THE PLATE LICENCE QUESTION
The Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, some time since, passed a resolution in favour of the total abolition of the licence for the sale by retail of gold and silver plate. As this was done without opposition and as the seconder of the motion was a member of one of the largest firms of silver and electro-plate manufacturers in the world, the jewellers and plate dealers throughout the country naturally inferred that the resolution reflected the views of the silver and electro-plate manufacturers of the city. To say that the action caused surprise is to put the feeling evoked too mildly. At this time the retail jewellers were engaged in the task of establishing an Association, the primary object of which was to exert influence upon Parliament in favour of the retention of the licence, and it can be easily imagined that some of the leaders of the opposition were indignant with the manufacturers of Sheffield for their supposed hostility to the movement. It was felt, and rightly so, that the interests of the manufacturers of and dealers in these goods are so identical that the two sections ought to be united. Indeed, unity was declared absolutely necessary if the new Association was to succeed in its object. 'The Jeweller and Metalworker' then set to work to show that scarcely a single firm engaged in the silver and plate industry was anxious for the abolition of the licence, but on the contrary that they desired its retention and even an increase in the cost. That journal published letters from thirty different Sheffield firms to that effect. Now there is a probability that the Chamber of Commerce will rescind the objectionable resolution. In the annual report of that body there appears the following paragraph :—
At the instance of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce the Council considered whether, having regard to the existing depression in silver, the licences at present required from retail dealers for the sale of plate should not be abolished, and eventually they came to a resolution that the time had now arrived for the abolition of these licences, and stated their opinion that such a removal would assist the trade in silver articles. The resolution of the Council has led to a considerable amount of notice in the public press, and many members of the Chamber, engaged in the silver and electro-plate trade, having expressed their doubts as to the wisdom of the Council's resolution. The Council, however, call attention the fact that the resolution was proposed by a manufacturer largely interested in this particular trade, and desire to express their opinion that it is a matter which more closely concerns the trade itself than the general public, but the Council invite expressions of opinion from the members at the annual meeting with regard to the matter.
At the meeting of the Council, on Thursday in last week, Mr. Belk (Roberts & Belk), and Mr. J. E. Bingham (Walker & Hall), expressed, on behalf of the silver and allied trades, their opinion that the resolution had been adopted without full consideration, and that those interested in the question were not favourable to it, and it was understood that the Council would deal with the matter at their next meeting. It would thus seem that the opposition to the abolition of the licence is too strong among those principally interested to expect that it will succeed, and since it would mean a loss to the revenue no support could be expected from the Government.
Source: The Journal of Domestic Appliances and Sewing Machine Gazette - 1st March 1895