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Letters on the Factory Act, as It Affects the Cotton Manufacture, Addressed to the Right Honourable the President of the Board of Trade (Classic Reprint)

Letters on the Factory Act, as It Affects the Cotton Manufacture, Addressed to the Right Honourable the President of the Board of Trade (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Letters on the Factory Act, as It Affects the Cotton Manufacture, Addressed to the Right Honourable the President of the Board of Trade

I find also that the whole capital is supposed in general to be turned over (or, in other words, that goods are produced and sold representing the value of the whole capital, together with the manufacturer's profit) in about a year; in favourable times in rather less, - in others, such as the present, in rather more. I find also that the net profit annually derived may be estimated at ten per cent., some computations placing it as low as seven and a half, others as high as eleven; ten I believe to be about the average. But in order to realize this net profit, a gross profit of rather more than fifteen per cent. is necessary; for although the circulating capital, being continually restored to its original form of money, may be considered as indestructible, the fixed capital is subject to incessant deterioration, not only from wear and tear, but also from constant mechanical improvements, which in eight or nine years render obsolete, machinery which when first used was the best of its kind.

Under the present law, no mill in which persons under eighteen years of age are employed (and, therefore, scarcely any mill at all) can be worked more than eleven and a half hours a-day, that is, twelve hours for five days in the week and nine on Saturday.

Now, the following analysis will show that in a mill so worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. I will suppose a manufacturer to invest 100,000l.: - 80,000l. in his mill and machinery, and 20,000l. in raw material and wages. The annual return of that mill, supposing the capital to be turned once a-year, and gross profits to be fifteen per cent., ought to be goods worth 115,000l., produced by the constant conversion and reconversion of the 20,000l. circulating capital, from money into goods and from goods into money, in periods of rather more than two months. Of this 115,000l. each of the twenty-three half hours of work produces 5-115ths, or one twenty-third.

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