Friday, 13 July 2012

13th July 1812: Second & final day of Hosiers submissions to the Select Committee on the Framework-knitters petitions

On Monday 13th July 1812, the Parliamentary Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions heard the second and final day of evidence from four Hosiers.

Thomas Nelson, a hosier from Nottingham, spoke first. Like the other Hosiers that had previously given evidence, he attributed the decline of trade to the War and denied that 'fraudulent goods' were the issue - even that they were made and sold - but admitted that the goods his workers manufactured would be prohibited under the proposed Bill. Nelson was not above using moral blackmail to make a point - he shared that he had given notice to all of  his workers making pantaloons and breeches, lest the Bill be passed. Astoundingly, given the raging framebreaking that had taken place over the last few months, he even went as far as to state there no misunderstandings between Hosiers and framework-knitters as to prices for work completed. Finally, Nelson stated that he was against any kind regulation, even in trades like silk, in which he played no part.

John Nixon, a master Hosier from Nottingham was called next. Nixon was another Hosier who presented that his business would be destroyed by regulation - he pointed out that he had thriving markets for goods that the proposed Bill would prohibit. Nixon also disputed that 'fraudulent goods' existed, using the same reasoning as Thomas Nelson - that there was a market because they were cheap. Nixon was also not above moral blackmail, threatening that he would dismiss 40-50 workers if the Bill became law.

John Parker - who had given evidence two days before - now returned to the Committee, and answered many largely technical questions put to him by a Committee member supporting the Bill.

Lastly, John Coltman, a Leicester Hosier was called before the Commitee. The line of questioning he was subjected to was similar to those before, which exposed where the sympathies of the Committee now lay: that regulation would snuff his large and extensive business, one which relied on foreign markets, which were just now opening again. Also like the other Hosiers, Coltman all but denied the existence of cut-ups and 'fraudulent' goods. His last line of evidence spoke volumes: "...we have great difficulty to contend with in the foreign market, if such stockings as these [i.e. cut-ups] can be sold at 3s. a pair ... if we cannot meet this in a foreign market by articles equally cheap, we have no chance".

This has been summarised from the Second report from the Committee on the Framework-Knitters Petitions, 1812 (349) 2, pp.85-102.

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