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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 61

Massing up the People

Massing up the People

in a few large centres, that I wish at this time more particularly to call your attention.

If you will take a glance at any map of the United Kingdom which shows its steam services, both inland, coastal, and oceanic, you will see in how marked a manner they all converge on a few great centres, and how this is more particularly the case with reference to the huge overgrown metropolis.

These are the receiving and distributing centres for the whole country, and to a large extent for the whole world; for the major part of the vast commerce of Great Britain passes through them, and this being the case, you can easily imagine what immense armies of skilled and unskilled labourers must be concentrated there in order to handle and deal with it. These people again require other armies to provide for their wants; they must be housed, fed, clothed, educated, attended to when sick, or unable to work, &c., &c., and so the piling-up process goes on and ever on, to the physical, social, and moral deterioration of the people; for where large masses are congregated together in a small space, there poverty is sure to increase, and crime is certain to be rampant.

Looked at from a capitalist's point of view, the system pursued has undoubtedly many and great advantages. From the severe competition it induces, it lowers the price of labour, and consequently the cost of production, thus leaving a greater margin for profit.

Wherever there are large masses of poor and comparatively poor people, there will always be plenty of openings for the capitalist; but what a price is paid by the general community for the benefit of a few great houses!

I will try and make a little clearer how this differential rating system works. Cotton is carried from Barrow to Manchester, 87 miles, for 9s. per ton. I am not aware what the intermediate rates are, but I am very certain that to any of the intermediate stations full rates would be charged; and thus it would be quite impossible for a manufacturer to start operations there with any chance of being able to compete with his rivals in the large cities, and thus the manufacturing population is compelled to mass up in a few principal centres, of which Manchester may be cited as an example.

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The through rate from Barrow to Manchester is given in order to compete with the rate from Liverpool to Manchester, which is also 9s. for the 31 miles. It is probable that the 9s. for 87 miles does not pay the Midland Line, and in that case they would make an unfair charge on some other industry in order to make up the loss, and thus create another injustice and evil.

We have now to consider one of the most important points, perhaps the most important point, of our subject—the influence of this differential rating system on