Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[1 August, 1650.]
Names of Commissioners for regulating trade.; Their instructions.
The Parliament of England taking into their care the maintenance and advance of the Traffick Trade, and several Manufactures of this Nation; and being desirous to improve and multiply the same for the best advantage and benefit thereof, to the end that ye poore people of this Land may be set on work, and their Families preserved from Beggary and Ruine, and that the Commonwealth might be enriched thereby, and no occasion left either for Idleness or Poverty: And duly weighing, That the Trade of this Nation both at home and abroad, being rightly driven and regularly managed, doth exceedingly conduce to the Strength, Wealth, Honour and Prosperity thereof; and on the contrary, That the negligent, irregular and defective management of Trade must necessarily prove disadvantageous to the several Trades in particular, and to the Commonwealth in general: For the preventing of which Mischiefs and Inconveniences, and for the better Regulating of Trade for the future, Be it therefore Enacted and Ordained by the Authority aforesaid, and it is hereby Enacted and Ordained, That Sir Henry Vane junior Knight, Thomas Challoner, Richard Salwey, William Methwold, Maurice Thompson, Esqs; Sir Ralph Madison, Knight; John Fowks Alderman of London, Sir Robert Honywood junior Knight, Edward Johnson, John Ash Esqs; John Fowlis Esq; Henry Thompson Alderman of York, Sir Cheiney Culpepper Knight, William Greenwood of Yarmouth and Thomas Boon, Esqs. or any five or more of them, shall be, and are hereby constituted and appointed Commissioners, as a standing Councel, for the Ordering and Regulating of Trade in all parts of this Nation for the best advantage of the Commonwealth, according to the Instructions and Powers hereafter following:
To inquire into manufactures of native commodities,
First, They are to take notice of all the Native Commodities of this Land, or what Time and Industry may hereafter make Native, and advise how they may not onely be fully Manufactured, but well and truly wrought, to the Honor and Profit of the Commonwealth.
and their distribution:
Secondly, They are to consider how the Trades and Manufactures of this Nation may most fitly and equally be distributed to every part thereof, to the end that one part may not abound with Trade, and another remain poor and desolate for want of the same.
into means of transport:
Thirdly, They are to consult how the Trade may most conveniently be driven from one part of this Land to another: To which purpose they are to consider how the Rivers, may be made more Navigable, and the Ports more capable of Shipping.
into foreign trade:
Fourthly, They are to consider how the Commodities of this Land may be vented, to the best advantage thereof, into Foraign Countreys, and not undervalued by the evil management of Trade: And that they advise how the Obstructions of Trade into Foraign parts may be removed; and devise by all means, how new ways and places may be found out, for the better venting of the Native Commodities of this Land.
as to free ports
Fifthly, They are to advise how free Ports or Landing-places for Foraign Commodities imported (without paying of Custom, if again exported) may be appointed in several parts of this Land, and in what maner the same is best to be effected.
as to keeping accounts of imports and exports:
Sixthly, They are to consider of some way, that a most exact Accompt be kept of all Commodities imported and exported through the Land, to the end that a perfect Ballance of Trade may be taken, whereby the Commonwealth may not be impoverished, by receiving of Commodities yearly from Foraign parts, of a greater value then what was carried out.
as to coinage and rate of exchange:
Seventhly, They are duly to consider the value of the English Coyns, and the Par thereof, in relation to the intrinsic value which it bears in weight and fineness with the Coyns of other Nations: Also to consider of the state of the Exchange, and of the gain or loss that comes to the Commonwealth by the Exchange now used by the Merchants.
as to Customs and Excise.
Eighthly, They are (in order to the Regulating and Benefit of Trade) seriously to consider what Customs, Imposts and Excise is fit to be laid upon all Goods and Commodities, either Native or Imported, and how the said Customs, Imposts and Excize may be best ordered and Regulated, and so equally laid and evenly managed, as neither Trade may thereby be hindred, nor the State made incapable to defray the Publique Charges of the Commonwealth.
as to freedom of trade:
Ninthly, They are to take into their consideration, whether it be necessary to give way to a more open and free Trade, then that of Companies and Societies, and in what maner it is fittest to be done; wherein notwithstanding they are to take care, That Government and Order in Trade may be preserved, and Confusion avoided,
as to merchant companies
Tenthly, They are to inform themselves of the particular Ordinances, Orders, Grants, Patents and Constitutions of the several Companies of Merchants, and Handicraftsmen to the end that if any of them tend to the hurt of the Publique, they may be laid down, in such maner as the Parliament shall think fit.
as to fisheries:
Eleventhly, They are to consider the great Trade of Fishing, and that not onely upon the coasts of England and Ireland, but likewise of Iceland, Greenland, Newfound-Land and New England, or elsewhere, and to take care that the Fishermen may be encouraged to go on in their Labors, to the encrease of Shipping and Mariners.
as to the Plantations.
Twelfthly, They are to take into their consideration the English Plantations in America or elsewhere, and to advise how those Plantations may be best managed, and made most useful for this Commonwealth; and how the Commodities thereof may be so multiplied and improved, as (if it be possible) those Plantations alone may supply the Commonwealth of England with whatsoever it necessarily wants: And they are hereby Required, That as soon as they have maturely considered and resolved upon any material part or point of these Instructions, or that they have thought or advised of anything besides, which they in their judgments may suppose to be advantageous to the Advancement of Trade, That they certifie the Parliament or Councel of State thereof from time to time; to the end that the Parliament or Councel of State may give such Order thereupon, as they in their Wisdoms shall think to be most fit and reasonable.
Further instructions; Their powers.; Salary of Benjamin Worsley, their secretary.; Other Officers' salaries.; Meeting place to be allowed them in Whitehall.; To meet there Aug. 20, 1650.; Continuance of Act.
And they are hereby required, not onely to take these present Instructions into their speedy consideration, but what other Instructions or Considerations of Trade shall be hereafter transmitted to them by the Parliament or Councel of State, they are seriously to advise thereof, and to return their Opinions and Advices thereupon to the Parliament or Councel of State with all convenient speed. For the better effecting and carrying on of the premises, the said Commissioners or standing Councel for the Regulating of Trade, are hereby authorized not onely to receive such Propositions and overtures for the well Regulating and, Benefit of Trade, which shall be offered unto them by any person whatsoever, but to send for the Officers of the Exchequer, the Mint, the Customs and Excise, or any person or persons whom they shall think fit, or finde to be of Experience and Ability to advise withal, in anything that tends to the Benefit of Trade. And they have hereby full Power and Authority given them, To view all Books, Records and Writings of publique use, which they the said Commissioners or standing Councel for Trade shall finde needful, for their better Information in anything that may concern the premises. And moreover, they are hereby authorized to allow unto Benjamin Worsley Esq; (who is hereby constituted and appointed to be Secretary to the said Commissioners or standing Councel for Trade) the yearly Salary of Two hundred pounds per Annum; and to make choyce of as many Clerks, Messengers and other Officers, as they shall think fit and needful for that Imployment, and to allow them such Salaries as they shall judge to be requisite; the said Salaries in the whole not exceeding the sum of Three hundred pounds per Annum, over and above the Two hundred pounds per Annum to the Secretary aforesaid: which said Salaries, with such other incident charges as the said Commissioners or Standing Councel for Trade shall necessarily be put unto, in the Advancing and Regulating of Trade, upon their Certificate thereof to the Committee of the Navy, the said Committee of the Navy are hereby authorized and required to give present Order for payment thereof accordingly. And it is further Ordered by the Authority aforesaid, That the said Commissioners or standing Councel for trade shall have allowed unto them for their Meeting, a convenient place in Whitehall, with power to adjourn from place to place, and from time to time, as they shall see cause. And they are lastly hereby authorized and required to meet at the place aforesaid in Whitehall, the Twentieth day of August, One thousand six hundred and fifty, there to consider and advise of the premises according to the Powers and Instructions, hereby given them; which Powers and Instructions, and all things in this present Act contained, shall be of full force and Authority, until the nine and twentieth of September, One thousand six hundred fifty and one, and no longer, unless the Parliament shall otherwise Order the same.