any sense, and my hon. Friend will excuse me, I am sure, for saying so. In the eastern counties we feel that there are objections to the details, and objections to the principle 558 of the Bill. In the proposed change of the law this compulsory order would expose the smaller and poorer farmers to expenses which, though comparatively small, are of importance to them in their present condition. It is admitted by both sides that a considerable number of the sacks now in existence would have to be renewed if the sale of corn by weight were enforced by law.
§ MR. PRICE
Then the railway companies would demand some consideration. Again, every small farmer is not equipped with proper weighing machines. He is not equipped always with the weights which necessarily agree with the weights enforced by the Weights and Measures Act, and the result would be that he would be subjected to domiciliary visits, from the weights inspector, a thing which he is not accustomed to and which would probably lead to some very unpleasant results. These considerations have considerable weight with a good many of our farmers in the eastern counties. But there is another point of view. There is no question that barley is not a kind of commodity which is always of average quality. Everybody is agreed that between the ordinary feeding or grinding barley and the highest-class malting barley there is as much difference as between chalk and cheese, or between Lombard Street and a China orange. We feel in Norfolk that the sale of malting barley by measure gives it a certain status which it would not have if it were sold at a uniform weight. Well, to justify the change, which is opposed on sentimental grounds strongly, and on practical grounds with equal strength, you have got to show a case of considerable public advantage; but the promoters of this Bill do not really, in my judgment, attempt to show any particular advantage. They have not even shown any real disadvantage of the present system. They do not say that there have been cases of fraud under the present system, and if they had said there were cases of fraud under the present system, they would have been faced 559 by the evidence given before the Committee, which distinctly showed that nobody said there was fraud, and that it was not imputed that the present system of weights and measures gives rise to fraud to any extent whatsoever. Then, as regards the question of quotations, there are certain people, I know, who say that we ought to have a uniform method of selling all these kinds of grain, because there would be quotations of prices from the markets. In point of fact, even if barley and the superior class of wheat could be really tested by the quotations of the different markets—which cannot invariably be done—it is idle to suppose that the various local markets at one end of the kingdom would watch local markets at the other end. I do not suppose, for instance, that the corn dealers of Hereford or Shrewsbury take the faintest notice of what is happening in the corn markets of Norwich or Ipswich. Even if they did, I venture to submit, Mr. Speaker, that the price of barley, as quoted in the different papers, would be no guide at all to the value of individual samples. Barley distinctly is sold on its merits as per sample, without any reference—or very slight reference—to the market prices in the commodities reported in the newspapers elsewhere. We feel that no case has been made out of the disadvantage of the present system. It is only a sentimental idea that everything ought to be uniform. Perhaps it ought. But farmers are attached to their present methods of doing business, and are in favour of what they understand to be the best way of doing it. There are such persons as skilled workmen at measuring a bushel, who are of considerable value to farmers, and those men would cease to be wanted if the system of compulsory weight were to be introduced. I recollect one witness before the Committee gave evidence that in his judgment—and he was a very practical farmer—a man would only weigh two bushels of wheat where, under the old system, he would measure three, and for a man who is doing a large business that would mean, of course, a very considerable expense in a year. Altogether, Mr. Speaker, the opposition in the eastern counties, and I believe in many other counties to this Measure, is by no means so mild and so weak as hon. Members seem to 560 think. My hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire seems to have discovered one or two cases of conversion to the principle, but, as far as my information goes, practically the whole of the south-eastern counties are strongly opposed to it; and that being so, Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the Motion that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ SIR SAMUEL MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
I wish to explain, in two or three sentences, why I intend to vote against this Bill. I think it tends to perpetuate the existing awkward measure of the hundredweight of 112 lbs. I am in favour of uniformity, but wish that it should be extended beyond our boundaries. I desire that we should come into accord with almost all civilised countries, and adopt the Continental ton of 1,000 kilogrammes and the hundredweight of 50 kilogrammes. It fortunately happens that that ton is almost identical with ours—it differs in being less by only 30lbs.—and the 50 kilogrammes are 1½lb only less than our hundredweight. Now, I object to piecemeal legislation, as proposed in this Bill. I should like the whole system of our weights and measures dealt with in a broad and complete fashion, so that by establishing the metrical system we should be brought into accord with the system prevailing in the bulk of civilised nations.
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ MR. CHARLES MCARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
I think the House is very much indebted to the Hon. Member for North Hereford for the very full and clear statement he has made of the provisions of this Bill. The hon. Member has pointed out that its two main features are uniformity of standard and a uniform standard of weight. To these two provisions I can give my hearty approval, and, if the Bill ended there, I would have had no hesitation in giving it my full support. But I differ from the hon. Members who proposed and seconded the Amendment in thinking that there are no real disad- 561 vantages appertaining to that system. When the House considers the great diversity of standard for grain all over the country, and when, moreover, the House remembers the fact mentioned by the Select Committee, that in 108 market towns no fewer than 124 different standards of weight prevail, and that every county has its own method of dealing with grain, it must be evident that it will be good to put an end to that diversity and to establish some uniform system. Many good results would follow the adoption of a uniform system. It would save trouble in calculations and obviate misunderstandings. There would also be a further advantage in the removal of the restrictions which this diversity of standard imposes upon the area of the markets. It would also enable prices quoted in one place to be understood in another part of the country, and, notwithstanding what the hon. Member for East Norfolk has said, that would be a great advantage, and would tend to the promotion of trade. I should be very sorry to think that the labours of the Select Committee, which bestowed so much time and dealt with the subject in so exhaustive a manner, should be thrown away, and I hope to see the introduction of some practical reform as the result. At the same time I cannot help thinking that the Bill is defective in proposing the hundredweight as the uniform standard for grain. The hon. Member for North Hereford has spoken of that as not an essential principle, but I think we may call it the characteristic feature of the Bill. We have no guarantee that, if the Bill be read a second time, that feature will be eliminated. The objections to the adoption of the hundredweight are many. In the first place, it is a novelty so far as Great Britain is concerned. In no market in Great Britain is the hundred weight used, although, no doubt, it may be in use in Ireland. [AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, it is used in some markets.] It may be used in some places, but the use is very slight. The next objection is that the hundredweight is a complex method of calculation. If it were not an antiquated measure it would be thought absurd. It is part of our archaic system which it is the general desire of many mercantile men to abolish in favour of 562 something simpler. The Weights and Measures Act of 1878 legalised the sale of grain not only by Imperial weights and measures, but by any part or multiple of these measures. Since 1879 very great progress has been made in the movement for the adoption or the metric system of weights and measures in this country. The Select Committee which was appointed in 1895 recommended that the metric system of weights and measures should be legalised for all purposes, and that, after the lapse of two years, the metric system should be rendered compulsory by Act of Parliament. In the same year a deputation representing Chambers of Commerce waited upon the First Lord of the Treasury and asked him to bring in a Bill legalising the weights and measures metric system. The First Lord of the Treasury said he was in entire agreement with the recommendation of the Select Committee, and, although the decimal system could not be rendered compulsory by Act of Parliament in two years, he was of opinion that that system should be greatly extended. In pursuance of that promise an Act was passed, entitled "The Weights and Measures Act, 1897," which has fully legalised the metric system in this country, although it is not compulsory. If this Bill is passed in its present form it will be in opposition to previous Acts, which declare that the decimal or metric system shall be legal. This Act provides that, as regards the sale of corn, that system shall be absolutely illegal. I ask the House if it is desirable we should reverse previous legislation on this subject, put back the hands of the clock, and stereotype the hundredweight for all time? It has been pointed out that the rules of this Bill are very arbitrary. It is the general rule to insert in a Bill the phrase "unless otherwise provided," but there is no qualification of that sort in this Bill. There is no option on parties; they must make their standard according to the hundredweight, and if they do not the transaction will be null and void. I have had the honour to lay before the House petitions from the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and the Liverpool Corn Trade Association against, this Bill, and I should like to refer to the system which has prevailed in Liverpool for the 563 last 40 years. The cental was introduced in 1858, and was legalised in 1878. It is used at the ports of Liverpool, Manchester and Fleetwood, and all corn sold in these ports is sold by the cental, and the range of distribution is very wide. The places supplied are ports on the west coast of England and Scotland, and on the Irish and Welsh coasts, and the radius extends for 100 miles inland, and includes Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Derby, Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, etc. All these parts of the country are familiarised with the use of the cental. The trade consists of wheat, Indian corn, and peas. Three-fourths of the wheat and all the maize sold in this country is imported from abroad, and only one-fourth of the wheat is home-grown. The distribution of corn from the centres I have mentioned, and to which the cental is applied, amounts to 1,750,000 tons annually, more than a quarter of the total imports, and nearly equal to the whole home production. With regard to the advantages of the cental, I may point out that it is easily reckoned, and that it adjusts itself very readily to the common measures in use in the country. I may illustrate this by one or two references. Barley is sold by the bushel, and the legal weight of the bushel is 50lbs., which equals half a cental. Eight bushels, or one quarter, is 400lbs., and equal to four centals. The statutory weight of a bushel of wheat is 60lbs.; that is equal to six-tenths of a cental. Eight bushels of wheat, or one quarter, is 480lbs., and equals four centals and eight-tenths. All these calculations can be done off-hand, but if they had to be worked out by the hundredweight, pencil and paper would have to be used. With regard to wheat, a sack generally contains 250lbs., and is equal to 2½ centals; a sack of barley contains 200lbs., that is, two centals; and a sack of oats contains 150lbs., or one cental and a half. It may be asked why the cental is not more generally accepted by the country at large. The answer is that custom dies hard, and old prejudices linger long, and have to be helped out of existence by the hand of authority. The hon. Gentleman opposite who seconded the Amendment stated that the popularity of the cental had declined, but he brought forward no evidence in 564 support of that statement. One of the witnesses for London before the Select Committee spoke strongly against the cental, yet it is a remarkable fact that it has come partially in use even in the London market, and more corn is sold by the cental than by any other weight. It may be that the country is not yet ripe for the adoption of the cental, and those who at present use it do not wish to press it upon those who do not wish to have it. But it would be a mistake to stereotype the hundredweight and prevent the adoption in the future of a more modern and more simple system. I have been assured by a leading corn merchant in Liverpool that the adoption of the hundredweight would mean simply the doubling of the calculations he had to make. Now, I think I might appeal to the House to make an exception with regard to foreign grain. I do not think the Commission intended to include foreign grain in their Report, because they stated on many occasions that they had only dealt with home grain; but this Bill, as it is drawn, would include both. If the foreign trade were separated in this matter from the home trade, the proposed change might satisfy those who are interested in the foreign trade, but I do not think it would be right to make the hundredweight the uniform compulsory standard for the home trade, and, therefore, I hold that the legislation of the hundredweight alone should be resisted in the interests of the country at large. I therefore think, Sir, that it would be advisable that this Bill should not be read a second time. I think it should be withdrawn and reconsidered, and brought in again, perhaps, on a future occasion, in a modified form, so as to meet the more serious objections which have been raised to it in this Debate. But if the Bill is pressed forward in its present form, I shall be compelled to vote against the Second Reading.
§ MR. S. F. MENDL (Plymouth)
Perhaps I may be permitted to express my opinion on the Bill, an opinion which I know is shared by many London dealers and merchants in the corn trade. London corn merchants, so far as I am aware—and I have some knowledge of the pro 565 vincial corn trade also—oppose this Bill altogether on the ground that uniformity of weight in regard to an article of commerce which varies so much in respect of its natural weight as grain is an impossible and undesirable object at which to aim, and for that reason, while I agree with a great deal that has fallen from the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, I cannot agree with him that it would be desirable to have the cental as the standard of weight. I know that in Liverpool the cental has for many years been the standard weight. It was tried some years ago in London, and it is at present being practically tried again, but I do not think it is likely to obtain in the London trade. On the former occasion it was found to be a failure and given up. I do not know exactly for what reason it was a failure, but I have a suspicion that the reason was what has been expressed in a sentence of the hon. Member who spoke just now. I do not know that he meant it exactly in the sense in which I understood it, but he said there were more sales of corn made by the cental than under any other standard weight in this country. It is perfectly true that there are more sales, but I don't know whether that represents the actual delivery of the goods. The cental in Liverpool has been used for many years as being more convenient in dealing in "futures" and "options," but in London it has not obtained until lately, and I think that, in the interests of agriculture, it would be a very bad thing if it did obtain generally in this country. It seems to me, with all respect to the hon. Member who moved the Bill, and who surprised me by saying that the majority of the merchants were in favour of the Bill, that there is a fundamental fallacy underlying this proposal. An article of commerce such as corn is subject to enormous variations in natural weight, not only in the different kinds of grain, but in the different qualities of each kind of grain. It is impossible that you can lay down any standard by which you can say that article can be sold. It seems to me that the very fact that there are these different kinds of standards of sale in this country is sufficient to prove that there must exist some fundamental reason for these varieties, and the reason is to be found in the different 566 weights and qualities of the grain. An hon. Member has said that the present is not a scientific system; and the hon. Member, like a mediaeval torturer, proposes to take all the variations of grain, and to press them into his 112lbs. scale. I venture to think he will find that local customs and interests all over the country will be entirely opposed to him. He said there might be a certain amount of trouble at first in making this change. I venture to say there will be a considerable loss of money also. You have at present all over the country receptacles for the storage of grain, based upon local customs, and of all the money spent upon them a considerable portion would be wasted if any proposal of this kind were carried out. Why, in London itself, Mr. Speaker, there are I do not know how many ways of selling grain. Feeding or grinding barley is sold at 400lbs., and malting at 416lbs, to 448lbs., according to natural weight; wheat is sold at 496lbs., and maize at 480lbs., and oats at 304lbs. to 336lbs. The Bill provides for the sale of grain by weight, and to a large extent that is already the case, the only exception being partly in the eastern counties, where, for reasons already given by the hon. Member for Christchurch, and others, this change of proceedings would be most unpopular and very difficult to carry out. I venture to think that whatever difficulty there may be in verifying quotations at the present time has been very much exaggerated, because, after all, these calculations are made by persons who have some knowledge of arithmetic; and I think a great deal more confusion would be caused by a cast-iron system, irrespective of local usage, than exists under present systems which have grown up. For these reasons, Sir, I shall oppose this Bill.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk and Malton)
The hon. Member who opposed this Bill has shown that there are more variations in the sale of corn in this country than, perhaps, most hon. Members were aware of. I will not follow him into the argument that the introduction of a cast-iron uniform system would cause 567 more difficulty and trouble than the varied systems which now exist. I can quite understand the view which a dealer in any such article would take. His point of view is in favour of having all sorts of varieties of weights and measures, for it is his business to know more, and he does know more, about them, going about the country, than the farmer who is the other party to a bargain and only knows what is the local custom of the local market, so that the man so skilled is likely to have very much the best of the bargain. Sir, it is because I believe that uniformity is in favour of the farmer, whereas variety of measures and weight is in favour of the dealer, that I, as a representative of the farmer, am in favour of this Bill, and I am very glad that, in this Debate, so much support has been given to it. The hon. Member for Liverpool behind me has spoken in favour of two-thirds of the Bill, and confined his attack to only one particular point, and that is the way (to which reference has been made) of dealing in corn by weight. Now that is surely a point for Committee. Whether the standard should be the cental or the hundredweight is a matter which may be left to be decided in Committee on the Bill. It would be quite possible to have both the cental and the one hundredweight. I do not know that I should recommend that, but still it would be possible. It would also be possible to take out that part of the Bill and leave in only the provision that corn should be sold by weight, for nine-tenths of the country would go in for the sale by the hundredweight to which they are accustomed. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, in his ingenious speech against the Bill, seemed to think that the farmers did not know their own minds upon this matter. He said the farmers of this country are against the Bill. Well, the mover of the Bill laid before the House a whole list of resolutions passed by farmers in favour of the Bill. Why did not the Member for Christchurch come down armed with resolutions of farmers against the Bill, when he said they were against it? I speak on behalf of the Yorkshire Union of Agricultural Clubs, which consists of a very large number of clubs throughout the length and breadth of Yorkshire. Their Par- 568 liamentary Committee has considered this Bill, and they are decidedly in favour of it, I think largely for the reason which I have already suggested. Well, now, Sir, my hon. Friend behind me, the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool, brought forward one argument which, I think, had some effect upon the House, but which I think is entirely a fallacy. That argument was that, by passing this Bill, we should be doing something to keep back, or put off, the adoption of the metrical system in this country. But, Sir, is that so? Is it not rather the fact that, if by this Bill we make dealings in grain uniform, it would be not more difficult, but easier at some future time to transfer the whole business in grain from the present system to the metrical system? You would gather it all, as it were, into one neck, and you could cut it off at one stroke. And you could do that with far less friction than if you attempted to introduce the metrical system into 150 different systems such as now exist in this country. Now, Sir, I speak rather feelingly in this matter. I have myself twice been more or less defrauded owing to the variety of weights and measures in these islands. Perhaps the House will allow me to tell it my personal experience. A Yorkshireman does not like to be cheated, even by a Sootchman, especially in regard to horses, or provender for horses. Now I would warn my hon. Friends who are going to Scotland in the autumn not to trust to Scotch weights and measures being the same as English. I bought some hay from a Scotch farmer and it appeared to me that I was getting a bargain. The farmer said, "I will give you a specific price for a ton," and he added, "but we give you 21lbs. to the stone in this country," which appeared to me to be very liberal for a Scotchman. I bought the hay, and I asked, "How many stones go to the hundredweight?" He said, "Just five." "Well, then," I said, "if I can work it out, I get a great deal less than I bargained for." The other case was a purchase of oats in Scotland. I was again dealing with a farmer. I know something about oats, and I thought his were very fine, and that it would be a benefit to import them into a country with fewer oats and more money. 569 I asked him, "How much?" He could not quote any measure, except the boll, which weighed some fancy weight which he himself did not know, and neither of us knew by what arithmetical gymnastics we could reduce it to the equivalent, price in Yorkshire or England. Well, Sir, all these things interfere with trade between two countries. Now I will just touch upon another point in the interest of the farmer. The farmer sees quotations in the agricultural papers for all the markets up and down the country, and they are perfect Greek to him. A dealer can read them, because a dealer knows how much corn and grain has to be given for the price quoted in the market. The farmer knows what amount will be given in his own local market, but he has not the faintest idea what is the custom elsewhere. Therefore it is impossible for him to make those careful and accurate calculations which the dealer, accustomed to all these various weights, can make as to the price. The farmer stands at a groat disadvantage, and, therefore, as the representative of a large farming district, I shall certainly vote for this Bill.
§ CAPTAIN G. R. BETHELL (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)
I represent, Sir, a country district almost immediately adjoining that of my hon. Friend who has just addressed the House, but while I can agree with almost everything he has said, I shall be obliged to go into a different Lobby from him, if we divide upon this Bill. I may say I have not had the painful experience of my hon. Friend, personally, with regard to varieties of weights and measures. My objection to the Bill is this: the small farmers are accustomed in our part of the world to sell by measures of capacity, and not by measures of weight, and I incline to think that it would be an unreasonable and irrational disturbance of their business to make the arrangement proposed by this Bill a compulsory law. That is my objection to the Bill. It is undoubtedly true, as I think everybody will recognise, that for the general convenience, and as a matter of theory, it would be very much better to have a common measure of weight throughout the country, but I 570 do not think we should be justified, without previously educating the people upon the subject, in introducing some sudden and violent change which would not be rightly understood by the fanners throughout the country. My hon. Friend says Yorkshire is in favour of the Bill, but Yorkshire is a very large county, and it is not quite true to say that the whole of it is asking for this Bill. Such a resolution as the hon. Member for Christchurch suggests I should gladly support, because I believe it would have some educational effect. Before, however, I can consent to give my support to a Bill which will make such a great disturbance in the very large corn trade of this country, I should expect to receive from those whom I represent some very general expression of a wish for a change in regard to this subject. I have practically received no such indication of opinion, and I should wish to see some efforts made to educate the people in favour of so violent a change before it is imposed upon them in order that they may thoroughly appreciate what would result from it. I must, therefore, vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ COLONEL W. KENYON-SLANEY (Salop,) Newport
Those of us who have listened to the whole of this Debate must, at all events, have had impressed upon us the fact that it has not partaken in any sense of a Party character. On the contrary, we have found hon. Gentlemen representing an opposite political feeling taking up to-day an attitude exactly contrary to what might have been expected from them. We have had a speech fraught with most delightfully deep Tory sentimentality from the hon. Member on the other side who represents a Division of Norfolk. I listened with the greatest interest to that speech, welcoming in every sentence of it a distinct indication that there, at all events, agriculture was supported by a Tory representative. He told us he could not support this Bill because it would have a pernicious effect and interfere with deeply-seated local interests and prejudices. He made one statement which I almost fear even his Tory admirers will hardly endorse, for he said 571 the status of Norfolk barley depended upon its being sold by the comb. That is an argument which I hope and trust the best Norfolk barley is not dependent upon, although I welcome such a plain indication that, in regard to any Tory Measure, in the future we shall have the support of the hon. Member, though I hope it will be for some better reason than that. Then there was my hon. Friend on this side of the House, the Member for Christchurch, who was prepared to extend to our agricultural friends the extremely lukewarm and valueless support and sympathy of an abstract resolution. Now abstract resolutions are the sort of thing which the agricultural interest has often had to be satisfied with in this House, but I do not think they are at all to its liking. And this, I think, should be remembered, that we have been twitted and taunted over and over again in this House, as agricultural Members, for not being able to bring forward a definite and distinct proposal which would be for the benefit of agriculture, and in favour of which the great bulk of agricultural opinion was enlisted. Well, upon this question we do present a suggestion—not a suggestion of the moment, not the sort of clap-trap suggestion which is sometimes put forth on the eve of a General Election, with a view to influencing votes, but one which is the outcome of a good deal of thought and research, and an expression of opinion in all the various grain-growing portions of the country. And we do ask the House to recognise that the Measure as now proposed is the outcome of this thought and consideration and this deliberate forming of opinion upon the subject. It is perfectly true—we all freely admit it, speaking of the interest to which I am referring—that there is considerable difference as to what should be the exact form of the weight which should be adopted. We listened, all of us, with respect to the opinion expressed by the right hon. Baronet, who is an authority upon coinage and the metrical and decimal systems; and we also listened to the argument urged with so much aouteness and apprehension of the business by the hon. Member who represents one of the Divisions of Liverpool. It may be that those arguments are 572 right, and would point to a beneficial change in the Bill. So be it; but that change could be made in Committee on the Bill, and you ought not to put backwards the possibility of moving in a right direction because you say one of the details involved in the Bill ought to be corrected. I believe I am speaking on behalf of the introducer of the Bill when I give a general expression of opinion in that direction and say he would be perfectly willing to accept that change and so obviate the objections taken by chose two eminent Members to whom I have referred. Sir, perhaps those who are not agricultural Members, and do not live in the rural districts, hardly realise the extent to which the existing system does hamper the ordinary farmer in the conduct of his business. If it were the case that in one county or area there was a uniform weight, and you had to go some little distance to another area in which another uniform, weight prevailed, you might argue for the preservation of the existing state of things; but there are many districts in the Midland counties, and I assume elsewhere, too, in which, round a single centre, there may be four or five market towns within driving distance, and therefore accessible to the farmer, where there may be four or five different prevailing weights and measures by which grain is sold in those different districts. A farmer, however small or simple, cannot always be supposed to frequent one market only. He must go north, south, east, or west, according as he thinks he will do the most profitable business, but in each one of these markets he will find a different set of arrangements for the sale of grain, and in each one of these markets he is confronted, not by a dealer peculiar to that market, but by one who goes round to all the markets and has all the different systems equally at his fingers' ends. Without assuming that the farmer is particularly innocent, or a gull, or stupid beyond his fellows, it stands to reason that he does not meet on equal terms with the shrewd business man who is accustomed to deal in the different markets and can calculate rapidly in their several measures, so as to get the small margin of profit which is all that can be made. I do not think it can be too earnestly impressed upon 573 Members who wish to do a good turn to agriculture that we have everything to gain by simplicity, and that we have all to lose by complexity. And yet at the present time the whole of our business is carried on under the most complex system it is possible to devise; and, therefore, when we come here with suggestions for simplifying that complex system, and making it clearer and more intelligible to ordinary men, we are doing that which all who are interested in agriculture should look upon with some degree of favour, and which they should support. Now we know the immense difficulty of getting a Measure of this sort really brought under the consideration of the House, and giving it any chance of passing into legislation. Well, such a chance is given to us on this occasion. We have kind friends who suggest that we should withdraw the Bill, and remodel and correct it, and introduce it again; and they say, "Then we will give you that support which we do not quite like to give you now." But when will that time come? We may wait Session after Session, as we have waited, and never again get as near to the subject as we are to-day. For 15 years we have waited already, and we may have to wait again. If there is anything for the benefit and advantage of the agricultural community in the acceptance not only of the principle of uniformity of dealing, but also in the enforcement of that uniform dealing by legislation, now, and now only, is our opportunity, and we, as agriculturists, should be very short-sighted and foolish if we did not press this opportunity to the utmost of our power on the present occasion. Perhaps I should be unduly trespassing on the time of the House, if I were to try to go through the various speeches which have been made this afternoon on this Bill, but I would like to confute one fallacy, and that is that any action that would result from any such Measure as is here suggested would be to the detriment of the farmer and the prices for which he now sells his grain. That is positively and absolutely not the case. Some hon. Members may think that in certain districts there would result that confusion which is the very thing we wish to clear away in other districts. But no hon. Member who really 574 knows this question ought to lend himself to the idea that there can be any loss to the farmer as regards the price of his commodities from any such action as is contemplated under this Bill. There may, or may not, be that assistance to the farmer which we think will flow from it, but, at all events, there cannot possibly be any loss to him as regards the value of his commodities, or the price he can obtain for them. The best barley will not suffer any loss or diminution in value under this Bill, and the worst will not receive any accession of value under it. But what may result is, that there will be greater freedom and case in passing the grain from hand to hand, and making the circulation of it a little quicker than obtains at present. These are some of the reasons why some of us think that this Bill has more virtue in it than has been generally recognised. Those of us who come from towns or counties which support it can speak without the slightest hesitation as to the genuine feeling of the farmers in its favour, and we, therefore, urge it upon you on the ground that those who know their business best in those localities are most anxious to see it adopted, and that we are willing to meet any objections which have been raised in Committee, and to make any alterations which can be made without surrendering the principle of the Bill. We are willing to modify and recast the Bill in those respects to meet all classes of objections, provided the House will go with us in the grand principle of uniformity by which the farming interest will be able to get rid of the complexity which now surrounds the subject.
§ MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
I think the hon. Member for Shropshire described this Bill as the outcome of the deliberate threat of the corn-growing counties of England. I have in my hand a list showing what was the grain production of the principal counties of England, and I find five counties which, in regard to the production of wheat, stand first: Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire. Those five stand easily first, and yet on the back of this Bill I do not find the name of a 575 single Member for one of those five counties.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
The counties of Lincolnshire and Essex are, I believe, heartily with us in this matter.
§ MR. STEVENSON
Well, that did not come out in the course of the Inquiry held in the year 1892. No witnesses gave any evidence from Lincolnshire in favour of the Bill, and it was also shown on the Table placed before that Committee that, in Lincolnshire, grain was dealt in by measure, with the sole exception of Gainsborough, which, I think, was the only place in which grain was sold by weight. With regard to barley, the four counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, are easily ahead of all the others, and there, again, I do not find the name of any hon. Member representing those counties on the back of the Bill. On the other hand, we have heard a good deal of difference of opinion in some of those counties, and in Norfolk there has been opposition, and a resolution was passed against a Bill of this kind two years ago by the Norfolk Chamber of Agriculture. The only witness from Suffolk before the Committee gave evidence against this Measure. My reason for joining in the opposition to this Bill is on the following grounds: first, I hold that opinion in the eastern counties is not ripe for the change from measure to weight; and, secondly, that the inconvenience of disorganisation of existing arrangements, which would be caused by a change of that kind, would only be worth incurring on account of some great national object which would have in it something which would tend to introduce the seeds of finality. Now, there is no sign that the proposal which this Bill makes about the one hundredweight would become a final change. It seems to me that there are a great many points for discussion. If weight is to be substituted for measure, then undoubtedly the hundredweight is the best measure to be substituted; but it seems to me that that question is hardly a matter for Committee, because, it is a matter which goes right to the root of the Bill itself. The hon. and gallant Gentleman 576 spoke as if there would not be much interference with existing arrangements, but it appears to me that there would be a considerable difference in the point of cost to the farmer. At the present time the system which we have had in operation is the system which is based upon the bushel, and after all, in the eastern counties, every farmer knows, without a single exception, what is the relation of the measures which are in use one to another, and what the farmer does now is to get his farming-man to fill the bushel—to pour the contents of a certain number of measures into a sack—and that being done, there is no necessity for weighing at all, and there is a great saving with regard to labour. If, on the other hand, you substitute the system of selling by weight, the farmer would have in every instance to weigh the sack before it is done up, and, under those circumstances, he would have to keep a weighing measure expressly for the purpose, and instead of weighing his corn and flour, and then getting his man to put the bushel into a sack, he would have to have a granary shoot into the sack, and that would make a very serious addition to his expenditure. It seems to me that, if uniformity is to be substituted for the present arrangement, it should be a uniformity which would be the result of far more deliberation than has hitherto been found possible, and that, especially as regards the wheat and barley producing counties, the matter should be far more fully discussed than has yet been the case. The great difficulty is not so much with regard to weighing oats and barley. Those who have most experience in the sale of these different kinds of corn are of opinion that, as far as the sale of wheat by weight is concerned, it would not present any serious difficulty. But as far as barley is concerned, there is a difficulty which has to be surmounted. In the case of wheat there is a fixed ratio between weight and quality, but in the case of barley there is no such ratio. It is very often the lightest barleys which are the best for malting purposes. This, no doubt, is a serious question which militates altogether against the substitution of weight for measure, and if that difficulty is surmounted, as possibly it may be, through the discussions 577 that may take place, there yet remains the question as to what should be the weight to be generally adopted. I do not want to enter very fully into this matter, but there is one point upon which I should like to offer an observation, and that is that it has been argued in some quarters that, after all, in the eastern counties, we sell by weight already, owing to the fact that the miller or purchaser of corn assumes that there are 63lbs. to the bushel. But that is an assumption on his part which does not compel the farmer to weigh every sack of corn which he sells at market. The miller assumes that there will be 63lbs. to the bushel, and what he does is to take one sack at random and weigh it, and by the weight of that sack he judges of the rest; whereas the system under this Bill would compel the farmer him self to weigh previously every sack of corn which he intends sending to market. That system would place the burden of expense upon the farmer himself; whereas, at present, the system in use only means the weighing of one sack picked out at random. After all, the system of wheat measure only applies to wheat, and to a less extent to cats, and, as a matter of fact, we do not deal very much in oats in the eastern counties; but, as far as barley is concerned, that system does not apply at all, because in barley weight is not taken into account. The buyer examines the barley as to its texture, its colour, the thickness or thin ness of its skin, and judges accordingly. It is then measured, and as often as not it turns out that the lighter kinds of barley are really more valuable than the heavier ones, and, under those circumstances, it would seriously embarrass both farmer and dealer if you were to substitute a measure of weight for a measure of capacity. We must, no doubt, recognise that in many parts of the country the measures or the weights that exist at the present time, especially in out-of-the-way parts of the country, must be very embarrassing, and no doubt we all sympathise with the remarks of the hon. Member for the Thirsk Division of Yorkshire with regard to them. But, after all, the measures which he mentioned do not come so much into account as the measures which are to be found in the principal corn- 578 producing counties in England, and what we must go by in this matter is the opinion of the principal corn-producing counties in England. We must ask what is thought in Lincolnshire, in Norfolk, in Suffolk, and in Essex. These are the counties the opinion of which ought to be discovered before any change is made. If, as I think can be shown throughout the whole of the eastern counties, there is practically one measure—because, after all, whether the measure was by bushel, coomb, or quarter, each of those measures was perfectly understood, and everybody understands the exact relation between them—then it seems to me, it is a very serious thing to endeavour to compel the eastern counties to fall into line in this matter with other portions of the country which do not produce so much corn, because these counties may fairly retort, "If a change is to be made in the matter, you might compel other parts of the country to fall into line with us." In conclusion, I am strongly of opinion that if a change is made, if you think that an alteration in this matter will be beneficial to the country as a whole, and that it would be a great national advantage, surely it ought to be such an advantage as would be likely to be successful, and not one which would probably be suppressed after the lapse of a few years.
§ SIR H. MEYSEY-THOMPSON (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
As I understood, one of the arguments of the last speaker was, do not let us have a hard and fast rule, because there are a great many different elements which enter into the value of corn—the colour, the condition, and several other things. Now, I, as an agriculturist, take exactly the opposite view. I say that there is no fear that any buyer of corn would fail to take into consideration the colour, the evenness, the condition, and all the other extraneous things about the corn. I say that the greatest enemy of the fanner is the old happy-go-lucky system of not bringing things down to a hard and fast system of weights and measures and rules; and anything which would induce the farmer to weigh the corn and know 579 exactly what it does weigh—even for that simple purpose, if for no other—would be a good thing. I do not see what the farmer can lose by this Bill. It is said a farmer understands the various measures in his own locality. So he does, but in his own locality he very soon learns to turn his own local measures into standard measures. What he cannot do at present is to turn his own local measures into all the other local measures all round the kingdom, and therefore, when he reads his paper, he cannot compare the prices he gets with the prices which other people are getting. That is the only difficulty at present. I may say that I rather agree with my friend the Member for the White-chapel Division of the Tower Hamlets, that the hundredweight may not be a very satisfactory unit to take; but that seems to me to be a matter for discussion in Committee. All we want to settle is that corn shall be sold by some uniform weight, and not to settle what that uniform weight shall be. We are perfectly willing [...]e that matter to be settled in Committee. I have had experience in this matter. I went up to Scotland on purpose to see the system which has been employed there for putting corn under cover directly it is reaped. Where I live is a barley-growing county, and I was anxious to see how the system operated in order that I might use it, if successful, for the purposes of barley. Everyone knows the difference in value between first-rate malting barley well got in and of good colour and barley which has been exposed to bad weather and is only fit for feeding purposes. The owner explained the apparatus perfectly, and we got on all right together, until we came to the crucial question of how much grain a certain sized shed would contain. Now, I could only calculate in quarters, and my friend could only calculate in boles, and the consequence is that we never made that calculation, then, and have never made it up till this day. That shows how absurd it is that two people cannot put their respective measures together without a great deal of unnecessary trouble. I will not, Sir, detain the House longer than by saying that I support this Measure. The people round about me are anxious to have it, and I think, for every reason, 580 that it would be of advantage to the country.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
I came into the House with some doubt as to how I should vote, because, though I cordially sympathise with the principle of the proposed Bill, it does not meet the wishes of those whom I have the honour of representing here. I approach this subject not only as Member for Liverpool, but also as an agriculturist, and I am rather surprised at the remarks which I have heard from some of those who are opposed to this Bill. Hon. Members surprised me by advocating the old system, and making use of most unprogressive arguments; but I think this Debate will not have been wasted if the Government have listened to all the arguments and will take courage and bring forward next year a Bill which is likely to meet the common-sense views of the country at large. I am prepared to give this Bill a Second Reading, because I cordially approve of the principle of uniformity of measure and of standard, and I think that standard ought to be a standard of weight. If this Bill comes before a Committee, I feel convinced that the promoters of it will not object to the use of the cental being introduced. The House, no doubt, remembers that the cental is very largely made use of in the foreign corn trade, and when the House bears in mind the arguments of the hon. Member for Plymouth, who spoke apparently on behalf of the London corn trade, I have no doubt that in Committee there will be very small objections to the use of the cental being included in its terms. For this reason, since I am reluctant to give a silent vote, I shall now, if the matter comes to a Division, give my vote in favour of the Second Reading.
§ MAJOR F. C. RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman who spoke just now, but I should like to ask the attention of the House to the fact that my hon. Friend who is responsible for the Bill comes from grass-growing counties, and not from corn-growing counties. Of course, Sir, the present system is not an ideal one, but 581 everybody knows that it is simplicity itself. When the corn is wet, then the dealers buy it by measure, and when it is dry they buy it by weight; so that it is a case of "heads I win, tails you lose." In my opinion—and in the opinion of the farmers whom I represent—the remedy proposed is decidedly worse than the disease. In the first place we do not like 112lbs. Then we do not like changing the custom in the sale of corn, as between buyer and seller, because nearly all of the farmers in the eastern counties are perfectly well acquainted with the present various local measures. They are well aware of the law as it now stands, and if this Bill passes they will have to go to the trouble of learning the different system. The eastern counties do not require any extra legislation, we have quite enough now in the agricultural interest, what with Swine Fever, Animals Contagious Diseases Acts, and so on. Why cannot the hon. Gentleman leave us alone, and leave agriculture alone? All we ask from Parliament is to be left alone. Much as I should like to support any Bill introduced by my hon. Friend—and I think I recognise in this Bill his good intention to assist the agricultural interest—yet I cannot now bring myself to go into the Lobby to support him to do so.
§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
I had hoped to have heard the views of the First Lord of the Treasury on this Bill. This Bill is in direct contradiction to the deliberate decision arrived at by this House last Session. During last Session we passed a Bill encouraging and permitting the use of the metric system of weights and measures in the United Kingdom, which is the commercial language of nine-tenths of the civilised world. We are now asked to pass a Bill, which will nullify and cancel the whole effect of that legislation, and will repress, one of the most important commodities of this country. I say this Measure is based upon no logical system whatever. I may say that I mentioned the name of the First Lord of the Treasury because he has made very strong pronouncements upon this matter indeed, and he has spoken of the metric system as being the only system which 582 any rational person could ever desire to use; and, that being so, it seems to be lamentable that we should by a side wind exclude ourselves from the possibility of using that system—that metric system which is so largely in use all over the civilised world. This Bill has been brought in for one trade, and for one portion of one trade, and that trade even does not seem to require this Measure. Now with regard to the contrary proposal. I belong to the London Chamber of Commerce, and on that body you will find representatives of the working classes. In connection with that Chamber of Commerce, we have a very significant fact, because we have evidence from every conceivable representative of trade and commerce throughout the country that the desire is to support absolutely the contrary proposal to that which is now brought forward. At the present moment we have had brought before us, from all parts of the world, evidence that we are now competing in a market, and talking in a language which are not understood, and which these traders had taken the pains to understand. I suppose we are in the position of a man who is talking Welsh while all the rest of the world is talking English. It is as certain as anything can be that the commercial language of 440,000,000 of people will be forced upon us soon; and I think it a very extraordinary thing; to be asked to accept this particular idea of measure by weight of 112 lbs. as the only measure which can be legally used for the buying and selling of corn—and not only of corn, but a large number of other commodities. This Bill is not a permissive one. It is compulsory, and I hope that everybody who desires to see the rational system of commerce which exists abroad brought into this country will not postpone that happy occasion by committing himself to the principle of this Measure.
§ LORD E. FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
I am anxious to say one or two words upon this Measure, because it is a Measure of very great importance indeed to every agricultural constituency. There have been, I think, several lines of argument used during this discussion, all, except one, more or less favourable to the main principle of the Bill. But one 583 exceptional line of argument, and I must acknowledge I heard it with regret, came from this side of the House. That argument was used by an hon. Friend of mine who represents a constituency in the East of England, and his argument appeared to be directed, not merely against the particular proposal of this Bill, to adopt weight as the standard of the sale, and to adopt 112lbs. as the standard of weight, but appeared to be directed against the advantages of uniformity itself. I understood that hon. Gentlemen opposed to this Bill stated their case with local knowledge—that there were certain circumstances in the corn trade of the East of England almost fatal in themselves to the adoption of anything except the local customs of that part of England, especially with regard to the sale of barley. I cannot help feeling that my hon. Friends are arguing against the spirit of the times. Surely we are moving rather rapidly—for a country that does not move very quickly—in the direction of uniformity. Everybody, whatever his opinion may be upon the merits of the particular proposals of this Bill, cannot, I think, doubt that one of the minor evils—or, I should say, one of the major evils—under which we are suffering is the want of uniformity in regard to a standard for the sale of corn. The foreigner, as we are repeatedly reminded, is pressing us at every point, and our corn trade is not confined to the Eastern counties, or to the Southern counties, or to any other counties in particular; but, regarded in its largest aspect, it is a trade which is of national interest and of international importance; and as long as we persist in using, not only old-fashioned standards of measurement and weight, but using a great multiplicity of them, the farmers of England are maintaining burdens which it is quite unnecessary they should bear. Therefore, I cannot, I am afraid, associate myself with the arguments in the direction of maintaining the existing system, which is a very confusing one; but when my hon. Friends passed from that line of argument and criticised some of the provisions of this Bill, and were joined in these criticisms by many other Members on both sides of the House, then it seems 584 to me that we stood upon far firmer ground. It does not follow, because you are in favour of uniformity that, therefore, necessarily, you must be in favour of a uniformity by weight; nor does it follow that because you are in favour of uniformity by weight, therefore you are ready to approve of the adoption of the principle of this Bill. We are told that this has been recommended by Committees of the House of Parliament, or by Royal Commissions; but then, as the hon. Member who just addressed the House reminded us, there is another current of ideas at present, and that moving very strongly, not in favour of any particular English standard, but of adopting an international standard; and last year it was actually placed on the Statute Book by the Act which takes the first step to introduce the metric system by legalising and encouraging its adoption. That being so, is it a wise thing that we, in 1898, should take a step, which may be a retrograde step, which says, in regard to a particular and important branch of trade in this country, that a particular standard shall be adopted, and no other, and by so saying thereby excludes the metric system? These criticisms have not been met by the offer which has been made from the other side of the House by some of the promoters of the Bill, that if we go into Committee they will adopt a particular Amendment. A far larger series of Amendments would be necessary to achieve that object, and I very much doubt whether it would be possible to amend the Bill in Committee sufficiently to meet the arguments of those who have pointed out that the real way to amend the Measure would be to adopt the provisions of the Bill of last year. There is another argument which has not yet been mentioned, and that is, if this Bill is passed in its present form you must look to the administration of the Act, and you must see how the Act is going to be carried out. If this Bill is passed it will very greatly add to the duties of the County Councils under the Weights and Measures Act, and, therefore, before the Bill is placed upon the Statute Book, it would not, perhaps, be an unwise step to take to ascertain the views of the various 585 County Councils upon the subject, and to ascertain if, in their opinion, it is desirable that this Bill should pass, and in what way the machinery of the Weights and Measures Act would have to be adapted to this Measure. The Bill has attracted a considerable amount of attention from the County Councils Association, and we find that there is a very great diversity of opinion upon the subject among the members, who are now issuing a circular with the idea of ascertaining what the views of the various Councils are upon the subject. The answers to that circular are only just now being received, and until they are all received and are known to this House it appears to me that the information upon the important point as to the future administration of this Bill is not available. It is a very important matter to see how this Bill is to be carried out. If hon. Members will look at the clauses of the Bill they will find that that question is not touched upon at all. It is only to be carried out under the Weights and Measures Act. If that is so, the existing machinery of the Act must be adapted to it, and an enormous amount of new machinery would have to be introduced, and the number of inspectors, and so forth, increased. I ask the introducers of this Measure whether it would not be better for them to be satisfied with the interesting discussion that has been raised upon the subject, and then wait for another year, or until an opportunity has been given to ascertain the opinions of the various County Councils, and to see whether there might not be a greater consensus of opinion in the Chambers of Agriculture as to whether the standard weight shall be the cental or the ton, or whether it shall be the standard of the Bill of last year? Of course, we are in the hands of the President of the Board of Agriculture in this matter, and I think if a Bill of this kind is to be brought in it ought to be done by means of a Government Measure.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. W. H. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
My hon and gallant Friend the hon. Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire appeals to the Government to support this Bill upon a 586 double ground, because, as he told us, it was frequently delayed, and that the agriculturists are not so ready as they might be with proposals affecting the interests of their own industry, that they had now brought a proposal before the House, and were entitled to the relief they sought. I listened with astonishment to my hon. and gallant Friend, because, although I have listened to many Debates in this House, I have never listened to any Debate so clearly defined as this. Particular speakers have spoken in favour of and in opposition to the Measure from both sides of the House to an almost equal number. Therefore I do not think I can admit the appeal. As the Minister responsible for Agriculture I cannot admit that the Bill will be of benefit to the agricultural community if carried into effect. Now, what are the other grounds upon which this Bill has been discussed this afternoon? First, that it is desirable to get rid of the difference between the weights and measures as they now exist, and which are said to militate against the purchaser, and also that it is desirable to fix a standard weight. With regard to the first there has been a unanimity of opinion upon that point. Anyone in the House and in the country will admit, as a theoretical proposition, or as a matter of practice, that it is desirable that there should be uniformity in the weights and measures adopted for the sale of agricultural produce; but while it may be stated with absolute truth that the proposition is true that it would be desirable, it does not of a necessity follow from that that the adoption of the view by the House, and its application to the whole country, would be as popular as some of my hon. Friends would desire to believe. With regard to the third point, that there should be an established weight of 112lbs., that is a proposal which I think has been shown would be received with very strong opposition. What is the attitude which has been taken up by the promoters of this Bill? They have not had to defend the contention that it is desirable that there should be uniformity, but, finding themselves compelled to defend that suggestion, they finally threaten the House with this, that if the Bill be read a 587 second time they will be prepared practically to eviscerate it, and to leave it to the Committee to mould into such a shape as they consider desirable. That does not seem to me a sufficiently strong argument to support a Measure of this kind, which will have such a far-reaching effect. This is a short Bill. In Section 4 it is laid down that there shall be no dealing by measure, and in Clause 5 we are told that the weight will be 112lbs. Now, my hon. Friend the proposer of the Bill told us that he was confident that a very short time would see the removal of any soreness and difficulty which might arise from this change in the law. I am not so sure that the soreness and inconvenience would pass away so quickly as he thinks. He admits there would be inconvenience and soreness for some time, and the only difference between him and his criticisers is that he thinks it would soon pass away, and they do not. The hon. Gentlemen who proposed and seconded the Bill have not attempted to show that there has ever been any particular and actual loss to the purchasers of corn in this country through the difference between the weights and measures in different parts. What appeared to me the fact, so far as I could follow the story of another hon. Gentleman who spoke for Scotland, was that it was rather the case of the biter bit. He found himself an ignorant man in an intelligent country, and was made a victim of by the Scotch farmer. That is the only illustration which we have had of any particular loss having been inflicted on a particular person. Who has suffered from this abominable and illusory system of weights and measures? I think we are entitled to ask for and to have some further evidence before we allow a Measure of this kind to be placed upon the Statute Book. There has been no evidence of actual injustice to the purchaser. That has not been demonstrated. On the contrary, the opposite argument has been put forward. It has not been put forward that a farmer is getting less than he would get if the weights and measures were altered. If they were altered, I do not think it would affect the price between the best and the worst in the slightest degree. The grievance, if any, 588 is more a grievance of inconvenience and sentiment than anything else. Any hon. Gentleman who reads the reports on this question, and especially that by the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill, will find an immense amount of useful information with regard to the question, but they will also find that there is very considerable diversity of opinion as to what should be the actual weight which should be adopted. My hon. Friend cannot surely be serious in suggesting that this Bill is to be read a second time to-day and then be sent to a Standing Committee on Trade and Agriculture, or to some other Committee, to decide whether there should be uniformity of sale by weight, and, if so, whether the weight should be the hundredweight, or the cental, or any other? We ought to get rid of the present unsatisfactory and confusing condition of things, and to substitute something which shall be simple, plain, and straightforward, and I ask the House whether that result would be secured if this Bill were to be read a second time now, and then referred to a Committee, that Committee to have a free hand to put in any weight they like as the established weight for all time. The hon. Member for the Leominster Division of Herefordshire quoted, as against myself, a respected friend of mine, who, said the hon. Member, stated that I was not correct in declaring that the majority of farmers in my part of the country were opposed to sale by weight. I have never said, either in this House or out of it, that a majority, or even a large proportion, were opposed to the principle of selling by weight or to this Bill. All I have ever said on the subject was stated to a deputation, and it was to the effect that although, no doubt, agricultural societies have, by very large majorities, passed resolutions in favour of this measure, and although many practical agriculturists are warm supporters of this proposal, yet it was my firm conviction that among the great body of smaller agriculturists in this country there is a very large number who have not realised the effects of the change which this Bill would bring about, and who, if they had realised those effects, would resent this interference by Parliament with their methods of transacting business. In 589 expressing that opinion I may have been correct or incorrect. I only state that a large number of the agriculturists in my own neighbourhood whom I have come across have expressed themselves in that direction. I do not say for a moment that they would form the majority. I have no idea on which side the majority of agriculturists would be if they could be polled, but my belief is that a great number of them have not appreciated what the effect of this change in the law would be if it were made. The House will, I am sure, realise that this is not a question which can be considered exclusively from the agriculturists' point of view. This Bill is limited to the sale of corn—it does not extend to other agricultural produce—and yet, in the sale of other agricultural produce, notably meat, there is an inconsistency and confusion, and if this principle were adopted with regard to corn I am confident that we should be compelled to apply it to all other agricultural produce. It would probably have to be extended even further in commercial relations. It seems to me that the remarks which we have heard to-day, even from hon. Members who have supported the Bill, go rather to show that the whole question of weights and measures is one which requires careful examination and consideration, and as to which reform is desirable. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, who has taken a great interest in this question, and other speakers, have reminded the House as to what will be the practical effect of the Second Reading of this Bill in its present form to-day. My hon. Friend below the Gangway detailed briefly the history of the movement which led to the passing by the House last year, on the initiative of the Government, of a Measure dealing with the metric system. The result of this Bill, if it were passed in its present form, would be to go back—and to seriously go back—on the step which the House took then with regard to the metric system. I could understand the views of my hon. Friends who support this Bill if they attached this to the definite principle that you must sell by weight, and that there must be one recognsed weight, and one alone. That is a clear issue we could all understand, and which would be entitled to the attention of the House. But that is not the position 590 they have taken up. The promoters of this Bill ask the House to give it a Second Reading to-day, leaving it an open question for a Committee to decide as to what the weight shall be. I entirely agree with everything that has been said as to the existing inconsistencies of the present practice, as to the desirability of securing sales by weight rather than by measure, and as to the expediency of uniformity, so that the trade of the whole country can be carried on without inconvenience to the various districts. I quite agree that it is desirable that the system under which agriculturists have to carry on their industry should be made as simple as possible; yet I am bound to say that I do not think that the reading of this Bill a second time this afternoon, with the understanding that it is to go to a Select Committee of this House, there to be put into any shape or form they may think fit, would be a course at all likely to bring about the result which my hon. Friend and those who think with him, have in view. I am sure they will think, with my noble Friend who has spoken from the other side, that good service has been secured by the interesting discussion—the practical discussion—which has taken place to-day. Nobody who has listened to the Debate will deny that the gentlemen who have spoken have been hon. Members who understand, and who speak with a full knowledge of the subject. If this change in the law is to be effective and successful, surely, in the first place, it must be justified on the ground of general demand and general convenience, or on the stronger ground of the avoidance of fraud, and, surely, it would be wise, before attempting to force a Measure of this kind upon the country, to secure that it shall be generally acceptable to those whose interests it is proposed to promote. I ask those who support this Bill whether the Debate we have had to-day affords them any evidence whatever of any prospect of this Measure, if it is passed, being generally accepted by agriculturists north, south, cast, and west. Has there not been abundant evidence that public opinion, even amongst agriculturists, is not yet fully formed upon this subject? Whilst they are anxious for uniformity, and ready for a reform, they 591 are not prepared to pronounce as to the precise shape which that reform should take. I do not like, after the remarks of my hon. and gallant Friend, to suggest that the course which my noble Friend opposite indicated, would be a wise course to follow, because my hon. and gallant Friend told us that they had now a chance of carrying this Bill, and therefore, could not be asked to surrender their opportunity and rest content with the discussion. Those who have promoted this Bill, and are responsible for it, must, of course, decide what is the best course for them to adopt. They will, no doubt, suspect any suggestion which comes from me, now that I have shown that I cannot regard the present moment as opportune for the passing of the Bill. I cannot help thinking that in the very interests which the promoters of the Bill have at heart they would do well not to press the Measure to a Division, which might result in its condemnation by a majority in whose ranks would be many Members who approve its principle, but not its form. I hope my hon. Friends will be satisfied with the interesting and practical discussion that has been obtained. The vast majority of the Members of the House are, I believe, in favour of the general principle, but many
§ hon. Members are convinced that the proposed change would have a considerable element of doubt and possible danger.
§ MR. J. RANKIN (Leominster)
After what my right hon. Friend has said, I shall be quite willing to accept a Second Reading on the principle of uniformity of weight only, if he will promise that the Government will take up the matter and look into it. There is, undoubtedly, a great desire on the part of a large number of persons to have this matter settled one way or the other. It is necessary, if uniformity is to be brought about, that one weight should be introduced, and it is for the majority to settle which weight that shall be. I am quite willing to let the majority in Committee settle the weight; but, without the promise have asked for, it can hardly be expected, after trying for 15 years to get the opinion of the House upon it, that I should not press the Bill to a Division.
That the word 'now' stand part of the question.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 150.593
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Arnold, Alfred||Hazell, Walter||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roche, Hon. Jas. (E. Kerry)|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Barry, Rt. HnA.H. Smith- (Hun)||Lafone, Alfred||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Lambert, George||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Leighton, Stanley||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Logan, John William||Strachey, Edward|
|Bill, Charles||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'nsea)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Caldwell, James||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Talbot, RtHnJ.G. (Oxf'dUniv.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Macaleese, Daniel||Ure, Alexander|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||M'Leod, John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Field, William (Dublin)||Maden, John Henry||Wayman, Thomas|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Gold, Charles||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Milward, Colonel Victor||Younger, William|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Gourley, Sir E. Temperley||Morrison, Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Greene, W. Raymond- (Camb.)||Newdigate, Francis Alex.||Mr. Rankin and Mr.|
|Gunter, Colonel||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Jasper More.|
|Hardy, Laurence||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Fardell, Sir T. George||Monk, Charles James|
|Allen, W. (Newc.-und.-Lyme)||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Fenwick, Charles||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)||Morley, Chas. (Breconshire)|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Arrol, Sir William||FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Owen, Thomas|
|Baillie, J. E. B. (Inverness)||Flannery, Fortescue||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Balcarres, Lord||Flower, Ernest||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Pirie, Captain Duncan|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Garfit, William||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.)||Purvis, Robert|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants.)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Greville, Captain||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Bethell, Commander||Griffith, Ellis J.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Billson, Alfred||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Round, James|
|Birrell, Augustine||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Blake, Edward||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Harwood, George||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Bowles, Major H. F. (Mdsx.)||Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Burt, Thomas||Hoare, Ed. Brodie (Hampst'd)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Holden, Sir Angus||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Howard, Joseph||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Kilbride, Dennis||Tomlinson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Coddington, Sir William||Kitson, Sir James||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Knowles, Lees||Verney, Hn. Richard Greville|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lawrence, Wm. F. (L'pool)||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Walrond, Sir William Hood|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Lewis, John Herbert||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lloyd-George, David||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Crombie, John William||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (L'pool)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Maclure, Sir John William||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Dillon, John||MacNeill, J. Gordon Swift||Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Ewan, William||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Doughty, George||M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.)||Woodall, William|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Kenna, Reginald||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hud'rsf'ld)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Hart||M'Killop, James||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Edwards, Gen. Sir Jas. Bevan||Maddison, Fred.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Mr. Abel H. Smith and Mr.|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorg'n)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Price.|
§ Bill accordingly rejected.