The Rise and fall of the British Textile Industry
Textile production in Britain can be said to have its roots as an industry at the beginning of the 18th century, when Thomas Crotchet and George sorocold established what is thought to be the first factory built in Britain. It was a textile mill with a waterwheel as its source of power, the latest machinery, and even accommodation for the workers. As well as possibly being the first sweatshop in the modem sense, it was the beginning of the end for traditional textile production.
For hundreds of years the spinning and weaving of cloth had been done manually by men, women and children in their own homes. The yarn would be combed and spun using a spindle, then woven on a hand loom, and what they produced would be mainly for local consumption. Technology far more sophisticated than the spindle and hand-loom would change all that.
The demand for cotton textiles had been growing since the middle Ages, fostered by the importation of high quality cotton fabrics from the Middle East and India. So how were local producers to fight off the competition? The imported fabrics were of course expensive, so textile makers (not just in Britain but throughout Europe) produced mixed fabrics and cotton substitutes. They also had foreign textiles banned. But the key to the increased productivity needed to meet the demand, was machine production. It would be faster, cheaper and the finished products would be consistent in quality. Not least of the advantages was that it would allow manufacturers to market their goods on a large, if not yet global, scale.
The story of the growth of the British textile industry from about 1733 and for the next two hundred years is one of constant technological innovation and expansion. In 1733 John Kay invented the fly-shuttle, which made the hand-loom more efficient, and in 1764 James Hargreaves came up with the spinning jenny, which among other things had the effect of raising productivity eightfold. The next great innovator was Richard Arkwright, who in 1768 employed John Kay (of the fly-shuttle) to help him build more efficient machinery. He was a man with a vision – to mechanise textile production – and by 1782 he had a network of mills across Britain. As the water-powered machinery, though not yet fully mechanised, became more complex, Kay began to use steam engines for power. The first power-loom, however, which was invented in 1785 by Dr Edmund Cartwright, really did mechanise the weaving stage of textile manufacture.
The pace of growth quickened with the expansion of Britain’s influence in the world and the acquisition of colonies from which cheap raw materials could be imported. For example, in a single decade, from 1781 to 1791, imports of cotton into Britain quadrupled, going on to reach 100 million pounds in weight in 1815 and 263 million in 1830. The increase in exports is equally impressive; in 1751 £46,000 worth of cloth was exported and by the end of the century this had risen to £5.4 million. By the end of the 19th century the figure had soared to close on £50 million. Britain was now supplying cheaper and better quality clothing to a global market. Yet during the course of the 20th century Britain lost its position as a major textile manufacturer.
So what happened? There are a number of views on this question, not all of them conflicting, and where there is disagreement it is usually about when the decline began. Whether it began before the First World War (1914-18), or during the inter-war years (1919- 1939), or after 1945, most economists would give roughly the same reasons. To start with, there was competition from abroad, especially from developing countries in the Far East, notably Japan. It was thought by manufacturers that the
Best way to combat this increased competition was to modernise. However, management and the labour unions were unable to agree on how to handle this situation.
Modernisation would mean people losing their jobs and possibly a change in labour practices. Such changes as were made served only to slow down the industry’s decline rather than help regain its predominant position. Economically less developed countries, on the other hand, had the advantage of being able to provide low wage competition, without the problem of powerful labour unions.
There are, of course, many other reasons for the textile industry’s decline, two of which became particularly noticeable in the late twentieth century and are related. The first is out¬sourcing, when manufacturers establish factories in countries where there is cheap labour. This obviously leads to less demand for locally-produced goods. Related to this, the textile and clothing industries have acquired a bad reputation for exploiting workers, often illegal immigrants, in sweatshops where they are forced to work long hours and are paid far less than the minimum wage.
We seem to be back with Crotchet and Sorocold and their first live-in factory. The globalizing trend of out sourcing, however, was a rational response to the growing competition from overseas, which, it goes without saying, does not excuse the exploitation of workers. The British industry itself, while no longer holding a key place in the global textile market, has adapted itself and now concentrates more on the world of fashion and design, where it seems to be doing quite well.
What is an ASBO?
Ask somebody to make a list of crimes and they will probably come up with the usual suspects that you or I would: murder, robbery, assault, burglary and so on. They might even include acts which are merely ’against the law’ like parking on a double yellow line.
But if you ask them to make a list of anti-social behaviours, you are getting into an area where there is going to be considerable disagreement This didn’t stop the UK government which introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, or ASBOs, in 1998 as part of the Crime and Disorder Act – legislation designed to deal with practically all aspects of criminal activity and disorderly behaviour.
A subjective definition of anti-social behaviour permits you to cast your net wide and include anything you find personally disagreeable; the legal definition is also widely inclusive. To quote the Crime and Disorder Act it is behaviour which ’causes or is likely to cause harassment alarm or distress to one or more people who are not in the same household as the perpetrator’. This includes, among many other things, foul and abusive language, threatening behaviour, shouting, disorderly conduct, vandalism, intimidation, behaviour as the result of drug or alcohol misuse, graffiti and noise which is excessive, particularly at night.
The idea is that ASBOs are sanctions designed to deal with issues that affect everyone in the community and as such are civil sanctions, not criminal ones, and need the cooperation of the community to be effective. For example, a private individual cannot apply for an ASBO; he or she must make a complaint to the police or local authority, who will then work together to gather more information and build up evidence. This involves getting witnesses, among whom will no doubt be neighbours and acquaintances, to make statements to the authorities. When the authorities are satisfied that they have enough evidence, the local council applies to the magistrates ‘court to have an ASBO imposed
We still haven’t decided what constitutes anti-social behaviour. It doesn’t have to be physical violence, of course, but is far easier to identify and deal with if it is. What about threatening behaviour? We’re not talking here about direct threats such as ‘lf you come round here again. I’ll beat you up!’, but situations perceived as threatening. Let’s say a pensioner or a person of timid disposition is on their way home and they run into a group of young people who are shouting, swearing and kicking a ball about and who happen to make a few unkind . Remarks as the person passes. Let’s say the person is alarmed or feels threatened by the situation. Does it merit getting the ASBO process going?In feet, young people merely hanging out in public places, however boisterous their behaviour might seem to be to some people, are not considered to be indulging in anti-social behaviour. However, there is a proviso. Such behaviour in its own right is not considered anti-social unless it is thought it is being done with other, more serious, behavioural attitudes involved. This, of course, can be very subjective.
A person faced with an ASBO can argue in their defence that their behaviour was reasonable and unthreatening. This too is subjective, and both sides’ claims are open to wide interpretation. Something else that has to be taken into account here is that ASBOs are made on an individual basis even if that person is part of a group of people committing anti-social behaviour. If a case reaches the magistrates ‘court, witnesses can be called to provide further evidence for or against the defendant. However, the magistrate, as well as considering the complaints made against the defendant, will take into account his or her family situation, welfare issues, and whether or not he or she has been victimised or discriminated against It is worth bearing in mind, though, that witnesses can be intimidated or otherwise persuaded not to appear in court and give evidence.
When the Crime and Disorder Act came into force, ASBOs were generally intended to be a measure to deal with adult anti-social behaviour, yet within the Act it states that an order can be applied for against any individual over the age of ten years old. It is a striking fact that the majority of ASBOs imposed since the law was enacted have been handed out to young people and children.
The question is, have they been effective? The government, naturally, claims that they have brought about a real improvement in the quality of life in communities around the country. Nay-sayers, such as civil rights campaigners, claim the measures are far too open to abuse. Some say they go too far and some that they don’t go far enough and lack bite. However, a genuine impediment to their effectiveness is that to impose an ASBO takes a lot of time and paperwork, involving the cooperation of community, police and local council, and they are very expensive to implement One estimate is that an ASBO can cost in excess of £20,000. What all this means is that ASBOs are being used very rarely in many parts of the country. So the jury is still out as to how effective they really are.
The Climate Changers
The romantic notion that early humans lived in harmony with their environment has taken quite a battering lately. Modem humans may have started eliminating other species right from the start; our ancestors stand accused of wiping out mega fauna – from giant flightless birds in Australia to mammoths in Asia and the ground sloth of North America – as they spread across the planet.
Even so, by around 6,000 years ago there were only about 12 million people on earth – less than a quarter of the current population of Great Britain. That’s a far cry from today’s 6.6 billion, many of us guzzling fossil fuels, churning out greenhouse gases and messing with our planet’s climate like there’s no tomorrow. So it may seem far-fetched to suggest that humans have been causing global warming ever since our ancestors started burning and cutting forests to make way for fields at least 7,000 years ago.
Yet that’s the view of retired climate scientist William Rudiment, formerly of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Ancient farmers were pumping climate-warming carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere long before recorded history began, he says. Far from causing catastrophe, however, early farmers halted the planet’s descent into another ice age and kept Earth warm and stable for thousands of years.
Could a few primitive farmers really have changed the climate of the entire globe? If you find this hard to believe, you’re not the only one. Rudman’s idea has been hugely controversial ever since he proposed it in 2003’Most new ideas, especially controversial ones, die out pretty fast. It doesn’t take science long to weed them out, ‘he says. Yet five years on, his idea is still not dead. On the contrary, he says the latest evidence strengthens his case.not proves it correct. ‘It has become clear that natural explanations for the rise in greenhouse gases over the past few thousand years are the ones that are not measuring up, and we can reject them,’ he claims.
There is no doubt that the soaring levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that we see in the atmosphere today – causing a 0.7° C rise in average global temperature during the 20th century – are the result of human activities. In the late 1990s, however, Rudiment started to suspect that our contribution to the global greenhouse began to become significant long before the industrial age began. This was when an ice core drilled at the Vostok station in Antarctica revealed how atmospheric C02 and methane levels have changed over the past 400,000 years. Bubbles trapped in the ice provide a record of the ancient atmosphere during the past three interglacial.
What we see is a regular pattern of rises and falls with a period of about 100,000 years, coinciding with the coming and going of ice ages. There are good explanations for these cycles: periodic changes in the planet’s orbit and axis of rotation alter the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth. We are now in one of the relatively brief, warm interglacial periods that follow an ice age. Within this larger pattern there are regular peaks in methane every 22,000 years that coincide with the times when the Earth’s orbit makes summers in the northern hemisphere warmest. This makes sense, because warm northern summers drive strong tropical monsoons in southern Asia that both encourage the growth of vegetation and cause flooding, during which vegetation rotting in oxygen-poor water will emit methane. Around the Arctic, hot summers thaw wetlands for longer, again promoting both vegetation growth and methane emission.In recent times, however, this regular pattern has changed. The last methane peak occurred around 11,000 years ago, at about 700 parts per billion (ppb), after which levels began to fall. But instead of continuing to fall to what Rudiment says should have been a minimum of about 450 ppb today, the atmospheric methane began to climb again 5,000 years ago. Working with climate modellers Stephen Verves and John Kutzbach, Rudiment has shown that if the levels of these gases had continued to fall rather than rising when they did, ice sheets would now cover swathes of northern Canada and Siberia. The world would be heading into another ice age. So why did both methane and C02 rise over the past few thousand years? In other words, why has this interglacial period been different from previous ones? Could humans be to blame? Agriculture emerged around the eastern Mediterranean some 11,000 years ago, then shortly afterwards in China and several thousand years later in the Americas. Farming can release greenhouse gases in various ways: clearing forests liberates lots of stored carbon as the wood rots or is burned, for instance, while flooded rice paddies release methane just as wetlands do.
To find out more about early farming, Rudiment began to dig around in studies of agricultural history. These revealed that there was a sharp rise in rice cultivation in Asia around 5,000 years ago, with the practice spreading across China and south-east Asia. Here at least was a possible source for the unexpected methane rise.
Questions 1 - 6
Questions 1 -6
Complete the notes below.
Write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
Questions 7 - 9choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
B the steam engine
C the spinning jenny
D the fly-shuttle
which of the following innovations increased productivity by 800%?
do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
|TRUE || if the statement agrees with the information|
|FALSE || if the statement contradicts the information|
|NOT GIVEN|| if there is no information on this|
10 Foreign textiles were banned because of their inferior quality
11 Richard Arkwright built the first fully mechanized textile mill
12 In less developed countries, the industry could rely on cheap labor.
13 Out-sourcing was one method used to compete with foreign manufacturers
Questions 14 - 16
Questions 17-19 choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D
The writer suggests that
In the writer’s opinion, how effective have ASBOs been?
Complete the sentences.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
The official says that anti-social behaviour is behaviour which can cause alarm or distress
ASBOs are considered to be part of law rather than criminal law
Citizens have to to either the local council or the police before any action can be taken
In their efforts to collect evidence the authorities may call on to get more information
ASBOs are issued at a
is the most straightforward form of anti-social behaviour to determine
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D
One of the claims Rudiment makes is that
The climate changers’ of the title are
Questions 30 - 34
Complete the summary.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3?
|TRUE || if the statement agrees with the information|
|FALSE || if the statement contradicts the information|
|NOT GIVEN || if the there is no information on this|
Some mega fauna have been eliminated by humans in the past 100 years’
Agriculture is considered a primary cause of global warming today.
Rudiments idea caused a great deal of argument among scientists.
New scientific evidence proves for certain that rudiment theory is correct.
The 20th century has seen the greatest ever increase in global temperatures.
Changes in the Earth’s orbit can affect global temperatures