Chapter 10, Part 2c2

Inequality from Restrictions on Immigration and Employment

January 1, 2020

Economic Policy that Restricts the Free Movement of Labor and Stock leads to Inequality

97 This creates a very inconvenient inequality in the different employments.

98 The statute of apprenticeship obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to another, even in the same place. The exclusive privileges of corporations obstruct it from one place to another, even in the same employment.

99 Often, one manufacture gives high wages while another gives only bare subsistence.

The manufacture with high wages is in an advancing state. It has a continual demand for new workers.

The manufacture with low wages is in a declining state. It has a super-abundance of workers which is continually increasing. Those two manufactures may sometimes be in the same town or neighbourhood, without assisting one another. The statute of apprenticeship may stifle the advancing manufacture.

Both the statute and an exclusive corporation can stifle the decaying one. The operations of different manufactures are so much alike, that the workers could easily change trades if those absurd laws did not prevent them. For example, the arts of weaving plain linen and plain silk are almost the same. Weaving plain woollen is similar to weaving linen and silk. A linen or silk weaver can work with wool in a few days. If any of those three capital manufactures decayed, the workers might go to the other which was in a better condition. Their wages would neither rise in the thriving, nor sink too low in the decaying manufacture. The linen manufacture in England is open to everybody by a particular statute. But it is not much cultivated in the country. It cannot accommodate the workers of other decaying manufactures. The statute of apprenticeship renders such workers unqualified for other employments. It makes them work as common labourers. Such workers thus choose to go to the parish.

Immigration Restrictions

100 Whatever obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to another obstructs the free circulation of stock because stock depends very much on the labour it employs.

Corporation laws obstruct labour circulation more than stock. It is much easier for a wealthy merchant to have the privilege of trading in a town corporate, than for a poor artificer to work in it.

101 The obstruction of the corporation laws to the free circulation of labour is common in Europe.

That obstruction caused by the poor laws is peculiar to England. It gives difficulty to a poor man to= obtain a settlement, and work in any parish other than his own. The corporation laws only obstruct the free circulation of the labour of artificers and manufacturers. The difficulty of obtaining settlements obstructs the circulation of common labour. This is perhaps the most unjust law in England.

Unjust Immigration Laws

102 After the destruction of monasteries, the poor were deprived of the charity of those religious houses.

The Poor Relief Act of 1601 enacted that= every parish is bound to provide for its own poor, and the overseers of the poor should be appointed and allowed to raise funds for the poor.

103 This statute imposed on every parish the need to provide for their own poor.

It became important to determine who was the poor of each parish. The Poor Relief Act of 1662 determined that 40 days undisturbed residence should give any person settlement in any parish. Within that time, churchwardens or overseers could remove any new inhabitant to his old parish, unless he= rented a tenement of £10 a year, or could give similar security.

104 Some frauds were committed through this statute.

Parish officers bribed their own poor to go secretly to another parish. They would conceal themselves for 40 days to gain new settlement there. The Reviving and Continuance Act of 1685 enacted that the 40 days undisturbed residence only begins from the time of written notification to a churchwarden of the parish where he moved to. This notification has= his address, and the number of his family.

105 But parish officers were not always honest.

They received the notice and did nothing. The 3rd of William the 3rd in 1692 further enacted that the 40 days residence starts only from the publication of such written notice on Sunday in the church immediately after service.

106 According to Doctor Burn, this new settlement by the poor is very seldom obtained.

The acts merely prevent the poor from coming into a parish clandestinely. The rule to give notice only forces the parish= to remove them, or allow his settlement uncontested after 40 days.

107 This statute rendered it impracticable for a poor man to gain a new settlement by 40 days inhabitancy.

To make it appear non-discriminatory against the poor, the statute allowed four other ways to gain new settlement into a parish= By being paying parish taxes By being elected and serving a year into an annual parish office By serving an apprenticeship in the parish By being hired and continuing the service for the rest of the year

108 The first two ways require the public deed of the whole parish.

They are aware of the consequences of adopting any new-comer who only has his labour to support him.

109 No married man can gain any settlement in the last two ways.

An apprentice is rarely ever married. No married servant can gain any settlement by being hired for a year. The principal effect of introducing settlement by service was to put out the old fashion of hiring for a year. Such a practice was so customary in England. To this day, the law intends that every servant should be hired for a year. But masters are not always willing to give their servants a settlement by hiring them this way. Servants are not always willing to be so hired because every new settlement discharges previous settlements. They might lose their original settlement where they were born and where their parents live.

110 No independent worker can likely gain new settlement by apprenticeship or by service.

Because the churchwarden could remove him at will unless he rented a tenement for £10 a year which is impossible. They cannot afford security above £30. It was enacted that the purchase of a freehold estate of less than £30 as security is insufficient to gain settlement. No labourer can afford such an amount.

111 Certificates were invented to circulate labour prevented by those statutes.

The 8th and 9th of William the 3rd enacted that other parishes should receive any person who brings a certificate from his old parish. He should not be removed until he is chargeable. The parish which gave the certificate should pay for his maintenance and removal. He can only gain settlement by renting a tenement of £10 a year as security, or serving for one whole year only. The 12th of Queen Anne statute 1, Chapter 18 in 1713 enacted that the servants and apprentices of such a certificated man cannot gain any settlement in the same parish.

112 Doctor Burn judiciously explains the effect of those statutes on the free circulation of labour.

113 The good reasons for requiring certificates are=

to prevent settlement by any means, and to make the old parish pay the current parish for their removal and maintenance. This discourages parishes from granting certificates.

114 The moral seems that certificates should always be required by a poor man’s new parish and be very seldom granted by his old parish.

115 Doctor Burns is the very intelligent author of the History of the Poor Laws.

He writes= Certificates authorize the parish officer to imprison a poor man who settles in the new parish and prevents him from leaving his current parish.

116 The certificate is not a proof of good behaviour, only that the person belongs to his old parish.

The parish officers can grant or refuse it. Doctor Burns says that a mandamus* was proposed to compel the churchwardens to sign a certificate. But it was rejected by the court of King’s Bench as a very strange attempt.

[* a judicial writ commanding a person to perform a public or statutory duty]

117 The obstruction of the law of settlements by certificates for the labouring poor is probably the cause of the very unequal price of labour in England in places near each other.

A single man, may sometimes reside by toleration without a certificate. But a married man will be removed if he tried to settle in a new parish. The scarcity of hands in one parish cannot always be relieved by their super-abundance in another.

This is different in Scotland or other countries where there is no difficulty of settlement.

In such countries, wages may sometimes= rise in a great town or wherever there is an extraordinary demand for labour, and sink gradually the farther from the town until they fall back to the common rate. In those countries there are no sudden differences in the wages of neighbouring places as found in England.

In England, it is often easier for a poor man to pass natural boundaries of mountain ridges than the artificial boundary of a parish.

Both boundaries can cause wage inequality between two places.

118 Removing a man who has committed no misdemeanour from the parish where he chooses to reside, is a violation of natural liberty and justice.

The common people of England misunderstand and are so jealous of the liberty of others. For more than a century, they have exposed themselves to this oppression without a remedy. People have sometimes complained of the law of settlements as a public grievance, as allowing an abusive practice. Yet it has never been the object of any popular clamour that is usually directed against oppression. Almost all poor men in England of 40 years of age have been most cruelly oppressed by this ill-contrived law of settlements in some part of their lives.