Front Page Titles (by Subject) 93.: The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill  5 MAY, 1868 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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93.: The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill  5 MAY, 1868 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 191, cols. 1859–63. Reported in The Times, 6 May, p. 10, from which the variants and responses are taken. Mill spoke in moving for leave to introduce both “A Bill for the Creation of a Corporation of London,” 31 Victoria (7 May, 1868), PP, 1867–68, I, 347–96, and “A Bill to Provide for the Establishment of Municipal Corporations within the Metropolis,” ibid., III, 515–36.
mr. j. stuart mill observed that both were substantially the same as those which the House permitted him last year to lay on the table.1 The alterations were extremely slight. He was quite aware that no private Member could expect to carry through such measures. In order that they might succeed Government must take them up; but the Government had not shown any disposition to take up the subject, and in the present year, considering all the circumstances of the case, he could not blame them. No Government was likely to embarrass itself with such a subject until much discussion had taken place, and public opinion had been called forth to give them a sufficient degree of support. The introduction of the Bills had already produced considerable effect. This was shown by the number of petitions, which were almost all in favour of the Bills.2 The opposition to the Bills had chiefly proceeded from persons connected with the present local administrative bodies, who were not likely to be wholly unprejudiced on the subject of their own mode of administration. The passing of the Reform Bill last Session had paved the way for such legislation.3 One marked feature of the political movement, of which the passing of the Reform Act was a part, is a demand on the part of the people, he would not say for more government, but for more administration. It is not only sanitary measures, properly so called, but control over the dwellings provided for the working classes, aarrangement of the streets in such a way as would promote the comfort, convenience, and health of the community,a and a hundred similar arrangements, which are now required at the hands of Government; and the effecting of these things has been again and again prevented by the want of any sufficient local authority. When much has to be done for society, it cannot be all done by the central Government, and there was in this country great jealousy of intrusting too much to that authority. It was a national principle that a great part of our administration should be local, and the constitutional mode of giving local government to different parts of the country, especially to towns, was by means of municipalities. Now, London had only the benefit of a municipality in that which was originally the whole of its extent—the City proper. With that exception the local government of the metropolis was a parish government. What other town in the kingdom would be satisfied with a parish administration extending over the greater portion of its area? (Hear, hear.) The government of London by means of vestries had endured long enough. To show the magnitude of the questions which were involved in the local administration of the metropolis, he might mention that in the year 1840 London was rated upon an annual value of £6,000,000 sterling. In 1861 the annual value of property had risen to £12,500,000, and in 1866 to nearly £14,500,000. The expenditure of the metropolis was growing, and now amounted to nearly £3,000,000 a year. The Metropolitan Board had during the twelve years of its existence raised by rates b£2,182,000b , and by loans £5,581,000. The vestries collectively expended £2,784,000 per annum, while to show the quantity of legislation required to deal with local questions arising within the metropolis, Lord Brougham, so long ago as 1837, stated that the Acts relating to the parish of Marylebone alone, passed since the year 1795, filled a volume of 480 pages,4 being much greater in size, he would not say than the Code Napoleon, but certainly than the Code Civil.5 Parliament had attempted, and did attempt, to provide for this local legislation; but Parliament could not possibly do it, and it only continued the attempt because there were no local authorities in whom Parliament or the country sufficiently confided to turn over to them this important business. What had occurred with reference to the Dwellings of Artizans and Labourers Bill, introduced by his honourable Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. M’Cullagh Torrens) was an illustration of the want of some more satisfactory authorities than at present existed in the metropolis. As originally introduced, the cduty it imposed of providing that such of these habitations as were not fit for human habitations should be removed and others substituted for them wasc entrusted to the vestries; but the Select Committee would not trust the vestries, and gave the powers to the Metropolitan Board of Works.6 The Metropolitan Board itself was, however, regarded with great distrust; and he had received many letters urging him to oppose that part of the measure which empowered that Board to levy any rates in addition to those which they were already authorized to raise. If there were municipalities in the different metropolitan boroughs, with a general central municipality, there would be authorities upon whom Parliament could confer the many powers of local administration and local regulation which at present it was necessary to provide for by separate Acts. The difference between London and other cities, arising mainly from the great size of the metropolis, was, that while for provincial cities a single corporation sufficed, in London it was necessary to have a double system. There would in London be too much for a single body to do; and any single body which was so constituted as to be able to do the work, would be so powerful that it would excite the jealousy of the other civil authorities of the country. What was proposed by the Bill which he had been requested to introduce, but of which he was not the author, although he approved of all its provisions, was, that there should be for all the Parliamentary boroughs of which the metropolis was composed, separate municipalities grouped round the City municipality, which would be the type of all; that these municipalities should discharge all such duties as did not require that the whole of London should be taken into consideration at once; and that in addition there should be a central municipality, which should deal with those questions in the decision of which the interests and wants of the whole metropolis were involved. The first of these proposals was strongly recommended by the Commission which was presided over by the late Sir George Lewis.7 But there was also a necessity for a general municipal government of the metropolis, and this necessity was so strongly felt that, without intending to create a municipality, Parliament had created one in the Metropolitan Board of Works.8 The purpose for which that Board had been called into existence—namely, the Main Drainage—was now nearly completed. But the necessity for a general government was such that, almost as soon as the Board was created, other new and important duties began to be intrusted to it. But when Parliament was creating this body, was it aware that it was establishing a municipal body for the whole of London? Did it take that large subject into consideration, and examine whether this was the best way of providing for the municipal government of a great capital? Certainly not. The Board was created for a limited and temporary purpose, and it had gradually become a central municipality, without due consideration whether it had been constituted in the way best calculated to perform the duties of such. He did not propose to supersede this body, but to leave it standing, and also to leave standing the Corporation of the City of London; but to make such changes in its constitution as would render it an adequate municipal constitution for the whole metropolis. The first Bill proposed to give municipal institutions to the different Parliamentary boroughs in London; and the second, to create a central body into which the Board of Works would be absorbed: to constitute this central body in such a way as Parliament might think best, and to define its duties and powers, marking them off from those of the municipal bodies. He would conclude with a saying of Lord Coke—that no good measure of legislation was ever proposed from which, in the end, some amount of good did not result.9 Though in the present Session he could not hope to carry the Bills, and though great modifications might be made in them before they were carried, still he was doing that from which, according to Lord Coke’s maxim, good must eventually result. (Hear, hear.) The honourable Gentleman moved for leave to introduce the first Bill.
[The Government indicated that it would not oppose the introduction of the Bill. Sir George Bowyer pointed to a major difficulty, the reconciliation of the powers of the Corporation of the City of London with those of the Metropolitan Board of Works. He opposed the abolition of the municipality of the City of London, the Lord Mayor and the Corporation being “the only representative body” existing that could “do the public honours on great occasions.”]
Mr. Mill, in moving for leave to introduce a Bill for the creation of a Corporation of London, said that on the second reading he would be prepared to meet the objections which had been taken to the measure by the honourable baronet.
Leave was given.d
[1 ]See Nos. 56 and 82.
[2 ]Mill himself brought a large number of petitions before the House on that day (see The Times, 6 May, p. 8), having brought in others on 23 and 24 April (see App. C).
[3 ]Enacted on 15 August, 1867, as 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 102.
[4 ]Henry Peter, Lord Brougham (1778–1868), Speech on the Business of Parliament (5 June, 1837), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 38, col. 1176.
[5 ]The Code civil des Français (Paris: Imprimerie de la république, 1804) was incorporated into the even larger Code Napoléon (3 Sept., 1807), Bulletin des lois de l’empire français, 4th ser., Numéros bis.
[c-c]TT] PD powers conferred by that Bill were
[6 ]The provision in Sect. 4 of “A Bill to Provide Better Dwellings for Artizans and Labourers,” 29 Victoria (20 Feb., 1866), PP, 1866, I, 43–52, was removed in the version amended by the Select Committee (see its First Schedule, Table A), ibid., pp. 53–72.
[7 ]“Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Existing State of the Corporation of the City of London,” PP, 1854, XXVI, 35. The Commission was presided over by George Cornewall Lewis (1806–63), author and politician.
[8 ]By Sect. 31 of 18 & 19 Victoria, c. 120 (1855).
[9 ]This comment by Edward Coke (1552–1634), parliamentarian, judge, and legal authority, has not been located.