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Of the select committee on the petitions of merchants, masters and owners of vessels navigating the East river, &c.
Mr. Morgan, from the select committee, consisting of the delegation attending this House from the city and county of New-York, to whom was referred the three several petitions of merchants, masters and owners of vessels navigating the East river, Hurl-Gate and Long-Island Sound, from New-York, Albany and Troy,
The committee have had under consideration the three petitions for a repeal of the law passed April 16th, 1830, authorising half pilotage to be charged in certain cases, on all vessels of or over one hundred tons burthen, passing through the East river and HurlGate, and to allow masters to take or refuse a pilot at their option.
Your committee are of opinion that the law of 1830 was necessary to encourage skilful and attentive men to act as pilots for vessels passing through the dangerous and difficult channel of the East river and Hurl-Gate; also, that the law fixing the tonnage of vessels at one hundred, exempts a large proportion of all vessels passing the Gate engaged in the coasting trade. Your committee are of opinion that it never was the intention of the Legislature to establish a board of pilots for this place, and then exempt all coasters from pilotage; but that it was the intention to give to the pilots a fair and equitable compensation for their services.
It appears in evidence to your committee, that $530 is near the average pay of each pilot on this station per year; and that the total amount of half pilotage complained of, has amounted to $171.04, since the law was passed.
The committee are therefore unanimous in their opinion, that the law of 1830 ought not to be repealed, and ask leave to introduce the following resolution:
Resolved, That the petitioners have leave to withdraw their petition.
Of the Minority of the committee on Trade and Ma
nufactures, on two several Petitions for a division
of the office of Flour Inspector in the city of NewYork, &c.
The minority of the committee on trade and manufactures, to which committee were referred two several petitions for a division of the office of flour inspector in the city of New-York, and a remonstrance against any alteration of the existing law on that subject, ask leave to
In discussing the question, whether the inspection of flour and meal in the city of New York, shall be confided to three inspectors, instead of one general inspector, as at present, it is proper first to inquire, what has been the practical effect of the existing laws? The manufacturers and dealers have made no complaint that their flour has not been promptly inspected; they have not attempted to show that the standard of flour as now regulated, is improper. Nor has it been pretended by any one, that an alteration in the mode of inspection can raise the character of the great staple of the State. Under the existing laws, that character has been raised, and is still raising, not only at home, but in foreign ports. If there is one particular article of the produce of this State, which it is the duty of the Legislature to protect, it is that of flour; not only because it is almost the first necessary of life, but that the cultivation of grain furnishes employment to the great bulk of our population. The consumer, the grower, the manufacturer, and the merchant, are
alike interested in preserving the high reputation which our flour now enjoys. It is confidently asserted, that nothing has contributed more to the raising of that reputation, than the wisdom of those provisions of law, which now govern the inspection of flour. And in support of this assertion, the minority of the committee refer to the well known fact, that the quality of our flour has, under those provisions, been materially improved. The petitions referred to the committee, do not contain a word, which might be supposed to intimate that the quality of flour would be improved by the proposed alteration. And the information derived from gentlemen intimately acquainted with the subject, and those engaged in the manufacture and trade, induces a belief that a contrary result would follow.
In looking over the names of the petitioners and remonstrants, it will be found that although a large number appear upon the petitions, there are but few who are manufacturers of flour, or dealers to any extent in the article. . Upon the remonstrance are the names of persons who, in the aggregate, own or represent a very great proportion of all the flour sold in the city of New-York—especially of that manufactured in our own State. Indeed, taking into the calculation one mercantile house, the name of which is not on either of the papers, but which is known to be opposed to the alteration proposed by the bill reported, the manufacturers, through their agents, and in some instances by their own signatures, have remonstrated against any amendment, almost with unanimity—at least, in proportion of four-fifths of all the flour made in this State and sent to the New-York market. The minority of the committee have no hesitation in saying that the proposed bill is not called for by those immediately interested in the inspection of flour.
Why, then, should this bill, providing for the appointment of three inspectors, pass 2 Because, say the petitioners, one person cannot perform the duties. But the duties have been performed, and well performed, and to the satisfaction of those concerned: the petitioners themselves do not pretend to the contrary. They have, it is true, been done by deputies, in a great measure. Those deputies the inspector is authorised by law to appoint, and he is bound to superintend them, and is responsible for their conduct.
An argument is raised against the present system, which, so far as it goes, is well founded;—that the office of flour inspector is too 1 crative. To a bill reducing the fees of the office, the minority of the committee would have made no objection; and such a bill it is their intention to introduce hereafter. Should the House agree with them in reducing the fees to such a rate as will lower the compensation to a liberal but not extravagant amount, it is conceived that there will be no necessity for any other legislation on the subject.
The minority of the committee of trade and manufactures object to the passage of the bill offered by the majority,
1. Because the alterations proposed in that bill are uncalled for by those who are most immediately interested, and of course, best qualified to judge of its provisions.
2. Because it directly contravenes the policy, adopted upon the most mature deliberation, in regard to the inspection of our staple commodities: which is, that for the purpose of maintaining a high and uniform standard, there should be a responsible head, to every inspection department.
3. Because they believe that the present mode of inspecting flour has been found in practice to be of public benefit, and should not be changed upon slight grounds.
For these reasons, and others which have suggested themselves, but are not now referred to, the report of the majority of the committee is dissented from.
It is submitted, that no sufficient cause has been shown in favor of so material a change in the laws regulating the inspection of flour; that those laws have been found of beneficial operation; and that the proposed alteration is at best a doubtful experiment. Whether it is expedient to overturn laws of the good effects of which we have had ample evidence, to go in search of something more perfect, is submitted to the wisdom of the House.
Before closing, it may not be improper to remark, that the only benefit which seems likely to result from the passage of the bill reported, will be the creation of offices—which, however important to those persons who might fill them, are not deemed to be required for the public accommodation.
The minority regret that so wide a dissension should have occured in the committee, on a subject of such general interest, and one so much connected with the industry and trade of the State. While