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price (particularly in towns where an means, 60 as that the ports were kept assize of bread is set) appear high. open that quarter-day by 2d. in spite Merchants and factors of foreign corn of a counter effort, which he states to may have the same inducement to open have been made in the last week, the ports and warehouses. Farmers which was intended to shut them ; in have a pride in the quality of their that week a fictitious salè of Scotch growth of corn, as proved by the sale, wheat, to the extent of 1000 quarters, and often give large measure, or make was made upon the market, at a price up deficiency of weight by additional of 60s., which was entered in the inquantity. It is also in evidence, that a spector's returns, and, being much very general inattention prevails in re- below the average price, had of course spect to the use of the legal standard, an influence in depressing the return and that every deviation is an increase price of that week, but not so as to
effect the object in view, as the ports In regard to the practice of any did, as above stated, open that quarfraud, with a view to create an influ- ter-day by 2d. ence on the price which each quarter- A very striking instance of fraud is day is to govern the opening and shut- stated also to have been practised at ting the ports, your Committee have Liverpool, which was not detected till to report, that no instance has been ac. it excited observation on the part of tually proved before them to have suc- the receiver in London. On that occeeded in producing the effect desired; casion returns were made to the folbut two or three cases are stated in lowing effect :-2300 qrs. of British evidence, in which, according to the wheat, at 50$. per qr., whilst the true opinion of the witnesses, such an at- average of the market was from 68s. tempt has been made.
to 70s. ; 2000 qrs. of oats, at 18s, per A great difference of price between qr., whilst the true average was 23s. the returns from the Corn-Exchange to 24s.; 1000 qrs. of beans, at 355. and those in the factors' letters has per qr., whilst the true average was been shewn to exist in each of the six 48s. to 50s. ; 500 qrs. of peas, at 38s. weeks preceding the 15th November, per qr., whilst the true average was 1818, wherein it appears sometimes 48s. to 51s. The parties by whom that the letters give an advice of price, these returns were made were underwhilst the Corn-Exchange return 'stood to be considerable holders of shews a fall, and vice versa, particu- British corn, and were induced to relarly in the last of the six weeks, when sort to this mode of reducing the gea great fall took place in the Corn- Deral average, to promote the purpose Exchange return, but no correspon- of their speculations, and to render dent depression, according to the fac, more improbable the ports being tor's letters. The average of Kent and opened for the importation of foreiga Essex is also shewn at the same time grain. From the careless manner in to be much at variance with the re- which the business of the inspector turns of the Corn-Exchange; the first had been conducted, this fraud escaped five of the six weeks were 3s. 4d. above detection in Liverpool. the price of these counties, the sixth But, notwithstanding your comweek 2s. 2d. below them. From these mittee have received no proof of frauds circumstances the witness thinks that beyond what are here stated, they are an inference may be drawn, that in of opinion that there are some cirthese five weeks the Corn-Exchange cumstances particularly arising from return was influenced by artificial the mode pursued of computing the average ruling price, which afford 6th district amount only to 359 quargreat and obvious facilities to fraud ; ters, 6 bushels ; in the 8th, to 324 these facilities exist, too, without vio- quarters, 2 bushels ; and in the 9th, to lating the letter of the law. They 135 quarters, 3 bushels. have not been practised hitherto, part- These quantities, being so small, ly because the extent to which they are obviously liable to be operated upexist has not been generally known, on to a great extent by purchases made and partly because in former times the at a trifling sacrifice ; and, as each inducement was not so strong as at district forms alike a twelfth of the present ; within the last few years aggregate, three form a fourth; and more extensive speculations in foreign any undue influence created therein corn have been carried on than for. must produce a great alteration upon merly. It is obvious, that whilst the the price on which the opening or difference is so great between the Con- shutting of the ports depend: thus, tinental and the British price of corn if the price was advanced 4s. in these as at present, the latter being on an three districts, the aggregate would average double the price of the former, be advanced 1s. ; if 6s., 1s. Cd., and so every temptation exists to get in a in proportion ; a great effect upon the large quantity of foreign corn, and aggregate price must follow therethen to shut the ports ; and as the im- upon. It is true, that if a more rigid portation price is fixed at 80s., which execution of the Act should bring a is also supposed to be the lowest price larger quantity of corn into the reat which it can be grown, the market turns of these districts, the facility of price will (except at particular pe- influence over the price would be diriods, and under peculiar circumstances) minished in proportion ; but still the be within a very few shillings of the computation of the averages upon a import price, and, of course, the ap- dividend of the whole quantity into proach to the quarter-day is likely to twelve, and three or four of these produce a struggle between the par- twelve being comparatively small, great ties concerned, according to their re- temptations to influence the aggregate spective interests. In the early periods price, by operations carried on in those of the corn laws, the import-price was smaller districts, would still exist. To fixed so much above the remunerating obviate the occurrence of so great an market-price, that an occasion for such evil, your Committee venture to prostruggles, and consequent perpetual pose, that the total quantity of corn speculations, could rarely occur ; nor sold in the 139 towns of the twelve was the difference between the British districts should, by the receiver of and Continental price at that time so corn returns, be thrown together and considerable as to excite so much in- cast up: also the total amount of the terest as now exists.
money for which the said was sold, In order to explain fully these fa- and the money divided by the numcilities of fraud, which arise out of the ber of quarters ; thus dividing once present mode of computing the aggre. only to find the aggregate average gate average, it is necessary to refer price, instead of extracting it by the to the paper in the Appendix marked complicated calculations before de(A), in which the amount of the scribed. The average total of weekly weekly sales for the year 1819, in sales in the 139 towns, according to each of the twelve districts respec- the paper in the Appendix, marked tively, is set forth. It will be seen, (B), ainount, in the six weeks ending that the average weekly sales in the 13th May last, to 25,114 quarters. This quantity, drawn from so many from the inspectors to the receiver in different markets, appears to your London may be made exactly in the Committee to be above the means of same form and manner as at present. any fraudulent influence; and as a more It will be the business of the receiver, rigid execution of the law will add when the returns are all come in, to considerably to the quantity of corn add the quantities all together, and now brought into the returns, the dif- strike the general aggregate average. ficulty of fraud will be so much fur- Your Committee are of opinion, ther increased, as in the opinion of that, in order to ensure a due execuyour Committee to remove all appre- tion of the law, some further enacthension of such an occurrence in fu- ments and regulations are necessary ture.
to be adopted. In the first place, they Your Committee think that a new think that the Board of Trade should Act may be necessary to authorize be furnished by law with greater the computation of the aggregate means of general superintendence and average price in the manner thus pro- direction than they at present possess. posed. The direction of the Act of Secondly, they think it necessary to the 44th Geo. III. cap. 109, as to observe, that the inspectors have not the manner of computing the aggre. at present an adequate salary for their gate averages, is not very definite; trouble. The country inspectors are but one uniform practice has prevail- paid 5s. only for each return, and ed since that period, which of itself though the magistrates have a power may be supposed to have determined to increase that allowance out of the the law, and make a new Act neces- county-rates, it does not appear to sary. Your Committee have particu- have been done in any instance. larly turned their attention to an exa- The inspector upon the Corn-Exmination of the effect that would be change appears to be adequately paid produced, as to the opening or shut. by the proprietors thereof, and the ting of the ports, by adopting the receiver of corn-returns is appointed mode proposed of computing the ave- by the Treasury, and it is presumed rage, instead of that at present in use; he either is or may be sufficiently paid as they are sensible, that if the open. for the due execution of his office, ing of the ports was likely to be re- which is certainly an office of great tarded thereby, it would be produc- trust and responsibility, and requires tive of an effect which at present is not the constant attention and utmost vi. in the contemplation of the House. gilance of those employed in it. They therefore directed the receiver Your Committee are also of opiof corn returns to compute the ave- nion, that various other regulations rage price of each of the six weeks might be adopted that would tend to ending the 13th May last, in the esla- the obtaining of more correct returns. blished mode, and in that proposed, The inspectors should be furnished which is accordingly set forth in the with directions and printed forms for paper marked (B) and (C), by which making up their books and returns; it will be seen that the difference is the latter have indeed been lately supvery trifling, so as rarely in any in- plied to them by the receiver ; their stance to exceed the fraction of a shil- books should be open to inspection, ling, and that fraction more frequent- under regulation, to buyers and sellers, ly higher than lower, according to the so far as relates to their own indivimode now practised. Should the pro- dual sales or purchases; the average posed mode be adopted, the returns price of each town should be posted in the market-place so soon as the week “an abstract of the average same has been cast up, and again at prices made up and computed in man the opening of the market on the sub- ner herein before respectively directed, sequent market-day ; and the total from all the returns received, as well quantity of corn and total of muney from the several districts of the said should be given at the same time. twelve maritime counties of England
Your Committee are of opinion, and Wales, as from the counties, cities, that though it is proposed to ascer- and towns thereinbefore mentioned ;'. tain the aggregate price which is to and this total is denominated the ave-' govern the foreign trade by the total rage of England and Wales. Your quantity received from all the towns Committee have carefully examined. in the twelve districts added together, and compared the prices returned by yet that it may be useful to shew the this total of inland and maritime counweekly average of each district, and ties with the price of the maritime quantity sold therein.
counties only; the difference is trifling, The inspectors should every quar
and varies so as sometimes to be above ter pro
ce their books to a general or and sometimes below the prices of the petty sessions, to have them examined maritime districts. Comparative prices and signed by the magistrates thereat ; will be seen in the paper marked (D);. and it is also expedient that the week- the inland counties therefore might be ly aggregate of the twelve maritime added, if thought advisable, to the districts, with the quantity and price, maritime, in order to form the governshould be published in the Gazette. ing price. But your Committee do
Your Committee think it necessary not take upon themselves particularly here shortly to advert to certain pro- to recommend this alteration in the visions of the 31st of his late Majesty, law, as the maritime counties alone under which returns were made of the have been taken as the basis on which prices of corn from the inland coun- to form the governing price, under the ties, and which still continue in con- Act of the 55th of his late Majesty. formity thereto to be received and Upon the same principle on which made up, and weekly published in the the prices of the inland counties have Gazette. That Act recites, that been ascertained and published week“ whereas it would be highly useful ly in England, it would be desirable that an account should be obtained of to direct similar returns to be made the prices at which the several sorts weekly also from Scotland and Ireof corn, &c. are sold in the several land. From the former country it inland and other counties of the king- may be done without any fresh enactdom, from which returns were not ments, as quarterly returns still conhereinbefore directed to be made, in tinue to be received from those under order that a register thereof may be the directions of the 31st ; and for the formed and published, for the infor- same reasons, that there should be mation and benefit of his Majesty's published quarterly in the Gazette, subjects.” The Act then provides average prices, made up from the refor the appointment of inspectors, and turns received from the whole of the the general execution in like manner united empire. as is provided in respect to the mari. It appears reasonable that Irish corn time counties, and the returns then should be considered as British corn received are entered in a book kept when sold in the British market, and for that purpose, and once in every admitted as such into the returns.
Your Committee having received taining and Improving the Foreign some intimations of frauds committed Trade of the Country. under the warehousing provisions of the 55th and the 31st Geo. III., and The Select Committee appointed that foreign corn was taken from un- to consider of the means of maintain der the King's lock and thrown upon ing and improving the foreign trade of the market, proceeded to make some the country, and to report their opi. inquiry thereupon, but were not able nions and observations thereupon to to discover that any such frauds had the House ; and to whom the several been actually committed. They are petitions relating to the commercial of opinion, however, that it would restrictions, and to the duties on tim. be useful to provide a check against ber, presented in the present session, such an occurrence, by not only mea. were referred ; and who were also em. suring the corn into the warehouses, powered to report, from time to time, but occasionally gauging the quanti- to the House, have, pursuant to the ties, and measuring them out again, as order of the House, considered the well when the locks are taken off for matters to them referred, and have home consumption, as for exporta- agreed upon the following Report: tion.
It has appeared to your Committees It had also been suggested to your that the means of attaining the object Committee, that frauds had been com- to which their consideration has been mitted by introducing foreign grain directed by the order of the House, into ships taking cargoes coastwise, consisted less in affording any addigoing out half loaded, and filling up tional legislative protection or encouwith foreign corn on their voyage; ragement to the commerce of the unibut no evidence has been adduced to ted kingdom with foreign states, than establish the existence of such a prac. in relieving it from a variety of restrictice. It has also been said that flour tions which the policy of a former pehas been introduced from the United riod imposed upon it, and which, whe. States of America, through the me. ther expedient or otherwise at the time dium of our colonies ; and one wit. when they were enacted, baving ceased Aess has stated that a mercantile house to be necessary for the purposes which at Liverpool offered to supply him originally recommended them, tend to through ihat medium ; but your Com- embarrass its operations, and impede mittee have received no further testi- its extension and prosperity. Your mony thereof. They are certainly of Committee are satisfied that the skill, opinion that it is highly desirable that enterprize, and capital of British merthe officers of the customs should, un- chants and manufacturers, require only der the direction of Government, be an open and equal field for exertion ; ordered vigilantly to guard against any and that the most valuable boon that attempt of this nature to defeat the can be conferred on them is, as unliobject of the legislature.
mited a freedom from all interference July 8, 1820.
as may be compatible with what is due to private vested interests that have grown up under the existing syte
tem, and those more important consi REPORT
derations with which the safety and
political power of the country are joFrom the Select Committee appointed imately connected.
to consider of the Means of Main- Your Committee have therefore