HC Deb 16 March 1855 vol 137 cc699-729

said, that after the unavoidable delays which had taken place in the introduction of the measure of which he had given notice, he was glad to have an opportunity, although the hour was late, to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the better Local Management of the Metropolis. It would be his duty to lay before the House a statement of the present condition of the metropolis, and of the manner in which its local affairs were now administered. It would also be necessary for him to enter into some details to show the necessity for fresh legislation, and the House would naturally expect him to explain the provisions of the Bill he was about to introduce to remedy the evils and correct the abuses that now existed. He should, therefore, in order not unnecessarily to trespass upon the time or to dwell too long on the patience of the House, refrain almost wholly from any prefatory remarks, and proceed at once to discharge the duty he had undertaken. He should rest his case on a plain statement of facts, upon which comment would be superfluous and argument unnecessary. And he felt convinced that it would be admitted on all sides that the time had fully arrived when this great subject should receive the serious consideration of the Legislature, and when some measure should be adopted to remedy the evils that now prevailed.

At the commencement of this session her Majesty was graciously pleased to say, in the speech from the throne, "Although the prosecution of the war will naturally engage your chief attention, I trust other matters of great interest and importance to the general welfare will not be neglected." Now he knew of no matter more important and interesting than the improvement of the first city of the empire. It was that to which he desired this evening to direct the attention of the House, and that was the matter which he had been charged by Government to bring under their consideration. Various Governments had promised, at different times, to introduce Bills in relation to this subject, but Ministry after Ministry had passed away without any attempt to legislate upon it. The last intimation given by a Government of such an intention was in the year 1848, when Lord Morpeth, then Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests, introduced the Public Health Bill. The noble Lord declared that, although the Bill made no exceptions in England and Wales, and, strictly speaking, the metropolis was not excluded from its provisions, yet some preparatory and supplementary measures must be enacted by the Legislature before the provisions of the Bill could be made applicable to the case of the metropolis, owing to the great number of local bodies, and generally to the whole condition of a community outnumbering in itself the population of many continental states, and Lord Morpeth concluded by saying, "One of those measures I hope to introduce within a very short period." Seven years had elapsed since that period, and no measure of the kind had ever been brought under the consideration of the House. He (Sir Benjamin Hall) knew the difficulties with which such a subject must be surrounded, and the opposition that would be raised by interested parties against any measure framed for the benefit of the community; but still he hoped that the Bill he was about to introduce would be received with some favour by the Legislature, and he was satisfied that it was so framed as to be acceptable to the public at large, for whose benefit it was really intended.

Now, the first point he should have to establish was this,—what should be the area of the metropolis. In the course of the last session an hon. Gentleman, the Member for Pontefract, moved for a Com- mittee to inquire into the expediency of buying up the various metropolitan bridges belonging to private parties or companies over which toll was levied; and the motion he submitted was acceded to by his right hon. Friend, then, as now, the Chief Commissioner of Works, but on this distinct understanding, that no money should be voted out of the public treasury for the attainment of that object. It therefore became necessary in the discussions of the Select Committee, of which he (Sir Benjamin Hall) was a member, to determine what should be the metropolis. Some gentlemen thought it was advisable to determine that the metropolis should be that area over which the coal tax was levied, and which had a diameter of no less than 40 miles, of which St. Paul's was the centre. There were others who thought that the metropolis would be more properly defined by taking that area which was under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police Commissioners—30 miles area—of which Charing-cross was the centre, and which included all those parishes parts of which were embraced in that area. Others were of opinion that the metropolis was better defined in a schedule attached to the Metropolitan Interments Act of 1852; while others, again, thought that the Registrar-General's district should more properly be regarded as the metropolis. Now, without referring to any of the arguments used in support of those different propositions, he would simply say that he proposed to take the Registrar-General's district, and call that the metropolis for the purposes of the Bill he would now introduce; and he could give a very short and clear account of that district, by quoting from the report made by the commissioners appointed to inquire into the existing state of the Corporation of London in 1853, and which was presented in May last year. Those commissioners were Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Justice Patteson, and Mr. Lewis, now Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. They defined the metropolitan district, which he now proposed to take for the purposes of this Bill, in the following manner:— Since 1831 the metropolis of the Registrar-General has been used for the census and other statistical objects. The metropolis recognised by the Registrar-General is formed of 36 registration districts, extending from Hampstead in the north, to Wandsworth in the south, and from Stepney in the east to Chelsea in the west. Its greatest dimensions measured in these directions are 11 and 15½ miles. It is according to this division that the census of the metropolis for the year 1851 has been arranged. It appears that the entire metropolis within these limits contains an area of 78,029 acres, with 305,933 inhabited houses; that its population was 958,863 in 1801, and 2,362,236 in 1851—having more than doubled in the last 50 years; and that the value of its property assessed to the poor rate in 1852 was 9,964,348l. But whilst the metropolis at large, as set forth in the Registrar-General's district, has rather more than doubled since 1801, in the following districts the population has considerably more than doubled since 1801:—

District. Population in 1801. Population in 1851.
Kensington 20,465 120,004
Pancras 31,779 166,958
Islington 10,212 95,329
Stepney 34,909 110,775
Poplar 8,278 47,162
Lambeth 27,985 139,325
Newington 14,847 64,816
148,475 744,367
Being five times greater than in 1801. Now, from the whole tenor of this report of the commissioners on the corporation of London, it became evident that it was utterly impossible for many months to elapse before the Government of the day must bring in some measure for the better local management of the metropolis. He (Sir B. Hall) little expected at that time that he should be the person appointed by Government to undertake that office; but feeling confident that it must be undertaken by somebody, in June last, in concert with his noble Friend the Member for the City of London, he framed a form of returns, for which he obtained an order from the House, and which would show the manner in which the metropolis was managed. They were very imperfect, but still much information might be derived from them. Even under an order of the House, there had been the greatest difficulty in obtaining information from the various officials, secretaries, clerks, and collectors, and it was only by the perseverance of his right hon. Friend, the head of the Poor-law Board, through whose department the return was obtained, that anything satisfactory could be laid on the table of the House. He should, however, be able to show that there were hardly any two parishes governed alike; and when lie should have made the House acquainted with the manner in which the local affairs of the metropolis were managed, the reason for such a measure as that which he hoped to lay upon the table of the House would be at once acknowledged. He would now mention a few parishes of the different metropolitan boroughs. Some time ago, on receiving a deputation from certain parishes, he made a statement to them about the mode in which their affairs were managed, and as that statement appeared in the public papers, he would avoid any reference to those parishes which were then spoken of, and would only refer to some other cases which had not yet come under the cognisance of the House and of the public. He would cite some cases in each metropolitan borough, and would begin with the borough of Finsbury. In the Liberty of the Rolls the vestry is composed of "the ancient inhabitants," that is, such as have served the office of overseer. The paving committee has 1,509 yards of streets, and pays 126l. a year in salaries, or 147l. a mile. St. Sepulchre has nearly 1¼ mile of streets, and pays 129l. for supervision. The commission is self-elected. Ely-place is 326 yards long, and 156l. 2s. is paid for its superintendence, being at the rate of 842l. 15s. per mile. In St. Giles and St. George, Bloomsbury, no person is entitled to attend or vote at the meeting for the election of vestryman, unless he is rated to the poor rate at an assessment of 25l.; and no person letting part of his premises can be a vestryman, although he may be rated at 500l. a year. In Islington the qualification is 20l. He would next advert to the borough of the Tower Hamlets. In Norton Folgate the vestry is composed of those inhabitants who have served, or paid fines for refusing to serve, either of the offices of overseer, constable or head-borough. In Christchurch, Spitalfields, it is composed of those who have been either churchwardens or overseers. In St. Botolph Without, Aldgate, it is composed of persons who have served all the parochial offices, namely, headborough, constables, churchwardens, and overseers. The vestry has existed in this form from time immemorial, and is not constituted by any local act. In St. John Hackney, the vestrymen are elected by the inhabitants, but no inhabitant can vote who is assessed at less than 40l. a year. In Mile-end New Town the qualification is 12l. In St. Paul, Shad well, 10l. In St. Mary, Stratford-le-bow, 15l. In All Saints Poplar, 30l. In St. George's-in-the-East, inhabitants can vote who pay 24s. a year to the poor rate; while in St. Anne, Limehouse, they must pay 48s. a year. St. Leonard, Shore-ditch, has three paving boards; one of these, the High-street Commission, has one mile of street, and pays in salaries 118l. 2s., self-elected and elected for life. Another, the Hoxton-square Trust, has 456 yards; salaries, 47l. the receipts being 46l.; rate per mile 186l. 13s. 4d.; commission self-elected and for life. Old Artillery Ground 814 yards; salaries, 122l. 8s.; rate per mile, 264l. 13s.; self-elected and for life. St. George-in-the East: the paving is under five separate boards; the lighting and cleansing under three boards, one of which pays at the rate of 16s.d., each for the supervision of 363 lamps. In the Borough of Lambeth, St. Mary, Newington, has two paving and four lighting boards, which are confined to the parish, and five other boards which also extend over other parishes. The average cost of th0e superintendence of each lamp is 11s. 6d. Of these boards seven are self-elected. Lambeth has nine lighting boards, and the avarage cost of the superintendence of each lamp is 11s., so far as it can be ascertained. Next came the borough of Southwark. In St. George the Martyr the paving is under six different boards, and the West Borough Pavement Commissioners have 2¼ miles of streets, and pay 484l. in salaries, or 217l. per mile. They are self-elected, and for life; and there are two other boards similarly elected. In St. Olive, St. Thomas, and St. John, the East Southwark Commissioners pay 851l. for little more than six miles of road, or 136l. per mile; self-elected and for life. In St. John's there is a select vestry, elected by the parishioners, one-half by persons rated at 75l. and upwards; one-half under 75l., and not less than 10l. Turning to Westminster, he found that the parish of St. George, Hanover-square, contained 1,161 acres, and was in three divisions. The part under the vestry elected under the provisions of Hobhouse's Act had 14 miles of road, paid in salaries 638l. or 45l. per mile, and was most admirably managed. When he turned to Belgravia, which was under a separate jurisdiction, he found it, if not one of the worst managed, certainly the most extravagantly managed in the metropolis. The Grosvenor-place trust had 12 miles of road. The salaries paid were 1,323, or on the avarage, 110l. 5s. per mile. Besides these there was another district, of, he believed, about 218 acres, lying below Grosvenor-place, which was without any jurisdiction, but was kept in order by the Messrs. Cubitt, who built the houses there, and, if they abandoned there present supervision, there would be no jurisdiction for paving pur- poses in that district. This evil, amongst others, he proposed to remedy in his Bill. In St. Mary-le-Strand, there were 480 yards of streets. The salaries 120l., or 440l. 8s. 6d. per mile. In the Savoy there were 600 yards of streets. The amount paid in salaries was 84l. 15s. 9d., or 248l. 14s.d. per mile. The case of the Strand was exceedingly singular. There were in the whole of the Strand Union 11 miles of street over which no less than seven different paving boards, each with its establishment of clerks, collectors, surveyors, and other officers, had jurisdiction, and to show in what manner the officers were appointed, it was only necessary to observe that one of the surveyors was, when appointed, a tailor, and another a law stationer. The cost to the rate payers for maintaining the official staff attached to these boards was 88l. a mile.

Then, as to the mode in which, under the existing system, the great thoroughfares were managed, in reference to the paving and lighting. In order to give an illustration of this, he would ask those whom he had the honour of addressing, to follow him in his description of the Strand, commencing at Northumberland-house and ending at Temple-bar. Between No. 1, Strand (near Northumberland-house) and Temple-bar, a distance of about 1,336 yards, or a little more than ¾ of a mile, the street is divided into seven different paving boards. First is St. Martin's from the starting point to the centre of Cecil-street (between Nos. 84 and 85), a distance of about 480 yards. Up to this point the whole width of the street belongs to St. Martin's, but from Cecil-street to opposite the centre of Burleigh-street (near No. 112), a distance of 145 yards, only one-half the street (the north side), is under that paving board. The other half from Cecil-street (between Nos. 84 and 85) to No. 107, a distance of about 118 yards, belongs to St. Clement's. At No. 107, the district belonging to the Savoy commences, and for a distance of about 27 yards the street is divided between the Savoy and St. Martin's from opposite the centre of Burleigh-street (near No. 112) to opposite the east-side of Wellington-street North (near No. 135), a distance of about 83 yards, the street is divided between the Savoy and St. Clement's; and from this point to Duchy-place (between Nos. 137 and 138), a distance of about 25 yards, it is divided between the Savoy and St. Mary's. From this point to the east end of St. Mary's church (near 161), a distance of about 226 yards, the whole width of the Strand belongs to St. Mary's, with the exception of a piece in front of Somerset-house. This portion is about 45 yards long, and 12 yards wide. It is repaired by the Somerset-place contractor. From the east end of St. Mary's church to Temple-bar, a distance of about 400 yards, the whole width of the Strand belongs to St. Clement's. The different paving boards along the Strand, from No. 1 to Temple-bar, therefore come in the following order:—1. St. Martin's alone; 2. St. Martin's and St. Clement's; 3. St. Martin's and the Savoy; 4. Savoy and St. Clement's; 5. Savoy and St. Mary's; 6. St. Mary's alone; 7. St. Mary's and Somerset-place; 8. St. Mary's alone; 9. St. Clement's alone—the distance being 1,336 yards or three-quarters of a mile, and there being nine divisions. Cecil-street, a street running from the Strand towards the river, with a carriage way about ten yards wide, is under two separate managements, namely, St. Martin's and St. Clement's. Along Wellingtons street North, from the north end of Exeter-street to the south side of the Strand, a distance of 100 yards, there are four separate jurisdictions, namely, St. Paul's, Covent-garden, St. Martin's, St. Clement's, Savoy. It happens that St. Clement's division comes close up to the houses at the east side of Wellington-street North. The paving of the roadway for a considerable length of the street, is, therefore, done by that parish, but as the houses on the east side are in St. Mary's they cannot be rated for the repairs of the roadway. A precisely similar case, as regards the number of jurisdictions, occurs from the north end of Exeter-street, along Burleigh-street, to the south side of the Strand. Here the houses on the west side of Burleigh-street are in St. Martin's, the division between that parish and St. Clements takes nearly the line of the footway, so that here again St. Clement's repairs the carriage way, and gets no rates from the houses on the west side of the street. St. Ann's Soho: The following are the boundaries of this parish, or that portion of it under the Paving Board: the west side of Crown-street, the west side of Moor-street, the west side of West-street. The east side of these streets belongs to St. Giles's. Upper St. Martin's-lane, the north side of Great Newport-street, the west side of Castle-street (as far as Bear-street), the north side of Bear-street, the north and west sides of Leicester-square, the north side of Spur-street: the other sides of these streets are in St. Martin's. The east side of Princes-street, the east side of Wardour-street. The other sides of these streets, with the exception of a short piece, are in St. James's. As in the case of St. James's, some of the most inconvenient boundaries are paved, by arrangements, by either one board or the other. St. Martin's, Charing Cross; by an Act of Parliament, St. Martin's now paves as far as the Horse Guards. Nearly all the other boundaries of St. Martin's are along the centre of the streets. St. James's Picadilly:—Princes-street, Coventry-street, Wardour-street: only one-half of these streets are in the district of St. James's, but owing to the narrowness of the streets, much inconvenience arose as to the division of the paving; arrangements have therefore been made between St. James's and the neighbouring boards for one or other of them to pave the whole width of the street in some of these instances.

Then nearly all the boundaries of the different jurisdictions in Westminster were in the middle of the street, so that one side of the street was governed by one body, and the other by another. This led to constant difficulties and quarrels between them, to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants. There was one great thoroughfare in this metropolis where the centre of the road was under one head as far as regarded the paving, but the lighting and watering, unfortunately for the inhabitants, rested with two other boards, one on the north and the other on the south. These two boards quarrelled, one of them saying, "We will have the watering done in the morning," and the other saying, "We will have the watering done in the evening." And the fact was that in the summer months one side of the road might be seen watered in the morning, and the other in the evening; so that both sides were, in fact, covered with dust during the whole of the day, but the neighbours had of course to pay the rate. He entered into these details in order that the public might see the absurdity of the present state of things, and that if petitions should be presented against the Bill, the public might be convinced of the necessity of some immediate legislation on the subject being adopted.

After instancing Piccadilly and St. James's-street as also affording illustrations of the inconvenience of great thoroughfares being under different paving boards, in consequence of one part of the thoroughfare being in one parish and another in another, he referred to Marylebone, the borough he himself represented, but he would not refrain from stating the case of that borough, and he was particularly anxious that the abuses should be known in order that they might not remain unreformed, for he believed that one portion of them was managed worse than any other part of London. This was no fault of the inhabitants themselves, but he should be able to show where the fault lay. He would begin with the western part of the great borough which he represented, numbering about 400,000 inhabitants. One parish had 170,000, another 160,000, and the third about 50,000 inhabitants; and the whole borough, having reference to its size, was perhaps the richest district in the world. But how was this large borough governed? To begin with Paddington, he found that, in 1801, there were 1,800 inhabitants; while in 1831, the number had increased to 13,540; and in 1851, when the last census was taken, the population amounted to 46,306. In 1837, when he first became connected with the borough, there were less than 1,000 electors; last year there were 3,686. It was governed by a local act passed in 1844, under the provisions of that antiquated statute, known as Sturges Bourne's Act; and a person must be rated at 10l. before he could have one vote in the election of vestrymen, being a higher qualification than was required to give him a vote for Members of Parliament as in that case the real and not the rateable value of the house must be 10l. The total number of assessments was 6,944.

Number of assessments under £50 3,582 having 1 vote
Number of assessment under at £50, and under £75 1,333 having 2 Vote
Number of assessment under at £75, and under £100 732 having 3 Vote
Number of assessment under at £100, and under £125 431 having 4 Vote
Number of assessment under at £125, and under £150 259 having 5 Vote
Number of assessment under at £150, and upwards, 607 having 6 Vote
Total 6,944
so that one-eleventh of the ratepayers, or 607, had 3,642 votes, which was more than the number of votes possessed by 3,582 ratepayers in the same parish, and was more than half the number of assessments in the parish.
Parish debt (1824–25) £10,000, since paid £6,000
Church debt (1846) £19,000, since paid £7,200
Guardian board (1816) £16,500, since paid £6,300
£45,500 £19,500
Leavings present debt of £26,000

The vestrymen appointed a committee of eighteen to manage the affairs of the parish; their decision might be overruled by the ex officio vestrymen, amounting to nearly forty under the Act. Every resident peer, privy councillor and member of Parliament, every judge and every magistrate was an ex officio member of the governing body of the parish; and, besides those, the Connaught trustees appointed a vestryman, and the Grand Junction Canal Company another. There was this peculiarity about the constitution of the vestry—no innkeeper could be elected. In 1845 an attempt was made to upset this absurd state of things, and to introduce Hobhouse's Act, which requires half the ratepayers to vote, and a majority of two-thirds of those who vote must vote in favour of the adoption; the consequence was, that though 1,991 supported the change, there being 1,212 against it, the proposed alterations could not be made. Three years must elapse before the proposition could be again entertained. It was again attempted in 1853, when 2,449 voted in favour of adopting the Act, and only eleven against it, but the number was slightly reduced below the requisite amount on scrutiny, and the ratepayers failed again. So much with regard to the western parish. He would now come to the eastern; and there he found the most extraordinary state of local management that ever existed in any country—he referred to St. Pancras. Its population had increased from 71,838 in 1841, to 170,000 at the present time. There were sixteen paving boards; and a great portion of the parish was without paving, and without any jurisdiction whatever. The manner in which so many different boards were created was this. When a person had some land which he wished to let out on building leases, he applied for an Act of Parliament. This had been the case with the Somer's-town, the Camden-town, the Southampton, the Bedford, and other estates. He would proceed to exhibit the state of things in a few of these districts. In the Camden-town district there were fifteen self-elected Commissioners, of whom about seven attended. There was no treasurer. There were four miles and a-half of road, and they spent 408l. 17s. for officers' salaries, the whole expenditure for paving, being 336l. exclusive of lighting; they had incurred a debt of 11,100l. and had levied 1s. per pound upon the rateable value. There were no public pumps. Take the Doughty Estate: there were no public pumps—rate, 2s. 6d. in the pound; there were eighteen Commissioners, and the sum expended for repairs 1l. 17s. 4d., whilst there were expended for salaries 183l. 8s. 9d.; debt 6,732l. On the Foundling Estate Paving Board the Commissioners were self-elected; about ten attend; they have one mile and a quarter of road, and expend 765l. 19s. 1d. in repairs. and pay 313l. 5s. 5d. to officers, clerks, &c.; they have a debt of 20,476l., which is fifty per cent on the rateable value, and levy a rate of 1s. 6d. in the pound, besides special rates. On the Lucas Estate Paving Board, they have about three-quarters of a mile of road; pay 38l. 19s. for paving, and 117l. 14s. for salaries and collection. They have a rateable value of 5,867l. and a debt of 4,909l. No public pump. In Somer's-town there were twenty-one Commissioners, self-elected; about eight attend; they have not any treasurer, have three miles of road, and spend 538l. 7s. 8d. in repairs and 301l. in salaries; they have a debt of 15,000l., which is thirty-five per cent on the rateable value, and levy 10d. in the pound. One pump. On the South-Western district there were seventy-five Commissioners, self-elected; attendance eleven. They have five miles of road, expend 983l. 14s. 6d. in repairs and watering, and 352l. for officers, besides a residence for the clerk and surveyor, and they have a debt of 5,500l., and levy 1s. in the pound on the rateable value, which is 81,000l. On the Southampton Estate Paving Board, only twelve and a half miles of road, and the payments to officers amount to 677l. 4s. being more than 50l. per mile for official payments; in other respects this board is well managed. With respect to Holme's Estate Paving Board, the amount authorised to be raised by the act is 1,500l., but it is believed bonds to about the extent of 2,400l. have been issued; Commissioners self-elected; no interest or annuity has been paid since the year 1836 or 1837; for the last fifteen years no operations under the Act of Parliament have taken place, and the pavements and roads within the district are in a most dilapidated, dangerous, and dirty state, and under no efficient control; the books and papers of the expired commission are believed to have been destroyed, and this return is signed by the surveyor to the board. Thus, it appeared that according to a Parliamentary paper, printed in 1850, those parts of this great parish which had any paving at all were governed by sixteen district boards, eleven of which are self-elected, and wholly irresponsible to the ratepayers.

There were 427 Commissioners, of whom 255 are self-elected, They had set up fourteen public pumps for the use of 170,000 inhabitants, of which one was returned as out of order. They had forty miles of road, and sixty-three officers of various sorts to superintend, and these sixty-three officers received no less than 4,000l. a year in salaries, or 100l. per mile; and to complete the whole, they had incurred debts to the amount of 135,357l.—so that, excluding the Southampton district, which had little or no debt, these Commissioners, most of whom were self-elected, had incurred a debt of about 140,000l, or exactly 5,000l. per mile, for which, of course, the ratepayers are liable and of which liabilities they had little or no knowledge. So much for the local government of St. Pancras under petty self-elected boards. Now, contrast St. Pancras parish with the parish of Marylebone, which was governed by one board, and this was the reason he instituted the comparison. In Marylebone the population was 160,000 in St. Pancras 170,000. Marylebone contained 1,560, St. Pancras 2,700 acres. The number of officers in Marylebone was four, in St. Pancras sixty-three. In Marylebone the cost of the staff was 657l., in St. Pancras 4,000l. The debt of Marylebone was 16,000l., which was chiefly created under the old unreformed vestry; of St. Pancras 135,000l. on the paving boards alone. In Marylebone the streets were paved by the board, in St. Pancras they were, to a great extent, let out to contractors. He quoted this to show how much saving had been effected in Marylebone compared with St. Pancras, by having one board—the same as the vestry—and how expensive was the other under many boards. He would now give a summary of the management of the metropolis. It had a population of 2,233,108; number of inhabited houses 291,240; rateable value, 9,011,230l. exclusive of the City of London. The number of different local acts in force in the metropolis was about 250, independent of public general acts, administered by not less than 300 different bodies; 137 of these had returned the numbers comprising these bodies, and they amounted to 4,738 persons. From the other boards there was not any return; but taking the same average for them, there would be 5,710 more persons; so that upon that computation the whole metropolis was governed by no less than 10,448 Commissioners. Besides these there were the following chartered bodies:—Lincoln's Inn, Staple Inn, New Inn, Gray's Inn, Furnivals Inn, Charter-house. There were thirty parishes containing 880,000 inhabitants, and assessed to real property, in 1843, at 3,900,000l., which might probably amount to much more than 4,000,000l. at the present time, consequently they represented nearly one half of the whole value of the metropolis. On examination it appeared that these parishes were, each of them, governed either wholly, or in part, by Commissioners or trustees, who were self-elected, or elected for life, or both, and therefore in no degree responsible to the ratepayers. The House would naturally ask why all these evils had continued for so long a period of time, and no steps been taken to remedy them. Take the case of St. Pancras, one of the greatest instances of abuses that had ever existed in a civilised country. In the year 1834 these parties came to Parliament through their vestry. They desired their vestry to expend money for the purpose of remedying these abuses. The Bill was thrown out in the second reading. In 1837 a similar attempt was made with similar results, but at a heavy cost to the ratepayers. In the year 1851 they were more fortunate. He proposed a Bill, which was referred to a Select Committee. It passed through the Committee, and was sent up to the House of Lords, where it was thrown out, and, from that time to the present no step had been taken and no step would be taken, to remedy these abuses, because they spent 4,000l. on the former occasion, and the paving boards, over which they had no control, spent nearly 3,000l. in defeating the ratepayers, which the ratepayers had likewise to pay.

There were two other boards in the metropolis which had great powers of taxation, over which the ratepayers had no control. One of these bodies consisted of the officers appointed under the Metropolitan Buildings' Act of 1844, and the other body was the Commission of Sewers. The officers appointed under the Metropo- litan Buildings' Act consisted of a registrar appointed by the Chief Commissioner of Works, at a salary of 1,000l; an official referee, at a salary of 1,000l.; and other referees and officers, at salaries making a total of 5,510l., who were paid partly out of the Consolidated Fund and partly out of the county rate. Besides these, there are fifty-two surveyors appointed by the magistrates in quarter sessions; they have incomes varying from 200l. to 1,600l. per annum, derived from fees, and the total amount received by them in 1853 was no less than 24,364l.; so that the cost of this establishment to the country and to the ratepayers was just 30,000l. per annum, over which there was no control whatever. He would not dwell upon this subject, because it was the intention of the Chief Commissioner of Works to introduce an Act for the purpose of amending the Act of 1846, but this he might say, that soon after he was appointed to the office he had now the honour to hold, the cholera was almost at its height, and it became his duty to inquire what these officers had done, whether they had prevented dwellings in cellars contrary to the provisions of the Act, and he found that they had greatly neglected their duty. He reported to the Secretary of State, and sent a copy of the report to the Chief Commissioner of Works; and when his right hon. Friend brought forward his Bill he should feel it his duty to call the attention of the House to these officers, because he thought that parties receiving salaries ought at least to perform their duties. He was waited upon by a deputation of these officers, who complained that they were hardly dealt with as their powers were limited under the Act, but he was prepared to show that they had not exercised for the benefit of the public those powers which doubtless they had; and one of them, who was the loudest in his disapproval of his report to the Secretary of State, he found afterwards had palpably neglected his duties. In police division B, there were 137 cellar dwellings. In police division D, comprising part of St. Marylebone and Paddington, there were 1,260. In these parishes there were two surveyors, one receiving 540l. 13s., and the other 1,544l. 6s. 6d. per annum. In the police division B, comprising St. Pancras and other parishes, in which the surveyors received incomes varying from 100l. to 1,557l. 13s. 6d., and in 1852, the amount paid to the surveyor in St. Pancras was 1,791l. 15s. 6d., there were 183 of these dwellings. In division F, 232; divisions G and H, 870; in K and L, 109—making a total of 2,714 cellars used as dwellings, contrary to the provisions of the Act, according to the police return.

The other great grievance under which the metropolis laboured was the Commission of Sewers. They had been almost wholly irresponsible to the ratepayers. The Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers have jurisdiction over an enormous area, extending in some districts much beyond the metropolis; but there is a great portion of this area which has never come under rating, or been considered in any way by the Commissioners. In 1847 the metropolitan area was divided into seven separate districts (exclusive of the Regent's Park and Regent Street district), under the superintendence of as many separate Commissioners. They were as follows:—

Commission. Date of Commission at time of Supersedeas. Number of Commissioners.
Westminster and part of Middlesex Dec. 5, 1837 240
Holborn and Finsbury Dec. 5, 1837 150
Tower Hamlets Dec. 5, 1837 179
Poplar and Blackwall Dec. 5, 1837 67
Surrey and Kent Aug. 15, 1841 280
Greenwich Nov. 13, 1839 116
St. Katherine Dec. 5, 1838 33
Being a total of 1,065, exclusive of the Directors for the time being of the St. Katharine Docks Company. Amongst the names of the Commissioners were the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor, the Prime Minister, and other noblemen and gentlemen who could not attend to such matters. On the 30th November, 1847, the first six of the above Commissioners were superseded, and six new and distinct Commissions were issued, one for each district, but addressed to the same body of individuals, twenty-three in number. On the 4th of December, 1847, the St. Katharine Commission was superseded, and a new Commission was issued, appointing as Commissioners for that district, the same twenty-three individuals who were named in the Commissions for the other six districts. The amount of debt due on November 30, 1847, when these Commissioners were appointed, was 64,133l. Besides these Commissioners, there were the Regent's Park and Regent Street districts, which were formed in 1824, under the provisions of statute 5 Geo. IV. c. 100, out of portions of the contiguous districts, and had its own separate body of Commissioners appointed under that statute. The debts did not devolve upon the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers, but remained a peculiar charge upon the district itself, and have been paid by the districts liable. In the year 1848, the 11 & 12 Vict. c. 112, under which one Commission of Sewers was established for the whole metropolis, excepting the City, was passed, and was brought into operation on the 1st of January, 1849, by the issing of the first Metropolitan Commission of Sewers. Since that time five Commissions have been appointed, and the debts have constantly increased. At the time the first was appointed the debt was 63,4891.—
Commission. Date of Commission. No. of Commissioners. Debt at Date of expiration of Commission.
£ s. d
1st Metropolitan They in creased the debt to Jan. 1, 1849 34 659,973 0 0
2nd Metropolitan Oct. 8, 1849 13 74,700 0 0
3rd Metropolitan Oct. 6, 1851 11 79,938 5 6
4th Metropolitan July 20, 1852 14 297,074 6 4
Renewed on July 20, 1854
5th Metropolitan Nov. 22, 1854 16 587,074 6 4
The number of Commissioners here given are exclusive of the Lord Mayor for the time being, and for other members chosen by the City of London, who are summoned only on matters affecting the City. Since the issuing of the present Commission, the amount of debt has been increased by a new loan of 140,000l., and a contract has also been entered into for a further loan of 150,000l., in pursuance of powers given to the Commissioners by the Sewers Act of last Session, enabling them to charge the rates with an additional debt of 300,000l., so that the debt now existing, and to which the ratepayers are liable, amounts to the great sum of 587,074l. 6s. 4d. Thus it will appear that since the year 1847 there have been no less than seven Commissions—the old Commission existing in that year, a new one in part of that year, and a third in January 1849, a fourth in October 1849, a fifth in October 1851, a sixth in July 1852, and a seventh in November 1854, and that the debt now considerably exceeds half a million of money. The cost of the establishment was something extraordinary. In 1849 the cost of management was 28½ per cent on the amount of money received, and the following statement would show the actual receipts, amount of expenditure, and cost of management in the years 1849 and 1850:—
Receipts. Expenditure. Cost of Management. Percent.
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
71,623 13 10 85,345 3 6 22,400 17 5 28½
91,070 6 11 94,554 10 11 21,104 17 0 23
Since that period the amount levied by loans and taxation has been so great varying from 129,100l. in 1851 to 194,105l. in 1853; that the per centage of cost of management on the gross amount collected is less; but still the cost of management was in 1851, 16,430l.; in 1852, 14,551l.; and in 1853, 17,386l.

The Commissioners have attempted only one great work—the Victoria Sewer. The estimate of which was 28,854l., and the cost, so far as can be ascertained, 41,472l.; but this, it is said, falls far short of the full amount. The time for completing the contract expired in March 1854, and the accounts have not yet been rendered. He proposed to supersede the Commission and place the whole under a different control.

He had now stated generally the way in which the metropolis was managed, and now the difficulty arose how the question was to be dealt with. Various plans had been proposed. One plan was to convert the whole metropolis into one general municipality, but the extraordinary magnitude of the metropolis rendered such a measure obviously inadequate, and the objections to it were well stated in the report of the City Corporation Commission. They said— London, taken in its full extent, is (as it has with literal truth been called) a province covered with houses; its diameter from north to south and from east to west is so great that the persons living at its farthest extremities have few interests in common; its area is so large that each inhabitant is, in general, acquainted only with his own quarter, and has no minute knowledge of other parts of the town. Hence the two first conditions for municipal government, minute local knowledge and community of interests, would be wanting, if the whole of London were, by an extension of the present boundaries of the City, placed under a single municipal corporation. The enormous numbers of the population, and the vast magnitude of the interests which would be under the care of the municipal body, would likewise render its administration a work of great difficulty. And these considerations appear to us decisive against the expediency of placing the whole of the metropolis under a single municipal corporation, without adverting to those more general questions of public policy which naturally suggest themselves in connection with the subject. Another suggestion was that there should be charters of incorporation granted to the present boroughs. He thought the greatest inconvenience would arise from that. The Tower Hamlets contained 550,000 inhabitants; Finsbury, 330,000; Marylebone, about 400,000. They were too large, and would probably be larger, and they must not legislate merely for the present, but for some time to come. Moreover, they would be imposing on the inhabitants of London that to which they were apparently much disinclined, in imposing on them municipal corporations, with the necessarily expensive staff of mayors, aldermen, and councillors. He remembered accompanying a deputation to Sir George Grey in 1851, upon the then condition of the metropolis, when his right hon. Friend intimated to the deputation, that if they desired to have corporations he would be ready to consider any memorial that might be presented to him, provided it was signed by the greater portion of the inhabitants of any borough; but no response has been made. There was a third plan which was suggested by the Commissioners, which he proposed to adopt. It was put forward in these words— We see no reason why the benefit of municipal institutions should not be extended to the rest of the metropolis by its division into municipal districts, each possessing a municipal government of its own. What the form of this government should be, and what should be the number or extent of the districts, are questions not lying within the scope of our commission, and upon which we are not competent to express any opinion. We may be permitted here to remark, that the power of petition to the Crown for the grant of a municipal corporation given to Parliamentary boroughs by the Municipal Corporations Act, and by the Act of 1 Vict. c. 78, does not appear to us to be practically applicable to the metropolis. In order that a proper distribution of the metropolis into municipal districts should be effected, it would be necessary to take a connected view of its different parts and to arrange the boundaries and size of each district with reference to the other districts. Without such mutual adjustments, a proper combination of districts would be impossible, and such adjustments could not be made if charters were granted singly to Parliamentary boroughs. If a distribution of the metropolis into municipal districts is to be made, it ought, as it seems to us, to be made simultaneously, and with due consideration of the manner in which the interests of each part are affected by the general plan. He (Sir B. Hall) would adopt this recommendation, which was, that the metro- polis should be divided into municipal districts. In so doing, a connected view of the different parts could be taken, and the boundaries of each district made in reference to the other districts. He proposed to carry out these propositions without creating corporations. He proposed that ecclesiastical boundaries should not be interfered with, neither should he interfere with the poor law, nor with any power that the Poor Law Board might have. He had stated already that he proposed to take the Registrar General's district for the metropolis. There were thirty-six districts, with the exception of the City of London, which he did not propose to include, because another Bill would be brought in having reference to the City, and to the reform of the Corporation. The Bill would, in the first place, extend the provisions of Hobhouse's Act to all the parishes comprised within the Registrar General's district. There were two classes of parishes in the metropolis. The one he would call parishes sole, as not being in union; the other, he would call united parishes, being in union. There were twenty-one of these single parishes, having a population of 1,456,363. The vestry of these parishes would be elected under the provisions of the Act he had referred to, and he proposed that the vestry that should be so elected should be the local board, instead of having a separate board, which would be superfluous, as if there was a second board, it must necessarily be elected in the same or somewhat similar manner, These twenty-one boards would represent an average population of 69,350 persons. He then came to the parishes in union, of which there were fifty-six comprised in fourteen unions, containing a population of 775,507 persons; and he proposed that parishes in union should send to the district board a certain number of representatives, arranged according to their population. These union boards will represent, on an average, one board for 55,460 persons. The district board, thus created, whether as a parish sole or a group of parishes in union, would have the power of paving, lighting, and cleansing their respective districts, as would also the local boards to which he had referred. The local sewers of these different localties would be placed under the control of the different local boards. Representations were made to him that it would be utterly impossible for one board to manage the sewers of the metropolis, and he had placed them under local boards. These boards would have the power and duties of local boards of health, so far as related to the prevention and removal of nuisances. The rates, which would include the amount to be paid by the district board to a metropolitan board, to which he would presently refer, would, to save expense, be all collected by the collector of the poor rate. The rates for paving and lighting would be borne by the occupier, and where not otherwise provided for by lease or agreement, the sewers rate would be paid by the owner, as at present. In many of the parishes, and parts of parishes, there were heavy debts, and as regarded all such liabilities, he should provide that these debts should remain strictly chargeable on the places where they were created, and that they should be paid off, principal and interest, in fifty years, unless otherwise provided for. It was obviously necessary that while they provided for the local works being done by the local boards, there should be some general board for those works which must be considered of a general and not of a local character. Respecting this, the following suggestion had been made by the Commissioners— We suggest the creation of a Metropolitan Board of Works, to be composed of a very limited number of members deputed to it from the council of each metropolitan municipal body, including the corporation of the City. We propose that the management of public works, in which the metropolis has a common interest, should be conducted by this body. At present works of this sort can only be undertaken either by the corporation of London, from its own peculiar funds or under powers created for the purpose by special legislation, or by the Executive Government out of Parliamentary grants. It is manifest that a power of executing public works of general metropolitan importance, such as the construction of bridges over the Thames, or the opening or widening of main lines of street, accompanied by a power of metropolitan taxation, would, though founded on a basis of popular election, require efficient safeguards for its prudent and useful exercise. We therefore, think that the plans of the works to be executed should be submitted to a committee of the Privy Council, and its consent obtained before they are carried into effect. We may add that cases may arise where public works may be executed in the metropolis partly out of the metropolitan fund and partly from Parliamentary grants, and that in these cases a control of the Executive Government such as we have proposed would be indispensable. The Commissioners recommend in their 29th suggestion, that in the event of a division of the metropolis into municipal districts being made, a metropolitan board of works be created, composed of members deputed to it from the council of each metropolitan municipal body, including the common council of the City. He proposed that this board should consist of forty-two elected members, two to be elected by the corporation of the City of London, and the remainder by the districts which would be found in the schedule attached to the Act. The chairman would make forty-three, and persons would be eligible, whether belonging to the district board or not. One-third would go out annually, and will be eligible for re-election. With respect to the chairman, he proposed that the members of the Metropolitan Board of Works should select three names, not necessarily from their own body, or or from any district board, but that they should have power to select from the whole length and breadth of the kingdom three persons, any one of whom would be fit and proper to occupy the high office he would be called upon to fill, and thoroughly qualified to discharge the important functions attendant upon it. These names should be sent to the Secretary of State, and the latter should erase two, the remaining one to be the President of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He proposed that the chairman should be paid a salary of not less than 1,500l., and not more than 2,000l. a year, and that he should hold office during good behaviour. This body would have power to levy rates for improvements, and also, when necessary, to take land out of their district for the purpose of outfall works, as at present it was not possible to carry out the drainage of the metropolis, because there was no power to make the arterial drains beyond a certain limit. This board would have power to make intercepting sewers for the purification of the Thames, and would be empowered to borrow money from the Treasury, to be repaid within fifty years. Also, he proposed to alter the arrangement which divided a street into two districts. He did not interfere with the metropolitan police or magistrates; and, as he had before stated, the City of London was excluded from the Bill. A new Bill would, however, be introduced, transferring the coal duties to the metropolitan board. He had already said that the vestries of parishes were to be elected under the provisions of 1 & 2 Will. IV. c. 60; but there was one great inconvenience existing under that Act. Unless a parish was divided strictly according to law into ecclesiastical districts, there could be only one polling place in the whole parish for vestrymen. This was much and most properly complained of. In St. Pancras, for example, there were about 10,000 persons entitled to vote for Members of Parliament, and there were four polling places; but there were about 20,000 persons qualified to vote for vestrymen, and they had only one polling place. The same inconvenience was felt in many other parishes, such as Islington, Lambeth, and others, where the ratepayers had now to travel a long distance to the polling place. If, therefore, the Bill should proceed, he would introduce a short Bill to amend the vestries in this particular. The Bill as it stood would give power to the local boards to put sewers in every street, and to give facility for draining the houses; and, lastly, he should give powers for constructing the great intercepting sewers, so as to save the pollution of the Thames. He did not suppose he should be able to make the river the clear stream it was in Queen Elizabeth's time, when the Spanish Ambassador spoke of the noble river with its 200 swans swimming near the Tower; but he hoped at least that he should see it cease to be the cloaca maxima of this great city. The next question to be considered was the supply of water. This was perhaps paramount, or at all events equal, to all others. Under the Act of 1852 an arrangement was made with the water companies, whether wisely or otherwise he would not stop now to argue, by which they were allowed till August next to obtain a fresh supply and to perform certain works. He could not, of course, interfere with the compact which Parliament had made with the water companies, but he proposed in August, 1855, to appoint a Commission to inquire whether the companies had fulfilled their part of the compact, and whether the supply of water was sufficient as to quantity, and good as to quality, and to report generally on the subject. Having apologised for the length at which he had troubled the House, the right hon. Baronet concluded by stating that, if permitted to introduce the Bill, he should fix the second reading for the 16th of April, thus giving a clear month for its perusal by hon. Members. He hoped that those hon. Members, and others who took an interest in the metropolis, would be so good as to favour him with any suggestions they might desire to make, with a view to perfect the measure; and it would afford him great pleasure to consider them, and to adopt them, provided they were not inconsistent with the provisions of the Bill, which was based upon the priciple of local self-government.

Motion made and Question proposed, That leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better Local Management of the Metropolis.


said, he could not allow this Bill to pass even its primary stage without making a few observations—first, as to the manner in which the Bill had been introduced, and, secondly, as to the important features contained in it. He must be allowed to say, notwithstanding his respect for the right hon. Baronet, that a Bill of such importance—involving changes affecting great interests and containing such novel principles—should have been introduced by a Member of the Cabinet more immediately connected with the internal government of the country, who would give to the Bill the weight of his authority. Considering the acknowledged ability of the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for the Home Department, and the laborious and sedulous manner in which he performed the duties of his office, it would have been more becoming, he conceived, that this important measure should have been introduced by him rather than by a Member in the position of the right hon. Baronet, who had also no particular connection with the subject he had brought under the consideration of the House. He had to complain also that no inquiry had been made so as to furnish the requisite information on the subject of this Bill, and if he had any doubt as to the inadequate information on which the Bill had been introduced, he had but to look to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, who had stated that his information had only been derived from imperfect returns made in answer to his own inquiries. He (Mr. Fitzroy) had seen some of the right hon. Baronet's information, and he must be allowed to say that it had been contradicted on several occasions, and would in a few days be again more fully controverted. He knew no precedent for introducing such a change as proposed by this Bill without allowing Parliament to obtain information in a clear manner, to which it might refer with certainty. They had, in the reformation they proposed to effect in the City of London, taken the statesmanlike course of issuing a Commission which consisted of men well known and of great experience, who, after sitting for many days, inquiring into the circumstances of the corporation of the City, had presented a Report, on which was founded the Bill shortly to be brought before the House. The Bill proposed to deal with nineteen-twentieths of the metropolis in this imperfect manner. One-twentieth had been dealt with, as he had just mentioned, in the proper course, by issuing a Commission, the weight of whose names would give authority to the recommendations which they presented to the House. On what principle could it be said that they were acting, when they dealt with only one-twentieth of the metropolis in this way, whilst nineteen-twentieths were treated in so hasty a manner? It was impossible to offer an opinion on the merits of the present Bill before the Bill affecting the City corporation was presented, as they could not determine till then whether the two Bills might not clash. The state of the metropolis might be as had been stated, but the House ought to have accurate information as to this, and a Commission ought to be issued, or, at all events, the subject should be referred to a Committee. He hoped some Member of the Government would state whether this Bill bad been considered by the Cabinet, and whether it was introduced as a Cabinet measure. He would not follow the right hon. Baronet through all his details, as ample opportunity would be afforded for their discussion; but there had been one principle introduced into the Bill so startling, so perfectly new and unprecedented, that they should ask the House to consider it well before it sanctioned such a proposition as that of placing the sewerage under the direction of parochial delegates—men who would not be qualified for the office by any engineering knowledge, and as to whose ability no test was to be applied. He had looked through all the debates in 1848–9, 1851–2, and in last year, on the different measures respecting the Commission of Sewers, but he could not find that the strongest advocate for local self-government had recommended the adoption of that principle to the sewerage. Mr. Wakley, who was as firm an advocate of local self-government as the right hon. Baronet, had said with respect to a Sewerage Bill under the consideration of the House in 1851, that he recommended concentration of authority, but he bad never hinted at placing it in the hands of the ratepayers. The sole control the right hon. Baronet attempted to place over these delegates—and he had treated this part of the question very gingerly and delicately—was through a chairman, to be selected from three names submitted to the Secretary of State; but what control could such a chairman have over such an incongruous body as these parochial delegates? With regard to the Sewerage Commissioners, their powers had been so restricted that it had been impossible for them to carry out the large drainage works which they had deemed necessary. It was the opinion of Lord Carlisle that the important work was best placed in the hands of a Commission. The proposition that works of such vast proportions should be left to be carried out by persons over whom there was no control appeared to him so startling that he could not believe that the House would entertain it. He had some knowledge of vestry affairs, and he could say that, in the large parish with which he was connected, if the sewerage were thrown upon the vestry they would have no means of carrying out the work efficiently. The right hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) had referred to the inconvenience of meeting conflicting jurisdictions on the surface of the same street, but how much greater would be the inconvenience of such a meeting in the sewers of a parish? Would the House, after long experience of the matter, and after the startling statements of the right hon. Baronet as to the effect of bad sewage upon the public health, consent again to consign the whole subject to an eternal chaos? And that certainly would be the effect of the proposed Bill. The only responsibility incurred by the persons who would have the charge of these important works would be that of meeting their constituents every three years. He did not think the Bill would bear investigation, and what appeared to him strange was, that it should be countenanced by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who had hitherto professed to feel so much interest in the question, and who, in the Bill which he brought forward last year, proposed that Government should have a certain share in the nomination of persons to serve on the Commission of Sewers. If the Bill really proposed to vest the management of such important works in the hands of persons without responsibility, he should offer to it the most strenuous opposition.


said, he would not have thought it necessary to trouble the House with any observations but for the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and which, he thought, was calculated to raise a very unjust prejudice against the Bill which was now before the House. It was true that the question of the local government of the metropolis had come incidentally before the Commission upon which he had the honour of serving, and it appeared to that Commission that the abuses of the present system should be reformed. He felt bound to state that the present Bill appeared to him to be founded upon the principle of reform laid down by the Commissioners, and nothing which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House had shaken his opinion that the principle of local self-government by a body elected by the ratepayers—a principle which had been found to work well in other towns—should, with certain variations, be applied to the metropolis. The hon. Gentleman said that the House would be acting upon imperfect information, but he would refer him to the evidence given before the Corporation Commission, and if he turned to the evidence concerning the parish of St. Pancras he would see the absurd consequences of the variety of jurisdiction; he would see that the present system gave rise to nothing but jobbing, mismanagement, and confusion. No doubt the parish of St. Pancras was one of the strongest instances, but the same kind of thing existed throughout the metropolis. Such a state of things could not be allowed to continue, although, at the same time, he willingly admitted that the Bill was of so much importance that the whole of its details would require the most careful attention of the House. He was prepared to give his assent to the general principle involved in the Bill, but he considered himself perfectly free to consider the details of it, and more especially that most difficult part of it which had reference to the sewage question. The main question, however, appeared to him to be whether or not it was expedient to substitute for the system of irresponsibility, of jobbing, and mismanagement which now existed in the metropolis, a simple uniform system which had been found to work well elsewhere. He thought the Government deserved great credit for introducing this Bill, and the thanks of the House were especially due to the right hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) for the great attention he had paid to the subject. He wished also to point out that in 1862 the coal duties would expire, and as it was not at all probable that they would be reimposed, where, he would ask the House, were funds for improvement to come from unless from a direct improvement rate? Such a rate, however, could not be levied but by a body in which the inhabitants had confidence. He had felt it to be his duty to bear his testimony to what he believed to be an important principle of a Bill which he believed might, by careful consideration, be made one of the most valuable measures of the age.


said, that while agreeing with his right hon. Friend and colleague (Sir B. Hall) as to the evils arising from the anarchical and anomalous state in which the Government of the metropolis was left, differed from him as to the value of the remedy now proposed. The Bill proposed to divide the metropolis into thirty-six districts, to be apportioned according to the existing artificial boundaries, irrespective of the levels and natural distribution of the area, which had hitherto been always more or less regarded in legislation on this subject. A quarter of a million of money had been expended, because man's artificial divisions had been followed in preference to those of nature in respect to the line of sewerage in one of the largest districts of London; and it was to be feared that those local jealousies and conflicting interests which had so unhappily prevailed in the seven existing divisions of the metropolis would be multiplied thirty-six times by this measure. They would also have thirty-six separate sets of officers, who were likely to be both under-skilled and overpaid. Moreover, the sewer-rate was a landlord's tax, and yet the whole power of deciding upon work, effecting the property of the long leaseholders and landlords of the metropolis, was to be confined to the temporary ratepayers; so that the Bill would create this anomaly, that London would be the sole place in England where the only persons excluded from the control of the expenditure would be those who had to defray it. But, further, there was a danger that the proposed local Parliament of forty-two Members would discuss politics instead of sewerage questions, and threaten to overshadow the authority of the Speaker and that of the Imperial Parliament.


I hope the House, Sir, will not be alarmed at the danger shadowed out by my noble Friend, that either you, Sir, will be dispossessed of the chair which you now occupy, or that the authority of this House will be imperilled by the encroaching spirit of the local Parliament now proposed to be created. Still less do I fear that the House will be deterred from granting leave for the introduction of this Bill through the disapprobation that has been expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Fitzroy). That hon. Gentleman found fault because the President of the Board of Health had been selected to bring in this very important and valuable measure. Now, the facts of the case are these: my right hon. Friend (Sir B. Hall) having more local knowledge on the subject to which this Bill applies than anybody else that I am acquainted with, communicated with me in the course of the last autumn, and submitted plans that he had prepared with regard to it; and as he, with great ability and industry, completed arrangements which appeared to the Government well adapted for the purposes they contemplated, it was thought that it would be very unjust to my right hon. Friend that he should not be the person to bring this measure before the House. And nobody is more cognisant of every part of the proceedings which led to the framing of the measure which is now under our notice than my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Labouchere) that the principle of self-government which obtains in Parliament has been found most congenial with the feelings and habits of the people of this country. I am under no apprehension that the sewerage of the different metropolitan districts will be mismanaged by the local bodies to which it will be confided. Everybody who has at all looked into this matter must be perfectly aware that it is impossible for the general Commissioners of Sewers to direct simultaneously the arterial drainage of the metropolis, and apply their attention properly to the defects of the branch sewerage of every separate district. It has long been found that, while one central body ought to be entrusted with the superintendence of the general arrangements of the arterial drainage, other local bodies should be charged with the maintenance and repair of the sewers in their respective districts; and, in my opinion, the measure of my right hon. Friend will sufficiently accomplish both of those important objects. I will not detain the House by repeating the very cogent reasons which my right hon. Friend has assigned for the necessity of this Bill, or the illustration he has given of the advantages it will secure. I will only say that, instead of its being calculated to create chaos, I think it will dispel it, and substitute for the extreme confusion which now prevails a system of order and regularity, from which the metropolis will derive great benefit.


said, he believed that the corporation of London would cordially co-operate in the promotion of the objects which this Bill was designed to advance; but, looking to the great importance of the City of London, and the vast concentration of wealth within its limits, he must contend that it was entitled to a larger share of the representation in the council than the Bill of the right hon. Baronet proposed to give. The sewerage of the City of London was at present solely in the hands of the corporation, and he understood the management of that sewerage was to be left in the hands in which it at present was, and which were universally admitted to be very efficient. He understood it was proposed that the managing body for the whole metropolis was to consist of forty-two members. The City of London—not the corporation—was to be represented on that Board by only two members, who were to be members of the corporation. These numbers were calculated, he was given to understand, on the principle of population, but to give to the City of London no greater a proportion than as two to forty-two was to take a very narrow view of its importance. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) had stated that the coal tax expired in 1862, and that he thought it very doubtful whether the Legislature would ever consent to its renewal. Now, there was a great delusion in the public mind with regard to this tax. The general impression was that the whole of it was taken by the City of London, but that was not the case. The coal tax consisted of 1s. 1d. in the ton, 9d. of which went to the Board of Works; and if the right hon. Gentleman who presided over that Board was prepared either in 1862, or at any earlier period, to take such a step, there could be no objection to hand over this 9d. to the proposed central board for the improvement of the metropolis. This tax of 9d. in the ton was the creation of modern statutes, but with respect to the other 4d., which went to the corporation, and which had been chiefly mortgaged to carry out improvements not wholly, but mainly within the limits of the City, that was not levied under modern statutes, but was an ancient right and possession, which, in 1862, would revive in the corporation under their old charters. This portion of the tax, therefore, would have to be dealt with in a different manner from that levied under the modern statutes, and he must protest against the supposition that, without some special arrangement entered into for that purpose, they could at once transfer this 4d. per ton, which, in 1862, would still remain the property of the corporation of London, to the central board in the way proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. At the same time, in order to carry out the improvements required in the metropolis, the corporation would be anxious to make every reasonable concession.


said, he was much obliged for the promise of assistance given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The proper time for discussing the coal tax would be when the Bill was under discussion. He proposed that district sewers within the City of London should not be interfered with in any way, directly or indirectly, by any local or metropolitan board, but that they should remain under precisely the same control as at present. He could not conceive that anything could be better managed than was the sewerage of the City of London, and his hope and belief was that persons would be found to manage the sewerage of the other districts of the metropolis equally well with that in the City. With regard to the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Stuart Wortley), that the corporation was not sufficiently represented by two members in the proposed Board, he would state that he had calculated that representation on the basis both of population and of value, but that was a matter quite open for further consideration.

Question put, and agreed to.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir Benjamin Hall, Sir George Grey, and Sir William Molesworth.