§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Assheton Cross.)
§ MR. MUNTZ
, who had the following Notice of Motion on the Paper:—That it is expedient to make such provisions in the Bill as would allow purchasers or lessees of areas referred to in Clauses 5 and 7 to provide accommodation for persons of the working classes to he displaced in such areas, in such places other than the areas as might after duo investigation he sanctioned by the local authorities,said, that he would not proceed with the Resolution, as the subject might be better discussed in Committee.
§ MR. CAWLEY
moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. He said, when the Bill was read a second time, a very short time had elapsed since the Bill was introduced, and many Members had not had an opportunity of examining its provisions. It was a measure free from all Party considerations, but was one of great importance, inasmuch as it deeply affected not only those specially mentioned in it, but, he might say, all classes of the community. It involved the health of all large towns, and indirectly the moral condition of the lower portion of the population. He proposed the Amendment from a conviction that it would be impossible to bring the Bill into a workable shape, and make it harmonize with the existing law, unless it was submitted to a Select Committee. The Bill, according to the Preamble, sought to do two things—first, it provided for the removal 32 of dwellings which had been proved to be injurious to health; and, secondly, it declared it to be expedient that provision should be made for erecting suitable dwellings for the working classes thus displaced. Whether such a course as the latter was expedient could not be fully discussed in this House; and, in his opinion, the Bill, as it was drawn, failed to carry out what it recited in the Preamble to be expedient. Before passing on to what the Bill could accomplish, it was highly desirable to bear in mind what could be done under the existing law, for nothing could create greater confusion than the re-enacting of laws to do that which there was power to do already. As far as related to the removal of unhealthy dwellings and their improvement, ample powers were given by the Act of 1868—Torrens's Act—and he could not see the utility of ignoring that Act in the framing of this Bill. It was quite true the Act of 1868 contained no powers for the erection by the local authorities of dwellings in the room of those that were pulled down; but whether that should be done was a point which must be thoroughly discussed at some period or other. While the Preamble recited that it was expedient to erect dwellings for the artizan class in the place of those that might be removed, the only provision in the Bill on that subject was of a negative character—namely, that the local authorities should not themselves do so without the consent of the Local Government Board. But nothing could be more unfortunate and mischievous than to permit local authorities to become proprietors of dwellings for the working classes in competition with private owners. Either there would be just complaints from private owners that the local authorities were letting dwellings built out of the rates at rents unfairly low, or artizans would raise an outcry that the local authorities were not doing that which the Legislature intended they should do. Now, he held that Parliament should not assist the artizan class out of the rates unless it was dealing with them as paupers. He asked the House whether the provisions in this Bill as to these restrictions being simply subject to the approval of a Government Department would be efficient and satisfactory in their working. If such restrictions were to be adopted they 33 should be laid down by Parliament itself. That was one reason why he thought the Bill should go to a Select Committee. Besides this, the House was aware that in 1872 an Act was passed, called the Public Health Act, combining all the Acts applicable to sanitary purposes under one title. Although the Artizans Dwellings Act, 1868, was one of the Sanitary Acts, it was not one of those included in the Consolidation Bill which had been laid on the Table. It would, therefore, remain in force, along with that which they were now discussing, in all towns and boroughs with more than 25,000 inhabitants. He could not think that a good specimen of consolidation. With the single exception of the special power of expending public money in the erection of these dwellings, he did not see anything in this Bill which could not properly be incorporated by small amendments on the other Sanitary Acts, without encumbering the Statute Book. He could not enter into a discussion of the probable effects of the Bill without remembering one or two painful circumstances. Much had been said about the benefits accruing from the removal of blocks of wretched property in the metropolis and the substitution of those valuable institutions—dwellings for the working classes. He rejoiced that such buildings had been erected; but let them not delude themselves by supposing that these superior buildings were occupied by the same class as those who inhabited the destroyed property. The reports of those new dwellings, satisfactory as they were, showed that they were occupied by a more respectable, industrious working population. Therefore, as regarded the displaced class—the most wretched, degraded, and unfortunate part of the population—these buildings left the sanitary question untouched. He did not expect this Bill would deal with that class. Either from dissolute habits or otherwise, they were unable to pay the rents charged for the new dwellings, and they were obliged to seek their residence elsewhere, as best they could. Indeed, they were little more than half paupers, and would have to be dealt with as such. What such a measure as the present should do was to give the local authorities full power to lay down restrictions for securing open streets, properly constructed 34 houses, and sufficient ventilation; and also to remove structures which were injurious to health. The evils now existing might be traced in a large number of instances to a simple cause—to the individual owner of property dealing with it as he pleased, regardless of the consequences to his neighbours. The borough he had the honour to represent (Salford) had statutory powers with reference to the arrangement of dwellings and for securing free ventilation superior to almost any other in the Kingdom. If these powers were possessed and carried into effect in all towns, very beneficial results would arise in the future. He attached great importance to their having decisive evidence as to unhealthy districts, without being left to mere opinion on the report of a medical officer. This could be accomplished, as it had been in Salford, by ceasing to rely exclusively on the average death rates for a whole community furnished by the Registrar General and obtaining the death rates for small local areas. In this way it was shown in Salford that, while the average was 26 or 28 per 1,000, there were small areas in which it was 50, 60, or 70, while there were suburban areas in which it was 17 or 18. He was anxious to see some provision made whereby it should be compulsory on the local authorities to have the death rate in the different localities published regularly, believing, as he did, that if it were once made clear to the public that such deadly places existed at their doors, means would speedily be taken to cure the evil. In that way more good would be done probably than could be effected by the provisions of this Bill. With respect to the medical officers, he did not like the way in which the Bill was drawn, because it imposed on them certain duties which already obviously belonged to them, and in that respect would rather afford them an excuse for neglecting their duties in other cases to which their attention was not directed. As to how far this Bill was likely to have practical effect, it was, in the first place, dependent on the action of the local authorities who were so fenced around that they would be able readily to find abundant excuses for not incurring the necessary expenditure. There were under this Bill various conditions precedent, which, in the majority of cases, would furnish the local authorities with excuses for doing 35 nothing at all. Then, it was not a mere question of increased death rate that was to be the ground for action on the part of the medical officers, but the prevalence of certain diseases, indicating a low condition of public health; but at present we tolerated an extent of disease which would alarm us if it were epidemic instead of being constant. Further, after the medical officer had made his report, there were again certain conditions precedent to action on the part of the local authorities, who, among other things, must be satisfied of the advantage that would accrue to the district from the application of the remedy. With regard to the improvement scheme which the local authority was to provide, he was at a loss to know exactly what was included in that scheme. As it stood in the Bill, it would be almost if not quite impracticable in the great majority of cases. The question of providing for persons displaced by the pulling down of houses suitable dwellings within a given area or district involved serious difficulties, which were only partially met by the way in which it was proposed to amend that part of the Bill. The hon. Member was proceeding to comment minutely on the clauses of the Bill, when—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member was going through the Bill clause by clause, as well as various Amendments to those clauses which were upon the Paper, and which would at the proper time come under consideration in Committee. The hon. Member was quite at liberty to discuss the main provisions of the Bill, but not to proceed in detail through the clauses.
§ MR. CAWLEY
begged pardon for being out of Order. He was sorry to be guilty of transgressing the Rules of the House; his object was not to discuss the Bill clause by clause, but to show that, according to its general principles, it was impossible to carry out its main provisions, and should therefore be referred for consideration to a Select Committee. In discussing the principle of the measure he wished to refer only to clauses involving that principle. When the clauses were taken together, the effect of the Bill was to seek to stereotype for ever the class of buildings which were to be built upon the land acquired for the purposes of the Act. 36 When the clauses were read in connection with the Schedule the Bill went further, and not only sought to stereotype the use of the land for all time to come, but sought to do that in such a way as to deprive the owner of the property which existed now of the value that property might have, irrespective of the buildings that were upon them. Dealing with this as a general question, he ventured to suggest that nothing could be more unfortunate or mischievous than to attempt to stereotype a class of property in any particular part of our large towns. The owners, as the Bill now stood, were to be paid for the land according to the value of the property that was found upon it, regardless of the value of the ground as a site. If property of this kind was to be dealt with, it must be left subject to the operation of the laws of supply and demand hereafter. The Bill as it stood, and even as it was proposed to be amended, would prevent the owners of property in many cases from realizing the full value of their property, and prevent the development of commercial enterprize within important localities in the heart of our large towns. That part of the measure, therefore, ought not, he thought, to be allowed to pass. With reference to the Schedule, it was an amendment of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. It was, in fact, another Bill, containing as it did 33 clauses, while the Bill itself contained only 22. It was wrong in principle, in making that amendment applicable only to property taken from a particular class; and, apart from that, he maintained that whatever amendments might be required in the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act ought to be made not in this way but in a separate amending Bill, applicable to all cases where land was taken compulsorily. The method adopted in this Bill would be mischievous and unsatisfactory, and make the cost of acquiring property more expensive than at present. For these reasons, he would move that the Bill be committed to a Select Committee.
§ SIR THOMAS BAZLEY
said, he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Salford. He believed the tendency of the Bill was to give greater compensation to the owners of household property than they now received, and to 37 raise the rents on the occupants of their houses. Some change, no doubt, was required to be made; but he submitted that it ought to be at the expense of the owners of property, and not on the local authorities of a neighbourhood where it came into operation. He also believed that provision ought to be made for the conveyance of land at a more reasonable cost to purchasers, and without those heavy bills of costs to which they were now subject. For these and other reasons he thought it was desirable that it should be referred to the consideration of a Select Committee. For his own part he believed, however, that the working classes had among themselves better means and greater facilities for carrying out the system than the means proposed by this Bill. Some 10 years ago a building and investment club was formed in Manchester called "The Queen's Society," and as he became an honorary member, and subsequently President, he wrote to the secretary a few days since to give him some information of what had been done. Well, the answer he received was this. The deposits of the club in bank amounted, in round numbers, to £4,000,000 sterling, and 5,000 dwelling-houses were erected capable of accommodating 30,000 people. If such valuable results could be obtained by workmen themselves, what, he asked, was the use of such a Bill as the present? He could only say to the working classes of other parts of the country, "Go thou and do likewise." As the present Bill stood, he submitted that it ought to be referred to a Select Committee.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Bill be committed to a Select Committee,"—(Mr. Cawley,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that with reference to the last observation of the hon. Member for Manchester, the object of this Bill was to enable him to say to parties who were desirous of building houses, "Go and do likewise." The difficulty was that courts and streets prejudicial to health belonged to owners who would not allow them to be removed; and the present Bill was introduced with the 38 object of overcoming that difficulty. He hoped the House would not approve the Motion, for if ever he had read a Bill simple in its character and well drawn, and proper for the House to deal with in Committee of the Whole House, it was the Bill now under consideration. Its principles and objects were contained in eight short clauses, three of which were explanatory; while the larger portion of the Bill dealt only with the machinery of arbitration. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley) objected as to the ground on which public bodies should act, and did not seem to think that sickness and disease were the necessary ingredients to set a public body in motion. The object was to meet a general complaint which existed throughout the whole country, that unless some further provision was given to the local authorities for the purpose of removing buildings unfit for human habitation we should never get rid of the existing evil. Everything was provided for securing to the owners of property the fair marketable value of the land; and whether they were to build the cottages on precisely the same areas or not was a matter of simple detail. What the Bill provided was that where there were several owners, such as a freeholder, a lessee, and a sub-lessee, the local authorities should have the power of putting their finger upon a fever spot when it had been found so by the medical officer, with the object of getting rid of it. He trusted the House would see the necessity of dealing with a measure of this sort in the ordinary course.
§ MR. FAWCETT
, in venturing to point out some of the shortcomings of this Bill, trusted the House would do him the justice to suppose that he was no less anxious than any one else that all should be done which could be done to improve the dwellings of the people of this country. What he particularly alleged against this Bill was that its operation would be so cumbrous, costly, and complicated that it would prove inoperative. It might be said that if the Bill should prove inoperative no harm would be done; but he entered an emphatic protest against the policy of passing inoperative Acts of Parliament. If a strong Government, supported by a large majority, should pass a law which did nothing towards improving the dwellings of the people, the inevitable 39 effect would be to cause heavy discouragement to all future efforts and to give an impression that the question was beyond Parliamentary control. But he took a strong preliminary objection to the scope of the Bill. It was entitled the Artizans Dwellings Bill, and he called that class legislation. Why should the artizans of this country, more than any other section of the community, require Parliamentary protection? Artizans were independent, and could take care of themselves just as well as any other class. But the fact was that the title was vicious and misleading, because the artizans with whom it was proposed to deal were not those who dwelt in the metropolis or in any of our large towns; and it was to be regretted that throughout the Bill the words "working classes" were forever cropping up. They occurred even in the Preamble, and, in his opinion, most wrongly; for, was it not just as much a duty to provide a dwelling for a poor clerk or for the widow of a small tradesman as for a member of the working class? Why should that special favour be shown to the working class? Me thought that differentiating of a class and singling it out for special favour was a course that was fraught with the utmost peril, as it would encourage among persons of that class the idea that their interests were more worthy of the attention of Parliament than were the concerns and welfare of any other section of the community. Two exceptions contained in the Bill, he might add, appeared to him to be absolutely indefensible. How was the City of London excluded? It was very ingeniously brought into the first clause, but farther on it was provided that the expense of carrying out the Bill should be borne by the Metropolitan Board of Works, which should levy a general rate for the purpose, but that to that rate the City of London should not contribute. They knew, therefore, that the scheme would not be carried out in the City, and therefore the City would not contribute towards the expenses; but could it be said that the persons who lived by the thousand industries carried on in the City, and who were displaced by occasional clearances and improvements, were not just as well entitled to consideration as others who lived in different parts of the metropolis? And again, he was at a loss to know why the Bill 40 stopped short at a population of 25,000. An Act of a similar kind was passed in 1868, which went as low as a population of 10,000. Let them see what would happen under the Bill as it stood. Suppose a town with a population of 30,000, so as to come under the Bill, and contiguous to it another town with a population of 10,000, or village, as it would be termed in the north. Portions of the larger town being pulled down, the persons dislodged would be driven into the small contiguous town or village, and however unsatisfactory its condition might be, it would then be made ten times worse, and there was no legislation under the Bill to get over the difficulty. Besides, there would be the extraordinary anomaly that if the provisions of the Bill were carried out in the case of a town of 80,000 inhabitants, and if the Artizans Act of 1868 were put into operation in a neighbouring town with 15,000 inhabitants, the property dealt with in the two places would be removed under two entirely different principles of compensation, thus giving rise to all kinds of confusion, jealousies, and disputes. Now, there was, he contended, no justification for such exclusion as that to which he was referring. The heart-rending descriptions which had been given by the Secretary of State for the Home Department of the state of some of the courts and alleys in our large towns could be paralleled by those in the case of small towns and villages, especially under the operation of the Bill. Did not the right hon. Gentleman recollect how the public had been startled by the accounts which appeared in The Times last autumn as to the dreadful condition of Wiveliscombe? It was curious how anxious Gentlemen opposite seemed to be to remedy the evils in large towns, and how disinclined to do anything for those country districts which one would suppose were their special favourites. The sanitary state of many villages had been described by competent authority as "discreditable, disgraceful, horrible, and unworthy of a civilized and Christian country," while the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), now a trusted Member of the Conservative Party, had spoken of the sanitary condition of the villages in Shropshire as simply "infamous." The Bill, he would further observe, might be divided into two portions, 41 to be carried out on two principles which were confused, costly, and complicated. The first portion referred to the clearing of unhealthy areas; the second to the appropriation of those areas when cleared. The former would, in his opinion, lead to such enormous expense that it would prevent the Bill from being carried into effect. When an area was condemned, and the houses were to be cleared, the owners of the property would have to be compensated, and what was the principle of compensation adopted? Under the Act of 1868, which was now in force, if a house was condemned as being unfit for human habitation, the owner was punished by receiving for it the minimum rate of compensation; but under this Bill, when a house was condemned, the owner was to be compensated on a principle which would give him the very amount that he could realize. The Bill said that the owner of a house must be compensated at the market price of his property, and he was informed by competent authorities that in calculating the market price, an element which they would have to take into consideration would be the income which the house was yielding at the present time. Now, it was perfectly notorious that the more disgraceful, the more overcrowded, and the more deficient was the state of many of these houses, the larger was the income they yielded; and the ratepayers would therefore see their money lavishly paid to owners who had allowed their property to fall into such a condition that it had to be condemned as unfit for human habitation. He was told that ominous rumours were spreading of the purchase of this class of property by house speculators in the expectation of getting large compensation under this Bill. Fifteen ratepayers, and therefore 15 owners of these tumble-down habitations could set in operation this Act, under which their property would be bought at the full market price by the local authorities. He believed that if the right hon. Gentleman would consult the local authorities, he would receive from them but one opinion—that the principle of compensation adopted in the Bill involved so much cost as to make it highly probable that it would produce but little beneficial effect. When hon. Gentlemen opposite sat on his side of the House, they said again and again that they 42 stood firm to the principle that no new charge whatever should be thrown on the rates until the incidence of local taxation was revised, and the system of local government was improved. He was afraid it would be found that strong declarations of the Party opposite, now that they were in power, would become as evanescent as the snow flakes that fell in a river. He wished the House to consider what would be the nature of the charge made on the ratepayers. The ground-rents of the new buildings would be equal to those of the old buildings, plus their annual value, plus the charge of bringing them into use, and plus the cost of arbitration, if the prices offered should be unsatisfactory. But, after all, the new buildings or the new sites might not be taken, and then the whole scheme would be inoperative. The money required was to be raised by loans, repayable, both principal and interest, in a fixed period of years. Supposing, therefore, the period was 21 years, the entire charge would fall on the leaseholder, while the owner, who had not contributed a penny, would reap the benefit by the improvement of the locality. Surely that would be a great injustice? All experience showed that if they cleared, for example, the courts and alleys of Drury Lane, and erected workmen's houses there, the now buildings would be tenanted by altogether a different class from those who had been displaced. He wished, further, to notice an extraordinary hiatus in the Bill, Clause 7 said the local authorities might sell or lease the land when cleared for the carrying out of the scheme of private individuals, or they might sell or lease it for the same purpose to a body of trustees; or, thirdly, they might, with the consent of the Government, carry out the scheme themselves. But supposing it cost £100,000 an acre to obtain and clear the land, and nobody was prepared to offer more than £10,000 an acre for if shackled by the proposed conditions as to rebuilding, and supposing the local authorities did not feel justified in accepting the £10,000, what then became of the scheme, and who was to carry it out? As the Bill stood, there was no security that the land; when cleared, would not he perfectly idle, and nothing more be done. The Amendment to be proposed by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir Sydney Waterlow) confirmed 43 that view; because its effect was, that if at the end of three years the scheme had not been carried out, then the land should be sold in the open market, without any condition at all as to the scheme. There were three courses, any one of which might be adopted by the Home Secretary. If the local authority was not prepared to carry out a scheme of improvement, the land might be sold to a private individual on the condition that the scheme should be carried out; secondly, that when the ground was cleared, they should sell it for any purpose which would procure the highest price, so long as that purpose was not opposed to the health of the community, and provide in some other locality residences equal to the number of those who had been displaced; and, thirdly, the land which was cleared, might be sold for whatever purpose the circumstances of the neighbourhood rendered it most suitable, and the erection of new houses might be left to be decided by the ordinary considerations of supply and demand. He hoped that before going into Committee the Home Secretary would state distinctly which of these courses he proposed to adopt. If the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley) pressed his Motion to a division, he (Mr. Fawcett) would vote with him, although he did not know where they would find five Members to sit upon it, the House having apparently gone "Select Committee mad," and every Member seeming to be engaged on one or more Select Committees. It was obvious that very little progress would be made with this Bill before Easter. The Notice Paper was crowded with Amendments, some of them to be proposed by the Home Secretary himself, and he (Mr. Fawcett) believed that it would greatly facilitate the progress of the Bill if the right hon. Gentleman committed it to-night pro formâ, and reprinted it with the Amendments which he proposed to make.
§ SIR SYDNEY WATERLOW
observed, with regard to the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Fawcett's) objection to the Bill, on the ground of the enormous expense to the ratepayers which it would entail, that the Company with which he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) was connected had carried out six or seven schemes which would prove that what at first appeared 44 to be a great loss to the ratepayers would by the time the Bill came into operation become a large gain to them. The first scheme to which he would refer was one of two in the large parish of St. Pancras. It provided 104 new dwellings. The old assessment was £125; the assessment on the new buildings was £950, and the net annual increase to the rates, and therefore to the pockets of the ratepayers, was £205, whilst the ground rent of the property was only £60. Again, 140 new tenements had been erected close to King's Cross (Metropolitan) Station. The assessment of the old dwellings was £340, producing a rate of £85 per year; the new assessment was £1,141, producing a rate of £360 a-year, being an annual increase of £275. The ground rent was £135 a-year. In Westminster 135 dwellings had been erected, and the annual increase to the rates was £226, the ground rent being only £120. In the parish of St. Matthew's, Bethnal Green, 112 tenements were erected, and the annual increase of the rates was £182, the ground rent being only £50. It thus appeared that the local authorities would get, in the shape of new rates, a sum which would more than cover the interest which they would have to pay on the money they borrowed. The hon. Member for Brighton complained that the Bill did not apply to villages and small towns. He agreed with all that the hon. Member had said as to the state of cottages in villages and small towns, and he hoped that, if this Bill were passed, the Government would bring in a Bill next year dealing with the evil of overcrowding in small towns and agricultural districts. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would feel that they ought to go into Committee on this Bill. The evils which called for remedy were disgraceful to the nation and to Parliament, who had a general charge of the nation's affairs.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, that the main object of the Bill was the abatement of the fever-haunted dwellings which were unfit for human habitation in the metropolis and in other large towns, and to provide for the erection of other more suitable houses in their stead. Considering the encumbered position in which property of this miserable description usually was, it would be impossible to carry out the objects he had indicated I without some such measure as this, which 45 he believed would be effectual for the purpose in view. The Artizans Dwellings Act of 1868, although good as far as it went, was too limited in its operation to be effective, and did not afford the facilities which were required for dealing with the interests outstanding between the reversioner and the original lesser of properties, which were to be taken for the purposes contemplated. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), in calculating the market value of the property to be taken, had assumed that that value would be based on the amount of the annual income of the property; but there was a fallacy in that assumption, inasmuch as the market value of property of this description depended rather upon the security of the income and upon the trouble, risk, and expense of collecting it than upon the mere gross produce of the House. A good, well-established property in the City of London might be worth 25 to 30 years' purchase; but property of the wretched description that would be taken under this Bill might not be worth more than five or six years' purchase. In his opinion, the Bill afforded ample security for the impovement scheme being carried out, in the case of any property being acquired under its provision s. He trusted that it would not be referred to a Select Committee, but that the House would at once proceed to consider it in Committee.
§ MR. GIBSON
looked upon the measure as most admirable, and as being calculated to deal in a practical manner with a very extensive evil. He had submitted the Bill to the Dublin Sanitary Association, and to the King and Queen's Society of Physicians in Dublin, with the result that both those bodies had sent to him for presentation to that House Petitions in favour of the provisions of the measure being extended to Ireland. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had committed an extraordinary mistake in saying that the City of London was excluded from the operation of the Bill. The fact was that in the City the jurisdiction under the measure would be given to the Commissioners of Sewers, while in the rest of the metropolis, exclusive of the City, it would be given to the Metropolitan Board of Works. The argument of the hon. Member for Hackney, as to the 46 result of the limit of population, would apply equally to towns of 5,000 as to towns of 25,000 inhabitants, for if people left the latter and went to smaller towns, because of the application of the Act, surely they might be expected to leave the former and proceed to country villages? For his part, he regarded the scope of the Bill as being more wide and beneficent than that of the Act of 1868. He was glad that the Government had a code furnished by the Irish Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, of the operation of which he had had much experience, and he did not doubt that the Bill would work well and give general satisfaction. He hoped the House would at once go into Committee on it.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
observed, that if the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Gibson) were acquainted with metropolitan government, he would agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) that the City was virtually excluded from the Bill. If the Bill passed it would not, in his opinion, be put into operation in the City, although it was urgently needed there. His own constitutents would be called upon to contribute large sums under the measure for the improvement of Drury Lane, for instance, and would have cause to protest strongly against the City being exempted from bearing its share of the expenditure.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he hoped that the Bill would now be allowed to go into Committee. He would not adopt the course so generously suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Cawley), because he was determined, so far as he was concerned, that the rookeries referred to should be abolished. If they were to send the Bill to a Select Committee in order that the Amendments of his hon. and learned Friend might be considered, it would be better for them at once to proceed to some practical piece of legislation. With respect to the Schedule, it was nothing more nor less than an incorporation with the Bill of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. That Act had been in operation in Ireland for a very long time, and, as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had said, worked very effectually. It was also the fact that it worked cheaply and 47 conveniently. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) desired, with all due professions of favour, to strangle the Bill in another way. He suggested that the Amendments should be inserted in Committee pro formâ and the Bill withdrawn till after Easter. He must respectfully decline to adopt that course also, as they were determined that the rookeries should no longer be allowed to exist, that the health of the people should be cared for, and that what they considered the most inexpensive and effectual means of securing those objects should be provided. The hon. Member for Hackney was of opinion that the City of London would be excluded from the operation of the Bill; but he could assure the hon. Member that, as there were places in the City that must be dealt with, so the City would have to spend the funds necessary to deal with them. Then, again, the hon. Member asked why, if the government extended the Act to places of 25,000 inhabitants, they did not make it applicable to country districts in many of which evils existed as great as in the towns. The reason was that Her Majesty's Government were of opinion that a different remedy would be required in those cases, and they were prepared in due time to apply the remedy which was in their minds. On the part of the Government he declined to apply this remedy, which he believed would work great good in large towns, to small villages, to which it would not be applicable. He believed that if they went into Committee they would be able to make the Bill a really workable measure which would do a great deal of good not only in the metropolis but in the country generally.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. FAWCETT
asked whether the hon. Member for Maidstone's Amendments had been placed on the Paper with the consent of the Home Secretary?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he would discuss the question when they came to it. He had merely suggested 48 to the hon. Member for Maidstone the form in which his Amendments would be fit for discussion.
§ Clause 1 (Short title of Act).
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he thought that calling the Bill "The Artizans Dwellings Bill, 1875," would give rise to some misconception. Artizans were a superior class of working people, earning from 30s. to 50s. a week, who were not likely to want these dwellings. The Home Secretary said that the primary object of the Bill was the extirpation of rookeries; and, if so. "The Towns Improvement Bill, 1875," would be a better title. He moved an Amendment, given Notice of by the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth), in page 1, line 28, to leave out "artizans',"and insert" workpeople's."
considered the title of the Bill rather misleading, and that it ought to be altered. Artizans were, generally, pretty well able to take care of themselves.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
declined to accept the Amendment or the subsequent proposition of the hon. Baronet, on the ground that the Bill was never intended to be a Towns Improvement Bill. Its sole object was to provide better dwellings for a larger class of persons who were now compelled to crowd together in the wretched tenements too commonly found in large towns. He contended that he, as the author of the Bill, had a right to choose what title he pleased for it. He believed that he had selected the proper one.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
observed, that it was entitled a Bill for "facilitating the Improvement of the Dwellings of the Working Classes in Large Towns." If it was intended to build dwellings for the working classes, the name of the Bill ought to be changed, and the words "working classes "ought to be substituted for the word" artizans."
§ MR. MUNDELLA
contended that the artizans, skilled labourers, receiving good wages, were, as a rule, able to take care of themselves. The Bill applied to a poorer and more helpless class, and a more general title would better describe its nature and scope. The right hon. Gentleman said that, as the author of the Bill, he had a right to 49 choose his own title. That might be—although he had always considered that the credit of this measure was due to his hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth)—but he had no right, in his opinion, to choose a misleading one.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the word "labourers" was used in conjunction with the word "artizans" in an Act passed a few years ago, and he had no objection to amend the clause by inserting the words "and labourers" after "artizans."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed, to.