§ Clause 9 (Local authorities described in Schedule).
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
took occasion to say that he intended to move the omission from the clause of Subsection I., which ran as follows:—(i.) The Corporation of London shall alone be the local authority in and for the Metropolis for purposes of the provisions of this Act relating to foreign animals.It was quite true that, generally speaking, the effect of that provision would be to leave the law as it stood, and if no considerable change were proposed by the Bill, with regard to foreign animals, he should not have deemed it necessary to bring forward his Amendment. But the sub-section did not stand alone, for, by Sub-section 2, it was declared that—The City of London and the Liberties thereof shall be exempt from contributing for purposes of this Act to the Metropolitan Consolidated rate.He must ask the Committee to take those two proposals into their consideration together, because it was impossible to ascertain the real meaning of the one apart from the other. The 1st sub-section made no change in the law; but it would make an alteration in the position of the Corporation, and enormously increase their income, if all foreign cattle were to be slaughtered at the port of landing. The 2nd subsection, however, would make a change in the law, and would, in his opinion, most unfairly give an exceptional and anomalous power to the authorities of the City of London as the authority 1727 or the whole of the Metropolis outside the boundaries of the City, while making it, at the same time, a separate district for the purposes of the Act, and exempting the Corporation from the liability to contribute to the Metropolitan rate. The Committee were placed in a somewhat difficult position in discussing the question—as, indeed, they had been, and would be, in dealing with the Bill throughout—inasmuch as they did not exactly know how foreign cattle would be dealt with under its operation. It was not, however, the fault of the Committee that they were obliged to discuss the subject in a slip-shod fashion. The Government had only just made up their own minds—if, indeed, they had as yet made them up at all—as to the position of foreign cattle under the Bill, so that it was impossible thoroughly to discuss the position in which the City would be placed if the sub-section which he proposed to omit were carried. It was expressly admitted, by the leading witnesses who had appeared on behalf of the Corporation before the Committee upstairs, that they would gain enormously by such a measure as the present. The extent to which they would gain, would, of course, depend on the restrictions to which the importation of foreign cattle was subjected; but if those cattle were to be more extensively slaughtered at the port of landing for the future, the Corporation would very considerably profit by the change. If even the restrictions on the countries already scheduled were only to be maintained—and he anticipated they would be continued—the Corporation would remain in the receipt, as they were now, of a vastly greater income from the cattle market under their control than it was expected they would receive when the existing law was made. He was quite aware that the senior Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Cotton) would try to make out that the Corporation were actually losing money by the cattle market; but, if that were so, it was because they lumped together the Islington and Deptford markets, and cattle that were slaughtered at the port of debarkation, as well as those which were not to be so slaughtered. If, besides, the Corporation were losing money at the present moment by these markets, it was owing, in great measure, to the extensive street improvements which 1728 had been made in connection with one of them and not with the other, which improvements were charged upon the markets. There was, he might add, considerable difficulty in arguing the question, inasmuch as the Committee had before them no detailed accounts with respect to it. He had, on the previous day, asked the senior Member for the City what was the amount of the tolls and charges levied by the Corporation, and what sum they realized both by Deptford and Islington markets? His hon. Friend, in reply, said that the Question was an unusual one, though the Forms of the House allowed it to be put. Indeed, the means of obtaining information on the subject seemed altogether to depend upon whether it might please the authorities in the City to give such information or not. In fact, the position of the City, with regard to the cattle market question, was altogether an anomalous one. The Metropolitan Board of Works were frequently asked for information—which, by the courtesy of their Chairman, was supplied—as to matters relating to the Board, and it was the senior Member for the City alone who could furnish those facts which would enable the Committee to form an intelligent opinion on the clause under discussion. He had intended to put the Question to which he had just referred openly in the House yesterday; but he had postponed doing so until Thursday, as his hon. Friend had told him that he was not in possession of the information which he required. In these circumstances, he felt that the Committee was hardly in a position to decide on the merits of his Amendment. He might, however, inform them that it had been stated by the witnesses who had been examined before the Select Committee of last year, that the gain to the City from the slaughter of all foreign cattle at the port of landing would not be less than £50,000 a-year. The Committee, would, therefore, at once see, looking at the large receipts of the City already, that the question raised by his Amendment was one of great importance, and one which ought to be considered in dealing with the present Bill. No doubt, as the Government had given up the proposal that all cattle were to be slaughtered at the port of landing, the gain of £50,000 a-year would fall to the ground; but, still, the Corporation 1729 would gain very considerably under the operation of the Bill. Strong objections were already urged by persons concerned in the live meat trade against the charges which were levied by the City in the existing markets. The City Corporation had been made by Parliament the sole market authority for the Metropolis, and had certain statutory powers conferred upon it, which the Legislature could at any time take away. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), in his Bill of 1869, proposed to take away those powers from the City, unless certain conditions were fulfilled. Those conditions were fulfilled, and therefore the clause which was accepted by the House in 1869 did not come into force—a clause which would take away its market authority from the City, and allow others to build markets. The fact, however, that such a clause had been passed by the House showed that Parliament had thoroughly preserved its authority over the matter; and that it could, for sufficient reason, take away the power which had been given to the City by Statute. The tolls which were levied by the Corporation had been the subject of much of the evidence which had been laid before the Committee of last year. It was stated that at the Islington Market the Corporation received 6d. for every bullock, and for sheep l¼d. each; whereas, at Deptford, they levied the most enormous tolls—namely, 5s. for a bullock, and 9d. for a sheep. The amount which was obtained in that way at Deptford was very large indeed. The Corporation alone got enormous sums as rents for the slaughter-houses, while the meat was taken to the dead meat market, which also belonged to the City. The result was that a very large sum accrued to the Corporation from those several sources of income. Hon. Members would find the evidence to which he referred given in answer to Questions 9067 and 9083 in the Report of the Committee of last year. The number of cattle and of sheep which were brought to Islington and Deptford Markets respectively were very considerable. He found that, in 1872, there had been brought to Islington 250,000 cattle, and to Deptford 38,000; in 1873, 295,000 to Islington, and 7,000 to Deptford; in 1874, 306,000 to Islington, and 7,000 to Deptford; in 1875, 301,000 to Islington, 1730 and 29,000 to Deptford; and, in 1876, 328,000 to Islington, and 22,000 to Deptford, of cattle, sheep, and calves. Of sheep there were 1,386,000 brought to the home market in 1872, and 123,000 to the foreign market; in 1873, 1,458,000 to the home, and none to the foreign market; in 1874, 1,650,000 to the home, and none to the foreign market; in 1875, 1,600,000 and odd to the home market, and 86,000 to the foreign—a very large increase—and, in 1876, about 1,500,000 to the home, and 40,000 to the foreign market. Now, in the absence of information from the City, he had made calculations himself as to the amount of tolls received by the Corporation for cattle at the present time; and he found that, taking as his basis the numbers of 1877, there were landed at Deptford in that year about 68,000 cattle at 5s. a-head, 700,000 sheep at 9d. a-piece, and 10,000 swine at 1s. each. That being so, he found that the figures would stand at £17,000 received within the year at Deptford alone for cattle; at £26,000 for sheep; and at about £1,000 for swine—the receipts in the shape of rents being £2,000. The Committee would, therefore, see that the receipts of the Corporation at the foreign market alone during one year—and these would be their future receipts, even supposing that no greater restrictions were imposed with regard to the slaughter of foreign cattle—amounted to no less a sum than £46,000. If, then, the Corporation, should say that they were losing money by the markets, he hoped they would state how much they were losing by the Islington, and how much they were making by the Deptford Market; because it was, he contended, absurd and grossly unfair to take into the account the street improvements which had been made, and the hotels which had been erected at Islington. Taking Deptford by itself, it brought the City, as he had already shown, £46,000 a-year, while the expenses were, so far as he could make out—interest and sinking fund, about £12,500 a-year; annual expenses, £5,000; giving a total of £17,500, which would leave an annual profit of something like £29,000 at Deptford alone. That profit, it appeared, the City received under the following circumstances:—The Corporation had informed the Committee of last year that it was not their intention 1731 to derive a profit from their markets, and that they wished to keep the tolls at so low a rate as would merely recoup them for their outlay, and no more. But in those tolls there would never, he maintained, be any reduction so long as the charges at Islington and Deptford continued to be lumped together. Taking Deptford by itself, at which there was a profit of £29,000 a-year, it was perfectly evident that the Corporation could afford to reduce their charges; and he would, therefore, on some future occasion, move the adoption of a new Schedule of charges. The very Schedule upon which he had fixed was, he might add, that contained in the Conservative Government Bill of 1868, to which were attached the names of the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) and the late Mr. Hunt. That Schedule, in his opinion, embodied a very reasonable proposal with respect to the charges which should, in future, be made at Deptford. As things at present stood, there were no signs of concession on the part of the City; though he, for one, was prepared to enter into a compromise, if the Corporation would only come forward and say that they would contribute to the Metropolitan tolls. But if they would neither accept any such compromise nor reduce their charges at Deptford, he should feel it to be his duty to continue his opposition to the present state of things, and it was with that object that he begged to move his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 4, to leave out from the word "provisions," in line 40, to the word "animals," in line 43, inclusive.—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. ALDERMAN COTTON
wished, in reply to the hon. Baronet who had just sat down, to point out that he was labouring under a mistake in supposing that the Corporation of the City of London ought not to have the control of the markets. It was absolutely necessary that some good working authority should exercise that control over the whole of the Metropolitan markets; and he defied anyone to prove that in any way the Corporation had abused the trust which 1732 had been reposed in them. The hon. Baronet had argued that it was unfair to lump together the receipts at the two markets of Islington and Deptford; but he, on the other hand, was prepared to maintain that it was most fair that both accounts should be dealt with. The Corporation, he might add, had no pecuniary interest in those markets, which existed for the public convenience and the public good. As to the vast profits which the hon. Baronet said were made at Deptford, he would beg to inform him and the Committee that the total loss at the close of the year 1876 on account of all the markets within the jurisdiction of the City of London—including tolls, charges, rents, &c.—amounted to £171,955. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: Not for one year.] That was the total loss up to the end of 1876, and included all the charges from the time of the opening of the Metropolitan Cattle Market and the Foreign Cattle Market at Deptford; so that, at the present moment, the Corporation was considerably out of pocket on account of those markets. The hon. Baronet had said that the Corporation had included in the cost of its markets the outlay upon several new roads and upon buildings in the markets; but it was only fair and proper to debit them with that expenditure. The Metropolitan Cattle Market had been erected in Copenhagen Fields, which had been adapted to the purposes of a market; and if proper approaches had not been made to it, and other necessary accommodation provided, it would, instead of a success, have turned out to be a failure. The money expended upon it had been laid out for the public convenience and good, and he did not know that the Corporation had ever worked in any other sense. If it were possible to reduce the rates and charges in the markets, the public might rely upon it that would be done, for the Corporation never acted illiberally. He could not understand, he must confess, why those attacks were made upon them. As matters stood, it was absolutely necessary that there should be some control of the markets, and surely it was better that that control should be left with the Corporation than that it should be handed over to some new and ambitious body, which might be desirous of possessing it. Would it not be wiser to leave it in 1733 the hands of a body whose increase of income was likely always to be accompanied by additional public improvements, and who laboured for the advantage of the citizens at large? And when he spoke of the Corporation, he wished to be understood as speaking of the City, with hundreds of thousands of human beings constantly passing through it, and of its enormous daily population of nearly 750,000. It was to provide for the health and good accommodation of that immense concourse of people that all the great improvements in buildings, sewerage, and with respect to markets, were carried out by the Corporation; and, although the hon. Baronet was of opinion that their gains were enormous, he could assure the Committee that, on the contrary, their loss, as he had already pointed out, on those markets was very great. It was true that the hon. Baronet had given him Notice that he intended to put a Question to him on the subject. But he had given it to him only on the previous morning; and, although he was the senior Member for the City of London, he was not the Member for the Corporation. He might at once say, however, that the Corporation had nothing to conceal, and if the hon. Baronet would move for Returns specifying the items of cost and income of all the markets under their control, the Corporation would, he had no doubt, immediately proceed to prepare such a Return and present it to him for the use of the House. He could not himself at the moment supply the information for which the hon. Baronet asked; and, indeed, the demand for it had been so sudden as to suggest the idea that the thought of the Amendment had occurred to him so suddenly, that he had not time to make his calculations so accurately and profoundly as he had no doubt the hon. Baronet would otherwise have done. As to lumping the markets together, surely the Corporation were entitled to take that course? Why should the City be called upon, out of its funds, to keep up a market which was not a paying one? As regarded the figures that had been given to the House that day, he was not in a position to answer them; but he could say that the total loss to the City from the opening of the markets to the close of last year was £170,195. The public was their creditor, and any 1734 injustice done to the City would be an injustice done to the public. He hoped, therefore, that the House would respect, as it always had done, the confidence which it had placed in the City of London. He hoped they would look upon this Amendment as an unnecessary and frivolous one, one which was put to turn away citizens from the good work they were doing; for assuredly Parliament could not expect them to keep on paying without giving them an opportunity of recouping. As far as the City was concerned, the Corporation never spent public money even on the hospitality for which they were so famous. Their hospitality was defrayed out of private funds as well as contributions to useful purposes. He hoped that the House would reject this Amendment, and would consider it unnecessary and frivolous, and one which would take away from the credit which the City of London had derived from all its works and by all its examples.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he wanted to avoid their getting into any long discussion as to the relation of the City of London to the rest of the Metropolis. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alderman Cotton) had just made some defence of the City. He had stated that they had a great loss. The hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had stated that they had great profit. It would take the House a long time to ascertain on which side the profit and loss went, and would interfere with their going on. The course the Government should have taken was one leaving matters between the City and the Metropolis as they were before the Bill was brought in. He was really surprised that the Secretary to the Treasury should have allowed the Representatives of the City to get behind him and put in Subsection 2. Sub-section 2 altered the position of the City to the Metropolis. It said—''The City of London and the Liberties thereof shall be exempt from contributing for purposes of this Act to the Metropolitan Consolidated rate.It looked at first sight plausible that they should not pay their own rates and those of the Metropolis as well. But that would bring up the whole question of their having their own markets and the Metropolitan Markets as well—not merely the foreign but the home cattle markets in the Metropolis, He did not 1735 think they should be surprised if the rest of the Metropolis should say—"As you have this control and do not desire to get rid of it, and as you have so very much to do with the cattle trade, and, in fact, are responsible for it over the whole of this great City, you should pay your share of the rates." He did not see why the House should have this question. Why should they be troubled with it? Why should there have been any change made from the former Act? If the Government were willing to leave things as they found them, and withdraw Sub-section 2, his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea would, perhaps, not push his Amendment. He was not surprised that it had been proposed; but it would oblige them to go into a discussion of the exact position of the City, and it seemed to him that, in the interests of the Bill, that was not desirable. He would suggest that the Government should withdraw Sub-section 2.
§ MR. RITCHIE
hoped the Government would assent to this proposition. The proposal of the hon. Baronet to withdraw the markets from the Corporation was not one which he could give his assent to. He was persuaded, however, that the hon. Baronet did not attach so much importance to that point as he did to the proposed change exempting the City from contributing to the Metropolitan rate. He (Mr. Ritchie) certainly would protest, in the strongest manner, against exempting them from contributing to the Metropolitan rate; and if the Government would give some pledge that that should not be the case, he had no doubt the hon. Baronet would withdraw his Amendment. Why the City should be exempted he could not understand. They would make their own rate and would contribute next to nothing.
§ MR. ALDERMAN COTTON
said, that hon. Members ought to bear in mind that the City only claimed exemption from contributing to the Metropolitan Board of Works for the purposes of this Act. If the markets remained in the hands of the City, the Metropolitan Board would have nothing to do with this work. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) spoke of due contribution to the Metropolitan Board of Works. That was impossible by the Act, because the Corporation had so many claims upon themselves within 1736 themselves. The Corporation of the City of London was exempted, and was allowed to maintain its rights and privileges, and within itself had the power of raising its own rates. He could not see why, except for some mischievous purpose, the City should be asked to contribute to the Metropolitan Board of Works. He did not know what claim that Board had on them, or what sum they would have to contribute. Therefore, he hoped the House would not ask the Government to withdraw this clause, but would ask them most firmly to maintain and keep it.
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLE-WORTH
said, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alderman Cotton) had addressed the Committee a second time, but had not noticed what had been said by the hon. Member. He had not noticed the fact that the City of London had a monopoly of the markets of this Metropolis. While the City of London enjoyed that privilege, and excluded from the enjoyment of that privilege all the rest of the Metropolis, surely it was fair that the City should contribute handsomely to the expenses of the rest of the Metropolis. If the Government persisted in retaining Subsection 2, the City should be prepared to give some return for that concession. He would suggest that Her Majesty's Government should take up the question of the monopoly of the markets in the City of London, so that markets should be set up in various parts of the Metropolis. No greater boon could be conferred upon the poor of the Metropolis than that there should be markets within the reach of all. If he might offer a piece of advice to the hon. Member for the City of London, he should say that he would be ill-advised in pressing opposition to any proposal short of taking away any of the privileges of the City of London. He hoped, if the Government did persevere, they would seriously consider the propriety of getting something from the City in return.
§ MR. CHARLEY
said, the proposal of the hon. Baronet was that the City should pay twice over—first, its own expenses, and, secondly, those of the Metropolis inside the City. The Amendment would involve a distinct breach of faith. The City of London had been for centuries the market authority. All that 1737 was proposed by the Bill was that the Corporation of London alone should continue to be the market authority for the Metropolis; but that, for all other purposes, the Metropolitan Board of Works should, outside the City, be the local authority. If the Amendment were carried, it would amount to this—that the City should not be their own local authority over their own market at Deptford, and that would be most unfair.
§ MR. W. H. JAMES
said, that the hon. Member for the City of London had observed that the City deserved consideration, because it had so many just claims. That meant that it had so many beans in its fields. He did hope that it would not be necessary that they should raise, on this part of the discussion, the whole question of the monopoly of markets at present possessed by the City of London, and which, he thought, existed without any fair reason whatever. He was at a loss to conceive why the 2nd sub-section had been inserted in the Bill; and if the Government made no concession, so far as to accept the proposal of the right hon. Member for Bradford, he must say it would be necessary to have further discussion with regard to monopoly of markets.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
said, the Committee was not a little confused by the fact that these two sections, which hinged upon each other, had got a little obscured in the discussion. There were really two propositions mixed up in this question. He should like to separate distinctly the two proposals. The first proposal which the hon. Baronet made, which was the question before them, was that they should deprive the City of what they possessed now by old Charter right—which was, in reality, the power of regulating the municipality of the town and the markets of the town. He would remind the Committee that when this power was given, the City of London was really the municipality of London, and as such, these powers were intrusted to them. No one had reason to say that these powers had not been well and properly administered by them. The second proposal of the hon. Baronet was to remove Sub-section 2, which was to relieve the City from rates for the purposes of this Act in regard to the whole Metropolis. As he understood, the law, up to the 1738 present moment the City of London had, at all events, representation, on the Metropolitan Board, and had contributed to the rates levied under the Act of 1869 relating to the diseases of animals; and the proposal in the sub-section was to relieve them from the contributory rate, on the ground that the City enjoyed a separate jurisdiction. It was said that if this sub-section was not agreed to the City would have to pay twice over. With regard to the second proposal of the hon. Baronet, he understood that he intended to propose that the rates at present levied for the different markets held in the City of London, Copenhagen Fields—commonly called Islington Market—and Deptford Market, should be altered, and that the tolls at Deptford, at present regulated by the City, should be regulated by Statute. On that point, he would like to put before the Committee a statement of the manner in which these tolls originally arose. The cattle market, as hon. Members were aware, used to exist in Smithfield. When it was found necessary to abandon Smithfield Market and set up a new market, pressure was brought to bear on the authorities of the City to oblige them to make that new market. It was to provide for future increase in the cattle trade that that market was constituted by the City, and especially with a view of dealing with the importation of cattle. Pressure was afterwards brought to bear on the City to compel them to set up Deptford Market. The argument of the City was—"You are going to take from us some of the cattle which at present go to our Copenhagen Market. You will diminish thereby the receipts, and we therefore ask you to give us the right to set up exceptional rates for the trade that is to be brought into Deptford." There could be no doubt that the City, under the compulsion of the Act then put upon them, were put to large expenditure, and were obliged to lay out a large sum of money in creating a market at Deptford. Beyond that, they had heard the senior Alderman stating that the loss since 1869, up to the 1st of January last, which he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) could confirm, was £171,955. Now, he thought all this showed that the Committee would do well to hesitate before they consented either to remove or to improve on the authority the House gave 1739 to the City for carrying out and controlling the markets which they had held for an unlimited time by Charter, especially when they saw, by looking at the figures presented to the House, that the Corporation were considerable losers by the markets. He confessed that, from his own point of view, there was much to be said against the non-contributory powers of the City; and he thought the suggestion thrown out by his right hon. Friend the ex-Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster) was one that the Government could fairly accept. That was that they should stand by the existing state of things with regard to the rights of the City of London and the controlling of these markets, and that they should not interfere with the Schedules of prices, which had been really the results of Acts, forced upon them by the creation of the markets. Under these circumstances, if the Committee were of the same opinion as the right hon. Gentleman, he should propose to omit the sub-section, and ask the Committee to adhere to the Bill on the other points.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that as the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury did not agree with his third proposal, it was quite impossible that he could accept the suggestion which had just been made. The Committee had been placed in a difficult position through discussing the second Amendment on the first; and he thought, with all submission to the Committee, that he could not very well separate the two. He had not gone into the case at all upon the second. It was not necessary that he should go into the case, because the Government had given up the clause to allow the City to get off without payment of Metropolitan rates.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
submitted that they were entering on a case which might be fraught with future embarrassment to the progress of the Bill. They had a representation from Liverpool that there was no convenient market for the purposes of the Bill; and if they now decided that the City of London, which had undertaken to provide markets, should after all their expenditure be deprived of the means of recouping themselves, it would be but poor encouragement to Liverpool and others to provide accommodation. It was quite probable that neither the hon. Baronet the Mem- 1740 ber for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), nor the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alderman Cotton), who represented the City, was prepared to go into detail and to discuss the matter on this Amendment. He trusted, therefore, that the Secretary to the Treasury would postpone this clause, if he did not abandon it. He would prefer very much to see it postponed, because he did not wish to see difficulties arising in London and elsewhere.
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
said, he was not a Member for the City of London, and it was not his business to defend the City of London. The City had four Members, and they ought to be present. Still, he was a Metropolitan Member, and he knew some of the facts. He held that it was convenient the City of London should have the markets. He remembered when an attempt was made to establish a market in Bethnal Green; but it would not pay, and it was shut up. Another was tried at Hungerford, and it was shut up. They might as well try to move the House of Commons, or to move London, as to move a market. They could not move Mark Lane; that was the Market for corn. They could not move Mincing Lane, which was the market for tea and sugar. It was true that the City had lost £171,000 by the Islington Market. He remembered the day when Members rose to denounce the folly of not moving the market from Smithfield. Now, when it was removed from there, hon. Members complained of the change. He denied that the money spent was spent on hotels and streets. Some streets had to be made; for what was the use of a market if they could not get to it? But this was a small part of the cost. The Act of Parliament gave the City power to do certain things, and they did those things in good faith; and he would say to his Friends who were so anxious to get a new market and a new Corporation that he should be inclined to be rather conservative in that matter. He would recommend things, in reference to the taxation under this Bill, to stand as they were without change.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
believed the general public feeling was in favour of no change in the existing law. The City of London should not be exempt from contributing their share of the expense incurred by the Metropolitan Board of Works in respect of cattle affected by disease within the Metropolis. The City, 1741 he might remark, had not 100 cows kept within its area; whereas, in the Metropolis, there were many thousands. It gave him great satisfaction to find that a concession was being made to the Metropolis at large.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, as the Government had given way on Sub-section 2, he hoped his hon. Friend would not persist in his proposal to strike out sub-section 1. He did not think, on the other hand, that it would be fair to make any promise with regard to the Schedule. [Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON: No, no!] He was glad to hear that. They might say, in fact, that sufficient for the clause were the concessions thereof. On the Schedule they could discuss the arguments of the hon. Baronet, and very strong arguments they were.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he could not agree to the passing of this sub-section, because he had the very strongest possible objection to the monopoly given to the City. He was only prepared to withdraw his Amendment on the City undertaking to withdraw their charges, and, as that had been refused, he must take a division. The hon. Baronet the Member for Finsbury (Sir Andrew Lusk) said the City had no monopoly. So far was that from the fact that they had the most absolute monopoly that could be conceived. No person, except he were a representative of the City, could erect any market in any portion of the Metropolis, or within a certain distance of it. Then it was said that the City had lost £171,000 by their markets. In answer to that, he had successfully proved—and the figures were not controverted by the hon. Member for the City (Mr. Alderman Cotton)—that the City were making a profit at the rate of £29,000 a-year at Deptford. It was true that at Islington they had sunk a great deal of money in street improvements, and if they deducted the interest on the money so spent, it might swallow up the profit on the market at Deptford. He contended, however, that they should keep the accounts separate, and then they would find that a large profit was made in a manner which was described before the Select Committee by a witness especially sent up by the Chamber of Agriculture. He said—The Corporation charged very heavy rents, and they also made the enormous charge for 1742 landing of 5s. per bullock. That seemed to him a most serious tax upon meat, which must fall, finally, upon the consumer.Those words were his case, and he should very strongly oppose the continuance of this monopoly to the City, unless the City was prepared to reduce its charges.
§ M. W. E. FORSTER
said, if Subsection 2 had not been given up, he should have felt bound to vote with his hon. Friend. But as that sub-section had been withdrawn, he felt he must vote against the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 264; Noes 69: Majority 195.—(Div. List, No. 222.)
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he did not propose to move the next Amendment, because the division just taken showed that the Committee was in favour of maintaining the monopoly enjoyed by the City. He would therefore propose the new sub-section, namely—(iii.) The maximum tolls, dues, and payments that may be taken at the Deptford Cattle Market, shall be those specified in Schedule 3 to this Act.As he had shown, the greatest possible objection was felt by large firms of butchers and salesmen, and others engaged in the cattle trade, to the charges levied by the Corporation at Deptford. The witness sent by the Central Chamber of Agriculture, whose evidence before the Council he had quoted, had, for instance, declared that these charges were monstrously too high. He thought some objection might be raised to this Motion, reducing tolls and charges, being put forward by a private Member, and he should not have proposed it had he not found an exact precedent in the case of other Bills. The Schedule he proposed was taken from the Bill, brought in in 1868 by the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) and Mr. Hunt. He himself thought that the charges fixed in that Schedule were too high; but he had accepted these, because they had been proposed by those hon. Members, because they were the most moderate propositions to which he could possibly agree, and because, before proposing them, the figures were most carefully examined by Mr. Hunt. At the same time, as he thought, the figures were too high, if 1743 there were any feeling that they ought to be lowered, he should willingly agree to it. The charges at present were divided into two parts. There was a charge for rent and market charges, and a charge for lairage, fixed at so much for so many days. He, of course, put all the charges into one sum; but he did not allow so many days' lairage; and, therefore, if the animals were detained for several days, the charge would be about the same.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
, in seconding the Amendment, said, his contention was that there was a separate contract between the House and the City as to this Deptford Market, and it was that if the City, within a certain time, erected this market, they should be allowed to make certain charges in respect to it. But that contract was subject to the understanding that the House should have the power of revising these rates if they were found to be insufficient, or to be too much. Now that they were dealing with these foreign animals, it was a proper time to revise these charges, and put them on a proper footing. The charges contained in the Bill of 1868 would, practically, he thought, amount to the same price as was charged at present. The City took 5s. per head, which included lairage for 10 days. By the Schedule, the lairage for 10 days at the prices fixed would be 2s. 6d., and wharfage rent, &c., would make another 2s. 6d. Therefore, he would suggest an Amendment on the Amendment of his hon. Friend, and make the 2s. 6d. include lairage for three days, all time afterwards being charged at the rate proposed in the Bill. These charges would, he thought, be fairer to all parties, and while not actually reducing the maximum charges the City of London would be entitled to make, would adapt the charges to the accommodation afforded in the different cases. No doubt, one of the arguments against the slaughter of cattle at the port of debarkation was that the charges at Deptford were so high—higher than they were at Copenhagen Fields.
§ MR. ALDERMAN COTTON
thought any sudden attempt to alter the Schedule of charges unwise, and certainly beside the question with which they were really called upon to deal. The Corporation had borrowed £250,000 against these tolls, and for the payment of the 1744 interest on the bonds it looked to those tolls, which the Legislature had allowed them to receive. The Committee ought not to allow themselves to be carried away by the figures of the hon. Baronet. The net profit of the foreign market at Deptford last year was £11,000, and not the amount stated by the hon. Member for Chelsea. Against that sum there was £9,000, which they would have to spend this year on improvements. That would bear out what he said, that whatever the City got it really went to the improvement of something which was for the good of the citizens. In regard to the hotels built at the new Cattle Market at Islington, he had to admit that they were failures as hotels; but they had been converted into model dwellings for the poor, and were now let to artizans and labourers at very cheap rents. He hoped the Government would not allow so serious an alteration as that now proposed to take place as the result of a discussion of this kind.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
hoped hon. Members on both sides of the House would support the Amendment. They had evidence before them last year which showed that the rates were excessive. He would cite the evidence of Mr. Silvester, of the Central Chamber of Commerce, who said that the rates charged by the Corporation were very heavy; that they charged an enormous rate on landing—namely, 5s.; and that this was a serious tax on meat, which must eventually fall on the consumer. The hon. Alderman who represented the City of London (Mr. Alderman Cotton) said the net profit last year was only £11,000, and that they would have to expend £9,000 this year upon extensions and improvements. But surely he did not expect to charge extensions and improvements to the revenue account of a single year? That was a matter of capital account, and there was no doubt these works would lead to a large increase in income. He wished the Committee to understand that this was not a question exclusively affecting the City of London or the Metropolis. It was one affecting the whole of the Kingdom. A large revenue was to be derived from these markets, and that fact might affect his constituents quite as much as the people of the Metropolis, since it was in evidence that these charges influenced the excessive charges for meat; and he did hope that the Go- 1745 vernment would take care to protect the Provinces—because it was to the Government they must look for the protection—against what everyone admitted was an excessive rate.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
could not consent in this way to upset an agreement come to with the City of London at a time when the Corporation was compelled to erect this market. At that time, in consequence of the establishment of the market at Deptford, the City of London was put to a loss with reference to other cattle accommodation which they had provided. It had been stated by the hon. Baronet that the evidence before the Committee went to show that a very large increase would take place in the income derived from the tolls taken at Deptford, and he added that the amount was estimated before the Committee to reach £50,000 a-year. But that calculation was framed on the idea that the whole foreign trade was going to be slaughtered at the port of Deptford. There would be, no doubt, a large increase in the market receipts if there was to be a large investment in the cattle going there. But what were the real facts? They knew that in consequence of the severe restrictions of the last 18 months against cattle imported from countries where cattle plague was known to exist, there was a large increase in the numbers slaughtered there. But if the suggestion made that day were carried out, the whole of this increase might, very probably, upon foreign countries becoming clean, disappear; at least a large portion of the import would be withdrawn from Deptford. That brought them to the real position of the City. When the market had to be constructed, the Corporation said—"You must give us exceptional tolls in this place, because you force us to make markets of great extent without insuring us a certain trade or certain receipts." He desired to recall the attention of hon. Members to the evidence given before the Committee on the idea suggested by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). Mr. Rudkin, who spoke with considerable weight as representing the City, and knowing the management of the markets, was closely examined on the point by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster); and if hon. Members would refer to Question 9,068, they would find that he there 1746 stated that the 5s. comprised the wharfage, the 10 days which the cattle might stay, and, in reality, when they looked at the charge at Islington Market, recollecting that no wharves had to be charged there for landing the cattle, and that, in other respects, it was exempt from expenditure inevitable at Deptford, the respective amounts would come to identically the same. Taking all these facts into consideration, along with the uncertainty of the trade, he thought the Government were justified in resisting any alteration of the terms.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
was glad to find, from the remarks of his hon. Friend, that he looked forward to the concession the Government was going to make as likely very much to increase the number of live animals brought into the country. He thought the question as to the charges at Deptford should be put off to a later stage of the Bill. No doubt, the City would continue to charge the maximum they were entitled to charge, and it was a question calling for consideration whether these maximum rates were too high, He did not know that his hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had proved his case; but, at any rate, he had made out a strong primâ facie case, and the Government ought to be careful to look into the matter, and be careful to consider it at a further stage of the Bill. The evidence given by Mr. Rudkin—who was a very able man and very conversant with the subject—had been alluded to by the Secretary to the Treasury. But that gentleman said, in addition to what had been quoted, that if the revenue of the Corporation from Deptford increased largely, and if it was considered desirable that there should be a reduction in the charges, he was quite sure the Corporation would be prepared to listen to the suggestion. He said—In fact, you will remember when these charges were originally fixed, it was understood they were simply to be for two or three years, to see how they worked.The principle was that the markets were to pay a fair interest on the outlay upon them, and not that the experimental and maximum charges should be maintained. Now, Mr. Rudkin admitted that Deptford should stand upon its own position; but in solving the question whether the City made or lost, they would have to consider the number of cattle taken to 1747 Islington Market. They knew from the Returns that 67,817 cattle were landed at Deptford in 1877; and at 5s. a-head, that would represent an income of £16,954; and 700,000 sheep at 9d., representing some £26,000; and with the revenue from swine, and taking the rent into consideration, it would be found that the income from Deptford last year amounted to over £45,000. Their informant, a man of great experience, told them that the expenses at Deptford Market, including interest on cost of building, were not more than £17,000 a-year, which left a profit of £28,000 last year. That was irrespective of anything the Bill might do. Now, that, he thought, was rather a strong primâ facie case for re-consideration; and if he were in the position of his hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke), he should ask the Government to give an undertaking that they would carefully examine into the matter before the Report was brought up. He thought they could not do less, and if they did that, he should advise the withdrawal of the Amendment.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, the defence for the high rates was the uncertainty of the trade, and the large outlay incurred in erecting the market. He would like to ask the Committee to consider the effect of this defence on Clause 37, under which other communities besides that of London were expected to provide wharves and other conveniences. What would be the consequence if they were to be told that they were to lay out a large amount for a very uncertain trade? They would either decline to erect wharves at all, or would adopt a scale of charges as high as that at Deptford, and the general result would be that that high scale would become stereotyped over the whole country. It was the interest of the whole country to have a low scale adopted. Supposing Provincial towns to invest large sums of money in these markets, how were they to be recouped except by putting heavy charges in some way upon the dead meat? He hoped a moderately low scale would be fixed for Deptford, and one which might become uniform throughout the whole country.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
thought the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) was leading the Committee away from the real issue. The 1748 hon. Gentleman argued as if wharves and other costly works would become necessary under the Bill in all the large towns. He seemed to have forgotten the alteration assented to by the Government. It was very much to be doubted whether the result of the Bill would be to create, to any extent at all, a necessity for increased wharfage in towns and cities such as the city represented by the hon. Gentleman. The point clearly turned upon whether excessive profits were derived from Deptford Market. It was stated—and he apprehended that here there could be no doubt—that the uncertainty of the trade at Deptford Market rendered it very difficult to fix any very low scale of charges to meet the expenses of that market. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had stated the expenses at £17,000; but he seemed to forget that over and above that there was the interest which had to be paid on the outlay incurred in erecting the market, and this interest amounted to £12,000. The question depended not merely upon whether the revenue would meet the working expenses and interest; but they should also have to inquire in how far cattle, for which provision was made at Deptford, had been diverted to other markets. He was quite willing to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman; and, although he had already carefully gone into the figures, and had heard a good deal of evidence with regard to the tolls, during the sittings of the Committee which inquired into the general subject, he had no objection to giving the City an opportunity of showing that the profits they derived from the tolls were not excessive, if that were really the case, having regard to all the charges incident to the maintenance of the establishment. Judging from the statement of Mr. Rudkin, he thought the presumption was that the City itself, if it could reverse its bye-laws without incurring a loss which it ought not to bear, would do so, and reduce the tolls, if the income they yielded was in excess of the requirements it was bound to provide for.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
reminded the Committee that toll at Deptford on bullocks was 10 times that charged at Islington, while on sheep it was eight times as large. It would be easy to ascertain the sum of money which the 1749 City of London would have got if the foreign cattle had gone to Islington Market; and, altogether, he thought the case clear in favour of a reduction—unless, indeed, they sanctioned the view of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alderman Cotton), and allowed the charge that ought to be met out of the capital account to be placed against revenue—in which case it would be very easy to make out a loss on the markets. The question was, what were the fair expenses requisite for carrying on Deptford Market? This, he thought, was the proper time for revising these tolls.
§ MR. ALDERMAN COTTON
did not see how, in any of these calculations, they could ignore the fact that the Corporation of the City of London had been put to the loss of £172,000 upon its markets.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
thought the hon. Alderman bound to give the data upon which his figures were founded, just as he gave the basis of his calculations—namely, the Government Returns of the animals imported. He wished to remind the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), that in the £17,000, at which he estimated the expenses of the market, he included the interest, put down at the sum of £12,000.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, that in dealing with this question, it was necessary to take the Returns for a series of years. If there was a surplus from the tolls of one year, it would be a dangerous thing to say that, therefore, the tolls should be reduced. So far as he understood the case, the City authorities had pledged these tolls as a security for the expenses they had been put to; and in dealing with the tolls in the manner suggested, they might be seriously prejudicing the interests of the creditors.
§ MR. DODSON
would like to have a distinct answer from some actual authority on the subject as to the statement that the lenders had no security except the tolls. Was that so or not? Apart from that particular question, he wanted to know in what position they would be placed if the Amendment of the hon. 1750 Baronet the Member for Chelsea was rejected. He understood it had been admitted, on behalf of the City of London, that there was no kind of guarantee or understanding that the tolls were to be continued for a fixed period of years; on the contrary, that they were to be open to revision. Now, if they let this opportunity pass of securing a consideration whether they ought to be revised or not, were they not letting slip on opportunity which might not easily recur again? He wanted to know what the Secretary to the Treasury had undertaken to do in this matter? A suggestion was made by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Sir Henry James) that these tolls might be considered between this and the Report. He did not understand that the Secretary to the Treasury had given any distinct undertaking on that subject; but if he had, what was it? Was he going to approach the consideration of the tolls for the purpose of revising them; or was he only giving a sort of general assurance that they should be considered, and that nothing more was to come of it? The proper opportunity for considering and revising tolls was while they were in Committee on the Bill. If they once let the Bill get out of Committee, they could not, even though they wished to do so, revise the tolls on the Report. If, therefore, anything was to be done in the way of revision of these tolls, they ought to have an understanding that it should be done in Committee. If they rejected the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea, they would have no undertaking to that effect; and it would be rather unusual to bring up a Schedule on the subject when nothing had been said in the enacting part of the Bill about such a Schedule. Unless the Secretary to the Treasury would undertake to bring up a new clause and a Schedule of tolls before the Bill was out of Committee, or give some assurance on the subject, he should be prepared to vote in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
did not wish the Committee to divide without a clear knowledge of what he stated he would do. What he had stated was that he had gone carefully into this case, and that he believed the tolls, however exceptionally high they might 1751 be considered, could not be looked upon as a counterpart for the expense the City was put to for the creation and maintenance of this particular market. Such was his impression, and therefore it was that no alteration of the tolls had been proposed in this Bill. But if it could be shown that the receipts were sufficient to justify a change in the scale of tolls, taking into consideration the question of loss to the Corporation by the removal of the cattle from the original market, then he should be prepared to alter the Bill so as to provide for a reduction of the tolls.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
could not help thinking that the hon. Baronet already possessed sufficient information to enable him to say whether the tolls charged by the City were excessive or not. He could not understand why Parliament should treat the City of London in a different way to that in which it treated other Corporations. How did it deal, for instance, with Gas and Water Companies when they came to the House and asked to raise additional capital? In every case there was a clause inserted prohibiting them from making more than 6 per cent in the case of Water, and 7 per cent in the case of Gas Companies. The other day, the great Corporation of Manchester came to Parliament to ask for powers to enable them to supply their district with water, and it was actually imposed upon them that they should only obtain 4½ or 5 per cent for their outlay from other local bodies whom they were to supply. The hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Alderman Cotton) admitted that last year they got a net profit of £11,000 or £12,000, in addition to the interest and sinking fund, which amounted to another £12,000. [Mr. Alderman COTTON: £9,000 of that had to be spent this year.] The hon. Member admitted there was an absolute net profit of £11,000. They could not reckon the net profit until they had paid the necessary expenses for interest to the persons who lent the money and to the sinking fund. It was given in evidence before the Committee that the total sum expended by the City was £235,000, and anybody could calculate that the sinking fund upon that amount would come to between £11,000 and £12,000 altogether; and the City, were making, according to their own admission, some- 1752 thing like £23,000 per annum. Those two sums amounted to about 10 per cent on the capital expended; and what he wanted to know was, why Manchester should be tied down to only 4½ per cent, when the City of London made 10 per cent? The proof that the tolls were excessive was contained in another fact which was given before the Committee—namely, that they were something like eight times as high as they were at the Islington Market. This difference was, in a great measure, due to the fact of a misapprehension. The maximum charge was fixed, as it allowed 10 days' lairage for cattle and other animals; whereas the majority of cattle did not remain in lairage for 10 days. He urged that these tolls should be reduced, and the City not allowed to make an excessive profit.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
thought his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea ought to accept the offer of the Secretary to the Treasury. They knew that the Government could get a majority on this question, and if the hon. Baronet went to a division he would be defeated. The Secretary to the Treasury had declared that he would look into the question, and if he found the facts were as stated, that he would introduce a clause dealing with the matter. It would be better for his hon. Friend to accept that assurance, and withdraw his Amendment.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that, under the circumstances, he would withdraw not only the Amendment now under consideration, but also the next one which stood in his name on the Paper.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.