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GREAT BRITAIN’S PROGRESS, Issue 8029, 4 October 1889
GREAT BRITAIN’S PROGRESS
The rapid and continuous expansion of the trade and commerce of Great Britain furnishes a convincing proof, if any be needed, of the soundness of the Freetrade principles which dominate her financial policy. She alone, among the nations, has thrown wide open her ports to t aU the world—untrammelled by the restrictions which embarrass and perplex her neighbors. Not without some temporary suffering has that end been achieved; but now she has received her exceeding great reward. Prom a delivered by Mr Medley, and endorsed by Sir Edward Watkin, at the July Cobden Club dinner, we extract a few particulars illustrative of the Social and commercial strides the Mother Country has made. Taking a period of three years — 1887-89 —he .proceeds to quote 'figures which he is justified in terming “astounding.” In 1886 the foreign trade amounted to £618,500,000. In 1887 it was increased by £24,400,000; in 1888 it was again increased by £42,500,000, and in the first six months of 1889 by £26,000,000. In round numbers, this trade may be set down at “ the enormous sum ” of 728 millions, as against 618 millions in 1886. This means more than a hundred millions’ rise in three years—a circumstance unparalleled, even in degree, in the commercial history of the world.
Concurrently with the increase of foreign trade, the conditions of internal trade also have rapidly improved. In the past half-year the traffic on the railways exceeded that of last year by £1,600,000; the receipts of last year being a million -and a-quarter over those of 'IBB7. The bankers’ “clearings” show an astonishing rate of increase. “ The amounts,” said Mr Medlesv “ are so enormous “ that it is difficult to realise them at “all The increase in this half-year “ over the corresponding period of last “ year amounts to something over four “ hundred millions sterling.” The amount annually invested in commercial enterprises, new companies, and other ventures averages one hundred and twenty millions. The shipbuildingtrade, as might be expected, has sustained an unprecedented increase. At the end of the second quarter of the present year there were 836 vessels on the stocks, with a carrying capacity of 930,000 tons; whilst in the corresponding period of last year there were only 377 vessels, with a total tonnage of 608,000. The condition of the skilled labor market has correspondingly improved. Of shipbuilding operatives —not counting 700 men temporarily on strike for higher wages—there were only out of employment a proportion of less than seven to the thousand. In engineering there were 1.75 per cent, or 17| per thousand, out of employment; as against 5.2, or upwards of 50 per thousand, last year. In housebuilding, less than 4 1 per cent, of the men were out of work. In the iron and steel trades, at the end of June, there were 3,461 men without employment, out of a total of 188,744 operatives; or less than 1J per cent., as against 4, per-cent. last year. The same prosperity prevails in every branch of industry, except the cotton trade, iii respect to which the operations of certain American “comers” in cotton have raised the price’ of the raw material by |d pqr lb, and in consequence the mills are only working half-time—to the injury of 118,000 workers. But Great Britain is not chargeable with this outcome of transatlantic speculation. As a result of the improved state of affairs emigration is on the decline. We learn that during the six months ending in June last 43,482 fewer emigrants left Great Britain thanjfin the corresponding period of 1888, ; showing that, notwithstanding the increase of population, the working classes have less desire to leave the country. Pauperism also has sustained a remarkable decrease. In England and Wales the returns for the last week in April showed that the number of paupers had fallen to 715,941, which is about twenty-five per thousand of the population—“ a lower average than “in any year since 1857,” London alone in that week had 7,000 fewer paupers than in the corresponding week last year. For the current year it is estimated that the total gverage will not exceed 22 in the thousand.
Thus, with foreign? cbmineWie extending and internal trade Nourishing, with the demand for skilled labor increasing and emigration and pauperism diminishing, Freetrade Great Britain ■holdsherownagainsttheworld. If other countries insist on supplying her with cheap sugar by the granting of bonuses wrung from the taxation of their own people, that is their look out. The cost of living is cheapened to the artisan by the sugar and the'coin impbrted by foreign ships. Wages are advancing at the same, time, and* employment is becomingabundant. .Never were the prospects of Great Britain brighter than at present. .And that the figures and statistics quoted by Mr Medley are correct may be accepted without question, for they are derived from official reports and other authentic sources of information. With such potent facts and figures at cfpngmd, Mr Medley may be pardoned lor his Parthian shot at the Protectionists, whom he likens to “ owls and bats, “blinded, by the sunshine.of perity which has utterly falsified “their predictions.’” , •• v... —■' I. ■ ' it
GREAT BRITAIN’S PROGRESS, Issue 8029, 4 October 1889
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