Oral History

Mr Joseph Spencer life and times of a Hinckley Mayor

Please Note The figures at the beginning of the line, correspond with the numbers at the foot of each report; and the figures at the end of the line, refers to the MS. Paging of the Volumes arranged for The House of Commons.

Interviewed: Mr Joseph Spencer

4593. I believe you are the Mayor of Hinckley? ---- I am.

4594. Are you acquainted with the general condition of the work people in the town? ---- I know a little of them. We have had several meetings to try to do them good in the town.

4595. Have those meetings been called in consequence of their depressed condition? ---- Several of them have, and others to try to do something to relieve them.

4596. Of what nature? ---- Recently, principally in respect of the truck system, to try to abolish it.

4597. You believe that system to be extensively prevailing in the district? ---- Very generally

4598. And do you think it injuriously affecting all classes? ---- I have no doubt of it, and to a very great extent too.

4599. Have you heard the trades people in the town, as well as others, complaining of it? ---- More particularly the trades people, and also the working people too.

4600. How long has it been in operation? ---- It has been for many years creeping in. It has been to a greater extent by far, the last two or three years.

4601. There have been several convictions of late, I think? ---- Yes; but I do not think that has done any good towards stopping it at all.

4602. Are you the owner of any small house property? --- Not of any in Hinckley.

4603. Are the workpeople generally educated here? --- I think they are generally better educated than the majority of that class elsewhere.

4604. Are they a well-behaved population, do you think? --- I think they are decidedly so, I think they have shown that the last seven years and a half, particularly so.

4605. Has the distress been very great during the last two years? --- It has, very great.

4606. Have there been any disturbances of the workpeople here? --- Not at all, not in the slightest, whilst there have been in neighbourhood towns. I think that is one great feature of the town.

4607. Do you believe that it is desirable that more effectual efforts should be made to endeavour to put down the truck system? --- I do believe so. The workmen rarely know what earnings they are making in consequence of it. There is, in fact, no stipulated price of Labour that is not in effect.

4608. Do you think the general condition of the people worse than it was in former years? --- I think it is.

4609. Is the trade of the town generally decreasing? --- I think it has rather improved for the last year as to the amount of business done.

4610. Though the wages have been very low, improvement has been more general has it not, than for a considerable period past? --- Considerably more.

The Witness Mr Joseph Spencer withdrew.