Miscellaneous Abstracts of Evidence from Truck Report 1871
Bell of Motherwell
I have examined samples from Bell's store. The bread at 7d. could be sold for a little less, but the fault is not so much in the price as in the quality. It is sour ; it is what no baker would sell in Glasgow, who did any sort of business at all. It ought to be much better. The tea at 3s. 4d. should have been 3s.; the tea at 3s. 8d. should have been 3s. 4d.; there was tea at 2s. 8d. which should have been 2s. 4d. All this is after allowing a fair profit. The teas were fair assuming them to have been charged properly. A candle at 8d. was value. Sugar at 5d. was value; a brush at 7d. was about value. Currants at 4d. were fair value. Cut tobacco at 5s. 4d. per pound was inferior, it is musty. This is worse than Allan's; it is almost unfit for smoking. Some twist tobacco at 4s. was value.
Messrs Allan of Motherwell
I have examined samples from Allan's store. The tea at 3s. 4d. ought to be 4d. less at any rate, after allowing a very fair profit. The sugar was about its value. The bread was bad bread; it was not baked sufficiently, and it was sour. It was not fit for reasonable nutriment. When I give this opinion, I am giving that of a party who is qualified to form it, and who examined the bread along with me. Assuming that it had been good bread of its kind, the proper price would have been 6d., the price charged was 7d. The cheese was worth 8d. a pound, the tobacco at 4s. 8d. was inferior, and not worth more than 4s. It was sour. It is unfit for smoking. Another sample of tobacco at 4s. was good value. In forming my opinion as to these articles I have assisted myself by the advice and opinion of competent judges.
I am a pawnbroker at Airdrie. The men never bring me lines or provisions, but sometimes new articles from the store. They are about the same quality as in the shops, but much dearer. Petticoat pieces and trowsers are sometimes 1s. more than in the shops. The store cloth is a little dearer, and the people grumble terribly about the difference in price.
I am mining inspector for the lower ward of Lanarkshire. There is usually either a store or poundage. I have not made it my business to inquire into the conduct of stores. It is not within my jurisdiction. I have nothing to do with it. The only point within my jurisdiction is where the men are paid at a public-house. I think the feeling of the men is generally much against the stores, and some of the off-takes they have a feeling against also. Stores have existed since I was connected with mines, which was about 33 years ago. Pays in my district are generally either fortnightly or monthly. I know of none longer. A month is too long, and a week is rather short, but I am not aware of any reason why they could not be paid weekly. It would be just a little more trouble. I think fortnightly pays are often enough. The oftener you pay the more it has the result of making them improvident, if you pay them too often. I think daily pays would be a bad system. Weekly pays would be better than daily, but I think fortnightly pays are better than either, and have the effect of making a man more provident. There is a very evident distinction in regard of prosperity between the men who take advances and those who wait till pay-days, I think the store has a bad effect upon the worse class of men. It makes them improvident by giving them their money daily. I think poundage and stores are about equally bad, but the men object most to the store system. One reason is that they are not very civilly used. I think the qualities and prices are much the same as in the shops. The best provision against truck would be to prohibit daily advances. That would be much better than any system of inspection. The lower class of miners could exist for a fortnight without any advances. In cases of strikes they exist for months. Stringent legislation would be very difficult, it is so easy for an employer to have connexion with the shop or store in some way or other. The Wages Arrestment Act will do a great deal of good. I should think that the books containing the names of habitual slopers are not circulated from mine to mine amongst the owners.
I am cashier at one of Messrs. Baird's works at Eglinton. The co-operative store is managed by a committee of workmen, and it has given the utmost satisfaction. We pay eight per cent to the workmen who are shareholders besides the dividends, and there was also eight per cent on the sales.