5 die February 1777.
|That Leave be given to bring in a Bill, pursuant to the Prayer of
the said Petition, and that Mr. Knightley and Mr. Powys do prepare,
and bring in, the same.
|A Petition of the several Hatmakers and others concerned in the
Hat Manufactory of Fur and Wool, was presented to the House, and read;
setting forth, that the Hatters in and near the City of London have
been for several years past, and now are, under many Difficulties
in carrying on their Manufactories, by reason of the great Scarcity
of Journeymen in the Trade, and of their repeated Demands for an advance
of Wages to unreasonable Prices, and to lessen their usual Hours of
Work; and, in order to enforce a compliance with such Demands, they
have entered into a Combination (which they call by the Name of a
Congress) and have made Bye Laws exacted Fines, and prevented divers
of the said Manufacturers from having or taking Apprentices, which
are at this Time much wanted in the said Manufactory, and is one great
Cause of the scarcity of Journeymen; and that the said Journeymen
have, by means of the above Practices compelled the most industrious
Part of the whole to quit the Service of those who will not submit
to such unwarrantable Proceedings, which the Petitioners feel with
great concern will be the utter Ruin of the said Manufactory, if not
speedily prevented; and that besides the above Practices, the Petitioners
are great and daily sufferers by Journeymen who embezzle their Materials,
and by the Buyers and Receivers of the same, the Punishment for which
(by the present Laws) hath been found ineffectual on account of the
great Difficulty in Convicting the offenders; and therefore the Petitioners
are without Remedy, unless they can obtain the Aid of Parliament in
those Cases; and that the Petitioners now pay, and are willing at
all Times to pay, to their Journeymen, a full and adequate Price for
their Labour, and such as will be sufficient to enable them comfortably
to support themselves and Families; but that those their Intentions
will be entirely frustrated, unless they are allowed to have a greater
number of apprentices, than the Law at present allows them; and unless
the wages and Prices of Work, and the Hours of working by their Journeymen,
by [sic] fixed by Authority of Parliament, or a Power invested
in the Magistrates, within their respective Jurisdictions, to settle
5 die February 1777.
|regulate the same from time to time, as Occasion may
require; and therefore praying the House, that Leave may be given
to bring in a Bill for the above Purposes, or to grant the Petitioners
such other Aid as to the house shall seem meet.
|That the said Petition be referred to the Consideration
of a Committee; and that they do examine the Matter thereof, and report
the same, as it shall appear to them to the House.
|And it is referred to,
|Mr. Alderman Harley
||Mr. Alderman Oliver &c.
And they are to meet tomorrow Morning at Nine of the Clock in the
Speakers Chamber; and have Power to send for Persons, Papers, and