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when judgment is given in presence of the parties, no formal notification by the usher is needful, it will be evident that costliness is not one of the evils of the Conseils de Prud'hommes. In cases where registration of judgment is necessary, and in certain forms of procedure, some stamp duties have to be paid, but these constitute the minority. Judgment is enforced by precisely the same means as those of all other law courts in France. In districts where there is no Conseil de Prud'hommes, and in cases arising between persons of other trades than those included within the jurisdiction, ordinary justices of the peace are charged with the settlement of disputes, which must be tried in the locality where the workshop is situate. These justices, however, follow the same procedure in trade disputes as in all matters brought before them. The costs are much greater; and, what is worse, the delays that arise are long and vexatious. Beside its mission of conciliating and judging differences between employers and their workmen and apprentices, or between the latter, the Conseil is charged with the execution of laws for protecting trade marks and registered designs, the inspection of manufactories, the execution of the laws upon the workman's livret or certificate, and the general laws and regulations affecting manufactures and trade. The Government can at all times call upon the Council for reports and replies to questions.
Some interesting statistics have recently appeared of the proceedings of the Councils, the scope of which has very much increased of late years. Since the establishment of the system the number of courts has largely increased, there having been 62 in 1844, and at the present time about 132. The cases heard in private sittings have fluctuated during different periods; but on the whole have had a tendency to increase, especially since 1880, in which year the figures were 39,429. Of these, 73 per cent, were disposed of in 12 manufacturing centres. Paris, with 4 Prud'homme Courts, had 16,757 cases; Lyons, 2,969; St. Etienne, 1,513; Roubaix, 1,414; Havre, 1,303; Bordeaux, 1,060; Lille, 812; Elboeuf, 737; Limoges, 782; Marseilles, 601; St. Quentin, 520; Besancon, 501; the total number of these cases being 28,969. Out of every 100 cases brought before the Court of Conciliation, 59 related to wages, 13 to dismissals, 10 to misbehaviour, 5 to disputes about apprenticeship, and 13 to various other points. On an average about a fourth of the complaints were withdrawn before hearing; but it is a subject of remark that the number of cases in which the efforts of the Court to conciliate have been successful are year by year becoming less. On the other hand there is a fair proportion of cases which are sent up to the General Court, but which are settled before they actually come on. Between 1876 and 1880, out of a yearly average of 7,955 cases put down for hearing before the General Court, 4,789, or three-fifths, were withdrawn for private settlement.
We have nothing in this country exactly answering to these Conseils de Prud'hommes in France. True, we often hear of an arbitrator being appointed in disputes arising about wages or hours of work affecting a large district or an entire trade. But the arbitrator is usually chosen for his public position, not from any special knowledge of the points in dispute; and, in the absence of any technical acquaintance with the matters involved, the general result is that a compromise is effected which satisfies neither party, but leads to a revival of the contention on an early day. We have also Boards of Conciliation for the hosiery trade in the Nottingham district, for the iron trade in Staffordshire and in the North of England, and for a few other industries and places. These Boards consist of representatives of employers and workmen, usually presided over by some gentleman from outside, and their chief function is to determine the rate of wages, quarter by quarter, on a sliding scale of prices and cost of production. They have done a certain amount of good in averting strikes and lock-outs, but as at present constituted and worked, they do not meet anything like the whole of the difficulties which perpetually arise. The amendment of the Labour Laws which was effected in 1875, by the passing of the Employers and Workmen Act; and of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, has simplified the legal proceedings in cases of disputes about wages and breaches of contract as between masters and servants. Yet there appears to exist some need for a quick and easy method of adjudication on all such matters, like the Conseil de Prud'hommes, but adapted to English feelings and habits. Each town or district might have its Arbitration Court, composed of employers and workmen conversant with the usages of the various trades, which might be more easily and appropriately grouped than is the case in France. The decisions should have the binding force of law, subject only to appeal on graver questions. These would be but few; so the workmen would come to be inspired with confidence in a tribunal composed partly of intelligent and upright men of their own order. The scale of fees should be fixed at a low rate, sufficient only to cover working expenses. The moral effect would be great and salutary, in the strengthening of mutual confidence and goodwill, and in checking the spirit of strife and jealousy which is so apt to break out between capital and labour under the existing condition of things. We are all members of the body politic, and while each has appropriate duties and functions, none can dispense with the help and sympathy of the others. Any proposal is to be hailed with pleasure and gratitude which is likely to diminish class animosities and suspicions, and to weld together all sections of the community in earnest efforts for the public good.
W. H. S. Acbkiv.
THE MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL.
IT has been notorious for a long time past that great dissatisfaction existed in South Lancashire, and especially in Manchester, concerning the conditions under which traffic to and from Liverpool, and through the port of Liverpool to and from foreign parts, is effected. The manufacturers of Manchester and of many inland towns have been seriously revolving projects for new and improved means of transit, and have a length succeeded in getting a Bill for making a ship canal from Liverpool to Manchester read a second time in the House of Commons.
As this movement touches national as well as local interests, and as the problem "How can traffic be best facilitated and cheapened?" is one worthy to engage the attention of the whole country, it has been thought that some account of the condition of things in the neighbourhood of the Mersey may be acceptable here. Accordingly an attempt will be made in this paper to show how the complaints above alluded to have arisen, and what they are; also to give some account of the proposed remedies. And an endeavour will be made to prove that the case of South Lancashire should suggest considerations of importance to other districts, and to the country generally.
The port of Liverpool being at present the great inlet and outlet for the merchandize of Lancashire, and being by Nature the convenient, and by art and by sagacity the established and well-docked resort of the district, has for long been a source of pride for its energy and commercial achievement, and of wonder at its great and rapid growth. Yet, having attained to immense utility, and to much renown, it finds itself, in the latter half of this nineteenth century, spoken against and threatened with a rival. Perhaps Liverpool is only
undergoing the experience at which all greatness must sooner or later arrive. After being lauded and admired as a queen, she is to be complained of as an obstructive, or something like it. After ministering to and mainly helping to create the vast trade of Lancashire, she has come to be regarded by some as an incubus weighing down and stifling that trade. As it will be necessary in the course of this paper to repeat some of the depreciatory sayings which are going about to-day in regard to her, let us first, by stating a few facts as to her wonderful growth and the magnitude to which she, as a port, has attained, show that we are quite sensible of the merit through which, for a century, she has sat on the waters as a queen.
The official table, published in 1882, of the Liverpool dock duties received in each year, does not go farther back than 1752, which epoch, from the modest amount of the receipts, we may assume to mark the dawn of the town's celebrity. It is shown in Picton's "Memorials of Liverpool," however, that although there had not been much resort to art in harbour works previous to 1752, yet the idea of improving the natural advantages of the estuary, and of providing safe accommodation for shipping, had stirred the minds of the leading men of the port at an earlier date, and induced them to take some action in that direction. Picton tells us that in 1565 the number of ships belonging to the port was fifteen, averaging eighteen tons, and that these were manned by eighty seamen. The largest of these vessels was of forty tons burden.
A dock was projected in 1708, and opened in 1715. The results were sufficiently encouraging to beget a desire for dock-works of a more pretentious character; and, after a long interval, during which counsel and invention were continually at work, another dock was opened in 1753. This, it may be perceived, was the year following that which was above noted as marking the dawn of the town's prosperity.
In 1752 the dock duties were £1,776: ten years after they were £2,526. In 1772 they were £4,552, and in 1782 they were £4,249. A hundred years after, in 1882, they were £929,643.
Before 1812 the duties seem to have been paid on the tonnage of the ships; from 1812 to 1857 inclusive, on the tonnage of the ships and on the goods; in and after 1858 there have been duties on tonnage, duties on goods, and town dues on goods. It will be convenient to note here the changes in the imposts, because those changes have to do with the complaints now heard from the manufacturing districts of Lancashire.
In 1757, duties were paid on 1,371 vessels; in 1800, on 4,746; in 1840, on 15,998; in 1882, on 20,966.
While this rapid and great growth of the number of ships frequenting the port was in progress, exertions—many of which may be called gigantic—were continued to keep up the dock accommodation, so that it might be equal to the requirements of the expanding trade. Dock after dock was constructed at great cost, until, from the one dock, opened, as was seen, in 1715, there are, or soon will be, on the Liverpool bank of the Mersey, about six linear miles of docks; while on the Cheshire side there is a smaller but yet an ample provision. The Cheshire (Birkenhead) docks form now part of the Liverpool Dock Estate. The Cheshire and Lancashire Dock Estates were not always united; and there are records of their separate existence and rivalry which are locally of much interest. Here, however, it is not intended to touch upon emulations or reconciliations farther than may be necessary to explain the amount of the charges levied on shipping.
To come now to the management of the Liverpool Dock Estate. It has always been in the hands of the Corporation of Liverpool, or of a Dock Committee, consisting of members of the Town Council and of members elected by the ratepayers. Thus it appears that the estate has always been a Trust for the public, and not a property out of which a company ever sought to make profit. The members of the committee performed, and still perform, their duties gratuitously. The Committee or Trust was empowered by many consecutive Acts of Parliament to borrow such moneys as might suffice for providing from time to time the shelter and accommodation necessary for the shipping as it increased. Payments for work done, for supervision of work and collection of dues, and in the form of interest to lenders, were all that the system of finance strictly required. But there are old privileges of the town, conferred on it long before docks began to be built, which have to be satisfied by charges on the shipping or the freights. There have been purchases made of foreshore on both banks of the river, and of water space, and even of finished docks at Birkenhead, which have not always proved profitable. Add to this that the Committee has deemed it wise to lay by, as a reserve fund, the sum of £1,412,000, and it will be seen that, to meet the annual demand upon the Trust, the dues must be somewhat heavy.
As to the reserve, it is objected that, as the Dock Trust is not a dividend-paying company, and as it can raise money for its requirements at 4 or 4i per cent, per annum, the reserve is unnecessary. Moreover, if it were used as capital instead of being laid by, it would enable the board to make a sensible reduction in the dues. All the works of the Trust are executed with capital which it is empowered by Act of Parliament to borrow. Its credit is excellent; therefore it is not clear why it should keep up the rate of its dues for the purpose of amassing a reserve of such doubtful utility.
The agitation for new docks inland will, one may be sure, lead