Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].
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Die Lunæ, 22 Februarii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
William Metcalfe Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:
Are you a Coal Factor and Ship Owner?
Can you state generally to the Committee the Nature of a Coal Factor's Business?
The Nature of our Business is to sell Coals by Commission when we have them consigned to us by our various and respective Friends from the North Country, and to obtain the best Price that we possibly can for such Coals when consigned to us.
Those you sell only at the Coal Exchange?
Only at the Coal Exchange.
To whom are they sold; to Coal Merchants or Customers generally?
To Persons acting as Coal Merchants.
They are sold on the Coal Exchange?
How often does the Coal Exchange meet?
Three Times a Week; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Is there any particular Act of Parliament regulating it?
I believe there is.
Do you know in what Year of the late King that Act passed?
I do not know; I have not paid much Attention to the Act of Parliament.
Is it the Forty-seventh of the late King?
I believe it is.
By that Act the Market ought to begin at Twelve o'Clock and end at Two?
Is that the Case?
Generally speaking it is; we sell our Coals between the Hours of Twelve and Two o'Clock.
Do you know any Instance of Coals having been sold after Two o'Clock?
That is a Circumstance which may very likely happen.
There is a Penalty incurred?
Yes, there is.
The Question does not apply to your own individual Practice; but is it not a common Practice to sell after Two o'Clock?
No, it certainly is not.
The Business, you say, is conducted by Factors?
Those Factors have Intelligence of the sailing of each Ship from the North, have they not?
Generally; not always.
They are also informed by Post from the North when it is likely, allowing for Wind and Weather, that Ships will arrive?
Generally speaking, we are informed; but that is not always the Case.
With reference to the Sale at Two o'Clock, there is a Penalty of 100l. for any Cargo sold after that Hour, is there not?
Do you not know that it very often happens that the Market begins at One or Two, and is not closed before Three or Four?
No; we are obliged to deliver our Contracts in at Three o'Clock.
Any Violation of that Act takes place between Two and Three?
Yes, of course it must, if it does take place.
By the 24th Section of that Act, the Books are to be shut at Two o'Clock, are they not?
We are allowed to sell Coals up to Two o'Clock; the other Hour, 'till Three, is allowed us to arrange our Turn Papers, and deliver in our Contracts to the Clerks of the Market.
Are there any Clerks to that Market?
Are they allowed Salaries?
I believe so, from the City of London. I have no doubt of it.
You do not know the Extent of their Salaries?
No; I have not the slightest Conception what they are.
Do you know a Mr. Richardson?
Yes; I think he is one of the Clerks; but his Name is so seldom mentioned in comparison with the others, that I scarcely know his Name. Mr. Butcher and Mr. Pearsall are more familiar Names to me.
Is there not a Clerk in the Coal Exchange who has the Privilege of sending out what are called Coal Letters, that is, the Lists of the Exchange?
Yes; Mr. Pearsall.
Is there any Charge for that?
I believe we make him a Present; but that is quite optional. I think our House gives him Three Guineas a Year generally.
Do you know, generally speaking, the Profits derived by Mr. Pearsall from sending out those printed Lists?
I have not the slightest Conception.
You do not know whether it amounts to 1,000l?
I should certainly say, speaking from my Opinion, nothing of the kind.
Do you know whether the Purchase Money of the Coal Exchange has been paid or not?
That I cannot answer.
Was there not an Act of Parliament enabling them to apply a certain Portion of the Produce of the Tax on Coals for the Payment of the Purchase of the Coal Exchange?
I cannot speak to those Points at all; I know we pay a Penny a Chaldron to the Clerks of the Market, but how that Penny is applied or misapplied, I do not know.
The Charge is nominally for Market Dues, to defray the Expence of paying for the Coal Exchange, is it not?
We pay it to the Clerks of the Market under the Head of Market Dues; what becomes of the Money I cannot state.
You do not know whether the Purchase Money has been redeemed, or not?
I cannot speak to that Point at all.
All the Ships Papers belonging to the Captains of the Ships consigned to you are put into your Hands, are they not?
Yes; they are delivered to us by the Captain by any Conveyance he thinks proper to adopt.
Who pays the Balances of Duty to the Custom House?
The Factors do all the Business at the Custom House through the Means of their Clerks.
Do you remit the Produce of the Cargo to the Ship Owner or the Freighter in the North?
That depends upon Circumstances, whether the Ship is freighted or comes on the Ship Owner's Account. Sometimes we apply the Balance to Credit, when the Parties in the North happen to owe us Money, which is very frequently the Case.
The Money passes through your Hands?
Yes; we remit it, or apply it to the Credit of the different People, according to their Desire.
You are acquainted with the Act of 47 Geo. 3, are you not?
I know by Practice those Parts of the Act which apply to myself, but I never read the Act of Parliament very accurately; and if I had I should possibly not have understood it.
Are you of Opinion that, as far as regards the Factors, there is a possibility of complying with its Provisions?
I will state candidly that I have not read the Act of Parliament, and if I had I could not understand it. There are so many Penalties, we cannot open our Mouth without a 100l. Penalty at our Elbow.
Have you never read attentively the Act of Parliament which regulates the Proceedings of the Trade?
No; for the very best Reason, that if I were to read it I could not understand it. I know practically what Part of the Act relates to myself, and I know what to avoid.
The Act is so confused you never refer to it?
I never read Ten Pages of the Act myself in my Life.
Do you consider the Provisions you have read to be operative upon yourself, and that you have been guided by them, or that other Coal Factors have been?
We endeavour to be so; but our Business is of that quick forced Description it is impossible to follow that Act of Parliament closely; but when the Act of Parliament allows us to sell Coals up to the Moment of Two o'Clock, I would ask, how is it possible, if I have Nine or Ten different Sorts of Coals to dispose of, that I can get the Contract Book signed before Two o'Clock? We do it as well as we can.
If you complied with all the Provisions of the Act, could you carry on your Business?
Certainly not. In the Way in which that Act of Parliament is framed, we do it as closely as we can. There is no knowing what Necessity might drive us to.
Have you ever turned your Attention to the Practicability or the Expediency of substituting Weight for Measure?
Yes; that has been mentioned to me.
Is it your Opinion, that the substituting Weight for Measure would prove a better Criterion?
As to the exact Quantities delivered, I think it probably might.
Do you know any Instances within your own Experience of extreme Variations in making out under the present System of Weight in the North and Measure in the South?
We never have the Coals by Weight from the North.
Do not you know that Coals are sold by Weight in the Port of Shipment?
We are not practically acquainted with that. They are sent to us by the Imperial Chaldron, and we, practically, have nothing to do with the Weight. It never comes officially before us.
You know that such is the Fact, do not you?
I do not.
Have you any doubt that such is the Fact?
I was not aware that Coals were sold by Weight in the North.
Do you know any Variations in the making-out of the Ship's Cargo?
Yes, very great.
State some Instances?
A Ship called the Two Sisters made out One Voyage 351 Imperial Chaldrons, another Voyage 356, another Voyage 335, and another Voyage 361.
What was the Difference of Chaldrons between the Amount stated to you to have been put in in the North and that which it proved to be on Delivery?
I have not those Materials; but the minimum and maximum Quantity is Twenty-six Chaldrons in Four successive Voyages. We generally expect the Ships in Winter Time to make out less; but when this Ship made out the smaller Quantity I believe it was in the Spring Voyage, when we expect them to make out the largest Quantity. In Winter the Ship Owners do not load their Ships so deeply as they do in the Summer.
That arose, you suppose, from the Difference of the Lading?
Yes. They are considered safer with a less Quantity in the Winter Time.
You have an Invoice sent you from Newcastle, have you not?
No; unless I happen to be the Owner of the Ship. The Ship Owner always pays for his Coals by drawing upon us in favour of the Coal Owner.
Is there no Statement delivered to you of the Number of Chaldrons put on board at Newcastle?
The Fitter's Certificate is the Document by which we sell the Coals.
Then, having that, does the Ship measure out a Quantity differing from that?
I think in general it exceeds the Quantity.
Can you tell by how much?
I should not like to answer that Question without referring to the Documents; but to the best of my Recollection I should say, generally, if a Ship has 200 Imperial Chaldrons on the Fitter's Certificate, she runs from 205 to 208 or 209 Chaldrons.
That is nearly equal to Five per Cent?
Yes, nearly so.
If it is discovered that there is an Excess over the Certificate in the Measurement of the Ship, are any Steps taken with reference to that by the Customer?
None whatever; the Delivery has nothing to do with the Quantity the Ship takes in.
The Duty is paid upon the Delivery upon the Excess?
Yes, upon the Excess or otherwise, as it may happen. I have known a much greater Variation than I have stated, but I have not the Papers with me.
Do you account to the Skipper or to the Ship Owner for the Quantity as measured out in the Port of London, or for the Quantity contained in the Certificate?
The Meter's Delivery Account is our whole and sole Guide. We have nothing to do with the Quantity taken in in the North.
Any Advantage that is derived from the Excess goes to the Ship Owner, and not to the Proprietor of the Coal Mine?
When a Ship is on Freight, the Freighter gets that Advantage, and the Ship Owner participates, inasmuch as he gets paid Freight according to that Excess.
If, as is generally the Case, the Proprietor sells to the Ship Owner, he sells according to the Quantity fitted in the North, and the Ship Owner receives according to the Quantity made out in the South?
So that whatever Difference there is is to the Advantage of the Ship Owner?
Decidedly to the Advantage of the Ship Owner.
Is it not your Opinion that selling by Weight would put an end to the Breakage which now takes place?
I am not aware that there is any Breakage; we are not informed of any Breakage taking place.
Do not you know that when the larger rounder Coals are sent to Market, by breaking them they produce a larger Quantity?
Unquestionably; I am quite aware of that.
The Effect of this System of selling, or of levying the Duties, by Measurement and not by Weight, is to encourage the Breakage of those Coals into smaller Portions, is it not?
I should think that Practice is entirely abolished. It used to be the Practice in former Years for the Captains, under the Impression that their Cargoes would make out much better, to break the large Coals; but I apprehend that Practice has been abolished.
How long do you imagine that Practice has been given up?
Before I was a Factor; but I cannot speak to Facts, because it does not come under our Practice or our Knowledge at all. If any Captains of Ships were imprudent enough to break the Coals, we should not be acquainted with it; they would take especial Care to hide it from our Knowledge.
You cannot answer any Questions upon that Subject from your own Knowledge, but only from Hearsay?
Just so. The Captains would take care we should not know the Fact.
You know, that by breaking the rounder Coals, they produce a larger Quantity?
Do you think it possible to do without a Meter or Middle-man between the Buyer and the Seller?
If Coals were sold by Weight instead of the present Measurement, and the Duty were taken off, it is possible that the Middleman might be dispensed with; if The King's Duty were taken off, or if the Government were satisfied.
Do you think that if the Duty was collected by Weight at the Port of Shipment, there would be no Necessity for Meters in the Port of London?
I can only state what my Feeling would be if I had a Cargo of Coals delivering in the Pool. I should take care, if there was no such Middle-man, to employ such People to deliver it as would see that if a Person came for 100 Tons, they would not foolishly give him 101 Tons.
For your own Security?
Yes; and as a Proof of that, many Ships that come and deliver Coals are laid on the Birth to go to Hamburgh to take in a Cargo worth from 50,000l. to 75,000l.; and the Moment that Cargo is placed on board the Ship the Master signs Bills of Lading, and makes the Owner responsible for the whole of the Cargo, however valuable it may be; consequently, if I repose so much Confidence in a Man as to allow him to sign such Bills of Lading, I can have no Hesitation in trusting him to deliver 200 Tons of Coals, or whatever the Quantity might prove to be.
Then you would do by that Mode without additional Charge to the Public?
Yes, decidedly and distinctly. How that would work in Practice it is impossible for me to say at present, but I should have no Hesitation in submitting my Interests to the People I employed; and I imagine a Buyer would take care that if he bought 100 Tons he did not take 99 only.
Are you aware of any other Charges to which the Buyers are subject in the Port of London, besides that of Meters; do you know any thing of the Coal Whippers?
Yes, I do.
What is that System?
The System of delivering our Ships is this, that we are obliged by some Act of the City, I believe it is confined to the City of London, some Local Act, to pay these Men 3s. a Score for all the Coals they deliver.
Are not those Coal Whippers placed under the Management of a Set of Men called Undertakers?
More properly speaking, now Publicans.
Those Undertakers are appointed by Act of Parliament?
Yes, I believe they are.
Is there not a Provision in the Act of Parliament declaring that Publicans shall not be Undertakers?
I believe there is a Provision that a Man shall not be both a Publican and an Undertaker.
In point of fact, they are chiefly Publicans, are they not?
It was some Years ago discovered that Undertakers were so perfectly useless, though the Ship Owners had been used to pay them 1d. a Chaldron, that they are now nearly done away.
To whom do you apply for the Coal Whippers?
The Captain of the Ship works, as it is called, out of a Public House. The Men are appointed by the Publican.
The Whippers are appointed by the Publican?
Yes, so I understand.
Under an Appointment of the City?
There I can speak only as to Report.
You can speak to the Wages of those Persons, probably?
They have 3s. for each Score of Coals.
How much is that for each Imperial Chaldron?
It is 6s. for the Forty Chaldrons, whether they work or are idle. As soon as they are appointed to a Ship, they are allowed to make Two Score a Day.
Do you pay them in advance?
We have nothing to do with the Payment of the Coal Whippers; I do not know how the Captain arranges for their Payment.
How do you mean, whether they work or are idle?
When once they are appointed to a Ship, the Act of Parliament says, that the Coal Merchant, after he has bought the Coals, shall work at the Rate of Forty-two Chaldrons a Day. If he does not work at that Rate, they come on him for what is called Balk Days, that is, those Days on which they are unemployed; and that amounts to 6s. per Man per Day.
Are you forced to pay them that?
Yes; that is One of the grievous Things we have to complain of.
If it was not for this Act of Parliament obliging you to do it, could not the Coals be delivered by the Crews of the Ships?
I should think they might. Occasionally all the Ships in the Out-ports are delivered by their Crews; they are the same Men that sometimes go to an Out-port. I apprehend that what they do at Brighton and Hastings they could do in London.
Even supposing that by some Accident the Crews who deliver the Cargoes at Brighton or Hastings could not do it in London, if the Captain was enabled to bargain for the Men under a free Trade, could he not get them at a much cheaper Rate?
Yes, undoubtedly; very much cheaper.
Do you know, during the Time that this Operation is going on by the Coal Whippers, what becomes of the Sailors?
They are generally idling about the Decks; they have very little to do. They may be employed about the Rigging, and whatever little Things may be necessary about the Ship, and getting the Barges to and from the Ship.
During that Time, they receive Wages from the Captain?
They are paid by the Voyage. Probably each Man may receive a Pound in London, and the Balance when he gets back to Sunderland.
Has not this Practice a Tendency to increase the Price of Freight?
Unquestionably. If our Captains could go on the Highway and hire Men, and make a Bargain, and employ their own Seamen with them, we could deliver Coals much cheaper.
Is there any Branch of the Coal Trade you are acquainted with which is not fettered by some Regulation of the Act of Parliament in the City of London?
I am afraid it is very much so, and in no Instance more than in respect to the Delivery of the Ships. I have been complaining of this for the last Fifteen Years, but I have not been able to get any of my Correspondents to listen to me.
Are you not aware, that, without relation to the Government Duties, if these vexatious Restrictions were done away, the Public would be supplied much cheaper?
Yes. If I could get my Ship delivered for 12l. instead of 36l. (which I am prepared to shew), she could go for 9s. Freight, where I now receive 11s.
Are you prepared with a Statement shewing the Difference it makes?
If I had understood the Questions which would be proposed, I would have come better prepared on these Subjects.
Can you state what are the Items which make up the 36l. and what are the Items which would make up the 12l.?
I can state respecting a Ship of my own, last Year, called the Neva. She made only One Voyage in the Coal Trade, and delivered 455 Chaldrons and 2 Vats. The Charges of her Delivery on that Occasion, including the Meters and every thing else, was 41l. 14s. 6d. When she came from Quebec, the same Ship was delivered for 14l.; and when she came from St. Petersburgh, she was delivered for 13l. I should say, if I were asked the Question, that the Delivery of the Coals was easy Work for the Men in Six Days; and that the Delivery from Quebec, when the Men earned 14l., was very hard Work for Twelve Days.
When you mentioned the Men, whom did you mean; the Crew of the Ship or the Persons employed?
The Persons employed; they are technically called Lumpers. When Men deliver Ships laden with Timber from America, they are called Lumpers; when they deliver Coals in the Pool, they are called Whippers.
How did you make out the Charge of 41l.?
It is composed of an imperative Price. We are obliged to pay 3s. to each Man for each Score of Coals, and the Meter's Bill.
How many Men had you employed in this Ship on delivering her Cargo?
I cannot speak to that; I merely observed it in the Accounts charged to me by my Captain, a Man who is Part Owner with me in the Ship.
How much did you pay to each Man employed for each Chaldron you took out of the Ship?
At the Rate of 3s. per Score for each Man.
What is a Score?
Are the Lumpers Persons employed by the City?
No; we hire them where we like, or else we could not get them at that Price; it would cost us as much again.
Do those high Wages go into the Pockets of the Whippers, or do they go chiefly to the Publicans?
They go into the Pockets of the Coal Whippers, as far as the Captain of the Ship is concerned; but I cannot speak from my own Knowledge. I cannot shut my Ears. I hear that those Men are very much imposed upon.
Is it not notorious that the Result of those high Wages is to put inordinate Profits into the Pockets of the Publicans, who supply them with Gin and Spirits?
The Whippers, I am confident, do not get all the Money they earn. I believe that the Excellence of those Whippers consist in the Quantity of Gin and Beer they can consume, and for which they are Customers to the Publicans. I believe those Men have been obliged to pay Douceurs to go on board a Ship. I heard that Fact this very Morning before I came down.
To pay for the Privilege of working?
Yes; and their Excellence is estimated not by the Manual Labour they can perform, but the Largeness of the Score against their Names.
Are any of them Soldiers?
I cannot say.
Can a Captain apply to whatever Publican he pleases, or is he obliged to apply to any one in particular?
The Ships are generally fixed to particular Houses. One Man wrote to me to say he would give me a Couple of Gallons of Gin each Voyage if I would allow my Ships to work out of his House. As I am not in the habit of drinking Gin, or of taking Bribes, I took away the only Ship I had previously sent him.
Those Coal Whippers are regarded by the Publicans who appoint them in proportion to the Quantity of Money they spend with them?
I believe so. I know nothing of the Circumstances but from Hearsay. I have currently heard that Report.
Those Publicans have the Power of appointing those Persons oftener or less frequently according to the Benefit they derive from them?
I believe so.
Are those Expences you mention occurring to your Ship the Neva, exclusive of the Lighterage on the Coals being put on board the Lighters?
Yes; this is for the Delivery into the Lighters. The Coal Merchant has nothing to do with the Coals until they are put on board the Lighters; we put them free on board.
Are you aware of any of the Expences after the Coals have been put into the Lighter?
Each Man is obliged to deliver Two Score in the Day?
Yes, or to pay Demurrage. Here is the Form of a Turn Paper. (Producing the same.)
It operates upon him as a Fine if he does not deliver Two Score?
He is liable to pay the Men at the Rate of 3s. per Score, and to pay us a Remuneration for our Vessel.
How many of those Whippers have you employed at a Time?
Four Men in the Hold, Four to whip up, One at the Basket, and the Meter and his Man; making altogether Eleven Persons; and in some Cases, where the Ships run very large, such a Ship as the Neva, they have Five Men to whip; but the Instances of that are very rare.
Those Eleven Men are to deliver in the Day Two Score?
Do they ever deliver more?
That is not a hard Day's Work?
Certainly not; Four Score is not considered a hard Day's Work, nor Five. The Meters consider it what they call a good Day if they can deliver Five Score; then the Men get 12s. or 15s. a Day.
What do you suppose you would get Five Score delivered for by the Lumpers?
Much in the same Proportion as the same Men deliver Balks or Deals.
What would they get for a Day's Work, supposing they could deliver Five Score?
If it were at Half the Price they would each get 7s. 6d. if they delivered 100 Chaldrons.
Do you think you could get them to work at that Rate; at Half the Price?
It would be difficult perhaps to lower their Income all at once, but I have no doubt they would in Time be got to do it.
How much do you think you could get it lower than that if you were to employ your own People?
I am sure I cannot tell; but very likely at Half the Price, or even less than Half. If a poor Man can earn 6s. a Day, as the minimum Price, I dare say, sooner than not be employed, he would be content to take 3s.
Would it be more expensive to discharge a Cargo of Coals than of any thing else?
I should think not.
Does the Ship Master experience no Hardship from being obliged to pay both Meters and Whippers when the State of the Weather prevents the Discharge of the Cargo?
Has any Inconvenience occurred to yourself?
A great many hard Cases have come under my Knowledge during the late Frost; but the Expence rested entirely with the Buyers, and must eventually fall on the Public.
Do you recollect any particular Instances?
No; but I know there are a great many.
Are you obliged to pay those Men during the whole Time the Ship is in the Pool, notwithstanding they cannot work?
The Magistrates have so decided, although the River was frozen from Side to Side; they say that is the Act of Parliament. They admit it to be a hard Case, but that they cannot deviate from it. On one Occasion I called the Attention of Mr. Drummer, the Principal Clerk in the Sea Coal Meters Office, to the State of the River; he said it was their System, and he could not deviate from his System in any way, and that he could not help the State of the River.
Have you a Copy of a Factor's Account for the Sale of a Cargo with you?
No, I have not; I can state what the Charges are.
Is there a Charge for Meter's Office and Entry?
How much is that?
Four Shillings per Ship.
Trinity Dues and Cocket?
Trinity Dues amount to 1d. per Chaldron; but that comes under the Denomination of Lights.
There are The Lord Mayor's Dues, are there not?
Yes; a Farthing per Newcastle Chaldron, which is double the Imperial Chaldron, on the Certificate we receive from the North.
The 4s. per Ship you have referred to is on the Ship, whatever its Size?
What is the Factor's Commission?
One per Cent. for Commission and Guarantee; and small enough it is.
How much per Imperial Chaldron is that?
When the Price of Coals is 36s. it is about 4d. a Chaldron, fluctuating as the Price may be more or less; but when it is 1s. a Bushel, our Commission is 4d. a Chaldron.
What are the Trinity House Dues and Stamps?
The Receipt Stamps to the Buyers and Postages? These Expences depend on the Number of Buyers we sell the Coals to.
What are the Trinity House Dues?
They are for the Lights; I cannot explain that.
Did you ever hear of their Existence in the River Thames any where?
There are no Lights above the Nore; that is the first Light.
Are they along the Coast?
There are various Lights along the Coast.
Is that a Charge for the Lights from Newcastle or Sunderland to London?
I should apprehend not, for there is a Charge at the other End for those Lights. It appears in some very old Form of Account of mine that it is 1d. per Newcastle Chaldron.
Is there not a Charge for Ingrain allowed to Buyers?
The Buyers have that Ingrain.
Which is not in your Account with the Ship Owner?
We remit the Account as we receive it from the Buyers; and the Calculation is Twenty-one Chaldrons to the Score.
Does the Charge for Ingrain appear in your Account?
No, I think not. If I sell 105 Chaldrons of Coals to a Man, the Price is made out for 100 Chaldrons. We calculate it by printed Books. The Five Chaldrons is the Ingrain upon 100 Chaldrons.
You give Five Chaldrons to the Buyer of 100?
Who pays for those Five Chaldrons?
The Buyer receives Twenty-one and pays for Twenty Chaldrons.
Is the Ship Owner the Person who supplies that extra Chaldron, or the Proprietor?
The Ship Owner, when the Coals are on his own Account.
Are there other Charges for Metage?
There is 10d. to the City for Orphans Dues, and 4d. for Metage, which we pay to Mr. Drummer.
Is there any other Charge?
There is a Charge for the Labour of the Meter; I do not recollect the exact Amount of that. I can state in round Numbers what the Meter's Bill in the Neva came to; it was about 7l. for the Meter and his Man. That was for the Labour.
There were Two separate Payments, the one to the City for the Metage, and the other to the Meter for his Labour?
Yes; and 4d. a Chaldron we pay to Mr. Drummer, the Principal Clerk in the Coal Meters Office; and I believe he pays it to the Chamberlain of the City.
To refer back to the Act of 47 Geo. 3. is not the Meter allowed 3s. a Day in the room of eating and drinking?
Has he not his Eating and Drinking besides?
I dare say he very frequently has.
Does not the Cabin Boy call out, "Meter, the Dinner is on the Table"?
I have no doubt that is the Fact; I know the Captains do not prevent their eating if they choose to eat.
The Provision of the Act is, that the Meter should not eat on board?
Yes, undoubtedly; and in lieu of that they have the 3s. a Day for eating and drinking; I know they have the 3s.; whether they eat and drink I cannot say; but the Conviction on my Mind is, that they very frequently do.
Is not there an Act of Parliament by which the Coal Buyers are not bound to find Craft for more than Forty-two Chaldrons a Day?
Yes; they are bound to find Craft for Forty-two Chaldrons a Day.
They are not bound to find more?
I know that they very frequently do find more.
Could not they discharge a great deal more than Forty-two Chaldrons?
They do, a great many more; and sometimes they cannot do the Quantity they are required to do.
Do you know any thing of Dispatch Money?
I have heard of such Things.
What is the Purpose of that?
To induce the Coal Merchant or his Lighterman to get the Ship out before her stipulated Time, which is at the Rate of Forty-two Chaldrons a Day.
To whom is the Dispatch Money paid?
I believe to the Lightermen.
Did you ever know it happen that when a Ship is nearly out, and has not more than Five or Six Chaldrons over Forty-two, the Bargeman will not find Room over without receiving a Bribe?
I have certainly heard of such Things.
Supposing there to be a fair Wind, and the Captain ready to sail, he is obliged to give him that?
It is a great Inducement to the Captain to give him that which he asks, and I have no doubt in many Instances it is done.
Do you know any thing of the Land Metage?
Nothing at all, except that I believe there is a Man appointed to each Wharf.
Is it your Opinion that the Sea Coal Metage is properly and fairly conducted; that the System is a good one, without any Reference to the Propriety of selling by Measure instead of Weight; even under the present System, are there not certain Abuses existing?
The Ships make out very differently. As to the Abuses, I am not prepared to speak to that.
You know nothing of the Abuses after the Coals have left the Ship?
You know of no Frauds previous to the Arrival of the Coals at the Consumer's Cellar?
I know that only as any indifferent Person would know it.
Did it ever happen to you in your own Concerns to discover such Abuses?
No; I never paid Attention to the Point.
According to the Act of Parliament, it is necessary that every Cargo should be entered in the Coal Market Office, is it not?
Who is the Agent of that Office?
The Clerks of the Market, Mr. Butcher, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Pearsall; that is the Place where we enter the Copy of the Fitter's Certificate.
Do you believe that any of the Factors Clerks are Coal Undertakers?
I think I have heard of some of them acting in that Way; but I cannot speak on that Point with any Precision.
If the Coal Undertakers are Factors Clerks, they have an Interest in disposing of the Cargoes?
If they happen to be Undertakers, they are by Act of Parliament allowed 1d. a Chaldron. I think I have heard of One Instance, but whether he does so now I do not know.
You have stated that the Coals measured more on Delivery than they did on taking in; how do you account for that Increase?
I have not the slightest Knowledge. Sometimes it amounts to more, sometimes less.
You do not know how to account for it?
Only that all Cone Measures must necessarily be indefinite Measures. In my Opinion, one Meter makes the Cone higher than another.
The Factor sells to the Coal Merchant in London?
Yes; he sells to Coal Buyers.
Not to the Consumer?
No; unless the Consumer chooses to come on the Coal Market, which he has the Means of doing.
The Coal Merchant then sells to the Consumer?
Yes; we are the Agents for the Gentlemen in the North Country.
The Coal Merchants represent the Public. We are the Middlemen between the Coal Owners and the Consumers.
Your Account of these Expences is that of delivering Coals from the Ship?
We pay all the Expences in the first instance, and charge them, and then give Credit on the other Side for the Money we receive for the Coals.
The Account you have given is the Account of the Expence of the Delivery from the Ship solely to the Coal Merchant?
Yes. The Coal Buyer has nothing to do with the Coals 'till we put them into his Barges.
The Expences you have been mentioning are those you pay for the Delivery to him?
Yes. These are the Expences before they come into the Hands of the Coal Merchant.
Have you any thing to say to the Lighterage?
I know nothing about that. When the Coals are put into the Lighter our Business is to endeavour to receive the Money for them.
Your Duty ceases when they are put into the Lighter?
Yes; we have then only to collect our Monies, if we can. After that Time the Coal Merchant has the Coals, to the Expences of which I cannot speak.
You have stated that, under the Act of Parliament, the Time for selling at the Coal Exchange is from Twelve 'till Two?
In point of fact, at what Period of that Time are the Coals usually sold?
I should say generally, at the present Moment, before Two o'Clock.
Is the Sale of Coals distributed over those Two Hours, or is it confined within a shorter Time?
We are allowed to sell within that Time, but the Buyer puts off his Purchase, and we put off selling, 'till we feel the Pulse of each other.
So that the Bargain is frequently made within the last Quarter of an Hour?
What is the Object of confining the selling within those Hours at the Coal Exchange?
To congregate the Persons together within those Hours, otherwise it would be difficult to ascertain the Supply and Demand.
The Ship Owner pays in the North to the Coal Owner for the Quantity of Coals marked on the Meter's Certificate?
Supposing, when that Ship comes to the Pool, that it measures out a greater Quantity than is upon that Certificate, the Difference between the Two Quantities will be gained by the Ship Owner?
You say, by breaking, the Coals would measure out further?
I should imagine so.
In that Case, is it not the Interest of the Ship Owner to break the Coals during the Passage, to make them measure out more when they come to London?
There is no Opportunity in the Passage; the Ship is loaded to the Deck.
Supposing he could do it, is it not an evident Advantage to him?
The Coals would measure more, but the Ship would not get such Dispatch; and the latter Interest supersedes the other.
So that, upon the whole, you do not think there would be any Advantage to the Ship Owner, if he could break the Coals?
I do not think it is in Practice at all on the Passage; it is impossible.
You do not allude to what takes place in the Coal Merchant's Yard?
What the Coal Merchants do afterwards I know nothing about.
Supposing the Duty to be taken at Newcastle on the Weight instead of the Measure, would not the Quantity sold at Newcastle be always exactly equal to that sold in the Pool again?
It ought to be, if the Parties at both Ends do their Duty.
There could be no such Difference as now appears?
No, certainly not; unless the Coals were damped, and thus a Difference created.
You can state no Objection to the paying the Duty or paying for the Coals by Weight rather than by Measure?
I can see no very great Difficulty about it. If there are 200 Tons put on board the Ship at Sunderland, dry, and in perfect Order, if the same Duty is performed here as was there, of course those 200 Tons ought to come out here without the slightest Variation, if the Coals are constantly dry. I do not know how that would work in practice, because perhaps a Merchant, or some of those Persons who buy of our Coal Merchants, might, if the Market went back, make a Pretence and say that the Coals were damp, and he would not work them. It is impossible for me to say how the Thing might and would be. If all Men were honest in the Trade (which I suppose they are) there would be no Difficulty about the Matter.
If a Man chooses to be dishonest, in the Way in which Coals are now measured he may take Advantage?
In all Trades there are respectable Men, and highly so, and the contrary.
Supposing the Coals to be wetted on the Passage by Accident or Design, would they weigh heavier when they came to the Port of London?
I should think so, inasmuch as a Pint of Water weighs a Pound.
Suppose a Coal Merchant were to find a Cargo of Coals he has bought wetted, would he not refuse to take them under those Circumstances?
Yes; and I think he would be justified in so doing, if they were decidedly wet.
Therefore it could not be for the Advantage of the Ship Owner or his Captain to wet the Coals on their Passage?
No, I think not, if he knew his own Interest.
If the Time of the Market being opened was extended to Three o'Clock, would not the same Thing happen as does now, that the chief Business would be transacted towards the Close of the Time appointed for Sale?
I should think the same Difficulties would occur if we had 'till Twelve o'Clock at Night, for the Purchaser would put off his buying, and the Factor would put off selling, 'till he had ascertained what would be the probable Price.
Coals cannot be sold but at the Coal Market?
What is the Object of confining the Sale of Coals to that Place?
There must be some Place to meet.
Why may not the Owner sell where he pleases?
The Supply and Demand must regulate the Price, and we should never know the State of the Market. We could not carry it on unless we were all to meet together, and at certain Hours.
Without preventing your meeting together, why should not a Coal Buyer be allowed to go to a Person having them to sell at his Option?
The Person doing so might give 5s. more or less than he would in other Cases.
What Reason is there for obliging the Persons to buy and sell to meet at one Place?
I think the Business could not be carried on unless we had stipulated Hours.
The Question does not respect the stipulated Hours at the Coal Exchange, but why any Individual should be prevented going to your Counting-house at any Time of the Day, and buying a Cargo of Coals?
I do not know why it should not be; but I should say, as a practical Man, the Business could not be carried on if that were the Case.
You pay, on every Bargain, a Fee to the Clerk of the Market?
We pay him 1d. a Chaldron.
Then if a Person came and made his Bargain with you at your private House, he would save that Penny a Chaldron?
Certainly, if the Act of Parliament did not oblige us to pay that Penny.
Then what corresponding Advantage is there to the Public which should induce the Payment of that?
I know of no Advantage to the Public; it is a Charge on the Public.
Why are the Public obliged to pay that Penny in consequence of being forced to go and deal at the Coal Exchange?
It is under the Act of Parliament; I cannot say why it is so.
Do you know to what the Penny is applied?
It is paid to the Chamberlain's Office.
Who have the Appointment of the Clerks?
The Common Council.
Do you recollect the passing of this Act of the 47th of The King?
That was passed before I came on the Coal Exchange.
Do you know that that Act was drawn up by a Committee of Gentlemen appointed by the City?
I cannot say. The Market was established as it is before I was a Coal Factor.
The Market is opened only Three Days a Week?
From Twelve to Three?
For the Purpose of carrying on the Business of that Market there are Three Clerks appointed?
Do you know the Salaries of those Clerks?
Not at all.
Have they any Fees besides their Salaries?
Yes; we pay them either 1s. or 1s. 6d. per Ship, be the Ship larger or smaller.
Does that appear in the Charge to the Ship Owner?
It is a Charge to the Ship Owner or Freighter.
Besides this Salary, and 1s. per Ship you give them, they have also the Privilege of sending out the Letters called the Coal Market Letters?
That is a Privilege they have lately taken upon themselves.
Do you know how many Letters they send out?
I have not the slightest Idea.
Should you not be surprised if you were told that they sent out 500 Letters?
It is very likely.
Do you know what you pay them for those Letters?
No; I think we pay them Three Guineas - not for that Letter, but for a Document that Mr. Pearsall has lately introduced. It is quite a new Thing.
That is in addition to the Fees of which you have spoken?
What other Persons pay this Three Guineas?
I do not know.
Do all the Coal Factors pay it?
I think it very likely, but I never asked them the Question.
Could not the Duties performed by those Three Clerks at this Salary, with those Perquisites, be performed by One Single Clerk?
No, I think not, because they have to copy every Contract that passes through the Office; the Act of Parliament requires it to be done.
Can you point out any Use in having this Copy of the Contract made?
None whatever; I do not know the Use of it.
What Contract is it?
A Contract, a Copy of which I hold in my Hand. They keep Books, and every one of those Contracts are copied by the Clerks of the Market.
Is not the Use of it an Excuse to levy the Penny a Chaldron?
I do not know. They receive 1d. a Chaldron from us, and that is one of the Duties they perform.
Is it any Check on the Quantities delivered?
Not at all.
Could not you give the Clerk a second or third printed Copy of this Contract?
Yes; and it would be very little Trouble to us; we do give him one of those already, and we could give him more if he wished.
He enters this in a Book?
Yes; that is by Order of the Act of Parliament, or the local Authorities of the City.
To what Use is this Copy of the Contract applied?
I know of none. The Books are put into Shelves, and they occupy a large Space. After it is done, I know of no Use.
Did you ever hear of any Person looking into them?
Perhaps on some litigated Point?
Very probably. I never have had Occasion during my Twentythree Years Practice to refer to them.
Can you conceive any Subject, except that of a Lawsuit, that could call on a Person to look into them?
If a Man was not satisfied as to the Price on the Return, he might do so.
Could your Business be carried on without any such Entry?
It is of no Use to your Business?
Not at all.
Do those Clerks employ any Persons under them again?
Are those Clerks Freemen of the City of London?
Necessarily so, or they could not be Candidates for the Office. I am speaking from the best of my Knowledge.
Under the Act, all those Officers appointed must be Freemen of the City of London?
To the best of my Knowledge.
You must sell on the Coal Exchange?
Yes; we cannot sell Coals off the Coal Exchange, under a Penalty of £100.
Do you know whether the Meters are Freemen also of the City?
I believe so.
Do you know of any other Trade carried on in the Port of London on which there are so many vexatious Restrictions?
I should think there are very few, if any. Our Locality is such that we do not know of them, but I do not think there is any one so harassed.
You are a Ship Owner as well as a Coal Factor?
You know that the Restrictions on the Coal Trade are infinitely greater than those on the Timber Trade?
Yes, they are; the Extent is in the Proportion I have stated in my Evidence,
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Saturday next, Twelve o'Clock.