§ Application of Act to Metropolis.
§ Clause 36 (Application of Act to metropolis as county of London).
In page 32, line 11, after the word "effect," to insert the words "(l.) There shall be no selected councillors in the county of London,"—(Mr. James Rowlands.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he wished to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) on having reached the London Clauses, and in not having been misled by those who had tried to persuade him to postpone that part of the Bill. In his opinion, there was no part of the measure which was more important than that now under the consideration of the Committee, and he gave a general approval to the principle laid down in those clauses. No doubt, there were some defects in them, and they did not go so far as some reformers wished; but, looking at them as a whole, with the single exception of the selected Councillors, they all went in the right direction, and must inevitably lead to a more complete reform of the government of London. Indeed, when Parliament had once created this great central Council representative of the whole of London, and in which the City would be represented only in its true proportion, it was absolutely certain, therefore, before long, we should see the reform of the Corporation of London, and its attendant spirits of City Guilds, and after a time the Corporation itself would dwindle into insignificance and discharge the duties of a mere Vestry. He looked with much hope to the constitution of this Central Council, and he felt that, from time to time, the Corporation would have to surrender those of its powers which were in conflict with those of the new Council, though it might be kept afloat for some time by its dinners and hospitalities. The duties of the Central Council, representative and directly responsible as that Council would be to the ratepayers, would be more important than those of the other County Councils constituted by the Bill, although the other County Councils would have work to do that was not inconsiderable. Altered as the Bill had been, their functions, however, would be of a limited character; but the London County Council would come at once into a heritage of work of the greatest possible importance, and, being directly responsible to the ratepayers, they would have force and authority, and might 994 hope to tackle a number of London questions, which, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had said, involved social problems of the utmost importance, He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that, in view of the importance of those duties of the magnitude of the interests involved, they on that side of the House approached the discussion of those clauses with no political bias, but with a sincere desire to make this London Council as good, as dignified, and as important as it was possible to make it. It was because he believed that the proposal of the Government would defeat the object which they themselves had in view, and tend to lower the status and quality of the Council rather than the reverse, that he objected to those selected Councillors being added. The right hon. Gentleman had defended the scheme of selected Councillors, mainly on the ground of authority, on the fact that they had already agreed to select the Councillors for other County Councils, and that it would be a strange anomaly to treat London differently. The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme was good for the country generally, and better for London; he would invert the argument, and say that selected Councillors were bad for other parts of the country, and a great deal worse for London. There were many reasons for coming to the conclusion that the system would have a far worse effect here than elsewhere. Many arguments might be adduced to show that, although they had conceded the principle in the case of County Councils generally, it would not be right to extend its amount. It was said that it would secure a certain continuity of management of the county business between the existing government of the counties and the future County Councils. They all hoped that, if selected Councillors were to remain in the Bill, they would be composed largely, if not mainly, of county magistrates. There was not a single word to be said against either the honour and integrity of the magistrates or the manner in which they had performed their duties. The only thing that could be said against them was that they did not have that representative quality which rendered it wise to commit to them other important work in the future which 995 involved the expenditure of money and necessitated a representive element. The main argument which had been used for this part of the Bill, and also to justify the appointment of selected Councillors in the counties, was that they would be taken from the magistrates, who had already taken an active part in the affairs of the counties. It was thought desirable, also, that with a view to continuity of work and management, a large proportion of those men should be selected in the first instance, and he had no doubt that they would be selected; but it did not appear to him that that argument held good in the case of London. In the first place, there was no Body in London similar to the magistrates who had been entrusted with the management of county business. It was true that there was a Metropolitan Board; but what they wanted in that case was not continuity but a break. He did not deny that the Metropolitan Board had done good work. He had had many opportunities of being in communication with them, and he had to thank them for the work they had done at his suggestion. It could not, however, be disputed that although the Metropolitan Board had undoubtedly within its body a certain number of good men, it was at the present moment under a cloud. It had fallen into disrepute, and it was not desirable that its traditions should be continued in the new Body. There could not be a greater condemnation of the system of selected Councillors than to suppose that a very large proportion of the Metropolitan Board would find their way to the new Council as selected members. They desired that there should be a break in the government of London, and not that continuous management which they desired in the case of the counties. He hoped that the best men of the Metropolitan Board would be elected directly by the ratepayers, and that the others would disappear. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that if they were to have selected members they should be men of enimence from outside—men of science and art, who would bring fresh ideas to the work of the government of London. But the question was whether they would be able to secure that result by the method proposed. His own opinion was the very 996 opposite. His fear was that, instead of inducing eminent men to take part in the government of London, the scheme would operate in the opposite direction, and would deter men of eminence and ability from taking part in the work. His own confident belief was, that the system would work in this way—the best men, men of ability and standing, who would desire in future to connect themselves with the government of London, would not submit themselves to be elected, but would lie by in the hope of being selected later as Aldermen, and they would thus have an inferior class of candidates for election, and an inferior class of representatives—men such as find their way to the Vestries and District Councils—and those men, when elected, would not in their turn select men of enimence and talent, men of science and distinction, but would select men of their own type—in other words, men very much of the average of the existing members of the Metropolitan Board. If he were right in saying that men of eminence would not submit themselves to popular election, it was certain that the quality of the candidates, who would present themselves to the constituencies in London, would be deteriorated, and an inferior class of persons would be returned. He also agreed with the hon. Member for East Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands), that the fact of so few men of eminence and ability presented themselves as candidates for the important constituency of the City of London would have a prejudicial effect upon the rest of the constituencies. His fear was that instead of the best men presenting themselves for the constituencies, under the plan of elected members, they would lie by in the hope of being returned as selected Councillors. Another difficulty which presented itself to his mind was the effect which the proposal for selected members would have in introducing the element of Party politics. He understood that the Council was to consist of 120 elected members and 40 selected members who acted as Aldermen. These 40 would be elected by a majority of the 120. Therefore, it was of supreme importance to the one or other Party in the Metropolis to secure this majority, and thus obtain control over the proceedings of the Council for at least six years. The consequence would be that it was all but certain the 997 first election would proceed on Party lines, and that whichever Party succeeded would elect the whole of the selected members, not for their eminence and science or their ability, but because they were reliable Party men. His own desire was that the first election should be as free as possible from Party politics; but under the proposal of the Government he felt convinced that that would not be the case, because the advantages held out by the proposal would be so great that it would be impossible to resist it, and the majority of the Party elected would be able to secure the control of the government of London for six years to come. For six years it would be almost certain that the Party who thus obtained the majority of those in the Council would not respond to the opinions of the country. These artificial attempts to elude and prevent the results of popular representation would in the long run only fail in their object, and their main effect would be to lower rather than to raise the status and the responsibilty of the Council. In his opinion, the best mode of obtaining good government in London was to rely on the representative principle, and to provide that the only access to that government should be through popular representation. The true course was to make the best men and the ablest men in the Metropolis who were ready to enter upon the management of municipal affairs understand that the only entrance was through the popular election, and to make the ratepayers themselves understand the extreme importance of the election, and that it was only by electing the best men that they would be able to secure the future good government of London. After all, it came back to this, that they must have trust in the principle of popular representation. There should be mutual responsibility and trust. In other words, they must have trust in popular election and in representative institutions; and it was because the proposal for selected Councillors was founded on distrust and would tend to lower the sense and responsibility, and would depreciate the status of the new Council, that he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member. He did not look upon the proposal of the Government as a wise one, and he thought there were many con- 998 siderations why it should not be adopted by the Committee.
§ MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
said, that those who represented London constituencies felt that they bad. a duty to discharge and that they ought to express their opinions on this point. As he was one of those who had voted in favour of selected Aldermen for the counties, and he was going to vote now in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite, he wished to be allowed to explain the apparent inconsistency of his vote. There was hardly a single point of analogy between local government in the Provinces and in London. In the first place, they had in the Provinces municipal vitality and civic spirit; but in London there was none. In the Provinces, they had as a consequence, a class of locally distinguished men whom everybody knew, and whom everybody would be glad to see selected and given a seat upon the County Councils. In London there was no such class of distinguished men. He put aside as chimerical the idea that men of light and leading in London would find seats upon the new Council for London. The London School Board afforded a good illustration of the difficulty that was experienced in getting men of light and leading to serve upon such Bodies. When the London School Board was first instituted, when it was a new toy, some men of more than parochial celebrity did stand and were elected. [Sir RICHARD TEMPLE at this point entered the House.] Of course, he did not refer to the hon. Baronet who, as Vice Chairman of the London School Board, was the "fly in the amber." He thought the Committee would agree with him that since the first experiment of the London School Board there had been great disappointment felt by those who hoped that eminent men would stand for election. The fact was that in London the majority of people were engaged in the pursuit of money, pleasure, or politics. Parliament, the Court, the Stock Exchange, the theatres, the sayings and doings of the great world—all these things combined to draw away men's minds from local politics, which excited so keen an interest in the Provinces. He believed the result in regard to the London Council would be the same, and he doubted whether the elected Councillors 999 would select men of light and leading. The School Board was composed of hardworking conscientious men, but not of what might be called distinguished men. It remained to be seen whether the composition of the new London Council would be very different from that of the existing Board of Works. He was not at all sanguine in regard to the matter. He doubted whether men of light and leading would be selected, and even whether, if such men were selected, they would consent to serve. Fancy Sir James Paget hurrying in, his watch in one hand and his instrument-case in the other, to listen to a debate by Tom, Dick and Harry as to why the sewer had burst under Sloane Street! If they were elected and would not serve, he doubted whether their presence on the Council would be so very desirable after all. They would know very little of parish business, and their very respectability would be used as a screen to cover very shady transactions. He had heard it said that the Duke of Westminster was going to serve as Chairman of the new London Council. He hoped to goodness that the noble Duke would do nothing of the kind, or he feared that there might be a repetition under ducal patronage of the jobbery that had flourished, like the green baytree, under the noble nose of Lord Magheramorne. What they wanted upon the Council was plain honest men of business, who would give their time to the discharge of their duty and take a genuine interest in the work that had to be done. In his opinion, popular election would secure better men than unpopular selection, and, therefore, he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, that his right hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had expressed views which were taken on that side of the House in regard to the clauses of the Bill which related to the government of London. For years they had been advocating the creation of a Body for the government of London, and he was sure that everyone was anxious to make the new Body work as satisfactorily as possible. He was afraid, however, that the proposed selected Councillors would be a source of weak- 1000 ness rather than of strength to the new County Councils, at all events as regarded London. They, therefore, asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board to drop that portion of his Bill. He had listened attentively to all that had been said in the course of the discussion. In the discussion which took place some time ago in reference to the County Councils, so far as he could make out, there had only been three strong arguments in favour of the principle of selection. They had been told that they ought to follow in London the lines already laid down for the other County Councils in the country, and more or less the lines which at present exist in the boroughs. They were told also that it would be advantageous if the Council could have power to bring in men of light and leading to assist them in their work. They were further told that selected Councillors would do much to carry on continuity of administration in connection with the government of London, whereas if they had none of those selected Councillors that continuity would from time to time be broken into. The first argument that they should have selected Councillors in London because they had accepted the proposal in regard to the County Councils in the Provinces, did not carry much weight with it. One of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Bill was that the Committee had had throughout to discuss rural question from the point of view of London, and not from the point of view of the rural districts. That was an important point, and it was as well to bear it in mind. There was no analogy between London and other boroughs, and for years London had been treated differently in regard to municipal matters. Their desire, now that the benefits of municipal government were to be extended to London, was to take the good and leave the bad. The hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Baumann) had pointed out that London and the rural districts were in an entirely different position. No doubt, in the rural districts there were Justices of the Peace and others whom it would be of great advantage to have as selected Councillors in those Councils, but there were none of those men in London. If it were desirable to have the men who were experienced in the government of 1001 London upon the London County Council it would be better that they should be winnowed by election before they were placed upon it. Hon. Members opposite spoke of scientific men and others being able to do much to alleviate the tone of the proceedings of the Council; but he was afraid that selected members of the London Council would be on the Tory side of it, and would oppose any reforms that were suggested on the Radical side of it. He did not think it was desirable to have those "Mrs. Partingtons" on the Council whose only anxiety would be to stem the progress of reform. It was said that eminent men only went upon the School Board at the beginning of its career; that was not the fact, because there were eminent men sitting upon the other side of the House who still remained members of the Board. Great and important questions of policy had to be decided by the first two or three School Boards, and while such questions were being decided they were able to attract the services of men of great ability and experience. When these questions were decided, and the School Board became, as it was now, an almost entirely administrative Body, it naturally was not so attractive to that class of men. Nevertheless, they had still a Board composed of very efficient and able men. He thought that the constitution of the School Board formed one of the best arguments against the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, when he said that elected Councillors would be of the greatest use. The right hon. Gentleman's argument was that there would be an inexperienced Board, and that it was necessary to get able men upon it to assist the Board in its deliberations. According, however, to the experience of the School Board, they were able to obtain such men of experience by popular election; and he was sure that if a man of eminence desired to come upon the London Council he would prefer to place himself in the hands of the electors, instead of entering it by the side door of selection. It would be a very serious matter if, in the coming election, the Council did not secure the services of those whom it was desirable to have upon the Council. As it had been pointed outlast night by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chelsea (Mr.Whitmore), one great feature of London was the apathy in regard to muni- 1002 cipal matters. He was very much afraid that if they allowed that portion of the Bill to be passed they would find, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford had said, many men of eminence and ability would stand aside rather than offer themselves for election, and that the electors would not take a very large amount of interest in their representative. It had been clearly shown, when they were discussing the question of selection before, that, as a matter of fact, in the case of the existing boroughs, the Councillors never did sit outside their own Body in order to bring on as Aldermen persons from outside. There had only been one case cited—namely, the case of Norwich, and in that instance the only persons brought in from the outside were persons whom the electors had rejected at a previous election. He therefore thought the argument that the elected Councillors would select men from outside was futile according to the experience of the last 50 years. Another argument in favour of the Government proposal was that it would give a continuity of administration if they had a portion of the Council elected for a longer period than the rest. He thought experience showed that, instead of having an election every three years, they ought to have Councillors elected for six years, one portion going out every three years. There would then be a guarantee that they would never have the whole body of the Councillors going out at one particular period, and he was strongly of opinion that they would get the services of the best men in the London Council by leaving the matter to the electors rather than by endeavouring, through a side door, to get men who would not come in on other terms.
§ MR. COCHRANE-BAILLIE (St. Pancras, N.)
said, that it had been pointed out that in London there was no class of experienced men to choose from for selected Councillors; that was a valid argument not going to be got over, unless it could be shown that there were counter varying advantages on the other side. It was also said that there were no local interests in London, and that, he thought, constituted a great difficulty in getting good men on the Council. Those candidates who stood for the Council might be in the hands of cliques in the different localities, and, there- 1003 fore, it was a great drawback in obtaining good men, however desirous they might be of becoming members of the London Council, if it were made necessary that they should pass through the uncertain chance of election. They could not induce men to waste their time and incur considerable expense where there was much uncertainty of their being elected. Another objection was, that the principle of selection would weaken the class of men who would be induced to stand for election. Many persons would rather run the chance of being selected members. It was on that ground that he supported the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Poplar Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Sydney Buxton), who proposed to insert a proviso at the end of the clause to provide that the number of selected Councillors in the County of London should not exceed one-sixth of the whole number of elected Councillors. He was of opinion that the proportion of one-sixth would give an adequate number of selected Councillors. His idea was, that by adopting the principle of selection they might obtain the services of gentlemen perfectly capable of sitting on the Council, but who would not care to run the chance of an election. While he thought 40 was too high a proportion, he was of opinion that what we needed was, say about 20 gentlemen who were distinguished in science, art, or in other pursuits. For those reasons he should support the proposal of the Government.
§ MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
said, he should support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands), on the ground that the electors of London did not desire to be represented by those who had an indisposition to seek election, or who grudged the time to devote to the work. In his judgment, the proposal of the Government amounted to the appointment of a number of ex officio members who would attend the proceedings casually and very likely upset the work which had been done by the more hardworking members who attended regularly and sat upon committees to work out the details. Probably the selected Councillors might be more ornamental than the elected members, but in his opinion they would not be so useful. He was, therefore, in favour of the Motion 1004 of his hon. Friend that all the members of the Council should be directly elected.
§ MR. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said, he hoped that, whatever mode of election was fixed upon, the members of the Council would be chosen in such a way as would advantageously conduce to the administration of the Metropolis. Something had been said with reference to the Metropolitan Board of Works. He believed that if the Metropolitan Board of Works had failed, as it had to some extent, it was because Parliament had from time to time placed Act after Act on its shoulders until a body of 50 or 60 men had been unable to carry out as satisfactorily as they desired the great and comprehensive duties entrusted to them. By this Bill, however, the Government were entrusting to the London Council many of the duties now performed by the Middlesex Magistrates, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and the Local Government Board. If those great and far-reaching duties were to be carried out in a satisfactory manner, he thought the best course to adopt was to obtain the services of men of light and leading in the administrative duties of that Body. Probably they would have a much better class of men on the London Council than they had on the Metropolitan Board of Works, but he feared that the popular feeling of the Metropolis could not be stirred up with regard to election in the matter of Local Government. Certainly they had not succeeded in doing this up to the present in the matter of London School Board elections. He would point out that in one instance the Lyndon School Board had selected an hon. Member of that House—the hon. Member for the Evesham Division of Worcester (Sir Richard Temple)—to serve as a member. That hon. Gentleman had just then returned from India; he was totally unknown to Westminster; and yet, if he had been dependent on direct election, probably he would have been defeated by some well-known local tradesman in the district. With regard to election, one of two things must happen—either the people of London would take more interest in the future elections, or they would take less interest. If the people took more interest in the elections than they did at present, there would probably be a large body of men directly 1005 elected, and a very useful and efficient Council constituted; but surely it could not be said that they were unable to trust such a Body to add to their number 30 or 40 gentlemen to assist, by their experience and knowledge, in various ways. He thought there was no part of the country as to which it was more desirable to have those selected Councillors to add to the power and influence of the Body as a whole than London. He hoped the Committee would support the Government.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, he wished to give an illustration of a recent occurrence—and not to make a speech—before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board gave his decision upon the matter. The Commission now sitting upon certain transactions in connection with the Metropolitan Board of Works, had before it for examination, a short time ago, a recent member of the Board. The revelations made in connection with that gentleman seemed to be somewhat to his discredit, or, at any rate, were thought to be so by many people, unless he could clear himself from the accusations which were made against him. In the recent Vestry election that gentleman was rejected by his ward. He then went to the Vestry and asked them, notwithstanding his having been defeated at the proper election, to select him again as one of their representatives on the Metropolitan Board of Works, and he was within three votes of being selected again to represent the Vestry on the Metropolitan Board.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, the hon Member had totally forgotten another instance—namely that of a popularly elected Alderman, who had stood on three occasions for election to that House, and who had had some very disagreeable experiences.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.)
said, he intended to support the proposal of the Government, and his reason for doing so was, that it would enable very useful men to be placed on the Council of London who would not otherwise get there. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), ad- 1006 dressing his constituents not long ago, referred to the fact that Municipal elections almost invariably turned upon political questions; but that fact did not appear to interfere with the capacity of those who were returned to do the work. He (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) thought that those hon. Gentlemen who supported the proposition of the Government rather weakened their cause by the supposition that selected Councillors would be chosen from those who had no desire to undergo the turmoil of an election. There were many good men of business who, because they were not known outside their own business, would have no chance if they stood for the post of elected Councillors, but whose services would be of great advantage to the London County Council. He did not suppose that eminent doctors, able lawyers, or the President of the Royal Society, or Sir Frederick Leighton, were persons of that class who were likely to be selected, nor did he think if they were selected that they would be of great use to the Council of London; but he did think there were many business men outside whose services would be of the greatest advantage, and what they wanted upon the Council was business men. If the County Councillors were not to be paid, and if they were to be persons who were to give their whole and undivided attention to public matters, of whom must they consist? They must consist of men of leisure, and if they were in the prime of life they must have been such ab initio, and, therefore, would be without business experience; or, if they were not of that class, they must be men of leisure who had retired from business, men who did not feel themselves strong enough or of sufficient capacity to conduct their own affairs, but who thought they might spend the remainder of their lives in managing the affairs of London. They did not want the London Council to consist of either of those classes, but of men of business; men fully experienced in business, who came straight from the counting house to the Council. Men of that class were not generally known in London; they were not men of light and leading. If a man in London wanted his name to be in everybody's mouth, he must get his head broken by a policeman in Trafalgar Square, and then people would vote for him, because he got his name in the papers. His 1007 (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke's) idea was that the elected body of Councillors would be most likely to find those private citizens of great worth whom it would be desirable to call to the assistance of the Council. His main contention was that these private citizens, these men of great working capacity and ability, would have a greater chance of being put on the Council by being selected, because they knew that, having no eminence and reputation outside, they never would be elected if they were put up for popular election. They would never be elected, not because they were not persons of capacity, but because they were not known outside a certain sphere.
§ MR. O. V. MORGAN (Battersea)
said, that as far as he could understand, the only really good argument advanced in favour of the principle of selected Councillors as regarded London was that it would conduce to a continuity of policy. The President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) had admitted that London in respect to selected Councillors did stand in a somewhat different position to the rest of the country. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, and thought it may be necessary at some future time to make a clean sweep of the Municipal Body in London, because they had seen of late that in these large Bodies corruption was very apt to grow, and if they once got corruption in such a Body as the County Council, it would be impossible to get rid of it, unless they could make a clean sweep of the Council. If they were to have 37 or 38 selected Councillors, he did not think it would be possible to get rid of them. There would be an adequate number of them always in the "ring" or combination to be able to keep up the evil system. He believed it was of the utmost importance, looking to the future, and fearing, as he did, very much that they had not seen the last of corruption in the government of London, that they should be able, if they wanted to do so, to get rid of the whole of the Councillors, and have an entirely new Body, all chosen by popular election.
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
said, that if he voted for this proposal it was not because he had got any kind of sentimental regard to the Court of Aldermen in London or in municipal boroughs where they existed, but it was because in municipal boroughs there was only a 1008 single Chamber, and that it had never been thought well that laws should be made by a single Chamber elected entirely on one basis. His hon. Friend the Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann) had said that it was peculiarly objectionable that there should be selected Councillors in London, because, as he was pleased to say, in London there was no municipal vitality and no civic spirit. His (Mr. Darling's) opinion was, that in London there had been a great deal of municipal vitality and civic spirit. He thought he had read of the years when the citizens of London displayed civic spirit while Birmingham was a waste and Liverpool was a swamp. What were the cities which had displayed the most municipal vitality and civic spirit? According to the hon. Member (Mr. Baumann), the city which displayed the most municipal vitality and civic spirit should be the city whose rulers were elected directly by the people, without any kind of process of selection. If that were so, what became of Venice? [Opposition laughter.] He had no doubt that hon. Members would rather that he had mentioned Cork; but the city which in all time displayed most municipal vitality and most civic spirit was not a city which had a municipal Body such as the hon. Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell would desire, but which had a Body selected as the rulers of Venice were selected. He did not expect the President of the Local Government Board to offer them a Government so ideal as the Government of Venice; but this, at all events, was a better Government than a Government resting simply upon popular election of one kind. An election on one issue, all the members going in and out at the same time on one particular issue, liable to be overthrown by some sudden gust of opinion, and not chosen with any view to the permanent stability of the institutions they had to guard. They had to deal with one Chamber, and not with two, and in such a case it had been recognized over and over again that they must have some check upon the Body. He had no doubt right hon. Gentlemen opposite had forgotten it, but there was a Bill introduced in 1886 for the better government of Ireland. That Bill provided for a single Chamber; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member 1009 for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), who devised the scheme, proposed that there should be two Orders who should sit and vote together. One was to be elected on a different franchise, having different qualifications from the other Order, and a portion of the first Order was actually to be not elected members at all, but members selected by a particular class out of that particular class, who were to sit and vote as a part of the first Order voting with the second Order. Why was that done? Because it was intended to set up one Chamber instead of two. In municipal affairs they had to look to one Chamber, and therefore it was necessary that care should be taken to elect not upon one point, not upon one view, not from one class altogether, but that there should be some such process of selection as was adopted in the great municipalities of the past, and was adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian when he came to consider the better government of Ireland.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, that they had had a very interesting debate. He was afraid the view taken upon the Opposition side of the House might be considered rather monotonous, because they relied upon the single principle of popular election. They were of one mind upon that subject, and the proposal they were now discussing was a proposal which was in derogation of that principle. Monotony could not be attributed to hon. Gentlemen who had spoken from the opposite Benches; there was a variety which was charming in the views of the Metropolitan Conservative Members. He congratulated the President of the Local Government Board upon having received a benediction from the song of the dying swan of the Metropolitan Board of Works. They had been assured by that eminent authority that nothing could be more admirable than the proposal of the Government for the reconstruction of the administration of London affairs. He was sure the authority of the Metropolitan Board of Works would be a consolation to the right hon. Gentleman who was in charge of the Bill. They had not yet had the advantage of hearing the opinions of the other Representatives of London government; but he supposed that hon. Gentlemen's opinion, like the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentle- 1010 man the Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling), who might be described as the Doge of our English Venice, would be in entire approval of this proposal. He was delighted and interested to know that the views of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Deptford were that the Government of London should be constructed, if possible, upon the framework of the ancient Government of Venice. One saw the variety of opinion which prevailed among that important Conservative majority who represented the Metropolitan districts. The hon. Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) had expressed his entire dissent from the views of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann). Sitting between the two hon. Members, and used as an example, sometimes for and sometimes against the Bill, was the "fly in amber," who represented the district of Evesham (Sir Richard Temple). He (Sir William Harcourt) had great respect for that hon. Gentleman; but there was an ancient and well-known saying that "one swallow did not make a summer," and even the swallow of Evesham could not induce them on that occasion entirely to accept that proposal. He listened with pleasure to the extremely wise speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Chelsea (Mr. Whitmore) and the hon. Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann); and though be did not expect that the Government would pay any very great attention to the views which proceeded from the Opposition side of the House, he thought that the two speeches he had referred to were highly deserving of the attention of the Government. They had heard a great deal about men of "light and leading," who were to be the result of this proposal on the part of the Government. First of all, he did not know that this system was going to lead to the selection of men of light and leading. That was not exactly what the hon. and learned Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Webster) told them. The hon. and learned Gentleman did think that the people of London preferred to elect men of light and leading. That was not his (Sir William Harcourt's) experience in the optative Bodies to which he belonged. His experience was of a different character. 1011 The hon. and learned Member used phraseology so remarkable that he (Sir William Harcourt) would not attempt to paraphrase it. He took down the hon. and learned Gentleman's words. The hon. and learned Gentleman said the disposition of Londoners was to elect men who were higher in position. That was a death-bed experience to which the Committee would do well to attend; that was the hon. and learned Gentleman's view of the character of the selection which was likely to be made. When a joint-stock Company was going to launch itself, the first thing it did was to get half-a-dozen ornamental names which were likely to attract share-holders and subscribers; and, according to the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East St. Pancras (Mr. Webster), this was what Londoners were likely to do, and which it was desirable they should do. He (Sir William Harcourt) agreed with the hon. Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann). For himself, he did not think the consummation of human felicity and success would have been achieved if the Duke of Westminster were elected Chairman of the London County Council. But that was evidently the sort of paradise to which the hon. and learned Member for the Metropolitan Board of Works—or, perhaps, he ought to say for East St. Pancras—looked forward, and which, no doubt, would be highly approved of by the hon. Baronet (Sir Richard Temple). The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. CockraneBaillie) told them he should vote for the principle of selected Councillors, because, in his opinion, it would lead to the election of people who would not otherwise be elected. The hon. Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) took the same view of the subject, though not exactly for the same cause. The hon. Gentleman did not agree with the cause, but he agreed with the result. Let this be observed, that men would be selected because they would not be elected. The President of the Local Government Board dropped the name of "selected" because, he said, it was invidious. He (Sir William Harcourt) ventured to point out at the time that it was not the name that was invidious, but it was the thing, and that by altering the name they would not change the thing. Why 1012 would not these people be elected? The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Cockrane-Baillie) said that they would not have time to seek popular election. As far as he (Sir William Harcourt) could see, the men this proposal was intended to bring in were men who were either too lazy or too fine gentlemen, or too crotchety to have a chance of being elected by a popular constituency. That had always been the object of the various schemes of this kind. They had had the cumulative vote; proportional representation had been proposed; they had had every possible device and artifice to defeat the principle of popular representation in order to get upon representative Bodies men whom the people did not wish to elect and whom they did not desire to represent them. That was the real character of this proposal, and it was upon that ground that objection was taken to it. Was it not rather strange, was it not rather disgraceful that, when hon. Members, who are neither too lazy, nor too fine gentlemen, nor too crotchety to go before their constituents and seek their confidence, were setting up a great Governing Body for the greatest City in the world, they should think that the principles of representation which were good enough for the British Empire were not good enough for London? Was that the Conservative faith of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the people; was that their Conservative faith in the principles of popular representation; and was that the sense, and was that the light in which they desired to be regarded by the English people? There were to be 118 people elected by the Metropolis, and when those people were elected they were to choose someone else. What sort of people were they to choose? Why were they to choose better people than themselves, better people than their constituents had chosen? It was said, "Oh, they will elect men of science." He hoped they would do nothing of the kind; he could not conceive any people more unfit than men of science to administer the affairs of any municipality, and least of all that of London. Those they wanted to transact business of this kind were men who had rubbed their shoulders with their fellow-men, not men who lived in balloons or were occupied in star-gazing. What they 1013 wanted were people who were known to the Community whose interests they were charged with, who had made it their business to be known, and who, having mixed with their fellow-men, were likely well to represent their interests and to maintain them. The hon. Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) seemed to suppose that they were to dive into the counting houses of London and to take out men who well administered their own affairs, and who were known to nobody else. In his (Sir William Harcourt's) opinion, those men would decline to serve upon the County Council. The same disposition and the same habits of life which had induced them to live in the shade and to follow their own interest would induce them to continue in that course of life. It was men of active mind, it was men of energetic spirit, it was men of popular sympathy they wanted to have for a government of this kind. They were not going, like Diogenes, with a lantern to search in the hidden researches of the counting houses of London to find some honest men, but desired to constitute a Governing Body which would command the confidence of the people and administer the affairs of a Metropolis like this to the satisfaction of the people. He wished hon. Gentlemen would cast aside this timorous and shabby adoption of the principle of popular representation. If popular representation was a bad thing, let them say so at once, and stick to the sort of thing they had now got in the City of London. If they had no belief and confidence that the people of the country had the sense and honesty to elect men who were fit to administer their affairs, then, as men of common sense, let them act upon that principle, and do not let them do what he ventured to say was too often done by hon. Gentlemen opposite—namely, when they had made up their minds to adopt a Liberal measure or a Liberal policy, think it was their duty to construct something to counteract it and defeat its real operation. They would never advance in that manner. He rejoiced very much in the great progress which the Party opposite had made in the adoption of what he considered to be a sound principle of popular representation. But he entreated them, after having adopted that principle, not to 1014 endeavour to defeat and upset it by these things which they called safeguards, but which were really no safeguards at all, things which were really incompatible with the principles they proposed to adopt, and which could only lead to the destruction of the utility of a scheme which they upon the Opposition Benches had seen the Government bring forward with great satisfaction, and which they only wished to perfect in a manner which would make it worthy of that conception.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. LONG) (Wilts, Devizes)
said, he thought the Government had no reason to complain, but, on the contrary, had every reason to congratulate themselves on the tone which had governed the speeches which had been delivered by hon. Gentlemen opposite who had felt themselves compelled to differ from the Government in their proposals with reference to this matter. But he did think the Government were justified in contending that the speeches which had been delivered in opposition to their proposals, inclusive of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir William Harcourt) who had just sat down, had been directed, not to the point which was now under the consideration of the Committee—namely, the question of the exclusion of selected Councillors from the County Council of London, but against the principle of selected Councillors in any part of the country. The Amendment was not that selected Councillors should be abolished for the whole country, but that selected Councillors should not be established for London, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) who opened the debate to-day and one or two other speakers commenced their speeches by telling the Committee that there was a wide difference between London and the rest of the country. But hon. Gentlemen who advanced that view had entirely failed to establish it, and, turning from the real question at issue, had directed their speeches to a condemnation of the principle of Aldermen generally. Anyone who listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) would have thought the Government were proposing something new; but as against the right hon. Gentleman he (Mr. Long) 1015 desired to quote the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman's own Colleague, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) than whom there was no one either in or out of the House superior in his experience of the local affairs of great towns, and than whom no one occupied a higher position as a Representative of the Municipal Corporations. Only the day before yesterday, in the course of a debate upon an Amendment excluding selected Councillors from taking part in certain Committees and other work of the Council, that right hon. Gentleman said that his experience was that Aldermen had been among the very best members of the various Committees. Whether Aldermen, as a class, were good or bad was not the question; the matter now to consider was whether there should be selected Councillors on the County Council of London, or whether there should not be, and it had not been shown that there was such a difference between London and the rest of the country as to warrant the drawing of a distinction between them. He denied that in this matter the Government were in any way departing from the principle of popular representation. They were simply extending to London what the Committee had practically decided should be imposed on the rest of the country; they were proposing for the County Council of London that which existed in every Municipal Corporation in the country at the present moment. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite knew what it was to experience rejection by popular constituencies, but because in 1880 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) failed to secure re-election for Oxford, or because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) failed to secure re-election for the Border Burghs, would they have been gratified if hon. Gentlemen had described them as unfit to represent popular opinions?
§ MR. LONG
said, the right hon. Gentleman had interrupted him one moment too soon; he was coming to that point. It was quite true that the right hon. Gentleman was not sent to that House as an Alderman, nor was he selected 1016 by this House after having been rejected by a constituency; but he was elected by another constituency, and hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side, however much they might be opposed to the notions of the two right hon. Gentlemen he had mentioned, would endorse his sentiments when he said that at the time those right hon. Gentlemen failed to secure re-election, their failure was not a loss to themselves or to their own Party, but to the whole House and the country, and everybody in the House was glad when an opportunity was found the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby for his easy admission to the House. What he (Mr. Long) submitted was that there were means known to hon. Gentlemen in the House of securing the admission to the House of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen whose presence was thought to be generally desirable. That might not be accurately described as a process of selection, but it came near to it, for it certainly was very near a case of selection by the local caucus. He fully admitted that there was an answer, and a strong answer, to his argument. The answer of right hon. Gentlemen opposite would be that, having failed on one occasion to secure election to that House, an hon. Gentleman could select another constituency and come into the House by that means. While he admitted the force of that argument, he would point out that, with regard to the County Council, there were no such means, or at all events such an occurrence was not so likely to take place there as that of a Member retiring to make way for someone else, and it would be extremely desirable to secure the presence of Gentlemen who had been rejected for no fault of their own, not because they were not business men or suitable for the work, but who had failed for some local reason to enlist popular sympathy. He did not think that this proposal need be regarded by the Committee as solely a proposal to secure the election of gentlemen from outside the Body. While the Government had recognized that it would be of great value to the County Councils to confer upon them the power of selecting to themselves gentlemen from without their own Body, they hoped also that the Councils would choose members of their own Body who 1017 had undergone the ordeal of election, and from that point of view the Government regarded this proposal as especially valuable. Everyone must recognize that it would be a disadvantage to have an absolute break in the continuity of the policy of the County Authority, and it would be an advantage to have a certain number of members, small or great, upon the Council who would not be subject to the loss of their seats, and who would carry on the same conditions and customs and ideas which had prevailed during the previous period of office. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) seemed to think that the Government's idea of continuity was continuity between the existing Authorities and the new Authorities; but that was not the continuity they had in view. The continuity they wished to establish was in the policy of the new Authority itself; that at the end of the first term of office of the elected members there should be some members left who would be able to carry on some of the conditions which had governed the Council previously in the discharge of its affairs. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann), in the only speech which had really addressed itself to the question of proving that there was a difference between London and the rest of the counties, had spoken of the active part taken in the municipal life of the county by the county magistrates. He was glad that the hon. Member, in the studies in which he had indulged, had been brought to the conclusion that the Courts of Quarter Sessions were distinguished by municipal activity and that state of civic beatitude; but he had always heard it said that the object of reforming county government was mainly to infuse into our county institutions that civic activity that distinguished municipal councils and was absent from Quarter Sessions. It was not alleged that the Quarter Sessions did not do their work well, but it had been said that the principle of nomination deprived a man of the activity that would make him energetic in local administration, and that the main object of the Bill was to introduce the same energy, activity, and zeal into the County Councils which had distinguished our great corporations. That, he be- 1018 lieved, would be the case, and he felt quite sure, from the tone of the speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they would believe that, in having included in their proposals the establishment of County Aldermen, the Government had no arrière pensée, no desire to give an advantage to one Party or another, no desire to secure advantages for county magistrates, landowners, or any other class, but that they had introduced it, in the first place, on the precedent of the Municipal Corporations Act, and, in the second place, because they believed that there were the sound and solid arguments to be adduced in its favour that it secured continuity of policy and the presence of men who were thoroughly fitted for the position, and who might not have secured election. It was solely on these grounds that they made the proposal, and they did so with a sincere and honest desire to make these new County Councils practical, workmanlike, and efficient Bodies by securing the best men in the localities who had made themselves thoroughly acquainted with the local requirements and with the nature of their county area or bounds, and that there should be means of securing upon the County Councils the presence of those men in whose hands the interests of the counties and large towns could with safety be placed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had referred to the question of Party politics in these Councils. For his own part, he (Mr. Long) did not deny that Party politics might be introduced, but the exclusion of Aldermen would not in any way prevent it. They had affirmed the principle of having elected and selected Councillors for the rest of the county, and the Government asked the Committee not to reject their proposal on the grounds which had been placed before them, grounds which had been directed solely against the principle and not with reference to the case of London, and to affirm by their vote later on in the Lobby that no difference or distinction existed between the case of London and the rest of the country, but that the County Council of London should be formed in the same way as other County Councils, and of the same elements.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he was quite sensible of 1019 the point which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) had made—namely, that it was the duty of those who contended against the proposal to extend the principle of selected members to the County of London to make out that some special reasons existed in London which did not exist in the rest of the country. But in indicating the hon. Member for the Peckham Division of Camberwell (Mr. Baumann) as the only Member who had advanced any real arguments in favour of the Amendment, the Secretary to the Local Government Board clearly omitted to recollect some of the arguments used on the Opposition side of the House. It must be borne in mind that when they were settling this question with respect to the rest of the country, they were distinctly told by the Government that the question of London was reserved. In consequence of that assurance he (Mr. James Stuart) and many of his hon. Friends who represented Metropolitan constituencies, abstained from entering into a discussion on the London aspect of selected Councillors. Now, what were the arguments which the Secretary to the Local Government Board had adduced in favour of the creation of selected Councillors in the County of London. The hon. Gentleman had touched in no way upon any of the peculiarities of London. The hon. Gentleman was not intimately acquainted with the difficulties of London, and it was, therefore, rather surprising that he should have undertaken the duty of replying to the Amendment on behalf of the Government. This was in no sense a Party question. He (Mr. James Stuart) was not supporting the Amendment for any Party reason whatever, but simply because he wanted to adapt the County Council of London as fully as possible to the needs, even to the prejudices of the London people. In passing, let him remind the Committee that, after all, there was still a vast deal to be done in connection with the reform of London Government. He would only mention one important circumstance and that was that the local Bodies it London collected in rates and spent irrespective of their central contribution no less than £2,000,000 sterling annually; £30,000,000 of rateable value would be placed in the hands of the County Council, which, he took it, was at any rate four times as much as would 1020 be placed in the hands of any other County Council, excluding that, perhaps, of Lancashire. That fact in itself was a direct argument against the establishment of selected Councillors in London. In his opinion, the most important arguments against the establishment of selected Councillors in London had been advanced by hon. Gentlemen sitting upon the Ministerial Benches. The hon. Member for West Newington (Mr. Radcliffe Cooke) said that by this process of selection, which he approved of, men would be put on the Council who would not be elected by the ratepayers. That was exactly the reason why he (Mr. James Stuart) and his hon. Friends opposed the principle of selected Councillors. Another argument advanced by the hon. Gentleman was that rejected candidates might be appointed to the Council. Whatever might be the facts as to dissatisfaction with the principle of selection in Bodies elsewhere than in London, he desired to inform hon. Gentlemen that there was the very greatest dissatisfaction, and the very greatest reason for dissatisfaction in London, with the selection of men to serve upon the existing Bodies. He did not specially refer only to the Metropolitan Board of Works, which wholly consisted of selected members—that was, of members who had not been directly elected; but he referred to Boards of Guardians upon which selected members sat. He also referred to the Asylums Board, on which there were selected members. He put it to the President of the Local Government Board whether it was not the case that there had been a great deal of dissatisfaction properly felt with the selected element upon the Bodies he had mentioned. Moreover, he was bound to confess that the selection by the School Board of its own members had not been altogether satisfactory. The President of the Local Government Board had said that the method of selection was different in London from what it was elsewhere. But the real point was, whether or not the members had obtained their position through the portal of popular election. It was because of the absence of that criterion that that dissatisfaction existed in London. He and his hon. Friends wished to secure confidence in the County Council. He did not deny that this was 1021 a great step in advance. The County Council, even as it stood under the Bill, as at present drawn, would be a vast improvement upon the present state of things; but he submitted that the confidence of the people of London in that Body would be very largely increased if there were no selected members. How was the confidence of the people in that Body to be increased when the arguments in favour of selected members were such as were used by the Secretary to the Local Government Board—namely, that the principle of selected members would afford an opportunity of selecting rejected candidates? It had been said that the adoption of this principle would lead to the selection of eminent scientific men. He had no confidence in eminent scientific men who had not applied their knowledge to the individual case of London. Hon. Gentlemen knew very well that the condition of London was a very difficult problem, and that it would have to be tackled by people who had studied it, and studied it locally. It would not do for people to come forward to manage the affairs of London with nothing but vague ideas of municipal management. To manage London they must have the confidence of the people, they must show that they were acquainted with the extraordinary, intermixed, and complicated Bodies in London. That put out of court the eminent scientific, literary, and philanthropic men, unless such men were capable of bringing their science and philanthropy to bear upon the needs of the locality. They did not want men upon the County Council who, as had been stated, had made themselves notorious by getting their heads broken in Trafalgar Square. What they wanted were men who had an intimate knowledge of the wants and requirements of the different districts in London. But they desired that if such men were upon the Council, they should possess the confidence of the people. If they had people in the London County Council brought in from outside, because they were merely shining lights, the great risk would be run that the advice they gave would not fall upon the willing ears that it would fall upon if the men had been popularly elected. He passed now to another difficulty in the case of London. Who were they to select their selected members from? It had been stated by hon. Members opposite they 1022 were to select them from eminently scientific and philanthropic persons; but he supposed they did not want 40 eminently scientific and philanthropic persons upon the London County Council. They wanted to select men from every class and from every groove. In the different counties in England there were persons skilled in the management of the affairs of the counties. Had they got such men in London? No; they had not? The people who were at the present time taking part in the management of London affairs, whether rightly or wrongly he would not say, were at that moment discredited. In London they had not a class of persons from whom the people would naturally select County Councillors. The effect of that was that the elected members would be driven even more so than in other places to do what must be the natural bent of County Councils—namely, make their selection from a class of people who would be mainly characterized by the support they would give to the policy of the majority. The County Council would have to deal with administrative questions; and, that being so, he felt bound to dwell upon the extraordinary statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Deptford (Mr. Darling). What the hon. and learned Gentleman said about the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) for the better government of Ireland, and what he said about the Municipality of Venice had reference entirely to a Legislative Body. The County Council of London would not be a legislative, but an Administrative Body; and, therefore, it was ridiculous to argue for a substitute for a second Chamber in a body which had only administrative functions. He submitted that he had made out a very good case for differentiating London in this matter from the rest of the country. They would get a better Governing Body in London, wholly apart from political and Party questions, if they accepted the Amendment now under consideration. It was said that eminent men sat for the School Board of London when it was first formed, and that now they did not. The answer to that was, that they were elected when they were needed. But the London County Council would continually have before it exceedingly important and interesting problems, and 1023 he had no doubt that it would continue to attract men who would be fit to deal effectually with the problem of London government.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Long) had made some reference to a remark he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) made on a previous Amendment with reference to the position of Aldermen. The hon. Gentleman quoted him correctly and fairly, but he did not quite convey to the Committee the point he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) was insisting upon. What he was arguing was that if they were to have Aldermen, it was most unwise to put them under a disability, and make them inferior members of the Body. His experience was that, as a rule, Aldermen had been experienced and competent members of the Bodies of which they formed part. Now, with reference to the government of London, there had been a great deal of theory indulged in. He did not believe a good deal he heard. He did not believe that the capables or the incapables were going to be got in by this mode. That had not been the practical working of the aldermanic principle in the great municipal boroughs. The rule was—of course, he knew there were exceptions to the rule—not to elect gentlemen who were not members of the Council. The theory of going outside the Council and electing distinguished, scientific, and literary men who were unfit for the work was nothing but fiction. It had no precedent, and would not be found to work. The rule had been to make election to the aldermanic chair a reward for previous services; but when Party politics had entered into the matter—and, unfortunately, they had in a certain number of municipalities—it had been used entirely for a different purpose. That was the danger they were to guard against. They were going to elect to the County Council of London 118 men, and he thought it was idle to imagine that there would not be a strong Party feeling arise at the first election. Possibly, they might have 60 men elected belonging to one political Party, and 58 belonging to the opposite Party. Whatever the figures were, if they had a narrow Party majority, and it was within the power of that majority to 1024 add 20 men to its own side, it would do it. If the majority went outside, it would in all probability elect or select gentlemen who were clearly committed to their own Party views. They put in power a small elected majority, and it at once converted itself into an over whelmning majority, and made its majority permanent. His practical experience pointed to that as the principal and only danger. It was said they wanted to secure continuity of policy. He was bound to say that that was the strongest argument used on the other side. But that was an argument which was capable of being answered by other arguments, such as that the inconvenience resulting from the adoption of that principle would involve worse results. It must be remembered that the aldermanic principle was not introduced as a question of principle; but it was introduced as the result of a compromise in the two Houses of Parliament. The House of Lords did their utmost to emasculate the Municipal Corporations Bill. When Lord John Russell brought in that Bill, it contained nothing with regard to Aldermen; but Lord Lyndhurst intended to kill the Bill, and put in a provision for life Aldermen. Sir Robert Peel saved the measure by proposing as a compromise that Aldermen should be elected for six years. That suggestion was accepted. It had been made to work, on the whole, he was free to confess, well. In Liverpool, Bristol, and other large towns it had worked badly because it had perpetuated political supremacy for a course of years. Now they were beginning a new era in the great City of London; and there was no reason, by past experience, and there was no reason by theory, to adopt the old plan.
§ Mr. RITCHIE
appealed to the Committee to come to a decision. This extremely important question had been discussed now for a considerable period, and it must be borne in mind that there were numerous other points to be discussed.
§ MR. W. H. JAMES (Gateshead)
said, he wished to corroborate every word which had fallen from his right hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler). Some six or seven years ago he brought in a Bill dealing with the Aldermanic question in the Provinces. He did so at the request 1025 of the noble Lord the late Lord Dalhousie, who had just returned from a contested election in Liverpool. He obtained a second reading of the Bill by a very large majority, but did not succeed in passing the measure. He regretted to say that he was opposed not so much by Members of the Tory Party as by some Members on his own side, especially by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). He supported the Amendment now under consideration, and he hoped that the Bill would create what was honestly wanted—a real public spirit in London. No one was proud of being a London man, as men were proud of being Lancashire men, or of being men of Kent. He trusted, however, that the effect of the Bill would be to make a man proud of being a West Newington man, or even a Peckham man.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 192: Majority 44.—(Div. List, No. 202.)
MR. BARING (London)
, in moving the next Amendment, said, it was only a matter of form, to render clear that which, at present, was somewhat indistinct.
In page 32, line 12, to leave out the words "cease to form part of the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent, and shall be a county of itself," and insert the words "be an administrative county for the purposes of this Act by the name of the administrative county of London.
Such portion of the administrative county of London as forms part of the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent, shall be severed from those counties, and shall form a separate county for all purposes."—(Mr. Baring.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the object of the Amendment was merely to make it clear for the purposes of the Bill, that when they were speaking of a county they were speaking of an administrative county as distinct from a geographical county.
§ Question put, and negatived.1026
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, he wished to move, in line 15, to leave out "Her Majesty the Queen," in order to insert "the County Council of London." The effect of the Amendment would be to provide that the Sheriff of the County of London should be appointed by the London County Council instead of by the Queen, as proposed by the Bill. At present, the Liverymen of the City Guilds, meeting at the Guildhall, elected the Sheriff, they having, of necessity, no connection with London at all. They elected two Sheriffs, who, rolled into one, made the Sheriff of Middlesex. The proposal of the Bill was to let Her Majesty appoint the Sheriff as in all other counties, but the object of the Amendment was to treat London as wholly urban, and as other cities that were counties were treated—the city of York, for instance. There were many reasons why London should be dealt with as a town, rather than as a large county, and why the County Council should elect the Sheriff, as was done in the case of every other city made a county except London.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 32, line 15, to leave out the words "Her Majesty the Queen," and insert the words "the County Council of London."—(Mr. Firth.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words Her Majesty the Queen,' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, there was a great distinction to be drawn between the cases of the County of London and the County of York—which latter the hon. and learned Member quoted as a parallel. The functions of the Sheriffs for the County of the City of York and the counties of other Provincial cities would be of the same kind; but those appertaining to the Sheriffs of London would be different altogether. The County of London would ultimately be a county, with all the attributes of a county which were wanting in the case of the counties of cities. It would, he hoped, at no distant period, contain within it, like all other counties, not only a County Council, but District Councils as well. No doubt, the whole question of the appointment of the Sheriffs was one which required to be considered. The question 1027 had been continually cropping up for some time past, as to whether or not some alteration should not take place in the method of making these appointments, and if the matter was dealt with it should be dealt with in some general enactment which should apply to London as well as all other places. Until some alteration was made in the general law, it would be unwise to depart from the practice as regarded counties in the case of London only.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board remarked that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Firth) was wrong in treating London on the same footing as other counties or cities; but he (Mr. Lawson) thought his hon. and learned Friend had a very good case for drawing a parallel, and contended that the example of York and other towns was one which should be applied in the case of the Metropolis. Besides, it would be far better, by a system of selection, to invest the Shrievalty with more dignity and reality than it possessed at present. What happened in the case of ordinary counties in regard to the office of the Sheriff? Every hon. Member in the House knew that the names were pricked, and that though there was a special meeting of the Privy Council for the purpose of election, the gentlemen appointed were merely the nominees of the outgoing Sheriff. The names were not entered by the Sheriff as he left office, and unless there was some urgent reason why the gentlemen so nominated should not be accepted, each was nominated by his predecessor. Well, would it not be far better to invest the office with more dignity, if the plan suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Dundee were adopted?
§ MR. DARLING
said, that the Amendment of the hon. Member—he supposed it would be only right to say the hon. and "learned" Member for Dundee (Mr. Firth)—would effect more than the Committee seemed to suppose. The clause said—It shall be lawful for Her Majesty the Queen to appoint a Sheriff of that county, and to grant a Commission of the Peace and Court of Quarter Sessions to the county;and so on. Now, if the Amendment were accepted, they would then have a County Council not only appointing a 1028 Sheriff, but granting a Commission of the Peace and a Quarter Sessions to the county—a function which it was not at all within the power either of a County Council or any other Council to perform. The granting of a Commission of the Peace and a Court of Quarter Sessions was a matter entirely for the Crown.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, that if the hon. and learned Gentleman had been longer in the House than he had, he would have known that the point he (Mr. Firth) raised was merely a verbal one, and that after the acceptance of the present Amendment other words would be introduced to obviate the difficulty which he seemed to anticipate. The principle he (Mr. Firth) set forth in his Amendment, it should be remembered, was recommended by the Commission of 1854 to apply to the City of London.
§ SIR. ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
said, he would appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundee to remember that the County Council of London would be altogether on a different footing from the Councils of the counties of cities. In the county of cities the Council would be somewhat of the nature of a District Council, whereas the administrative Council of London would be a Body of much greater dignity—he ventured to say of much greater dignity than even the County Council of any county in England. He was sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would admit that; and, therefore, he thought it would not be well to depart from the rule which was laid down in regard to counties as distinguished from counties of cities. In every other county the Sheriff would be nominated by the Crown. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had assured the Committee that the proposals of the Government were in the nature of transition proposals. He had told the Committee that, in all probability, the method of appointing Sheriffs generally would come under revision within a measurable space of time, and that the proposals here contained were, therefore, somewhat in the nature of transition proposals. He (Sir Roper Lethbridge) would appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman not to endeavour to put the administrative County of Lon- 1029 don on a lower footing than any other county in England, but to treat it at least on the same level as other counties.
§ MR. LAWSON
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would consider the point to which his attention had been called by the hon. Gentleman sitting behind him—namely, that the Councils of cities and towns, such as Liverpool and Manchester, were in the nature of District Councils? He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would take note of that.
§ Question put,
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 187; Noes 155: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 203.)
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he wished to move to leave out that part of the clause which was as follows:—Provided that for the purpose of the jurisdiction of the justices under such commission, and of such court, the county of the city of London shall continue a separate county, unless the mayor, commonalty, and citizens of the city assent to jurisdiction being conferred therein on such justices and court.(2.)The provisions of this Act with respect to the powers, duties, and liabilities of county councils, and the transfer of property, debts, and liabilities of counties to county councils, shall apply to the county of London in like manner, so nearly as circumstances admit, as if the quarter sessions, justices, and clerks of the peace of the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent had been, so far as regards the Metropolis, the quarter sessions, justices, and clerk of the peace for the county of London: Provided that such property, debts, and liabilities shall be apportioned between the portions of those counties situate within the Metropolis and the portions situate outside the Metropolis in such manner as maybe determined by agreement between the respective county councils, or in default of agreement by arbitration, and the property, debts, and liabilities apportioned to the portions within the Metropolis shall be the property, debts, and liabilities of the whole of the county of London.That Amendment touched the whole question of such privileges and exemptions, and it seemed to him that it raised a question which ought rather to have been dealt with in a second reading speech on that particular part of the Bill. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board for the promise—although they had never asked for the fulfilment of the promise, and although it had never been offered—that when they Came to the London Clauses as a whole 1030 they should have a short debate dealing with the different issues raised. There was a strong hint to that effect, thrown out, he thought, by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury himself. At any rate, the present Amendment raised an issue which it was important to deal with, and which deserved now to be discussed, as no opportunity had hitherto been afforded for debating it. The great fault of these clauses, to their minds, was that they were not entirely on civic lines. What they could have wished was that the right hon. Gentleman should have followed the precedent set by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) in 1884, when he introduced his Bill, and that he should have followed the other of the two alternatives presented to him than that which he had adopted. There were two possibilities. The Government could either have developed the City Corporation and extended it throughout the whole Metropolis, or they could have developed the Metropolitan Board of Works. The right hon. Gentleman had chosen the latter of the two alternatives. He (Mr. Lawson) and his Friends would have preferred to see London treated as a whole. He was quite aware that for the purposes of the Bill, London was treated as a county with a Quarter Sessions borough in the middle of it; but, as they were all aware, that definition was an unreal and an artificial one. London was a great city; it was not a county with a borough in the middle of it. There were not even city walls to distinguish what was known as the City of London, with its square mile of territory, from the Metropolitan area outside. In the clause they were now considering, the Government would leave the City of London as an excresence in the Metropolitan system. They did not affect the existing City of London very materially. They took away its power of dealing with dancing and music and stage plays; but, so far as he knew, no other powers were taken away from the City beyond those limited prerogatives. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board might say that in this Bill he did not intend to reform the City of London. He had been telling the House all through that it was impossible to deal with the particular reforms in different parts of the coun- 1031 try which might be considered desirable; but he (Mr. Lawson) would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he did not go even so far as one of his Predecessors did in the year 1855, when the Metropolitan Local Management Bill was introduced by which the Metropolis had been governed from that day to this. In moving that Bill, Mr. Labouchere—the Mr. Labouchere of that day—said, he did not believe they would be putting the government of London on a satisfactory footing if they did not at the same time deal with the City of London properly so-called. The hon. Member said that he could not blame the Government for having given precedence to a larger measure; but he hoped no time would be lost in bringing forward the larger measure. Sir George Grey then said that it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill dealing with the reform of the City of London. Had the Committee no promise of that kind from the present Government? Had the Committee no guarantee that they did not mean to preserve—nay, even to consecrate—the privileges of the City of London? Here they had the City of London treated as a sort of strange animal pickled in spirits of wine. It was well that they should have one Representative Body dealing with the local concerns of the Metropolis, and yet they left the City isolated from the rest of London. Why was that?—surely the right hon. Gentleman need no longer be afraid of the City. There was some reason for the Government to be afraid of the City in times gone by, when they had four Members; but under the last scheme of redistribution of seats the number was reduced to two. As had been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Firth), the "turtle was well on its back," and the Government might do exactly what they liked with it. He (Mr. Lawson) considered it altogether unnecessary at every turn to endeavour to insert a saving clause in the interests of the City of London. He failed to see why they should have had this long clause dealing with the City of London as an isolated community, for there was no reason why it should not have been put in exactly the same class and category as other Metropolitan boroughs. But the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board seemed to be still 1032 afraid of the vested interests of the City. He ought to know, however, that outside the City its privileges had no friends. There were a certain number of people who were ready to stand up for it before the charges of malversation were brought against it and before the country last Session; but since those charges had been preferred, no one, except those representing it, including the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Fowler), could be classed amongst its friends. Even those persons he excepted did not come forward in its defence when it had been attacked that Session. Even the hon. Baronet had not defended it for more than five minutes. If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board were to consent to deal with the City of London once for all, and had concluded upon treating it in the same way as other Metropolitan boroughs, he would have had the support of all the Metropolitan Members, except, perhaps, those representing the City. By this Bill the Government preserved the City Police, and they preserved the market rights of the City, with its privilege of preventing markets for the supply of food being established within seven miles of the City boundary, as confirmed under the Charter of Charles II. The right hon. Gentleman had not even noticed the Report of the Commissioners of 1854, who recommended, in their 19th recommendation, that the City Police should be amalgamated with the Metropolitan Police. What was desired in this respect was to see the City Police amalgamated with the Metropolitan Police, although it was disastrous to have the force under the existing control. He felt sure that the Government would find, as they went on with the clauses, difficulty after difficulty arising, simply because the Government chose to obstruct the growth of that common civic life and common civic interest that they lacked now. He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 32, line 21, to leave out the words "from London" to the end of sub-section.—(Mr. Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
said, the 1033 Government could not accept the proposal of the hon. Member. Indeed, it was not very easy to gather from the hon. Member's speech his reason for proposing it. The hon. Member had drawn attention to certain humorous observations on the part of the hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. Firth), and an entirely irrelevant reference to alleged malversation; but neither of these points were in the nature of reasons for his Amendment. He wished to raise the whole question as to the way in which the City was dealt with; but that desire formed no reason for the Amendment he had put before the Committee. It was a mistake for the hon. Member to suppose that the City of London had no friends outside itself, and when he (Mr. Lawson) referred to the investigation which had taken place into the charges of malversation, he should at least remember that it was held that those charges had not been proved. The hon. Member had not suggested to the Committee a single reason for saying that there should be any interference with the existing privileges of the City of London, and the only one possible was his desire to erase all the distinctions of the City. He had not shown that any benefit would arise by depriving the City of those functions which it had enjoyed for many centuries, and which it certainly should not be dispossessed of now, unless on better grounds than had been brought forward.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, that the point of his hon. Friend was that there was an absolutely exceptional case in London. It was as though the Exchange Division of Liverpool was made one county, and Liverpool itself another. Here they had one square mile of the Metropolitan area taken out and made a county of itself, the borough area being of the same urban character. What his hon. Friend (Mr. Lawson) proposed, as he (Mr. Firth) understood it, was exactly what he himself had proposed in a similar Amendment which he had put on the Paper. The Government said that the county of the City of London should continue a separate county. Now the point was—Why should the City of London be continued as a separate county? and to that point he invited the especial attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were going 1034 to pass that Bill. In his opinion, there never was a shadow of a chance of these London Clauses being dropped. There was not going to be any obstruction to the London Clauses; but when they were dealing with London as a county, and had the opportunity of preventing the creation of that which would be an absolute anomaly—that was to say, that a certain number of houses in the centre of a large area of houses being treated as a county by themselves—they would ask why, in the name of reason, did they do it? There could only be one ground for the course the Government were pursuing, and that was the grand historic position of the City of London. Well, they knew all about that. As a matter of fact, the City had no fight left—it could not fight; it had not fought on the last question in which there had been a Division. The Government had proposed an Amendment by which they took from the City of London the appointment of Sheriffs, which they had enjoyed since the time of Henry I., and there had not been a single friend of the City to get up and oppose it, though in their organ they had threatened to resist the proposal. That showed that the City would not fight; and, under the circumstances, he should like to know what there was to prevent the Government from accepting the proposed Amendment? What would be the result of refusing the Amendment? Why, to start a new county with a separate authority of one square mile in the centre of it which would be declared not only to be an anomaly but a great disadvantage to the unity of the whole conception. The Government conception in the matter of this Bill was a noble one, and he appealed to them to make it a uniform one.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he did not quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman as to his definition of the reasons which had actuated the proposals of the Government and the arrangements they had made.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the hon. and learned Member's view was that they should have accepted the Amendment, because the City had no fight left in it. Well, that was not the consideration which ought to actuate and govern the 1035 Government in the performance of their duty. In the hon. and learned Member's view, it was only necessary that one should not be able to fight; but that was not the view of their duty held by Her Majesty's Government. In their view, the consideration was not whether any particular locality or interest could fight or not, but whether the proposal was in accordance with the spirit of justice and good administration. The hon. and learned Member had stated as an evidence that the City could not fight, "You have taken away the appointment of the Sheriffs of Middlesex from the City, and yet they do not resist." The City of London, no doubt, possessed the right at present of appointing the Sheriff of Middlesex, but they held that right from very ancient times. Now, however, when setting up a County Council for the County of Middlesex, it was preposterous to suppose that the Council of another county should appoint the Sheriff for the district under the jurisdiction of such County Council. The hon. and learned Gentleman said they were dealing with the City of London in a totally different way to the way in which they were dealing with other cities in their general scheme; but that was not the fact. They were dealing with the City of London as they were dealing with other cities which were taken out of counties. There were other smaller cities left in the counties which would continue to exist with their rights and privileges under the Bill as before. But what the hon. and learned Gentleman asked them to do was to deal differently with the City of London than they had with the smaller cities in counties, and abolish the Corporation. As he had said on previous occasions, this was by no means a complete scheme for London. The Government did not pretend that it should be. If they had attempted anything like a complete scheme for London, it would have been impossible to carry such a Bill as the present in one Session. London must be dealt with by a general scheme; but what they had done had been to take advantage of this Bill to set up for the Metropolis a Governing Body of a representative character. The idea of the Government was, whilst setting up the Central Body, to leave the several governing areas as at present, and if that were so, it was only just that the 1036 Corporation of London should be the Governing Body within the boundary of the City of London.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that would not be the case if they analyzed the mode with which the Government dealt with some matters connected with the City of London. Under the Bill it would be found that they did touch the City of London in a manner in which other cities to which he had referred had not been touched. He thought he had given sufficient ground to show how impossible it would be to accept the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he thought there was a great deal of satisfaction to be got out of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. The right hon. Gentleman had stated, and he (Sir William Harcourt) was glad to hear it, that he could not regard these clauses as a final settlement of the question of governing the Metropolis, and he had pointed out that in a further Bill, which would necessarily follow, he would have to deal in a very different manner with the City of London from anything he now proposed. Well, that appeared to him a very satisfactory promise. But it was obvious that the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman must be taken. When this great central Governing Body was created in London it was absolutely impossible to leave the City as it was at present to deal with its own area. The right hon. Gentlemen opposite had spoken of the City of London within the Metropolis as if it were only an ordinary borough within a county; but that was really not a correct analogy, because in the case of counties ordinarily they were dealing with large rural districts having an urban population in the middle of it. In this case, however, they had one great urban population which they were to weld into one harmonious whole. He did not wish to waste the time of the Committee at that stage, and he noted with satisfaction the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that the present was only a temporary scheme for dealing with the Corporation of the City of London. He held the firm conviction that, as soon as they had created that great Central Body, it would absorb within itself all the other Governing Bodies in London, and would become 1037 itself the main principal dominant Governing Body. The City of London might exist in the future with reference to its own area. That he perfectly admitted, but it would exist as a species of District Council of the City of London. There would be, no doubt, Bodies corresponding to District Councils in London, as in the counties of England generally, and as one of these it would be the proper position of the City to stand. The City of London would occupy the honourable position to which its possession of great wealth entitled it—and no doubt it was one of the wealthiest areas in the Metropolis. He thought they might well rest with the comfortable faith that as soon as they got this Central Body it would absorb and attract to itself all the smaller and minor Bodies.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, that the speech which had just been delivered was the reason why this Proviso should be left out of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General said that no reason had been given; but here it was. The area supposed to have been left out of the general government in this case was an area not governed by municipal law, and that in itself ought to be a sufficient reason why no exceptional legislation should take place, especially in a Bill which, notwithstanding the speech they had just heard, would have the effect of continuing, to a certain extent, the present relationship of the City of London with the whole Metropolitan area. The hon. and learned Solicitor General also said, with regard to this ancient City of London, that the charges brought against it in that House had not been proven. Well, all he (Mr. Howell) could say on that point was, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General could not have read the Report of the Inquiry. Certainly, there was no expression in the Report in regard to the particular technical term "malversation"; but, in all other respects, everything which was alleged in the House when the charge was made was proven before the Committee, and that Report in itself showed an additional reason why the Corporation of the City of London, ancient as it was, should not occupy that exceptional position which was accorded to it in this Bill. If the Government did not want to deal with the Corporation of the City 1038 of London, the proper thing to do would be to say as little about it as possible, and allow that question to be dealt with when the other and larger measure which was promised to them was before the House. But in the present, whatever was to be the future position of the City as regarded the whole Metropolis, let them confine themselves as far as practicable to the creation of this greater Council for the County of London. But even as regarded that creation of the County of London, in what position did they find themselves? Why, in a very peculiar position—so peculiar a position that it would follow either that the whole of London should be dominated by the City Corporation, or that the City Corporation should be swallowed up as quickly as possible by this County Council; and for this reason—that whilst the City of London as such was not governed by municipal law, there was no provision made in the Bill whereby the County of London was to be governed by municipal law either. There was no provision in this Bill with regard to the promotion of Bills by this City Council in any shape or form in the same way as there was for the smallest municipality in the United Kingdom. The County Council of London would have no power to introduce a Private Bill as all other Corporations would have; but it would be obliged to get a Public Bill brought in, either by the Government of the day or by a private Member. That might be an advantage as regarded this particular case, but it showed that this great Council would be a Council with tied hands. It would have no power to reform its own Constitution and to extend its own powers, and would have no power whatever of dealing with public money. The Provisoes that were left in the Bill seemed to him to be in anticipation that the City of London—that was to say, the Corporation of the City of London—might ultimately be able to dominate the whole of the Metropolis. He would ask any hon. Member of the House why, after the investigations which had taken place, this ancient City of London—this ancient Corporation—was worthy of the position of dominating this great Metropolis. They had heard a great deal in regard to what had been proven in regard to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Bu what had been proven in regard to the 1039 Metropolitan Board of Works was as nothing compared with what might be proven against the City of London if a similar investigation were to take place under a similar president. Therefore, he asked that the Government should not seek to perpetuate the powers of the Corporation of the City of London and give them a possible opportunity of attempting to dominate London in future. He supported the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ SIR ROBERT FOWLER (London)
said, he did not wish to enter into the question raised by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Howell); but he wished to ask a question of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Lawson). The clause referred to magisterial jurisdiction—that was to say, that it dealt with the administration of justice in the City of London. Well, if it were left out, either the magistrates from the County of London would have to deal with magisterial business in the Police Courts of the City, or there would have to be Stipendiary Magistrates appointed to sit in the Guildhall.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE
said, there could be no danger of the County of the City of London dominating the Metropolis. The County of the City of London would occupy, as compared with the administrative County of London, a position very much analogous to that occupied by counties of cities in other counties in England—Counties such as the County of the City of York. Those counties occupied relatively a different position to that of the administrative counties in which they were situated. There was no question of the City of London taking an exceptional position.
§ MR. HOWELL
said, the hon. Gentleman forgot the distinction he (Mr. Howell) had made—namely, that if other cities were governed by municipal law, whereas London was not. That made all the difference.
said, that the point that hon. Members were dealing with was altogether outside the Amendment before the Committee.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he somewhat sympathized with the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Robert Fowler). As he understood from that hon. Gentleman, the effect of the Amendment would be to abolish the 1040 elective magistrates, and put nominative magistrates in their place. Well, they had elective magistrates in Scotland, and found them very efficient and satisfactory, and he thought it would be a great advantage to London to continue to have elected magistrates instead of nominative.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, that after what they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board as to the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill dealing with the Government of London generally, he trusted that his hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment. Hon. Members would not modify their opinion; but the right hon. Gentleman had gone so far in his expressions as to what was to happen next year, that it was hardly necessary to press the Amendment now.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, that after the promise of the right hon. Gentleman to introduce a Bill next year. ["No, no!"] He had distinctly heard the right hon. Gentleman say that a Bill would be brought in to deal with the rest of London next year, and after that promise he would not press the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he begged to move an Amendment which was not on the Paper. The object of it was to provide for a larger number of representatives on the County Council of London than that contemplated in the Bill as it now stood, and which larger number it was the general desire of hon. Members that the Metropolis should have. As the Committee were aware, the original view of the Government was that the number of Councillors in London should be precisely the number of Parliamentary Representatives for London. It had since, however, been brought to his knowledge that the London Members were unanimous in believing that the Council so constituted would be too small. There was a general feeling that the number would not be too large if it was double the number originally proposed, and therefore he brought forward the Amendment to cover the engagement practically entered into with the London Members, both Conservative and Liberal, that the number of Councillors originally proposed should be doubled.
In page 32, line 26, at end of line, insert as separate sub-section—"The number of elected county councillors for the administrative county of London shall be double the number of Members which at the passing of this Act, the Parliamentary boroughs in the Metropolis are authorised by law to return to serve in Parliament, and each such borough, or if it is divided into divisions, each division thereof shall be an electoral division for the purposes of this Act, and the number of county councillors elected for each such electoral division, shall be double the number of Members of Parliament, which such borough or division is at the passing of this Act entitled to return to serve in Parliament."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question proposed, "That the subsection be there inserted."
§ MR. JAMES STUART
said, he begged to thank the right hon. Gentleman for moving the Amendment, as it was one which had stood in his (Mr. James Stuart's) name for a considerable time. With regard to it, he only desired to put one question; he wished to know whether, in voting for this Amendment, it would be settling the question of the number of selected Councillors, because one of his hon. Friends near him had an Amendment which he wished to propose, to the effect that the number of selected Councillors should not be doubled. He wished to know whether the Chairman in putting the Amendment would put it in such a way as to leave it open to his hon. Friend to move his Amendment?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he thought the Amendment would be a great improvement upon the clause as it at present stood; but, at the same time, he was bound to say that he did not think it would be advisable to increase the number of selected Councillors. Forty selected Councillors for London would be too many, as it would be exceedingly difficult to select that number of really good men for London. He would suggest that the Committee should accept the proposal to double the number of elected Councillors, but not to double the number of selected Councillors.
said, the Amendment which stood in the name of the hon. Member for the Poplar Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Sydney Buxton) could be moved as an Amendment to the proposal now before the Committee. The best way to propose it would be in the form of a Proviso.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he would suggest that the question of the inclusion of his Amendment should be first decided, and then the question of the Proviso should be considered.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
said, he thought it would be a pity that the putting of the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Sydney Buxton) should depend upon the acceptance of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. Was there no way by which the Amendment could be dealt with independently?
said, it would be necessary to deal with the Amendment in question in the form of a Proviso.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, that as he understood the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, its effect would be to increase the number of Councillors to 157. He would suggest that the Sub-section should be made a flexible one, enabling the number to be hereafter enlarged as necessity required, and with that alteration he thought they might wisely accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. As he read Clause 57, there was there a power given to the London Council to make a representation to the Local Government Board, that the alteration in the number of elective Councillors and the electoral divisions was desirable, and the Local Government Board might entertain or refuse that application. That being so, he should be glad to accept the present proposal. There was, however, a certain discrepancy which the right hon. Gentleman would defend with some degree of shame, and he must say with the same amount of logic as he had shown in his defence of his proposal as to the counties—namely, that the City should possess twice as many representatives as anybody else. He (Mr. Firth) had the privilege of being an elector for the City of London, and he wanted to know why he should vote for four people there, while in other parts of London people had only a vote for two representatives? He should like to know whether it was on the ground of property, of intelligence, or of morality, that the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to distinguish the City of London above other parts of the Metropolis? He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon the democratic position he had assumed on this matter, for, whereas in 1884 the right 1043 hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), in his London Government Bill, had proposed to give the City of London 30 Members, the right hon. Gentleman opposite only proposed to give it four. But his (Mr. Firth's) argument was that the proper position of the City of London would be only to have two representatives, and he invited the right hon. Gentleman to say why it should have more than that number? The Common Council of the City had 232 members, although it only had about half as much work to do as the County Council for London would have with regard to the areas. Up to the introduction of that Bill, he had not thought that the Parliamentary Divisions would be the best administrative areas, but he saw that those areas were beginning to work together. Hitherto, however, they had done so for Party purposes. The hon. Member, whom he saw was about to speak, had suggested in a magazine that, as the Conservative Party had five-sixths of the Representatives in Parliament, they should have five-sixths on the County Council, and the only surprise he (Mr. Firth) experienced in regard to that statement was, that the hon. Gentleman should have been so modest in his demand, and should have been satisfied with only five-sixths.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he thought the City of London was fully entitled to the representation upon the County Council which the Bill proposed to give it. He thanked the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Firth) for reminding the Committee of the number of representatives which the right hon. Member for Derby had proposed to give the City under his Bill.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he wished to know whether the City was to be represented as a whole—that was to say, whether the four members would be returned for the undivided City, or whether the constituency would be split up into two.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he thought that great evil would result if Party politics were allowed to invade the county elections. It had been pointed out that the Parliamentary areas were beginning to work well, and that the 1044 election machinery in both municipal and Parliamentary contests would come to be considered, ultimately, the same. In that case, the result would be that municipal elections would be entirely worked on Party lines. He suggested that single-member areas should be adopted.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he wished it to be understood that while he and his hon. Friends had no desire to raise anything like a contentious question on this Amendment, some of those on that side only accepted the extra number of members allotted to the City of London under protest. He believed that the City of London was only entitled to the same number of members as the other portion of the country, and they did not want hereafter to be accused of having given up their principle in that respect.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Amendment proposed, to add at the end of Mr. Ritchie's Amendment, the words—
Provided always, that the number of selected councillors in the county of London shall not exceed one-sixth of the whole number of elective councillors."—(Mr. Sydney Buxton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, he agreed to the Amendment. Although the proportion in the Bill was really that in the Metropolitan Corporations Act, having doubled the number of the members of the Council, he thought that limit named would be all that was necessary for the proper working of the machinery. Having conceded the point on that ground, he hoped he should not be open to the charge of abandoning principle.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
said, one of the strongest arguments used by those who were in favour of the appointment of County Aldermen was, that they were sure to be selected from the elected Councillors. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Long) had used that argument just now; and he (Mr. Causton) wanted it to be stated in the 1045 Bill that the selected Councillors should be selected solely from the elected Councillors. That was the practice in Scotland and in Birmingham and in other large towns; in fact, he was told that it was so general that it was hardly known in some towns that a Councillor could ever be elected from outside. That being so, he thought they ought to make the provision in the Bill. The objection to going outside was, that the electors would not be directly consulted; that men would be pressed into serving as Aldermen who had no inclination to join the Council, and that they would only come down on high days to exercise a little patronage, or perhaps upset some well-considered report of the committee; they would have good men disinclined to offer themselves as Councillors, because they would think that they were going in for a degrading office. But he wished to see on the Council the best men that could be got, who would know that they were elected to do their duty, and that their colleagues would have the opportunity of putting them forward, and electing them as Aldermen. He (Mr. Causton) had represented a borough (Colchester) in which the Councillors for forty years never elected an Alderman from their own Body, but from outside, and that he considered a very great abuse. He hoped, therefore, that if hon. Gentlemen did not see their way to vote for elected Councillors, they would vote for the Amendment he was about to move, and prevent that abuse in the London Council which had prevailed in many boroughs of the Kingdom.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 32, line 26, at the end of the last Amendment to insert the words "Provided also that the county aldermen shall be selected only from among the county councillors."—(Mr. Causton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. POWELL-WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
said, he hoped the Government would see their way to accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. In the case of Birmingham, which had existed as a borough since 1835, there was no instance in which the Town Council had gone outside its own Body for the purpose of the selection of Aldermen. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] If there was an 1046 instance, it was very early in the history of the borough, and under peculiar circumstances. But the strongest possible argument in favour of the retention of Aldermen was that founded on the continuity of public business which the system secured, and any system under which a Town Council went outside its own Body to select Aldermen seemed to him to cut very much against that principle of continuity. Now, the great borough of London would undoubtedly, before very long, as had the other boroughs of the Kingdom, find itself implicated in very considerable commercial schemes which it would require a large number of years to carry through. The borough of Birmingham had been engaged in and expended £1,500,000 of money on a scheme of that kind, and it was, of course, of the utmost importance that, with regard to it, there should be continuity of action. But with a number of Aldermen selected within the Council there must necessarily be greater security for that continuity than if the selection were made from persons who were not members of the Council. There was another strong reason which, it seemed to him, should be urged in favour of the proposal, and that had been adverted to by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. He thought that a great deal of the objections which some hon. Members entertained to the system of Aldermen would be removed if it were known that, in the event of an election of a new Alderman, a public election to the Council would necessarily follow in some division or other. That, he thought, was a great security against any person being placed on the Council to whom the ratepayers might have objection.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, he thought it desirable that the Amendment should be opposed. It was obvious that, under ordinary circumstances, the Aldermen would be selected from the members of the Council. But the advantage of having the power to select outside was perfectly clear. There might be men to be selected from outside who could be of great service to the County of London, and it was for that reason that he should vote for the clause as it stood. No doubt, in many cases, very valuable services had been rendered by men selected from amongst the members of the Council; but the 1047 hon. Gentleman who had just spoken gave himself an instance where the choice of a gentleman from outside was ratified by the approval of the people of Birmingham.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
said, if the recollection of the hon. Gentleman were correct, he ventured to think the example was one which it was desirable to follow in the present case; and he, therefore, hoped the Amendment would not be agreed to.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, if they were to have selected Councillors at all, he thought there should be a wide range of selection. He had no doubt that when the County Council had been in existence for four or five years, they would, as a rule, elect men who had been members of the Council; but he did not think the selection would be wisely restricted in the manner proposed by his hon. Friend.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE
said, he hoped the Government would not accept the Amendment before the Committee. The continuity sought for might, in his opinion, be best attained if some regulations were introduced into the Bill by way of Amendment; and he would be glad to hear from the President of the Local Government Board whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to propose such an Amendment? He thought it was necessary, and he believed the Committee would also agree that it was necessary, that some method should be devised for obtaining the continuity of administration which the hon. Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Powell-Williams) had spoken; but he thought it would be absurd for the Committee to narrow the range of selection to those who were elected Councillors. The very object of the decision to which the Committee had come was to obtain the men who would be wanted on the County Councils from outside sources.
§ MR. LONG
said, it would be impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment. The reasons for and against Aldermen had been, he thought, sufficiently discussed, and every argument that could be advanced for putting them on County Councils would apply with equal force in favour of extending, 1048 as widely as possible, the discretion of the County Council with regard to the choice of them. He thought they might surely leave the elected Councillors to decide whether the selected members should be chosen from within or without the Council. He hoped that, after the expression of opinion that had come from both sides of the House, the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, as a matter of fact, they proposed to start on their own lines with regard to the London Council, and not on the Birmingham lines. If it had been the rule of the Corporation of London to elect from within, where would have been Gentlemen like the right hon. Member who in the City represented the Cornhill Ward? He put that by way of illustration, and would ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
said, he would appeal to the hon. Member for West Southwark (Mr. Causton) in the opposite sense. He thought there were many hon. Members who would be disappointed if they did not have the opportunity of voting upon the Amendment before the Committee; the point of which was that there should be no one on the Council who had not passed through the ordeal of popular election. It was of no use for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) to argue against the Amendment on general principles. The system existed and worked well in Scotland, where every selected member of the Council was elected from amongst the elected members. One of his reasons for supporting the Amendment was that he did not desire that the only members who should remain for six years on the Council by Act of Parliament should be those who had not been elected, or who need not necessarily have been elected. If the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would make a change in that arrangement, and limit the period to three years instead of six, he should not feel the Amendment so necessary. For the reasons just urged, and because it was a weakness which ran through the Bill, that the members who were not elected were to sit for the longest time, he again appealed to the hon. Member to persevere with his Amendment and bring it to a Division. He hoped that the Govern- 1049 meat, who were ready to give fair consideration to points raised by hon. Members, would consider this subject. He asked if any decision had been come to as to an alteration of the triennial system? Because if the elections were not for the whole Council triennial, he and his hon. Friends in London would oppose any other proposal, because they desired that the elections, at any rate in London, should be triennial, as proposed in the Bill.
§ MR. LONG
said, he was not in a position to reply to the question of the hon. Member with respect to the time for which these members of the Council would be elected. As the Committee would be aware, when the point was considered at an earlier period, it was reserved for Consideration on Report. The Government made no stipulation at the time; but they said they would consider fairly the period for which the Councillors should be elected. The point raised by the hon. Member who had just spoken would of course be considered before the Report stage was reached.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
said, he hoped the Committee would not mix up the two entirely different questions of area and continuity of policy. The proper time to ensure continuity of action on the part of the Council would be when they reached the clause dealing with that special subject. He thought it would be a retrograde act for the Committee to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for West Southwark (Mr. Causton). He trusted the Government would be firm, and that there would be no disposition to limit the area from which the election for Councillors should be taken.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that any extension of the period of service for Councillors unaccompanied by the abolition of the selected Councillors would be anything but agreeable to hon. Members on that side of the House.
§ MR. R. CHAMBERLAIN (Islington, W.)
said, the hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. Firth) as a Vestryman, remarked, he was not going to learn anything from Birmingham; but he would remind the Committee that there were no fewer than six Birmingham ex-Mayors and one Alderman Mem- 1050 bers of that House. Some of them sat for counties, some for boroughs, and some for the Metropolis itself. Those men, he believed, had had greater experience of municipal affairs than almost any other Members of the House, and every one of them would vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
said, he was glad the Committee were to be divided on this question. With regard to the question of select Councillors for London, he and his hon. Friends wanted to limit the office as much as they could to those who were popularly elected. He thought that all the statistics proved that the places where Aldermen had worked best throughout the country were those in which men had been elected of tried experience on Councils and had been elected to their office as the reward for the benefits they had bestowed on their fellow citizens. It used to be the defence of the old rotten boroughs that they enabled young men of promise and ability to enter that House; and they were told if they were abolished that the advantage of their services would be lost to the country. But the rotten boroughs had been abolished, and there were in that House as many clever young men as before. The whole basis of opposition to this Amendment was want of confidence in the people, and in their ability to elect the best persons to do their work on the Councils.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 246: Majority 101.—(Div. List, No. 204.)
On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, the following Amendments made:—In page 32, line 35, after "that," insert—
Any property, debts, or liabilities of the county of Kent shall not, by reason only of this enactment, be vested in the county council of London, but;
same line, after "liabilities," insert—
And also the property, debts, and liabilities of the counties of Middlesex and Surrey;
and in line 40, leave out "arbitration," and insert "the Commissioners under this Act."
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.