[From 1911 MacDonnell Inquiry]
THE FOLLOWING EVIDENCE IS THAT OF A WITNESS SUMMONED, BUT NOT HEARD, ON THURSDAY, l6 MAY, 1911.
MEMORANDUM to the Lord President and Members of the Home Office Commission from the Board ing and Lodging House Association.-JAMES DUCKER, President.
Which is the chief industry, and does the visiting industry benefit the farmer or small crofter? Agricultural statistics prove that holdings above one and not exceeding five acres have increased from 12-7 to 2322 in 1908, while larger holdings have decreased.
The small Manx farmer gets 1s. per gallon for all the milk he can supply at his own door. Odious com parisons maybe useful; contrast this with the Irish man who drives frequently ten miles to a creamery to obtain 6d. per gallon. Here, if it is a dry season, there is a scarcity of milk. It would not pay to make butter; beneficial as Sir Horace Plunkett's co-operative cream eries are to Erin. The visiting industry supersedes the effort here.
Manx eggs, at the time we are busy, sell at 2s. 6d. per score, while the small farmer from a collector will get from 4d. to 6d. per score on the Galway or Mayo seaboard.
To-day, 18 May, I am quoted by an Irish egg mer chant 6s., i.e. 1s. per score packed in six hundred cases, cases free, and free on rails Leitrim. If we cease to import the consumer, if the visitor disappears, the inborn tendency of the small Manx farmer would not permit of an easy transition to egg packing.
Again, the very straw used in packing Irish eggs; owing to the enormous number of horses engaged here in the hack trade driving our visitors, straw has a good market. Oats, due to the same cause, has become the main corn crop.
Lamb raising has in recent years risen to beyond 42,000 per annum, the farmer receiving for whole side 10½d. per lb. at present.
Pork and beef feeding is also a profitable branch of agriculture.
The dairy farmers, or a number of them near Douglas, cannot grow, in some cases, half the produce for their cattle, thus keeping up the price of roots: of that, more anon.
Poultry.-At the moment I am paying 7s. for Manx ducks, and 5s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. for Manx chickens. Thirty years ago eggs could be bought here at 8d. per score, a fowl for 1s. 3d., a duck for 1s. 9d.
The visiting trade obviously benefits the farmer, and assuredly permeates every ramification of our insular industry. The boarding-house keeper can pur chase goods, everything required, from the other side, very often at less cost to himself than the price in the insular market. It is quite safe to say that from April to October, half the products, including vegetables, poultry, flour, eggs, butter, lard, bacon, etc., required by boarding-house keepers come from England or Ire land. In addition to that the visiting industry finds employment for a huge army of tram drivers and con ductors, car drivers, porters, sailors, engineers, stewards, domestics, etc.
Of the antecedent fishing industry it might well be said the one has been taken, and the other has been left.
To foster fishing would be antithetical. It would retard the small five-acre farmer. The migration of fish would have to be pursued, the lassitude of the Manx as fishermen in recent years is marked, emascu lated from fishing, his household is immersed in the visiting industry. A corresponding neglect of his eggs, poultry, and vegetables at home would follow. Expe rience at Loch Fyne side and elsewhere show the precariousness of this industry, which here would be an offence to the olfactory of the visitor.
Should the importation of the consumer cease, the small holders will be crushed out, and cattle ranches and emigration supervene.
The president of the Farmers Association here publicly declares it pays the farmer better to kill one beast than to export five. Again, our taxation being indirect, the importation of the consumer is obviously the source and mainstay of our revenue.
We cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that in the near future harbour works, and intensive cultiva tion, will be likely sources of labour, unskilled, and to some extent otherwise, but these can only be planned, directed, and financed by Manx national effort.
Here again, the economic factor is the visitor. The ratio of gold, with an increased influx, securing capital at a lower rate of interest. Yet you are doubtless asked to foster industries.
Intensive cultivation would secure employment (for the consumption of the imported) prior to out visiting season. Via trita, via tula.
The fact cannot be overlooked that we are hide bound,-metaphorically speaking.
This boarding-house industry has only recently been assimilated by the Manx.
In its initiation, twenty-five years ago, the Manxman pooh-poohed it, as a transient precarious venture. Two years ago a gentleman impressed with the want of employment, prior and subsequent to the visiting season, induced Mr. Sigmund Stein to visit Douglas.
He addressed the farmers in a crowded town hall. He demonstrated favourable results in the Island were certain. He reminded us of the shortage of roots for feeding and how the residue alone was required for sugar. Farmers would thus obtain a free root crop. The gentleman before-mentioned offered free seeds. How was the proffered gift accepted. Briefly, a microscope to-day would not reveal-beet.
His Excellency promised, if the country would show their belief in advertising and that they were willing to help themselves by levying a penny rate, he would con tribute an equal amount, which, with what was already contributed from revenue, would bring the total for advertising to 5,000l. annually; but no, the farmer would have none of it.
You have been told, my Lord, our visitors increase considerably every year. Until 1903 our visitors did increase. For ten years anterior to 1903, the increase is 100 per cent., subsequently it is otherwise. (Mr. Corkill reported in his evidence before the Commission: in 1910, we have 120,000 daily trippers in 500,000 visitors.) A decrease in staying guests of 5 per cent. The daily tripper who arrives at Douglas at 1.30 p.m. and returns at 4 p.m. benefits Douglas to the extent of a 2d. fare on the tram. The lack of elasticity in our revenue of recent years shows this very conclu sively. I want to point out why, in my opinion, the visiting industry has ceased to increase.
About fifteen or sixteen years ago we had an Advertising Board established, the number of visitors went up by leaps and bounds. At that time we were the only pleasure resort advertising its wares. Then Blackpool got a rate and they have boomed Blackpool almost over the world. Other places have followed suit. Ireland, for instance, and Wales have spent huge sums, Great Yarmouth, Morecambe, Harrogate, Southsea, Scarborough, Skegness, etc., etc., now advertise extensively. The municipality of Blackpool have powers to rate. They spend on city hoarding, posters alone, 5,000l. annually, besides double-royals in all railway stations. Our poverty precludes. We have no city hoarding, nor have we a single double-royal in a single Irish or Scotch railway station. Poverty precludes.
In advertising we have stood still for fifteen years, in the meantime the rateable values of Douglas have quadrupled. The accommodation for visitors has doubled, or nearly so. House property the last two years has, on the Lock Promenade, come down 30 per cent., in some parts of the town 50 per cent., and I do not think this looks so healthy as some of the witnesses would lead you to believe. We have seen twelve large houses changing in one year, and people ruined on the front. In Buck's Road this year about every third house is to let. Yet in spite of this the House of Keys will not vote a penny rate, which would cost some hundreds of ratepayers 4d. per annum, and the largest farmer, I believe, would not pay more than 21. per annum, that is one side of the picture. On the other side there are boarding-house keepers who pay 201.,301.,401.,,501., up to 90l. per annum for advertising their houses. We attract people here who have never been to the Island before; thus we willingly tax ourselves, and by our huge consumption of tea and coffee, and other dutiable goods, keep up the business, whilst the grocer, baker, fruiterer, cab and carriage owner, and the farmer, just gather in the spoil.
The large boarding-houses on the front are not the Eldoradoes they appear, and I can assure your Lord ship that the Editor of the Isle of Man Times was not far from the truth when he. said we live two years ahead of our income. As to the Income Tax, the average boarding-house keeper does not care a fig for it, well knowing he cannot be taxed. In my opinion there are not half a dozen boarding-houses that would have to pay Income Tax on the English scale. -I honestly believe, my Lord. half of us live on the butcher and baker during the winter; he, of course, living on the profit he has made out of us during the summer-time.
All the local industries have gone or are going; now we are starving our one ewe lamb.
I- assure you, my Lord, and your honourable colleagues, efficient advertising on a large scale is vital to our industry-yes, to our Insular existence. I implore you not to attempt anything so arduous as resurrection of the dead industries. Keep the living in life. The visiting industry is alive. It is showing its first enfeeblement.
We, as caterers, are taxed on our supplies, and you, as Imperialists, are getting taxes on dutiable articles we consume; not us, but you alone.
The predominant partner was asked to support an enfeebled Ireland, and responded-a country that exported over sixty millions in 1909. We are weaker, we make no whisky, stout, agricultural machinery, linen, or any other industry, save visiting and farming.
I implore you to see that 5,000l. is granted annually for advertising purposes, to save us from becoming an Irish Arran, St. Kilda, or a Tory Island. You must not leave this to the Keys. The blockade by the country member is an insurmountable barrier.
We are not satisfied with the composition. The Advertising Board is appointed by Tynwald, the Receiver-General as Chairman. Members composed as follows:-The Mayor of Douglas and the Chairman of the Town and Village Commissioners. No con sideration is given as to whether they understand the work of the Board. As a matter of fact there was one man who never advertised in his life-did not believe in advertising. If he could have had his way we would not spend one penny in advertising the Island.
It has been stated before you, my Lord, that municipal progress has far exceeded that of national progress, the Municipal Authority being elective, whilst in the National Parliament the Keys alone were elective, indicating that the nominated official blocks progress.
I believe that the greatest block to progressive legislation has been unfortunate jealousy, which exists between town and country. I could not possibly support an elective element into the Council in the absence of an equitable representation, possible only by the redistribution of seats in the Keys.
The Shortening Season. The Cause and Remedy. The tendency of the season to shorten, in my opinion, is due to the fact that large and fast boats run only in the busy six weeks of the season. The people all try to arrange their holidays accordingly. In fairness to the Steam Packet Co., I at once admit they are patriotic, and have done all they can be expected to do in this direction. But I think we are justified in and ought to ask the British Treasury to double the paltry subsidy of 4;500l. for carrying mails. It is now thirty-five years since there was a re-adjustment. At the very least they should receive a subsidy of 9,0001., thus enabling them to keep their magnificent fast boats on earlier and later. By doing this and advertising widely, I have no doubt whatever we should tap the leisured class of whom we get too few.
The Larne and Stranraer route receives a subsidy of 13,500l. for a fragmentary Irish mail, the steamer receiving for its share of forty miles 7,000l. Our steamers cover precisely double that mileage (eighty miles), and we receive a little more than half that sum, notwithstanding the fact that our packet is the sole cross-channel mail.
We look to this Commission to save us, and save us at once, by ensuring at least 5,000l. be granted annually for advertising, and thus dissipate the dark clouds in our industrial firmament.