§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ MR. R. K. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
rose to a. point of order. He wished to ask the ruling of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair whether it was in order 1078 for this Measure to be brought forward as a. private Bill? He submitted that, as presented to the House, it was distinctly a disfranchising Measure, and he wished to ask whether there was any precedent for similar action being allowed to be; taken by means of a private Bill, and whether the proposals which it contained ought not to, have been submitted to the House in the form of a, public Bill. His contention was that under the form of a Bill for certain purposes all lodgers, Women ratepayers, and service voters in those portions of the Borough of Southwark affected by Ibis Bill would be deprived of the franchise which they now enjoyed. The Measure proposed to abolish the St. Saviour's and St. Olave's District Boards of Works and to hand over the duties hitherto, discharged by those bodies to the Corporation of the City of London. At present the District Boards of Works were elected by St. Saviour's, Christchurch, and other vestries, and for those bodies lodgers, women ratepayers, and service voters had votes. If the Bill became law the Court of Common Council of the City of London would discharge the duties hitherto performed by the district boards. The members of the Court of Common Council for the City of London were elected by male occupiers only, which meant that a large proportion of the present voters in Southwark would be deprived of voice and vote in local matters in which they were deeply interested. The Bill also proposed to alter the powers of the Local Government Board by depriving it of its power to vary at discretion the arrangement of parishes, and to transfer the area of added parishes to a totally different kind of local government. In all these circumstances he asked the ruling of the right hon. Gentleman in the. Chair upon the question whether this should have been a public and not a private Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have considered carefully this Bill, and I ant of opinion that there is no case calling for interference on my part at this stage. The questions raised by the hon. Member are no doubt very important and worthy of the consideration of the House, but they are not matters which would justify me in refusing to submit the Bill for the consideration of the House on Second 1079 Reading. The main object of this Bill is to extend the boundaries of a borough, and that is a proper subject for a private Bill. No doubt in all such cases there are changes in local government, and the changes proposed by this Bill are perhaps more complicated and more numerous than usual; yet that does not justify me in interposing to prevent the House from expressing its opinion on the Second Reading. I therefore leave the matter to the consideration of the House. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. CAUSTON
asked whether, as the Committee to whom the Bill would be referred would have power to disfranchise, they would also have power, if they thought fit, to assimilate the franchise of the City of London to that now in operation in Southwark?
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
, on the point of order, said that the Committee would have no power to disfranchise.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think that the Question of the franchise in the City of London is outside this Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. E. H. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
, in rising to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months," said that he was much surprised that no hon. Member opposite had attempted to inform the House what the Measure really was, and what it proposed to do. Although the Bill might be technically in order, it involved, in his opinion, a serious abuse of the rules that governed private Bill legislation. The Bill proposed to extend the City boundaries by adding the parishes of St. Saviour, Christchurch, St. Olave, St. Thomas, and St. John. With all deference to the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, he submitted that the Measure was absolutely without precedent, and was framed upon lines which he hoped the House would not encourage. The Measure proposed to repeal portions of seven sets of public Acts, and, he submitted, to do so by means of a private Bill was a most inconvenient course of proceeding. There was scarcely a Government Department whose jurisdiction was not attacked by this Bill, which ran counter to the recommendations of all the Royal Commissions which had con- 1080 sidered the question of London government, while it was directly in conflict with the policy of recent legislation in reference to the question of the government of London. The right hon. Gentleman in the Chair had ruled that it was by no means unusual for corporations under the Municipal Corporations Act to come to Parliament and ask for powers to enable them to include within their boundaries urban districts which had grown up around them. But he must point out in the first place that the. Corporation of the City of London was not subject to the Municipal Corporations Act, and that it remained an unreformed corporation to this day. The Corporation sought to include within its jurisdiction an area half the size of the area which, it controlled at the present time, and a population of some 38,000. The, Bill sought to bring that large area and that large population under the operation of charters which the Royal Commission of 1854 had declared could only be interpreted by means of antiquarian research. That House was asked to take a leap in the dark by extending the areas over which the charters operated. The preamble of the Measure suggested that its provisions were founded upon an historical basis, but that was a mere fiction. The boundaries of the districts proposed to be dealt with by the Bill were not conterminous with those covered by the Charter, for it did not include the parish of St. George's, to which the charters applied, while it did include the parish of Christchurch, to which they did not apply. He desired to say a word or two about the proposals in the Bill with regard to the Poor Law Unions, which he submitted formed one of the most important parts of the Bill. The parishes which it was proposed to add to the City were at present parts of two Poor Law Unions, and the Bill proposed to take parts of those Unions and to add them to the City, and to leave certain other parts of them as they were at present. What he particularly objected to in the Bill was that it proposed to add the richer portions of those Unions to the City, and to leave the poorer portions as they were. The average rates of the portions of the Unions which the Bill proposed to deal with were 6s. 7d. in the pound, whereas the average rates of the portions that were left were 7s. 5d. in the pound. 1081 That was entirely contrary to the principles of legislation that had prevailed for many years past. During recent years that House had been doing their best to equalise the rates of the metropolis by bringing in the richer districts to the relief of the poorer, whereas this Bill proceeded in exactly the opposite direction. Indeed, as far as lie could make out from the documents relating to this Measure, the great inducement held out to the parishes that it proposed to add to the City, to assent to the proposed change, was that they would be joined to richer instead of to poorer parishes. He thought that the House ought to hesitate long before it sanctioned such a proposal as that. What view did the inhabitants of the richer parishes take of the matter? It was found that rich firms like Barclay, Perkins and Co. headed the list of those who guaranteed the expenses of bringing forward this Bill. In his opinion these rich firms by taking this course were grossly disregarding, the claims upon them of their poorer neighbours. The Bill, moreover, made a direct assault upon the jurisdiction of the Local Government Board. If there was any ground shown for rearranging the boundaries of the Poor Law Unions, there was no necessity for bringing forward a Bill for the purpose, because the Local Government Board already possessed ample powers to make such rearrangement. An hon. Member near hint, who, he believed, was interested in the City, said that the Bill left such rearrangements to the Local Government Board. He was afraid that the hon. Gentleman had never read the Bill, or that he had been led away by the misrepresentations of interested parties. The hon. Gentleman now said that the matter was left to the discretion of the Local Government Board, but that was also a misapprehension, because Clause 12 of the Bill provided that "the Local Government Board shall include" the parishes in question in the City of London Poor Law Union. Therefore, if the Bill passed the House, no discretion whatever in the matter would be left to the Local Government Board, who must act upon the orders which Parliament gave them. Moreover, as long as the Bill continued in force the Local Government Board would be precluded from making any alterations in 1082 the boundaries of the Poor Law Unions in question. Then, was the representation to be given to Southwark upon the London Common Council an adequate one? As he had already said, Southwark was half the area of the City of London, and it had a population of 38,000, and yet it was proposed to give it only 16 representatives, who were to be added to the crowd of 222 members of which the Common Council already consisted. The result would be that Southwark would be a nonentity on the Council, and would find itself the Cinderella of the household of the City Corporation. He invited the attention of the right hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) to this point, because, as Chairman of the Royal Commission, he had already expressed a strong opinion as to the absurdly large numbers of the London Common Council as compared with the 70 members of provincial councils, and it was now proposed to add 16 additional representatives to the former, instead of reducing the number. Another effect of the Bill would be that certain of the London County Councillors would have a vote with regard to the expenditure of funds to which their constituents did not contribute. He further objected to the Bill because it proposed to deal with the great question of the government of London by piecemeal legislation. There appeared to have grown up in that House an idea that London was a corpus vile upon which all kinds of experiments might be tried wit It impunity. ["Hear, hear," and loud counter cheers and laughter.] He appealed to the Members for Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool, and other large cities to do for London as they would have their cities done by, and not let there be forced upon London what they would object to. The hon. Member concluded by moving the rejection of the Bill.
§ MR. ALFRED LAFONE (Southwark, Bermondsey)
seconded the Amendment, and said he was not actuated by mere sentiment in opposing this Bill. The present Union of St. Olave's was formed in 1869 of the parishes of St. Thomas's, St. Olave's, and St. John's, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. The parishes of St. Olave's, St. Thomas's, and St. Johns, from 1871 to 1896 lost 25 per cent. of their population, but the population of Rotherhithe 1083 and Bermondsey increased by 16,000 or 17,000, and the rateable value of the three parishes which sought to be separated from St. Olave's amounted to an increase of :30 per cent. from 1871, and Bermondsey and Rotherhithe increased in rateable value to the extent of 50 per cent. These were remarkable figures. At the same time there was an increase not only of indoor but outdoor poor. Indoor poor increased about 60 per cent., and outdoor poor about one-third. Indoor and outdoor poor relieved from 1886 to 1896 increased 70 per cent. This was what they had to look in the face. What would be their position in Bermondsey if such a Bill as this passed the House? The promoters of the Bill were owners and occupiers of wharves and warehouses from Horselydown to London Bridge on, the one side, and St. Saviour's Union on the other. They had managed between 1871 and 1896 to get rid of a population of 3,833, a decrease of 25 per cent. They had not done less work, but were doing infinitely more, and earning through the people they employed large sums of money. But they had not any convenience for housing the population. He was not speaking in exaggerated terms when he said that there were thousands of men employed on the wharves alone who could not find housing accommodation within the same area, and had to come to Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. The result was some of the workpeople would go through their daily work at the wharves, and when too ill or too old to continue their work, they would be thown on the Union, and one-fourth of the whole of the rateable value of the Union was to be taken away and hardly a fraction of the pauperism. Parish Street Workhouse, with 355 inmates, would be taken away. In the parishes of St. Thomas's, St. John's, and St. Olave's, the number of paupers were small in proportion to population. If the three parishes were separated and one-fourth of the rateable value of the Union taken away, the Local Government Board would say, "You shall not continue to use the old Tanner Street Workhouse. You must pull it down and go outside the area and build another." The lowest cost of replacing the present workhouse was £180,000. This outlay would have to be borne by the two-thirds rateable value still left. Over and above 1084 this there were £50,000 old debts, which would have to be liquidated out of the rates. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill put the rates of the different parishes far too low. The present rates in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe were 8s. 1d. in the pound. If the proposed severance took place it would add 5d. in the pound to the rates, quite irrespective of the enormous amount which would be absolutely necessary for the building and furnishing of the new workhouse. The promoters of the Bill proposed to go back 350 years and take advantage of a charter of that time which gave certain privileges. What had the House to do with 350 years ago? They had to look at the state of things to-day. The Bermondsey Vestry, St. Olave's Guardians, Rotherhithe Vestry, the Vestry of St. George the Martyr, the Guardians of St. Mary Newington, St. Saviour's Union, and the City of London Union, had petitioned against the Bill. But it was said that it was "only a matter of clauses." What clauses? Would Bermondsey and Rotherhithe get back the £15,000 a year they would lose? How were the clauses to be worked out? If he was satisfied that his division of Bermondsey was so safeguarded by these clauses that they would lose nothing from the rates, he would be perfectly satisfied to vote in favour of the Bill. But he knew it was utterly impossible to produce such a result. The Bill not only seriously injured the interests of the ratepayers of the two divisions, but affected the interests of the poor. They would be driven out of St. Thomas's, St. John's, and St. Olave's, and if sick and thrown on the rates, they would have to go miles over to the City for admission to the Union workhouse. When the matter was looked at from the point of view of £s. d. it could not be entertained for a moment. The Bill was simply a selfish attempt to throw responsibility upon others. He should vote for the rejection of the Bill, and he hoped when the House had heard the case for its opponents, they would say that no. Bill like that would ever be brought forward with any chance of success.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
supported the Bill. He said he believed he should be able to show that the constituents of the hon. Member for Southwark could be amply protected by the 1085 Committee to whom he hoped the House would send this Bill. Not only had he heard no objection to the principle of the Bill, but, in what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Bethnal Green, he found a full justification and defence of the Bill. The hon. Member appealed to the Members for Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham not to force on London what they would not like done in the case of those places. But year after year large areas were added to those cities, and last year, to the borough he himself represented, it added, by a private Bill, a considerable area of population and rateable value. On what ground? Because there was an existing form of government extending over the municipal area into which the inhabitants of those districts outside wished to go to get the benefits of that government, and of association with a large municipal corporation. If Parliament had, against the will of outlying districts, insisted on extending the area of municipal corporations in order to get a larger strength and efficiency of municipal government, á fortiori it should do so when the outside district wanted to come within the area. It seemed to him that this was a very ungracious opposition. Knowing a good deal of the locality, he thought there was a very strong desire on the part of a large majority of people in the district to be associated with the great City to which in many respects they belonged, and with which they had an historic and most interesting connection. This Bill was the result of the spontaneous action of the people of the district, who asked to be admitted to the advantages of association with the Corporation, and the Corporation had unanimously approved the request. Moreover, this was not an ordinary ease of an area outside a corporation desiring to be added to it, and the corporation being willing to receive it. There was something more than that—namely, that, for nearly 330 veils there had been a considerable and Hose connection between Southwark and the City of London. His hon. Friend, to his horror, had scoffed at the idea of a charter of 350 years ago. [Opposition cheers.] He could quite understand it from the opposite side, lint there were many of them who believed in the value of charters, and who thought that many old charters had been quite as beneficial 1086 to the communities to which they had applied as had been many Acts of Parliament. ["Hear, hear!"] There was 350 years ago this charter, by which Southwark was intended to have been annexed to the City of London. Since that time the City of London, which had large estates in Southwark, had drawn revenues from those estates, which were used to the great advantage of Southwark as well as of the City. The City appointed a bailiff for Southwark, it appointed a coroner for Southwark, it held Court Leet by its Recorder within Southwark, and there had been some—he agreed very imperfect—approaches to corporate life between Southwark and the City of London. If this had been the case of one of our large towns he believed no one would have complained, but directly they touched on the City of London, and there was an opportunity of the London Comity Council circulating a statement against the Bill, then a great deal of strong feeling scented to be aroused. The Corporation of the City of London over and over again had been spoken of with disrespect and dislike, because it was said that the advantages of its great possessions and great administrative establishments were confined to so small an area; but now, when the Corporation was prepared to share these advantages with the people of Southwark who desired them, the cry was raised, "Ho not let these people ally themselves." Why was that? Was it because it was thought that it would make the City of London stronger, in view of future arrangements of the government of London? It might be that; but considering that the City of London had not confined the advantages of its great wealth to its own area, but hail expended that wealth in ways by which places lying outside its boundaries had greatly advantaged, it was an ungracious thing to attempt to refuse, to those who desired it, the opportunity of associating themselves with the City id London. It was said that the river was the natural division between Southwark and the City of London, and that if they carried the City across the river they would have boundaries which it would be difficult to define or observe. He did not understand that objection, because the boundaries between the City of London and the County Council's administration were of precisely the same 1087 character as would be found in Southwark. A part from the Tower Bridge, on which the Corporation had spent over a million of money, besides spending six thousand a year on its maintenance, there were three great bridges—the London, Southwark, and Blackfriars Bridges—which were policed, repaired, and maintained by the City of London. It seemed to him that it would be an advantage if the approaches to those bridges from the other side were under the same control. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green had said that by Clause 10 the charters of the City were to be enforced with respect to the added area, and asked who knew what these charters were. The answer was very simple. The charters of the City had existed for centuries; and it was because the people on the south side of London knew that its government was most effective and admirable that they wished to come within its area. Then it was said that there would be river police patrolling between the two sides of the Thames, and that that would interpose an obstacle between the administration of the police on one side or the other of the river. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green must have been in sore straits for an argument before he made such a suggestion as that. With regard to the complaint that the Local Government Board would be ousted by Section 12 of this Bill from its authority, he would refer the hon. Member to Section 45 of the Bill. Although the effect of the Bill would be to make a sort of immediate order for' carrying it into effect, the powers of the Local Government Board would remain absolutely unaffected by the terms of the Bill. The Bill was opposed by the three hon. Gentlemen who represented the three divisions into which, was now separated the borough of Southwark, which, some years ago, he had the honour of representing for a short time.["Hear, hear!"] A very small portion of each of those three constituencies would is' added to the City of London by the Bill, and while the inhabitants of those portions of the constituencies wished to join the City—[cries of "No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"]—the inhabitants of the larger portion of each constituency were naturally afraid that their burdens of local taxation would be increased by the Bill. Hence the opposition to the Bill of those 1088 three hon. Members. Apart from the question of rating, he believed that his action in supporting the Bill more completely and accurately represented the inclinations of the people of Southwark than the opposition of his hon. Friends; but, in regard to the question of rating he agreed that his hon. Friends had a sound case. ["Hear, hear!"] He was, however, sure that there would be no objection on the part of the promoters of the Bill to insert in Committee such clauses as might compensate the districts represented by his hon. Friends for any loss it might be proved they would sustain by being deprived of a valuable rateable area. But he thought the idea that Bermondsey and Rotherhithe would lose £15,000 a year could not be sustained by figures. He hoped, therefore, that the persons who, dealing with their own interests, asked to be allowed to carry out this union, would not be prevented by the House when they were willing to take such steps as would prevent any injury to others in the process.
§ MR. CAUSTON
said he would like to ask his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth where he got his information that the overwhelming majority of the people of the districts affected desired union with the City of London. In West Southwark, which he had the honour of representing, public opinion was entirely opposed to the Bill. Petitions in favour of the. Bill were got up and signed before the drafting of the Bill was completed, when those who signed were, of course, ignorant of its details. After the publication of the Bill a public meeting, called in its favour and organised by Mr. Kelly—a gentleman with whose name the House was familar—was held at the Bridge House Hotel, at which the Chairman of St. Saviour's District Board of Works presided. A resolution in favour of the Bill was proposed, but the meeting decided by 34 votes to 14 that the Bill should be opposed. On the other hand, after the Bill had been for some time before, the public and its proposals had been carefully studied, a very largely attended public and representative meeting was held at the Temperance Hall, Blackfriars, as the St. Saviour's Commissioners had refused to grant the use of the Baths for the purpose. He presided at that meeting, he should say there were about 700 1089 persons present, and a resolution in opposition to the Bill was unanimously passed. His hon. and learned Friend said that the desire for union was spontaneous on the part of the parishes of Southwark. A petition in favour of the Bill which had been circulated through Southwark stated that all the costs, charges and expenses incidental to the Bill would be paid by the Corporation of London, so that the Measure was really the outcome of a laudable desire on the part of the Corporation of London, and he could not say that the matter had been approached in a manner satisfactory to those who were in favour of good local self-government. As Member for West Southwark he was absolutely opposed to the Bill, on the ground that it was a tinkering piecemeal proposal of London local government reform.["Hear, hear!"] While it would be of no benefit to the parishes proposed to be included in the City, it would be grossly unfair to the parishes of Newington and St. George-the-Martyr. ["Hear, hear!"] His hon. and learned Friend had denied that it was a disfranchising Bill. At the present moment the District Board of St. Olave's and St. Saviour's were elected by the vestries, which were elected by the occupiers, and the lodger, women, and service franchise voters; but under the Bill only the occupiers would be entitled to vote for the Common Council. Therefore, under the Bill a large number of voters who elected the vestries would be deprived of this district control over local affairs. The Borough Market, which could not be better controlled than at present, would be handed over to the Corporation of London, when no doubt the expense of its management would be increased, and its benefits to St. Saviour's diminished. Another point which had been ignored by his hon. and learned Friend was that the additional charge on the parishes of St. George-the-Martyr and Newington, consequent on St. Saviour's union being deprived some of its richest parishes, would amount to a sum equal to a rate of 3d. in the pound. His hon. and learned Friend had also declared that the desire for the Bill was great; but even the Court of Alder men had presented a petition against the Bill, and asked the House of Commons to throw it out. The magistrates of the Newington district had also passed a resolution strongly in opposition to the Bill, and other petitioners against it were— 1090 the Governors and Guardians of the Poor of St. Mary, Newington; the Vestry of Bermondsey; the Guardians of the Poor of the St. Saviour's Union; St. Wave District Board of Works; Vestry of St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark; Vestry of Rotherhithe; City of London Union Guardians of the Poor; Guardians of the Poor of St. Olave's Union; and London County Council. Then there was the opposition of the London County Council. [Ironical cheer.] The County Council must occasionally be right, and there was very little difference within the Council to offering opposition to this Bill. He appealed to the right hon. Member for Croydon, who had been much associated with London reform, to oppose the Bill in the interests of pod local government and of common sense. The question should be considered apart front party politics. The two parishes included in the Bill apparently desired to join the City of London. But they only expressed that wish through the vestries, and without any appeal having been made to them on the Bill. He hoped the House would save the opponents of the Measure the trouble and expense of appearing in the Committee rooms.
§ MR. LAFONE
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. EDMUND BOULNOIS (Marylebone, E.)
said that his name appeared on the Bill, but he had no connection with the City or with Southwark. To say that the Court of Aldermen and the Guardians of the City of London Union were petitioning against the Bill was rather misleading. They were petitioning merely to obtain a locus before the Committee. Already, to some extent, Southwark was under the jurisdiction of the City; already they had an Alderman, thought not an elected Alderman; lad naturally the people of Southwark objected to dual control—to being under the City for some purposes and under the County Council for other purposes. He was not surprised that they sought to escape from the latter jurisdiction. There were many precedents for the proposed amalgamation. Farringdon, Cripplegate, Bishops-gate, Aldersgate, were all cases in point; 1091 and as late as 1885, in connection with the Tower Bridge Bill, the City took over a portion of the adjoining district. The opposition to this Bill on the part of the County Council was comprehensible, and consistent with all the aims and desires which had always been for the amalgamation of the City with the rest of London. This Bill had very likely put an end to anything in that direction. Southwark itself was not so large as to desire a charter of incorporation for itself, and, therefore, it naturally wished to come under the wing of the great Corporation of London. He believed that the solution of the great problem of London government was to be found in the creation of separate municipalities; and where the geographic and other conditions were suited, Parliament should encourage any movement in that direction. The whole question was clearly one of boundaries, and he hoped a Commission would soon be appointed to settle these important it boundary questions. Southwark had a moral right to join the City, and the House was not a proper place to discuss the details of the scheme. Of course, clauses could be inserted in Committee to prevent the excluded portions of Southwark being made poorer by the Bill.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said that he could claim to hold a mandate from almost every elector in his constituency to offer to this Bill a vigorous opposition. They thought that it had been conceived in fraud and born in secrecy. [Laughter.] Not one per cent. of those affected by the Bill had ever seen it or knew anything about it till it was in print. Not five per cent. of the inhabitants of the whole district knew anything about the Bill until two or three weeks ago, when public meetings were held to protest against it, and then ninny electors came forward to say that when they signed the petition for the Bill they were completely ignorant of what its results would be. He protested against the Measure as overriding the principle laid down in the Equalisation of Rates Act, that all in a great community should share alike in the support of the poor. Southwark had been at the gates of the City for centuries, but the Corporation had never come forward to take it under its œgis. It had, rather, used it as a human dustheap, for shooting the poor whom it had driven out of its own 1092 boundaries. A huge bribe had been offered to the people of Southwark by representing that certain services now performed by the County Council would be in future performed by the Corporation, and paid for out of the Corporation Estates. But those estates were not now so flourishing that Southwark could hope for much from them. The result of the Bill would be that the poor of Southwark would have to go two miles to get their wants relieved by the City poor authorities, and they would lose all control of their own Poor Rates. Then, as to the police, there was no natural boundary to divide the included parishes from the rest of Southwark; and, as one elector had said, it would take two constables to arrest a man. As the Justices of the Newington Division had said, not only a complete reorganisation of the police, but a new local police court would have to be established. Taking that point of view, there was a good deal to be said against the Bill. Lastly, there was a point which had not been touched upon at all, which must seriously affect those whom he represented—namely, the question of the tramways. When these tramways were handed over to the County Council the advantages of such transfer would be lost to the people of Southwark, and they would have one portion of the tramway under the jurisdiction of the City of London and the other under that of the County Council. He represented, perhaps, the greater proportion of the printers of London. There was a time when these men's forefathers lived wholly within the City. They were now driven without the City, and they were now to have an extra rate placed upon them through no fault of their own. If there was one thing he protested against more than another, it was making radical changes for no definite purpose, and making them in the interests of one small selfish portion of a great area. Of course, he did not deny that a small number of individuals, who owned warehouses lining the banks of the Thames, were most anxious to be included in the Bill; but the great bulk of the population, and especially those whom he represented, strongly objected to it.
§ MR. J. CUMMING MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe)
said that as his constituency were very materially interested 1093 indeed, he was bound to say a few words about the Measure. The portion of the constituency close to London Bridge—the portion which was covered with large buildings and immense wharves—would, if the Bill passed into law, be relieved of a certain amount of rates; naturally that portion was in favour of the Bill. On the other hand, of the large population, the working men who went to work on those wharves and in those warehouses, the great majority lived in Rotherhithe, and, if the Bill passed, their rates would be increased, and they were a great deal too high already. He would oppose this Bill to the end; and if, by doing so, he jeopardised his future position as Member for Rotherhithe, he must accept the consequences.
§ MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddington)
regarded this Bill as having far more than a local character, and expressed his surprise that the Government, and not one Department of it only, but two Departments, should give the House no guidance and advice while large powers were being taken out of their hands by a private Bill. If this Bill became law it would subtract from the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police a very large area of the metropolis, and hand it over to the City Police; that, was to say, it would take it from under the Home Office and place it under another authority altogether. The County Council for once was placed in a happy position. It got an Exchequer contribution to maintain the police in this region which was sought to be transferred. The Bill made no provision for taking away that contribution, and the result wits, as he calculated, that the County Council would get £7,000 a year for doing nothing. As regarded the Local Government Board, it wits one of the functions of that Department to look after the arrangement of parishes in the metropolis as all over England. The Board arranged them into unions. But Section 30 of the Bill took all the parishes of the area in question out of the hands of the Local Government Board, disjoined them from their existing arrangements, and transferred them to another union altogether. The effect was astounding. The unfortunate pauper at present in Southwark would, for the future, have to go from the south of London across the bridges all the way to Smithfield, 1094 there to get the relief he now obtained somewhere near his own door. Again, the Bill took the whole of this region out of the jurisdiction of the metropolitan magistrates and transferred it, for civil and criminal purposes, to the City aldermen. Not only that, but if the Bill became law it would leave the district in this situation—that, should a fire occur there would be Ho authority front the City or from the other parts of London which could enter and put it out. The same was true of technical education. There would be no technical education authority in this area if the Bill passed, because the County Council would be deprived of its powers, and the City would have no equivalent powers. So with regard to the law which regulates buildings in London. The truth was, this was a carelessly-drawl Bill. And it was. It interfered to a large extent with the existing powers of the Government, and it was matter of astonishment no Member of the Government should have risen and explained why it was they were prepared to allow powers of their own to be taken away which existed under the general system of law now on the Statute-book. Reference had been made to the alleged great advantage of this Bill, that it would be a precedent for the splitting-up of the metropolis into smaller municipalities. That was an interesting declaration, but the importance was, that it was made in the teeth of every Royal Commission that had sat on the subject, the recommendation being that this should be clone, if at all, as part of a general scheme, and not piecemeal. The hon. and learned Gentleman made a most extraordinary declaration. He said tint the City Ancient exercised jurisdiction over all this area. He wondered whether his hon. and learned Friend had been amt the pains, as he had been, to find out what the area, was which was to be transferred to the City? If his hon. Friend referred to the old records, and particularly to the second Report, made in 1836, by the Royal Commission on Municipal Boroughs in England, he would find this question of area dealt with, and he would find a map showing what was the old area belonging to the City. So far front this being the area dealt with in the Bill, it was a different area. He admitted that a part of it was included, but the Bill proposed, at the same time, 1095 to pick out of the centre of this area a part which it suited the City to take, to leave out a part, and then to include a part which was never in the jurisdiction of the City at any time—the Liberty of the Fleet and the parish of Christchurch. The Bill excluded the parish of St. George-the-Martyr, which was part of the City, and which this time the City did not take because it was a poor part. Indeed, the Bill altered the whole basis of Local Government in the district; it gave it a different franchise; it transferred it from a cheap and economical system of administration to a dearer system; it transferred tramways to the City, whereas at present it had not an inch of tramway in its jurisdiction; it transferred the Government of the district to the Commissioners of Sewers, a body which the City were seeking to abolish, and proposed to place it under the Court of Common Council, whose franchise was different from that of the vestries; and it cut about the local Government of the Metropolis, in respect of area, in a way which no other Measure presented to Parliament had attempted. What was proposed should be done as part of a general scheme, and as a public Measure.
§ SIR J. BLUNDELL MAPLE (Camberwell, Dulwich)
opposed the Bill. Generally speaking, he was opposed to the majority of the London County Council, but in the present case thought this was a Measure which the House ought, for the present, to refuse. It was absurd that the City of London should seek to come across the Thames, and to annex a portion of Southwark to the City. He should like to hear from the President of the Local Government Board what effect the Bill would have on other parts of London. It no settled all the Metropolitan areas, all their system of Local Government, Police, County Council Elections, the apportionment of rates, and School Board divisions. [Cries of "No!"] Those were important questions, and to include them in a private Bill was absurd. All these questions were of great importance, and should not be brought within the scope of a private Bill. The, Bill, no doubt, was brought forward to serve some interest. There were, in his opinion, two interests to be served. First of all, there were certain payers of rates in Southwark who would 1096 like to come under the Corporation of the City of London, and, secondly, the Corporation of the City would like to say they were willing to take their poorer brethren across the Thames under their charge. This was an entirely new feature. He hoped that the Bill would be viewed by the House from a wide standpoint; but he thought that it was not required in the interests of London itself. It was opposed by the London County Council, and lie believed that it would be a bad precedent to allow the City of London to pick out certain portions of the Metropolis and to leave other portions to look after themselves.
§ THE SECEETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. T. W. RUSSELL,) Tyrone, S.
said a direct appeal had been made to the Local Government Board to state what their views were on this Bill. It had been pointed out that in one part of the Bill certain duties now devolving on the Local Government Board were taken away. But in another part of the Bill certain duties that did not now devolve on the Local Govern meat Board were placed upon it; and in matters of that kind the Local Government Board were in the hands of Parliament. There was, however, one portion of the Bill which peculiarly affected the Local Government Board. The Bill proposed to take two parishes out of two unions—St. Saviour's and St. Olave's—and to transfer them to the City of London. In the parishes of St. Saviour's and St. Olive's there were a great many poor; in the City of London there were very few. It was hardly correct to say that the ratepayers of these parishes desired to be transferred to the City of London, because that view would be open to the charge that their direct interest as ratepayers was involved in the change. The real question which the Local Government Board had to consider was this. These parishes which were proposed to be transferred were the richest parishes in tile two unions, and to take these parishes from them would be to leave the rest of the Union in a very critical state indeed. It was all the more serious because, as the hon. Member for Bermondsey said, the Local Government Board had been insisting within the last six months upon the erection of a new workhouse by this very Union of St. Olave's. He 1097 thought his hon. Friend had overestimated the cost, but still it would be a considerable sum, amounting to £80,000 or £100,000. The important matter in the Bill from the point of view of the Local Government Board was that there was no adjustment of liabilities clauses in it. That was a very serious drawback to the Bill, and it would be for the House to consider whether the offer made by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth to insert these adjustment clauses in Committee was a settlement of the point that could be accepted. So far as the Government was concerned, those were the views that were held oil those points that concerned the Local Government Board. It would be for the House to decide on its own responsibility whether the Bill should go to the Committee upstairs.
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Local Government Board had responded in some measure to the ' appeal made to him, but no more imperfect reply could well be conceived. [Opposition cheers.] His hon. Friend had treated the problem as if it were wholly wrapped up in the adjustment of liabilities between the unions, but the burden of the appeal which was made by the hon. Member fur Haddington was as to what view the Government took of this Bill as affecting the question of the government of London. The whole question of the government of London was wrapped up in this Bill, and what were the views of the Government on the question He ventured to say that, whatever their policy was in respect to the future government of London, they must have some view in regard to this Bill. If confined to what it proposed, the Bill was in itself a comparatively small one. It was an extension Bill, said his hon. and learned Friend, fortified by innumerable instances from other municipalities in the country. Other municipalities had brought in extension Bills, no doubt, to extend what was the nucleus of a town so as to correspond to what it hall increased to. This Bill was not brought in ' in that fashion. It was brought in by a small outlying portion desiring to be annexed to the City of London. If the City of London had met its obligations some years ago there might very possibly now be an extended City of London so as to cover the whole municipal area, and it 1098 might rise to that height even now. They might conceive the City of London extending over the whole area, or they might conceive the County Council coming in to cover the City. In either case this Bill was not put forward in relation to that great problem. It offered no suggestion to its solution; it was, instead, a bar to it. [Opposition cheers.] The suggestion was something of this kind—they had got a rich area, and outside it rich and poor areas, and the comfortable, rich area was to be included, leaving the poor parts attached to the same area to take care of themselves. [Opposition cheers.] Did any municipality ever bring in a Bill of that kind, and did Parliament ever consent to support a Bill of that kind? The Bill was not consistent even with the proposal to create independent municipalities. It was a minor extension proposed with the faint hope, really most innocently suggested by the Lon. Member for Marylebone, that thereby the City would become so strong that it might be able to with stand till attempts upon it for the future. Even if the strength of the City were increased to this extent, it would still be but feebleness if that was all it could rely upon. [Opposition cheers.] This was a question which concerned the future government of London. Had the Imperial Government any policy for that? If it had any policy, it must have a view with relation to this Bill, and he ventured to say that, whatever policy they had adopted—if they had adopted any, and he dared say they had—they must have some opinion in regard to this Bill in relation to that policy. This Bill touched a great question—not a question confined to the particular area now proposed to be dealt with, but the great question of the Government of all London, the question that Parliament had always reserved to itself and refused to allow to go to a Private Bill Committee.["Hear, hear!"] He confessed to a strong opinion that this Bill ought not to be supported as a private Bill, but that it was a great public question which should be dealt with, if at all, by a public Bill.
§ MR. ALBAN GIBBS (City of London)
said this Bill was not promoted by the City of London. The City had adopted it for the simple reason that they were asked to do so by the particular body promoting it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin intimated that 1099 the City ought to have extended itself over the whole metropolis. He did not know whether the City wished to do that, but certainly he did not wish to see them do it. He wished to see moderate-sized municipalities which grew naturally, and when an outside body wished to come into such a municipality he thought it should be allowed to do so. It was for that reason he supported this Bill. The only other argument brought forward was with reference to the financial liabilities. The hon. Member for Plymouth had stated that the promoters were prepared to put in clauses to settle that question properly. He thought the House should accept that promise as far as the Second Reading was concerned, and then, when the Bill came back from the Committee, if the clauses were not satisfactory to the House, it was open to the House to reject the Bill on the Third Reading. He thought the House would do very wrong if they did not allow the Bill to go to a Committee.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said that what they wanted to know was the view of the Government as to whether matters affecting the administration of the Local Government Board ought to be dealt with in a private Bill. The Secretary to the Local Government Board, in his statement, only touched on one point which, however important in itself, was only a matter of detail. He thought they were entitled to a reply to the question as to what the Government's view was with regard to the transference of a certain district from the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police under the Home Office to the jurisdiction of the police under the Corporation? He would like to ask the President of the Local Government Board—in the absence of the Home Secretary—whether he did not think this transference of power would lead to many matters of difficulty between the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police and the jurisdiction of the police under the Corporation? Further, they had a right to ask the Government whether they thought it right and expedient that a considerable number of the citizens of the metropolis should be transferred from the jurisdiction of stipendiary magistrates under the Home Office to the jurisdiction of the amateur magistrates of the Corporation of London. They were also entitled 1100 to know what the Government's opinion was with regard to the disfranchising clauses of the Bill, and the dealing with the government of the metropolis in this piecemeal fashion. Surely if it were desired to take in hand the splitting up of the metropolis into minor municipalities it ought to be done after due consideration and by means of a public Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. W. O. CLOUGH (Portsmouth)
denied that the City Corporation were advancing money for the promotion of the Bill. The promoters of the Measure had subscribed no less a sum than £3,000 towards the expenses of its promotion. Who were those promoters? They had heard from the hon. Member for Southwark that part of his constituency were in favour of the Bill. The Corporation did not approach Southwark or any of the parishes concerned. Those parishes approached the Corporation. An hon. Member below him had said the Court of Aldermen had petitioned against the Bill. There was a good answer to that statement, namely that they presented a petition in order to obtain a locus standi. So long ago as 1895 the Vestries of St. Saviour, St. Olave, St. Thomas, and St. John, Horselydown, presented a petition to the Court of Common Council, praying that they might be admitted to the Corporation. The petition was referred to the. Court of Aldermen, and they recommended that the prayer be granted, and the Lord Mayor referred the matter to the Court of Common Council. It was Southwark who approached the Corporation, and not the Corporation Southwark. The guardians were not unanimous by any means in their opposition to t he Bill, and it was abundantly proved that the ratepayers in what was described in the Bill as the added area, were in favour of the Measure. It was true the Bill might have the effect, as stated by the hon. Member for Bermondsey, of increasing the rates in one part of his division; but on the whole the City of London had nothing whatever to gain by the financial 1101 arrangement which it was proposed should be made. The rating in the future would practically be left what it was now, and the City would have to pay the same as now, In many parishes the rates would be substantially reduced, but as regarded the City of London it would not be a gainer, though he did not think it would be a loser, by the inclusion of the parishes.
§ MR. J. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
thought that one of the strongest arguments in favour of the Bill was that a long neglected duty which should have been fulfilled by the London County Council with regard to the southern approaches to the Tower Bridge would be fulfilled by the City of London. While a large sum of money was spent by the Corporation of the City upon the Tower Bridge, the southern approaches to that tine structure had been left in a disgraceful condition owing to the divided counsels of the County Council. As to population, it had been said the City was constantly pouring its poor outside. It was quite a mistake, as the City had within its area the best built and best managed artisans dwellings that could be seen in London. He did not anticipate any difficulty from the point of view of the tramways or the police, and as to wharfage frontage, he asserted that if there was one duty which the City had discharged to the satisfaction of everybody, it was that of sanitary authority. The Bill would put under the control of the Corporation a large amount of wharfage, but he was quite certain they would administer the affairs of the wharves on the southern side of the river in the same satisfactory way they administered the wharves on the northern side. It had also been urged against the Bill that the poor would have to walk to Smithfield to get relief. He had not the least doubt that the Guardians would make some provision so that they could administer relief on the spot. On the general question he admitted that he regarded the Measure as an instrument towards the establishment of separate municipalities in the metropolis, towards which end he was sure both sides of politics were tending.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
appealed to the Government to give them some direction as to the Bill, which dealt with the future gov- 1102 ernent of the metropolis. He did not go as far as some hon. Members with regard to the government of the metropolis, but unless Ministers were prepared to give the House sonic information the Debate ought to be adjourned. ["Hear, hear!"] The Chairman was absent from the House, which would have been natural if the Government had been going to give them some direction. But they had no inkling of what the Government view was, and when the hon. Member (Mr. Russell) sat down he left them in doubt as to the way in which he would vote. The hon. Member expressed the strongest disapproval of one portion of the Bill, but he did not express any approval of the other parts of the Bill.
§ SIR C. DILKE
said that was his case. The hon. Member was the only Member of the Government who had spoken, and he confined himself to one particular point. He had given the House no opinion for or against the Bill. He did not take the technical objection that this ought to have been a public Bill, but there could be no doubt as to the importance of the Bill as to the future government of London. It was impossible to pass the Second Reading, however, without some guidance from the Government. ["Hear, hear"] Surely in a matter which involved the breaking up of the control of the police, as this Bill did, and the Home Secretary having left the House, they ought to have the opinion of the Government.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. HENRY CHAPLIN,) Lincolnshire, Sleaford
said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman to complain that the reply of his hon. Friend was inadequate and imperfect.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he had heard the remarks of his hon. Friend, and he thought them perfectly appropriate to the occasion. [A laugh.] It could not be expected that on a private Bill he should go into the question of a great policy. He thought that his hon. Friend exercised a wise discretion. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] As to what was to happen to the police, that was a matter more for the Home 1103 Office than for the Local Government Board. Hon. Members knew that the Home Office would have to make a Report on this Bill, precisely as the Local Government Board would have to report, and those matters would be dealt with on that occasion. This was a private Bill, discussed at great length by the House, and the House, having heard all the arguments that could be adduced, was perfectly in a position to come to a decision for itself. [Laughter.] He thought the House could arrive at that decision without any assistance so far as he was concerned.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
, who was met with cries of "Divide," said they were being called upon without any advice from the Government to vote for a Bill which, if it be passed, would materially affect time question of London government. The right hon. Gentleman said that was a private Bill, but surely that was no reason why he should back out of the responsibility which devolved upon hint. ["Hear, hear!"] Had the Government, or had it net, an attitude on this question of the future government of London? The last election was largely fought on that point, and if the Government were not prepared with a scheme it was their duty to stop the Bill, which must entangle any solution they might choose to offer.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said he should certainly vote for the Bill, but he regretted that the Government had not thought it proper to give some distinct statement. London was very keen on this great subject, and it should be borne in mind that the London Members formed a large proportion of the majority which supported the Government. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought it was not too much to expect that the Government would give the House some idea of their views. He regretted extremely that they were left in the dark.
§ Question put:—The House divided:—Ayes, 169; Noes, 187.—(Division List, No. 138.)
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.