Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question. [21st March]—
That the Bill be now read a second time.
And which Amendment was—
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words' no Bill dealing with the Local Government of the Metropolis will be satisfactory which while disturbing the existing system fails to simplify and complete it, and which at the same time renders more difficult the attainment of the unity of London."—(Mr, H. Gladstone.)
Question again proposed—
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ * MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
said that he would make no excuse for intervening in the Debate, because Westminster, with the more central and historic portion of which the whole of his Parliamentary life, and a great deal of his non-Parliamentary life, had been most intimately associated, had been singled out for an important and unique position in this Bill. But as a, London Member, he would first ask leave to make a few remarks on the general character of this Measure. It was one more closely connected with the real interests of London than any that had been brought forward in this century. It dealt with a problem which seemed hopelessly complicated and difficult until it was taken up resolutely by the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House, and treated with a mingled simplicity and skill which made half the difficulties disappear and promised a satisfactory, if not a final, solution. He approached the subject in far from a Party spirit. It had always seemed to him a grave discredit, in which both political parties in the State had alike shared, that people who came to England to find the country and the nation which had given to the world the form and spirit of Parliamentary method, its responsibility, and its representative principle—found when they came to London that spirit and that principle almost non-existent throughout the whole ground-floor of self-government in 371 London. As a nation, as a people, they boasted that on that principle all their liberties were founded. But in London, the capital of the British Empire and the metropolis of the Anglo-Saxon race, the vitality of that principle had been permitted to sink to its lowest ebb till it was almost extinct at its very base. Parochial government had killed it. They had only to look at the numerical polling for the three classes of elections—the Parliamentary, the County Council and the Vestry—and they would find that the Parliamentary came first, the County Council next, and the Vestry polling was immeasurably behind the other two, and ridiculously out of proportion to the importance of its functions in the life of the citizens. He (the speaker) had not been able to get the statistics. An honourable Friend of his, the Member for Wiltshire (Sir John Dickson-Poynder) had tried to get a Return; but he believed it was true that in the vestry elections an average of between five and 10 per cent. of the electorate voted, and in a vast number of cases there was no contest at all. There was no solidarity of local life; there was a complete stagnation of local interest; there was no real exercise of the franchise. This was the disease. It was the most fatal one that could attack a nation or a community. It had gone on deepening and spreading as new populations had been added to this city, and while it had been growing unseen, under their feet, they had been fighting with shams; they had been trying to apply two nostrums, unification and centralisation, neither of which could have any effect but to increase the disease. Destroy the ancient Corporation of London. Would that increase the vitality of the representative principle in local areas all over London? Centralise still further and add to the strength of the County Council. Would that quicken the life of the electorate with regard to their local authority? No. It would only draw the interest and the sense of responsibility from the local area to the central authority. To restore the representative principle to life in the local 372 area, by giving it a new and larger sphere, and a more dignified form in which to act, was one of the great objects, as he believed it would be one of the most far-reaching results, of this Bill. They believed this great object would be enhanced and ultimately secured in London by adding to the strength and dignity of the framework and organisation of its Local Government. They believed that the larger and more dignified form of Local Government which throughout the country—in municipalities infinitely less important than those to be incorporated under this Bill—had secured a healthy development of public interest in local affairs, had given new life to the exercise of the franchise in the electorate, and a greater sense of responsibility to the elected, would, although less complete, succeed in doing the same thing in London. Passing to the question of Greater Westminster, the honourable Member said if this was not the most important, it was certainly the boldest, the most picturesque and the most constructive feature of the Bill. The right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) who opened this Debate singled out this portion of the Government proposals and poured the vials of his wrath upon it. He read to the House a paragraph of the Westminster Petition, which describes the area in somewhat flowery language, but with a not unnatural pride. And he said he (the speaker) would have an opportunity of expanding this paragraph before the House. He (the speaker) was not responsible for the Petition, he was not going to expand the paragraph; what he was going to do was to show to the House that all the sting was drawn from the right honourable Gentleman's bitterness by an absence of information so extensive and so varied that in order to make it clear to the House he would have to classify it under four heads—political, geographical, historical, and economic. He would endeavour to keep to his own order of argument in support of Greater Westminster, but he thought any reference he might have to make in 373 the course of that argument to the right honourable Gentleman's remarks would fall under some one of these four heads. The lines on which the Bill had been drawn had admitted into the treatment of this portion of London historic and sentimental considerations, which were entirely in consonance with practical utility and efficient self-government. The Bill fixed and scheduled certain areas for the incorporation of borough councils, portions of London which already existed as solid areas of Local Government, and formed natural and proper units in the new scheme. The right honourable Gentleman said the areas in the schedule "were arbitrarily selected on no settled plan," and "there was no principle in regard of the areas put in the Bill." But there was a clear and definite principle—namely, that of selecting existing areas of Local Government. With the exception of the area in dispute, Westminster, all the 16 areas scheduled were now solid areas of Local Government. Not in form at the moment, but in principle, the restoration of the City and Liberties of Westminster to the position of a solid area was in close accordance with the theory and practice of the Bill. That re-combination had the most stately and ancient authority. The existence of this area as a famous city was lost in the mists of bygone history. The right honourable Gentleman said that the Government's proposals "showed a ruthless disregard of historical boundaries." He was going to tell him something about historical boundaries. What was the right honourable Gentleman's definition of the word "historical"? He used to know something about history when he and the speaker were at Oxford together. Would 12 centuries do for him? He was afraid he could not go back further than that. At so recent a date, then, as the year 785 a charter of King Off a laid down the boundaries of Greater Westminster; these were confirmed by King Edgar in 951—the boundaries, as far as they could be identified, that were in the Bill 374 of 1899. Two centuries later than the date mentioned, in 1174, they had this description from Fitzstephen:—About two miles westward of London, on the banks of the Thames, was a royal palace, 'an incomparable structure, guarded by a wall and bulwark'; and that' between this and the City was a continued suburb, mingled with large and beautiful gardens and orchards belonging to the citizens, who were themselves everywhere known and respected, above all others, for their civil demeanour, their goodly apparel, their table, their discourse.'He would pass over a brief period of 500 years, during which this area remained consolidated under the authority of the Abbot, then of the Bishop, then of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, to the date when two new bonds were created, one of which remained till 14 years ago, and the other was actually in existence now. Since the reign of Edward VI.—for over 350 years—the City and Liberties continued (up to 1885) to be the Parliamentary Borough of Westminster. No one who was familiar with the population of London could have failed to notice that in the desert of local interest, in the absence of all solidarity of local life, there was one tie and one tie only that in some measure supplied its place, and that was the Parliamentary representation of an area. It was at election times that the limits of a borough were studied, the inhabitants got to know each other's faces, and began to act together in two camps—with a common purpose. And in non-election times this bond was maintained, and brought into-play whenever they wanted to give expression to their political views. This bond existed—up to yesterday—for nearly four centuries in the City and Liberties of Westminster; and probably in a stronger form than anywhere else in the country. The right honourable Gentleman scoffed at the suggestion that Westminster had sent distinguished statesmen to this House. He (the speaker) would have thought that he might have spared them the additional sneer at those of recent times, by recalling the names of John Stuart Mill, who 375 was Member for Westminster; or more recently that of one whose whole Parliamentary life was connected with Greater Westminster, whose memory was still fresh and grateful to many present as that of one who filled, if not with brilliancy, yet with an uprightness and purity of purpose that well supplied its place, the highest and most responsible offices in the State. And if he might be permitted to speak of the living, he might add that Greater Westminster now sent to this House a statesman whose name would be written in enduring letters in the history of an Empire whose first line of defence was its Navy. But Westminster had never given distinguished statesmen to this House! What events, known only to the right honourable Gentleman, had eclipsed the fame of Charles James Fox, the champion of the rights of Parliament, the "idol of the people," and Member for the City and Liberties of Westminster? The right honourable Gentleman scoffed at the idea of Westminster having played an important part in the history of this country. Why, at election times the eyes of the whole country were upon it! It was the arena of contests whose issues decided the fate of Parties. Had the right honourable Gentleman, who would possibly claim for his Party some share of its former glories, forgotten that Westminster—this Greater Westminster reconstituted by the Bill—was the battle-ground where the People fought against the Court, and Fox defeated the King, and Burdett had many a bitter struggle for popular rights? All this, the intensity within and the attention from without, made the area well recognised, and its limits familiar to the public eye. John Stuart Mill, whom he had already mentioned, when Member for Westminster, proposed to establish metropolitan boroughs, and the first of them was to be the City and Liberties of Westminster—the very area set up in the present Bill. He would now refer to the other historic bond, which was also created more than 300 376 years ago, and in one form still existed. The right honourable Gentleman said that Greater Westminster "had no shred of municipal tradition." He was going to tell him something about municipal tradition. In the year 1585, in the 27th of Elizabeth, the Court of Burgesses was established as the local authority of the City and Liberties of Westminster. It was worth while to turn to the title of the Act for a description of the locality—An Act for the Good Government of the City of Westminster and Liberties, the Seat of Royalty, the Receipt of the Nobles and Estate of the Honourable Council, the Sanctuary of all Justices, the Place of Parliament, the Show of all Nobles and of all Ambassadors coming from Foreign Parts.The description of the population was hardly so complimentary—The people thereof are greatlie encreased, and being for the most part withowte trade or mysterie are become poore, and many of them gyven whollie to vyce and idleness, lyvinge in contempte of all manner of officers within the said Cyttie for that their power to corrects and reforme them is not so sufficient in Lawe as in that behalfe were meete and requysite.The "pleasant suburb" of Fitzstephen had become a populous city; and Seven Dials and the purlieus of St. John's had already come into existence. The City and Liberties of Westminster was taken as an area, for Local Government; it was divided into 12 wards; a burgess and a deputy burgess were chosen for each, and two chief burgesses were chosen every year out of the whole. And this quaint form of Local Government proceeded to exercise its authority over this area, which was to be reconstituted by this Bill. He would not trace its history. It had been gradually shorn of its functions and responsibilities until nothing remained except such as was connected with Parliamentary elections in the three boroughs into which the old Westminster was divided in 1585. In all those three boroughs, i.e., throughout the proposed area, it published the List of Voters, convened the Revision Court, and supplied, in the person of its High Bailiff, the returning officer of each—the equi- 377 valent for that purpose of the mayor in municipal boroughs. He thought he had shown sufficiently that the limits of this area were deeply marked in history, had been familiarised to the inhabitants up to a very recent date by a stirring political life, and were used over a very long period for purposes, mutatis mutandis, similar to those contemplated in this Bill. Putting aside history and sentiment, he would give some practical reasons which justified the Government in their treatment of this area. The most convenient way would be to take the objections that had been raised. The right honourable Gentleman attacked the Bill as throwing together rich areas. Westminster a city of the rich! Why, in the proposed area, 60,000 persons, or 30 per cent. of its whole population, lived in one or two-roomed tenements. And there were many slums which had not yet been dealt with, the improvement of which might well attract the earliest efforts of the new civic authority. The right honourable Gentleman stated that each of our great municipalities contained within its boundaries all classes, all sorts and conditions of men; it had its manufacturing, its industrial, and its residential quarters; and that all these conditions were wanting in this new municipality. This statement showed a lack of knowledge which was positively startling in one who professed an acquaintance with the condition of Greater Westminster. Why, within a few yards of this House there were factories and industries employing millions of capital and thousands of workpeople, and it was a matter of notoriety that Westminster did house what the right honourable Gentleman called "all sorts and conditions of men," from the richest to the poorest. The right honourable Gentleman seemed to imagine that Greater Westminster was confined to the Strand, Whitehall, Victoria Street and Piccadilly. He (the speaker) would invite him to step outside those thoroughfares—to Clare Market, to Soho, and to the slum area near Peter Street—and he thought he would find there poverty and misery 378 enough to persuade him that since the existing machinery of Local Government had not avoided insanitation and overcrowding, it might well be replaced, and that the Corporation of Greater Westminster could have no task more noble and humane than that of ameliorating the condition of the poor in their midst, by exercising the powers of the laws affecting public health and the housing of the working classes which this Bill would vest in them, and which they were bound to exercise within the borough. The right honourable Gentleman said that there was no community of interest between one part of Westminster and another. Why, at this moment provision was being made at Millbank, in the area of the Westminster Vestry, for re-housing the people displaced at Clare Market, in the area of the Strand District Board. The right honourable Gentleman stated that whilst a great city like Birmingham or Leeds kept its workmen within its boundaries, Westminster got rid of them. Why, at least 40 per cent. of the population of Westminster was a working-class population. The House would remember that a year ago a Bill was brought into this House, the main feature of which was to drive out 6,000 working people resident in Westminster in order that a poor district might be converted into a rich one for the benefit of a speculative enterprise. That Bill was energetically opposed by the Westminster Vestry. Who was it that now accused Westminster of driving out its working people? It was the right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) who gave his name to that Bill, and spoke and voted in this House in favour of that cruel proposal of expropriation. To pass on to other objections—it was said the area was too unwieldy; but it ranked seventh in the scheduled list in respect of area. It was said the population was too large; but it ranked fifth in population. It was said that the rateable value was too great; but some particular one among the areas must have a greater rateable value than the others. Rateable value alone could not and should not determine what the administrative area should be. 379 If one must be first, why not Westminster? Westminster would be first in rateable value, but it would be fourth in the number of rated householders, eighth in the number of houses, and, as he had pointed out, seventh in area and fifth in population. One reason for a Greater Westminster, which certainly should commend itself to the honourable Gentleman opposite, was the saving that would be effected in the administrative expenditure. It stood to reason that when they had five separate authorities, each with a complete staff, doing the same class of work, that they could do that work for far less money through one authority and one staff. From the return of the present expenditure all over the proposed area of Westminster, and that in a neighbouring borough equal in area, houses, and population, but governed by one authority, he found that the administrative expenses of the former were £26,888, and of the latter £15,797. There could be no question that the combination of separate areas into one unit must lead to economy of administration. He had another reason to urge, which, if it applied only to the more central and historic portion of Greater Westminster, should appeal, he thought, to all friends of this Bill. Whatever might be said, whatever must be said, derogatory to the parochial form of government, the Westminster Vestry, the local governing authority of that portion, had made the best of it. The representative principle has been kept alive there, and the vestry—on which, it was true, there were men of high position—was composed largely of men drawn from the people, men who had realised their responsibilities. That body showed its enlightenment by becoming the protagonist of this movement for incorporation in London. They petitioned for a Charter for themselves—they would have petitioned for a Charter for the whole if they could have spoken for the whole. When it was refused they called a Conference of the larger London vestries to advance and urge on the Government 380 the reform that was now being made. And the other day, when the Bill was before them which by its operation was bound to extinguish more than a hundred of them—to deprive them of positions of which they are very proud, and to cut short their little public life, in which they have worked so creditably—they sunk all personal considerations, and they gave a majority of five-sixths in favour of the Bill. They knew what they were doing, for when the numbers of the division were announced one called out. "Now bring in the executioner!" Another—he was a discontented Radical—said, "We shan't even smell the turtle soup." But the vote was a final act of loyalty not only to the historic traditions, but to the practical and permanent interests of Westminster. This tribute, which he was glad to pay to the Westminster Vestry, brought him to the last point which he had to notice in the right honourable Gentleman's remarks. The right honourable Gentleman fell into a singular confusion which it did not require a knowledge of history, but an elementary acquaintance with the provisions of the Bill to avoid. He attacked the Westminster Vestry, which had presented a petition in support of the Bill, and he said the Bill "bestowed upon Lord Onslow and his vestry the dignity of a great municipal corporation." The vestry did not belong to Lord Onslow, though Lord Onslow belonged to the vestry. But this Westminster Vestry, of which Lord Onslow was a most valued member, was only one of five vestries (or rather four vestries and one district board) that now formed the local governing bodies in Greater Westminster. And under the Bill this vestry was extinguished; and only 14 of the members of this vestry, only 14 people from the area that is now governed by it, could be on the new borough council. But the right honourable Gentleman said that the Bill "bestowed on Lord Onslow and his vestry the dignity of a great municipal corporation." What did the right honourable Gentleman mean? He had dealt with the right honourable Gentleman's 381 criticism on the Westminster scheme. He had met that criticism with indisputable facts. The right honourable gentleman had spoken of a "ruthless disregard of historical boundaries." He (the speaker) had shown him that no area in London possessed boundaries so deeply marked in history as this Greater Westminster. The right honourable Gentleman had said it "had no shred of municipal tradition." He had shown that its municipal traditions were 1,000 years old. The right honourable Gentleman had derided the statesmen it had sent to this House. He had referred him to the leaders of his Party who had represented it. The right honourable Gentleman had asked scornfully what part it had played in the history of the country. He had shown him it was the arena of memorable victories for popular rights. The right honourable Gentleman built up an attack on "the Westminster Vestry" being turned into a corporation on an argument which he (the speaker) had proved had no meaning. And, he trusted he had made these things clear to the House in temperate language. He was one of those who thought that in this House strong language was dangerous unless it was backed by arguments and by knowledge. The right honourable Gentleman called the claim of Westminster to incorporation "grotesque," and the proposal of the Government "preposterous." The words were not his, but the right honourable Gentleman's. But he thanked the right honourable Gentleman for supplying him with adjectives which he thought—although ho left that entirely to the judgment of the House—more accurately applied to a traveller who set out on the adventurous journey of criticism with a wallet empty of information, and a staff of argument that broke as soon as it touched the ground. He would briefly deal with an important objection which had been raised in the course of this Debate, that this Greater Westminster would be too powerful a corporation, that it would "overshadow the County Council," as one Member said, or that it would be able 382 to resist the wishes of Parliament, as the Member for South Leeds (Mr. Lawson Walton) apprehended. He noticed that when the honourable Member for Plymouth (Sir E. Clarke), in the course of his brilliant speech, referred to a centralised London municipality becoming a danger to Parliament, the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) resented any such possibility. What then became of the fears of his supporter behind him that Greater Westminster would be able to resist the wishes of Parliament? The honourable Member for South Leeds (Mr. Lawson Walton) stated that Greater Westminster would desire to go on adding to its powers, and would be so strong that Parliament could not resist the demand. The idea of these municipalties resisting Parliament appeared to him (the speaker) impossible. But, as between them and the County Council, their relations were laid down by a separate set of functions that must always be performed by the central body and the local body. There were functions relating to the whole of London which must be performed by the central body, and which could not be performed by any other authority. There were functions which must be performed by a local body. And it seemed to him that the clear line that was drawn between these two classes of functions would automatically preserve the character and the importance of the County Council. He would deal last with the objections which had been raised within the area. For, of course, the House was aware that the vestries comprised in the borough of St. George's, Hanover Square, and the borough of the Strand had objected to the Bill. Naturally, after what he had said, he did not admit the validity of those objections. He had not time to go into the question of alternative combinations for this area, but he could show to the House that if this was not the only combination of these districts that could have been made—and he believed it was the only one—there was no other combination that would not have been met by objections of the same sort, and founded 383 on far stronger grounds. There was practically no reasonable alternative to the Government proposal to create Greater Westminster. He was glad that the historic associations on which he had dwelt were to be enshrined and perpetuated in a new form. It had been no mean City, this Westminster. It was teeming with traditions which reminded them of great names and of great events in the growth of England; but still more was the history of Westminster instinct with the spirit of which its very name reminded the world, of that long and irresistible march of popular emancipation leading up to the freest and purest government in the world, based upon the people's franchise, and responsible directly and immediately to the people's will. And what they proposed doing by this Bill was to take that historic area and place within its old-established limits a new form of local government which, he believed, would bring to the community within it, and to what he might call the domestic side of political life, the same sense of responsibility and the same confidence which parliamentary government had given to the nation at large. It had been said that it was not an heroic Bill. He begged leave to differ. It was a Bill which would excite animosities and which would excite animosities and heart-burnings in London—those "embittered controversies" with which the right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had threatened them—which would last to the next parliamentry election, which would perhaps be in their most crucial stage about that time. Let them not disguise this fact from themselves on that side of the House. It was a brave Bill for a Party to bring in which drew no small portion of its strength from the area to which it applied. But they would have their compensation. Time would vindicate their wisdom and courage. And when all that it disturbed was settled and ordered for the better, the vast population of London would remember a disinterested effort of statesmanship, and would be grateful to 384 the Party and the man who gave a new and larger life to the popular aspirations for self-government in the greatest city the world would ever see.
§ * MR. BURNS (Battersea)
Mr. Speaker, my well-known connection with London government is my excuse for taking part in this Debate, and it is rather appropriate that a Londoner born and bred—not like the honourable Member who has just sat down—and a Westminster apprentice, who learned his trade in the heart of the City of Westminster, should say a few words on the subject now before the House. It is curious that in this connection I should have the honour of representing in this House what was once a possession of the Abbey of Westminster—namely, the parish of Battersea. This I will say on behalf of the parish, that if the Abbots of Westminster were half as pretentious as the Westminster petition and so self-assertive and dogmatic as the Westminster vestry and the honourable Member who represents Westminster in this House, I do not wonder at Battersea giving the Abbots notice to quit, because if I had to choose between the rule of King Harold, the ancient Lord of Battersea, and the kind of representation from Westminster lately, give me the lordship of the King rather than the stilted superiority which hails from Westminster now. I want to deal with the wants of the Bill, and I venture to address myself to it from the point of view of a county councillor who has taken some interest in the matter, and, in so doing, I wish to say that I regard the Bill as not a very big Bill, and, on the face of it, not the bad Bill that some people think; but there are in it suggestions which imply much danger to centralised municipal life unless there are rigorous safeguards, while there is every ground for suspecting that some of the reasons that have induced the framing of the Bill are not fraught with kindly consideration for the London County Council. It is because I believe 385 that this Bill is now presented for Second Reading so that the right honourable Gentleman in charge of it may know the views of Members that I venture at perhaps greater length than I otherwise would to make a few suggestions which I trust may be of a practical character, with a view to the improvement of the Bill if it passes Second Reading. We must all admit that the present condition of London government is insufferable and intolerable. We cannot have, as we have now, something like 400 bodies all told, more or less representative, more or less wasteful, more or less over-lapping each other, and more or less infringing on each other's work and authority. We cannot have, as we have at present, such a tremendous drain on the public-spirited energy of the citizens of London as is evidenced by the fact that in all the London governing bodies there are something like 5,000 representatives required to meet the demands of all these local bodies. The result is that we see time wasted, energy dissipated, profusion in cost, confusion in government, and leakage everywhere. This condition of things has become so bad that the Government have thought fit to amend it by giving dignity to local bodies, conferring titles on chairmen, and in other ways to make good government out of the present defective administration. But I think the Government has not made the best attempt. I would have preferred, before local bodies were touched at all, that some of the centralised bodies that are now nominated or indirectly elected should have been still further merged and concentrated. I should have preferred to have seen the City merged into the County Council, or, if you like, the County Council merged into the City, because that would be the leaven that would leaven the lump. I should like to have the Metropolitan Asylums Board reorganised in some such way as would prevent a nominated or an indirectly elected body spending an enormous sum of money without that check and control and those efficient safeguards that are shown in ordinary vestries or in the 386 London County Council. I should also like something similar done with the Thames Conservancy, by merging it into the County Council. I should like to see our rivers, water, drainage, bridges, and embankments all in the hands of one municipal authority, with means, power, dignity, and authority, doing for London as a whole what three or four centralised bodies are now only able to do inefficiently. The Government have done none of these things, and this Bill does not tend for metropolitan unity in any sense. It leaves the City alone for reasons which, perhaps, the City will some day find out are not to its permanent advantage. It glorifies Westminster to an extent that Westminster, either in its past or present, does not deserve, and which its history during the last 50 years does not justify. It belittles the County Council; it does not touch the Thames Conservancy; and in some way it breaks up in the most ruthless way the local life and the civic centre of the absorbed areas in a manner not expected from a Conservative Government, which generally is supposed to regard public spirit and civic traditions as being the achievements of a Conservative people and the monopoly of the Conservative Party. Generally speaking, this Bill shows the hand of the municipal amateur with a provincial spirit and a desire to weaken London as against certain large monopolies which welcome division and the breaking up of the unified control of London. In a way, the Bill helps those as against the common interests of London. Had this question been approached in a proper spirit we should have seen the consolidation of smaller areas, to which I am not opposed, into manageable district councils, making the present areas into wards of the larger district councils. I am afraid that will not happen, and cannot happen, if the Privy Council, ignorant of local feeling and not amenable to local sentiment, is allowed to do what this Bill gives it power to do. We want district councils with full power for local work, each autonomous, each in its own area, but subordinate to the 387 central authority in matters common to London as a whole. I believe if that had been done and the Poor Law business had been added to the functions of these new district councils, you would have commingled many interests, and have concentrated an appeal to a wider area of public men, with the result that better men would be induced to join in the communal service of London. I find that this Bill has one or two other defects in regard to the areas with which it deals. It takes rateable value, and not population, as a basis of the area. Why you take rateable value I cannot understand. Population should be the basis, the unit of the area.
§ * MR. BURNS
Well, it does, and it does not; it whispers it to the ear, but breaks it to the hope. Let us take Westminster, with a population of 200,000 and a rateable value of five millions. And take Chelsea—it has a less population than Stepney and a higher rateable value; but I think that Stepney, with its larger population, deserves more credit for its smaller rateable value than either Westminster or Chelsea for their large rateable values, which is not due to their own industry or energy, but to a mere accident. The great institutions with which these two parishes are blessed have not been achieved from the contributions of the ratepayers of Westminster or Chelsea, but from the Imperial funds, to which the whole nation subscribes. It seems to me that this Bill might have gone somewhat further: it ought to have struck a central rate all over London. It ought to have raised the central rate, which only averages 4s., into 5s., or even 6s. If that had been done, you would have put an end to the cry that you are building up cities of the rich and making parishes of the poor. At the same time, when you are dividing the areas you should have increased the equalisation grant to the poorer districts. The poorer districts would have consented to the new areas if they had known that 388 the equalisation grant would be increased, so that the poor districts and the rich districts would bear their burdens equally. This Bill does not touch that question, and in some respects it prevents genuine equalisation being resorted to. For instance, we find Westminster and other West End parishes with an equalisation grant paying 5s. or 5s. 6d. in the £ for rates, whereas if you go to Bow or Bromley they pay from 6s. 8d. to 8s. in the £ for rates. Bow, Bromley, Poplar, and other parts of the East End of London are over-taxed and poverty-stricken mainly because of past neglect and the segregation of London into districts of the rich and parishes of the poor to such an extent as became a public scandal. I trust that some effort will be made by the Government to remove this anomaly. I believe if they inquire into the matter they will see what honourable Members see, that this Bill prevents the equalisation of the rates all over London being readjusted as easily as it might be. I shall be told that this Bill does not touch equalisation. I know it, and that is one of its sins of omission. No Bill for the readjustment of areas ought to be touched until the equalisation of rates is properly treated. If you want to know the reason why, turn up the speech of Mr. Wheeler, a clergyman, at a meeting at the West End, who said that Kensington did not have the handling of its own money to the extent that they would like. You are going to confer dignities upon Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, and to create 19, or 25, or 30 district councils, with mayors and aldermen and all these new powers. But every power that you give them slackens their interest in their poorer brethren, and prevents the poorer parishes having that grasp on the equalised rate which they now have. Then, Sir, there is not a word in the Bill about the indebtedness of the parishes. Some parishes have no indebtedness at all. One parish in South London has only a debt of £300, while two or three adjoining parishes have a great deal of debt. What the Bill should have done, 389 in constituting the areas, was to have consolidated the debts and equalised the payment of the whole of the central charges. In this way much good would be done. A view taken by some honourable Members is that London is not a city; that London has no corporate civic life. What, they ask, does Hampstead know of Poplar or Westminster, of Bow or Bromley? That is a very bad theory to promulgate in the House of Commons, and it ought not to come from honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House. It is this breaking up into different sections which ought to be regarded as one population that is destroying the belief of the very poor in the capacity of London to cope with their poverty; and it goes far in the way of depriving rich men of that sense of imagination that springs from a high public spirit, which can only be maintained by bearing each others' burdens—the rich and the poor, the poor and the rich. I do protest against this attempt to belittle London as a whole for the glorification of the new district councils. Now, an honourable Member of this House, who is also a member of the London County Council, last night said that this Bill was intended to destroy the apathy that exists in London in regard to local life. But will it kill that apathy by giving the chairman of the vestries the title of mayor, and making some mediocrities into aldermen? Will it make disinterested, public-spirited citizens of them? Not a bit of it, in the event of their not having been public-spirited before these titles were conferred. Disinterested public spirit springs only from a sense of duty to the community, a sentiment which this Bill does not make for. It does not acknowledge local circumstances, and the real local patriotism based upon local traditions; in fact, the Bill will stamp it out in many places. I come now to what I consider the actual defects of the Bill, and I shall deal first with finance. The Bill says that henceforth the London County Council shall practically cease to be the finance authority for the local governing bodies. The honourable Member for Islington—to whom I want thus publicly to bear testimony and appreciation for the way he has devoted his financial knowledge and commercial experience to the service of London—told us he had been a member for 10 years of 390 the Finance Committee of the London County Council. That is a warrant that he knows as much about the finance of the London County Council as anybody. He shares the view of every Moderate on the Council that it would be a mistake to take from the London County Council control in finance of the local bodies. I go further and say that it will be a blunder, and if it is so taken away some day we will prove it to be a crime. What are the facts? In ten years the London County Council has granted nearly 500 loans to local bodies, amounting in all to 3½ millions. The money was granted cheaply, promptly, and under conditions which prevented large legal expenditure. There is no charge of extravagance against the London County Council in regard to finance. It has done its work economically, and its probity in administration is admitted. Then, neither the vestries nor the Local Government Board can so adequately secure that the rate of interest on the loans shall be reasonable. We can get money cheaper than any other public body. The banks trust us; they regard our stocks as easily negotiable (the "Roseberys" stand high); they have got used to our system, and I do not see why it should be changed. Let me point out what might happen were it changed. Supposing the manager of a big insurance company came to the Battersea Vestry, which wanted £150,000 in order to build an electric light station, baths, or dust destructors. Supposing that insurance manager wanted to increase the lending branch of his concern—what would be easier than that he should go to the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Vestry, who might have an account at the same bank. That kind of thing and the results that spring from it cannot be safe-guarded against if the local authority has the power in regard to loans which can now be only exercised under the admirable control of the Finance Committee of the London County Council. On that Committee there are five or six bankers—like the honourable Member for London University and the honourable Member for Islington—who put each of these loans to local bodies under thorough criticism and rigid supervision. My advice is, let these loans be conducted as heretofore, and not take them out of the hands of the London 391 County Council. My next point is in connection with a question of assessment. It is still to be left to the overseers. We had a very significant statement against that view from the overseers of Islington. If you allow the overseers to continue their assessment and the levying of the rate you will find this kind of thing go on: In some districts the publicans and sinners capture the majority of the overseers, with the result that railways, pumping stations and such like works are made to pay as high as they can, and the publicans and sinners as low as possible. Again, sometimes the teetotallers capture the overseers, who then put the screw on the publicans and sinners as hard as they can. You would stop all that by letting the district council make the assessment through its responsible confirmed-by-Council committee, and prevent the financial jerrymandering that takes place. I come now to the power which is given by the Bill to the district councils to promote Bills. Why should you grant such power to local authorities, who will have far more restricted powers than a corporation under the Borough Funds Act? I do not object to any single municipal entity like a municipal corporation having the power either to promote or oppose Parliamentary Bills. But I cannot see why Battersea or Chelsea or any other district council which is in a different position, which wants some public work carried out, should not go to the London County Council and ask it to insert a clause in its General Powers Bill. This Bill as it stands is going to make for more extravagance in the rates, to lead to needless litigation, to create bad feeling between the local authorities and the central authority, and it will play the game of monopolist water, gas, tramway, and other companies which incidentally want these district councils to promote Bills for their gain. If they can get the local bodies pitted against the London County Council their grasp on London will be as easy in the future as it has been in the past. Then, my second point is about the aldermen. A number of honourable Members seemed to be very defective in their historical reading regarding local government. Aldermen were not in the Bill of 1835. The clause appointing them was only slipped in by 392 the House of Lords, not that they believed in aldermen, but to prove the necessity of a Second Chamber. The first scheme for aldermen in the London County Council was to give them a tenure of office of five years. Speaking from my experience of the London. County Council, the title of aldermen alone does not attract the best men to the Council; and, generally speaking, they are not necessary. But when we are told that these aldermen on the new local bodies are to be elected annually in small instalments, and beyond these, co-opted persons, neither aldermen nor councillors, are to be co-opted as both commissioners and library committeemen, it is carrying the principle of non-representative element too far, and I strongly protest against it. The honourable and learned Member for Plymouth last night emphasised the necessity of vestrymen being returned to the London County Council. He said it would tend to destroy Party spirit and bring the central authority into touch with the local authorities. I am not so sure that the honourable and learned Member would have said what he did say had he had actual experience of the local vestries and vestrymen on the council. I doubt whether it would destroy Party spirit, which cannot be objected to if not carried too far. But I will tell you what it would probably do if we substituted the present system for representatives of the vestries on the London County Council. These would have local projects, their local supporters, and their local knowledge would be used, and the best part of their time would be devoted to engineering local improvements through the London County Council. Their presence in the London County Council would make local jobs for local men, and for local favouritism of a kind which I do not wish to see repeated in any form, either on the vestries or on the London County Council. There is another serious blot on the Bill I must refer to—that is the Building Act proposal. After the able speech of the honourable Member for Bodmin, why it is that this ridiculous proposal is to be proceeded with I cannot conceive. Why the administration of the Building Act should be relegated in any particular to these new district councils, if it thinks so fit, by order of 393 the Privy Council, I cannot understand. The Building Act is well administered now. No one disputes it. Take up any technical newspaper, such as the "Builder," or the "Engineer," which is just now discussing this part of the Bill, and you find that there is not a single complaint against the London County Council. On the contrary, the largest builders who have contracts in different parts of the City take exception to the Bill in this respect. And for this reason, that one set of regulations may be made by one district council, and another set of regulations by another district council; the different surveyors in the different districts might interpret all these regulations quite differently. If these officers were paid by salary—only possible so long as employed by central council—and not by fees, we should not have had this ridiculous proposal before us. The only authority which ought to deal with the administration of the Building Act is the authority which already deals with fires, explosives, building subsidencies, and erections of all kinds. A good illustration in support of this view occurred the other day in the big fire in New York. I believe the Chief Commissioner of Police, to his credit be it said, is ascertaining the views of the London County Council as to the necessity of strengthening the control over big hotels. What will happen if the district surveyors have the interpretation of the Building Act, especially in Westminster, where there is the largest amount of rateable property, and where you have so many of these very big hotels and flats? Do you mean to tell me that if we had had a proper administration of the Building Act we should have had such a monstrosity as what is known as Hankey's Mansions I If you were to have the administration of the Act in the hands of the local bodies, we should have the jerry-builder and the pottering engineer unduly influencing the local surveyor. Even at present we have great difficulty in dealing with sky signs and advertisements, and if the regulation of these were handed over to the local bodies there would be no regulation of public order in London. There is another point I want to make, and I wish the First Lord of the Treasury to take note of it. I have gone into the question of the expense of elections in London. In 1894 the Guardians' 394 elections cost £10,000, the Vestry elections £12,000, the London County Council elections £10,000, and the School Board elections £10,000. In one year, when all these elections took place, over £40,000 was spent, not by the candidates, but by the ratepayers. What the candidates spent was in addition. Now, I believe, if you do not destroy this clause in the Bill making the elections annual you are going to prevent really good men coming forward; because the trials of an election in London for busy men have hindered sensitive and weakly men who were otherwise good candidates from coming forward for the suffrages of their fellow-electors. On the ground of expense and of getting good men, I sincerely trust that we shall have nothing less than triennial elections. As to the question of wards, I think we ought to safeguard the probability of any Party jerrymandering the different areas of London. The London County Council has hitherto administered this provision of the Bill with great impartiality, and there is no reason for taking the power of fixing and arranging the wards from the London County Council and handing it over to the district councils. A suspicion would enter into Party political life if that were done which does not now exist. Another part of the Bill surprises me. The Government is doing everything in its power to prevent diseased meat coming into the country, to stop tuberculosis, to muzzle dogs, and in every way to prevent disease from spreading over the whole country. The Metropolitan Asylums Board is even bringing in a Bill to make influenza an infectious disease. But what is the Government going to do by this Bill? They are going to remove the control of the dairies—with which so much of the health of our children and young people is concerned—the cow-sheds and the slaughter-houses from the London County Council to these new local authorities. Not satisfied with this, they are going to take the lodging-houses away from the London County Council. I never was one of those who thought that the London County Council ought to do everything, or can do everything; but there are certain powers which only a centralised body can properly exercise. Why were the lodging-houses taken from the police? It was because the police had not the experience, could not command the officers, and could not possibly 395 know the conditions of the lodging-houses so well as the London County Council could. The Government, there-fore, took the lodging-houses from the police and gave them to the Loudon County Council, and now, when these are being admirably organised and inspected at the smallest possible expense, they are going to be handed over to the local authorities. The effect will be that these places will become what under the perfunctory police they too long were—centres of disease, of crime, and of other abominations, which I need not go into. Under the London County Council the number of these lodging-houses were reduced, the sanitation was improved, and the temptations to crime were removed by the kindly attention of the Committee, composed of all parties, which make personal visits to the houses, and in many cases help the poor tenants from a low condition into decent employment. And then you propose to take over to some extent some part of the administration of the Shop Hours Act. I put it to the Lonourable Member for London University, who deserves every credit for what he has done for shop assistants, though I differ from him in nearly every particular in politics, would he not rather have Mr. Spencer, of the Public Control Committee, and his able and experienced staff looking after the shops of London than a man appointed by vestry, who would devote, not the whole of his time, but only a few hours a day or week to the work? Of course he would. Now I come to the remission of powers. This is a most extraordinary provision. For what do we find? We find that these new municipalities are to have no more power than the district councils now possess. I am not opposed to these district councils having more power, but I say it is not mutual and reciprocal. What is more, when once a majority of these municipalities decide upon certain powers, or the transfer of certain powers from the Council to the district council, there is no revocation on the part of the County Council itself. This probably means that we shall have the majority of the municipal councils with the bulk of the rateable value, but with a minority of population, receiving powers from the Council that would relieve their local rates, to the disadvantage of the poorer 396 districts. Then we come to Westminster. Now, Mr. Speaker, I cannot for the life of me see why Westminster should not be cut into two, or even three. I do not share the view that the honourable Member for Westminster has expressed—that its historical traditions are such as to justify its being made a universal grab-all, swallowing up the Strand and three or four other parishes. I most strongly but respectfully protest against the absorption of the larger city of Westminster in the way suggested. I believe the area is too large; I believe it ought to be divided. It is full of hotels, of lords, of flats, of birds of passage, and birds of paradise; but I protest against the human interest being subordinated to mere height of structure, or breadth of street, or greater rateable value. I trust that this particular district may be sub-divided in some way that the House of Commons can suggest. Westminster three centuries ago, did something for its poor, but now it is turning them out into Battersea, Fulham, and Wandsworth, whose working classes have to undertake the burden, of which its pinchbeck nobility are thus relieving themselves.
§ * MR. BURNS
One swallow does not make a summer, and one step in the direction of relief, in which I assisted Westminster, does not cover the eviction of the poor in that part of London. But I go from that to the housing question. And what- does this Bill do? It enables local authorities, under certain conditions, to deal with the housing problem. Let me give an illustration of how the housing problem will probably be dealt with under the Bill. In Islington this week 200 people were "dishoused" for sanitary reasons. The law insisted that the local authority should rehouse at least 102. Islington tried to slip out of its obligation—it did not want to house any at all—and the County Council intervened. This Bill is calculated to weaken the power of the central authority, with the result that what has happened in Islington today will be repeated at Chelsea, Kensington, and Hammersmith to-morrow. 397 If you weaken the power of the central authority in the matter of housing the poor you open the door to wholesale evictions, and I believe you will make more squalid the districts that have not the means that the richer parishes have. Now I come to the speech of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth, who attacked, by way of defending the City, the London County Council. I was rather sorry to hear the speech, because I had really thought that the mania against the County Council, after 10 years, had subsided. I had noted with pleasure that Members on the front Government Bench and Members behind them have, in language that I heartily appreciate, endorsed the public spirit and the energy of the London County Council, and I had hoped that this mania for attacking the Council, either by inference or by direct statement, had disappeared. This, however, is not the case so far as regards the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth. In a crusted, high Tory defence of the City of Loudon and the Metropolitan Board of Works, he made the statement that the Metropolitan Board of Works was one of the best bodies—I think he said the best body—the metropolis ever had, and inferentially the Council, of course, was much worse, and had done little for the improvement of London. Now, Sir, that is the kind of ignorant statement that must not be allowed to go unchallenged. I am not going to say a word about the Metropolitan Board of Works. I will leave them, as has been said, in their dishonoured grave, but I will answer the statement of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth. In 33 years the Metropolitan Board of Works spent 10 millions in street improvements. In a third of that time the London County Council has spent half that amount of money. What did we do with it? We have not passed a scheme for jobbing away ratepayers' money in the West End. We have not, like the old Board, put all our improvements in view of the front windows of the West End, and neglected the East and South-east. In a third of the time we have done more than them. We have made Blackwall Tunnel, improved Woolwich Ferry, purified the river, provided parks and open spaces, and, what is more, Mr. Speaker, we have 398 spent far more money than we should have done in rectifying arrears of neglect, because the Metropolitan Board of Works catered for the West End of London, and neglected the drainage, the fire brigade, and other branches of subordinate administration. Then we have been told by the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth, who seemed very warm in his defence of the City, that the City is the embodiment of all that is public-spirited, while the Council is not. I was rather amused to hear him say, seeing that he sat next to the Member for Bodmin, who knows very much more about the City than most people, that the City was a thriving hive of industry by day—and there are sounds of revelry by night at London's expense—and that it had done everything that a public body could do. Well, Sir, what is the good of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth taking that view? The City to-day is only a cash nexus kept in a capitalist's safe for a few foreigners to look at. Much of its funds could be better spent. For instance, I find that £17,000 a year is spent either on the Lord Mayor or in connection with the Mayoralty, and £2,600 on committees for services more or less ornamental. Money is frequently wasted. For instance, will anyone contend that £1,551 ought to be spent in presenting the freedom of the City of London, to the honourable Member for Lambeth? All I can say is, that the money is worth it. Such an extravagant waste of money as that ought to be stopped, and if it goes on much longer the City will be a bankrupt concern.
§ * MR. BURNS
An honourable Member says no. He really does not know the accounts of his own city. Let him look at the accounts in the Library of the House of Commons; let him see the evidence given before the Royal Commission on, London government, and he will find that in 1891–1892 there was a deficit on revenue, and that the deficit had to be made up either by the sale of landed estates or by taking out of capital that which ought to have been got from revenue. My argument is that there ought to be applied to the City that rigorous financial control which is applied to the County Council, and 399 which every one of the district councils ought to be subjected to. The City has been left out of the Bill because it is not convenient to the Government for the moment to interfere with it. But why is it not convenient? The right honourable Member for Bodmin knows that a strong Government has only to threaten the City with extinction, and it will at once agree to absorption. When you hear about the generosity of the City, I would venture to remind the House that the money it obtains from trust funds and estates is largely spent in feasting instead of being devoted, as it ought to be, to the further encouragement and development of technical education. The fact is, you can get no complete system of local government in London until the City is dealt with. I would deal with it tenderly; I would deal with it, if you like, reverentially; I would take it to the bosom of Greater London to prevent it falling to pieces and being made what it too frequently is, the rendezvous of the snob and the resort of the bogus company promoter, to the degradation of municipal life in its highest aspects. It is, Mr. Speaker, because London government can never be a complete system without the absorption of the City, and because this Bill does not touch it, that I object to the proposed Measure. It is because the Bill is full of pitfalls, and contains one or two positive traps, that I have taken the trouble to criticise it on Second Reading. I hope the First Lord of the Treasury, who will receive the help of the City to carry the Second Reading, will accept substantial Amendments on the points I have indicated. If he does not, all I can say is, that two or three years hence the defects and blots and blemishes, which will show themselves in a short space of time, will demand that some Government shall deal with the question of London reform in a statesmanlike and comprehensive manner. This Bill does not do it. It is a muddling, meddling Bill in its treatment of the civic life of the metropolis, and has for its object the belittling of the London County Council, and it is because I have had the honour to serve on that body and to assist in its good work that I have made the remarks I have. I commend them to the kindly attention of the right honourable Gentle- 400 man in charge of this Bill, and to the practical good sense of the House of Commons.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
The criticisms of the honourable Gentlemen opposite seem more directed to the Bill as they supposed it would be than to the Measure as it has been actually introduced. A great many of the points are also rather matters for the Committee stage than for debate on the Second Reading. Several references have been made to Lord Salisbury's speech, and a meaning attached to it which I do not believe Lord Salisbury intended to convey, and also to the policy advocated by the Moderates at the last election. When the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Fife says that "the citizens of London decisively and emphatically repudiated the invitation thus given them," he is quite mistaken, for, as a matter of fact, a majority of the votes at the last election was given to the Moderates, and this is only another illustration of the fact so often pointed out, that the present system of municipal and Parliamentary election does not ensure that a majority of the votes secure a majority of the representatives. For my part, I am prepared to give this Bill my hearty support. No doubt there are some clauses which might be amended in Committee. For instance, I am inclined to agree with the honourable Member for East Islington in doubting the expediency of suggesting to the local bodies that they should borrow independently. I think, on the contrary, that it is much better that the finances of London should pass through the London County Council, and that there should be one large London stock. The matter has been hitherto very well conducted by the Finance Committee of the London County Council, and I believe that this is the most economical manner in which the capital required for London can be raised. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds, however, has asked us to reject the Bill at this stage because, in his opinion, it fails to simplify and complete the existing government of the metropolis, and at the same time renders more difficult the attainment of the unity of London. This I understand to 401 mean, and indeed it has been so explained by him and by most of the subsequent speakers, that the position of the City is unaffected by the Bill, and my right honourable Friend, as well as the right honourable Member for Fife and other speakers on the opposite side of the House, have dwelt largely on this ground as being the main justificaton of their opposition to the Bill. At the same time, I think I may fairly say that, while they have dealt much in generalities, they have not pointed out in what way the metropolis generally is injuriously affected by the omission of any clauses dealing specially with the City. I wish they had given facts and figures, because then there would have been something to answer, and it is much more difficult to deal with these vague assertions than it would be to discuss any definite' statements. I will, however, ask the House to consider what the facts of the case are, and endeavour to show that the apprehension of honourable Gentlemen opposite is not well grounded. No doubt it is difficult to prove a negative, and the question is complicated. I speak, therefore, with all reserve, and I should be glad to listen with attention to any remark which may be made on the other side of the House. The attacks on the City resolve themselves into four heads— (1) the organisation, (2) duties, (3) property, and (4) prestige. In the first place, it is said that the Lord Mayor is elected in a hole-and-corner manner. That is not, I think, at all a fair description of what actually happens. In the first place, he has to be elected an alderman by his own ward, he is then elected the second time by Livery, who are 8,000 in number, and then the third time by the aldermen. The Lord Mayor goes, therefore, through three elections, and it is all done in the most public manner possible. But, after all, that is a matter which only affects the City, and the City does not complain. I am not connected with the Corporation, but I may point out that this demand for change does not come from those connected with the City, but from honourable Gentlemen representing distant communities. I now come to the question of the duties performed by the City, and it was laid down as an axiom by the Commis- 402 sion presided over by my right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin that no duties which could be equally well performed by the local bodies should be thrown on the London County Council. What, then, are the duties now performed by the City and not by the other local bodies? There are some which do not come within the purview of this Bill. First, there is the question of police. In the City we manage our own police, and we do it at considerable expense to ourselves. Then there is the question of markets. There are certain markets which are managed by the Corporation, and I presume there is no objection to that. At any rate, they have not been alluded to in the Debate. Then, again, there is the question of bridges. There are four—London, Southwark, Blackfriars, and the Tower—which were built and are managed by the City, and I cannot see that the rest of the metropolis is in any way affected or injured by that fact. Next, I come to the management of the Port of London. The rest of the metropolis has not shown—indeed, they have not alleged—that they are in any way damaged by the fact that the Port of London is managed by the City. The bankers and merchants of the City, who are those principally interested, have expressed no desire whatever that the management of the Port should be transferred from the City to the London County Council—indeed this could hardly be done, as the jurisdiction extends far beyond the County Council boundaries, and I therefore put these three questions out of consideration. Coming to those matters which are in other parts of the metropolis managed by the London County Council, they are as follows: The verification of weights and measures, the appointment of coroner, the supervision of dangerous structures, the licensing of sky signs, the management of lunatics, although for the most part they have nothing to do with the City, but are poor persons who have wandered there and whose proper domicile cannot be found. Now, can anybody say that the rest of the metropolis are in any way damaged by the fact that these matters are managed by the City for itself? The importance of the matter has been, I submit, enormously overrated. To show how trifling the matter is from a pecuniary point of view, I may mention that the whole cost 403 of the functions which are performed by the City for itself and which are elsewhere performed by the London County Council is, as I am informed (excepting the bridges, which are provided for by a special fund), only from £10,000 to £15,000 a year. But look at the other side of the account. Because the City is specially situated, it is called on for very large special contributions. The City not only maintains its own schools, but having about a hundred children in the Board schools it contributes to the School Board rate no less than £217,000. It has scarcely any poor, but it contributes to the Metropolitan Poor Fund £116,000. And lastly, under the Equalisation of Rates Bill, it pays £100,000 to the general expenses of the metropolis. Now these payments are made on the ground that it is treated differently from the rest of the metropolis, and while on the one hand if it is thrown into the general area it may have to pay some £30,000 or £40,000 more—on the other band, these extra payments will have to be reconsidered. If, therefore, the City is included in the metropolis in the same way as the other parts, the rest of the metropolis will, it seems to me, be a loser. We come, then, to the property of the City. Sometimes we are told that the City is really bankrupt, and at others that it is spending enormous sums of money for the good of the City alone. It has been said by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife that the City is "luxuriating in its enormous wealth" —that itreserves for the benefit of one square mile immense funds which ought to be administered for the advantage of London as a whole.But we have not been given, as we ought to be if such accusations are to be made, facts and figures to justify these statements. Why not? Because none can be given. What are the facts? The property of the City brings in a net income of something under £150,000 a year. How is it spent? The police cost £30,000 a year; secondary education and museums, £25,000; charity and pensions, £23,000; administration of justice, £25,000; Port of London, £7,000; open spaces, £3,000, and Parlimentary expenses, £3,000; making together over £120,000. This leaves but £30,000 for the civic government of the City, for the Lord Mayor's Court, for the expenses of the Mansion House and Guildhall, and 404 for a variety of smaller purposes. We have heard a great deal about the hospitality of the City. Are we to understand that this House really wishes that hospitality to cease? I do not think that would be the wish either of this House or of the country at large. It is only fair to remember that a large part of the expense is borne by the Lord Mayor himself out of his private purse. If there is any real grievance I am sure the City would willingly meet the County Council to discuss and adjust matters in which it can be shown that the latter body are at a pecuniary disadvantage. Let me also say, in answer to the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Fife, that it would be impossible to combine the functions of Lord Mayor and of Chairman of the London County Council. The right honourable Gentleman has not been Chairman of the London County Council. I have, and I am satisfied that it would be impossible for any man to fulfil the duties of the two positions. Lastly, I come to this question of prestige. Nobody appreciates more than I do the power of Parliament, but there are some few things which even that cannot create. The prestige of the City of London was not created by Act of Parliament, and cannot be transferred by a clause in a Bill. It has grown up gradually in a thousand years. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife paid an eloquent tribute to the great part which the City of London has played in the history of our country, and the manner in which it has struggled and fought to secure and maintain our rights and liberties. I have endeavoured to show that the attacks made on the City are due to ignorance of the real state of the case. Yet honourable Gentlemen opposite, including the right honourable Member for West Leeds, the right honourable Member for East Fife, and the honourable Member for Haddington, none of whom are specially collected with the City, speak of its "stolid indifference," of its being "untouched in its splendid isolation, and dead to the impulses which stir the heart of the metropolis," etc. I venture, in reply, to say that there is no part of this great metropolis in which there is more civic life, and more pride in our great City. The Bill is condemned as a measure to frustrate the legitimate aspirations of London, "to 405 save the City" and surround it by a "Pretorian Guard," and all because the City will continue to manage certain markets, to paint and repair four bridges, to supervise the safety of buildings in its own area, to verify weights and measures, and to elude sky signs. On these trifling grounds we are seriously asked to reject the Bill, which, however, I doubt not the House will pass by an overwhelming majority, and which I believe will be for the advantage of this great metropolis.
§ * SIR S. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
I consider it my duty to say a few words on this Bill. We have heard to-night a great deal about Westminster, and I therefore hope that the House will allow me to say a few plain words with regard to Whitechapel. I see no advantage in this Bill to a constituency like mine, and I feel sure that if the Government were to take the opinion of the electors of this great city as a whole, and to refer to them this question of dividing or uniting London, a large majority would vote for union. I have taken great interest and been somewhat active in the last elections for the London County Council, and there was nothing more in the forefront than this question. I do not believe there has since been any change of opinion in regard to it, and, in the event of another election taking place, I am confident that the same decision would be arrived at. I have recently conferred with some of my leading constituents, some whose political opinions are opposed to my own, and they are unanimous in condemning the Bill, and in the expression of a desire that they should be let alone. During the last fourteen years they have managed their own local affairs, and they see nothing in the Bill to compensate them for the proposed disturbance. I have had some experience not only of Westminster but also of the City and East End of London. I have lived for nearly 20 years in Westminster, and I have passed 51 years in the City, while I have represented the East End in four Parliaments. I know the difference in the social position of these districts, and when we come to compare the two great and rich portions of the metropolis with the congested and poor district I represent, we see a marked 406 contrast. Westminster is proud of having within its boundaries Royal Palaces and Art Galleries, and for that reason it claims in a memorial, which was sent to me as a rate-payer, to extend its boundaries eastwards. Whitechapel, although poor, is proud, and has also ancient Royal Palaces in its boundaries. In place of having the Liberties of Westminster, they have the Liberties of the Tower, and in this connection they used to receive visitors from Westminster in the Tower who did not always go back. If Westminster, the great and powerful Westminster, has a right to extend its boundaries eastward then Whitechapel has a right to extend its boundaries westward. But if it did that it might swallow up the City. Now, I should prefer that the City should swallow up Whitechapel, and it was on that ground that I venture to make this appeal to the Government that they should, even now, agree, for three reasons, that the City ought to extend its boundaries. I say that, as a counterpoise to Westminster with its large area, the City of London should extend eastwards and take in Whitechapel, Limehouse, St. George's, Mile End, and Stepney. These places are not scheduled, and it would be easy for the City of London to absorb them. I have worked for half a century in the City of London and I know the difference between the poor districts and the others. Go into a street the one side of which is the City and the other Whitechapel, and you can see the difference without crossing the road, owing to the management, the good management, of the City. It am not ungrateful to those who govern the City for the admirable way in which that one square mile is managed, but that is the very reason why it should not be limited to a square mile but should be extended, and if they would adopt so unselfish a course as to absorb the poor districts they would take a very great step towards the equalisation of the rates. The rich people of the City would pay a little more, the poor of Whitechapel a little less. The right honourable Baronet says there is a difference between the statements as regards rates on properties; in one case the tenants pay the rates, and in the other case the landlords pay them. Both statements are true. There 407 are districts where there are plenty of houses where the neighbourhood is going down where the landlord pays the rates, because the tenant bargains for a reduction of the rent. But in White-chapel the tenant pays the rates, and he pays them by means of very high rents. The rack renting going on in Whitechapel is absolutely lamentable. We have a committee, and we have a lawyer, to protect the tenants from the extortions of the landlord, and we know that there is no district elsewhere, excepting, perhaps, Belgravia, where you can get less value for a £100 rent than in Whitechapel. This is an opportunity for the great City of London to absorb the poorer districts, those poorer neighbours who adjoin them, and they could lighten the burdens and gladden the hearts of the poor people who are being crushed with a weight they cannot bear. I am quite certain that the rich ratepayers of London, the large ratepayers of the City, would have no objection to the extension of the City. The large ratepayers of the City are, as we know, the bankers and great merchants, and I am perfectly sure that they would be only too glad to see equalisation of rates between the City and Whitechapel and St. George's. There are some people in the City who might object, but the great blot in, this Bill is that it leaves the City alone; the great blot on the City itself is that a great number of citizens desire to be left alone, and I shall work as hard as I can so that the City shall absorb these districts, and until I get some assurance from the Government that something will be done in that direction I shall certainly vote against the Bill.
§ On the return of Mr. SPEAKER after the usual interval—
§ * COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
Sir, I desire to address the House on this London Government Bill because I have been engaged, as part of my occupation, by three London local authorities for nearly 40 years, which has given me a very intimate knowledge on the subject of municipilisation. Honourable Members will know that 408 I very seldom speak in this House, but when there is a subject before the House which is within my own knowledge I think it may be of some advantage that an expert on London Government should be able to correct some of the inaccuracies which those with less knowledge have unconsciously been responsible for. With regard to the Housing of the Working Classes Act, I would refer first of all to an error which has been made with regard to that by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife, who assumed that some power was to be transferred from the County Council. That Act was passed by the President of the Board of Trade in 1890, and full advantage of its clauses has not yet been taken. That Bill is composed of three parts. The first part provides for the eradication of slums and the building up of new houses at the expense of the county. The second part provides for the eradication of slums and the building up of new houses at the expense partly of the county and partly of the district. The third part is with regard to the purchase or erection of new houses, additional houses. The third part of the Act has never been put into force by the London County Council yet, they have confined their operations to the powers conferred by parts one and two. They only built new houses where they were compelled to do so in consequence of the number of people dispossessed by the clearing away of insanitary property. Localities where rents were high have frequently applied to the County Council to put this part of the Act in operation, and it is obvious to anyone where rents are high it is on account of the scarcity of houses and the great number of tenants who desire to take them, and if the County Council had put into operation part three and built municipal houses where congestion was greatest they would have done a good work to the locality, and not only would they have done that, but they would have equalised, by economic laws, the burden of the rates. The County Council have had a weapon in their hands for the last ten years which would have tended to equalise the burden of rates and to have cheapened rents in districts 409 which are at the present moment overcrowded. They have entirely neglected their opportunity, they have been asked now to allow concurrent powers to local authorities. It is not a transference of powers that has been arrived at, but concurrent powers to these municipal bodies, and though objection has been made to it by honourable Members, it is a most singular thing that that has been agreed to by the London County Council itself. It has most solemnly consented to this concurrent power. It is in the list of things which they have consented to. It is really with the consent and concurrence of the County Council, and honourable Gentlemen should know that perfectly well. The County Council have agreed to the transfer of the powers contained in the first part of the second schedule of this Bill, and they have also agreed, after conferences with the authorities, to transfer all the powers in part two of the second schedule except two items; therefore the outcry with regard to the transference of powers is a false one. I know now that at the present moment different branches of what is called the London Reform Union are preaching all over London the injury that will be the outcome of the transference of these powers by the London County Council, yet both parts 1 and 2 have been agreed by the County Council except two items. The cry is only taken up by those who oppose the Bill and has no foundation in fact. The promotion of Bills by the municipal boroughs is said to be another disastrous proposition. The new boroughs will be able to promote Bills, and it is said that it will be most disastrous; but that again has been consented to by the London County Council. With regard to the by-laws also it is said they should not be transferred; there again the County Council have consented not to transfer, but that the borough councils shall have power to make by-laws in their own districts so long as they do not conflict with those of the County Council. The County Council can go on making by-laws and the munipalities must conform to them, but the municipalities can also make their own district by-laws. The honourable Member for the Elland Division of Yorkshire complained that the registration and 410 inspection of dairies was to be transferred, and he made a great point of the fact that this was a matter which affected the lives of thousands of people, and at first sight it seemed to be a very important matter; and if I had not known what I do know I should have thought that he had made a very great point. But under the Public Health Act of 1891, also passed in this House by the President of the Board of Trade, the dairies, after they had been once licensed and inspected were practically, so far as disease and the sale of milk was concerned, under the control of the local authority, and an outbreak of disease that occurred the other day was dealt with by the local authority, who had the responsible power. The main duty at the time of the outbreak is vested in the local authority, but there is a want of harmony between the two bodies. The proposal in the Bill, I find, is one of the things to which the London County Council has consented. The London County Council, after transferring its power, still retains a power to act in case of default. The same honourable Gentleman having said how-very well the County Council had acted with regard to the Queen's Jubilee in the regulation of balconies, honourable Gentlemen may think from his remarks that that power was also going to be transferred to the local authorities, but it is no such thing; that remains in the hands of the County Council. What the local authorities are going to have is the power transferred to them regulating wooden structures, so the whole of that criticism is entirely without foundation. It is a very serious thing when we come to the House to discuss a Measure like this to find so many statements made by honourable Gentlemen which have absolutely no foundation whatever. Now, a good deal of conflict with regard to this Measure has ranged round the City of London; it is a sort of fort or centre position which one side wants to capture and which the other side feels it very necessary to defend. One side wants to set the County Council over the City, and says that London is common to all, and the City opposes that. The City paid for Epping Forest and has the best right to keep it. The strong idea is the idea of levelling down, and honourable Members on the Opposition side of the House would like to make 411 the Corporation of the City of London no more than a vestry or a district council. We, on the other hand, would like to level up, and make all these new municipalities as much like the City Corporation as possible; and it is perfectly true that if that is done they will be stronger. I can tell the House that these municipalities when they are formed will be as jealous of their honour and dignity as the City of London itself, so that they will in a sense be a protection to the City of London. Another point is as to borrowing money from the County Council. Now, I think that that is a power that ought not to be disturbed. But will it be disturbed? After this Bill has passed, you can borrow money from the County Council just as you can now. It does not seem to be generally known that the vestries now are not bound to go to the County Council. I know many of them do not. Some go to the Insurance Offices, as they have done in the past. Even within the last fortnight I have completed a loan for a municipality from the Public Works Loan Commissioners at a less rate of interest than that which is charged by the County Council. Are we not to have competition in this matter, and go to the best and the cheapest market for our money? The County Council, we all know, manages its financial affairs exceedingly well, but surely that is no reason why municipalities should go there and pay a greater percentage for their money than they have to pay for it elsewhere. Therefore, they ought to be allowed to go into the open market and get their money at the cheapest price for themselves. Anyone knows, and that is another point, that the consent of the County Council is not sufficient in order to obtain all the loans from them. You have also to get the consent of the Local Government Board to some loans. At the present moment we always go to them for sanction for works under the Public Health (London) Act of 1891, and there may be one reason why we should go to the Local Government Board in the future for all loans, and that is that they never grant a loan without holding a local inquiry. The council hold no local inquiry, so 412 that if to-morrow a large sum of money is borrowed by the local authority the council receive the application, and I do not remember an instance of their refusing a loan; while the Local Government Board insist upon an inquiry in every case, and let a dissentient minority or any other ratepayer be heard before the representative of the Local Government Board, whose report is sent to the Local Government Board to decide on the evidence that that officer presents to them. Now, considering how rapidly and how easily and how injuriously debts may be accumulated in different localities, is it an unreasonable thing to have this sanction given by the Local Government Board rather than to have to go to two different authorities for different purposes—the Local Government Board and the County Council? Let it be one or the other. For my part, I would rather have the Local Government Board and a public inquiry in order to prevent large accumulations of local debts. The honourable Member in charge of the Bill has been invited by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife to add to the Bill various powers and duties. One honourable Member-suggests a further equalisation of rates. The honourable Member for St. George's desires that School Board summonses and vaccination summonses should be heard by the new councils, and so you go on. Those who advise that new things should be put into the Bill must know perfectly well that they would be overloading the ship, and that it would sink. I really can only think, if we were to adopt such advice, that would be the effect of it. Then, an honourable Member suggested that the duties of Poor Law Guardians should be transferred. To start a brand new institution, probably with new officers, and certainly with a large number of duties, and to transfer the Poor Law Guardians' duties on to it at one moment—why, the whole thing would become discredited, and we should say they did not do their work properly. I hope the House will not add anything to the Bill, save on some minor points; all these other things which are suggested are merely invitations to us to wreck the Bill. Reference has been made to tenification. It has been charged against 413 our Party that we are in favour of tenification. That was never so; the idea was that of a gentleman named Mr. Brooke Hitchings, in the City, but it never had any hold on public favour. Those who understand this question know very well that 10 monstrous constituencies would never work. Nothing less than 30 would be sufficient to satisfy local aspirations within the gigantic boundaries of this vast metropolis. I had myself circulated a scheme for about 40 municipalities. That was called forty-fication. I believe all these words are really corrupt words, but, if I may say so, I think it will end in thirtyfication. Now, it is very important that local patriotism should be encouraged, and it can exist in small places as well as in large places: I hope those in charge of the Bill will have a little more regard for what I call the local patriotism than they appear to have at this moment. I understand the friends of the Bill said to themselves, "Well, now, we will put into this Bill a certain number of municipalities, about which there cannot be the slightest doubt, but with regard to those upon which there may be arguments, we will refer those arguments to a local inquiry, so that every person shall be heard." I cannot imagine anything fairer than to have a local inquiry. Still, I think there are a few instances where a local inquiry is not necessary, because the facts are sufficiently well known, and might be acknowledged. That would, of course, take away some of the opposition, because those who are not in the first schedule naturally feel a little doubt as to what their position may be, and, therefore, are not enthusiastic supporters of the Measure. To give an instance. In part of my old borough is the parish called Plumstead, five square miles of land. The bulk of it is building land. The population when I first knew it was about 1,100 and is now about 62,000, and it will be 100,000 in not many years. Its possibilities are something enormous. You can build tens of thousands of houses on the vacant land. I think I should in that case give a municipality to a large area where the population was so rapidly increasing; that if you joined it to another place you would only have to separate it later on, because of its growth. That, Sir, is a question in which I have great interest, and I hope it will 414 be seen to at the proper time. Now, with regard to Shoreditch. I sympathise with Shoreditch. I think it ought to be a separate municipality. I can only imagine it has been left out of the schedule because they thought of adding another parish or place to Shoreditch. It cannot have been left out for the reason that Shoreditch is not large or populous enough to be a separate municipality. The same thing in regard to Stoke Newington. Stoke Newington with South Hornsey would make a very respectable municipality; and, whenever you separate a locality which has been working for several years on its own account, and has gathered together a body of local feeling—when it feels that it can govern itself, and its so doing has been sanctioned by Act of Parliament, it wants a very strong case, in my opinion, to take away from that locality the position which Parliament itself has given to it some years before. I have the greatest sympathy, therefore, with all those districts that have achieved their individuality, and I think to put them back again with other people from whom they have been separated would be a misfortune to the locality, and would lessen that local patriotism which it is desired to encourage. I remember, when this parish of Plumstead used to be united with others, that we had to drive four miles to the place of meeting, and more than half the time was taken up in discussing the affairs of other parishes with which we had no concern. It is desirable that we should have separate governments, from all points of view in such cases. I would suggest that if, in any cases not in the first schedule, the localities themselves can all agree as to division, they might even now be, put in the first schedule of the Bill; for what is the use of holding an inquiry where all the parties are agreed, and it does no harm to anybody in the world to let them have their wish? At Deptford all parties are thoroughly agreed, and also at Greenwich, Woolwich and Lee. They might settle the boundaries themselves, and bring their agreement forward. Why should we try to force people into positions they do not want to be in? I trust that local feeling will have a good deal more attention in Parliament and from the Committee of Inquiry than it has had hitherto. Mr. Speaker, there 415 is talk about the municipal unit. They say we intend to destroy it. I deny that it exists. The unity of London could never exist. In that philosophical, theoretical speech delivered by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin he has traced how it might have happened, how the City of London might have grown gradually over the whole of London. I beg to tell him and this House that it might have grown ever so much, but that Woolwich, which I represent, is nearly as ancient as the City of London. We were a dockyard town in the reign of Henry VIII. Then take Greenwich. These are towns—they are not municipalities; and nothing in the way of the growth of the City of London could have formed them into one municipality with it. I should like to say, also, that the county of London, in my opinion, can never be one municipality, because it is a mass of different towns. They have grown together, I admit, by the spaces between the towns having been filled up by houses; but that does not make the unit nor destroy the local interest that has existed for all these hundreds of years. Now, with regard to the existing districts. It may be observed, in passing, that ever since Sir Benjamin Hall's Act of 1855 these vestries and district boards have had the government of their localities, and I think, taking all together, they have not done at all badly. I agree to praise those people who with limited powers have done so well. The Metropolitan Board of Works, with only a halfpenny fire brigade rate, did a vast amount of good. It is now said, But see how much better the County Council does! That is because the limit of the halfpenny has been taken off. Of course, you can do better when the limit is taken off than when you are restricted in the amount at your command. I had the honour to be a Member of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and I am proud to say so. Although there have been slight defects, there have been slight defects also in its successors. There always will be slight defects. It will be remembered that the honourable Member for Battersea said, "Look at the Woolwich Ferry!"—taking credit for the Woolwich Ferry, which was finished by the Metropolitan Board of Works and opened early in the first year of 416 Lord Rosebery's chairmanship of the London County Council. Lord Rosebery admitted that it was not the County Council's work. You forget all that for Party purposes, and try and take all the credit to the County Council for the things they have not done, and to charge this Bill with doing things which it does not do There is, however, a clause in this Bill which, to my mind, reads very curiously. I think it means that you may add members to the committees of the new bodies from outside bodies. If it is the intention to put members on the committees for any purpose it means this, that a majority in power on a borough council can put the whole of the defeated candidates at the election on their side on every committee of the borough council. How would that work? The power would be in the hands of the majority, and those that had got in with a majority would invite the defeated candidates of their own side, and say, "Well, never mind, although you have been defeated, you shall come on to the different committees of the borough council." It cannot mean that. I think it means, in regard to things like libraries, that members may be brought in from outside. Surely it can never mean that representatives of the people are to be mixed up with non-representative people on any committee. The clause wants clearly drafting, and we should have a, fair understanding as to what it does mean. With regard to overseers, that is also a moot point. At the present moment, under various Acts of Parliament, existing local authorities have the powers of overseers, vested in the present bodies. There are a dozen or fifteen of the great local authorities of London who do the overseers' business in their vestries. Do you think it likely that they will give that up without a struggle? Certainly not. I think there should be a uniform system. In some places there are overseers, in some places they are overseers themselves. I think it would be very much better that the elected of the ratepayers should do the whole work of the overseers rather than have a separate body dominated by them to do the work, with very little power. And I think that if a municipal corporation has the making of the rate, it has an incentive to economy in spending 417 it, while if they get the money merely by issuing a precept, and have no trouble with regard to collecting it, they are not likely to be so careful of the amount of the rate as they would be if they had to make the rate, and had the ignominy of a large rate instead of the credit of a small rate. The more, therefore, you leave to the borough council in the way of responsibility for rates, the better it would be. The Bill also says the borough council shall appoint the officers. What a position the overseers would be in, having officers appointed for them, over whom they had no control. It appears to me that the overseers would occupy the position of being mere rate collectors. It is a most undignified position that the Bill puts the overseers in, and I think it would be very much better that the whole responsibility should be in the hands of the borough council. The same remark applies to assessing. It is proposed in the Bill that there should be an assessment committee appointed by the borough council, but in certain cases where the Poor Law unions areas are not coterminous with those of the borough council, the assessment committee of the union is to come in, so that you are to have assessment committees in different parts of London from two separate bodies—in some cases elected by the guardians, and others by the borough council. If the object is uniformity of arrangement all over London, I should like that uniformity to be secured by there being some central authority, or the county council, if you like, so that the different parishes may be rated on the same system. Uniformity of assessment is a great thing, and so is uniformity of assessment committees, and I think, therefore, that the assessment committees had better in every case be appointed by the borough council rather than in some cases by the guardians and in other cases by the borough council. The most important point, however, I have left to the last. It is the question of the audit. I could cite lots of cases of difference between the Government auditor and the elected auditor. I remember a case at Camberwell, where there was a large expenditure on a boundary dinner, something like £150. The Local Government Board's auditor disallowed one-half of it as excessive. He thought he had done his duty. They did not appeal to the Local Government 418 Board to have the charge remitted. They simply put the disallowed part into the general account, which was audited by their own auditors—that is to say, the elected auditors—who passed it, so that they got the £75 which had been disallowed by the Local Government Board's auditor. I could multiply in stances by scores. It seems to me that the Local Government auditor is a better auditor than any elected by the ratepayers. Now, if an auditor elected by the ratepayers disallows a charge, you have to go to the Queen's Bench Division. But with regard to the Local Government Board, you can go to them, and if it is the first time, and a small thing, they would probably say, "We will remit it this time, but do not do it again." I do not think it is a safe thing to put the audit of these accounts into the hands of any but professional auditors. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds brought in a Bill, and passed it, about building societies; that the audit must be by a professional auditor. Here is a case where the borough council will be handling the money of the public, and yet their expenditure is not to be audited by a professional auditor—or not necessarily by a professional auditor. You have done one good thing by saying that the general rate shall be included with the poor rate, and shall be audited by the Local Government Board. You should now go a little further, and say that the expenditure of the borough council shall also be audited by a Local Government Board auditor. I believe this clause was put into the Bill because it was the wish of the Islington Conference that elected auditors should be continued. The Member for East Islington was, I think, at that Conference, and I have no doubt he would now be in favour of a public auditor. Certain vestries might desire to keep the auditors elected by the ratepayers, but those who- want their accounts in proper order would never fear—in fact, ought to court—investigation by a competent officer. Then there is section 14, which orders the Commissioners to in quire and make such an order as will prevent any injustice. I should like all these Provisional Orders, as they are called, to be brought to Parliament. I rather think that all Local Government Provisional Orders must come to Parliament. Provisional Orders 419 by the Privy Council may or may not come before Parliament, but I would like the whole to come before Parliament, so that we may see whether justice has been done. The smaller matters are of little importance. I shall heartily vote for the Second Reading of the Bill. I think it will be a great improvement upon the existing method of government, and I shall support it uninfluenced by small questions of detail, which can be amended in Committee, such as by whom the sewers rate may be deducted from rent, who is to elect the parish churchwarden, whether a lady may be a mayor, and, I suppose, whether her husband may be lady mayoress—all these things are of no matter at all. I have heard so many errors quoted, so many mistakes made, even by learned Gentlemen, that I have been rather surprised. Still, I have no doubt that with the help of the Local Government Board and of the Members for London, we shall settle all these details in Committee, and amend the Bill, and shall be able at last to say that London is governed in a satisfactory manner.
§ * MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
Sir, the honourable and gallant Gentleman opposite, who passed a glowing eulogy upon the Bill upon the express ground that it saved the City of London, has in the latter part of his speech delivered as damaging a criticism upon many of the provisions of this Bill as I have heard in the whole course of the Debate. The honourable and gallant Gentleman has, as we all know, a remarkable knowledge of the details of London government. He has displayed that knowledge in the speech that he has just delivered to the House, and certainly his knowledge has brought into stronger relief the great ignorance of London government, and the details in connection with London government, displayed by the authors of this Bill. Sir, the honourable and gallant Gentleman has also illustrated the great disadvantage under which we are discussing this Bill. As I have observed since I have been a Member of the House, according to the traditions of the House one of the uses of a Second Reading Debate is to enlighten the House, to give the Government an opportunity of making clear what is obscure, and of removing any misunderstanding which the mere reading of the 420 print of the Bill may cause to arise in Members' minds. But, Sir, upon this occasion we have received absolutely no assistance whatever of that kind from the Front Bench opposite. It was a remarkable thing that during the first night of the Debate, after the First Lord's speech, not a single Member rose from the Treasury Bench, and up to this moment we have heard only one speech—a very short one from the Solicitor-General; an interesting speech, but it helped us very little, and I am sure the Solicitor-General will excuse me if I say that he gave us absolutely no information with regard to this Bill. The Ministerial Bench had a short time before been strenuously pressed by one of their own supporters, the honourable Member for Dulwich, to give information of the kind to which I am now referring, and the legitimate curiosity of that honourable Gentleman was certainly not satisfied by the speech of the Solicitor-General, interesting as it was. Now, this disadvantage is illustrated by one of the points to which the honourable and gallant Member called attention. He says that the Bill cannot possibly mean what the Bill most clearly and unmistakably says—I mean with regard to giving power to the borough council to elect upon any of its committees members from outside. The honourable and gallant Gentleman says the Bill cannot mean that. Will the House pardon me if I read the words of the Bill—Any Committee appointed by the borough council for the purpose of the Libraries Acts, 1892 and 1893, or of any of their other powers or duties, may consist partly of persons not members of the council.Those are the words, and nothing could be plainer than that, and yet the supporters of the Government say that those words cannot mean what they appear to do. In this respect we ought to have had the advantage of further information and a larger number of speeches from the Ministerial Benches. Now, any person having a practical acquaintance with London government who takes up a copy of this Bill which we are considering must be at once struck by its extreme shortness, as contrasted with the great complexity of the subject matter. I remember, a few months ago, when the Duke of Devonshire received a deputation on this subject, he seemed 421 positively astounded at the extreme difficulty and complexity of redistributing or readjusting affairs between the central and local authorities. And yet problem, which the Duke of Devonshire described as one of the most difficult and complicated of questions, professes to be solved in this short Bill of 28 clauses. Now, how is it done? There is an appearance of simplicity about this Bill which is absolutely delusive. The authors of the Bill have, if I may say so, not fairly faced the essential difficulties of the situation, and they have shelved every real difficulty by referring it to some unknown commission in the first place, in the second place to the Local Government Board, and in the third place to the Privy Council. This, I think I may say without any exaggeration, is the most flagrant instance which has occurred in our time of this House handing over to an external authority what the Government ought to propose, and what this House ought to decide. It may be said that the conditions of modern life are such, and our social organisation is so complex that this House is absolutely compelled to adopt the expedient of what I may call "sub-legislation" —that is, handing over certain powers of legislation to an external body. But I have often heard honourable Members holding large and liberal views on both sides of the House, without distinction of Party, express distrust of this expedient of sub-legislation, and indicate a desire to confine it within the narrowest possible limits, and stipulate that when recourse to it is inevitable this House shall, at all events, lay down the principles, and leave to the external authority only the duty of working out these principles in detail. Now, I apply those observations to the case of this Bill. The learned Solicitor-General the other night spoke about the analogy of boundaries. We are familiar, of course, with Boundary Bills, and so far I will make this admission to the Solicitor-General: that as far as the 16 areas scheduled in the Bill are concerned, they come within the purposes of a Boundary Bill; but so far as the one-third of London outside the scheduled areas is concerned, such a Boundary Bill, I venture to say, has never been submitted to this House. We are handing over one-third of this great metropolis to a certain number of gen- 422 tlemen of whom we know nothing, at all events, to do with one-third of the metropolis what they please, subject to certain limitations which are really no limitations at all. And actually the Commissioners are not absolutely bound by those limitations, for they may disregard them if they choose to present a special Report. We have laid down no principle to guide these Commissioners, and they can abstract no-principle from the schedule of the Bill. Suppose they desire to take rateable value as their guide. Are they to model their new areas upon Westminster's rateable value of £5,000,000, or are they to form your new areas upon the model of Fulham, with something under £650,000 rateable value? Or, if they take population as their guide, are they to follow the example of Islington, with a population of 350,000, or the example of Hampstead, with only 75,000? If size is to be their guide, are they to take the example of Wandsworth, with an acreage of 9,000, or are they to take the model of Chelsea with an acreage of 800? In all respects the Commissioners can derive no guidance whatever from anything in the Bill. We are handing one-third of London to these Commissioners, and we are laying down no principles for their guidance. That is, so far as I know, absolutely unprecedented in any legislation which has received the imprimatur of this House. I desire, in the next place, to refer to the way in which it is proposed to deal with the London Building Act—that is to say, to entrust to the Privy Council, first the duty of distributing the powers under that Act between the central authority and the local authority, and then not only to distribute the power, but actually the Privy Council has power to modify the Act itself. Can any learned Gentleman point out to me a single precedent in Parliamentary legislation for such a course as that? I happen to know something about the London Building Act, for I was a member of the London County Council when it was passed and when it was framed, and I was also a member of the Committee under the chairmanship of that devoted and able chairman, Dr. Long-staff, who is not a Progressive but a Moderate, and after that Bill had been most carefully prepared we were months engaged upon it at Spring Gardens. It 423 came down to this House, and it under went the most careful scrutiny of a Committee of this House, before which all interests were represented. That Bill has become an Act of Parliament, and now this House is asked to hand over that Act of Parliament, so carefully prepared and so carefully considered by Members of this House, to the tender mercies of the Privy Council. Do honourable Gentlemen understand, if I may ask them, what this Building Act really is? May I point out two aspects of it? It deals with the London streets, and with what I may call the metropolitan aspect of London streets—with the building line, and matters of that kind. May I give an illustration drawn from my experience on the London County Council, because actual experience is worth a great deal of generalisation? From my experience, again and again, in the case of such roads as the Euston Road, and also High Street, Kensington, the local vestry has strongly supported applications to build over the forecourts of the houses, but the London County Council has sternly set its face against it, and so has preserved our streets in their natural and proper width. It is obvious, from the fact that such applications have received the support of the local vestries, that if you hand this part of the London Building Act over to them you may expect a great change in the appearance of our streets, and, at all events, uniformity in matters of this kind will be absolutely gone. There are also provisions which are designed to prevent the re-erection of slums upon cleared areas. What was found practically by those who are concerned in the administration at Spring Gardens was this: When an area had been cleared it very often happened that new buildings were erected with such a total absence of air-space, and became so crowded, that in a very few years they became slum property again. That part of the London Building Act was the fruit and outgrowth of actual experience, and was intended to stop the abuses which were going on. It was framed by the London County Council and considered by Parliament, when the interests concerned—of owners and builders—were fully represented before the Committee and also in conference with us, and naturally they were professionally represented before the Committee of this House, when 424 every consideration was paid to them. And this carefully-considered provision against a gross and scandalous system of building is going to be handed over to the Privy Council to do what they please with regard to it. I say that that, as far as I know, is unprecedented, and I hope it will receive from the Government re-consideration. Now, I spoke a moment ago about areas. I should like, if I might, just to allude, upon the question of areas, to the speech of the honourable Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley, who is interested in Poplar, and who is not satisfied with the inclusion of Poplar, which is scheduled in the Bill; but he desires that the whole of the Tower Hamlets should form the area of a borough council under this Bill. The honourable and gallant Gentleman opposite who spoke a moment ago said that he and his Party were not in favour of tenification, but certainly the Member for Bow and Bromley is in favour of tenification, because the population of the Tower Hamlets is about one-tenth of the population of the whole of London, and he desires that the whole of the Tower Hamlets should form one area, and that should be a sort of model for the areas of the other boroughs in London. I cannot understand what advantage it would be to Poplar to extend its boundaries and take in the whole of the Tower Hamlets—I cannot see what element there is in the Tower Hamlets outside Poplar which Poplar itself does not possess. No earthly object can be served by adding one poverty-stricken district to another. It always seems to me with regard to areas that large areas for Local Government in London became impossible from the time when, for good or ill, single-member constituencies for Parliament were established, because, say what you will, it is the area of Parliamentary representation which forms the basis of combinations. It is within the area of Parliamentary representation that men learn to work together, and I think that the most effective area for Local Government in London should follow in every case the area of a single-meber constituency, or, at all events, a combination of these constituencies. The tendency, of course, was confirmed by the Local Government Act of 1888, when you adopted precisely the same areas for county government. In the next place 425 I want to say a few words about the finance of this Bill, but before I come directly to the finance, there is one subject upon which I should like to say a word which certainly may well introduce us to the financial part of this subject—I mean the proposal to give to these borough councils the power to oppose and promote Bills in Parliament. It does seem to me that to set up some 30 authorities in London, with power to promote Bills of their own and to oppose the Bills of the London County Council, or of their neighbours, opens a prospect which, from the ratepayers' point of view, is absolutely appalling. This suggestion seems to me to have arisen from what is a characteristic feature, if I may say so, of this Bill. I mean the assumption that there is absolutely identity between a metropolitan borough and a provincial borough. We know there is no such thing, for they are totally different, owing to the fact that in the metropolitan borough some one-third of the rates are left to be dealt with by an external authority which does not exist in provincial towns. But I contend that this particular clause—as the representative of a poor district—would press very hard upon the poorer districts of London. What is it that you are proposing to do? You are proposing to encourage what is practically litigation. How can Bethnal Green compete upon equal terms with Westminster in litigation? In Westminster a penny in the £—I mean the New Westminster—produces £20,000, and a penny in the £ in my constituency would produce something like £1,800. I say there is no equality in this. With regard to authorities, it is the same as with individuals. In matters of litigation the advantage is always on the side of the party who has the deepest purse. With regard to the question of finance, I should like to say a word about the transfer of powers regarded from a financial point of view. Transfer of powers comes under two heads. Certain powers are given under the Act to the local authorities to be exercised concurrently with the London County Council. As regards these powers, there is no provision in the Bill for any contribution to the local authority out of the common purse. The London County Council is not to make any contribution in regard 426 to the transfer of these powers to the local authority, although concurrent jurisdiction may be handed over to them. Among these powers are the powers under Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, and some honourable Gentlemen opposite have been very triumphant in pointing out to to us that these are powers tinder Part III. not powers under Part I. I am quite aware that they are powers under Part I., and it is to a largo extent because they are powers under Part III. that I consider the matter of such importance, because I believe that in future Part III. of the Housing of the Working Classes Act is going to play a large part in providing more decent accommodation for the labouring classes in London. The question is really not who is to do the work. The honourable Gentleman opposite pointed out triumphantly, and I believe correctly, that the London County Council had consented to the local authority having concurrent power tinder Part III. The point is not who is to do the work, but what area the cost of the work is to fall upon, and there is no provision in this Bill for any contribution from the central authority. I do say this—that the provision of decent accommodation for the labouring classes in this metropolis is a common obligation upon the whole of London, and ought to be a common charge. These poor are not the poor of Rotherhithe, or Bermondsey, or Bethnal Green, but they are the poor of London, and what I fear in this part of the Bill is that it will permit a sectional treatment of the housing question. Westminster and the rest will probably be glad to compound by making some provision for the poor in their own borders, while they will leave to districts like Bethnal Green and Poplar—which are unable to bear it—the burden of providing for their own poor. That brings me to the question of inequalities of rates throughout London. A very valuable Return has just been presented to Parliament, and what does it show? It shows that while rates in Westminster are 5s. 1d. in the £, and in St. George's, Hanover Square, 5s. 9d., they are over 8s. in the £ in Rotherhithe. The effect of this Bill will be undoubtedly to disturb the rates, and surely the opportunity ought to be seized to adjust these gross inequalities in this Bill. The specially 427 favoured localities are amalgamated and are intrenched in an impregnable position The lightest ratted districts in London—St. James', Westminster, and St. George's, Hanover Square—are joined together to make a city of the rich. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Westminster earlier in the evening objected to the term "city of the rich" being applied to Westminster or to the New Westminster. I say it is a perfectly true description. I know that Westminster has some of the worst slums in London. Lazarus is generally found not very far from Dives. But what is the only test of a rich district? It is the relation between population and rateable value in a district. Now, I find that Westminster has only a population of under 200,000, whilst its rateable value is £5,000,000. I say we are perfectly justified in terming it a city of the rich. Remember it was from these districts of St. James', Westminster, and from St. George's, Hanover Square, that the chief opposition came to the Equalisation of Rates Act, 1894, and can it be supposed that the opposition to any further extension of the principle will be diminished now that you are giving them fresh strength by uniting them? The effect of this Act will be to disturb rates, as I said a moment ago, and it will disturb rates very materially. Unfortunately, though the rates in some districts will be increased they will not be increased with reference to any principle, nor will they have any material effect in further equalising the rates for the whole of London. Let me point out that if this New Westminster is established the ratepayer in St. James', Westminster, will pay higher rates than he pays now, but that increase ought to enure for the benefit of places like Bermondsey and Betlmal Green, and the poorest districts of London. But this Bill will do nothing of the kind, for although the ratepayer in Westminster will pay more, the benefit will not go to Bermondsey, Poplar, or Bethnal Green, but it will go to the benefit of the ratepayer in St. George's, Hanover Square, who has no right whatever to be relieved, because at present the rates which he pays are considerably below the average for the whole of London. I say that here you are missing a great opportunity for extending the principle of equalisation. Honourable Gentlemen 428 opposite have pointed with quite a triumphant air to this sub-clause in the Bill which enacts, "That nothing in this Act shall affect the Equalisation of Rates Act, 1894." That, I think, is a blot upon the Bill, for a Measure of this kind ought to affect the Equalisation of Rates Act of 1894. You ought to seize this opportunity to extend the principle of that Act, and I shall certainly in Committee give honourable Gentlemen opposite who have boasted so much that they do not desire, in any way, to interfere with the principle of equalisation an opportunity of showing their bona fides by moving an Amendment that the sixpence now payable under the Equalisation of Rates Act be increased to one shilling. In conclusion, I may add that honourable Gentlemen opposite seem very anxious that there shall be no division upon this Bill. I shall, however, give my vote very cordially for the Amendment, and for this reason among others, that I fear a good deal what may happen in Committee upon this Bill. I dare say that some concessions may be made to us, for some have been indicated. It has been suggested by the honourable Member for Chelsea, who the other night threw out a concession even to myself, for he suggested that the constituency which I have the honour to represent should be included in the first schedule of the Bill. Well, it has an excellent claim to be included in the schedule, and, I dare say, will be included in the Bill, and I have no doubt that concessions of this kind may be made in Committee. On the other hand, I notice the noble Lord the Member for South Kensington stated the other night that he desired to reconstitute the London County Council on the model of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and I noticed also that the Leader of the House, who rose to interrupt the noble Lord, gave an answer which was far from discouraging. But still more disquieting was the speech made last night by the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth. It did seem to me, as I listened to that speech made by the honourable and learned Gentleman, that it confirmed the worst suspicions which had been entertained upon this side of the House with regard to the character and the nature of the Bill. I shall not dwell upon the eulogium which the honourable and 429 learned Gentleman pronounced upon the Metropolitan Board of Works, because I think that eulogium was a little belated, especially when we remember that the glory of the greatest work which they did—the Thames Embankment—is very materially tarnished by the discovery that its foundation is so rotten that the maintenance of a decent roadway is absolutely impossible. But what specially struck me in the speech of the honourable and learned Gentleman was his ideal of London Government. Now, what was his ideal? It was the setting up of a number of independent boroughs in London which should send representatives to a Committee at Spring Gardens to deal with, main drainage and a few other such matters. The significance of that speech lies in this, that it coincides in a very remarlsable degree with the suggestions made in the letter of Lord Onslow as to the future development of these borough councils, and it also differs not very widely from what was called the suicidal policy enunciated in Lord Salisbury's famous speech. For these reasons I shall cordially give my vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
There is one argument I have not heard during the Debate on this most important Bill, and as it is one which appeals strongly to the neighbourhood which I have the honour to represent in this House. I propose to say a few words on it. It is this. The Government may, or may not, be right—and some honourable Gentlemen opposite say they are not— in endeavouring to improve the Local Government of London by bringing about municipalities within the London area. I can assure this House—and I wish the honourable Member for Battersea was present to hear what I say, because he is well aware of the fact—that the frightfully inadequate attention paid by the voters to the local elections forms a crying evil, which it is the duty of this House to deal with, if it has any desire to place Local Government in London on a proper basis. Actually the maximum number of voters at vestry elections in that part of South West London I am acquainted with represents 29 per 430 cent. of the electors. I have heard of a minimum of 23 per cent., and the average is 25 per cent., and I do not think anyone will say that 25 per cent. is a satisfactory average, when you have to deal with bodies that are spending the money of the ratepayers. It is with this disability and with this need that the Conservative and Unionist Party is mainly desirous to deal, and that they are dealing with it in this Bill on lines which are needful on behalf of London and its populous suburbs I do not think that anything which has hitherto transpired in this Debate can lead anyone to deny. I would just like to say one word on the subject of the assumed hostility of those who sit upon this side of the House to the London County Council, which, if true, is indeed unreasonable on the part of those who created that institution. Not only do I repudiate participation in such prejudice, but I desire to render the task of the London County Council easier to fulfil, the co-operation of the localities being now given in a half-hearted fashion. I would not have claimed to say one single word in a Debate of this importance had I not had a long London experience. Not only have I lived all my life in London, but the first thing I recollect of my boyhood days is that my father was a special constable in 1848, and, when he went down to Regent's Park to do his duty, I remember well the anxiety caused in our household by a thunderstorm which broke out in the middle of the day, and I know that someone remarked that my father was in the middle of a battle and we might never see him again. I quote this simply to show that from the very first moment I can recollect I have had an interest in London—an interest which has led me from time to time to attempt to do my duty to those among whom I have lived. In 1892 I was elected Member for one of the largest boroughs in London, and, by attendance here, I have faithfully endeavoured to do my duty, not only to my own constituency, but to the nation at large. I therefore think I have some right to express an opinion on this Bill. I was very glad to hear the honourable Member for 431 Battersea—I wish he was in his place, as I do not like to talk to a man in his absence—make a very important statement. He has carefully examined this Bill, and he admits that in it there is no direct attack upon the equalisation of rates. I think that that is a most important announcement. He tells us that there may be some silent covert attack in the future, and in that way he endorses the statement which has been circulated by my friend Mr. Dickinson, who informs us that when two-thirds of the powers of the London County Council are taken away there will be a drain on the funds which will indirectly affect the equalisation of rates, and that there will be a sum of probably one million sterling less to be divided, and that, therefore, the poorer districts will suffer. But the honourable Member for Battersea did not carry his arguments so far as that, and, if I understand the matter aright, even if it should prove to be the case, it would not be very difficult to increase the sixpence in the pound now chargeable on the whole rateable value of London, in order to make up any deficiency. But I do not believe that any such contingency will arise. I am very sorry that the question of the City of London has again been brought forward in this Debate. During the last few months I have observed a very much better state of feeling existing between the London County Council and the City—a feeling which would have been perfectly impossible when I first came into politics. It was recently my happy lot to be invited to hospitalities at the Guildhall, and to see under the mahogany there the feet of many persons differing in politics in friendly relations, which would have been impossible in other circumstances. I believe that points to a better state of things, which in time will bear good fruit. The threat that the City of London is to be swallowed up by the London County Council is very much calculated to arouse that feeling in the suburbs of London, which, at the last election, moved large numbers of voters to join the Unionist Party, and I say that with some knowledge of the circumstances I am not prepared to say that something 432 might not be urged on behalf of the Commission which reported in 1894; but this I do suggest, that if there was a subject which was unpopular amongst the people of London, it was what they thought to be the unfair attack made on the City of London. The honourable Member for Battersea told us he did not mind whether the City of London was swallowed up by the London County Council, or whether the County Council was swallowed up by the City of London. But it will be remembered that during the Debate the honourable Member for Stepney told us that the great power of the Chairman of the County Council was to be found in its simplicity, and in the fact that he was undecorated; yet, if the policy of the honourable Member for Battersea is to be carried out, and the London County Council is to be merged in the City of London, then the uncrowned King of Spring Gardens will run the risk of having a coronet put upon his head. Personally, I do not think that that would be a calamity, but I do deprecate any revival of this controversy at the present moment. I honestly believe that, from a historical point of view, the action of the Government has been right in starting municipalities in London. Can you believe it possible that men such as Chief Justice Paterson, Mr. Labouchere (an uncle of the distinguished Member of the present House), and Sir George Cornwall Lewis, gave the advice in 185i that London should be governed by municipalities without long consideration, such as made any official announcement from these distinguished persons a weighty one. In view of that fact, surely there is something in the idea, although the Government did not take it up at that time—for we were then in a stale of war, and, I am afraid, our domestic affairs were not properly considered. I cannot go the length of my honourable and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth when he eulogises so strongly the late Board of Works, because, although I think that body did good work, it might, in my opinion, have done better had it had a popular origin. Had these municipalities been created then, I believe that London 433 government would have been in a better condition than it is now. I therefore make an earnest appeal to honourable Members who differ from me in this matter. It is impossible for us to put aside all our preconceived ideas, but honourable Members have it in their power to modify the provisions of this Bill, and, on the other hand, to let us know they have a strong sympathy with us in our desire to see London properly governed. We cannot believe that a population which according to an authoritative computation will in the year 1930 become eleven millions can be adequately governed from one centre. Before I sit down I wish to dwell for a few minutes upon a matter which is purely provincial. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds, in his very interesting speech, referred to an area in which a large number of my constituents are interested—the area of the Wandsworth District Board. Now, I take this opportunity of thanking the Government for having placed that area within the schedule of the Bill, and I am prepared to defend their action in doing so on the ground that the institution in question has done good work in the past, and is ready and able to do good work in the future. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds spoke of "unwieldy Wandsworth" with its area of 10,000 acres, and compared it with Chelsea with its area of only 74 acres. In the first place, may I point out that the right honourable Gentleman was mistaken in speaking of 10,000 acres? I believe the absolute figures are 9,250 acres, and in this large area we have no fewer than four commons—Streatham, Wandsworth, Tooting, and half of Clapham, while within the area is a portion of Richmond Park. These spaces represent a very considerable acreage, and if you deduct them from the gross area of 9,250 acres you bring it down to 7,500 acres at the very most—a total not as much in advance of all the London boroughs as the right honourable Member for Leeds believed, Lewisham having 6,543 acres, and Lee 7,000 acres. As to population, the scheduled boroughs of Islington, Camber- 434 well, Lambeth, and St. Pancras all have larger populations, and on these grounds I maintain that my right honourable Friend the Member for Leeds was not right in contending that in this area was contained a population out of all proportion to the other bodies in London. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Bodmin also attacked the inclusion of Wandsworth in the schedule, but he spoke as if the Parliamentary borough of Wandsworth was alone concerned, and to demonstrate his oversight I may quote a resolution passed by the vestry of Clapham protesting against any division of Wandsworth as calculated to lead to the greatest inconvenience and to render useless arrangements which have been made with great care for the government of the district, and which have worked so satisfactorily in the past. The Wandsworth District Board dates from 1854, and although in 1887, in the capacity of churchwarden, I gave my signature favouring the separation of Battersea from the division, I now believe that if you make further division you will do a great deal of harm to a system of government which has worked both efficiently and economically. I hope the House will forgive me for having taken up its time, although I do not think I have done so unduly. I hold that when a Bill of this kind is brought forward, one has an imperial duty to perform, and I do appeal to the young men of this great metropolis—and in this appeal I am sure my honourable Friend the Member for Battersea, who has worked so well with me in the past, will join—to bestir themselves and take a more active interest in the government of London. My honourable Friend the Member for Battersea knows how I have from the first desired to see the public mind turned on local affairs. I think it is a crying evil that in matters concerning our localities the tendency is to let things go by the board, and I believe that any Measure which will do something to make the people of this great metropolis take more interest in local affairs is well worth supporting, and should be earnestly backed up by us all.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
It is not my intention to thrust myself long upon the attention of the House, and for this reason, that I am sure the House is anxious, and I certainly have myself considerable anxiety, to hear from the Leader of the House what the probable course of the Government in regard to the Bill will be. We have a considerable advantage from the fact that the right honourable Gentleman is himself in charge of the Bill, although I may make the observation that it is somewhat singular that, having in the Government the President of the Local Government Board, we have not had the advantage of his exposition of a Measure which falls distinctly within the province of his Department, and to the best of my observation he has not even attended the House much during the course of the Debate. On previous occasions the right honourable Gentleman opposite, now the President of the Board of Trade, and my right honourable Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, took charge of the large Bills which dealt with subjects relating to their Departments, but now it is the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House. I have said it is an advantage for us to have the Bill in his hands, not only on personal grounds, but also because in his position he is better able to yield at once to those appeals which he will abundantly receive from all parts of the House. At the same time, we cannot dismiss from our recollection the important occasion on which the right honourable Gentleman took charge of a big Government Bill, when from first to last not a single Amendment was received upon it, and that not because the Bill was alleged to be so perfect as not to require amendment, but because there was a set and deliberate intention and purpose from the first to allow no Amendment to be adopted. We hope for better things with regard to this Measure. This is a Bill, as we have often been told in the course of the Debate, and as anyone can see by a most cursory inspection of it, bristling with details, and those details, whatever may have been the attitude taken up by the speakers in the Debate, have been 436 largely the subject of criticism on both sides. Even, I was going to say, its most enthusiastic supporter, but as I have not heard any very enthusiastic support given to it, I will put it in a negative form, and say even the least lukewarm supporter has always found some important point upon which he asked for some concession and alteration on the part of the Government. I may refer, on the other side, to my right honourable Friend the Member for Fife, who did not certainly show much favour to the Measure in the course of his speech, but yet at the end invited the right honourable Gentleman to show a spirit of concession and consideration, in the hope that the Bill—badly as we think of it at this stage and in its present condition—may be an eirenicon settling all difficulties in regard to this great question of London Government. As to my right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin, he invited us to put aside all Party prejudice and feeling, and with sentiments of the most complete impartiality to approach the consideration of the Bill. My right honourable Friend thinks that a very small number of Members taken from both sides of the House would be able to settle this great question in a satisfactory way. My right honourable Friend is always anxious to find an impartial person. I observe that the impartial person is usually practically interpreted by himself to be someone that he himself agrees with—not, as I have found from long experience of him, that it is at all expedient to be too noisy in your demonstration of agreement with my right honourable Friend, because that usually provokes in him a tendency to go in the opposite direction. He proposes a sort of round table on this subject—or shall I rather say a long table?—at the end of which my right honourable Friend himself will sit and act as umpire and arbitrator to settle all points in dispute. Well, I may say I am so far disposed to meet my right honourable Friend, and to respond to his appeal, that I will, at all events, disclaim, in the most earnest manner, on my own part, and on the part of those with whom I act, any partisanship in this question, or any disposition whatever to act as 437 partisans of the London County Council as such, or to display or entertain any jealousy of the Corporation of the City as such. There has been a good deal of personal prejudice or bias exhibited in the course of the speeches delivered on the Bill. I observe that the supporters of the Bill have, with one accord, repudiated the idea that it is, or in any respect covers or conceals, an attack on the London County Council. I also observe, at the same time, that whenever any allusion is made to the shortcomings of the London County Council they are loudly cheered by those Gentlemen opposite who disclaim any hostility to it. On the other hand, in one or two notable cases, and especially in that of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth, there has been a very strong line taken. The honourable and learned Member for Plymouth is an open and defiant advocate of the position of the City of London. He said last night that when the old Corporation was surrounded by other corporations of great influence and authority—and this throws a little light upon what is the intention—that those subsidiary bodies, which we are told are really of so little consequence in the polemics of the matter—that when the old Corporation is surrounded by these other corporations associated with it in the work of municipal government, it will be strengthened against attack. This is the main reason why the honourable and learned Gentleman is an ardent supporter of this Bill.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Well, it is a considerable reason. I am not disposed to join in any attack whatever upon the City of London. I complain of its position. I desire to see its traditions, and its dignity, and, if the honourable and learned Gentleman will allow me to add, its virtues, utilised more largely for the benefit of the whole of the metropolis. It is in that sense that I complain of its present position. But it is not quite consistent with the follest recognition of the public spirit of those who conduct its affairs. We all know that in recent years there has been 438 a great change in the view taken, or at any rate, in the attitude assumed, by what I may broadly call the City—including not only the Corporation of the City, but those great and wealthy city companies which form so large a part of the social organisation of the City. We have seen a very great change in their views, for they have apparently been much more alive than formerly to the duties which are naturally required of them. We admire all that they have done in the interests of education, in the interests of health, and the general welfare, not only of the City but of the whole metropolis. And, therefore, on that account I will ask the House to dismiss the idea that there is any narrow jealousy or prejudice either against the City Corporation or the City in general. Turning, on the other hand, to the London County Council, it is a body of great importance and dignity, recently created for the discharge of large and most essential duties in the interests of this great community. I believe that the universal feeling is that it has discharged those duties with intelligence, with enterprise, with energy, and with honesty. I am told it is divided into sections which call themselves Progressives and Moderates—I know nothing of that at all except from the outside. I am told that both sections alike are combined in desiring to uphold its authority. But I have arrived at the conclusion,— not only from an examination of the details of the Bill, but from such a survey as I can give to the whole subject of London administration, in which the County Council plays so large a part—that the Bill as it stands materially invalidates the position of the London County Council, and that is one of the principal reasons why, in its present form, I am opposed to the Bill. It seems to me clearly that this Bill represents a retrograde move. Apart from the actual mistakes which it may be thought to make in dealing both with areas and with powers, it is because it turns the finger-post in the wrong direction that I am constrained to oppose it. Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to go over the ground of its details. They have been elaborately discussed with 439 great ability and with great energy by many honourable Members on both sides of the House. We are all in favour of giving better definitions and increased powers to local bodies, particularly to the smaller local bodies. The honourable and learned Member for Plymouth asked how we could expect the government of London and the administration of London affairs to be carried on without those smaller local bodies. But he need not address that question to us, because we are in favour of strengthening, in every reasonable way, those local bodies, and of giving large powers to them. In fact, if I were in search of language which expressed my opinions upon this subject, I could not find anything better than the words used by the right honourable Gentleman opposite, the President of the Board of Trade, when he was speaking upon his Measure in 1888. He said—We do not put this forward as a complete settlement of the great problem of London government. We have our own proposals to make, and I hope we shall be able at some future time to make them. They are on the lines, not of creating separate municipalities throughout London, but of amalgamating within certain defined areas in London the existing vestries and local boards, and of constructing a County Council having in the various areas in the county large district councils with large and important administrative functions.That is precisely the view we take of what is required, and it is because this Bill seems to us not to fulfil those conditions that we decline to support it. The right honourable Gentleman drew a contrast between municipalities and district councils. It may be said that there is very little in a word, but, at all events, we are sure of this—that the word "borough" as applied to these smaller bodies is an absolute and entire misnomer. That cannot be a municipal borough which is not a borough, and which has not municipal powers, and is not under the provisions of the Municipal Act, and which has really nothing essentialy municipal about it. Therefore we inquire why is it that this word "borough" has been introduced, unless it is the thin end of the wedge, or the cloven hoof, or whatever other form there may be of implying an element of future 440 intentional mischief? Unless it is that, I do not quite understand why it has been introduced at all. There is, indeed, one reason which has been alleged; and it is worth considering. It is said that it will elevate the tone of these smaller councils and enlist the best class of men. What do we mean by the best class of men? If we mean the sort of man who would be attracted by a name or a title, then he is not the best sort of man, but he is the very man to be avoided. We do not want to attract the rich or those in a high social position. What we do want to attract, and what is essential, is that you should enlist men of intelligence and public spirit, and if you desire to attract men in that sense you will do it not by the honours you confer upon them but by the work which you give them to do. Now, Mr. Speaker, what I conceive to be wanting in this Bill is the growth of public spirit and of the sense of citizenship; therefore, what we ought to do is to enlist intelligent people into the public service, and to enlist public interest in their operations. What do we find under the old régime? Take the vestries which at present exist, their mode of election, and their general character. How many men are there in this House who have taken part in the election of a London vestry? We all of us live in London, but do any of us know where our vestry is elected, or when the election takes place. Do we take any part in it? There may be here and there one, but the mass of the ordinary people take no interest in the matter whatever, and I believe that, in some cases, where the electorate may extend to thousands, the election has been conducted with half-a-dozen voters. Then the honourable and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth has disclosed himself to us as a special admirer and almost a worshipper of the late Metropolitan Board of Works. He shed a tear—he did more—he laid a laurel wreath on the tomb of that departed body, oblivious, apparently, of the fact that it was his own old Leader in this House who practically did them to death. This Metropolitan Board of Works was appointed in an indirect way, without much 441 knowledge by the public. The honourable and learned Gentleman is proud of himself because he once knew, as I understood him, a member of that Board. He had got further in his inquiries than most of us were able to get. That was the sort of body that we had controlling the affairs of London until the right honourable Gentleman opposite introduced his Bill which created the London County Council. Why, Sir, the right honourable Gentleman, beyond all other men, deserves the gratitude, and in fact the thanks of the community of London for the great change—the great revolution—which that legislation of his created in the whole of the metropolis. It did exactly what was wanted; it excited interest and roused a civic spirit; it created, in fact, a new civic atmosphere. This was to proceed, surety, on the true lines of democratic development. Get public opinion behind it, get the public interested in your system of government, and blemishes in your system of government will not so much matter, for they can be cured; but the best system in the world, if it has not the public interested in it, is bound to decay and fail. Compare the present system with the vestries and the Metropolitan Board of Works, for which the honourable and learned Gentleman sighs. We have an election every three years, and we see Cabinet Ministers taking an interest in that election, and attending meetings and making speeches; and, although the result may not be altogether always a satisfactory one for the expenditure of so much energy, still the Cabinet Ministers who make speeches can always fall back upon the usual consolation: "How much worse the result might have been if the speeches had not been made!" Therefore, what I wish to say is that the County Council election has become an approximation of a Parliamentary election, and a great stride has been taken in the direction of evoking and directing public interest to the local affairs of London. Now, I venture to say that there was no such interest before. People now know that there is such a thing as a County Council; they are interested in it, and it looks after some, at least, of their affairs. 442 And let the House observe that this matter of London government is no small matter. I rather think that a good many Members will be surprised to know what the amount of the total expenditure of all the public bodies in the metropolis is. The annual expenditure, which represents the amount of local taxation, is about £13,000,000 sterling, of which £6,500,000 is under the control of the county authorities, and £3,500,000 under the parish authorities. This is a very large budget, and a very important sum of money, and surely this Bill deals with a very important question, even taking that view of it alone. Is not this a strong argument for concentration and unity when there is such a Budget to deal with? If the ordinary voter had the oversight of this large expenditure would he not thoroughly appreciate his position? In the circumstances, what is it that this Bill does? I see that at a meeting held on this subject a day or two ago a speaker dealt with this point in a somewhat dramatic way. He said that the intention of the Bill was expressed in the very first words of its first clause, which says—The whole of the administrative county of London, exclusive of the City of London, shall be divided.It is division and not combination and concentration that the Bill seeks. In the great municipal boroughs throughout the country there is unity. They are treated as a single entity, which they really are. In such a city as Liverpool, or such a city as Glasgow, the rate is levied all over the whole locality. All the public duties are discharged by one authority, of course with assistant authorities in the districts under them. The most essential public services are dealt with in this way. Take the question of cleaning the streets or of lighting. Lighting is an expensive item in the budget of a local authority. Where is lighting most required? Surely, it is most required in the narrow streets and the lanes and alleys of the poorest parts of the City, but they cannot discharge the duties of lighting and cleaning so well in those parts of London as they are accomplished in the West of 443 London, because they are so poor. And then, we have to ask who are these poor, and who are the inhabitants of the poorer districts? They are the compliment of the richer districts. It is not a case of two separate communities, the one rich and the other poor, having accidentally come into communication. The poor are there because the rich are there, and it is rather hard, surely, that they should be stinted in those very necessary public services while the rich, for whose benefit, or, at any rate, in consequence of whose existence, they are there, have got those services better performed. And, moreover, your new independent areas which are rich will push over their borders into the poorer areas these necessary duties. I am astonished at my boldness in attributing this fallacy to so acute a mind as that of the honourable and learned Member for Plymouth, but when he spoke last night he said that we must reckon up in the City the day population as well as the night population. But what does the City do for that day population? If it is to be counted in the City, and if we are making contrast between the City and other parts of the metropolis, I ask what does it do for them? They go away after their business is done, and they go into those poorer districts where they have to have municipal services performed for them not at the cost of the City, but at the cost of the localities in which they live. This Bill, therefore, indicates to me distinctly a backward step, and the ordinary man who has had a fair conception of the advantages of having a large body like the London County Council looking after his interests will not understand why it is that having created that important body eleven years ago, in 1888, you now proceed to a certain extent, apparently, not only to strip it of certain powers, but to set up in competition with it and in rivalry with it, certain other bodies, the necessity for which may not be so plain. Therefore, the indirect effect of such a proposal as this seems to me to go much further than the question of the actual powers. The honourable and learned Member for Plymouth denies, I 444 understood him to say, that we should not be able to find any other case where there exists a municipality with municipalities under it. But if that is true it is the condemnation of this Bill. If that is so, why do you create municipalities under the municipality which you at present have? Local bodies in the capacity of administrative bodies are healthy and necessary, but in the capacity of municipal bodies they are wrong in theory, and they tend to confuse the mind and the action of the public in regard to the proper order of government. That is the view I take of what this Bill does. But now I wish to say a word or two—and they will be a very few words—upon what the Bill seems to me to leave undone which might have been done. You might give the local councils importance and strength by handing over to them the Poor Law powers, and by making them the overseers. There has been a strong appeal made from many quarters to the Government to attempt first the one and then the other of these proposals, and if these additional duties of that kind and of a different order are given to the district councils, that is the very best way of attracting and calling out and interesting and finding work for the intelligent and public-minded men who must abound in London. That is so far with regard to the smaller local authorities. But what are we to say with regard to the higher authorities? Is nothing to be done for them? Are they in an entirely satisfactory condition, and in sound relation to each other? Is there no room for the reorganisation of the higher functions of the metropolis? Now, there are four great metropolitan authorities. There is the City of London, the London County Council, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and the School Board. As to the City, can it really be that the City—I will not say be allowed—can it contemplate the policy of wrapping its cloak around it, and sitting apart from all the great work that is being done in the metropolis? It cannot, and it does not seek to do that.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It does a great deal of work. What does it do? It controls the markets, but that is not done for the City alone. It is done for the whole of the metropolis, and it is a very large work. The cost of the administration of the markets is about £80,000, and the dues are about £110,000. These dues are paid by the consumers of the metropolis day and night. Then the City is the port sanitary authority. That means that it is charged with keeping out of the metropolis infectious diseases arriving by sea. What happens when a doubtful case arrives in the river? The City, this port sanitary authority, has to follow the man who is supposed to be a source of danger to his abode in the metropolis. They have to follow him up—it may be to Whitechapel or to Fulham, and in doing so they have to act in co-operation with the officers of the County Council, so that that is a matter which enters the sphere of the County Council itself. Then we are reminded of what the City has done for the public benefit in securing Epping Forest and other places, but they were secured not for the City, but for the whole metropolis, and the expense of it is paid by means of certain corn duties which fall upon the whole metropolis. I need hardly refer to the extinct wine and coal dues through which large improvements were carried out with so much success. Why do I quote all these cases? To show that the City itself is already largely responsible for the larger affairs of all London, that it cannot set itself up if it wished, and it does not wish, and draw its cloak around it. It has already a large share in the control of affairs in the metropolis, and why then should it be afraid to accept the legitimate results of circumstances and events, and to be ready to take part in the administrative hierarchy of London? I come now to the Asylums Board. That Board has now come to be a great central authority, dealing with cases of infectious diseases all over the metropolis. Now, this is essentially a function of the central metropolitan authorities; it ought to be in the hands of some authority directly responsible. I will not say anything of the School Board, for its functions are well known, but all 446 these bodies overlap in areas, and if they all work amicably together—and I do not suppose that they do not—there is still reason to regret that they are left absolutely untouched by the powers supposed to be given in this Bill. Now, I fall back on the Member for Bodmin, who is always in favour of negotiations. Why should it not be possible for these great authorities to meet together and consult and see whether by any adjustment there might not be a scheme submitted for Parliamentary sanction placing the whole of this gigantic business, the conduct of the affairs of the metropolis, on a more satisfactory footing and preventing those contradictions and overlappings which at present exist? This would be a real reform, a real simplification and unification. Of such a scheme as that the City necessarily is the germ, but the City will be stifled if it is surrounded by these new municipalities which are the creation of this Bill. I see as possible, under this Bill, the same result as the honourable and learned Gentleman the Member for Plymouth foresees, and because, differing from him, I think that that result would be utterly mischievous and disastrous, I cannot give my vote in favour of this Bill as it at present stands.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Mr. Speaker, I think the House will feel with me that I rise under some difficulties after a Debate which has gone on for three nights upon an Amendment moved from the Front Bench opposite, which has for its object the rejection of this Bill. I have listened to that Debate with unremitting attention, and with, I hope, some profit, but without being able to collect from it the slightest reason why any honourable Gentleman, and least of all the right honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, means to vote against the Measure which the Government has proposed. I have heard objections to details, I have heard objections to omissions, but neither from the right honourable Gentleman nor from any of those who sit on the Bench near him, nor from any of those who sit behind him, have I heard any adequate reason why the House should be put to the trouble of a division upon the 447 Second Reading of this Measure. I am aware that most of the speakers on the other side, including the right honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, have expressed the darkest suspicion of the motives of the Government. They have seen concealed—very adequately concealed, I may say—behind the provisions of this Bill some sinister intentions which they have been unable to bring to light. But while they strongly object to the physician, they have really brought forward no valid objections to the prescription which that physician recommends. They have supposed that we designed this Bill with a sinister object, but when pinned to the provisions of the Bill and asked how those sinister objects were to be realised by the Measure, their propositions were reduced to the improving platitudes of the right honourable Gentleman who has just sat down, or the irrelevant criticism of detail which many of the honourable Gentlemen opposite have so largely indulged in. Let me say at once that I do not consider that it is any reason for disapproving of the Measure that it does not do everything that somebody supposes it might do if that somebody had had the responsibility of concocting the Measure himself. No Measure is complete; no Measure can cover the whole conceivable ground of any social or political problem. You may always, even with the smallest amount of ingenuity, say that there is this question undealt with or that question unsolved. If we were not to bring in and pass in this House any Bill until we have in that Bill contrived to compress the solution of all the problems which might be suggested, why, then the labours of this House would be very much smaller than they are now, and we might postpone indefinitely the task of dealing by legislation with any of the social questions which meet us, and which we have to solve. No sin of omission, if sin it be, is a reason for voting against the Bill unless the provisions of that Bill are of a kind which prevents that omission being rectified by subsequent legislation. I lay that down as an absolute and universal principle, especially under the modern conditions of legislation. It is quite impossible that any Bill can cover the 448 whole possible field of legislation. It may be required, and it ought to be required, of a Government introducing such Bills that the legislation they propose should not render future legislation on the same lines, or even on different lines, absolutely impossible. But the fact that a Bill is not a complete Bill is not only not a sufficient reason for voting against it, but it is no reason at all. If it had been a reason it would have been a reason as valid against every legislative proposal ever proposed by any Government, as it is against the Bill of which I have the honour of being in charge. I put it to the House whether the sins of omission charged against this Bill are of a kind which should prevent even honourable Gentlemen opposite legislating upon lines dear to their hearts. The charges of omission which I have heard alleged are that we do not deal in this Measure with the question of assessment, that we do not deal with the question of Poor Law, and that we do not deal with the City of London. I will not ask whether they desire to see assessment dealt with in this Bill, though, if I had to argue it, I should say that this question is under the consideration of a Royal Commission, and it is not ripe to be treated. But assuming that it is ripe for treatment in the opinion of honourable Members opposite, is there anything in the Bill to prevent it from being treated by subsequent legislation? There is absolutely nothing. It is not pretended by the opponents of the Bill that assessment may not be treated by some more enterprising Government which is going to succeed it. Surely, I may say the same of the Poor Law? We have been reproached because we have given these new bodies too much power, partly because we have given them too little power. The powers which, in the opinion of honourable Members opposite, we ought to give them, are powers of dealing with the question of the Poor Law. I am far from saying that in my judgment the question of the Poor Law does not remain one which ought to be dealt with in connection with the great municipal authorities. Probably some day it will have to be dealt with, but why in this Bill we should initiate for 449 London, and London alone, to the exclusion of the rest of the country, a scheme for combining municipal government with Poor Law administration, no speaker on the other side has ventured for a moment to suggest. It is a great and important question, but when it comes to be dealt with, it will not have to be dealt with as a question concerning London alone; it will be a question in which the whole country will be alike interested, and every municipality outside London will have as much interest in the solution that will have to be proposed as the municipalities which we intend to create by the present Bill. There only remains the question of the City of London. Of the three great omissions charged against us by honourable Members, it is true that we have not dealt with the City of London in the Bill. It is also true that in my judgment the City of London ought not to be dealt with by this or any similar Bill to be hereafter introduced. But, putting that question for the moment aside, there is nothing in this Bill which, if it pleases honourable Members when they come into power, will prevent them from dealing with the City of London as they think fit, The late Home Secretary told us in a somewhat mixed architectural metaphor that we are buttressing the City of London by a ring of subordinate municipalities. I do not see that we are affecting the City of London at all by this Bill. We are certainly not precluding future Parliaments from dealing with the City of London, if they should be unwise enough to attempt the task, without touching the organisation we propose to establish. All they will have to do, if they wish to do it, is to give to the area now goverened by the City of London municipality the same organisation we propose to give to Chelsea, Kensington, Poplar, and other municipalities, and to transfer to the London County Council all the attributes which now attach to the City. If that is what they wish, that is not prevented by this Bill. If they think it worth while, if they think they can do it, if they think they have behind them an adequate force of public opinion, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent them doing so; and, therefore, the charge brought against us in respect of the City of Lon- 450 don is a charge of omission, not of commission, which does not supply an adequate reason for any honourable Gentleman raising an objection to the Second Reading of the Measure which we are bringing before the House. I feel, however, that I have no right to leave this question of the City exactly where the observations I have made leave it. I feel bound on an occasion like this to express my own opinions on the subject. It is true that the present Bill does not prevent any Government from dealing with the City of London according to the doctrinaire schemes of honourable Members opposite; but it is true that we on this side of the House strongly dissent from any such treatment, and feel ourselves bound to express our dissent. I understand that what honourable Members opposite desire is to transfer from the City of London to the County Council all the traditional ceremonial functions which the City of London has hitherto monopolised. Well, they can do it. If they wish to see Lord Welby go from Westminster to the City in a gilt coach and six—is it six?—if they wish the chairman of the London County Council henceforth to be styled Mayor, to have the congenial task of proposing the health of Her Majesty's Ministers, that, of course, can be done by legislation. But does any Gentleman suppose that by this violent transfer of decorative privileges from one body to the other there will be transferred from the City of London to the London County Council the historic honours which the City of London has always possessed? My right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin, in a very interesting speech which he made on the second night of this Debate, put forward to the House an historical hypothesis. He asked us what would have happened if the City of London, following the examples of other municipal corporations, had gradually extended its borders as Liverpool, as Manchester, as Leeds, as Glasgow, and as other great cities in this country have extended their borders, and had gradualy embraced all the circumjacent population and brought them under the sway of the Mayor and Corporation of London. And he laid down the proposition that if that natural expansion had taken place we should be 451 far better situated as regards London municipal government than we are now. Well, I confess, though I do not wish to contest with my right honourable Friend the discussion of these hypothetical problems, I do not agree with him, because if he could conceive a single corporation developing from the square mile of which the City originally consisted, and of which it now consists, and gradually embracing the 100 square miles which now constitute the metropolitan area, then it seems to me that we should have been face to face with a single corporation governing a single area, but having to deal with an area entirely beyond its powers. The world has shown no example as yet of a single corporation dealing with 100 square miles of territory in a municipal manner.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
My right honourable Friend has omitted a part of my hypothesis. I said that in the process there would be established subordinate municipalities which would take away from the central body the immediate local affairs.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Yes, I had forgotten that statement of my right honourable Friend, I admit. He evidently supposes that the London. Municipal Council would have been like the certain astronomical body of which astronomers tell us, which, in the course of its revolutions, spins off subordinate planets which continue to revolve round it. Well, men of science show that there are mechanical reasons why that should happen in the sphere of celestial astronomy, but I do not know by what process any municipality has ever yet been found deliberately and willingly to delegate to these subordinate bodies the powers which my right honourable Friend admitted it is absolutely necessary to delegate in order that so large an area should be properly governed.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I gave the reasons yesterday, and I illustrated it from the history of the City itself, which has created a Commission of Sewers under itself in order to take over these very functions.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
My right honourable Friend knows as well, or better, than I do that the Commission of Sewers was a central authority dealing with a whole area. The real question is whether, if this historical evolution had occurred, the City of London would have evolved separate municipalities in Westminster, Chelsea, Poplar, and elsewhere, such as he and I, I believe, equally desire to see assisting in the work of the government of London. Now, I do not believe that there is any power that would have done that, but whether it would have done it or not, at all events I agree with my right honourable Friend that if that process of historical evolution had really taken place the central authority for London would then by natural process have combined all that the Corporation of London now possesses and also all that the London County Council possesses. But what folly it is to suppose that as that process of historical evolution did not occur, we can now violently and suddenly replace it by an Act of Parliament which should confer upon the 100 square miles the privileges hitherto exercised by the single square mile of the City of London. My right honourable Friend is as well aware as I am that there may be processes of expansion which are not processes of development. An explosion, I take it, is a process of expansion, but even my right honourable Friend would hardly describe it as a process of development. An explosion expands a body, but the body expanded is destroyed in the process; and depend upon it, if you choose to take this great historic corporation, coeval with the constitution of Great Britain, and bound up with all its traditions, and attempt now, after all these centuries, suddenly to expand it by a process of explosion, until it covers the whole area of London government, then you will, in that process of expansion, absolutely destroy it. I do not say that it is impossible that the process of slow development might not have been successful. I do not analyse the reasons that prevented that from happening, but historic causes, whatever they have been, have operated century after century from time immemorial, from time to which the memory of man 453 goeth not back, and the City of London, which still retains a position absolutely unique, not only in the industrial organisation of Great Britain, but in the industrial organisation of the world, is confined, for good or for evil, to that square mile on the bank of the Thames; and the idea that you can now, at this period of time, alter that area and retain its spirit, seems to me wholly chimerical.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I hear an honourable Gentleman ask, Why not? It is the easiest thing in the world to pass an Act of Parliament — if you have the time for it; and there is no difficulty in the honourable Gentleman who asked me, or his friends, if they have the chance, handing over to the London County Council all the attributes—so far as law makes attributes—from the City to the Council. But there are some things not in the power of Parliament to do, and one of the things which is not in the power of Parliament, and which is not in the power of any human organisation, is suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, to hand over to an entirely different body, animated by a different spirit, and dealing with a different population, the different traditions and attributes which a long period of years has given us in connection with the City of London. I frankly admit—and I have been betrayed into dwelling on this subsidiary point longer than I intended—that, in my opinion, the functions of the City of London in connection either with great national or international charities, and other matters of the kind, are far better carried out by the City of London, as at present constituted, than they ever could be, by the London County Council. However, I must hurry on from the sins of omission—the three sins of omission—with which I have dealt—the sin of omission from the Bill of provisions in regard to the Poor Law, the sin of omission in regard to assessments, and the sin of omission in regard to the City of London. I pass from these sins of omission to the sins of commission which are alleged against 454 the Bill, which are, after all, the only sins relevant to the Second Reading of this Bill. The sins of omission may be all that honourable Gentlemen opposite suppose them to be, but yet they may not be reasons for refusing to give the Bill a Second Reading. But when you come to the sins of commission, I admit that the case is different, and I should now like to proceed to examine those sins of commission which have been charged against the Measure which I am in charge of. Let me say first that, so far as I am able to judge, the sins of commission are entirely sins in matters of detail. I have not heard from a single Member criticism which strikes at the principle of the Bill, although I have heard a great many attacks upon the motives of the Bill. I have been told that there is some dark and sinister object behind the Measure, and I have been told that the Prime Minister made a speech which casts a lurid light over the intentions of the Government. I have heard all this, but I really do not see what they have got to do with the Second Reading of the Measure. After all, you do not judge a Bill by the pretensions of its promoters, because if you happen to belong to the Opposition you always assume that those motives are bad, and it is a very proper supposition. But if you vote against the Second Reading of a Bill it should be because the provisions of the Bill are bad, and so bad that they cannot be altered in Committee to meet the real circumstances of the case. Has that contention ever been urged by a single responsible Gentleman on the other side? I have heard various criticisms on very important particulars of the Bill, and I will briefly allude to one or two, for I think that most of them are in relation to matters that should be discussed in Committee, and not now, and therefore my allusions will be short. Now, the first question which I have upon my notes is finance. This has been criticised by the honourable Member for Battersea, and my honourable Friend behind me, the Member for Islington, has also criticised the Measure. I am not going to discuss the details of the clause in the Bill 455 which alters the present financial situation in London, but I am prepared to defend the principle underlying those details. It is perfectly true that at present the borrowing powers of the various London districts, as exercised through the London County Council, is done well and is done cheaply; and for my part, I look forward to that process of borrowing through the London County Council being the normal and natural process of operation for all time. I quite agree with the honourable Gentleman who said that if the London County Council and the local authorities agreed about a loan, it is far better that the loan should be negotiated through the County Council, and should become part of the consolidated debt of the great London area than that separate districts should borrow for themselves. We all agree about that, and if that principle is not carried out in the Bill, I am perfectly willing to carry out modifications which will carry it out. But what the House should be most cautious about doing is to prevent these new municipalities borrowing, in case of necessity, for themselves. I perfectly admit that, during the 13 years which the London County Council has been in existence, there has been no friction between it and the vestries about borrowing money. The system has worked perfectly, and I believe that in 99 cases out of 100—nay, in 999 cases out of 1,000, if you prefer it—that system is the best, cheapest, and most convenient both for the County Council and for the borough. But we have had only 11 years' experience of the present system. We are now legislating for an indefinite future, and supposing you have an apathetic County Council, and an active municipality anxious, let us say, to build lodging-houses for the working classes within its area, and the County Council, for some reason or other, object. Let us suppose that the County Council has objected to that process, or has had a quarrel with that particular municipality about something else. Is that an impossible hypothesis? An intolerable one, I admit, but an im- 456 possible one, certainly not. I think it is clearly our duty, under the circumstances, to leave the possibility of borrowing to the local authority on its own account, and on its own security and property to carry out the great municipal object which it has in view. That is, substantially, the principle underlying the clause in the Bill to which objection has been taken; and although I do not adhere strictly to the details of that clause, I think the principle I have laid down is one which the House will be very rash indeed if it abandons hastily. Now, I come to the question of the equalisation of rates. I confess that, on this subject of the equalisation of rates, I think honourable Gentlemen opposite have endeavoured to create a prejudice against the Bill which was not quite creditable to their sense of fairness in Debate. They have told us that this Bill, though in its terms it declines to interfere with the equalisation of rates, nevertheless, in some indirect and occult manner, is going to have the result of preventing the rich parts of London contributing anything to the poor parts of London; and we are told also that the Bill itself creates cities of the rich as against cities of the poor. That charge has become a commonplace in the speeches of honourable Gentlemen opposite, but what justification is there for it? The charge is creating cities of the rich against cities of the poor. Well, we have created, as a matter of fact, by the Bill 15 municipalities, and of this number 13 have been approved by the London County Council. That is not denied by anyone. There remains two which the County Council does not approve of, and those two are Wandsworth and Westminster. But, from the point of view of cities of the rich, what has anybody to say against Wandsworth or Westminster? Supposing you cut Wandsworth into two, would the two be less cities of the rich than the one is now? If you cut Westminster into two, as is recommended by the honourable Gentleman opposite, the late Home Secretary, would those dual Westminsters be less cities of the rich than 457 the single Westminster? Not a bit. Not only is that not true, but the contrary is the case, and by constituting a Westminster out of these existing divisions you abolish cities of the rich rather than create them. What becomes of this charge of creating cities of the rich? Why the London County Council themselves have endorsed the decision of the Government as regards 13 out of 15 of these divisions, and as regards the other two the objection raised by the County Council is not that by creating them you make cities of the rich, but that so far from producing that result it is perfectly evident that you rather attenuate the contrary. Then we are told that, though you are not creating cities of the rich, you are, at all events, interfering indirectly, by some occult traditional method with the process of the equalisation of rates. Now, what justification is there for that? Certainly we on this side of the House have no prejudice against the equalisation of rates. Three Measures, and three Measures alone, have been passed through this House for the equalisation of rates in the metropolis, and of these three Measures two have been passed by Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House. But apart from this historic justification of our attitude, what are the actual facts with regard to the 15 municipalities we create? I have had the figures taken out, and the result is worthy of the consideration of the House. Of the 15 municipalities we propose to create by Schedule I six, and six only, are areas which lose by the equalisation of rates. The remaining nine gain by the equalisation of rates; so that, putting the rest of London altogether aside, and assuming that the question of equalisation of rates was to be threatened in these cities we propose to create, there will still be a majority of municipalities which would gain by the equalisation of rates, and a minority, a relatively small minority, which would lose by that process. What becomes, then, of the charge made by the honourable Gentlemen opposite that the equalisation of rates is likely to be interfered with, either by the ar- 458 rangement—the geographical arrangement—we have made in the schedule, or in anything that is likely to be done by the provisions of this Bill? I will now deal very shortly with the only other question of detail which has been raised, and that is the question of Westminster. That is the only question of detail which remains. The right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary told us that we are committing a historic grand larceny, an expression to which I can attach no very definite meaning, in applying the term Westminster to the area which has been described in these Debates as the Greater Westminster. The right honourable Gentleman cannot have considered the history of Westminster well, because the Westminster created by this Bill is the historic Westminster, and if a grand larceny has been committed, it has not been committed by us in giving this name to Greater Westminster——
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
If a petty larceny has been committed, it has not been committed by us in giving this name to Greater Westminster, but a petty larceny has been committed by the existing Westminster in arrogating to itself a title which, for historic reasons, belongs to a larger area and to a larger Westminster. I need not comment on the history of the right honourable Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill, and who seemed to think that the only title which we claimed for Westminster was that it was the site of the various public buildings in which the work of this country is carried on. But the historic Westminster depends on a very different title. It was the historic seat of the Government of this country when fields separated Westminster from London, and when judges travelling from one to the other breakfasted at the village of Charing Cross. Westminster in later ages and under far different conditions was one of the three or four great constituencies of this country in pre-Reform Bill days to which everybody looked for the ex- 459 pression of the democratic opinion of the country, and Westminster ever since the Restoration down to the Reform Bill, the Westminster whose electoral verdict was looked at with an interest far more than local, but with a national and almost international interest, is not the Westminster which now exists, but the historic Westminster which it is our desire to restore. I presume that at a later stage of our discussion I shall have to defend more in detail in Committee the determination the Government have come to to provide for a Greater Westminster. I have sufficiently indicated on the present occasion the historic grounds which, in my judgment at all events, justify the decision at which we have arrived. And this, Sir, concludes my discussion of the details that have been raised upon the Second Reading of this Bill—details which, I think, were more fitted for discussion, and which ought to have been raised, in Committee, but which as they were raised by speaker after speaker with weight and authority on the opposite side, I thought it would have been considered discourteous on my part to pass by. It remains, therefore, for me only to reply to the general accusation brought by the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary against the whole framework of the Bill. He tells us that these new municipalities are municipalities only in name, and that they are shams and impostures. I cannot follow the right honourable Gentleman in that conclusion, for he himself made a speech in 1894 which seems to absolutely contradict that view. I should never quote against the right honourable Gentleman, or any other Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench, a speech made so far back as 1894 if it were not that the right honourable Gentleman himself told us last night that he adhered to that speech in every particular and in every letter. That is a sufficient reason for regarding that speech as still representing the views of the Bench on which the right honourable Gentleman is such a conspicuous ornament. What 460 did the right honourable Gentleman say on that occasion? He said, among other things, that these subordinate localities were to have "that large, common, corporate life which brings with it dignity and responsibility." Now, I put it to the right honourable Gentleman, and to the House, whether an urban district which has a "large, common, and corporate life" is not, according to the best usages of the English language, and to every other language with corresponding terms, described, and properly described, as a municipality? I do not know any language, ancient or modern, in which an urban district having a "large, common, corporate life" is not properly described as a municipality. It is perfectly true that in a particular Act passed in the year 1835 a special legal definition of a municipality was given, or municipal corporation, but that we are precluded by that Act from using the word municipality in strict conformity with the traditions of the English language appears to me to be perfectly absurd, and a view which the House is not bound for one moment to consider. Then, said the right honourable Gentleman, you have aldermen and mayors, and why have aldermen and mayors? I do not say that aldermen and mayors are an absolutely essential element in living corporate life, but I do say that aldermen and mayors add dignity to corporate life, and are associated with all the past traditions of corporate life. And here, again, I quote from the right honourable Gentleman's speech. He said in 1894, which he confirmed in his speech yesterday, "We proposed"—that is, he and his friends proposed—"to give them the stimulus of more attractive titles." Well, in the name of wonder, where is he going to get the more attractive titles if he is not going to call them aldermen and mayors? Is he going to borrow from ecclesiastical organisations some of their titles? Is he going to borrow from the Freemasons? I am not a Freemason, and so I am not quite sure that I know what their titles 461 are, but I know that they are names of great dignity? Is he going to borrow from the Primrose League? Are we going to have Knight Harbingers, and Dame Presidents? Is he going to reject all these modern titles which, I am sure, on reflection, he would reject? Where is he going to find these more attractive titles which he spoke of in 1894, and believes in in 1899, with which he would like to adorn these new assemblies, which are neither to be known by aldermen, mayors, or lord mayors? If the right honourable Gentleman in Committee will find his more attractive titles than mayors and aldermen for the new corporations, I promise him on behalf of the Government that his suggestion shall have the most impartial consideration. After all, when I have to advise the House as to the way in which they should divide upon the Second Reading of this Bill, I am brought back to the plain and simple truth that there are only two ways of dealing with this problem of London government. You may deal with it, as the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouth proposed to deal with it in 1884, by having a central organisation—call it a county council, or what you will—and having another local authority, a mere delegation, and nothing more, from the central authority. That scheme was brought forward by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Monmouth in 1884 as Home Secretary. But it has never been pressed forward; it has never been revived. And then honourable Gentlemen opposite, and those who have authority with them, have thrown in their lot with the only alternative, which is to have independent local authorities, and to give them all possible dignities. Now, may I read some observations of Lord Rosebery, who, although he has thrown off all the labours and responsibilities of a Party Leader, still must carry weight on this question, as being, if I remember rightly, first chairman of the London 462 County Council. Now, Lord Rosebery spoke as follows in 1895—Although we believe that London should be one, we believe that unity will best be obtained, will best be strengthened, by maintaining local spirit, by encouraging local spirit, by developing local spirit. We desire to see London a unity, but not London a unit.He went on to say—We must rise through local attachment to the larger conception of local patriotism.What a commentary, I might say, incidentally, upon the London County Council proposal that Chelsea, Islington, and Westminster should describe themselves as the Westminster district, the Chelsea district, and the Islington district of London. Lord Rosebery further said—Therefore, it is not we who wish to unify and magnify London, who wish to dwarf the Chelseas, the Lambeths, and the Clerkenwells, because we recognise the only sure and strong and healthy basis for London lies in the strength, the healthiness, and the might of these Chelseas, Lambeths, and Clerkenwells.Sir, the plan of Lord Rosebery is the plan of the Government; and the plan of the Government is the plan of Lord Rosebery. It was not Lord Rosebery's invention. It is not our invention. It is the plan to which all rational and reasonable reformers of London government have been inclined for many a long year; a plan amply confirmed by the Commission presided over by my right honourable Friend the Member for Bodmin, which has been quoted against us, but which is one of the strongest authorities on our side. I can only suppose that the objection to the scheme, thus in its main outline described by Lord Rosebery and others, is animated by some spirit of strange jealousy on the part of the London County Council. I think that sort of jealousy, like almost all sorts of jealousy, is wholly without foundation, and has led astray those who are its victims. The right honourable Gentlemen opposite appear to have inverted in their political views the principles which ought to regulate municipal and national life. When they are dealing with Home Rule, 463 then, indeed, they belittle the central authorities; they are in favour of pro- vincial Parliaments with authority equal within its sphere to the Imperial Parliament. In London and in municipal affairs they reverse the process. Where centralisation is desirable there they will have nothing but devolution, and where independent local spirit is to be evoked there they will have nothing but centralisation. A more singular inversion of sound political principles I am sure I have seldom met with in my experience. May I ask honourable Gentlemen opposite once more why it is they mean to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill? The right honourable Gentleman the Member for East Fife, in his closing words the other night, said that this Measure was an eirenicon in its framework and in its essential provisions.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Yes, it might be transformed in Committee, but it was the eirenicon of conciliation and a charter of local liberty. The honourable Member for Battersea told us tonight that the existing government of London was insufferable and intolerable.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I put these two propositions together, and I ask the House how a Party which holds them can vote against the Second Reading of this Bill? It is alleged by the honourable Member for Battersea that the evils of London
§ government are insufferable and intolerable, and require instant remedy; they cannot wait. It is admitted by the right honourable Member for East Fife that this Bill, with Committee modifications, is capable of providing such a remedy. Yet a Party which holds these two propositions is, I understand, within the next five minutes going to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. I am not the keeper of their consciences, and I know not how their action is going to be justified. But, at all events, our course is clear. We hold with the honourable Member for Battersea that the present condition of London government is intolerable and impossible. We hold with the honourable Member for East Fife that this Bill does afford a basis by which these evils can be cured. And, Sir, I hope that we on this side, at all events, hold more than that. I hope that we are of opinion that this Measure, imperfect, it may be, here and there in details, is yet an honest and conscientious endeavour to carry out a policy which, until the present Debate, I had thought was a policy common to both sides, but which, at all events, is a policy common to almost every London reformer who speaks with authority on the subject; and, holding that view, I am sure we shall carry the Second Reading by a large and triumphant majority.
That the words proposed to be left cut stand part of the Question.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 245; Noes 118.—(Division List No. 70.)467
|Arnold, Alfred||Balfour, Rt Hn G. W. (Leeds)||Beckett, Earnest William|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Banbury, Fredk George||Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hn. John||Barry, Rt Hn A. H. Smith (Hnts||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Barry, Sir F. T. (Windsor)||Bethell, Commander|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Bathurst, Hn. Allen B.||Biddulph, Michael|
|Balcarres, Lord||Beach, Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Bigwood, James|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (M'nc'r)||Beach, W. W. B. (Hants)||Bill, Charles|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Graham, Henry Robert||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Bond, Edward||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Mount, William George|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Murray, C. J. (Coventry)|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gretton, John||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)'|
|Bowles, Capt H. F. (Mid'sex)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Newark, Viscount|
|Brassey, Albert||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Newdigate, Francis Alex.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord George||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Brown, Alexander, H,||Hanbury, Rt Hn Robert Wm.||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hanson, Sir Reginald||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Butcher, John George||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Carlisle, William Walter||Heath, James||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Heaton, John Henniker||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derby.)||Helder, Augustus||Penn, John|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Henderson, Alexander||Percy, Earl|
|Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich)||Hill, Sir E. Stock (Bristol)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampst'd.)||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. (Birm.)||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Pilkington, Richard|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r)||Hobhouse, Henry||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Houston, R. P.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Clarke, Sir E. (Plymouth)||Howard, Joseph||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)|
|Cochrane, Hn Thos. H. A. E.||Howell, William Tudor||Purvis, Robert|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hozier, Hn J. H. Cecil||Pym, C. Guy|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Rasch, Major Fredk. Carne|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. Grice-||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Colston, C. E. H. Athole||Jackson, Rt Hn Wm. Lawies||Richardson, Sir T. (Harltep'l)|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref 'd.||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)|
|Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow)||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George||Roche, Hon. J. (East Kerry)|
|Cornwallis, F. Stanley, W.||Kennaway, Rt Hn Sir J. H.||Round, James|
|Courtney, Rt Hn Leonard H.||Kenyon, James||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Keswick, William||Sassoon, Sir Edw. Albert|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Knowies, Lees||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Lafone, Alfred||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn||Sharpe, Wm. Edw. T.|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire).|
|Dalbiac, Colonel P. Hugh||Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Leighton, Stanley||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Davenport, W. Bromley-||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Denny, Colonel||Loder, Gerald Walter E.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P.||Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Long, Rt Hn W. (Liverpool)||Strutt, Hon. C. Hedley|
|Dorington, Sir J. Edward||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lorne, Marquess of||Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxf 'd Univ|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Lowe, Francis William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Doxford, William Theodore||Lowles, John||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dyke, Rt, Hn. Sir W. Hart||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H.|
|Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Warde, Lieut.-Col C. E. (Kent)|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir. J. (Man.)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Macdona, John Cumming||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of Wight)|
|Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Fitzgerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Whitmore, Chas. Algernon|
|Fletcher, Sir Henry||Mellor, Col. (Lancashire)||Williams, J. Powell-(Birm.)|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Forster, Henry William||Meysey,-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Fry, Lewis||Milward, Colonel Victor||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Garfit, William||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wyvill, Marmaduke D 'Arcy|
|Graft, William||Monk, Charles James||Young, Com. (Berks, E.)|
|Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Montagu, Hn. J. S. (Hants)|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Sir William Anstruther.|
|Godson, Sir A. Frederick||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morgan, Hn. E. (Monm'th'sh)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Gorst, Rt Hn Sir J. Eldon||Morrison, Walter|
|Goschen, George J. (Sussex)|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Harwood, George||Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale-||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbt. H.||Hazell Walter||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Hedderwick, T. C. H.||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Baker, Sir John||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Holden, Sir Angus||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bayley, T. (Derbyshire)||Horniman, Fredk. John||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U.||Robson, W. Snowdon|
|Birrell, Augustine||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Blake, Edward||Lambert, George||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Bolton, Thomas Boiling||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)||Shaw, T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Leng, Sir John||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Lloyd-George, David||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Burns, John||Logan, John William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Burt, Thomas||Lough, Thomas||Souttar, Robinson|
|Buxton, Sydney Chas.||Macaleese, Daniel||Spicer, Albert|
|Caldwell, James||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Queen's C||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||M'Arthur, W (Cornwall)||Steadman, William C.|
|Campbell-Bannermann, Sir H.||M'Dermott, Patrick||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Cawley, Frederick||M'Ewan, William||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Kenna, Reginald||Tanner, Charles Kearns|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Chas.||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dillon, John||M'Leod, John||Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Maddison, Fred.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Douglas, Chas. M. Lanark)||Maden, John Henry||Ure, Alexander|
|Duckworth, James||Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe||Wallace, Robt. (Edinburgh)|
|Ellis, John Edw. (Notts.)||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Fenwick, Charles||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith)||Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Flynn, Jas. Christopher||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Moss, Samuel||Wilson Fredk. W. (Norfolk)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert.||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd)|
|Gold, Charles||Paulton, James Mellor||Woods, Samuel|
|Gourley, Sir E. Temperley||Pease, Sir J. W. (Durham)|
|Grey, Sir Edw. (Berwick)||Philipps, John Wynford||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Thomas Ellis and Mr. Causton.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||Price, Robert John|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday, 10th April.