*THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
The first Amendment standing in the name of the honourable Member for Hoxton, is out of order, because it proposes to alter the framework of the Bill by making certain additions which are not stated in such a way as to enable the Committee to come to a decision.
In page 1, line 6, to leave out the word 'exclusive,' and insert the word 'instead,' thereof.—(Mr. Haldane.)
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
in moving his Amendment, said he wished to make quite clear what the Amendment was really to effect. The Committee which sat to consider the better government of London, and which reported in 1894, advocated the extension of its area and the making of a great municipality, with subservient municipalities around it. He did not, however, raise that proposition by this Amendment, which accepted the proposition of the Government to take the area of the administrative county of London and divide it into a number of so-called boroughs, and deal with those boroughs so as to give them uniform constitutions and sets of powers. In the 120 square miles which made up the administrative area of the county of London there was one square mile of remarkable character—the City of London. It had an ancient Corporation, with powers of its own, and, although it would form one of the new bodies which the Bill proposed to establish, it was remarkable that the Bill proposed to do nothing to alter its constitution. The Government could not plead in defence of the line they had taken, in leaving the City intact, that there was no material to go on, for three great Commissions had investigated the subject, each of which, although they might be divided on other points, unanimously reported that the constitution of the City, which remained untouched by the Municipal Corporation Act of 450 1882, was unsatisfactory, and urgently called for reform at the hands of the House. That had become more urgent at the present time when they had to speak of the corporation and constitution of the City. The local government which existed in the City until a few months ago was of a very different character from what it was to-day. Within the last 18 months there had been an entire renovation of the powers of the Corporation of the City of London which was not accompanied by any alteration in the constitution. In 1897 a Bill was passed through the House—a Private Bill—and it was always a little unfortunate, in his opinion, with regard to London matters, that so much should be done by way of Private Bill, which made a great change in the City of London. Honourable Members might remember, when the City was exempted from the Municipal Corporations Act, London government went on on very different lines from the local government in other parts of the country. Instead of new powers being given to the reformed Corporation under the Public Health Act, they were covered by means of special statutes given to a Commission called a "Commission of Sewers," A remarkable state of things was seen when the City was invested with new powers 18 months ago, and yet nothing had been done to bring its constitution into a more modern shape. He asked the Committee to consider the condition of the City of London with that of the new municipal boroughs which the Bill proposed to set up. The new boroughs would consist of 72 aldermen and councillors, together with a mayor, the number of aldermen being 18 and councillors 54. These councillors would be elected on a simple franchise, and women would be eligible for office in the manner provided under the Bill. But in the case of the City they had not got an ancient and complicated franchise, but an unwieldy governing body. The Parliament of the City might be said to consist of the Common Council. The Common Council consisted of 206 members, elected in a very complicated and antiquated manner, and they formed altogether a cumbrous body. Then, there were a number of aldermen—24 or 26 he believed—and these, again, were elected 451 in a very complicated fashion for life, and they also had certain important powers. Then there was the Lord Mayor, who, instead of being elected by either of these bodies, was elected by yet a third body, the Common Hall, which, consisted of liverymen. But their franchise was not really to elect a Lord Mayor, because, through custom, it had been the practice, not to elect, but to make selections under a certain rule by which they sent up two names, not to the Common Council, not to the representative body, but to the aldermen. Well, what had been the effect on the City? The elections had become altogether uninteresting to the people. The City, which had a very large population qualified to vote, was made up of people who did not take the trouble to vote at all.
§ MR. HALDANE
Compared with the elections in other parts of London, those in the City were the merest farce. They did not, moreover, get the best men to serve. The days had long since gone by when the proud title of the Lord Mayor of the City of London was associated with the Lubbocks, the Rothschilds, the Gibbs, and other well-known families, who bore in the minds of the public the distinction of being leaders in the City. There were, of course, brilliant exceptions, and there were honouroble Members opposite who had filled that post with great distinction. In the majority of cases, however, the Lord Mayor had ceased to be the important functionary in the City ho used to be. There was a still more serious condition of things when they came to consider the power that the City wielded at the present time. It exercised powers dealing with the metropolis as a whole; it controlled the markets at Islington and Smithfield, making a profit thereon. It controlled open spaces beyond a certain limit; it controlled its own police, a power which had been denied to the rest of the metropolis; it controlled the bridges. The City was the port sanitary authority; and, finally, it occupied an important position in regard to the Central Criminal Court—no small matter. All these things were, he contended, an irresistible argument for giving a better constitution to the City, rather than 452 leaving it with a worse constitution than that which it was proposed should be given to the bodies to be set up. Another feature of the City was that there was no provision for the paying off of its debt. Again, as to the boundary question, the City was pleading for an extension of its boundaries. By reason of the exclusion of the City the Bill made no provision for machinery to extend its boundaries. In conclusion, he said he proposed the Amendment with no desire to shear the City, and he could not believe that the Government would allow the Amendment to go past without giving some ground for refusing it, and the removal of the grievance which it sought to redress.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The question raised by the honourable and learned Member is precisely the same as that raised by the Amendment moved to the Second Reading of the Bill, and the House on that occasion determined that the Government were acting wisely in not including any alteration of the constitution of the City within the purview of this already sufficiently complicated Measure. The honourable Gentleman has said the position of the City is such, and the responsibilities of the City are such, that we ought to give it, not a worse, but a better, constitution than those we propose to give to the other municipalities created by the Bill. The words "good" and "bad" in connection with any constitution in the world—certainly municipal constitutions among others—are, alter all, relative terms, and the fact that a constitution is in actual operation and that it is in working order, and that it works well, is, in my opinion, a very strong argument for leaving it alone. I think that, when the honourable Gentleman gets up and makes an attack on the constitution of the City, he should have shown that in its actual working it has proved ineffectual. One of the main objects of the Bill in regard to other parts of London is to provide a constitution which shall give to these municipalities all the dignity which municipal work ought to command. That dignity the City of London already possesses, and that alone differentiates it, and, I think, differentiates it in a very marked manner, from the other 453 areas with which we have to deal That being so, the honourable Gentleman is bound to prove that the constitution of the City of London in practice has worked with hardship either to the citizens of the City or to some other body of the citizens of the metropolis. He has not done so, and, therefore, he seems to me to have failed in carrying his argument to a successful issue. Of course, no one denies that the City is in many respects anomaleus—that it does not fit in either with the new constitution we propose to establish, or with the existing constitutions of the great municipalities in the provinces. But the anomalous character of the City of London is in no small degree due to its ancient, history. The very fact that it is anomalous is a proof that it has descended to us through long centuries of English history, and if these anomalies cannot be shown to carry in their train practical ill effects, I confess I shall see them altered with very great regret. I think it will be admitted that if we are to carry this Amendment, and put, down on the Paper all the consequential Amendments which will be involved, we shall introduce ourselves into an area of controversy which will make it extremely difficult to pass the Bill within any reasonable time. There is no maxim of practical politics more solidly established than that it is fatal to attempt to deal with every part of a complicated matter in one Measure. Under the conditions of modern legislation it is folly to attempt it. On the merits of the Amendment I cannot think of accepting it; but, even if I were prepared on the merits to accept the Amendment, I should, as a practical legislator, as a person more less responsible for the allocation of the time of the House, say that the alteration or reform of the City should be deferred to a separate Measure and a different Session. Nothing in this Bill makes it more difficult than it was before to reform the City; there is nothing in it which stereotypes existing arrangements. As the Minister responsible for the conduct, of this Measure, I must protest that I cannot have it complicated and overweighted by a number of questions which will inevitably arise if I am for a moment to contemplate the possibility of accepting the honourable and learned Member's Amendment. I hope, Sir, the 454 Committee, will follow the example of the whole House, and, by a large majority, reject an Amendment which I think, in its results, will be almost fatal to the Bill.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said he should like to put a few points before the Committee in reply to the remarks of the right honourable Gentleman. The right honourable Gentleman had said that Epping Forest had been gained for London through the action of the City. That was precisely correct, but by what means did they do so? They did so not by drawing upon their own private purse, but by drawing upon the coal and corn dues obtained from London as a whole. With reference to the statement that little interest was taken in the wardmotes of London, he was in a position to state that little more than 1,000 out of 30,000 on the register atended the 26 wardmotes to elect 200 councillors. He found that in the great ward of Broad Street, out of no fewer than 2,301 voters on the register, and with eight, members to be elected, there was only an attendance of 21 at the wardmote meeting. Coleman Street Ward, with 1,580 voters on the register, only showed an attendance of 31 at the wardmotes; Farringdon Without, with 5,175 voters on the register, showed 42 attendances at the wardmotes. It could not, therefore, be denied that the amount of interest taken in the City elections was comparatively little. His contention was that it was impossible to adequately reform the area of the County of London as a whole if they were to place one part, and that the most important part, in a different position from that which the other areas occupied. It had been said that the City was well governed. It was governed in such a way that the Corporation expenditure was something like £800,000 per annum and that of the, City Commissioners of Sewers £400,000, or a total of £1,200,000. This was a vast, expenditure for an area of 659 acres and a, resident population of little more than 30,000. If the remainder of London were to be governed upon that principle he should like to know what the expenditure, would be, and what would be the amount which the poorer portions of the metropolis would have to pay. 455 Civil government cost over £70,000 a year, collection and management of rates considerably over £40,000, the London Central markets over £100,000, and magistracy and police not far short of £50,000. Donations, pensions, etc., stood for more than £20,000; while educational expenses figured for only £15,500 odd. Moreover, a sum of about £30,000 had been lost to the Corporation in six years on account of friction between the Commissioners of Sewers and the Board of Guardians, the loss for the past year being no less than£10,000. What Liberals all desired, and more especially those who represented areas outside the City, was to have their fair share, not in the wealth, but in the dignity of the great City of London. He would give an analogy. What would have been thought, for example, of the great architect of the Houses of Parliament if, when erecting the buildings, he had taken no notice whatever of Westminster Hall, or of the cloisters built by Henry VIII., or of that portion of the building where the original chamber of the House of Commons stood? The fact that he harmonised the whole was one of his great claims to greatness as an architect. This was precisely what they wanted to do with reference to the City of London. They had no desire to destroy the great Guilds of the. City—at least he had none—but what he did say was that they ought to take their share in forming one of those areas of which Greater London was to be composed. If the City was to be permitted to continue to hold the position it now held, without taking its share in providing its own poor as the head of the great metropolis, then he for one, was bitterly opposed to the new scheme.
On the return of the CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES, after the usual interval—
§ MR. LEUTY (Leeds, E.)
To any-one accustomed to the vigorous life, both political and corporate, of the large towns of the country, it seems a great misfortune that the Corporation of the City of London has been strong enough hitherto to prevent reform coming within its own borders. This has distinctly deprived the metropolis of that influence in the country which it ought to have by reason of its enormous population and in many other ways. Who 456 shall say that the great power strikingly exercised by Birmingham a little while ago was not, to be largely attributed to the fact that Birmingham got the full benefit of the reform of 1835 which the Corporation of the City of London successfully obstructed, and through which there had been much legislation which might have been saved. If there were any doubt on that point it would be dissipated by the Report of the Royal Commission of 1893, presided over by Mr. Courtney, which said that—If the two great principles of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835—viz., first, extension of area, and, second, reform of constitution—had been applied to the City of London half a century ago, much subsequent legislation might have been spared, and there would obviously have been no necessity for the present Commission. To complete the work then left undone, and, as far as possible, on similar lines, in order to bring London into harmony with the other municipal corporations of the country, seems to be the proper solution of the problem with which we have to deal.We have heard a great deal lately about the repayment of debt, but the abuses that are perpetrated by the failure of reform are illustrated by the way in which the City has been permitted to deal with its debt. Some of the debts of the larger provincial cities are very great, but their assets are greater. Moreover, Parliament insists in the case of these provincial cities that their assets, even when these consist of land, must be paid for in a maximum of 60 years, though many have to be paid for in much shorter periods. But the Corporation of the City of London may borrow money for street improvements, which can hardly be called realisable assets, and if any part of their debt is paid off it is done by the expedient of the sale of properties. Then there is the injustice which arises from the different assessments made by different bodies in London. There ought to be one rate which would fall equally on all those bodies. It is useless making a rate of a shilling if it falls in one part on real value and in another part on a fancy figure considerably below real value. The evils of assessment are exaggerated in the City of London from the number of the parishes and the smallness of the population in some of them, and from the fact that many individual properties are found to be in as many as three parishes and have to be assessed by three different authorities. 457 An attempt is made to grapple with these evils so far as they affect the metropolis by clause 13 of the Bill, but why that effort has not been extended to the City of London it would be difficult to show with conclusiveness. It may be said that there would be greater difficulty in dealing with it in the City, and that the Bill is sufficiently complicated already without introducing the City. But the Bill does not seem to me to be particularly complicated, and it would have been more to the credit of the Government if, instead of speaking about complications and difficulty of working, they had set their hands to the work and dealt with those evils in the unreformed condition of the City. Again, the failure to reform the government of the City has caused great waste of money. The cost of administration by overseers within the City is just user £24,000, while the cost of administration in the proposed new borough of Chelsea, which is about the same size, is £3,000, or an eighth of the cost of the City. In the mere matter of registration the cost to the City is £4,000, and in Chelsea £600. The establishment, including the collection of rates—and I presume that it will not be urged that the great expenditure in the City is caused by the large amount of ground that the collector has to go over from one house to another—costs in the City just under £16,000, whereas in Chelsea it is a little over £1,600. These figures ought either to be shown to be wrong or the Government ought to give some more cogent reason than the difficulty and complexity of the subject for refusing to deal with it. I am afraid that the influence of the City has been so great with the Government as to secure not the advantage of the City, but rather that it will continue hampered by old and expensive methods. But if there is one thing proved conclusively from the past history of the various attempts made to grapple with the reform of the City it is, that the longer the delay in the matter it does not become easier, but that it will increase in difficulty and magnitude.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, Elland)
The right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury began his speech by complaining of this discussion having been raised by my 458 honourable Friend. Now, Sir, I think it is as well that the Committee should make up its mind that this discussion is not the same as that on the Second Reading of the Bill. The discussion on the Second Reading of the Bill was chiefly on the powers to be exercised by the new authorities and by the City and the County Council respectively. The question we are discussing is the foam of the government of the City alone Honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House should not, as they appear to have done, form a conspiracy of silence, and apparently make no attempt whatever to answer the real arguments that are put forward on this side. The right honourable Gentleman who introduced the Bill in his first speech about it said that the Bill was intended to complete, as far as may be, the local government of the metropolitan area. I should have thought that anyone who introduced a Bill of this kind would have first considered what particular local body required most reformation in its constitution. Our argument in bringing forward this Amendment is, that of all local bodies which exist in London that which most demands internal reform is the City and not the vestries. We are perfectly ready to admit that the vestries are not ideal bodies, but the City needs a great deal more reformation than the vestries and the other local bodies. I will add a few facts to those already brought forward to show that the local government areas within the City of London are clumsy, numerous, and a cause of great expense to the City; that a great deal of simplification is required; that the government is not truly representative and is largely irresponsible; that the management of the finances of the City is bad and under less control than in the municipalities. To take first of all the question of local government areas within the City, I put aside the question of the different wards which elect the Common Council. It is true that they are numerous—more numerous than they should be—more numerous than any Commission which ever sat thinks that they should be. I point out that there is another local government area besides the wards which deserves our consideration. These are the parishes for the purpose of overseeing the City, and these parishes number 112. Some of them are not much more than a 459 single acre in area. The Bank of England extends over three of them, and entirely includes one of them. All this is, of course, a source of very great expense indeed to the people of the City, so much so that the City pays to these authorities a sum of £24,608, whereas Chelsea for the same purposes and with an area just a little larger than the City pays £3,050. I therefore want to know how it adds to the dignity of the City—which is the only argument brought forward by the right honourable Gentleman in defence of his exclusion of the City from the Bill—to waste this money every year. It is no revolutionary suggestion that the City should be, at any rate, assisted to spend rather less money than in this wasteful manner. I go on to the question of the system of election. We on this side of the House are not necessarily enamoured with any one particular system of election. "That which is best administered is best." But there is a very strong probability that if you have not got a system in which the people of the district take any interest, a system which actually causes, by its complications, that the people cannot take any interest in it, it is extremely likely that such a system will lead to bad administration. We say that the system of the election of the mayor, for instance, by a body quite other than that over which he will preside, and the system of the election of the Common Council, is not one that is likely to lead to good government in the City. Now Lord Salisbury, who is very fond of attacking the London County Council, sometime ago made a speech, in which he said—The vice of the body is that it represents so large a community that men will not take an interest in its election.That was an a priori argument of the Prime Minister which fell in with his views of what things should have been with regard to the London County Council, but it does not in the least fall in with the real facts of the case. As a matter of fact, in the elections of 1892, 42 per cent. of the electors went to the poll; in 1895, 48 per cent. voted; and in 1898, 50 per cent. went to the poll, which shows a steadily increasing interest all round in the affairs of the London County Council. Now, I will turn and put Lord Salisbury's test to 460 the City of London, and see what becomes of the vice of the men that do not take an interest in their local elections. I take the years when you would have expected that the City of London would have taken the greatest interest in the election of its Common Council, namely, the years 1893 and 1894. Those were the years in which there were proposals made for the amalgamation of the City with the London County Council. Those were the years when the defenders of the City themselves tried to urge those who were voters in the City to take some part in the elections. Upon this occasion the "City Press" wrote the day before St. Thomas's Day in 1894—The City elections this year will, no doubt, be watched as they have never been watched before, and it is important that citizens should show that they mean to maintain the local institutions and privileges which have been handed down to them.Now what was the result of that appeal, and what was the result of the other appeals made to them to come and defend their privileges, which one would have thought was the first thing they would have been desirous of doing? We found that in the Lime Street Ward, where four members had to be elected, that out of 591 voters, there was only an attendance of 14 in one year, and 12 in another.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
There was not a contest, and there was generally an average of one contest in the course of a year. Now, is there any other body or constituency in the country that would be satisfied with returning the same men every year, and with practically, I am bound to say, allowing these men to return themselves, for in the figures I am reading there are included all the candidates who are standing for the different wards, of whom there are between 8 and 14 in the different wards of the City. Certainly the people in the City themselves do not regard it as a matter of great credit to themselves in reference to this entire indifference which is taken in the elections. In one of these areas, in the ward of Farringdon Without, there were 5,175 voters, and in one year 42 attended, and in the other 29 attended.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
There was no contest. In this election, one of the gentlemen present asked a question. According to what appeared in the "City Press"—Mr. Shires asked what the Government or the County Council would think if the representatives of either body attended a meeting such as that. Out of 5,000 electors, there were not 50 present. They took no interest in their own affairs, and the apathy was enough to make one's blood run cold.I say that such a system as this is not worthy of imitation. If the Government of the City was one to which no reproach could be attached at all; if there was nothing to say beyond this, that they did not take an interest in their elections, the point would not be of much value. But the point is, that the City in many quarters is very seriously criticised, and the fact that they themselves and their representatives care so little about criticism that they go on returning the same members as they do at present, is only an additional proof that some kind of reform is wanted. I call attention also to another fact. There are in the Corporation 232 members. Now this Bill which has been brought forward by the Government is partly directed to reducing what is undoubtedly the too numerous membership of the various vestries throughout London, and I should have thought it was worth the attention of a reforming Government on those lines to have considered whether the Common Council ought not to have its numbers reduced to something like a working number. The result of the action of a body which is so elected is, at any rate, serious, and worthy of consideration in one respect. There has never been any sufficient answer given as to why the finances of the City are in the condition in which they are at the present time, and why year after year there is a deficit; why no economies are practised, and why the debt goes on increasing. Why are the finances of the City in this condition? Why, when Parliament is reforming London government, should it choose to leave out the City of London and extend to it a privilege which is not extended to any other corporation of involving itself in debt which it is 462 not bound to repay by a certain date? As long as the Corporation is open to this criticism, I think the Government is bound to consider whether the City should not be put on a different basis. On this side of the House we have no feeling of dislike against the City on account of the antiquity of its institutions, for there is nothing which we are more likely to be proud of than its antiquity. We were proud of the City in the old days when it sent out trained bands to fight for the liberties of the country; we were proud of the stand made for Wilkes, and we are proud of what the City did in 1832. All that we want on this side of the House is that that antiquity should be continued in modern hands, and should be vested in some body that can carry it on under some system by which it may be enabled to continue its good work, so that we may still be proud of its present existence as we are already proud of its antiquity.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I was waiting to see whether anyone would rise to reply to the excellent speech hade by my honourable Friend who has just sat down. No one having risen, I take it that no answer can be given to the very strong indictment which my honourable Friend has made against the present government of the City. We have had only one speech from the other side, and therefore I will revert to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. That speech was one of a kind in which, since I have been a Member of this House, I have grown very familiar with whenever the question of the reform of the Corporation of the City of London is raised, and it is this, that however appropriate it may be, the occasion is not now, and however relevant the subject matter of the Bill before the House may be, we are always told that it is not a convenient season. I remember very well the passage of the Local Government Act of 1888, and upon that occasion the present President of the Board of Trade was strongly opposed to the inclusion of the City Corporation within the purview of that Bill. Now what did the right honourable Gentleman say in reply. He said—The Government do not regard this as a complete Measure for the reform of local 463 government in London, and we hope, on some future occasion, to bring in a Bill dealing with the local area of London.And then he went on to say—One of the local areas in London, of course, will be the City.Now, I think we have a very fair claim to say that that opportunity has arisen to-day to which the right honourable Gentleman then referred, and that, as one of the local areas in London is the City, we are fairly entitled to press the Amendment which is now before the House. The First Lord of the Treasury said that the question which is raised by this Amendment has already been discussed upon the Second Reading of the Bill. I venture, with all respect, to distinctly traverse that statement. What was really decided on the Second Reading was that the Government were not willing upon the present occasion to amalgamate the City and the London County Council upon the lines more or less suggested by the Commission presided over by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin. I, for one, reluctantly, of course, accept that decision. I recognise that the Government is still determined to exclude London from its proper inheritance, and that that one square mile included in the City is still to continue to absorb the prestige and the honour and the control of things which properly belong to London as a whole. I accept that, but if I correctly apprehend the Amendment now before the House, a very different question is raised, for the objects at which this Amendment is directed are, if I may say so, upon a very much lower plane than the object which this House sought to obtain by the Amendment which was moved the other day, for the object this Amendment mainly has in view is recommended by businesslike considerations and considerations of administrative convenience which must, I think, be as welcome and agreeable to the ratepayers in the City as to the ratepayers in any other part of London. The right honourable Gentleman gave illustrations of the kind of reform which he desired to see carried out if his Amendment were accepted, and perhaps I may be permitted to add to his illustrations one or two more. Take, for instance, the case of the overseers and the duties which they discharge. Now this 464 Bill, as it is drawn, proposes that in each metropolitan borough the borough councils shall combine the overseers, and that where there is more than one parish within the borough they shall appoint the same gentlemen as overseers for all the parishes. That is as the Bill is drawn, but there are Amendments from both sides of the House which desire the simplification of the matter, and to make the borough council, without the intervention of the overseers, discharge the duties which the overseers have hitherto performed. This evil which the present Bill seeks to correct exists in an exaggerated form in the City of London, where you have no fewer than 112 parishes with separate sets of overseers. Surely, the simplification which you desire in London as a whole should be applied also to the City, where there is far more reason for applying it than in other parts of London. Then, again, this Bill deals with assessments to this extent—it provides that under certain conditions the borough council shall appoint the assessment committee. That is a reform in a businesslike and practical manner which is much more ugently required within the square mile of the City than outside. What do we find in the City? Why, we find the most insignificant areas as units of assessment. Each parish is the assessment authority. My honourable Friend mentioned a moment ago that the Bank of England is situated in three different parishes, and wholly absorbs one of them. May I add to what he had said that the Bank of England actually appoints its own overseers, and itself assesses that part of its property which constitutes the whole of one parish, and it is also the dominating influence in the assessment of the adjoining parishes. And with what result? The Bank of England, for rating purposes, is assessed at something over £55,000. The London County Council states, up in the authority of expert opinion, that this £55,000 as the valuation of the Bank of England is grossly inadequate, and ought to be considerably over £100,000. But what can the Committee expect when the Bank of England is actually allowed to assess its own property? Just one word more before I sit down. The question of auditing has been raised, and there appears to be an impression, from some 465 cheers which have been raised from the other side of the House, that the City Corporation is so absolutely immaculate in regard to its proceedings that it is almost sacrilege to raise this question of the audit. I wish to speak respectfully with regard to the City Corporation, but I cannot forget that since I have been a Member of this House there has been a Select Committee which has inquired into the expenditure of the City Corporation, and it found that in 1888 a special committee of the Corporation of the City of London had spent enormous sums, amounting to thousands of pounds, out of the City's estate in a grossly improper and indefensible manner in subsidising bogus associations. In these circumstances, I think you ought to give to the City of London the same advantages, at least, and the same benefits which are given with regard to audit which you are applying to the rest of the metropolis. I only desire to say that I hope it will be understood that this Amendment certainly raises a different question from that which we discussed on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I cannot for the life of me understand why ratepayers in the City of London should object to be included in the businesslike and practical reforms which are being applied to other parts of the metropolis.
§ MR. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I think it is to be regretted that we are to be allowed to discuss this Bill without any attempt being made to reply to a very important Amendment, which raises a matter which I think the Committee is fully entitled to discuss. I heard the whole speech of the right honourable Gentleman, and what I am complaining of is that there is a conspiracy of silence in regard to this Amendment, and I would therefore make an appeal to honourable Members on the other side of the House with regard to this point. I think I may say that we have no desire to obstruct this Bill, or to destroy it. But when Amendments of importance are proposed, I think we should have a reasonable discussion upon them. In his very short speech, the chief argument of the right honourable Gentleman was that we had already discussed this matter on the Second Reading, and therefore there was no necessity to discuss it again upon this 466 occasion. I think my honourable Friend has shown quite conclusively that the point which he now proposes is a totally different one to that which we were discussing on the Second Reading of this Bill. The point then was the question raised by the Report of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin, namely, whether the City should be amalgamated and practically absorbed by, the London County Council, and whether the whole of London should be brought under the government of one body in that way. What, at all events, will be raised if the Amendment is carried is whether certain powers which the City has at present should or should not be transferred to the central body governing, the whole of the metropolis. I do not think that this is a large question, as stated by the Leader of the House. His argument was, as I understood it, not so much going into the merits of the case, as the fact that this Bill did not raise the question of the City at all. I think the point I have in my mind in regard to this Amendment is, that there are certain reforms proposed in regard to the rest of the metropolis which is largely managed by the central body, and the City alone is excluded, and that other powers which the City has are not given to the rest of the metropolis, and which might very usefully be transferred to the London County Council. The right honourable Gentleman stated that by leaving out the City he did not prejudice the question, but on an occasion like this, when you are raising the whole question of London government, is it not most seriously prejudicing the question by leaving out altogether one section of it? It is quite certain that the House of Commons will not allow the same question to be discussed over and over again within a limited number of years. In consequence of not touching it on the present occasion, the result will be that the House will be prevented from discussing the question for many years to come. The honourable Gentleman said my honourable Friend had not put his finger upon any blots in the government of the City, and had not shown any particular matters which should be reformed; in fact, that he had not made out his case for proposing any alteration in I he present system. The answer to that is that we have had a Royal Commission, which 467 pointed out very serious blots of omission and commission on the part of the City, and it pointed out something like twenty matters of great importance which it was necessary to reform, and I believe at the present moment, which is more than 40 years after that Commission reported, only about 10 per cent. of these reforms have been instituted, and every one of them of the smaller degree. There were reforms proposed with regard to the election of the mayor, aldermen and the Common Council, the selection of whom was to be placed on a more popular basis, and the reason given was that they were doing to deal with these matters as questions of practical reforms. This met with the greatest possible opposition, and they had not the least intention of carrying out these reforms. I know that the honourable and learned Member for Ply-month said the other night in the Second Reading Debate that the City required no reforms. All I can say is that I do not think we should take his view upon the status of municipal reform as of very great value, because the Committee will remember that he made an emphatic declaration that the Metropolitan Board of Works was the best form of municipal government which this country had ever seen. A man who sets that Board up on such a high pinnacle has not much idea, of what municipal reforms ought to be. The right honourable Gentleman in his speech has put the whole basis for this Bill which he has introduced on what I think is a right and sound business footing, namely, to give greater dignity to these local bodies, and he says that if you do that you will get a better set of men to manage local affairs. He also said that the City had got that dignity. All I say is, that they may have got the dignity, but they have not got the men. I am not speaking disrespectfully of those who govern the City, but I think every member of the Committee will admit that those principally interested in the City, such as the merchants, the capitalists, and the bankers, and so on, either practically ignore the whole government of the City, or take very little part in it, because it has no attractions for them. I think that shows conclusively that in the City they have not succeeded in attracting the best sort of men. My honourable Friend behind me urged one or two points in which it is perfectly clear that there is plenty of room for reform. 468 There is the question of the audit and the question of loans. I do not want however, to bring the right honourable Gentleman's attention so much to there particular points which have been made and which have shown that there are great blots at present in the government of the City, but what I want to bring out is this—that this Amendment in my opinion, is not director against the City as such, but is drawn up in the interest of the great community and the better administration of the metropolis as a whole. There are two classes of powers which the City has at the present moment, and I do think that some Amendment ought to be introduced into this Bill to enable us to discuss whether or not any of those powers should be transferred from the City to the London County Council. There is one in which the City practically administers far the whole of London, and over which it has entire control, and there are other powers which the London Count; Council at, the present moment administer in the rest of the metropolis, but not in the City. Reference has been mad already to the question of the markets, and surely that point is one in which we ought to have an opportunity in this Bill of discussing. That subject in entirely in the hands of the City of London. I think we ought to be allowed to consider whether the markets should be in the hands of a central body which would represent the interests of the metropolis at large. I am not going to say anything in regard to the administration of the markets, although I am bound to nay that, there has been a good many allegations which appear to have some foundation in regard to the management of these markets. There is the sum of £120,000 a year profit on those markets, and most of that money goes to the relief of the rates in the City instead of to the rates of London as a whole. Therefore I say that this is a matter which we are entitled to discuss here, for the reform in connection with these markets is one which ought to be carried out for the benefit of the whole of the metropolis, for it is not right that the profits of the markets, which are derived from London as a whole, should go to one small portion of the metropolis. Then there are other matters to which I have referred, in which the County Council have the power and jurisdiction on through- 469 out the rest of the metropolis, but not, unfortunately, in the City as well. There was one question that ought to be controlled by the central authority for London. He did not think it was right that the City should get rid of its obligation under the Artisans' Dwellings Act, and at the same time get rid of its proper share as against the rest of the metropolis. The question of bridges was also a matter which affected the whole of the metropolis, and ought to be also under the control of the central authority. He desired to say that, so far as he was concerned, he had no desire to attack the City; he merely wished to bring it into closer touch with the rest of the metropolis.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
It appears to me that it is not needful to go into details as to the grievances brought against the City. Honourable Gentlemen will observe that these criticisms, be they well or ill-founded, are not really relevant to this discussion. All the questions which have been touched upon are questions of interest and importance; but surely it is in the just jurisdiction of any Government to say whether they will cover the whole subject in their legislation, or whether they will be more moderate in their endeavours and cover only a part. We think that the Bill would be overloaded if we dealt with all the subjects that have been specified. I do not think that there are any abuses connected with the City of London which call specially for immediate reform, but even if there are, I think we are perfectly entitled to ask the Committee to deal with the area, limited, indeed, though it be, but still surely large enough for our efforts for one Session, and which are contained between the four corners of this Bill. The honourable Gentleman complained that we have so drawn the Bill that a large number of topics which ought to be discussed cannot be discussed. The honourable Gentleman must, indeed, have a grievance When the subjects which are left in the Bill are not sufficient to satisfy the most omnivorous appetite. The course which we have pursued does not prejudice at all any scheme for the reform of the City. It does not lay down that in the opinion of Parliament the City ought not to be touched. It does not imply that the reform of the City of 470 London, if it is desirable, shall not be a subject which shall be dealt with by Parliament in some future Session; but it does say that in the course of the Sestion of 1899 it is sufficient for the Committee to deal with the vast area to which this Bill applies, and we may limit the discussions to that area, and leave untouched the complex problems Which the enlargement of the City of London must invariably involve.
§ MR. BURNS (Battersea)
said the right honourable Gentleman was entitled to any opinion he might hold as to the limits of the Bill, haying regard to the large majority which he could command. The House was confronted with a Bill for the better government of London, and it did seem ridiculous to leave out from its discussion an authority which controlled Epping Forest on the one side and vast commons on the other, as well as the markets of the old metropolis. If it suited the convenience of the Government to leave the City untouched this Session, it was the misfortune of the Committee and not their fault. The fact was that successive Governments were afraid to include the reform of the City when they set about reforming other parts of the great metropolis. He was not more tender towards the City than the right honourable Gentleman was towards the area of Westminster, the Strand, Mile End, and Stepney, the local lives of which were to be disintegrated on the ground of good government. He thought the City was capable of reform and needed it, and it was a remarkable fact that it was to be left out of the Bill. Why it should be left out he failed to understand, especially when they had regard to the safeguards with which the new municipalities were to be surrounded, which were not to apply to the City. The new localities were to be subjected to an audit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the President of the Board of Trade, and could not spend 3d on a cup of tea, whilst the City could spend £22,000 without exception being taken. If the City was not to be included on the ground of its antiquity, then he submitted that that in its present form could not be defended on that ground. It was no more ancient than a vestry. If they went into history some vestries had a claim to be left alone, but what would be done to those which asked 471 to be left alone The Government cut down the members of them from 102, on the ground it was too large a number, to 70. The City, which was a very small area, had 206, which were to be left untouched. With regard to public works, he thought that London had a right to ask that those works which were performed by the City at the cost of London as a whole should not be left in their hands any longer, but that they should be taken over by the central authority, the County Council. It was not fair for a city with 31,000 night population and one square mile to levy a heavy duty on 5,000,000 of people of Greater London, and whether that was the appropriate opportunity or not he protested against such a course. Some honourable Members on the other side were only too anxious to defend the City when it was right or wrong, and they could never hear the word City "mentioned unless they heard the magic words 'Epping Forest." He ventured to say that if they had had a great municipality for London, including the City, they would have preserved more of Epping Forest than the City had; and if the City had represented the whole of London there would have been more parks and open spaces. The City, perhaps, was in some respects the most extravagantly administered square mile in the world. Admitting that the square mile was widely different from any other square mile, the amount of money spent on roads, paving, etc., was considerably disproportionate to the number of acres that were kept in order. Much that the City got credit for was what was done by other bodies. For instance, the City ought to look after its fire brigade. At the present moment the London County Council was responsible for the fire brigade and many other branches of work requiring close supervision. The City did not even do its main drainage. The fact was that the City did the more ornamental civic duties on an extravagant scale, while much of the effective work within its area was remitted to the County Council. The same fault was to be found with the assessment work of the City. The Bank of England was assessed at £55,000 a year rateable value, while on the County Council scale it ought to be assessed at £108,000. The State, for reasons best known to itself, let the old woman of Thread- 472 needle Street off very lightly. No Government, however, ought to allow such a difference to be made by taxing the food of the poor in Billingsgate and Smithfield markets. The sum of £22,000 per annum was spent on the Mansion House and Lord Mayor, while £120 per annum only was spent on administering the Shop Houses Act. The administration of the City was bringing about a state of things which first begat apathy, then indifference, maladministration, and corruption. He believed there was but one remedy, and that was to make the Guildhall the centre of the 119 square miles of Greater London, with the five or six millions of people within its jurisdiction. He wanted to see the City in its right place, representative of that City of London which Members on both sides of that House represented; and it was because he believed that the City could no longer stand without reform, and that this was the opportunity for it, that he should vote for the Amendment of his honourable and learned Friend.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
said he thought a few words should be said on behalf of the City in reply to some of the statements made by honourable Members opposite. His honourable Friend the Member for Poplar left the Committee under the impression that the City made a large profit out of the markets. It was quite true that on the Foreign Cattle Market there was a profit, but on the other markets there was a loss.
§ MR. BUXTON
said that the latest returns showed that, taking the last seven years, there was a profit on the markets of £50,000 a year.
§ *Sir J. LUBBOCK
said he was informed that there was a loss on the markets as a whole. Probably his honourable Friend made no allowance for interest and sinking fund. His honourable Friend said that if the Tower Bridge had been built by the London County Council it might have been placed on a different site. He believed the general opinion in the City was that the most convenient site had been selected. The honourable Member for Battersea said that Epping Forest was bought by the City with other people's 473 money, but he should like to know who those other people were. Then the honourable Member proceeded to tell the Committee that the fire brigade and sewers in the City were kept up by the London County Council, but he omitted to mention the important fact that the City paid an eighth of the whole expenses of the fire brigade and the sewers. As regards the administration of the Shop Hours Act, the great bulk of the population left the City early, and there was no reason why the shops should be kept open late at night. Then, with reference to the Guildhall, even if the City were treated precisely Ike other districts, the Guildhall would still be required for City purposes. Every part of London had its own hall. So much for the reasons given for including the City. He had the honour of addressing the House on the Second Reading, and the reasons he then gave why the City should not be included had not been touched upon in the Debate except as regarded the points he had mentioned. Then he came to the question of the advantage it would be to the City to be included. The honourable Member for the Elland Division stated that there were not many contested elections in the City, and that the Common Council was improperly elected. It is quite true that there were not many contested elections in the City, because if a man stood well in the City it was useless for a stranger to oppose him. They took great care to get the best amen, and when they got them they thought it wise to keep them. He entirely denied, however, that there was any indifference or apathy in the City in reference to municipal government. He believed there was no part of the metropolis which possessed more civic life than the City, and he was surprised that the honourable Member for Battersea should have made such sweeping statements without facts to support them. It was a remarkable circumstance that the honourable Gentlemen who attacked the City came from Scotland and the North of England. The bankers, the merchants, and the manufacturers of the City of London made no complaint of the present administration. He thought the Committee would agree that those engaged in mercantile affairs in the City were likely to know What was the best in their own interests than Gentlemen who came from the North.
§ MR. STUART (Shorediteh, Hoxton)
said he was sure the Committee was very glad that someone had risen from the other side to defend the position of the City, and no one was better able to undertake that task than the right honourable Baronet. There were two concurrent groups of points urged in the Debate, one not germane to the Amendment, though the other was. The points Which had not been answered by the right honourable Baronet were very distinctly germane to the question before the Committee, which was, how would the Amendment really affect the method of the internal government of the City? They were about to create certain boroughs in London with certain powers. They were going to alter the powers of the governing bodies, and the question raised by the Amendment was whether the City of London was to be submitted to that operation also. He would recall to the Committee some of the points which it was necessary to answer. For instance, they were going to alter in the other districts of London the action of the assessment committees in the interests of sound assessment He had sat for years on the Royal Commission on Local Taxation, and he was convinced by the evidence that on the whole the assessment of the local districts of London was better carried out than the assessments of local districts in any other part of the country with one great exception—the City of London. The Report of the Commission showed that the assessment of the City of London was exceedingly badly conducted. It was largely under assessed, and most irregularly assessed, and the result affected the receipts of the whole City of London. He therefore wished to know why the assessment of the City was not to be dealt with. The reason for its bad assessment was perfectly clear. It had 112 assessing bodies, 30 covering less than a couple of acres, and something like 20 having less than 30 inhabitants. How could the assessment be properly conducted under these circumstances? Why was not the City included in the Bill even in that respect. He assumed that the object of the form of words in the part of the Bill they were now considering was to exclude the City from that and other reforms, although the City needed the reforms which were to be conferred in the boroughs. There 475 was another reform he would mention. The City audit was extremely bad and absolutely insufficient, and no one would say it was satisfactory. The Government were about to improve the audit in the other districts, not as he would wish, but according to the best of their lights. That was provided for in clause 10, sub-section 2. Why should not London be brought up to the level of the other districts in that respect? Then, again, the borrowing powers of the London County Council were to be transferred to the Local Government Board. Why were not the borrowing powers of the City to be dealt with? It was not any advantage to the citizens of London that they should be able to borrow money without a sinking fund. The result was a stationary and unreduced debt—an evil which it would be well to get rid of. The City of London had also the right to sell its property without the leave of any supervising board. Other vestries in London had that right at present, but it was going to be taken away from them. Why was not that reform extended to the City, and why was not the method of rating proposed in the Bill to apply to the City? All these were matters in which it could not be contended that the position of the City was satisfactory. In fact, it was highly unsatisfactory. He should like to put a question to the Chair as to the effect of the Amendment. The words in the clause were—The whole administrative county of London, exclusive of the City of London.The Amendment was to substitute "inclusive" for "exclusive." It was pot the case, as had been frequently stated, that the City was not dealt with in the Bill. Clause 8 contained the words—This section shall apply as if the Common Council of the City of London were a council of a metropolitan borough.He wished to know whether if the Amendment where not carried they would be precluded thereby from moving the addition of words to other clauses similar to the words he had quoted from clause 8? For instance, clause 4 dealt with the appointment and duties of overseers and collectors of rates. Would it be open to them, if the Amend- 476 Ment were now rejected, to move at the end of that clause the following words—This section shall apply as if the Common Council of the City of London were a metropolitan borough.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I think we are entirely misconceiving the effect of this clause. As I conceive it, it only says that the whole of the administrative county of London, except the City, shall be organised in a certain specified manner, but that that organisation shall not apply to the City. The question dealt with in this clause is not the functions of the new boroughs, but their organisation, and the adoption of the Amendment would simply be to subject the City to the same organisation as the other boroughs, leaving undoubtedly the City with its present functions, which would constitute a question for subsequent consideration. We are now rather confusing the question of organisation with the question of the functions of the City and the other parts of London. We are now discussing the organisation; and the question of functions, which may separately arise, is not affected by it.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
It seems to me that the first three clauses deal with the establishment of metropolitan boroughs, and the effect of the words, "exclusive of the City of London," being retained is simply that the machinery for the establishment of metropolitan boroughs throughout London is not to be applied to the City. I will not go any further than that. If any Amendments affecting the City of London arise at a future stage, I shall be prepared to deal with them when they are reached.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Do I understand you to rule, Sir, that if these words are retained it will still be competent to move at a later stage Amendments dealing with the existing powers and functions of the City?
*THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
It is rather a point that I wish to avoid giving a decision on. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. When we reach that stage I shall be prepared to deal with the matter.
§ MR. STUART
said he would very briefly conclude the remarks which had elicited the Chairman's ruling. He again asked for a reply to the points he had raised, which were completely germane to the Amendment.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
The right honourable Baronet who represented the University of London rather neglected one point, namely, the principle involved in markets in other areas in the metropolis being left subject to the authority of the City. Surely the boroughs to be created by the Bill could not be boroughs in any accepted sense of the word if they had not control over the markets in their respective areas. He could not follow the right honourable Gentleman in charge of the Bill on the argument on which he maintained the words which the Amendment proposed to omit, namely, that they were not going to touch the central authority. He would point out to the right honourable Gentleman that he did touch the central authority when it happened to be the County Council, and that he only avoided touching the central authority as far as it was necessary for the protection of the City. The right honourable Baronet spoke of honourable Members attacking the City. He had no desire to do anything of the kind. He had spent 30 years of his life in the City, and the thousands who came from all parts of the world received a hearty welcome. He therefore would be very reluctant to make any attack on the City, but was it an indignity or an attack to improve the government of the City? In improving the municipal government of Islington and Poplar and the other districts, they did not mean that there was corruption and maladministration. They only said that the requirements of municipal life demanded an improvement in government. Why should not the same argument apply to the City? They were fixing the areas all over London, and why should this single area of the City be excluded? What sub-divisions had they in the City? They had got 112 parishes there, and 28 wards, but the wards did not mean parishes, for they overlapped one another. The number of parishes was quite ridiculous, and there ought to be some recognition of the internal as well as the external area. If such matters were to be settled 478 all over the metropolis, why should the I City be left untouched, and all these anomalies be allowed to remain as in the I past. It would not deprive the City Corporation of any of its emoluments to simplify its areas in the manner in which the other areas throughout the rest of the metropolis were simplified. He would remind the House that the Irish Local Government Bill last year contained some 80 or 86 clauses when it was introduced, and when it was finished it contained 120 clauses, and the Government got the Bill through in a most amicable manner. Therefore, the a present Bill might be made three times as big if they consulted the views of municipal reformers generally, and the Government would still get the Measure through quite easily. With regard to the authority in the City, let the House I look at it separately for a moment. It consisted of the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of the City of London. Now, a how was the Lord Mayor chosen? He must be selected from a very small circle of aldermen who had served in the office of sheriff. He believed that that office alone cost something like £6,000 or £7,000 a year The mayor had a splendid carriage, and the sheriffs also had a carriage a little less splendid; but what they did besides acting as aides-decamp to the Lord Mayor would puzzle anyone to say. He did not see why the Lord Mayor should be selected from such a limited few when there was such a variety to choose from. Why should they not have a great actor, a great author, an eminent lawyer, or some member of the aristocracy as Lord Mayor? That was a very important point which ought to be considered. With regard to the aldermen, they should not forget the anomalous position which they occupied in the City, where they had 24 instead of the number pro, vided for in the Bill. He did not see why City aldermen should be elected for life, and made justices of the peace for life, because the aldermen under this Bill were only elected for six years, and were justices of the peace for only that period. He could not see any reason at all for the great distinction made between the City area and those areas outside. Why should there be 72 councillors for a large district like Islington, when for a small area like the City there were no less than 206 councillors carrying 479 on a sort of imitation of the proceedings of this House. With regard to the question of powers retained by the City, again they were face to face with certain anomalies in reference to assessment and other matters. Why should a single institution like the Bank of England be permitted to assess itself, for this was a general scandal. The Bank of England was the sole assessing authority for one parish, and it controlled two other parishes. The result was that the Bank of England fixed its assessment at £55,000 a year instead of £110,000. That was not the only example, because there were a few houses in Cornhill which constituted a parish in themselves and practically made their own assessment. Surely that was a scandal which ought not to be allowed, and it cannot be said that it adds to the honour and dignity of the City Corporation that such abuses should be allowed to continue. Those arguments had not been answered, and the progress of the Bill would not be facilitated by refusing to give them a fair reply to their criticisms. If they were not strong in the Division Lobby, surely they must be treated fairly in Debate. If such anomalies in the City could be justified, let them hear the justification. He denied that they were attacking the City of London, for he maintained that they were its best friends, and they were proceeding in accordance with good democratic principles which were embodied in the City Corporation centuries ago. They were now asking that those abuses should be cleared away, and that the Corporation like the other boroughs, should be made fit for the great duties which it was asked to perform.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am very reluctant to trouble the House again, but the honourable Gentleman and other speakers opposite seem to think they have been treated with some discourtesy by the Government because speakers from this Bench have not gone into detail as to certain arguments honourable Gentlemen have brought forward. I can assure them they are entirely mistaken. The difference between us on the present occasion is this. The honourable Member for Islington and those who have preceded him have brought forward against the City of London a series of arguments 480 in dealing with matters which they say show a necessity for the reform of the Corporation and the present constitution of the City of London. The Government replied that these matters may or may not be of the importance which the honourable Gentlemen think they are; but, after all, the Bill is intended to deal with a smaller area of reform. The Government do not dogmatically assert that the City of London is incapable of reform; we do not assert that the matters referred to do not deserve the consideration of the House. We lay down no proposition whatever. We may express our own view, but we do not ask the Committee as a whole to accept it. All we do ask the Committee to do is to allow us to proceed with the reform of this metropolitan area, which is surely enough in itself to occupy the time of the House of Commons for one Session That is a reasonable demand. The honourable Gentleman must not think that it is in any sense of discourtesy to him that I refuse to go into the details of City administration—such as the question of assessment—raised by the honourable Gentleman. If the House desires, in addition to reforming the enormous metropolitan area, to reform also the City of Londonwhich is an entirely different and a more complicated problem—let it be done in a separate Bill; but I do think the Committee might be allowed to come to a decision, without any longer delay, on the simple issue before it. Honourable Gentlemen, at all events, must not suppose that we have the least desire at all to burke discussion.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The right honourable Gentleman brings in a Bill which purports to be a Local Government Bill dealing with the government of London; but he deliberately omits what many of us regard as the crux of the problem—namely, the City of London; and then the right honourable Gentleman takes his stand on the admitted incompleteness of his own proposal to deprecate what he calls the undue enlargement of the area of discussion. I demur to the proposition advanced by the right honourable Gentleman in an early part of the proceedings that the question involved in the Amendment was practically decided on the Second Reading of the Bill. The question which was 481 decided on the Second Reading, and which the Amendment does not reopen, was, whether the City central authority and the County Council should be fused into one body, and those dignified associations and ceremonial functions which at present cluster round the City should be in future asociated with the proposed new body representing 120 square miles of London at large, as the Commission presided over by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin recommended. The question which the Amendment raises is whether the reform which the Bill proposes to introduce in the case of every local authority in London should be denied to the central district of the City, and surely it is one which is worthy of full discussion and the deliberate judgment of the Committee. The important point is this—that if the Amendment is rejected, it will be impossible, in debating the later clauses of the Bill, to introduce by way of amendment any reference to the internal administration of the City. [Hear, hear.] That proposition is assented to on the other side of the House, and is borne out by the statement of the right honourable Gentleman himself. There has been in many respects a large improvement within recent years in the administration of the domestic affairs of the City of London. But there still remains in the City a number of what I will not call anomalies, because the First Lord of the Treasury loves anomalies, being of the opinion that there is a sentimental attraction in an anomaly which has a certain amount of historical association, which gives them a sort of primâ facie title; but I will style them practical grievances, of a serious and substantial kind, which, if the Bill is passed, will not be possible in any of the other local areas of London. There is the system of personal assessment. A more ridiculous system of assessment than that which at present prevails in the City of London it is impossible to imagine. This vast number of infinitesimal authorities, sometimes representing districts of not more than one or two acres in extent, with only 20 or 30 inhabitants, and each having a separate assessment, cannot be defended upon grounds of practical convenience, and it is absolutely impossible that such a system can be continued. What can be more absurd than the manner in which 482 the chief magistrate of the City of London was elected, and the system of audit? All these things will be impossible in any of the local authorities proposed to be created by this Bill. The principal object of this Amendment is to leave it open at a future state of the Committee to introduce within the area of the City of London remedies for these admitted and substantial grievances, which would not be allowed to exist in any other area in the metropolis, but which, if this Bill is passed, will continue to exist in the City of London stereotyped form. It is upon that ground rather than with the desire or intention of reopening the larger question of the amalgamation of the City authority with the London County Council that I ask the Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said that personally he was a very young Member of the House, but he represented a London constituency, and he looked upon that Bill as one of the most important that had ever been introduced since the passing of County Councils Act in 1888. He was astonished to find that Members on the opposite side of the House had not had the courage to get up and support the Bill. The, Leader of the House had stated that the Bill was quite large enough in its present form without dealing with the City, but he might just as well say that it was large enough without dealing with Mile End Old Town. [Ministerial interruptions.] He had not received a University education, but he thought that he could still teach some honourable Members opposite a lesson in manners. Now, what were the facts of the case? The Government had a majority of 140 behind them, and yet the Leader of the House actually got up and told both the House and the country that the Bill in its present form was quite large enough for one Session without including the City within its scope. A more lame excuse he never heard in his life. The City of London had two representatives in this House, and not one of them had had the courage to speak in support of the proposal of the Government in regard to the City. Why did they not get up and refute the charges brought against the City of corruption and administration?
§ MR. STEADMAN (continuing)
said that one of the most important questions they had to deal with was the housing problem, and the City evaded their responsibilities under the Housing Act of 1894. The natural consequence had been that the landlords had taken advantage of the great demand for house accommodation, and rents had risen not 25 per cent. only in the East End, but in some cases they had gone up 75 per cent. The minimum rate levied in the City was 2s. 11½d. in the £ and maximum 3s. 0½d., whereas the poorest districts of London had to pay 7s. and 8s. in the £ Surely they had a right to ask that they should share in the profits derived from the City. The poor people who had to live on the cheap fish left over at the Billingsgate Market and the "cag-mag" and what were known as "block ornaments" from Smithfield Market, did not participate in the profits of those markets, because they were under the control of the City. The Leader of the House, in winding up the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill, said that, although the City of London was not included, that fact did not prevent any other Government at any future time from dealing with the question. If the right honourable Gentleman meant anything by that he meant that whenever the Liberal Party came into power it would be for them to bring in a Bill dealing with the City of London. That was all very well, but why did he make that statement? Simply because he knew very well that if the Liberal Party carried such a Bill through this House, the House of Lords would prevent it from becoming law. The Measure was a badly constructed one, and he should have thought that with all the machinery at their disposal, they would have been able to produce a Bill much more perfect in its character. He advised them to drop the Measure so far as this Session was concerned, and after the House had prorogued they would have more time to think the matter over, and then they might introduce a Measure more democratic in its character than the present Bill.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
said that in the course of the Debate he had heard one or 484 two rather strange remarks. They had been twitted that those who supported the Amendment were only Scotchmen and Northcountrymen. He maintained, notwithstanding this charge, that it was quite possible for them to take some intelligent and active interest in the Government of London. He did not think it ought to be necessary to apologise in that House either for being a Scotchman or a Northcountryman when they intervened in a discussion of that sort. Some of them who had had provincial experience were able to look at the Measure with some close knowledge and perhaps a little more impartiality than the London Members. It did seem strange that the Government were resisting an Amendment which sought to extend the benefit of reform to the very place where it was needed most. No provincial town would entertain a proposal for municipal reform which left out that part which needed reforming the most. He had seen a great deal in vestrydom to excite much of his admiration, although it was a parochial sort of government which he thought could very well be improved.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I would ask the honourable Member to confine his remarks to the question before the Committee. He is wandering away from the subject.
§ MR. MADDISON
said he had no desire to wander, and he did not intend to go into detail with regard to the various questions which had been raised. The First Lord of the Treasury had in his speech practically admitted that, so far as he was concerned, he was not prepared to say that the City was an ideal municipality, and the instances given had made it quite clear that anomalies did exist. There were grievances in the City at the present time which would not be tolerated in any other municipality in the kingdom, and the talk about the Amendment being an attack upon the City appeared to him to be very wide of the mark. There could only be one result of that Debate, and it would be that they would be very badly beaten in the Division Lobby; but another equally certain result would be that the country would see that the desire put forward by the Government to reform the City was not a thorough and real 485 one, because they had refused to admit an Amendment which they might have accepted even without traversing their major proposition, the object of which was to secure the absolute unity of London as a whole.
|Allhusen, Augustus H. E.||Fardell, Sir T. George||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Arnold, Alfred||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ.(Manc'r||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Finch, George H.||McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Marks, Harry H.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fisher, William Hayes||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn A.J.(Manch'r)||Fitz-Gerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Folkestone, Viscount||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Forster, Henry William||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Barry, Rt. Hn A. H. Smith-(Hunts||Fry, Lewis||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Galloway, William Johnson||Monk, Charles James|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Garfit, William||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin||Gedge, Sydney||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Beach, Rt. Hn Sir M. H.(Bristol)||Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond.||Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gilliat, John Saunders||Morrison, Walter|
|Bethell, Commander||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Morton, ArthurH. A. (Deptford)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Mount, William George|
|Bigwood, James||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Bill, Charles||Gorst, Rt. Hn Sir John Eldon||Murray, Rt. Hn A.Graham(Bute)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, Rt. Hn G.J. (St George's||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Bond, Edward||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Myers, William Henry|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Graham, Henry Robert||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Northcote, Hn. SirH. Stafford.|
|Brassey, Albert||Green, Walford D.(Wednesbury||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Penn, John|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Gretton, John||Percy, Earl|
|Butcher, John George||Gull, Sir Cameron||Pilkington, Richard|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Sir Charles||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. LordGeorge||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Purvis, Robert|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Hardy, Laurence||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Henderson, Alexander||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hoare, Edw. Brodie(Hampstead||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Charrington, Spencer||Holland, Hn. Lionel R. (Bow)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Howard, Joseph||Robinson, Brooke|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Howell, William Tudor||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Clarke, Sir Edwd. (Plymouth)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Round, James|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Jackson, Rt. Hn. Wm. Lawies||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rutherford, John|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Kemp, George||Sandys, Lieut. -Col. Thos. Myles|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Kimber, Henry||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Cox, Irwin Edward B.(Harrow)||Knowles, Lees||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lafone, Alfred||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd(Bolton)||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Curzon, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Smith, Abel H.(Christchurch)|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hn Walter(Liverpool)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Stewart, Sir MarkJ. M'Taggart|
|Dorington, Sir John Edward||Lowles, John||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Doughty, George||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Stock, James Henry|
|Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-||Lubbock, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Strauss, Arthur|
|Drage, Geoffrey||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
That the word 'exclusive' stand part of the Clause.
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 208; Noes 103.—(Division List No. 95.)
|Sutherland, Sir Thomas||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Talbot, Rt. HnJ. G. (Oxf'd Univ)||Williams, Joseph Powell(Birm.||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||Young, Commander(Berks, E.)|
|Valentia, Viscount||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Wanklyn, James Leslie||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn E. R. (Bath)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Webster, SirR. E. (Isle of Wight||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Wylie, Alexander|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Hazell, Walter||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Allen, Wm(Newc.-under-Lyme)||Hedderwick, Thos. Charles H.||Roberts, John H.(Denbighsh.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Holden, Sir Angus||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Asher, Alexander||Holland, Wm. H. (York, W.R.)||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Horniman, Frederick John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn Herbert Henry||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Baker, Sir John||Jones, William(Carnarvonsh.)||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn J. Blair(Clackm.)||Kay-Shuttle worth, Rt. Hn Sir U.||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Kearley, Hudson E.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Labouchere, Henry||Spicer, Albert|
|Billson, Alfred||Lambert, George||Steadman, William Charles|
|Birrell, Augustine||Langley, Batty||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accringtn)||Strachey, Edward|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Leng, Sir John||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Burns, John||Leuty, Thomas Richmond||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Burt, Thomas||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Tennant, Harold John|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Caldwell, James||McArthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Ghee, Richard||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Causton, Richard Knight||McKenna, Reginald||Wallace, Robert (Perth)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Maddison, Fred.||Walton John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh)||Morgan, J. Lloyd(Carmarthen)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.||Morgan, W. Pritchard(Merthyr||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dillon, John||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Williams, John Carvell(Notts)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nussey, Thomas Wilkins||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Woodhouse, Sir J T(Huddersf'd|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Oldroyd, Mark||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Gold, Charles||Power, Patrick Joseph||Mr. Haldane and Mr. Lough.|
|Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Rickett, J. Compton|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ Progress was then reported.