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cotton. I have never seen any feasible plan for stopping speculation by legislation. Few speculators in raw material have died rich men, and paper bargains in cotton are as useful to the cotton-spinner as to the speculator. The remedy for the short supply of cotton is the same as that for the speculator. We want more cotton grown.
This brings us to the consideration of what are the prospects of larger supplies from exist. ing cotton fields, but, if I am not wearying you with figures, I want, first of all to put before you some details of the growth and distribution of the American crop. You will remember that out of 16,000,000 bales, America produces 11,000,000, or approximately 70 per cent. There has been a great change in the distribution of this crop in recent years, as well as a great increase in the growth. The total distrlbution of the American crop for 1876-80 was 4,947.000 bales; for 1886-90, 6,878,000 bales; for 1896-1900, 9,664,000 bales; and for 1901-3, 10,762,000. The distribution was as follows :DISTRIBUTION IN PERIODS OF THOUSANDS OF
to £100,000,000. Of this amount, some £72,000,000 worth is sent abroad, and constitutes the greatest manufactured export trade of any kind of any country in the world. It is obvious that if this trade is to be curtailed by a short supply of cotton, the results to us will be very serious, and that not only directly, but indirectly. Cotton manufactures play an im. portant part in balancing some of our trading accounts. We import a much greater value of goods from several of the great nations of the world than we export to them, and in some cases even when shipping charges, the balance of interest due to us, and reasonable profits are allowed for, there is still a balance due by us, which must be paid for in some other way than by direct trade. Let me give an illustration, which I take from an article on the cotton industry by a well-known authority, Mr. Elijah Helm, Secretary of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce :
“Take the case of France. She imports large quantities of raw silk and other products from China, Japan, India and Turkey. Yet the amount of merchandise exported from France to these countries in return is extremely small, and assuredly she does not send them gold. How, then, does France pay for these liberal imports from the regions I have mentioned ? She pays for them indirectly, not by means of her own productions, but by sending her wine, her silk goods, her gloves, and her artistic manufactures to Great Britain, and Great Britain settles the account by exporting her manufactures, chiefly cotton goods, to the countries in question.”
There is yet a further consideration in relation to our vast export trade in cotton manufactures. A sudden rise in price hinders trade in every country, but its effect is much greater in countries in a lower state of civilization. Much of our trade is done with Oriental or barbarous races who do not take kindly to increased demands on their slender means, whilst the export of cotton manufactures to such races on the part of our competitors is comparatively small. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, on account of the magnitude of the trade itself, on account of its great usefulness in helping to pay some of our bills by roundabout methods, and on account of our great export to uncivilized or semi-civilized races, that we should strain every nerve to increase supplies of the raw material, and so keep its price at a reasonable figure.
The question now arises as to how this is to be done. So far as our troubles arise from unbridled speculation, the best remedy that can be applied is to smother the speculators in
The above Table shows that England is using a much smaller proportion of the American crop than was the case years ago. This tendency has been very marked all through the last century. For instance, in 1827-31 we used 63 per cent. of the American crop; in 1852-6, 53 per cent. ; in 1881-5, 43 per cent.; and in 1901-3, not quite 28 per cent. This decreased proportionate consumption of the American crop does not mean that we have used less cotton, but that other nations have used more. Exactly the same tendency is apparent in the consumption of the Northern mills of the United States, which used 1,840,000 in the three years 1888-90, and 2,256,000 in 1901-3, whereas the Southern mills used 490,000 bales in the earlier and 1,925,000 in the later period.
The tendency on the part of the United Kingdom to use a small proportion of the American crop is due not only to the increase of spindles in the Southern States of America and on the Continent of Europe, as well as in
Japan, Canada, and Mexico, but also to the opinion on the question of acreage must be fact that we now spin much finer yarns than taken for what it is worth, for reports are very we did some years ago, and use a good contradictory. Judging by the past, I am deal more Egyptian cotton. The American inclined to believe that the acreage will be spindle spins about go lbs. of cotton per annum,
increased. In the three years 1877 9 the the spindle of the European continent 70 lbs., acreage as given by the Washington Departand that of Great Britain 34 lb. Perhaps I ment of Agriculture averaged about 12,500,000 may give at this point the number of spindles acres; for the three years 1889-91 20,600,000 running in Great Britain, the Continent, United acres; and for the last three years about States of America, India, and other countries 27,600,000. The average price in this country in 1893, 1899, and 1903 :
from 1877-9 was 61d.; for 1889-91 5. d.; and
for the last three years 53d. It must, how1895. 1899.
ever, be remembered that between 1891 and
1901 prices had been very low and afforded Gt. Britain
45.400,000 45,500,000 48,000,000 no stimulus to increased production. A careContinent.. 28,200,000 32,500,000 34,000,000 ful study of the effect of prices on acreage U.S.A. 16,100,000 18,300,000 22,000,000 during the past 25 years shows that when India 3,800 000 4,700,000 5,000,000
prices first dropped below 4d. there was a conOthers
siderable decrease in acreage, which was more Total .... 93,500,000 101,000,000 12,000,000
than recovered three or four years later, and
when in 1900 prices rose materially, the tenThere are three observations to be made on dency to increase again asserted itself in a this Table. First, the spindles of “other” coun
marked manner. I cannot, therefore, help tries were not all started between 1899 and 1903, expecting that the recent range of high prices but I have not accurate details of the earlier will probably have a stimulating effect. It has period. In the second place, the growth of
been shown that a price of 4d. in this market spindles in India has been materially checked is a paying price to the American producer. during recent years ; and in the third place the A fortiori, 5d. or 6d., must pay him much growth of spindles in Great Britain has shown better, whilst 7d. will yield a huge profit. Indeed, a greater increase in the last period than those it seems to me one of the dangers of the situa. on the Continent. It should be added that the tion that the present value of cotton may so increase in the United States of America is stimulate production in America, that by the mostly in the Southern mills.
tirne we have got our new sources of supply to The danger of our dependence on American work, they will be prejudiced by a fall in sources of supply is twofold. In the first place, if prices. Such a fear ought not to deter us from the increase in the Southern mills is to continue, doing all that we can to stimulate the growth a point which is somewhat in doubt, and about of cotton elsewhere; for it is dangerous for us which I cannot speak with certainty, the de- to be so dependent on the United States of mand for the market of the United Kingdom
America. Also there are many competent must become a more and more negligible observers who think that the supply of labour factor. In the second place, unless the supply in the South will prevent any large increase of American cotton is greatly augmented, we shall continue to be more or less in the hands It is unnecessary to allude at length to the of speculators.
question of the yield per acre. There is a I come now to the possibility of increased sup- general impression that the yield in America ply from existing sources. In reference to the is decreasing, but having looked somewhat United States of America, I am quite un- closely at the figures, I cannot, at present, able to forecast what may be done in the find any justification for it. future, either in the direction of the increase Our next chief source of supply is Egypt. of the total production, or of the pro
This cotton is longer, finer, and more silky portion of that production which will be than the American variety; it is more suitable available for our use.
There are two con- for our finer manufactures, and lends itself to siderations to be borne in mind as regards the
the newly discovered mercerising process increase of production, firstly whether the
which makes it look almost like silk. We are acreage of the crops is likely to be greatly the largest consumers of Egyptian cotton, and augmented, and, secondly, whether the growth obtain one-sixth of our total supply from that per acre will show any material change. My country.
The Assouan Dam will, no doubt,
of the crop
do something to increase the acreage under These facts have long been obvious; but I cotton. I understand, however, that Lord do not think traders would have awakened to Cromer estimates that it will only increase the the seriousness of the situation were it not that total cultivable area by 15 per cent., half of we were on the verge of a cotton famine in which is suitable for growing cotton. It will be 1900, actually experienced one in 1903, and seen, therefore, that no great addition can be are face to face with the danger of another in made to the amount of cotton grown in Egypt. the present year.
We obtain a certain amount of cotton from Having dealt with the present situation, the Brazil and Peru. The quality is somewhat needs of the future, the probable insufficiency harsh, and although for many purposes these of present sources of supply to meet these varieties can be used instead of American, our needs and the danger of being so dependent as consumption of them has very materially we are on the United States, I come now to the decreased since 1870. The question of the efforts that are being made to extricate the possibility of an increased crop in those coun- cotton trade from the dilemma in which it finds tries concerns other users more than ourselves. itself placed. This is not a small problem, it If more cotton is produced there, so much the is a large one. better; but our spinners evidently prefer There are, at present, probably 45,000,000 American cotton, and will only use Brazilian to 50,000,000 acres growing cotton, or say, when they must.
75,000 square miles, or nearly two-thirds of the There has also been a great decrease in the area of the United Kingdom. In ten years amount of East Indian cotton we consume. time, we want to have a further area, half as The length of the staple is very short, and it is large again, planted with cotton. Let me put quite unsuitable to the manufacture of any of it in another way. Take a length of railway, our finer goods. One of the venerable chest- about 30 miles. To keep one good modern mill nuts of the Lancashire Cotton Famine is the running on ordinary medium counts would story of a man, who at a prayer meeting require a plantation extending for half a mile where someone was fervently praying, “Oh on each side of the line for the whole of that Lord, give us more cotton,” ejaculated “Yes distance. In addition to the present area, the Lord, but please not Surat!”
world will want at least another thousand such Lancashire has certainly acted in accordance plantations within the next ten years. The with that view, for whilst from 1870 to 1875, value of the cotton produced on this extra we imported over 1,000,000 bales of cotton acreage, at an average of 5d. per lb., would every year from India, we have only imported be £70,000,000, or, at present prices, over about 100,000 per annum during the last six £100,000,000. What a stimulus to the trade years. I shall deal with the possibility of of the Empire if we can grow even half of it in further supplies from India when I reach the our own possessions ! question of the work of the British Cotton- We have in the British Empire almost Growing Association.
endless territory suitable for the growth of This list exhausts our principal sources of cotton. It would be a clear Imperial gain supply, but we get small quantities of cotton that we should grow it there, for whilst the from Chili, Venezuela, Columbia, the British extra cotton would supply our mills and disWest India Islands and British Guiana, courage speculators, the people who grow it European and Asiatic Turkey and a ton or two would become excellent customers for our even from Australia and New Zealand. From manufactures. none of these countries, however, has the The British Cotton-Growing Association has supply of cotton suitable for our purposes been been formed to try to achieve this desirable end. increasing of late years. Indeed, a cursory Its inception was due to the Oldham Chamber glance at the statistics of imports shows (1) of Commerce and to Sir Alfred Jones. At the that we were less dependent, just before the annual dinner of the Chamber in January, American Civil War, on supplies from the 1901, a discussion took place on the important United States than we are to-day ; (2) that we question of increasing the world's supply of were then using large quantities of Indian cotton. Subsequently a committee was apcotton, which we can do no longer, because the pointed to make inquiries, other Lancashire competition of India, Japan, and China has Chambers of Commerce were approached, and taken from us the coarser trade; and (3) that a meeting was held on February 18th, 1902, at the only great increase of supply has come from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, of Egypt.
those interested in the question. Sir Alfred
Jones had meanwhile been dealing with the state very briefly what has been done and question with his usual energy. In May, 1901, what it is hoped to do. he sent out ten tons of seed to our West African India was the original home of the cotton Colonies; he impressed on the governors of trade. Even the word “calico" comes from those colonies the importance of increasing India, and the finest muslins have been made the growth of cotton there, and, with a there from time immemorial. So far, little generosity no less real because it may eventu- has been done by the British Cotton-Growing ally prove to have been far-sighted, he offered Association for India beyond holding many special facilities for the shipping of the first interviews with officials and conducting a thousand bales of cotton that may be sent to large correspondence. The Indian sub-comthis country.
mittee of the Association believes that much The African section of the Manchester may be done there. On February 27th, Mr. Chamber of Commerce was invited early in Brodrick, the Secretary of State, kindly 1902 to appoint representatives on the Oldham granted an interview to a deputation. He Committee, and these representatives soon made the interesting suggestion that the saw the necessity of co-operation between the British Cotton-Growing Association should Oldham movement and Sir Alfred Jones. start a plantation in Burma and try to produce On May 7th, 1902. a meeting of all those a better quality of cotton there. Several interested was held at the Albion Hotel, earnest attempts have been made in the past Manchester, and that meeting
in this direction in other parts of India. British Cotton - Growing Association
All the various kinds of cotton grown in formed.
India at present are, however, too short for On June 12th, the Association was publicly general use here. In the old days we used inaugurated, and it was decided to raise a them largely for coarse counts and coarse guarantee fund of £50,000 for the purpose of cloths, which were sent to the East; but India making the necessary preliminary inquiries can now make these more cheaply for herself. and of undertaking experiments and providing Three things stand in the way of any great machinery wherever it seemed advisable. The growth of cotton in India suitable for our merit of the work in its earlier stages is purposes. The first is that exotic seed has principally due to Sir Alfred Jones and to Mr. never yet been successfully cultivated there for J. E. Newton, of Oldham, whose health, un- any long period. It seems as if in regard to fortunately, has broken down under the strain cotton, the soil forces the product of the seed of the work which he undertook as chairman into some primeval type of its own choosing of the committee of the Association.
rather than gives it fair play to reproduce its Before proceeding to describe the work own prototype. The two other difficulties are done and information obtained by this Asso- removable. One is that sufficient care is not ciation, I may mention that the original scope exercised in the selection of seed, and this is and intention has had to be greatly enlarged. vital for growing good cotton. The other is Instead of a guarantee fund of £50,000, it is the primitive methods of cultivation used by now intended to raise half-a-million ; instead of the Indian ryot. How long it will take to isolated experiments, expert advice and pre- remove them, I leave to those who know India sents of solitary gins, one or two considerable better than I do to judge. I can only say that plantations and large advances to cultivators many practical men still hold the strongest are under consideration.
opinion that India might and ought to produce ment has been received from Government cotton of a better quality and far more per officials of all kinds. The drawbacks have acre than she does. Let us hope their opinion been, firstly, the lack of response on the part may be justified in the future. of the bulk of the cotton trade, but I hope I take next the West Indies. In 1786 to this will now be altered; and secondly, the 1790, we received from the British West fact that the Association has been so over- Indies, British Guiana and British Honduras, whelmed with correspondence and appeals from 45,000 bales a year out of a total consumption all tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Empire, of 63,000 bales, whereas of late years we have that it has been difficult to concentrate its not imported more than 1,000 bales of the attention, or even decide wisely on what seems same size. In these Islands can be grown the best worth doing.
very finest kind of cotton which is used, comI will now take the different parts of the monly known as the Sea Island variety. I am Empire in which cotton can be grown, and glad to say the movement for an increased growth of cotton has been taken up with great be possible to attract some of our Indian fellowenthusiasm, many thousand acres are planted, subjects to settle there? and next year the acreage will be still greater. A new field of cotton has also been opened Sir D. Morris, the Imperial Director of Agri- in the neighbourhood of Tokar, on the Red Sea. culture, is taking the deepest interest in the From 20,000 to 30,000 acres are already under question, as is also Sir Gerald Strickland, the cultivation, and it is said that this area will be Governor of the Leeward Islands. The im- greatly increased in the future. It is also poverished condition of landowners has made stated, that if the Khor Baraka were dammed, many of them unable to undertake the growing some 2,000,000 acres of land would be cultivof cotton without financial assistance, but by able between Tokar and Kassala. On the the aid of the Colonial Office it has been whole, the Egyptian Soudan is one of the most arranged that grants shall be made to respect- hopeful fields for the growth of cotton for the able planters, under the joint guarantee of the United Kingdom, because it is capable of local authorities and the British Cotton- producing, apparently at a reasonable price, Growing Association.
cotton which is long in staple and fine and Correspondence is being carried on with silky in quality. Australasia, Ceylon, Burma, Borneo, and Going further south in Africa, we come to Fiji, and some experiments are being made in Uganda and British East Africa. The Foreign Ceylon. In reference to Australia, where there Office has sent an expert there, and Sir Charles are great areas of land suitable for growing Eliot reports that there is plenty of good cotton cotton, the difficulty lies in the great cost of land, and a supply of cheap labour. It has the production of cotton by means of white also been shown that cotton can be grown labour.
there from Egyptian seed quite as good as I turn now to our possessions in the vast that grown in Egypt proper, but the cost of continent of Africa, by far the most hopeful growing on a commercial scale has not yet field of all. I have already dealt with Egypt,
been proved. but have not mentioned the Egyptian Soudan, Again, going south, British Central Africa the ownership of which we share with Egypt.
is the next available field. Here there is a Dr. Hagberg Wright wrote to the Times on wild cotton plant (Gossypium anomalum), and January 5th, enclosing a letter from a friend of a plant introduced by the Arabs (Gossypium his in which this extract occurs :
herbaceum), which has been cultivated inter
mittently for centuries, but the best cotton “ The inverted alluvial delta of the Egyptian
in this district is grown from recently imSoudan, which is situated between the White and
ported Egyptian seed. It is nearly fifty the Blue Niles, is even more favourable to the growth
years since Livingstone was despatched to of cotton than the lower parts of the Nile Valley, and
the Zambesi and Lake Nyasa, to open affords ten times the area for the plantation of cotton of that available in Egypt proper."
up the country to cotton growing, for a
cotton famine was threatened in the fifties I find, curiously enough, this statement was and, as the world knows, actually took made thirty years ago in a book by Mr. Isaac place in the sixties. The chief obstacles to Watts, the Secretary of the Cotton Growing Livingstone's schemes lay in transport difficulAssociation of that day.
ties. During only six weeks in the year is the Experiments have already been made at the Zambesi-Shiré navigable to the verge of the Shendi Experimental Farm, of which an inter- Shiré Highlands. The railway which is being esting account is given by Mr. J. Nevile in built from a point on the navigable Shiré “White Book, Egypt” (No. 1., 1903). It through British Central Africa to Lake Nyasa seems quite certain that when the Suakim- is meant to meet the difficulty. Berber Railway is open, cotton can be grown The present situation is this. Cotton is and sent to Europe at very reasonable rates. being grown successfully, and can now be put The Association has constantly pressed upon on the Liverpool market at 4}d. to 5d. a Lord Cromer, through the Government, the pound. On the table are samples of two kinds necessity for building this railway with as little of cotton grown from Egyptian seed, which delay as possible, and he has promised that have been sold recently in Liverpool at 7 d. this shall be done. The principal difficulty and 8 d. per lb. respectively. These samples one foresees is the question of labour; but in were sent to the Society of Arts by the African these days of wholesale immigration from other Lakes Corporation, Limited, who imported the countries, is it too much to hope that it may cotton, Labour, however, is not too plentiful,