Front Page Titles (by Subject) I.: Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Government - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
I.: Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Government - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Government
“First Report from the Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Government, etc.; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix” (16 Apr., 1866), PP, 1866, XIII, 171-315; “Second Report . . .” (30 July, 1866), ibid., 317-628. The First Report covers the Committee’s meetings on 9, 12, 15, 19, and 22 March, and 12 and 16 April. (Mill was absent from the first of these, at which no evidence was taken.) The Second Report covers the Committee’s meetings on 23 and 26 April, 10, 14 (no quorum, Mill absent), and 28 May, 4, 7 (no quorum, Mill present), 11, 14, 18, 25, and 28 June, and 5, 9, 16, 19 (no quorum, Mill absent), 23, 26, and 29 July. Except as indicated, Mill attended all the sessions.
12 March, 1866
Sir John Thwaites
[The examination of Thwaites, the first witness, was begun by the Chairman, Acton Smee Ayrton, who opened in the traditional way by establishing the credentials of the witness and his view of the main issues. The questioning turnedto the funding of the Board of Works generally, and then specifically to the funding of the main drainage system, it being ascertained that the expenditures on the main drains did not include costs of the new Thames Embankment.]
56. The Embankment itself was constructed from a fund perfectly independent of the 3d. rate?—Entirely.
57. What is the degree of progress which has been made in the Low Level Sewer; is it only that part connected with the embankment which has not yet been commenced, and is all the rest of the work in a tolerable degree of progress?—Yes.
[Questioning continued on the Embankment, with reference to the limited authority and resources of the Board.]
231. If I understand you aright there is a very small portion of the land within the embankment which will be under the control of your Board, and a very little of it upon which you can build, or of which you can direct the disposal?—Yes.
232. How much of the ground within the embankment have you power over?—For building purposes, I do not think that we have power over any. Any spare land is to be planted and laid out ornamentally, for the benefit of the public.
233. The Duke of Buccleuch,1 and any one else to whom the land has been given up, have the power of building upon the land which has been given up to them?—I do not think that there is any restriction. It is Crown property. We have to give up the land, and, I suppose, build the wall and lengthen the land in each case up to the ground to be reclaimed.
234. If the Duke of Buccleuch chooses to build upon the property given up to him, he can do so?—It may be determined by the Crown, of which I know nothing.
235. Then the question is whether the Crown, if they wish to lay it out for pleasure ground for public resort, must pay to the Duke of Buccleuch the value of it for building ground or otherwise?—The Duke of Buccleuch is a lessee; the Crown is the ground landlord.
236. Will this land which is given up to the lessees come within the lease; will they hold it on the same conditions as those upon which they hold the other land, or will they hold it as absolute property?—I should think that they will hold it upon similar conditions.
237. Then it will depend upon the provisions of their leases, whether the Crown will require them to give it up without paying the full value of it as building land?—I am unable to speak with certainty upon that point; that will be governed by the agreement with the Crown.
238. The Dukes of Northumberland and Norfolk2 are not lessees; they are proprietors, and therefore I presume that they will be proprietors of the land which you give up to them?—We give up no land; we are prohibited from taking any land or property belonging to any of the proprietors named, but the land in front will become dedicated to the public and will not belong to the adjoining owners; it will be taken by the Board.
239. As respects your prolonging Norfolk-street and other streets, does it extend to more than the roadway; have you power to prolong them as streets with houses on both sides?—No.
John Thwaites, continued
[Questioning turned to the powers of the Board in relation to Crown property.]
474. Looking at the property in the metropolis of this country, which is in the hands of the Crown, and which it is admitted is only to be adminstered by the Crown for the public benefit, do you think that it should be regarded by the Crown as being held for one purpose only, namely, to get the greatest amount of money from taxes, or for the general purpose of public improvement?—That is rather a question for Parliament than for our Board. I affirm with the greatest confidence that there should be no distinction between the property of the Crown and the property of private individuals. The tendency of this special legislation, is that you are unable to take any of the property without the consent of the Crown. If the effect of the improvement should be to improve very largely the property, the Crown may interpose, and say, “You shall take just so much as you require for the roadway, but we will hold all the advantages and the profit,” and thus the Crown will realize an advantage which a private individual will not; and that is the mischief which we find in the working of the principle.
475. So that the Crown, as trustee of the nation for public purposes, has a greater advantage than a private owner in a matter of public improvement, whereas it ought rather to have less?—It ought not to have more; that is quite clear.
[A number of issues having been raised, Mill started a new series of questions on whether property taxes should fall on occupier or owner.]
661. I presume that the occupiers of rated property in the metropolis mostly hold that property on the usual leases of 7, 14, or 21 years?—As a rule, no doubt, some such agreement exists.
662. And, I fancy, that in most cases they hold under the covenants that all taxation, even new taxation, and even what are considered as landlord’s taxes, shall be borne by the occupier?—Yes.
663. So that during the currency of those leases any new local rate falls upon the occupier?—Yes.
664. How would it be after the expiration of those leases; in your opinion, would the burthen then be thrown upon the owners of the houses?—Yes; unless the obligation were renewed by fresh covenants with the fresh tenants.
665. As regards the burthens which now fall upon the occupier during the currency of his lease, do you not think that at the expiration of the lease, in the grant of a new lease these burthens would be taken into consideration in fixing the rent, so that the subsequent rent of that property would be reduced to the extent of the increased burthens?—It is so in theory, but it is not so in practice.
666. How do you account for that?—[After citing an example of unequal agreements for house rentals, Thwaites concluded:] while it appears in theory to be reasonable that the landlord would reduce the rents in proportion to the obligation which he casts upon the tenant, it is not so in practice, the tenant undertakes to bear those burthens, and in point of fact pays those rates out of that which is part of his own profit, and he does not get a proportionate reduction, in consequence of the obligations under which he places himself by these covenants.
667. But do you not think that although particular tenants neglect the needful care of their own interests in that respect, yet upon the whole, when a person takes a lease of certain premises, he considers what he can afford to pay, or what it is to his advantage to pay, and that if he is of opinion that he is more heavily burthened than he would be in another part of the town, he will require to pay less rent than he might be content to pay if he lived elsewhere?—The question is not what he can reasonably afford to pay, but what property of the same capacity, and the same value will fetch; he may be paying out of what should be his accumulating income.
668. If he is considering what house or premises he shall rent, and is not taking into account the inconvenience of leaving the premises which he already occupies, but is taking premises for the first time, will he not calculate the whole of the annual cost devolving upon him from taking those premises; and will he not, if the rates are heavier, require that the rent shall be in the same proportion lower?—It is not so much a question of individual calculation, as to whether the house will serve the person’s purpose; that consideration may involve several elements; first, it may be convenient for his trade and his connection, and a variety of matters may induce him to give more than the market value of the house; but in order to determine the question, we must consider the fair value of the house for the purpose of ascertaining the natural rent of the house.
669. Some persons in some businesses may be obliged to live in a particular neighbourhood, and therefore may not have it in their power to relieve themselves from heavy rates by taking any other house; is that your meaning?—That frequently occurs, and as the result you have an unnatural rent imposed upon the party, because he is unable, without injury to his business or profession, to remove from that particular locality, and hence occasionally landlords take advantage of tenants under those circumstances, and charge an unnatural rent; that is to say, a rent which the premises themselves would not command in the ordinary market.
670. Supposing that the rates were suddenly reduced in that neighbourhood, would not the landlord be able to take the same advantage of the conveniences which the situation of the premises affords to a person in that particular business, or to persons in business in general, and thus add to the rent the amount which would be saved by the reduction of the rates?—I am not able to answer that question.
671. Even in those parishes which are most heavily rated, is it not the fact that rent is constantly rising in the same manner as elsewhere; and that after the expiration of any lease there is every chance that the proprietor of a house in those parishes will be able to obtain a higher rent for it than he has obtained before?—[After agreeing that the general increase in value would benefit the owner, Thwaites argued that an agreement by a tenant to pay the sewer rate in 1854 would entail continuing to pay at an increased amount because that rate had come to include the improvement, formation, and widening of streets, and concluded by asking:] why should this large proprietor, who has entered into a bargain with his tenant in 1854, have all those reversionary advantages without contributing one shilling towards the improvement which has been carried out?
672. Is it not your opinion, that notwithstanding any amount which might be laid upon the occupiers for the purpose of defraying the expense of any probable amount of metropolitan improvement, the rental of that property progressively rises as it does elsewhere?—No doubt; and it sometimes occurs that even a higher rent is demanded for a lease, because the property is tied up, and the proprietor is deprived of the gradual improvement of the property, supposing that he anticipates such an improvement; but immediately the property is released from that obligation, we assume that he realises the fair market value of that property.
673. So that notwithstanding the great inequality of rates in regard to parts of the metropolis, even in those parts where the rates are heavy, the value of the property is still rising, quite independently of any outlay of the proprietors themselves, but merely from the general increase in the value of property in the metropolis?—It fluctuates from time to time. I believe that just now property is increasing in value, but there are times when the reverse is the case, and when property is depressed.
674. Is not the general tendency of the improvements which are being made, to increase the value of property?—No doubt the tendency in the metropolis is in that direction, and especially in prosperous times the result would be felt in a demand for property; and there is a greater demand for property.
675. So that although an injury results from the amount of the rating in particular parts of the metropolis, and although during the existence of the leases the occupiers suffer because of the inequality of the rating, yet the owners of the property in those heavily-rated districts gain an advantage, not as the result of their own exertions, but from the general circumstances of society; but it does not accrue to them quite so fast as it does in other districts, and although the value of property is increasing everywhere, yet it does not increase so rapidly as in the districts which are low rated; is not that the amount of the grievance?—No; I do not see how that affects the question which I have raised. You have a general increased value of property arising from a variety of causes; first, the increase of population,and secondly the prosperous condition of trade; all these things have a tendency to drive up the value of property, and the reverse circumstances have a tendency to depress it; but that does not touch the real question.
676. It is understood that this does not affect the question of the incidence of the rate on the occupiers during the currency of leases, and that during this time any new burthen imposed for metropolitan improvement falls very unequally on different parts of the metropolis—that is admitted; but after the leases have expired, supposing that the burthen then comes upon the landlords, it of course falls on them very unequally, but still the amount of what they really suffer is not a loss, but merely that they do not gain quite so much from the progress of society as landlords in other parts?—But we assume, as a starting-point, that we have an equality of assessment.
677. I am referring to the state of things under the present system?—I have already stated, and I repeat that statement, that I believe that the metropolis is not properly assessed, and that great inequality exists. I propose that that should be set right by some machinery, but when set right, there would still be the difficulty left which I have named.
678. To pass to another subject, namely, the manner in which the local disbursements of Paris are regulated, is it not the fact that in the other towns of France and in the Departments also, with the exception of Paris, the municipalities or the departments are authorised to raise, for municipal or departmental purposes, what are called centimes additional; so much per cent. on the amount of the four direct contributions which are raised for Imperial purposes in those muncipalities or departments?—I believe so.
679. And a provision is included in the annual Budget of the State which every year authorises the municipalities to raise, for municipal purposes, a certain per-centage and no more, upon the amount of the direct taxes of the municipality?—I believe so.
680. Therefore the advantage which Paris has in receiving a proportion of the Imperial taxation for municipal purposes, is to a certain extent shared by the whole of France?—I believe so.
John Thwaites, continued
[The questioning turned to local subventions by the central government, and its liability to local taxation.]
927. Are you aware that by the French law, national property, and crown property especially, of all sorts, is exempt from taxation to the national account, but is subject to all local taxation?3 —I so understand it.
928. Do you not think that that is a just distinction?—I think that it is; if that property were not so exempted, it would be merely receiving with one hand and paying with the other.
Thomas Henry Fry4
[Fry’s opinion was sought on the increased value of property bought (and some re-sold) by the Coporation for the Holborn improvements. He referred to the Corporation’s having based the increase in re-sale values on a higher estimate than that in the purchase prices.]
985. It was calculated upon a continuously progressive rise in the value of the property?—It has been so up to the present time; where it is to stop, of course I cannot say.
[Questioning centred on the right of the City of London to expend monies raised by taxation for whatever purposes it wished.]
1124. Is it your theory that a public body can be authorised to levy a tax, whether local or general, for their own benefit?—The Corporation of the City of London have carried on various works from time to time, and they have applied this money not for their own purposes, but for public purposes.
1125. Do you think that it can be applied to any but public purposes?—As a lawyer, I hold that the Corporation, if they are disposed so to do, can apply it as they please. There is nothing to prevent them from doing it, but it never has been done.
22 March, 1866
[The issue of expenditure by the City of its coal tax (4d. per ton), raised during the examination of Corrie, again occupied the Committee’s attention.]
1494. Was that duty of 4d. in the Port of London ever levied by the Crown for its own benefit?—The Charter of James recites that the Corporation had always possessed the right, and confirms the grant of the 4d. duty.7Therefore, the charterassumes that the Crown had an ancient right from time immemorial, and that it had been anciently granted to the City, and it confirms it in the reign of James I, when there had been some dispute as to the rights of the City and the Crown.
1495. But the Crown had never exercised the right for its own benefit, had it?—Not within recent or modern times; but the grant assumes that it was a right of the Crown in ancient times. I have the words of the charter here, if the Committee like to see them.
1496. I presume that the Crown claimed a right to levy taxes at that time without the consent of Parliament?—I think that at that time the Crown did exercise its powers in a way in which they would not be exercised now; but it is a right of property acquired in those times, like all other property which has come down from those times.
1497. So that the Crown claimed a general right of property in a tax, of which right of property it had never had the beneficial exercise within the memory of man?—Not within recent times.
1498. So that it was by construction of a general prerogative of the Crown, that it was supposed that what the Crown conceded or confirmed to the Corporation had previously to that belonged to the Crown?—Yes; I should state that Charles II seized the charter, and subsequently exercised the right himself for several years; but that an Act of Parliament was passed confirming all those charters to the City in the reign of William and Mary, and stating that the City ought not to have been interrupted in the enjoyment of those rights.8
[After the Chairman had established Beal’s credentials, the questioning was begun by Mill, who undoubtedly had arranged that Beal be a witness.]
1764. How long have you been a member of St. James’s vestry?—With a brief exception, since the passing of Sir Benjamin Hall’s Act, the Metropolis Local Management Act, in 1855.10
1765. I think the Metropolis Local Management Act transferred to the vestries the separate powers vested in the separate local boards previously to that time?—It did.
1766. You have carefully watched the operation of the Act in the vestry of which you are a member?—I have.
1767. How do you consider it has been carried out?—As a whole, very imperfectly on the part of the elected authorities. If tested on the question of their works, under the head of sewage, roads, and paving, I think the sewage works entrusted to the vestries not under the control of the Metropolitan Board of Works will be found to be in a most defective state; and I believe their roads and paving to be equally defective.
1779. Will you give a brief summary of the powers of local government which are vested in the vestries under the Metropolis Local Management Act; in short, the powers that they do actually exercise?—To them is entrusted the lighting, paving, and cleansing of the streets, the local sewerage, certain powers under the Diseases Prevention Act, and the Metropolitan Gas Act of 1860, and the Adulteration of Food Act, some powers under the Common Lodging House Act, and the general sanitary regulations of the district committed to their care.11
1780. And the members of the vestry are selected by the ratepayers, are they not?—Yes.
1781. Are they elected by plural voting or by single votes?—Single votes.
1782. Of what class of persons do vestries generally, in your experience, consist; are they different in different parishes?—As far as our own is concerned, the majority are small tradesmen, in the back streets of the parish. We are divided into four wards: Church Ward, Pall Mall Ward, Marlborough-street Ward, and Golden-square Ward. In three out of these four wards the members, as a whole, consist of small tradesmen; Church Ward has some five or six leading men of the parish, but the rest are men little known to the great body of the ratepayers. There are 50 vestrymen in our parish.
1783. The number is much larger in some parishes I believe?—Yes; in St. George’s it is 120, in Marylebone 120; and their wards are of course more numerous than ours.
1784. There is a great variety, I suppose, in the character of the members of vestries in the different districts of the metropolis?—They vary entirely with the character of the population of the district.
1785. How are these powers, in your experience, generally administered?—Always with too great a regard to economy; efficiency is always sacrificed to economy. If an Act of Parliament requires them to do certain things, it is as a rule avoided. I refer especially to the Sanitary Acts,12to the Adulteration of Food Act,and to the Metropolis Gas Act, in each of which cases the powers entrusted to them have not been carried out.
1786. These are all permissive Acts?—In some sense permissive; but there have been peremptory powers which have not been carried out by the vestries, particularly in relation to the Metropolis Gas Act.
1787. Have the vestries any power in regard to the licensing of public-houses?—They have not; that rests in the first place with the magistrates of petty session, and by appeal to the magistrates in quarter sessions in the county of Middlesex or other metropolitan county.
1788. How is that power exercised?—We had reason to complain some years since that licenses refused by our local magistrates were granted on appeal by the Middlesex magistrates. It was fully gone into in my evidence before the Committee in 1861, in reference to the Argyle Rooms, and one or two other cases I then mentioned.13Great objection exists on our part to the Middlesex magistrates having that control. We believe it is a matter which, if our local administration were more municipal, should be entrusted to the local administration.
1789. In regard to the local magistracy, the magisterial powers are divided, I believe, between the Middlesex magistrates, and the police magistrates appointed by Government?—The criminal jurisdiction is in the hands of the stipendiary magistrate appointed by Government; the civil jurisdiction,—licensing slaughter-houses, cow-houses, public-houses, and billiard-rooms, is in the hands of the magistrates in petty session, who are appointed, I believe, by the Lord Lieutenant of the county.
1790. These powers you wish to have transferred to a municipal administration for Westminster?—I should.
1791. Have you any remarks to make on the mode of election to the Metropolitan Board?—I expressed my opinion in 1861,14which subsequent experience has confirmed, that the present mode of election is bad, and that instead of being a filtration from the vestry, it should be direct from the ratepayers. I think when our annual elections take place, the inhabitants should elect their member to the Metropolitan Board at the same time that they elect their members to the vestry.
1792. So that what you wish would be a municipal administration for the different districts of the metropolis separately, and a general administration elected like the others by the ratepayers, for the administration of the affairs which concern the metropolis as a whole?—Yes. My opinion is that the whole of the metropolis should be divided into a series of municipalities, and that these municipalities should be mainly co-extensive with the Parliamentary districts, asproposed in the report of the Commissioners reporting on the Corporation of the City of London, 1854;15that where Parliamentary districts do not run, districts should be assigned to them; that the local municipality should have the control of all the works and powers now entrusted to the several vestries within those districts; that from these there should be formed a metropolitan council composed of members of the several local municipalities, to whose hands should be entrusted the whole of the work now done by the Metropolitan Board, the whole of the work now done in the metropolis by the magistrates of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, much that is done by the City of London, and (although it is perhaps idle to ask it) all that is done by the Commissioners of Police; I think that should be transferred to us as part of the legitimate local powers of the municipality of the metropolis.
1793. In that case, you would transfer to the proposed metropolitan council, some of the powers which are at present exercised by the City Corporation within the jurisdiction?—The City is a county in itself, and I would make the metropolis a county in itself, and all the special powers which, as a county, the City exercises, I would transfer to the general metropolitan council. The control of gaols, lunatic asylums, and courts of justice, being special powers which the City exercises by virtue of its being a county by itself, I would transfer to the general municipality.
1794. Will you briefly recapitulate the powers that you would take from the City and transfer to the metropolitan council?—It would preserve all its own municipal action within its own boundary, but the control of gaols, lunatic asylums, and bridges, wherein it acts as a county by itself, would be transferred to the general municipality; it would be reduced to one of a series or congeries of municipalities in the metropolis.
1795. What would you have done with the fire brigade?—I would place it under the general metropolitan council, as it has been already placed in the hands of the Metropolitan Board.16
1796. And the water supply, so far as it is a municipal matter, would devolve on the general body?—[After asserting that the gas companies should come under the general municipal council, Beal continued:] As regards water, I think that is a matter purely for municipal action. I think that the Act of 1852,17has not been carried out by a single vestry, they are too weak to carry it out, and that the companies are too powerful in the interests arrayed against the vestries, and that only a large and powerful corporation can adequately represent the public interest, and protect it in reference to the supply of water.
1797. There is another subject which has excited of late a great deal of attention, namely, legislation with regard to the admission of railways and railway stations into the metropolis. That, so far as it was municipal, and not parliamentary, would, I presume, devolve upon the central body?—Clearly. At present we are to a certain extent represented by the Metropolitan Board, on the question of the introduction of railways into the metropolis, but, I think, before they are submitted to Parliament, as a rule, the local authorities should express their opinion definitely, by a special report, like that which the Board of Trade presents to the House, upon the advantages or disadvantages which the lines of railway present in the district which they represent.
1798. The Metropolitan Board of Works would be absorbed into the new general municipality which you propose to create?—Yes, it would be enlarged; it would be elevated; instead of being a semi-municipality, which it is at the present moment, its character and tone would be improved; its area would be the same, but its powers greatly increased. Instead of being a mere Metropolitan Board for certain definite works, it would be a metropolitan council representing the whole metropolis for certain great ends, in which the interests of the whole people are identical.
1799. In all probability, in the first instance, it would be composed in a great degree of those who now compose it, in consequence of the experience they have acquired, and the qualifications they have shown?—Certain members of the Board would be sure to be returned, being men of eminent qualifications, and deservedly enjoying the confidence of their constituents.
1800. So that the plan is not at all brought forward in any spirit of hostility either to the Metropolitan Board or to the City of London?—No, in the interests only of the municipal principle, feeling that the whole metropolis should have the same municipal powers as those which are entrusted to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, and other large towns in the kingdom, of which we are sadly deficient. I may add, that our vestry has always been most anxious upon this question, and has presented memorials to the Government. One of these was printed in the Appendix to the Evidence in 1861,18and since then, upon all occasions where we could enforce our views, we have expressed them to Government, that it was desirable that municipal powers should be extended to the whole of the metropolis.
1801. Latterly, several other vestries have joined with you in this movement?—Latterly, we had a meeting in consequence of a letter from Sir George Grey to the Metropolitan Board, and we had delegates present from St. James’s, Chelsea, Shoreditch, Clerkenwell, Camberwell, St. Pancras, Lambeth, and other parishes in the metropolis; and they agree on a report expressing their views in favour of the idea to which I have directed your attention. That report I propose to hand in.*
1802. Do you propose to interfere with any of the powers now exercised by the boards of guardians?—We have not proposed that; but I think that recent experience will support the opinion, that it would be desirable to consolidate the management of the poor as well as the ordinary municipal work under the same organization; that it should be entrusted to the municipality; and that boards of guardians, like vestries, should be consolidated; in fact, removed. They do not, as a general rule, represent the intelligence or property of the constituents, and they are nominated again by vestries; it is a filtration of power, and does not come direct from the ratepayers.
1803. I presume that you would generally adopt the municipal districts as poor law unions?—I would.
1804. The boards of guardians have had various powers entrusted to them, chiefly because there were no other authorities to whom they could be entrusted, by virtue of special Acts of Parliament; as in regard to vaccination?19 —[The authority lies in the wrong hands; it should be given to the Registrar General. Then it would be possible to have registration and subsequent following-up of every case, until vaccination was completed.]
1805. You think that vestries are indifferent to making any use of the powers entrusted to them by Act of Parliament, if they find that increased expenditure would be necessary for the purpose?—I do, and I will give you an instance. Ten years ago, I moved in our vestry for a return of the bore, size, and state of repair of the sewers of the parish. This was duly completed by the surveyor. He has occasionally made urgent reports as to the disgraceful state of the sewage, particularly in reference to Regent-street, a thoroughfare, of course, in which every care should be taken that there should be perfection in all our details; but it now appears that in consequence of past neglect, we must lay out some £20,000 in the repair of our sewers, totally independent of the sewers of the Metropolitan Board of Works, in that street.
1806. The vestry is the only existing authority which has any power over those sewers?—In our district, the only existing authority.
1807. So that, properly speaking, that very important part of the police of the districts is entrusted to these numerous and small local bodies?—Yes.
1808. Do you consider that there are any considerable disadvantages attaching to the multitude of these authorities and the great sub-division of jurisdiction?—In Westminster, the disadvantage is greater than in any other portions of the metropolis. We have, with the same population as the parish of Marylebone (not the borough), collecting the same amount of rates, nine separate jurisdictions, while Marylebone has only one; and it is a special defect in Westminster that such is the case.
1809. There has been a good deal of mention made of the division of St. James’s-street between two parishes, right down the middle?—[There has been no resolution; as a result there are such anomalies as that] in Piccadilly, from Burlington Arcade to the corner of St. James’s-street, one side is macadamised, while the other side is pitch-paved.
1815. I understand that the parish of Marylebone has a population equal to that of Westminster?—All Westminster.
1816. And that parish has only one vestry. The whole local administration of it, therefore, is in the hands of one body?—It is so.
1817. Have you any personal knowledge of the way in which the parish of Marylebone is administered?—I only refer to it, presuming that it is much the same as the rest of the metropolis, but I allude to it especially as to the cost of government. With our nine jurisdictions we pay £17,462 in salaries, whilst Marylebone pays £7,711 only, each of us collecting in our own rates precisely the same amount of money.
1818. Is it within your knowledge that the local administration in Marylebone is better than that of the separate districts of Westminster; that the Acts of Parliament, for instance, are administered more efficiently, and there is not the same reluctance shown to incur expense for the purpose of carrying them into effect?—No; I presume the same characteristics will be found generally throughout the metropolis.
1819. So that, in your opinion, the extent of a parish, of even the largest parish in the metropolis, is not sufficient to remove the circumstances which cause the imperfect working of the present local administration?—I do not think size has anything to do with it. I think there is no dignity conferred upon any individual by electing him as a vestryman; consequently, the more respectable or propertied class decline to share its burdens or its honours, if there be any; and, if a total change was made and municipal institutions were introduced, we should have a totally different class of persons seeking the suffrage of the constituencies.
1820. You think that an enlargement of the district from the parish of Marylebone to the Parliamentary district of Marylebone would be sufficient to have that effect?—I do.
1825. Do the vestries of these separate parishes exercise any municipal administration at all, or do they abdicate entirely in favour of the board they elect?—They simply meet to elect the members of the municipal board.
1826. What are the duties of their vestry clerks?—They are difficult to define; they merely summon the vestry twice or three times a year, but still a vestry clerk exists.
1827. They have powers, I believe, in connection with the parish church?—No; that is a totally different thing. The meeting in the parish church is summoned at Easter to elect churchwardens. It has no other authority. It expires immediately.
1828. Have they no powers in connection with the Poor Law Administration?—No, that is entrusted to the board of guardians.
1829. So that they exist chiefly as electoral bodies?—Yes; electoral colleges.
1830. It is a kind of second stage of election?—Yes; that only refers to the small vestries, to which you have drawn my attention.
1831. Since there is so much reluctance to incur expense for enforcing Acts of Parliament where there is any option, and even sometimes where there is not; that would naturally make itself most of all felt, or in no case more than in the case of the Sanitary Acts?—Clearly.
1832. What is your opinion as to that?—[In spite of his efforts, no money is voted for measures pertaining to public health, just as none was voted for the equipment necessary under the Metropolis Gas Act. While the Adulteration of Food Act] has been nominally complied with inasmuch as a person has been appointed, [he has not the means to carry out his duties.] Both the Adulteration of Food Act and the Metropolitan Gas Act are dead letters in our parish.
1833. Naturally if local officers of health find that their recommendations are not attended to, they are not so much disposed to make recommendations as they would otherwise be?—No. They checked the zeal of our medical officer, Dr. Lankester,20whose salary was £200. a-year, by reducing it to £150. after a year or two when they found he was very earnest in his work, since which time he has contented himself with making a fortnightly report, and being less active in the discharge of his duties.
1834. Will you give a general idea of the way in which you would compose the municipal bodies for separate districts of the metropolis?—Do you mean as to the qualifications of the council?
1835. All particulars that would be embodied in a Bill for the purpose, so far as relates to the composition of those bodies?—A Bill has been drafted based entirely upon the Municipal Reform Act general throughout England. It was felt that the first step in the matter was simply to confer upon the metropolis, if Parliament should think fit, municipal powers; that no innovation should be attempted, but that the existing powers should simply be applied to the metropolis.
[In reply to a question from the Chair, Beal indicated some of the provisions of the Bill, including the suggestion of boroughs not based on the parliamentary boroughs, such as the merging of Hammersmith, Kensington, Fulham, and Chelsea, and forming a Borough of Bloomsbury out of a portion of Marylebone, the Parish of St. Pancras, a part of Finsbury, and all that district running through Holborn up to St. Pancras.]21
1837. What is the particular reason for interfering with existing boundaries in that case?—Mr. Horton, who will be called, can thoroughly explain it, and the chief of the Statistical Department of the Registrar-General has also offered to give evidence. It was a suggestion in reference to the performance of the duties of his office for the purpose of obtaining accurate statistical details of each and every district of the metropolis. Another suggestion was that the Borough of Tower Hamlets should be divided into two for municipal purposes, called the Borough of Hackney and the Borough of Tower Hamlets, the northern portion of the borough and the southern.
1838. Has it occurred to you to include the West Ham district in the Tower Hamlets previous to the sub-division, so as to make two boroughs out of the Tower Hamlets and the West Ham district combined?—West Ham I think is not within the metropolitan municipal district.
1839. But it is understood that that district wishes to be included?—Powers should be conferred, I think, upon the outlying parishes of the metropolis, enabling them by the vote of their own parish and the adjoining district to form extended municipal districts, as the growth and wealth of the district entitle them to those advantages.
1840. Have you anything further to state about the contents of the proposed Bill?—No, I think not; we propose to adhere exactly to the old idea of a Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council; of course it would be very easy to have suggested alterations or amendments, but we felt that those would come better afterwards, so that we might not be charged with any particular innovation in introducing the matter at present. We felt it was desirable to be conservative in the matter, simply adhering to existing Acts of Parliament, and clothing ourselves with existing powers.
1841. You mean that there would be a mayor and aldermen for each borough?—Yes; just as at Manchester and Salford, and Liverpool and Birkenhead.
1842. Do you think that the existence of mayors and aldermen for the separate districts would have a tendency to induce persons of a higher class than the present vestrymen to accept office?—I do; I believe it would clothe a man in the district with social distinction, and would be an honourable object of ambition to fill the office of mayor of a large wealthy district like Westminster, Southwark and Marylebone; equally so that he should be an alderman of some district. I think that we should get a class of men to take part in the municipal administration of affairs who at present stand aloof.
1843. Is there not some difference of opinion whether the office of alderman, for instance, in the metropolitan district, would be attractive to a higher class of persons than those who at present serve?—There is some difference of opinion about it, but I have taken every precaution to make inquiries, and to ascertain the views of others. I find that whilst it is looked upon as a sort of fifth wheel of a coach,yet it is very desirable to have it as a social distinction, conferring a mark of position to a certain extent upon the man who is elected to the post.
1844. You will perhaps hand the Bill to the Committee?—Yes.†
1845. This I believe comprises only one-half of the plan, inasmuch as it relates only to the separate municipalities, and says nothing about the proposed general local government of the metropolis, and does not interfere with the existing powers of the Board of Works, but leaves them as they are?—The Metropolitan Board of Works and the City are excluded from the first Bill, the object being simply to clothe the metropolis with municipal powers.
1846. Therefore the remainder of your plan will be embodied in another Bill?—In a second Bill, by which I propose to form a Metropolitan Council. That is to say, extending and enlarging the Metropolitan Board, and giving to it the whole powers of the Middlesex magistrates exercised in the metropolis, and all powers of some 700 or 800 magistrates for the several counties of Kent and Surrey.
1847. Do you expect that it will be ready in time to hand in to the Committee?—Yes, I should think it would be ready within a fortnight.22
1848. Will you give us some idea, as complete as you can, of what would be the contents of the other Bill?—[In addition to perpetuating all the powers of the Metropolitan Board, it would extend them by adding all those not given to minor municipalities, and all those of the Middlesex magistrates over roads, bridges, gaols, and lunatic asylums. In addition it would include courts of justice for the whole metropolis, with a central court trying every case affecting inhabitants of the municipality, and jury selection would be improved.]
1849. Licensing powers you mention that you do not include; I presume you would leave them to the separate municipalities?—To the local municipalities.
1850. The fire brigade, the water supply, and the arrangements as to gas?—I should leave them all to the general municipality.
1851. Have you consulted with many persons with reference to those plans, do they represent the opinions of any considerable body of persons in the metropolis?—A very large, a very growing mass of persons have expressed their perfect accord in the principles of the scheme, whilst objecting to certain details. For instance, some of the electors of Finsbury very strongly expressed a difference of opinion as to the propriety of taking out any portion of that borough and creating a new borough for municipal purposes, while we have no such intention as regards parliamentary purposes. It is open to that objection, but we felt that thescheme suggested had been so thoroughly considered that it was worth while to ventilate it as we have done.
1852. It is no essential part of your plan, even if it should not be proceeded with?—It will not affect the general principle; it is simply a detail.
1853. You were honorary secretary of the Gas Enquiry Committee in 1860?23 —I was.
1854. That would give you considerable means of judging as to the action of vestries other than you own?—[That position gave him experience of the vestries’ failure to comply with the requirements of the resulting Act, and persuaded him that a major change was needed in governance of the metropolis.]
1855. Do you think that the failure of the vestries is most to be ascribed to inattention, or to a false economy, or to the inferior calibre of the persons composing the vestries?—To the inferior calibre of the persons composing the vestries; they agree to resolutions but do not carry them out. I could present you with a series of resolutions, that I proposed to put in force in 1860, which were carried, but from that hour to this nothing whatever has been done in reference to them. It was after the Act had passed, and feeling that we should meet the Companies at once upon the best possible terms, that I endeavoured to secure all the benefits which the Act proposed, and the resolutions were carried, but nothing has been done.
1856. In such numerous bodies as vestries I presume the attendance is not very constant on the part of most members?—No. A little patronage to be given away would secure very large attendances of the vestry, but the discussion of a very important question, unless affecting some local interest, would make no difference whatever. The ordinary attendance would be limited to perhaps 18 or 16, or 15 out of the 60.
1857. Are those 15 or 18 usually the same persons, or do they vary?—Nearly the same persons. There may be slight varieties, so that in the course of the year one man has his name down three or four times, and another five times, but substantially the same persons attend.
1858. So that the powers of the vestry, although nominally exercised by a considerable number, really reside in a comparatively small number, who are not specially responsible for the power which they thus exercise?—That is true. The men who have the most leisure are the men who attend. The busy men, like the tradesmen in Regent-street and Piccadilly, cannot give the time, or they object to the interminable discussions which take place. They go away and take no part in the business.
1859. Probably, then, those members of the vestry in whom the ratepayers would have the most confidence are those who really interfere least in the administration?—That is a fact.
1860. You gave evidence before the Committee on Metropolitan Taxation some years ago?—In 1861.24
1861. To the same effect as the present?—Yes.
1862. The main principles of your scheme you started then?—I did.
1863. Has any change taken place in your views since?—I have seen no reason to change my opinions.
1864. Naturally your scheme is more matured?—Yes; my opinion has grown, and it has become matured in my mind as a thing I think essential to the government of London.
1865. Turning to the subject of the Railway Bills, how do you consider that the vestries on the one hand, and the Metropolitan Board on the other, carry out that part of their duties which relate to Railway Bills?—[The moot question as to their right to use rates for the employment of counsel to represent municipal interests concerning railways should be resolved, so that London could do what Liverpool and Manchester already can do.]
1866. In most questions vestries could not be expected to take an enlarged view of the subject. For instance, with regard to Metropolitan Railways where the interest of the metropolis has to be considered, or at any rate a large portion of it. But if there were a general metropolitan Board and municipality for the whole metropolis, you would say that all railway schemes affecting the metropolis should be regularly reported on by that Board before they could be introduced into Parliament?—[The Metropolitan Board or Council should have the authority necessary to care for the general interests of the populace.]
1867. What are the advantages, in a financial point of view, that you think would arise from the consolidation of the present small division into a large one?—Take the illustration which I have given of the salaries in Marylebone with one local action, and those in Westminster, with several, and the enormous extra expense in Westminster compared with Marylebone, my belief is, a large saving in expenditure would result from the consolidation of the several vestries in the metropolis. A great reduction in salaries; and, I believe, an improved system of collection of rates could be inaugurated if greater power were exercised in the matter.
1868. Is there not a large portion of the business of local administration anywhere, especially in so great a body as a metropolis, which requires individual responsibility and which can only be done effectually by paid officers, who, therefore, can only be expected to do it over a considerable district, because it is impossible to pay properly qualified officers for small districts?—That is one of the important points on which I think large advantages would accrue to the whole metropolis by the proposed scheme. For instance, we pay our surveyor £200 a year for a small district, and give him the right to practice on his own account. Butif he had a large district we could afford to elect a much more eminent man; I do not say one who is more qualified to the performance of his duties, but one having a larger reputation, and in whom greater public confidence would be placed.
1869. Do you not think that the function of municipal bodies, whether called vestries or on a larger scale, is similar rather to that of Parliament in the general administration, than that of the Ministers of the Crown, and that the local administration should consist of a popular body, which is elected, and paid officers, who should be nominated, but for whom the money should be supplied and the salaries voted entirely by the representative body? Is not that your opinion?—I believe that is the perfection of municipal government.
1870. And, in the nature of the case, that can only be obtained when the body that nominates and the constituency that pays those officers are on rather a large scale?—Yes.
1871. Extending over a wide area?—The bill which has been drawn up refers to a considerable number of other Acts which give separate powers to local bodies, all of which are proposed to be exercised by the new municipalities.
1872. I presume you have already given in substance all the knowledge we need have of the contents of those Acts?—I think we give in a marginal schedule every Act proposed to be incorporated, commencing with the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the 5 & 6 William IV, including all the amendments of that Act. In reference to granting licenses to innkeepers and so on, we recite the other licensing Acts and incorporate them where requisite. As regards the powers of the vestries, the Act simply recites the 18 & 19 Victoria, the Metropolis Local Management Act, and all the amendments of that Act. We merely take the powers which we have; only plus that we give to the municipality the common law powers which a municipality exercises for the good of a large district.
[The questioning turned to the proper and present qualifications of municipal representatives.]
2006. Does it often happen that a person whose qualification is derived from a house which is let out in lodgings is elected as a vestryman?—Not often; I believe, as a rule, they occupy the houses for which they are rated.
[The Chair raised the question of changing the arrangements for commissions of the peace.]
2050. The powers of the justice of the peace are of two kinds, judicial and administrative. Is there any reason, when the proposed municipalities are constituted, why the administrative powers which now fall on the justices of the peace should not entirely devolve on the corporation; is there any reason why the two functions should not be separated?—The suggestion is that they should be separated, giving the administrative powers to the Metropolitan General Council,and the judicial to the stipendiary magistrates or the magistrates for the peace nominated to the district.
2051. So that everything relating to licensing and other administrative business now done by magistrates, also voting for the county rates, would devolve on the bodies that would represent the metropolis?—The county rate would go, I presume, to the metropolitan council, and the question of licenses would go to the borough justices.
2052. So that there would only remain judicial powers to be exercised by the magistrates?—Only judicial powers.
2053. Would it be at all necessary to have any other power for that purpose than that which is already exercised, with some extension, if necessary, by the Central Criminal Court; or does the Central Criminal Court not descend low enough?—In the second bill we should suggest modifications, but that would be the main court, the court virtually for the metropolis.
2054. I believe the court now comprehends, besides two of Her Majesty’s judges, a recorder and magistrates in the commission of the peace?—Yes.
2055. That function would be reserved for the justices of the peace in the new local bodies?—Yes.
2056. To exercise judicial powers, as now, in conjunction with the two judges and the recorder?—Clearly.
2057. And the duties at present exercised, for instance, by the sessions at Clerkenwell would cease?—They would cease.
2058. So far as regards the metropolis?—Yes; that is a part of the function of the Middlesex magistrates within the metropolis with which we are finding fault.
[The Chair began a series of questions about the savings in costs of collecting rates expected in the City of Westminster through the centralization that Beal was advocating; the exchange then turned to the probability of more lavish expenditures if those elected in Westminster began to behave like the mayor and aldermen of the City of London, which had great resources not deriving from rates.]
2076. If anybody would make a present of great Irish estates to the Corporation of Westminster, I suppose there would be no objection to their giving grand dinners on the 9th of November25 or some other day?—Just so; or if we had the estates of the Corporation of London handed over to us.26
[The questioning settled on the disproportionate number of vestrymen of asuperior class willing to serve in St. George’s, Hanover Square, as compared to St. James’s. Beal affirmed that the difference reflected the social composition of the areas.]
2099. Do we understand that in Marylebone also there are a greater number than the average of persons of superior position willing to serve in the vestry?—Not to the same extent as in St. George’s; St. George’s is a great exception to the metropolis, the superior class forming a good proportion of the whole vestry.
[Beal affirmed strongly that party politics had no bearing on the local elections, and would not have if they were, as he wished, held annually.]
2111. Is it not understood that a number of the old Corporation have a considerable amount of patronage vested in them, and the administration of a good many charities, by means of which it is understood that the circumstance of Liberals or Conservatives being in the Corporation may give them influence which may be exercised in the election of Members of Parliament?—I have no actual knowledge of it, but I am perfectly aware that it is so, as a matter of general report and information; that large funds are at the disposal of members of a corporation, and that that circumstance does materially influence the result of an election.
2112. Is it understood that that is the reason why the elections of municipal councils in the provinces often assume a political character?—I do not know that it so largely influences them as to be the main element; there are errors, no doubt, which crop up out of that system of doling out relief to partisans. I think it is very objectionable, but I do not think it mainly influences the contest.
2113. In any case, the municipalities would not have patronage or powers of that description, and therefore to that extent there would not be the same motive to introduce political feelings into the municipal elections?—It would exist only to a minor extent; in most parishes in the metropolis we have charities administered by the vestrymen, and these would be assigned to the municipality. We have in our parish, for instance, a fund which we distribute yearly at Christmas to 20 decayed tradespeople, £15 each, and matters of that sort, but certainly not to the extent I have heard of in some provincial towns.
2114. If necessary, that patronage could be left with the vestries, could it not?—I do not think it would be desirable; I think we should hand it over to the municipalities; possibly they could suggest some better mode of administration.
2115. Or the Charity Commissioners?27 —Yes.
[The Chair raised the issue of competing “dignity” between the local and central authorities under Beal’s scheme. Beal having affirmed that the metropolitan would have more dignity, the Chair asked how that could be so if, say, theDuke of Buccleuch were Mayor of Westminster. Beal replied that his being a duke would not add to his greatness as mayor.]
2126. Would not the Duke of Buccleuch, or any other person of his position, rather seek to be a member of the central than the local board?—I think so.
[After looking at the analogy of the City of London and its wards with the proposed arrangements, the Chair asked (Q 2142) whether the central council “should have a very large and predominant influence and power over the districts.” Beal replied that it “would necessarily have a predominant influence, but not legislative; each of the municipalities would preserve its local power intact. . . .”]
2143. Do you not think that very considerable, or perhaps the greater part of the duties of local municipalities would consist in managing details in matters of which the principles would be laid down by the central body?—No; I think the principle would be that the local bodies would be simply attached to and interested in local details; and that the general body would have, upon larger lines, as it were, the same duties to perform. I think the greater body would be an example to the lesser. I think if we found that they had higher administrative ability, and gave greater attention to details, we should be constantly learning from them.
2144. To explain what I mean; assume that the general drainage of the metropolis, the arterial drainage, would be under the management of the central body, do you think that the local sewers like those which the vestries manage now, and which would necessarily be in connection with the general system, ought to be managed exclusively by the local bodies without any authority exercised by the central body over them?—No, I think that upon all occasions, in order to have a unity of system as to drainage, any detail about to be carried out by the local administration should be submitted to the administration in chief.
2145. Would not that apply also in a great degree to such questions as gas and water supply?—That I would leave to the chief municipality only, not to the district.
2163. You assisted the Registrar General in taking the census of great Britain in 1851, and the census of England and Wales in 1861?29 —I did.
2164. You had occasion to observe the multiplicity of territorial sub-divisions in the metropolis, made without any reference to one another?—I did.
2165. What is your opinion on the consequences of that; is it attended with inconveniences?—[The massive difficulties were commented on in their CensusReport to the Secretary of State, in which they called attention to the great benefits to be anticipated from a uniform system of divisions.]
2166. In regard to the metropolis especially?—That holds especially with regard to the metropolis; the sub-divisions of the metropolis are shown clearly in Mr. Horton’s interesting pamphlet;30they are as inconvenient as any that we met with in any part of the country; I believe their inconveniences are felt more perhaps in these large cities than they are in the country.
2167. The divisions being so numerous, of course very few of them coincide with any historical boundary?—Very few; they are based chiefly on the parishes, if we except the City of London and the City of Westminster; the parishes round the City of London and the City of Westminster grew up and became populous, and no notice seems to have been taken of that great fact, which has raised the population from 100,000 to 3,000,000; so that London is left, as regards its local government, almost in the state in which it was when all the parishes round the City consisted of a few scattered houses.
2168. When anything new has to be done, a new division is made for that separate purpose only, instead of one division that would serve for all purposes?—That appears to be the case; in every new Act of Parliament the thing to be done is looked at without any reference to the other things done or to the convenience of the general administration of the metropolis.
2169. What do you consider to be the conveniences and inconveniences of the present variety of boundaries in London?—[The only convenience is that the different bodies who make divisions for special purposes presumably have those purposes served. The many inconveniences deriving from not being able to base statistical analysis on comparable bases may be seen in the frustrated attempts to study the relations of morality and poverty, and disease and crime.]
2170. Do any of these inconveniences relate particularly to the municipal administration of the metropolis; would it be possible to divide the metropolis in a convenient manner for statistical purposes without dividing it in the same manner for municipal?—It appears to me that for administrative purposes it would be very desirable to arrange the metropolis in a certain number of divisions, which would be convenient for administration, so that you might be able to employ competent persons to discharge the various offices that the municipality might wish to see filled.
2171. So that the facts wanted for statistical purposes would be accessible to officers within the same boundaries within which they were wanted for administrative purposes?—Certainly.
2172. It would be convenient that the municipal divisions should be such as would be most convenient for statistical purposes also?—It is very desirable for administrative purposes that you should thoroughly understand the constitution, wants, and condition of the district; and unless you make the divisions coincide, that appears to me to be impossible.
2173. Do you think that the Parliamentary and municipal boundaries should be co-extensive?—I do. It appears to me to be an old part of our constitution, that the different bodies associated for common purposes should also be associated for the purpose of sending Members to represent them in Parliament.
2174. Do you think that the boundaries of the present Parliamentary districts would be those most convenient for municipal and statistical purposes, or that they would require modification?—They would require extensive modification all through the country. Since the Reform Bill great changes have taken place in the population of the country. Nearly all our large towns, and that is especially true of London, have had great accessions of population, which have been deposited irregularly around their Parliamentary area.
2175. And that is no less true of the metropolis than of other towns?—It is especially true of the metropolis.
2176. That is, supposing Parliament were to adopt boundaries for municipal and statistical purposes that did not exactly coincide with the present Parliamentary boundaries, you think that the Parliamentary districts should be modified so as to correspond with them?—It strikes me that would be convenient and proper, and quite in conformity with the general principles of the constitution of the country.
2177. In the Act for the local management of the metropolis, called “Lord Llanover’s Act,” these different considerations were not regarded at all?—Lord Llanover, I think, proceeded on the principle of maintaining the existing organisation and boundaries of the metropolis. That was essentially a parochial organisation. It originated as a parochial organisation, and it is not, in my opinion, fit for all the great purposes of municipal government. Lord Llanover, I suppose, adopted that basis because it existed at that time, and it would have been probably rather difficult to alter it.
2178. In what respects do you think that the practical administration of the metropolis is unfavourably affected by this want of organisation as to the boundaries of the different authorities?—That is a question which I have not fully considered; so that my opinion, I fear, would be of little importance; but, looking at it on general principles, and with the knowledge I have of the general divisions of this country and of other countries, I should say if you divide London, as Mr. Horton has proposed in his pamphlet, into 10 or 11 great divisions, and make those divisions municipalities, and endow them with all the powers which a municipal organisation possesses in the large boroughs of the country, you would get a much better administrative organisation than exists now.
2179. In what respect do you think it would be better; that the municipal authority would be more conveniently exercised, or that the municipal bodies would be better composed?—It appears to me that the municipal bodies would be better composed, and have a better organisation for the execution of municipal duties; they would be able to appoint and pay competent persons to discharge the several duties required, such as surveyors, health officers, and the various officers that are required in municipal boroughs. The present multiplicity of the districts of the metropolis, many of them obscure and never heard of, withdraws them almost entirely from public observation. What a man does in the vestry in Bermondsey, or Stepney, or some of the other districts of the metropolis, is never heard of; so that there is really no responsibility to the great body of the metropolis; and in consequence our streets, and other things that fall within our observation, are in a very disgraceful state.
2180. Are you able to speak of the different departments of the administration of the metropolis at present, as to the imperfections of any of them?—I would rather not pretend to do that. I think I should not be able to give the Committee any information on that subject so valuable as many other gentlemen could give, who will no doubt appear before it. I merely speak to the general facts.
2181. You have a favourable opinion of Mr. Horton’s plan, contained in his pamphlet, for the redivision and re-organisation of the administration of the metropolis?31 —I might mention that when Mr. Horton first placed his pamphlet in my hands I read it carefully through, and was very much struck with it. It preserves the old historical traditions of the metropolis contained in the City of London and the City of Westminster as they stood in the history of the country; and it suggests one way, at any rate, in which the rest of the metropolis might be organised and brought into conformity with these old existing portions.
2182. Do you think that there should be one municipality for the whole metropolis, or that there should be separate municipalities for the different parts?—[One, as in Paris, no matter what it is called, is needed for such necessarily coordinated measures as drainage.]
2183. Then you would propose, as Mr. Horton does, that there should be municipalities for the different districts of the metropolis, which should take charge of those duties which are peculiar to the districts, and also of that part of the general duties which cannot conveniently be discharged by the Central Board, as in the case of these subordinate sewers which, as you have observed, are necessary to the utility of the greater sewers?—That appears to me to be a convenient arrangement. These organisations would naturally take the place of the present district boards, and I think would discharge the duties which devolve on those boards much more effectively.
2184. Do you think that the present imperfect organisation is injurious in its effects on the administration of the sanitary Acts?—[Much more should be done toimprove the health of the population. While the impetus must come from the workingmen of London, the municipal authorities alone can deal with the water supply and sewage.]
[The companies responsible for supplying contaminated Thames water were identified as those of Southwark, Chelsea, and Lambeth.]
2186. That has been remedied?—That has been remedied under an Act of Parliament,32after an inquiry before a Committee of the House of Commons, and in consequence the health of those districts has been improved. I merely cite it to show that although much depends on the householders of London, much also depends on the municipal organisation of London.
2187. Do you think that the water supply of London is a matter for which some public body ought to be responsible?—I am of that opinion.
2188. Do you think that the powers in regard to water supply should rest with the general municipal body for all London, or with the separate municipalities of the districts?—I think they should rest with the central body in which all the municipalities would be represented.
2189. You would probably have the same opinion about the gas supply?—I am not so sure about gas, I have not thought of that.
2190. With regard to such subjects as the admission of railways into the metropolis?—I think that should be dealt with by the central body, clearly.
2191. That central body would be the adviser of Parliament in the matter; or would you have it disposed of by the central body relieving Parliament from the duty?—I think you could not forcibly take the property of individuals without coming to Parliament.
2192. Then, you would have all such schemes considered and reported on by the general municipality of London before they were submitted to Parliament?—It would be exceedingly desirable, and I think Parliament would find great assistance in such reports from the engineers and surveyors of the central body.
2193. Have you any remarks to make on the Poor-Law administration as connected with this subject?—[The ratio of rich to poor is very different in parts of the metropolis, and the regulations are such that the rating is very unequal, with the higher burden falling on those less able to pay.]
2194. Should you think it desirable to give to the new municipalities any powers in regard to the administration of the Poor Law?—I think it would be convenient and very desirable, that the relief of the poor of the metropolis should be placed in the hands of municipal bodies.
2195. The municipalities would become the boards of guardians under the Poor Law?—They might appoint committees, as some of the present vestries do, for the special management of the poor, but I am decidedly of opinion that it would be desirable to consolidate the Poor-Law administration of the metropolis.
2196. It has been suggested that each of the municipal districts should be a Poor Law union; is that your opinion?—My opinion is perhaps not worth much, but I should say, on general principles, that it would be very desirable.
2197. Supposing that to be done, having reference to the Act lately passed for union rating, whereby the rating would become equal over each union,33 would that materially affect the inequality of rating that you have been pointing out, as regards the different parts of the metropolis generally?—I have well considered that part of the subject, and am quite persuaded that the rating for the relief of the poor should be equally distributed over the whole property of the metropolis.
2198. But supposing that were not done, should you think that the mere equalising the rate over each of the municipal districts, which in the present state of the law would necessarily follow if it were constituted a union, would make a material difference in the present inequality?—That would be easily determined. I am afraid it would not make so much difference as would be desirable. The poorest districts would be generally grouped together, but, so far as it went, it would no doubt be a move in the right direction.
[In Marylebone the vestry, under a Local Act, appoints guardians for the Poor Law.]
2204. There is one committee for the whole of their Poor Law duty?—Yes; I could easily get the exact information for the Committee if they desire.
2205. I should like to hear what your idea would be of an administration of the Poor Law by the municipal bodies. Would you make them collect the rates?—They would collect the poor rates as they would the others, by some general arrangement. It would not be convenient to collect different rates for different purposes; one general rate should be raised for all purposes.
2206. You would make them responsible to a general municipal council, if I may so call it, in the nature of the Metropolitan Board of Works; a superior tribunal or body of that kind?—That would be a detail which it would be necessary to consider carefully, that is, to determine exactly how far the central body should go and where it should stop.
2207. But as there are strong reasons for having a general rate, and a uniform system of relief for the whole metropolis, it is very important to have every suggestion for carrying that out?—Certainly.
2208. You think it might be done by the municipal bodies collecting the rate, and then delegating to the committees the administration of the relief?—The administration I should apprehend would be done by paid officers. It is quite clear that such a great work as that could only be done effectively by employing the best men you could get, and paying them. The committee would simply superintend and see that those officers did their duty.
2209. They would be in the nature of relieving officers of a superior class?—Certainly.
2210. You mentioned that you thought that the want of health and the high rate of mortality arose in a great measure in different districts from the poverty of the inhabitants?—Partly from the poverty.
2211. But does it not also in a great measure arise from the crowded state of those districts?—That is, I think, also a consequence partly of the poverty.
2212. You are well aware that the poorer districts are the most crowded?—Yes, I show exactly the effect of the density of population in increasing the mortality.34
2213. And you think that relief would be afforded by a general rate over the whole metropolis for the relief of the poor?—Yes.
2214. They would pay less, and the richer districts would pay more?—At present your rate is necessarily limited by the means of the people who pay the rate; and if your rate was equally distributed over the rich districts and the poor, it would lighten the pressure on the poor districts, while it would not oppress the rich.
2215. Has it ever occurred to you whether there might be a sort of financial body for the purpose of administering relief?—It would be very desirable to have a finance committee, I should think, as part of the business arrangements.
2216. And for that committee to distribute certain contributions to the committees under them for the purposes of relief; did it ever occur to you that that might be carried out?—That had not occurred to me; I should not say it was not desirable on that account; I have not thought of it.
2217. You are aware that these committees in their different districts are better acquainted with the poor than any concentrated municipal body could be?—I should think they would probably be better acquainted with the peculiar circumstances of the poor of their own district than a central body would be.
[After more discussion of equal rating, the questioning returned to pollution of the Thames, instances being cited of problems connected with sewage being emptied into the Thames above London. Farr asserted that the same protection as was adopted in the metropolis should be provided for the length of the Thames.]
2240. That, however, could hardly be done by the metropolitan authorities; it would require some authority that could be exercised over the whole of the Thames?—Certainly.
[The witness mentioned houses unfit for habitation, because of structuraldefects and insufficient conveniences, in St. Giles’s, the Strand Union, Marylebone, Lambeth, and Southwark.]
2381. Are they not sometimes built back to back, so that there is no proper ventilation?—Yes, they are built back to back in some instances.
[The questioning on ventilation continued.]
2396. Does not Dr. Arnott’s ventilator, on a principle similar to that of Jeffreys’ respirator,35 enable you to get rid of the foul air, without losing the heat?—That is a good arrangement. I have adopted it myself, carrying the gas through the central tube, and admitting cold air through the tube that surrounds the other.
2397. The hot air going out warms the cold air coming in?—Yes.
2423. To return to the subject of a subdivision of the metropolis, would you prefer having one and the same division for all purposes rather than a separate division, as at present, for each of the separate purposes?—[There should be one system of division, with five levels of sub-division; the French model, with departments, arrondissements, cantons, and communes is good, but in England a further level at the top, into provinces, is desirable.]
2424. I think I understood you to say that one of the strongest reasons for having only one division for all purposes, is that in that case the same set of officers could take charge of all or many of the different duties, whereas if you had different districts for each kind of duty you would need a different set of local officers for each?—Yes; that would be a question of economy.
2425. That is a consideration not likely to occur to the officers at the head of these special duties. They, only thinking of their special duties, if they find a division that is convenient for that purpose, would not be likely to consider any convenience that would require them to have before their minds other duties as well as their own?—Certainly. If all the heads of the departments to which the Honourable Chairman referred were brought together in a room like this, and if they said, “Let us consider whether we can arrange that the same district shall serve for all purposes:” I have no doubt they would make some general arrangement which would suit nearly all purposes of administration.
2426. And the convenience arising from having only one set of officers for all the various duties, would be only likely to occur to them if they were brought together, and would not be likely to operate as a motive on each of them separately?—In that way the evil has arisen: each officer sits in his own room and considers the case before him. If all the heads of departments were brought together and asked by this Committee to consider whether they could not makeseveral subdivisions of the metropolis serve for nearly all purposes, I have no doubt that those eminent men would be able to agree on a general subdivision of the metropolis.
2427. Then, for statistical purposes, I understand you to say that you consider it of importance that the different kinds of statistical facts should be obtained for the same circumscription, in order that they may be of use for the purpose of comparison?—It is indispensable for the purpose of reasoning, and for the purpose of direction in administration.
2428. Therefore, that is an additional reason for having the same district for all the different classes of facts?—Certainly.
2429. Then, with regard to the desirability of obtaining a superior class of persons as members of municipal councils, I think the reason why you are of opinion that this would be obtained better under the proposed municipal system than under the present is twofold; you think that the motive which would induce a superior class of persons to come forward would be, first, the greater importance of the office, the greater importance that they would attach to the duty itself, owing to the concentration of a number of different districts into one; and, in the second place, the greater publicity to which they would be subject, being more in the public eye, so that they would get more credit for doing their work well, and greater discredit for doing it ill?—Certainly; there would then be real responsibility. The public eye would be directed to all these scenes of action; and would control them.
[After the Chair’s identifying question, Mill began the interrogation.]
2443. You last year published a pamphlet on the municipal government of the metropolis, which attracted a great deal of attention?—Yes.
2444. What did you propose in that pamphlet?—I proposed to divide the metropolis into 11 boroughs and 99 wards, taking the metropolis as defined in the bills of mortality.
2445. Does that include everything that you think it desirable to include?—No; I think it should include the hamlet of Penge, as that is included in the Metropolis Local Management Act.
2446. Are you acquainted with the provisions of the Bill that has been handed in to the Committee; do the divisions in the Bill coincide with those proposed in your pamphlet?—Almost exactly; it proposes to leave the City of London as it is; I merely proposed a few alterations to round off the boundaries.
2447. Neither in your plan nor in the Bill are the boundaries or districts adopted exactly coincident with the Parliamentary districts; what is the reason of that?—The existing Parliamentary boroughs do not seem to offer a suitable basis for a permanent arrangement, because, in the first place, there is a great inequality in the population in these various boroughs; the population of the TowerHamlets, for instance, is 647,000, according to the census of 1861, while that of Greenwich is only 139,000; secondly, the Parliamentary boroughs do not include the whole metropolis; there are certain parishes in Middlesex, Kent, and Surrey which are excluded, and they contain altogether a population of about 338,000; I thought it advisable that they should be all included.
2448. Besides including those districts which are not at present Parliamentary districts, you also take away certain parishes from some of the existing Parliamentary districts, and form new districts by an aggregation of those?—That is with a view of equalising, as far as possible, the population and the area of the various boroughs.
2449. Do you effect a tolerable approach to equalisation by that arrangement?—I think so. According to the scheme in my pamphlet, the highest population is in the borough of Southwark, which contains a population of about 347,000, whereas the Tower Hamlets at present contain a population of nearly twice that number.
2450. You would propose to divide the Tower Hamlets into two parts, for municipal purposes?—Yes.
2451. That is the only alteration you make in the Tower Hamlets?—Yes.
2452. Should you not think it desirable to include the West Ham district along with the Tower Hamlets?—There are besides this various other outlying districts in the north and west upon which a great difference of opinion is likely to prevail as to whether they should be included or not; for instance, Brentford and Chiswick, in the west; Edmonton and Highgate, in the north.
2453. These, however, can hardly be considered at present to be continuous with the metropolis?—I think Turnham Green and Chiswick, Brentford, and Kew, may be considered to be so.
2454. Perhaps in this sense, that there is one continuous line along the road that leads to them, or pretty nearly so, but there are not cross streets so as to make it, as it were, a town quarter?—I think each is as much a town quarter or more so than some of the districts already included; for instance, Eltham, Lee, and Kidbrook. Consequently, in the Bill I think power is taken to include such districts as may be from time to time thought advisable.
2455. You think, then, that the area of the present Parliamentary districts is too great for the convenience of municipal government, and that it is desirable to have a smaller area, with a smaller population, than that of Marylebone or Finsbury as at present constituted?—Certainly, and I am of opinion that one system of districts should be adopted for all purposes. Some may think the present system more convenient perhaps; I think it seems a more sensible arrangement to have but one system for the whole; and if it is to be so, I think it should be such a system as may serve for police court districts, county court districts, poor law unions, registration districts, and other local purposes. I do not say that this is absolutely necessary, but I think it is desirable.
2456. You think in that way there would be a tolerable approach to an equality in the amount of duty thrown on the municipal bodies?—That was one of my principal ideas. They would be tolerably equal in area and population, with the exception of two boroughs on the south side of the Thames, Greenwich and Lambeth. There it would be impossible to equalize the areas and the population, because they are much more thinly populated than the boroughs on the north side.
2457. When you speak of Greenwich, you understand the whole Parliamentary district, including Woolwich?—I am speaking of the borough of Greenwich, as arranged by myself, which would include the whole of the union of Greenwich and the union of Lewisham, and is much more extensive than the present Borough of Greenwich.
2458. You do not propose that the whole Parliamentary district of Greenwich should be included in the metropolis. You do not consider Woolwich as a part of the metropolis?—Part of Woolwich is included in the Parliamentary district, and the whole is included in the metropolis according to the Metropolis Local Management Act.
2459. Do you say that it is?—Yes, Woolwich is.
2460. There is a considerable district which has grown up adjoining the Lewisham district. There is an entirely new quarter consisting, of Lee, and part of the Blackheath district?—That is all included in the new borough of Greenwich which I propose. The present Parliamentary borough of Greenwich comprises St. Paul’s and St. Nicholas, Deptford; part of Greenwich, Woolwich, Plumstead, and Charlton; only portions of the last four parishes. I propose that the whole of those parishes should be included in the borough.
[In response to the Chair, Horton said he would add the parishes of Lee, Kidbrook, Lewisham (including Sydenham), and Eltham.]
2462. Your pamphlet contains a list of the parishes that would compose each of the districts that you propose. Have your views on that subject been at all modified, or do you still adhere to the lists given in your pamphlet?—I still adhere to that list. I think it would be advisable that the Parliamentary boroughs and the municipal boroughs should be co-extensive, but it would depend upon how many additional members might be allotted to the metropolis under the new Reform Bill,36whether we might be able to adopt an entirely similar system for Parliamentary and municipal boroughs.
2463. The division you propose, being grounded on area and population, is one which you think would be convenient for Parliamentary purposes as well, in case it should be decided to give additional members to the metropolis?—I think so; but perhaps I may say that, as a temporary measure, I proposed that the existing members might, if this system should be thought advisable, be distributed amongst the new boroughs.
2464. Are you able to give a list of the places that might be considered as central in the different municipalities that you propose to create, and suitable situations for municipal buildings?—Charing Cross might be considered the centre of the City of Westminster. I consider that High-street, Kensington, would be about the centre of the new borough of Kensington; and Marylebone-road would be the centre of the new borough of Marylebone; Euston-square would form nearly the centre of the new borough of Bloomsbury; “The Angel,” Islington, would be about the centre of Finsbury; Hackney-road, of Hackney; Whitechapel-road, or Commercial-road, of the Tower Hamlets, Kennington Park, of Lambeth; and New or Old Kent-road, of Southwark.
2465. Supposing these districts formed the basis of Parliamentary representation, I think the additional representation they would get, if each had two members, would only amount to six?—Six, including Kensington.
[The Chair intervened on the question of inconvenience from the size of proposed boroughs, citing Finsbury, including Lincoln’s Inn.]
2470. It is in Bloomsbury?—Yes; the centre of that would be Euston-square, not so very far off.
[The questioning turned to the tension between practicability and Horton’s theoretical scheme.]
2482. For statistical purposes there would always be a convenience in having the same districts for different descriptions of facts, because facts of one kind often bear an important relation to facts of another kind, of which relation no use can be made unless the facts relate to the same districts?—That is the case.
2483. There is also this consideration; that duties of different kinds may often be conveniently entrusted to the same set of executive officers: as, at present, many duties created by Acts of Parliament of a general and national character are habitually performed by officers who were originally appointed for merely local purposes; and in fact, if they were not, there would seldom be any other officers to do them, unless you created others for the purpose, which would occasion great additional expense?—Certainly; many duties of different kinds might be entrusted to one officer, just as in the case of the relief of the poor, the registration of births, deaths, and marriages, and the inspecting of nuisances. In many cases, these offices might be combined in one person; the man who goes to a house to register births or deaths in a poor district, would naturally have his attention drawn to the state of the house, and to any nuisances that might exist.
[The utility of giving many duties to one officer with resultant problems of responsibility and effectiveness was canvassed.]
2525. Do you not think that if an officer had not enough to do, it would often be a better arrangement to give him additional duties within the same limited district, than the same duties over a larger district?—I think it would certainly be more convenient and that all his duties should be confined within similar boundaries.
2526. The present Board of Works or boards of guardians would not have the power of adding to his duties by adding other duties within the same district; the only power they would have would be that of giving him a larger district for his limited duties, and that might not be convenient, but it might be convenient to give him within the same limited district other duties than those he now performs?—If I gather the meaning of the Honourable Chairman, he would suggest that although there is a small district for registration purposes, there might be a large district for other purposes.
[The Chair clarified by saying registration or other purposes as the existing municipality chose; Horton thought the proposed arrangement would be inconvenient.]
2528. If all the duties were concentrated in one municipal body, they could concentrate all or many of the local duties within the same district in the same hands, while the present authorities have only the power of giving a larger district for duties limited in kind, and that might often not be convenient, while the other system might?—Exactly.
[Again Mill began after the Chair’s identifying questions.]
2531. You have had some experience as a member of a vestry in Westminster?—I have. I became a vestryman of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, one of the six parishes forming the Strand District Union, in 1851, and was appointed by the vestry to represent it as one of the nine representatives to the Strand District Board, when Sir Benjamin Hall’s Act came into operation.
2532. You have had a seat at the Board about nine years?—Yes; I resigned in 1864.
2533. And during that time did you pay particular attention to the working of the Metropolis Local Management Act, so far as your own district was concerned?—[Yes, through membership in the important surveyors’ committee; and earlier through an official connection with the Health of Towns Association. His conclusion was that London was the most expensively and probably the worst governed city in the empire. Sir Benjamin Hall’s Act helped improve the system.]
2534. But you still think it leaves the local administration of London very imperfect?—[To show how, Beggs called the Committee’s attention to anomalies by means of a map and a schedule of rates related to jurisdictions.38 ]
2535. Are there any other disadvantages, besides those of which you have given an account, which you consider to attend the present subdivision?—[Beggs referred, again handing in evidence, to many disadvantages arising from the real or apparent lack of identity of interest among the parishes. The confusion over officers’ duties and their reliance on private business contributed to the inefficiency.]
[In answer to the Chair, Beggs indicated that the system, by making multiple occupations necessary, was at fault, not the officers themselves.]
2537. Do you believe that such disadvantages as those which you have pointed out are inseparable from the present system, or would it be practicable to effect any arrangement between adjoining districts, so as materially to lessen, and perhaps remove, the inconvenience you have referred to?—[Some makeshift arrangements seem to work, but difficulties will arise when local Boards disagree about their interests.]
2538. Are there any other disadvantages which, in your judgment, are traceable to the great subdivision of jurisdictions?—There is one thing in relation to medical officers that I should like to point out, but that, perhaps, does not refer so much to a matter of jurisdiction as to the way in which the officers are appointed; there is imminent danger; I do not know that such a case has occurred with us, but I know it may occur, of medical officers being obliged to summon members of their own Boards for infractions of the Acts; I know it has occurred in several districts of the metropolis. I am not at present acquainted with any such case in our own district, but I think the danger of such cases is imminent.
2539. That, you think, would not be liable to happen if the districts were larger?—If the districts were larger, in a city like London, which is rather a conglomeration of cities united together, there must be a federal head to govern that work which is common to the whole metropolis, the management of the great thoroughfares, the main drainage, and matters of that sort. My judgment is that the appointment of a medical officer ought to be in the hands of the federal government, in order to render him independent of the local Boards.
2540. What is your opinion of the present mode of election to the Metropolitan Board by the vestries?—When Sir Benjamin Hall’s Act came into operation, I looked with considerable favour upon the plan of double election; that is, the ratepayers electing members of the vestry, and the vestry themselves electing representatives to the district Board. I have seen great evils in the system and in my opinion the system of direct election would be a great deal better than the present.
2541. On what ground do you think it would be better?—I think it would create a greater responsibility; that it would bring into closer connection the represented with the representative, and would therefore secure better representation.
2542. Are you acquainted with the plan for the municipal administration of London, which has been embodied in the draft of the Bill that has been laid before the Committee?—Yes, I have seen that Bill.
2543. What is your opinion of that plan?—As to the general principles of the Bill, without pledging myself to its details, I should support it.
2544. Have you formed any opinion about the local taxation of the metropolis, and the improvement that might be made in it?—I have seen, during the time I have been a vestryman, and also a member of the Board, very great inequalities, but they are slowly adjusting themselves. There is an improvement going on, but I think the one essential thing would be the supervision of the whole. I know it is the opinion of many practical men, who have given much attention to it, that it ought to begin with the land tax. They point out great differences in the various districts, great inequalities, and they think that an equalisation of the land-tax ought to begin all reform as to rating.
2545. That, however, is not a local tax?—It is not a local tax. They take that as the basis. At present our local taxation is based upon the property tax. They merely urge the land tax as the basis. Without supporting that opinion (because I have not considered it sufficiently to be able to do so), I may say that I believe that the rating of the metropolis is very imperfect, and that the revision of it is very necessary.
2546. What do you consider are its special defects?—Its inequality generally. I know instances where rating has gone on for a great number of years upon the old system, upon a valuation made long before property had acquired its present value. The plan usually adopted, by some sluggish vestries in the centre of London, is this, that as leases fall in, and improvements are made, they re-survey the property, and re-assess it. In my own neighbourhood, within the last three or four years, I am told these discrepancies are disappearing very fast, but I know that there have been serious anomalies, so that the property on one side of a street has been assessed at a much lower rate than that on the other, from the mere fact that no revision had taken place for a series of years.
[With reference to the difficulty, apparently increasing, of getting good local representatives, Beggs offered his opinion that they did not have the motive provided by service to a broad community.]
2560. You think that the approbation or disapprobation of Westminster would be a stronger motive of action than the approbation or disapprobation of St. Paul’s Covent Garden?—Certainly.
[Beggs agreed that extensive coverage of municipal deliberations by the newspapers would encourage better participation.]
2566. There are, I believe, local papers in different parts of London which would no doubt report the proceedings?—No doubt, it must be obvious that the two things are essentially different. I think there are five different managements in Westminster. If they were all concentrated in one, the whole business would become of a much more important character. The public press is deterred probably from the comparatively insignificant nature of the transactions of five or six different Boards.
2567. In fact they do not think that there would be sufficient public interest to induce them to give space in the papers?—Exactly so, if the whole of Westminster were under one management, it would be of considerable importance.
2568. The more important matters that came before it, even such papers as The Times might think it worth while to report?—No doubt, as they report now the proceedings of the Metropolitan Board, and of the City Corporation.
Thomas Beggs, continued
[Mill was the first questioner.]
2625. In your evidence the other day you stated that the management of your district was very costly, and at the same time very inefficient; will you explain in what the inefficiency consists?—[With reference to paving, the excessive amount spent on management, if applied to the cost of repairing the streets, would be sufficient to improve their present bad condition.]
2626. On the subject of rating, you stated that the rating is very unequal; are there any objections, in your judgment, to the way in which the rates are levied?—[Using his own rates as an example, Beggs asserted that the system resulted in extra costs in collection, increased trouble in supervision, and some jobbery and discontent.]
2627. Would not that be inconsistent with the principle that money voted by local bodies should be for special purposes; do you not think that municipal bodies ought to have the power of raising money only for specified purposes authorised by Act of Parliament, and not for general purposes at their discretion; or how would you adjust that matter?—The adjustment seems to me to be very easy. Here is an example: a committee appointed by the Board itself gives an estimate of what is wanted for the purposes of the district; then a rate is made by the Board for as much as may cover it; and when the whole of the estimates are before them, I do not see why they should not levy a general rate, rather than do it by piecemeal, partly for one purpose and partly for another, and this might embrace any sums wanted for special purposes.
2628. It might be thought by many that local bodies ought not to have the power of levying rates at their discretion for general purposes, for the benefit of the community; that Parliament ought always to decide beforehand what are the purposes for which the local bodies should be allowed to levy money?—I apprehend that under the Municipal Act that is so; a power is given for paving, lighting, cleansing and improving the district, and for levying rates for such purposes; but then the peculiarity of London is this, that a certain portion of the drainage (that is the arterial drainage, the main drainage) falls under the control of the Metropolitan Board, while the minor or auxiliary drainage is in the hands of the vestries and local Boards. Probably, if municipal authorities were found to be the best thing for London, with one federal head, it might be an expedient course togrant to the general body, who would have the control of all that which belonged to the metropolis generally the power of levying a general rate, leaving the local authorities to do as they now do, levying a rate for local purposes.
2629. I merely wish to elicit your opinion on the subject?—My opinion is that one general rate is perfectly practicable for all these purposes; for all the purposes indicated by the Act of Parliament; that is the general and subsidiary drainage, paving, lighting, cleansing, and improving the district; and that that would be certainly the most convenient course. It is the one that the best municipalities in the country adopt.
2630. Have you any objection to make to the present qualification of vestrymen?39 —[The requirement that those elected should occupy £40 premises is evaded, and undesirable landlords consequently obtain seats on the Board.]
2631. Those probably belong to the class that are most interested in thwarting the purposes of Parliament, particularly sanitary arrangements, and the improvement of the houses of the labouring classes?—They are the class most interested in keeping in check proper and legitimate improvements. We find the most difficulty from them; they are generally very loud in the protests against extravagance, while we generally find them practically the most extravagant.
[Beggs agreed with the Chair that actual rather than rated occupation to the value of £40 should be required.]
2633. You said, if the division of London into municipalities was effected, that there should be a central Board, a kind of federal head, for the management of the joint concerns of the whole metropolis; what is your opinion as to the constitution of that body?—[On balance, but without offering a decided opinion, Beggs said that it should be elected not directly by the ratepayers, but by the separate municipalities, so that it would represent them. However, direct election would be better than the present confused arrangements, under which the ratepayers elected the vestrymen, who elected the members of the district Board, who then elected a member of the Metropolitan Board.]
2634. As you have not formed any decided opinion as to which is preferable in the election to the central Board, direct election by ratepayers or election by vestries, probably it would be desirable not to go into the minutiae of that question at present?—I would rather not do so, because I have not sufficiently considered it. I only wish to state that my opinion at present leans to the view, that the central body ought to be elected of the Boards.
2635. You believe that the complaint you have made as to the cost and inefficiency of the management under the present system is applicable to all the Metropolitan district Boards and vestries, more or less?—I have heard expressions of dissatisfaction, I believe, from every Board in London, that is fromrespectable and influential members of the Boards, that the present system is a costly one. I wish to hand in an amended return of one year’s expenses of our district.40
[He handed in the return, and the discussion turned to several related issues, and then to his view of wards.]
2660. Do you not think that the average size of a ward in the City of London is very much too small to form the unit of municipal government; to form a separate municipal government in itself, as it were?—I think so.
2661. They are smaller than the present vestry districts?—Many of them are very much smaller.
[The question of modes of election was again mooted in connection with the attraction of good representatives.]
2675. Might not the mayor be elected by a separate vote, in which case a person might be candidate for the office of mayor as distinct from that of a member of the municipality?—I think there would be objections to that. I think the office ought to be considered, and it is so considered in the country, as a reward for long continued or eminent public services. I think it is better the body over whom the mayor presides should elect him.
[The Chair asked about the election of the Lord Mayor of London; his election was by the Aldermen and then by the Livery.]
2677. Is the mayor in the provinces usually changed from year to year?—The cases are exceptional in which the mayor is reappointed; the office is generally kept open as a reward for men who have served the public. Instances do occur, but they are exceptional, where the mayor is elected a second time. I knew it to occur once during my residence in Nottingham, but it was a special case; it has been once, to my knowledge, the case in Birmingham, and once in Leeds.
[Beggs did not agree with the Chair that in Birmingham a tavern keeper was elected twice, and added that re-election was more common in some of the old cities.]
2679. Perhaps it would be more necessary in the case of a general body than in that of a local municipality to have a permanent chairman, as in the case of the Board of Works?—Unquestionably, but the presence of a man in the chair, who is supposed to take an interest in its business, and whose duty it is to preside over the meetings, is very important in all bodies. I do not at all like the notion of men meeting together, and probably expending large sums of money, without one or two gentlemen being looked upon as permanently present, and with a chairman elected only for the evening.
[After the Chair’s identifying questions, Mill began.]
2682. You are an inspector of charities?—I am an inspector under the Charity Commission.
2683. And in that capacity you have had considerable opportunity of observing the working of local bodies?—I have in many of the provincial cities, and also in London; I have held inquiries connected with the Charity Commission, I think, in every parish in the City of London.
2684. Is there any statement you wish to make, or any opinion you can give about the quality and character of the local government, as it has come within your notice?—It has been only a very special part of the organisation of local government that I have had the opportunity of observing officially; that portion of it which has been administered by the City Companies and by the vestries of the London parish.
2685. What is your opinion generally as far as you have observed, of the working of that form of government, and of the qualifications of those who exercise rule under it?—In the long course of years the changes which have taken place in the condition of London and its inhabitants have created great difficulty in following anything like the original directions. The parishes of London have come into possession of vast funds which they have little opportunity of applying except in a very limited and narrow manner, when confined to their present areas of operation.
[That answer pertained particularly to the City of London rather than the metropolis generally.]
2687. You have paid a great deal of attention to the subject of representation generally, both for national and local purposes?—I have.
2688. You have written several articles or essays on the different branches of the subject?—I may say with regard to the government of London, that in the year 1862, I first published a small work on the Local Government of London.41In 1863 I was the author of an article published in Macmillan’s Magazine on the “Ideal of a Local Government for the Metropolis.”42In 1864 I drew a Bill for the organisation of bodies to apply some of the great funds, which are applicable to public and charitable purposes; a voluntary method of organisation amongst charity trustees and others which would in some measure be a substitute for local government. This year at the Social Science Association, I took an opportunity of reading a paper on the subject of the present condition of local government inLondon, and preparing the rough draft of a bill, which, it appeared to me, would be the basis to a suitable measure for the amendment of that government.43
2689. Will you be good enough to state to the Committee an outline of your scheme for the local government of London?—The main features of it are these: the direct election of the principal governing body, to be composed, say of 150 members, of whom 50 members should be directly chosen by the owners of property, and 100 members by the occupiers; the council so to be formed, including all the property and inhabitants of the great metropolitan area, being entitled, “The Lord Mayor and Council of London.” The Lord Mayor of the City of London, for the time being, should be the president during his year of office, and there should be a permanent vice-president; say the present chairman of the Board of Works. Eight aldermen of the City of London, at least if not elected, as they probably would be, should be added to the body. Twelve members of the Board of Works should be added for three years, to keep up a continuity between the present board and the future body.44
2690. In what manner would you propose that the members should be elected?—[Hare replied that the proposal, which formed part of a general scheme of representation, was under active consideration in Geneva, Frankfort, and Sydney.]
2691. Will you be so good as to state the mode of voting which you recommend?—[The first requirements are proper alphabetical lists of voters, both occupiers and owners, prepared by the collectors of taxes. The votes of the owners would be weighted by the value of the property, and proportional representation would apply.]
2692. In fact, you would allow any 1,000 voters, supposing 1,000 to be the number entitled to a member on a comparison of the number of members with the number of voters; supposing 1,000 to be the quotient, you would give to any 1,000 voters who could agree the power of returning any member?—Yes.
2693. So that no portion of the electors equal to or above 1,000, would be unrepresented?—No person would be unrepresented. It appears to me that you would bring all the desire for public improvement, all the energy, all the philanthropy that existed in a city, or in the metropolis, and give to it the power of organisation, so that each should have its exponent in the consultative body.
[Questions were asked about the possible loss of local loyalty. Hare replied that the local government of the City of London was left untouched in his scheme.]
2699. Whatever local feeling existed in the minds of the local people would be fully represented?—Yes.
[The Chair remained sceptical on this issue, saying that an Exeter Hall society might elect a candidate while a district might fail to do so, and Hare further elaborated.]
2704. As every locality has strong reasons for wishing to be locally represented, the majorities would usually elect local candidates, while minorities who could not carry the local candidate whom they preferred would probably vote for some candidate on general grounds?—I cannot doubt that that would be so. I cannot doubt that each locality would elect those who were thought most desirable for the locality. It is not, however, the houses that are to be taken care of, but the people, and it may be left to their discretion. I do not suppose that the people would be indifferent about the matter. That appears to me to be a visionary apprehension.
2705. If the people preferred to elect an eminent man for general reasons, at the sacrifice of local interest, you think they ought to be allowed to do so?—Surely that ought not to be prevented.
[Giving further details of his plan, Hare explained that a successful candidate would have to draw support from neighbouring districts.]
2719. That is, if a district were too small to be entitled to a Member for itself?—Necessarily.
[Hare averred that in his scheme the groupings were voluntary, not arbitrarily determined.]
2721. Anyone might declare himself a candidate for all the groups, if he liked?—Yes.
2722. And he would be the Member for those which chose to elect him?—Yes, if there was a quota of votes; he may be a candidate for Ayr and also for Glasgow.
[A candidate who received 50 votes as against 30 for an opponent, in a ward with only 100 inhabitants, would be elected even if the quota were 1000.]
2724. That is, if he got a quota by means of other votes?—Yes. It is perfectly simple; the person having the greatest number of votes in each district, having the quota made up elsewhere, would be the representative of that district.
[Hare continued to maintain that local representation would not be destroyed under his scheme.]
2726. The question is, what is there to induce or to enable the electors to elect a person to look after their local interest especially; I apprehend there can be no other resource than the wish in the minds of the electors to do so; and you probably place your reliance upon that?—Yes; if the inhabitants of any locality wish to be represented by any individual of special character or qualifications, if that person has more votes than any other, he becomes their representative, because they have shown a greater appreciation of him than of any other person.
2727. Is not that rather a question of how you would apportion the representatives to the different districts; the Chairman seemed to think it possible or probable, under your system, that there might be no representatives, or very few, of the local interests, inasmuch as everybody might elect on grounds of a general nature, having to do with the localities; no doubt you might even then apportion them to localities, but that would not make them representatives of the local interest?—No; if at present there were in any locality a population so utterly indifferent to the business of the locality that they would elect anybody to govern them, it seems to me that the difficulty would arise now; you are supposing a state of things which would equally apply to our existing system.
2728. Only that they are obliged now to elect somebody, by however few votes, and this somebody will naturally be a local person; whereas under your system there would be an opening by which inhabitants of the locality might elect a total stranger if they liked; they can do it now, but it would be extremely unlikely; under your system it would be much more likely?—It seems to me that with adequate notices of what was going on during the process of the elections you are supposing a degree of public stagnation that one could hardly expect when it is remembered that the voters in any place can elect their own local candidate, every vote being almost certain to have its result.
[The Chair continued questioning the effect on local representation, finally saying, with Hare’s agreement, that a defeated minority would have its votes transferred, and so could, in combination with other minorities, elect a representative.]
2741. And the majority, if it do not amount to a quota, might hope to be reinforced by voters from elsewhere, and so get its members?—Yes; the sole object is this: to give to each individual the power of using his best and most conscientious judgment in the act of exercising his suffrage.
[In face of the Chair’s scepticism, Hare maintained that transferred votes would go to worthy candidates at least as often as votes did under present arrangements.]
2744. Do you not think that the majority would have an inducement to bring forward as good a candidate as they could, in order that they might have a chance of being reinforced by votes from other districts?—That would be one object. In all cases those who put forward a candidate would desire that he should be a man having the greatest personal recommendations, in order that he might attract the votes of others.
[Hare admitted that his scheme had never had a practical trial, majorities not being willing to limit their powers, and went on to say that his plan would allow him to vote for worthy people, an option that he had seldom had under the present arrangements.]
2751. The voter is now restricted in his choice to two or three, no one of whom may suit him, but under your system he could choose from the whole community?—He is now at the mercy of a few individuals, whose nominees he must vote for or have his vote thrown away.
[Among other issues, the question of the scheme’s arithmetic arose.]
2768. You would divide, after the election, the total number of votes given by the number of members?—Yes.
Thomas Hare, continued
[Mill opened the questioning.]
2793. You said that your system had been taken into consideration at Frankfort and Geneva, but had not been adopted there; I believe it has been adopted in one country?—[Hare indicated that he had forgotten to mention its adoption in Denmark.]
2794. Are you aware whether this law is still in operation; a change of circumstances has possibly put an end to the Rigsraad altogether?45 —I have not had the opportunity of learning what has been the fact; I think the Rigsraad was an assembly which met once in two years.
2795. I believe it was for Denmark and Schleswig combined; the constitution of the Rigsdag, which is the Representative Assembly of Denmark only, of course remains as it was, and the system had not been adopted there; it was in framing the constitution for the United Principality that it was adopted?—It was adopted for the United Principality, and under great disadvantages, inasmuch as throughout the whole of that time the struggle between Denmark and the Duchies was going on, and the system was repudiated in the Duchies, as any connection with Denmark was in a great measure repudiated.
2796. You proposed the other day that the election of members of the governing bodies should be extended to two or three days. I am not aware that this is suggested in any of your printed writings?—I had adopted that from an amendment proposed by the Reform Association of Geneva. It appeared to them that if there were any danger of public attention not being sufficiently attracted to the election, so that it might fall into a few hands, that would be corrected by extending it over two or three days, and reporting at the end of the first day the result, when public attention would be called to it, so that any absence of attention on the first day would be corrected on the second.
2797. Any intrigue might be frustrated?—Any intrigue might be frustrated if notice were given of it in that form; and the system does not seem open to the objection of Parliamentary elections extending over several days.
2798. You propose that the whole of the municipal voters for the metropolis, to whatever place they belonged, should be able to vote for any candidate who had started for any part of the metropolis;46 is that an essential part of your plan, or might votes be confined to separate boroughs?—It is by no means essential. I preferred to introduce it in that form, because it seemed to me that the widest scope you could give to individual thought the better it would be for the result of the election. If the Committee thought proper to recommend that the metropolis should be divided into boroughs, the vote of each inhabitant of each borough might be confined to that borough; or whatever division might be adopted, it might, in like manner, be confined to that division.
2799. You said that on your plan candidates would propose themselves, instead of being proposed by others, as they are now; is that an essential part of your plan?—I was asked whether members would not propose themselves. That is by no means essential. Indeed, I suppose it would not be so. The proposal would be made in writing, instead of being made, as now, at the vestry; it may be made in writing, signed by two electors. There is no reason why the individual should propose himself any more than candidates for Parliament.
2800. It has been made a criticism on your system that it would require active steps to be taken in many cases, in which a passive operation suffices under the present system. What is really the difference between the present system and yours in that respect?—[At present notice is given only on the doors of places of worship; the time of election is fixed, and only those few who know of it, and have special interest in electing someone, actually vote. Hare’s scheme provides for a voting paper and list of candidates being left at the house of each voter, or otherwise made accessible.]
2801. Voting papers and lists of candidates might be circulated among the voters, independently of your system?—It might.
2802. These things are not peculiar to your system?—No.
2803. But what you rely upon, I apprehend, is the greater interest that would be excited in the election, by the greater latitude of choice given to the electors, when not confined to the small number that might be put up by parties or sections?—[Indeed the essence of self-government is the thought produced by individual action.]
2804. You think it a great recommendation of a system of election that it calls out the active faculties, and excites a keen interest among the electors?—That is exactly what I thought; it seemed to me that the question with regard to local government before the Committee was, by what means the best thought of thecommunity could be brought to bear for the purpose of effectuating that local government.
2805. Would your plan be calculated to diminish the objection which it is supposed might be entertained to having a municipality for the whole of the metropolis, on the ground of the great power such a body would possess?—[The fear of such a powerful body near the national seat of government would be much lessened by the election of representatives not of numbers only, but of all varieties of thought, property, influence, and social force. Then a metropolitan government would be a source of real strength rather than of danger to the national government.]
2806. I believe you consider one of the recommendations of your plan to be, that persons of great eminence, both socially and mentally, would be disposed to seek municipal distinctions?—It seems to me to be so. The mode of obtaining municipal position being so entirely altered, and made to depend so much on the character and position of the individual, and there being a provision by which great proprietors and persons having a material interest in the metropolis could act together in bringing persons in, it seems to me that you would have a body of some distinction, to which some of the best members of the community might well be proud to belong.
2807. Persons who are well known to a considerable number of voters would not be in danger of being excluded because they were not known to the majority?—Exactly.
2808. That is your idea?—That is the idea which has animated me in bringing these proposals before the Committee.
2809. Would there not be a difficulty in inducing persons of social importance to take municipal offices, in consequence of their not being usually resident in London during the whole year?—It seems to me that the business of a great city like London need not require more constant attention than the business of the nation at large, and that the same suspension of its sittings, leaving the business to proper officers, might take place as takes place with regard to Parliament. All great measures of importance, except purely administrative matters, might be confined to that period during which the great portion of the intellect of the country is in London. I can see no reason why there should be constant sittings.
2810. You think that the executive functionaries of this body might be permanent, and that the deliberative and controlling body might hold intermittent sittings?—It has occurred to me that that would be a very convenient system, and a perfectly feasible one.
2811. In regard to the votes which in your system for the metropolis would be allotted to property, what would be, in your plan, the qualification of the voter?—[In addition to great proprietors such as the Marquis of Westminster and the Duke of Bedford, corporate voters would include the City Companies, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Charity Commissioners or the Poor LawCommissioners (for charity property, including educational, which may amount to one-fourth of the whole metropolis—“I can go through miles of the crowded parts of London composed entirely of charity property”), and the Presidents of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (for the great hospitals).]
2812. And you would give that class of votes in proportion to the amount of property?—Exactly, in proportion to the property; so that a quotient of £100,000 a year might be made up, say of £50,000, £5,000, £1,000, and so on, until the amount was completed.
2813. The return would state, that so many thousand pounds a year voted in favour of each candidate?—Exactly, avoiding all that arbitrary distribution which is adopted in the election of guardians, where a man who is rated under £50 a year has one vote, under £100 two votes, and so on, up to six votes. On this plan the weight of the vote will be exactly according to the value of the property, not interfering in any respect with the occupying votes which are given on other grounds.47
2814. What is the proportion of the municipal body which you would wish to have elected on this plan?—I suggested in my former examination that, if there were 150 members, 50 might be elected by property and 100 as occupiers; one-third by property and two-thirds by occupiers.48
2815. In the case of occupiers, would you propose a qualification, or allow all occupiers to vote?—I think the Parliamentary qualification might be adopted. I see no reason why the Parliamentary qualification should not be the municipal qualification.
2816. It has sometimes been thought that a lower qualification may be admitted for municipal government than for national government?—I should like to have the municipal suffrage of the occupiers as low as possible; preserving in all cases the rule that the voter shall be registered.
2817. Would you give plurality of votes in the case of occupiers?—No, only single votes.
2818. You only take the amount of property into consideration in the votes allotted to property?—Exactly.
2819. Have you formed any opinion what the qualification should be, or if any qualification should be fixed by law, for the persons elected?—[The law ought not to impose qualifications; the matter should be left entirely to the electors.]
2820. When you have a proper constituency, or the best constituency possible, you would trust it?—Yes; it seems to me, that to impose a qualification is only an obstructive proceeding. We might find merchants in London who have ceased to possess a qualification in London, but are very much interested in the City from old associations, who live quite beyond its boundaries, and yet may have muchleisure, and be very desirous of attending to public business, who would be entirely disqualified by some artificial rating clause, which you might impose. I would earnestly impress that as a very important thing, that the qualification of the elected person should be entirely abolished, and left altogether to the electors.
2821. Supposing that better municipal bodies were obtained in this way than hitherto, you would probably consider that one of the advantages of that would be that the municipal bodies would be fit to undertake classes of duties that have not hitherto been entrusted to them?—[The result would be that municipal governments could deal with matters that now obstruct Parliament’s proper business.]
2822. You are of that opinion with reference to the whole country, not merely as regards the metropolis?—[In support of this view, Hare cited a Bill concerning a savings’ bank in Bradford that would be far better treated as a local matter. Other instances would be charities, local improvements, and railway sites.]
2823. Would there not be great advantage in having bodies all over the country to whom Parliament could entrust the execution of Acts that it might make for the public benefit, which it now does not make at all, or which are unexecuted or imperfectly executed, because there are no persons that Parliament can trust to execute them in the localities?—Undoubtedly.
[Lord John Manners objected to Hare’s having suggested that the vote for educational property be given to the head of the Council on Education, a temporary political official who would represent Governmental rather than institutional views.]
2828. Would you object to have that property represented, not by the head of the educational department, but by some one of its permanent officers?—None; I selected the Vice-President as the officer who stands most in the public view, but it might be by a permanent officer. I have no special attachment to the Vice-President.
[After a variety of questions, the Chair suggested, and Hare agreed, that frequently householders in London had no knowledge of local affairs, including elections.]
2849. Is it not also the fact that a large proportion of the voters for the metropolitan districts, amongst the higher classes especially, do not vote at all, even for Members of Parliament?—I believe that is so in a very large number of cases.
[The questioning turned again to the likelihood of stirring interest in local elections.]
2855. You rely on the voting papers for that?—Yes; the action would be effectual without attracting the attention of the public to the individual who exercised it.
[After extensive questioning by other members of the Committee, Mill opened a new avenue.]
2927. Your experience of the working of metropolitan vestries, I understand you to say, is derived mainly from the working of your own vestry?—Quite so.
2928. Your vestry appears to comprise several persons of very considerable importance; some of very high social positions, others of the highest class of tradesmen?—I mentioned some of the superior class of tradesmen. There are no men in the vestry now belonging to the highest class of society. Lord Overstone was a member for a time; Mr. Hoare was a member, and continued to be a member up to the time of his death; we supplied his place the other day.50The most active and the best men are the superior class of tradesmen in the parish: then there are others of considerable intelligence, not occupying quite so high a position in business.
2929. Do you think there are many metropolitan vestries that have the advantage of such men?—I do not know; to some extent, I should say, not to a considerable extent; I doubt if it is to the same extent.
2930. Lord Overstone is not only a man of high social position, but also of great ability and power of speaking, and probably while he was a member, he exercised very great influence in the vestry?—He did not very often attend; there were few occasions on which he attended; he was willing to attend on certain occasions, when there were matters of great interest brought forward. Our hour of meeting (seven in the evening) was against the attendance of the class of persons to which he belonged.
2931. Do you not think that in those vestries, which have not such persons belonging to them, it might easily happen, and does happen, that they are much under the control of persons who are very often the owners of those properties which are in the state you describe, and which it is so extremely desirable to have remedied?—I do not know that to be the fact; I should doubt it very much, because I think the general feeling and sympathy of the vestry would be very much against such persons. They would be pointed out by the vestry as persons who should not be listened to.
2932. Do you think that there is in all vestries that degree of interest in the subject, and that degree of care about the persons appointed, which appears to exist in yours?—[While a few inappropriate people have been elected elsewhere, on the whole the quality is impressive.]
2933. Your experience is of a vestry in which that influence, if it exists, must be much counteracted by persons of a superior class?—I have no doubt that in a bodyof that kind the better class of persons have a degree of influence, almost insensibly, over those of a lower class, who perhaps have opinions of their own which they may be desirous to oppose to those of persons who are higher than themselves in society; but the able men of business generally lead the others.
2934. Do you not think that such men as you have mentioned, the higher description of tradesmen and persons of a higher social position than tradesmen, since they are willing to be members of your vestry, if there were a municipal corporation for the whole of Westminster would be still more willing to be members of that body?—[Probably the reverse would be the case, as men such as Lord Overstone are interested in parish affairs.]
2935. You say there are many persons of that class who have paid special attention to the local wants of their own immediate neighbourhood; that is no doubt very much the case in rural districts, but do you think it is the case in a great town like the metropolis?—[Indeed it would be, for the great merit of vestries is that they attend to local business; a wider jurisdiction would lessen the feeling of authority.]
2936. You think that the Corporation of Westminster would not have taken the measures which your vestry did to keep Leicester-square open;51 do you believe, from anything that you have heard, or any means of observation you possess, that the corporations of towns in general neglect the local interests of particular parts of those towns?—No, I cannot see that there is any comparison there. A corporation in a town has no regard to parochial interests; it is a corporation for the whole of the town. Take the case of Manchester, Liverpool, or any other large towns. There they all have an equal interest with regard to the whole borough; but if there were ten or eleven corporations in the metropolis, each corporation would attend to its own local interests. Take the case of a corporation composed of nine parishes; it is obvious that each parish would only have the ninth part of the power. Instead of having exclusive power to remedy evils existing in his own parish, a vestryman would only be able, in a municipal body, to give one vote in nine in favour of a resolution which he could carry in his own vestry if he were sitting there.
2937. Suppose this system existed, and that when anything was proposed for the benefit of one parish, all the others voted against it, would not the result be that none of the nine parishes would get what they wanted, whereas, if they followed a different plan, and the eight parishes voted in favour of the ninth parish, all the nine in their turn would get what they wanted?—If they acted wisely; but I am afraid one cannot calculate upon that. I am supposing the case of a great expense being required to be incurred in one parish in which the other parishes were not interested. They would then say, “Why should we burden the borough rate for such a purpose? With regard to any improvement that may be required in our ownlocality, that is a thing which we must provide for when the time arrives; but at present it is an evil to us to have the borough rate burdened with a great expense in regard to a matter by which the borough is not benefited except as to a ninth part.”
2938. Might not that happen in Manchester or Birmingham, or anywhere else, when something was proposed that would only benefit a particular quarter of the town?—I think the comparison would not hold in the large towns, because the corporation there represents the whole of the body, and they would feel bound to attend to every portion. I have no doubt, in every body where influential persons take a lead, they would either obstruct or encourage something in which there were antagonistic interests of other parties.
2939. If, in addition to local corporations, there was a general administrative body like the Boards of Works, and if there were the power of appeal which you have advocated, so that your parish could appeal to the general body against the adverse decision of the other eight parishes, would not that correct the evil of which you are apprehensive?—No doubt; any appellate jurisdiction, if it was wisely executed, would be of great service, whether as regards vestries or corporations.
2940. Who has the appointment of the officer of health to the vestry?—The vestry appoint him.
2941. They are bound to appoint an officer of health?—They do appoint him.
2942. Are they not obliged by law to do it?52 —I think they are; I am not quite sure without looking into the Act of Parliament. The law gives them the power to appoint the necessary officers; I think it does not define them particularly. The vestries of district Boards appoint such officers as they deem necessary, either in regard to character or number, and they assign to them such duties as they think fit.
2943. They are not necessarily obliged to appoint an officer of health?—I think they are not necessarily obliged to do so.
2944. But they generally do?—An officer of health is appointed under the sanitary powers given by the Nuisances Removal Act, which are vested in the vestries.
[Dangerfield affirmed his general impression that the appointments, while normally made, were not mandatory.]
2946. The salary is not fixed by law?—The salary is fixed by the vestry.
2947. From what you said I presume, that in your parish the vestry have a perfectly good understanding with the medical officer, and that so far as their legal powers reach, which you consider to be insufficient, they do carry out his sanitary recommendations; at all events, his reasonable ones?—That is so.
2948. Do you think that is the case generally in the metropolis; the contrary is often asserted?—I am aware that it is so stated, and it may be so in some instances; but I doubt very much indeed whether as a rule the vestries do not attend to the advice of their sanitary officers, so far as they have the means of doing so; I should be disposed to think that they did.
2949. Did you ever hear of the case of an officer of health of considerable eminence having bestirred himself very much for sanitary improvements, and having had his salary lowered in consequence?53 —I am not aware of that; I never heard of such a case.
[Again Mill opened a new line of questioning.]
3245. Your district comprises a large number of parishes besides Whitechapel?—Nine altogether.
3246. What is about the extent of the district?—Four hundred acres.
3247. What proportion does that form of the parliamentary district of the Tower Hamlets?—The Tower Hamlets measures, from the Isle of Dogs to Tottenham, seven miles. I do not know the acreage. Our district forms but a very small proportion of it.
3248. What is the proportion of the population of the Tower Hamlets to that of your district?—The population of the Tower Hamlets is betwen 500,000 and 700,000, and the population of Whitechapel district is 79,000.
3249. You are aware that by the new Reform Bill the Tower Hamlets would be divided into two districts?55 —I am aware of that.
3250. Consequently if the municipal district were to correspond with the parliamentary district, which is the idea, the present dimensions of the Tower Hamlets would be considerably reduced; should you still think that one-half of the Tower Hamlets was too large a district for a municipal corporation which represented it to be able to attend to the local interests of all parts of it?—I am not particularly acquainted with the plans that are before the public. I do not know precisely what the proposition might be. Suppose that the proposition were that half of the Tower Hamlets should be formed into a municipality or corporation, which corporation should have the control of its police, the division of the district into parishes for parochial purposes, and into wards for ward motes, then it is fair to conceive that local self-government would still exist; otherwise it would not exist; it would be superseded, and the idea itself completely destroyed.
3251. What condition should you think necessary to render a municipal corporation elected by the ratepayers of one-half of the Tower Hamlets consistent with local government?—Nothing less than I have said.
3252. In what way would those different provisions that you have mentioned operate as conducive to local government; I do not clearly understand why it is you think that the division, for instance, into parishes and wards, would make the difference between local self-government and centralization?—In this way: you may have persons administering the affairs of others, or persons administering their own affairs, as in the case of the late vestry, and as in the case of some towns, I believe, in America, in New York, for instance, where persons administer their own affairs, and local self-government is perfect. If you ascend a step above that, where persons have their affairs administered by those who represent them, and those representatives are sufficiently numerous in every part of the district to be known to all those whose affairs they conduct, those persons bear the responsibility of freemen in local self-government, and they are taught continually in a school of freedom; those who are about them are also influenced by them to the same excellent results.
3253. You think, then, that supposing half the Tower Hamlets were to be formed into a municipal corporation, and into a Parliamentary district also, and that in whatever division took place of the local duties of the metropolis, that municipal corporation were made one of the units of the division for all purposes, and supposing the numbers of the body were sufficient, and were elected locally so that every portion of the district might be represented in it; you think that such a constitution would be consistent with local government?—Yes; you are now supposing something very like the City of London, which forms in its area something like what half the Tower Hamlets would be.
3254. I mean something like the City of London?—If you were to carry out the idea of the City of London, which has the management of its police, its parochial divisions and ward divisions, then, of course, I should be obliged to concede that local government would still exist.
[After other subjects, the question of the administration of public health arose.]
3310. Do you not think that Parliament would be more easily induced to grant such powers to a larger district than to a smaller one?—I do not know why it should.
William Henry Black56
[Mill intervened in questioning about the affairs of Whitechapel.]
3355. Is any portion of the local administration of your district conducted by paid officers?—By surveyors, inspectors, and clerks.
3356. A considerable portion, I apprehend, is directly conducted by the committees into which your body is divided?—It is so.
3357. And the surveyors and other officers are appointed by the General Board of Trustees?—By the several Boards.
Henry Sadler Mitchell57
[The questioning began on the effectiveness and efficiency of the trustees in Whitechapel, of whom Mitchell expressed a highly favourable opinion.]
3387. You say that there is a great attachment in your district to local government on its present scale, in preference to the larger scale of a municipality, and that great dissatisfaction would be felt if the smaller scale were exchanged for the larger?—Within the last four or five years I have especially devoted my attention to the subject, and endeavoured to obtain the opinion of all classes of men, and I believe that any attempt to interfere with the present system would be productive of the very greatest discontent.
3388. But I do not understand that the parochial system, properly speaking, exists in your district, because it is a combination of a considerable number of parishes?—To some extent the parochial system has been interfered with, and I think to that extent it has caused dissatisfaction.
3389. You think it would be more popular in your district if the parish of Whitechapel and the other parishes comprising the district were each of them to administer separately the affairs which are now administered by the joint body?—I know that in Whitechapel it would be more popular if we were left entirely by ourselves.
3390. Some of the parishes are exceedingly small?—Yes.
3391. There are many very small parishes in the metropolis, especially in the City of London?—Yes; Sir William Fraser, in his book, says that the paving, and so on, has not improved during the last 10 years.58He was evidently of opinion that since the introduction of the Boards the work had not been done so well; I can hardly say that, because I think there has been an improvement in all things; but I am certain with regard to the parish of Whitechapel, from the present information we have upon the subject, that we should have been better off if we had kept entirely to ourselves.
3392. Do you think that this is owing to the greater smallness of the district; that the smaller the district the better the pavement is attended to?—I do; but of course there is a limit to that.
3393. The parishes, however, are extremely unequal; and you can hardly say that sizes so very different can be equally adapted to be the unit of local government?—I think that parishes may be too large; I think the parish of St. Pancras is too large, and the parish of Marylebone.
3394. You think, with regard to such a thing as paving, that it had better be conducted on a scale much smaller than the parish of Marylebone, or the parish of St. Pancras?—Yes.
3395. Do you think so with regard to all the duties performed by your Board, or only with regard to some of them?—I think that all the duties would be done better by a more moderate-sized parish; I am well acquainted with St. Pancras, and I think it is too large; a considerable portion of it, however, consists of fields.
3396. Do you think it is as easy to find competent persons to perform those duties in a small district as in a large one?—Quite so.
3397. Do you think that they are equally under the public eye in a small district; do you think that public attention is not more likely to be concentrated on the operations carried on, when the district is larger than an ordinary parish?—No; I think it is better when they are carried on on a small scale, provided it is not too small. There is always a local press which exercises great control, as you have pointed out in your book.59If we had no local Board we should have no local press, because there would not be sufficient information to be given; but having a local press, the eye of the ratepayers is continually directed to the public affairs of the parish.
3398. You have a local press for the parish of Whitechapel?—It takes in two or three districts; it is published in Whitechapel, and it reports all proceedings of the Boards.60
3399. Do you not think it desirable that there should be a considerable admixture of different classes of society in the local government bodies?—On the last occasion of choosing an overseer we elected the magistrate; but he said, “I cannot attend to the duties.” If you choose merchants, and men with four or five thousand a-year, to go on to the Boards, they would not attend to them.
3400. If they do not attend in a parish, do you not think they would attend in a larger body?—I do not think they would.
3401. Do you not think that a more important class of persons take part in the local business of the City of London than in the vestries?—Not in the Common Council; I do not think that the Common Council is composed of a better class of men than the trustees of the parish of Whitechapel, having regard to the fact that the City of London is a more important place than Whitechapel. I have not seen any business conducted at any Boards better than it is conducted by the trustees of Whitechapel; I have read the reports in the debates of the House of Commons, and without claiming for the trustees as much learning, I do claim for them quite as much orderly proceeding.
3402. From your knowledge of other vestries and local Boards generally, do you think you can give the same degree of praise to all or most of them?—Ifrequently read the reports of the St. Pancras Board, and I think it is quite as orderly as any assembly in the kingdom.
3403. Do you think that there is as much variety of intelligence, and that large views are as much brought to bear on local affairs, as would be the case if those who take part in those affairs were of a more mixed character than they are now?—It would not do to have all philosophers; but I believe, for the work that is to be done, the men who compose those Boards are the best that can be found.
3404. There are no other class of men, I apprehend, that could be found to discharge the bulk of the duties; but would it not be desirable that there should be a certain proportion of persons not so purely local in their ideas?—I think that the Boards are always composed of a mixed class; I have looked through the lists of Marylebone and St. Pancras, and I find that those Boards are composed of a class of men who, from my knowledge of them, would conduct the business of the parish in the best possible way.
3405. But Marylebone and St. Pancras are large parishes, approaching in magnitude the proposed municipalities, and certainly in Marylebone there is a much greater mixture of classes in the vestry than there commonly is in the vestries in London; do you think that the same character could be given to the other vestries generally?—Speaking with regard to my own parish, I think you could not have a better class of men to do the business.
3406. You do not think that it could be improved by persons of a different class being combined with them?—I do not think they would take the trouble, because a great deal of the business of the parish is managed by Committees; and my experience of men possessing large incomes is, that they would not take the trouble to attend.
3407. They do take the trouble to attend in Marylebone?—I cannot say in Marylebone; they are a highly respectable class of men as a rule. You heard Mr. Gladding’s evidence in that respect.61I entirely concur in what he said, and I believe the work is done as well as it can be done.
[General questioning led to discussion of the membership of the vestry, Freeman being of opinion that the proposed centralization would make such service less attractive.]
3466. I understand, from your description of the composition of your vestry, that it contains a very considerable number of persons of a superior class?—Yes;that is naturally owing to the circumstance that there are an unusual number of persons of leisure and cultivation who inhabit the district of Kensington.
3467. I think you said that it would not be possible in poor districts to obtain the same class of persons?—No, I think not.
3468. If that be the case, do you not think that if geographical circumstances admitted of Kensington being combined with other parishes which have not this advantage in the same degree, these poorer parishes, as well as Kensington, would get the advantage of that selection of persons of a more cultivated class, who now give their services to Kensington vestry?—[There would not be mutual benefit; Kensington would pay the penalty, while such areas as Fulham and Hammersmith would gain the reward. Furthermore, those now serving would not be willing to go farther afield, and they would be frightened out of service by the term “alderman.”]
3469. The dignity of alderman is not very popular in your parish?—It would be if the Corporation of London governed the whole of the metropolis, and you had a real alderman; but if you multiplied municipalities, and had aldermen as thick as blackberries, it would be a mockery and a delusion rather than a compliment.
[Only if the dignities were real would they be respected.]
3472. You would reserve those dignities, perhaps, for the general body that would administer the concerns of the whole metropolis?—If the City of London had been wise enough to open its arms and take in the whole metropolis, so that there should be one Lord Mayor, and an efficient number of aldermen, one to each district, then there would be something in it; but as to having 11 municipalities, with a multitude of aldermen, I feel sure it would not induce the better class of our population to join the vestry or the municipality.
[Mill opened a new line of questioning, the preceding evidence having covered a variety of matters local to St. Pancras.]
3826. Yours being a very large parish, and having so much local business of various kinds, probably your attention has been drawn to the subject of the municipal government of London, and you have, perhaps, formed some opinion as to how far it is defective or admits of improvement, if so, will you state what are your opinions on that subject?—I think, as far as St. Pancras is concerned, we have, to a certain extent, a municipal government; that is to say, we have a very large area, and have a large number of representatives, and, I think, we do our work in such a manner that we are, to a certain extent, a municipality. I know it isthe opinion of some gentlemen that it would be much to their advantage if there were aldermen and so on, but I question if a man who is really anxious for the welfare of his neighbours cares whether he is called a vestryman or an alderman.
3827. You are acquainted, no doubt, with the plan of municipal government for London, which has been drawn up chiefly by some vestrymen of Westminster?—I have seen it.
3828. Have you any remarks to make on that plan?—I have nothing particular to say in favour of it.
3829. Have you anything to say against it?—I do not wish to say anything against it.
3830. If your experience suggests any objections to it, I have no doubt the Committee would like to hear them?—As far as regards the area that we have under our control, I do not think it would be any advantage; doubtless there are localities, that are not managed as we profess to manage our affairs, where it would be an advantage; what I feel is this: that I should object to our having a larger jurisdiction saddled upon us with a body who would not understand our business as thoroughly as we do.
3831. Your body, I conceive, is a kind of specimen of what the municipal governments of the districts of London would be under the proposed plan, because its district is very large and populous, and is on a scale, not indeed quite so great, but approaching the size proposed?—Yes.
3832. I think the only district of importance which would be added to yours under the proposed plan, would be the parish of Bloomsbury?—Yes.
3833. Do you see any disadvantage in the junction of the parish of Bloomsbury in the same municipal body with yourselves?—Some portions of Bloomsbury very closely abut on us, but if Bloomsbury were attached to St. Pancras, speaking in a parochial sense, it would naturally be anxious to return a large number of members, and they would not be so well acquainted with the wants and requirements of St. Pancras as the St. Pancras authorities at present are.
3834. But, no doubt, in any municipal body, the members who represent particular wards or districts, would be those chiefly consulted in regard to the wants of their own districts, except when the subject was one to be decided on general principles common to all, so that it is not probable that the unacquaintance of the people of Bloomsbury with the wants of St. Pancras would be any damage to St. Pancras; in fact, that objection, if it applies at all, would apply even to so large a district as St. Pancras, because it is impossible that the inhabitants of every part of St. Pancras can be well acquainted with the wants of every other part; is not that so?—There is an interchange of communication among the representatives of the vestry; for instance, the outer section is represented by its members who meet the representatives of the others, and so they become acquainted with each other’s wants.
3835. Would not the same thing take place between the representatives of Bloomsbury and St. Pancras if they were united in one body?—I do not see why it should not.
3836. As I understand, the vestry of St. Pancras is composed of a considerable mixture of various classes of society?—Yes.
3837. In that respect, it is more a specimen of what would exist under the municipal government proposed, than a specimen of the municipal government which exists throughout the metropolis at present; do you not think that if the municipalities were usually on a scale equal to, or somewhat greater than St. Pancras, instead of being as they are, in most cases, much smaller, there would probably be a considerably greater mixture of classes, and that persons would be obtained of a better position in society, and better general instruction?—I quite agree with that; I think the area should be sufficiently large to entitle it to members who would represent all bodies; I think it might be an advantage that small areas should be increased to larger ones.
3838. You think that the area of St. Pancras is sufficiently large?—Yes.
3839. Although you do not think that some moderate extension of it would be decidedly objectionable?—I confess I cannot see the general advantage that would be derived from it.
3840. Would there not be an advantage in the junction of a district such as yours, where persons are willing to serve in the municipal body, who have more than an average education and position; do you not think that by the junction of such districts with other districts that have not the advantage of generally obtaining so good a class of men, those other districts would also obtain the same advantage as St. Pancras, to a certain extent, now possesses?—Unfortunately, men of scientific attainments seldom trouble themselves much with these affairs, even in municipalities.
3841. But do you not think that they are more likely to do so where the districts are large?—I think that the vestry of St. Pancras stands on a par with the Common Council of the City of London, which is the greatest municipality, I suppose, in the world, consisting of men of all shades and degrees.
3842. Do you not think that that is the sort of municipal council which it is desirable to endeavour to obtain in every part of the metropolis?—I must say that, as far as St. Pancras is concerned, I do not think it would be an advantage.
3843. Because you consider that, owing to its extent, it possesses, in a great degree, the advantage which it is desired to confer on other parts?—Yes. No doubt, smaller areas would be improved by having other areas added to them; but I think we have as large a machine as can be properly worked. I think the inhabitants generally would suffer, if the area was made larger. I think they would not have that ready means of communicating with each other, which is so necessary in all local matters.
3844. You think that the extent of the Parliamentary boroughs would be too great?—I think so.
3845. You are aware that in the proposed plan the districts would not be so large as the present Parliamentary boroughs?—No.
3846. Your parish would be included along with Bloomsbury, in a district subtracted from two Parliamentary boroughs, and Tower Hamlets would be divided?—Yes. If you extended our area we should require two medical men. I question whether there is not sufficient employment at present for one with a staff under him; whether it is not better to have one head, with subordinates under him, than two; one for one division, and another for the other. I think there would be clashing.
3847. Do you think your district so large that one medical man, even with the necessary number of subordinates, could not superintend it?—I think not. I am speaking in a sanitary point of view, as regards drainage. I am referring to the medical officer of health now, not to the persons who attend to the sick poor.
3848. Still smaller districts would be required for that?—Yes; we have medical officers for that purpose in each district.
3849. Has your Board generally a good understanding with the sanitary officers; do you go on smoothly with them?—Pretty amicably. I have known occasions when a little ill feeling has arisen when the sanitary department has called for something to be done on the spur of the moment; but, as a rule, they generally agree.
3850. You have sometimes thought that the recommendations went beyond the necessity of the case?—I have had no occasion to think so; some members have; but as a rule the sanitary measures are carried out.
3851. As a rule the recommendations of the sanitary officers are carried into effect by the vestry?—Yes; with perhaps some trifling exceptions now and then.
3852. Is there any improvement that you would suggest, in the way of increase of power to the local Boards, or any new functions that you would entrust to them; would you give them, for instance, any power with regard to water or gas?—That is a difficult question. I think the House of Commons should step in and settle that question. Where money is invested by various companies, it is rather difficult to step in and tamper with the subject.
3853. The House of Commons alone could give such power, and could alone determine what course should be taken with regard to existing companies; but have you not formed any decided opinion on that subject?—No.
John Richard Collins64
[Collins admitted that the title of “alderman” was attractive to him, and that if the office of mayor were provided locally it would be actively sought.]
3995. Do you not think that that would be still more the case if the area of jurisdiction were increased to a certain extent?—That, as a general principle, would be the case, but St. Pancras is a large city; as it is, there are 200,000 inhabitants in it, and probably in 20 years there will be 300,000.
3996. Do you not think that if the metropolis were divided into municipal districts about the size of St. Pancras, containing 200,000 or 300,000 inhabitants, it would be an improvement?—Yes; and I think the governing bodies would have great importance in the public eye.
[The questioning turned to the matter of annual elections, which Collins opposed.]
4043. Do you not think that, even if the elections were annual, the same persons would generally be re-elected, unless they had shown themselves incapable?—Very likely. I have been elected for the fourth time. Unless there is any special objection, I think the members who are at all useful would be retained.
[Collins averred that the costs of election in wider constituencies, such as that of mailing circulars, would deter people from standing.]
4051. Would it not be necessary, if there were various candidates, to send circulars to the ratepayers?—I think they would do so. When we fought by parties we did so; we spent a great deal of money. A contested election used to cost, I daresay, £700 or £800 on the two sides; we were obliged to spend a great deal of money; we had to bring up the ladies in carriages.
[The suggestion was made by the Chair that voting papers would reduce trouble and expense; Collins disclaimed experience of them.]
4057. The vestry is not elected by voting papers?—Yes, when there is a contest; but there must be personal attendance.
[The voting paper is folded, so in effect it is a secret ballot.]
4059. If the papers were collected from house to house, it would not be necessary to bring up the ladies in carriages?—There would be no necessity for it.
[Mill returned to one of the many topics covered in Clark’s evidence.]
4243. I understood you to say, that there was great difficulty in inducing persons to accept the office of vestryman?—There is a difficulty in getting what is called the more wealthy classes to serve; they come into town in the morning and leave it in the afternoon, and even if they were elected, I do not think that they are soconversant with the wants and necessities of the parish as the persons who now form the bulk of the vestrymen.
4244. Do you not think that it is an advantage to a body of that sort to have a mixture of various classes of persons; some of the class you have mentioned, and perhaps a greater number of the classes who are now willing to be vestrymen?—I should be glad to see it so, but I see no hope, make the qualification what you will, of inducing them to serve; I have tried it over and over again; we have had one or two large sugar refiners members of the Board, but they did not stay long; they very rarely attend even when they become members.
4245. Do you not think that if that district was larger, and if the vestrymen were more in the public eye, and more commented upon by the press, if more distinction could be obtained by serving the public in that way, there would be less difficulty experienced in inducing persons of a superior class to serve with others in the vestry?—I have great doubt about it. The same complaint is made with regard to the corporation of the City of London, that the great merchants will not come forward; and certainly if honour and dignity would induce them to come forward, the office of Lord Mayor of the City of London might be expected to do so; but the same complaint is made even there.
[Amongst other issues, the reasons for occasionally not accepting the lowest bids for public works were discussed.]
4363. If any person’s offer was rejected while the tender of some one else, though higher, was accepted, would the person who made the lower tender have a right to challenge the decision, and demand that the committee which rejected the offer should give its reasons?—If he chose to do so the committee would not hesitate to give their reasons.
William Francis Jebb66
[The interrogation settled on the inconveniences of the irregular boundaries of the parishes of St. Margaret’s and St. John’s, Westminster.]
4475. Does not St. Margaret’s reach into the middle of Kensington Gardens?—We have no jurisdiction there; but I think the boundary of the parishes runs along by the Serpentine.
4476. I believe there is a stone with the initials of your parish on it in the midst of Kensington Gardens, not far from the Round Pond?—I believe there is.
Dr. William Tiffin Iliff67
[The witness described the filthy habitations of the coster-mongers and even lower classes in Newington.]
4821. What is the condition of the common lodging houses in your parish, to which the recent Act applies?68 —They are in a very good condition; we have only one set in Kent-street; I was over them all about a month ago, when they had received their cleansing, and were in a very good condition; I only wish the poor as a rule had places to live in like them.
4822. Have you ever taken into consideration the expediency of extending to other houses, the houses of the respectable poor, any of the powers which already exist in regard to the very lowest class of lodging houses?69 —Yes; the Association of the Officers of Health have embodied that in a memorandum submitted to the Home Secretary, suggesting that they should have some power over the rooms.70
[In discussing the actual practice and qualifications for election to the Metropolitan Board of Works, Birt distinguished between the requirement for Parliament in the Reform Act of 1832, “a male person of full age,” and for the Board, merely “a person.” He then said he thought he knew who would have been first elected to the Board had there been an open election.]
5190. Do you think it would have been “a male person of full age”?—I think it would.
[After having dwelt on the quality of the vestrymen, the questioning turned to expenses of local administration.]
5211. You said that some years ago there was considerable agitation in the parish owing to the dissatisfaction with regard to local management as it existed at that time, but that this dissatisfaction having ceased, the agitation subsided; is the reason of that, that the dissatisfaction not having been originally well grounded has died away of itself, or has the local management improved since that time?—I think the local management has been very much improved since that time.
5212. In what respect does the local management differ from what it was at that time?—It is much more systematic. The officers have a differently constituted body to supervise them; the vestry which sits fortnightly, but which formerly was only called together as the church-wardens and overseers chose to call them. As an illustration of my statement, I can only say that a gentleman who used to agitatethe parish a good deal, and was a member of the vestry, has retired from it; and he told me a few days ago that his vocation had gone; that he had nothing to find fault with now, and therefore he preferred quietly to retire.
5213. Was the agitation that previously existed all antecedent to the Metropolis Local Management Act, or did it go on under that Act during the first year?—It went on after the Act came into operation with regard to the appointment of vestrymen; but, as I said, from that time it has gradually subsided and become less and less.
5214. The improvement that you consider to have taken place, the more systematic management, dates from the Local Management Act, I suppose?—I think so.
5215. Or has it been introduced by degrees?—[The Act greatly increased the functions of the vestry, and the consequent agitation arose over the patronage connected with the position of overseer. With the present low turnover in the office, there has been less agitation; perhaps also there are fewer subjects to agitate about.]
5216. Now that there is no agitation there appears to be some difficulty in inducing people to offer themselves as candidates even for the vestry?—[There is no shortage of persons to serve as vestrymen; there is, however, little need for candidature. People are not anxious to be in office, but they perform well when elected.]
5217. They are elected more by a spontaneous choice of the parishioners than by their offering themselves?—Yes; to a very large extent it is so.
5218. Have you ever considered whether an enlargement of the area of local management would be desirable; whether a larger district than a single parish—not a very large one, which I believe yours is not—might not be advantageously managed by the same body, and whether in that case it would not be likely that you would more easily obtain persons of education and position to fill the office of vestrymen, or whatever office corresponded to it?—I think, perhaps, it would have been advantageous had the Legislature made the districts somewhat larger than they are at present; but the vestry that I happen to be connected with does not view with any sympathy the project for consolidating the whole metropolis; say into three large municipal bodies.
5219. No one has proposed so small a number as you mention. The proposition which involves the fewest, is that of making the municipal bodies correspond with the Parliamentary boroughs;72 in that case yours would be extended to the whole of Southwark. What would be the particular nature of the objections the vestry would feel to such an extension as that?—I am not prepared to say that the vestry has any feeling of objection to it.
5220. You only think that they are well satisfied with the system as it is, and that they do not think it requires much amendment?—They appear to be perfectly well satisfied with the system as it is working at present.
5221. Do you not yourself think that the acting on a large scale on the one hand, would produce a greater disposition on the part of persons of position to become members of the body; and on the other, that it would give greater publicity, that the management would take place more in the eyes of the public, and that being conducted on a larger scale it would be possible to subdivide business and confine each part to persons of higher qualifications than are obtained, or can be obtained at present on a small scale?—I doubt if persons of higher qualifications would be obtained for the position by making the area in our locality co-extensive with the Parliamentary borough.
5222. You think that the greater importance of the duties, and their being more in the public eye would not be an additional inducement to persons to offer themselves and take the trouble?—They would have the same duties considerably extended; I do not think they would be rightly described as more important.
5223. They would be the same duties, but the amount of duty, responsibility, and power which the persons so elected would exercise would be greater, owing to the greater extent of the district?—I do not think that a better class of persons would be induced to come forward by an enlargement of the area. I ground that upon my knowledge with regard to the Metropolitan Board itself. I think that that which is a larger body than these bodies to which you have been referring, would not, if there were a general election by the ratepayers elicit the candidature of persons better qualified than the present vestrymen.
[Birt reaffirmed this judgment in response to other questions.]
5231. You would not see any inconvenience in persons of the same class as now form your vestry, serving along with persons of another class in a larger body?—At present the persons who are elected by our parish to be vestrymen arrange their own time of meeting. They meet at six o’clock in the evening for their own convenience, not for the convenience of their officers. I should be glad (I know they cannot do it, and therefore I do not ask it nor expect it) if they could meet in the ordinary business hours, that we might get through the business as other professional persons do; but with regard to our own parish if we were merged into a municipality that met in the middle of the day, I doubt whether we should not, to some extent, be virtually unrepresented, because those who would be elected would probably not be in a position to give the attendance which they now give at six o’clock in the evening.
5232. Do you think that any such body as that would establish hours of meeting that would necessarily exclude a considerable number of those who would probably be, and certainly ought to be, elected to form part of the body; do you not think that such a course would be very unpopular, and that the members would not be elected again if they established such unreasonable rules?—I find that some metropolitan vestries which are in a very different position from St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark, are able to meet in the middle of the day. Inasmuch as I do not know exactly what would be the limits of any one of the new bodies to be formed, I cannot say what hour would be reasonable for them to meet. I merely say that if they were to adopt greatly different hours from those which obtain among ourselves, the present members of the vestry would be unable to attend in consequence of their own avocations.
[The questioning dwelt on matters pertaining to election.]
5323. Have you turned your attention to whether it would be desirable that the area of management should be extended beyond the parish: do you not think that even with those functions which you propose for giving additional publicity to the election there will still be less interest taken in becoming a member of the board of management for the parish only than there would be in becoming a member of a smaller body for the whole City of Westminster?—I do not think that the difference would be very great, but I think certainly that Westminster is not too large for one municipal election. It has been a favourite notion of mine for the last 20 years.
5324. The whole of Westminster?—Yes; after all I think it is not larger than Marylebone.
5325. If there were a greater unwillingness to become a candidate for the larger district than for the smaller, still the fact that you would not need so many persons to offer themselves for Westminster as you would need for all the parishes into which Westminster is divided, would in itself be an advantage, and would give a greater choice of members?—Yes; I think that 48 men for our parish is too large a number, and the thing ceases to have that honour attached to it which it would have if the vestry was composed of half a score or a dozen persons.
[The greater office would be more sought after.]
5327. You think that if 48 or double that number were elected for the whole of Westminster it might be felt to be a considerable honour to be one of them?—I think that 48 men could manage Westminster very well.
[Bidgood expressed himself in favour of voting papers.]
5346. The board of guardians are elected by voting papers, are they not?—Not with us.
George Henry Drew74
[Mill started a new subject for this witness.]
5598. Do you think that your district is as large a one as can be advantageously managed by the same body, or have you turned your attention to any of the proposals that have been made for forming larger districts, in one of which your district would be included, and having a municipal administration for that larger district elected in the same way as at present, by the ratepayers?—I do not think the present body could with advantage administer a larger district than it does now.
5599. It would require a more numerous body?—Rather a body of better capacity.
5600. Do you think it would be likely if a larger district were embraced in its sphere of operations, that persons of superior capacity would be more disposed than at present to act upon the Board?—I think there is no doubt of it.
5601. So that on the whole you think there would be probably a more capable administration for the larger district, although the present one may be adequate to carry on its operations in a tolerable manner?—I think probably that would be so; whether it would be desirable or not I do not say.
5602. Have you formed any opinion whether it would be desirable?—I think so far as the parish is concerned that it is very well administered by the men who now administer its affairs. It is much to their advantage to have to administer the affairs of the parish in the way they do.
5603. In what respect to their advantage?—It is an advantage to them to have to administer their own affairs.
5604. Do you mean that their affairs are better attended to in consequence, or that it is an exercise to them?—It is an exercise to them; whether any larger body with a larger area might administer the affairs of the larger area better, I have not formed any opinion.
5605. The exercise of mind would be still more valuable in that case?—But in that case you would not have the same class of men to administer the affairs of the district.
5606. You would have some of the same class and others of a superior class, would you not?—Not knowing what the mode of election would be, I cannot say.
5607. Supposing the election was by the ratepayers, as at present, in different wards it would naturally happen that the Board would have a more mixed composition, and do you not think that the acting in concert with persons possessing still higher qualifications than those who now act, would be a great advantage, and that the exercise of those functions would be a greater means of improvement to their own minds than they have at present?—Without doubt. I think that is what we want in the vestry of Bermondsey; an addition of persons of a superior class. They are now apt to be led by one or two men who have rather moreknowledge of public affairs than the rest, and not always, perhaps, in the right direction.
Dugald Edward Cameron75
[Mill was the first questioner after the Chair’s identifying queries.]
5619. Have you been a candidate to represent St. Pancras at the Metropolitan Board?—Yes, at the last election in June.
5620. Are there any circumstances connected with that election which you wish to state?—The peculiarity of the election, if it can be so called, is this: the last member retired by rotation; and 12 months previously to his retirement, promises from individual members of the vestry were extracted before it could possibly be ascertained who were the candidates, in order that the members of the vestry might make a selection.
5621. This was at the election previous to that at which you were a candidate?—[Josiah Wilkinson, an eminently valuable member from 1856 to 1864, found to his surprise when seeking re-election that successful solicitations had been made to individual members of the vestry to support another candidate.]
[Wilkinson had served on the Metropolitan Board.]
5623. Were any public grounds of opposition to Mr. Josiah Wilkinson stated?—Not any public grounds. The most public ground that I can recollect was very frivolous, namely, that all the honours should not be centred in any one individual for any lengthened period; that, however eminent and desirable his services were, a change, whether for the better or worse, should take place.
5624. Do you think that, on that occasion at any rate, the election was carried against him rather by a private intrigue than by a fair public opposition?—Completely so, because several members of the vestry who had signed that paper, told me afterwards that they had little idea that they had pledged themselves to give their votes, that they only intended to solicit Mr. Taylor to come forward, not that they had pledged themselves to vote for him in opposition to Mr. Wilkinson. In fact, great misapprehension prevailed on the subject. It was supposed that because the term of office of Mr. Wilkinson was about to expire, he would not be a candidate for the next election.
5625. Do you suppose that any undue influence was used, or that any undue influence was used to induce these vestrymen to give their promises?—I am not prepared to say that.
5626. You were a candidate last June for the purpose of counteracting this system?—[Knowing he would be defeated, Cameron wished to expose the practice.]
5627. You think that the sitting representative of your vestry in the Board of Works made use of his position as a means of canvassing for re-election?—The member of the Board of Works is not necessarily a member of the vestry, but he is generally so, and by means of contact with other members he has, in that way, the opportunity of pursuing that system.
5628. Should you propose, with a view of obviating occurrences of this kind, any change in the mode of electing members of the Board of Works?—I think that the election is very unsatisfactory in one sense, and the ratepayers from whom such large sums are paid for the metropolis should have vested in them the right of election. It has been said that the expense would be so great as to prevent any gentleman seeking election, but I cannot see that that is a sufficient objection; because the expense for the election of vestryman is nothing, and the election of a member to the Metropolitan Board of Works might take place at the same time, and the expense come out of the same parochial funds; the members of the vestry have no expense whatever to incur, and if the election to the Metropolitan Board was under the same management, the objection as to expense would not apply.
5629. You think that the ratepayers might vote for the vestrymen and for the member to the Metropolitan Board of Works at the same time?—I think that might be effected.
5630. In what way should you recommend the votes to be given; by voting papers or by a poll?—I think voting papers would be preferable to the present system of electing vestrymen; very few persons take the slightest interest in the election at present and it is limited to a very few persons; any names that 10 or 12 gentlemen may select are sent to the electors, and when the election takes place, perhaps 20 or 30 persons decide who shall represent the different wards of the parish.
5631. Do you think that if the ratepayers were called upon to nominate a member of the Board of Works at the same time as the vestry, a greater and more general interest would be felt by them in the elections?—I think so, for this reason, an election for one-third of the vestrymen takes place annually, but the election for a member to the Metropolitan Board of Works would only take place triennially. I think it would bring the ratepayers, in some measure, to look to the importance of the representation in both Boards, the vestry and the Metropolitan Board.
5632. You find that the interest taken by the ratepayers in the election of vestrymen at present is not great?—[After considerable activity in 1856 there has been a great decline in interest, though at the last election there was a general desire for improvement.]
5633. If I understand you, a kind of reaction has set in now, and a greater interest is taken in the elections?—Not among the ratepayers, but amongst the members of the vestry themselves; they would like to elevate their position by getting a superior class of men among them.
5634. Do you ascribe that want of interest, on the part of the ratepayers, merely to the fact that the novelty has worn off, or to mere general apathy and indifference, or is it because they are satisfied with the way in which the parish is managed?—I think it arises from apathy and indifference, and the trouble that it takes to record their votes, by going to the polling booth, or any other place appointed for the reception of votes.
5635. Do you think if the district were enlarged, if, instead of a parish, it were a municipality, embracing, for instance, the whole of a Parliamentary district, that there would be a greater interest in the election felt by the ratepayers?—It is difficult to answer that question by anticipation; if there were a popular out-of-doors election, or anything of that description, I think the same class would occupy positions in the municipality that they do now in almost all the vestries.
5636. What means would you suggest by which a greater interest could be excited, or a superior class of persons could be induced to become candidates?—By mean of papers left from house to house, as in the case of the guardians.
5637. Would you propose that as a means of inducing a greater number of ratepayers to vote?—Yes, I think it would have that effect.
5638. Do you not think that there would be some danger that those who did not sufficiently care about the subject to vote at all unless the voting paper was sent to them at their houses, would be willing, if it were sent to them, and they could vote without trouble, to vote almost for anybody who asked them?—No, I do not know that would be the case; I think they would be more likely to communicate with their immediate friends, and ask them what they proposed doing with reference to the election, so that the subject would be more ventilated.
5639. You think that leaving voting papers at the house with lists of candidates would excite conversation, and so create a greater interest in the subject, and that people would be better able to concert together?—I think that would take place.
5640. You think, perhaps, that under the present system the generality of the ratepayers never have their attention called to the fact that there is an election at all?—That is the case in our parish; there is a ratepayers’ association in every ward; they call public meetings of the ratepayers, but the apathy is so great that not more than 100 persons ever attend any gathering of that description, and, perhaps, two-thirds of those are not ratepayers.
5641. Do you think that leaving a mere notice of election, with a list of candidates, at the house of every ratepayer, would have the same effect in drawing attention to the subject as leaving a voting paper?—You must send a list of candidates with the voting paper.
5642. Suppose that the voting were to take place in the way in which it takes place now, but that lists of candidates were left at the houses of all the ratepayers, so as to make them aware more certainly than they are now that an election is coming on, or that the election is to be contested, do you think that this would produce the same effect on their minds in exciting an interest in the subject, and inducing them to ask questions about it, as if voting papers were left at their houses to be filled up?—I think not nearly so much interest, because it is even a trouble tothem on their way to the City to go and give their vote, and perhaps if they all did so in the morning, there would be such a rush that the poll could not be taken sufficiently quickly, and they would object to spend a quarter or half-an-hour of their time; the poll concludes at four o’clock, so that on the return of those persons, even if they desired to vote, they would not be able to do so.
5643. Many persons are prevented now by the inconvenience of voting, which would be removed by means of voting papers?—That is my opinion.
5644. Suppose that instead of a single parish there were a municipality, co-extensive with one of the Parliamentary districts, should you think that this would be an inducement to a superior class of persons in education or social position to become candidates beyond what can be expected at present?—I am hardly sufficiently acquainted with municipalities generally, but I think in such a parish as St. Pancras, where most of the gentlemen are mere residents in the squares and places of that description, having their business elsewhere, they would not care much about forming part of a municipality, any more than they do about becoming vestrymen; yet I think it would be desirable that something of a character should be given to the office beyond that of a mere vestryman; it would perhaps have a beneficial effect. There is an idea about a vestry that is not very palatable to the minds of people in the metropolis; and I think something might be done to raise its character.
5645. You think greater dignity might be given to the office?—I think so. The term “vestryman” conveys an imperfect idea of the duties under the Metropolis Local Management Act.
5646. Possibly also more extensive duties might be confided to a municipality than would be entrusted to a vestry, although the duties of the vestry are now considerable?—They are quite beyond the original intention; the sewers, lighting, and other sanitary matters, are quite beyond anything that was intended for vestry purposes.
5647. If municipal bodies were created for districts equal to, or nearly equal to, Parliamentary districts, are there any additional powers which you think might be advantageously entrusted to those municipalities?—I think if they could have the control of gas and water it would be an advantage; and I think also that they ought to have the rates arising from carriage duties; in fact, if it be a municipality in reality it ought to be so, I venture to think, as regards taxation and the means of support.
5648. Supposing there were, in addition to these municipalities, a general body for the whole metropolis, either constituted on the basis of the City of London, with its jurisdiction extended and its constitution enlarged, or on the basis of the Board of Works, should you think that these duties, with regard to gas and water supply, would be better entrusted to the separate municipalities, or to the general one?—I think to the general one.
5649. Are there any other changes that you would suggest, from your experience of the local management of the metropolis?—I have not considered any.
5650. Is there any other statement you wish to make?—No.
[The witness complained of the legal delays preventing rapid enforcement of the Nuisances Removal Act.]
5761. What would you recommend?—That the first order should be final; that it should not be necessary to summon a man to show cause why he has not complied with the order, since its tendency can only be delay.
5762. Would you empower the vestry itself to give the order?—No, the magistrate; but one order should be sufficient.
5763. You would have the order of the magistrates to abate the nuisance made compulsory)?77 —Peremptory in all cases.
5764. If the person to whom the order was given did not remove the nuisance, the order should at once be enforced?—Yes, and we have ample powers.
5765. You have powers sufficient to enforce the order of the magistrates, if you were allowed to do so, without summoning the man to show cause?—Yes; I think, however, that it would be found necessary to increase the staff of magistrates. Recently, under all these Acts of Parliament, the magistrates have been almost overwhelmed. Many compensation cases under Railway Acts come before them, and so with small tenancies under £10, and many other things; their jurisdiction has become so extended that physically it is utterly impossible for them to carry it out. I am sure that no gentlemen can assist us more readily than the magistrates at Clerkenwell and their clerks, but I am compelled to make out all my own summonses, and take them there cut and dried, and to draw out my own orders.
5766. Do you consider these duties to be properly imposed upon the magistrates?—I should like to see a court for the whole of the metropolis to take these matters into consideration; there is work, I think, for a magistrate sitting every day in such large parishes as Islington and St. Pancras.
5767. The matters you are speaking of are of a judicial kind, such as determining the amount of compensation?—There is a great deal of that, and no doubt a judicial mind is required.
[It would be convenient to go before a county rather than a police magistrate.]
5769. Have you a body of local justices sitting regularly?—No; they sit in the Sessions House at Clerkenwell, but they favour us by coming to the vestry hall to hear summons upon the rating, and also with reference to weights and measures.
[They would provide a good and fair tribunal, and a readier one.]
5773. Is there any improvement that you would suggest in the constitution of the vestries, or of the other bodies which at present carry on the municipal administration of the metropolis?—I do not know that I can suggest any.
[Layton commented on the recent history of the governing bodies.]
5775. Are you satisfied generally with the kind of persons who are candidates for the vestry in your parish? Are they of as good a status as you would desire?—I think we have cause to be pretty well satisfied; we have a very good mixture; it depends, however, upon the wards; in some of the wards we have almost a difficulty to get the £40 qualification; the number of our assessments in the parish is 23,000; there is, no doubt, a good deal of apathy on the part of the ratepayers, but I do not know why we should legislate for those who are apathetic. We generally send out something over 10,000 notices with regard to the day of election.
5776. Do you think there would be more interest excited in the elections on the part of the ratepayers if they were to vote by voting papers?—I do not think they would be at all useful; I think that it would only extend the system of canvassing, and the result would be the same.
5777. Does much canvassing take place in your parish?—There is a great deal in particular wards; we have eight wards. I may mention that the ratepayers are limited to the ward in which they reside, but a vestryman may be taken from any part of the parish; some persons think that the intention of the Act of Parliament was that the vestrymen should be limited to the ward in which they reside.78
5778. Is that your own opinion?—I think it would be more uniform; there is another singular thing in the Act of Parliament, a ratepayer who votes must have been actually rated 12 months,79but not so with regard to the vestryman; he may have only just had his name put upon the rating books.
5779. Do you think it desirable that no one should be eligible as a vestryman for any ward unless he is an inhabitant of the ward?—I think he should be rated in that ward, or if there are two wards they might be brought together.
5780. Would not that rule limit still more than at present the range of choice, and diminish the chance of obtaining the most eligible persons?—It is subject to that construction being put upon it; I am speaking of a very large parish, each ward having a large population, and being almost a parish in itself.
5781. Some of your wards, I believe, are inhabited by a very poor population, are they not?—Comparatively, so that the £40 qualification for a vestryman is felt to be too high, limiting the selection.
5782. You would prefer to have a lower qualification for vestrymen?—In the lower rated wards, because at present you are liable to be driven to one class ofpersons, namely, tavern keepers and so on, of whom, however, I do not wish to speak with any disrespect.
5783. You say that there are wards in which there are very few persons rated at £40 except tavern keepers?—I do not put it so strongly as that, they would preponderate.
5784. You think it would be better to take persons rated in the ward, although at a lower qualification, than persons from other wards in the same parish?—Yes, I think the qualification which is mentioned, and the restriction which is given in one of the sections as to the amount of rating might as well be made applicable to the wards. There is one section which says that if the number of persons rated at £40 shall amount to one-sixth in a parish, the qualification shall be £40, but if they are below one-sixth then the qualification shall be £25. Now if that was confined to the different wards instead of the different parishes, I think it would be an advantage. The qualification would then be £25 in some of the wards, and £40 in others, so that the thing would be equalised.
5785. You think that even in that way there would be a sufficient mixture of classes in the vestry?—I think so; I think I may speak very favourably of the vestry of Islington; complaints will arise and do arise, and indeed we should have nothing but stagnation if they did not; on the whole, I think the work is well done.
[Layton dwelt on the failure of the Metropolitan Board of Works to live up to its promise to devote 250 acres to a park in Islington and Hornsey, to be known as Finsbury park.80 ]
5791. Has your vestry made any remonstrance in any public manner?—Yes, we have been before the Board of Works by deputation; Mr. Torrens, Mr. Alderman Lusk, and the vicar attended, by the unanimous desire of the meeting in the parish. A deputation also attended from St. Luke’s, Old-street.
5792. In the present state of the law, I suppose you have no appeal from the Board of Works except to Parliament?—No, the question I have mentioned is a legal one, and very peculiar; one of the clauses in the Finsbury Park Act is to this effect; that when the park is completed they shall dispose of 20 acres. That is like taking surplus land upon a railway for the purposes of deviation. Here they have decided that the 20 acres shall go for building purposes, but I think they are premature. That is one of the questions that ought to be decided.
[Mill opened a new topic with this witness.]
5817. Has your attention been called to the proposals that have been made for establishing municipalities in different portions of the metropolis?—I have not given much attention to the subject, but I think that Islington is quite large enough to be a district of itself. We are a municipality nearly, with the exception of having a mayor and aldermen.
5818. What is the population?—At the last census it was 155,000; we take it now to be over 180,000.
5819. Do you know what proportion that bears to the population of the Parliamentary borough of Finsbury?—I do not know. The Islington list of voters is something more than half the list of voters for the whole borough. I do not know the population of the borough.
[The issue was raised of dividing the expenses of paving among the houses on a street. Payment was in the main proportioned to frontage, but there was no general agreement as to streets along flank walls, some magistrates holding that expenses attributable to such walls where there was no entrance should fall on the whole block.]
5821. That it should not be paid for by the occupier of the house to which the wall is attached, but by the whole street?—[Yes, except that when there is an entrance, the owner should pay for the portion up to it. Because questions of this sort occupy too much of the magistrates’ time, there should be uniform rules. Another complaint is that a magistrate has jurisdiction for only six months.]
5822. You mean that if the owner succeeds in resisting the demand for six months, he gets rid of it?—Yes; I should not have any hesitation in sueing a man in the county court, or one of the superior courts.
[If occupiers were made liable in the first instance, it would be possible to proceed summarily against offenders.]
5824. Are there any other local rates which are levied directly from the owner and not from the occupier?—No.
5825. The only case in which the objection arises is that of paving new streets?—And making the roads.
5826. The pavement is kept up at the expense of the parish afterwards?—Yes; the Act of Parliament works beneficially in this way, stopping all question as to whether there has been a legal dedication, because it provides that after the parish has compelled the owners to do the work for all time, the roads are thrown upon the parish.81
John Edwin Bradfield82
[The practice in Islington has been for the vestry, instead of hearing complaints about road maintenance, to turn them over to the highway committee, which the vestry appoints; in the opinion of the witness, that committee had already prejudged the question.]
5841. In what way prejudged the question?—They have made the rates and applied them.
5842. You think it is to the vestry collectively that recourse should be had, and not to the highway committee?—I think the vestry certainly ought to receive deputations and not hand them over to committees, but I go further in the remedy which I advocate; I say that there ought to be a power over the vestry in such a case as this, possessed either by the police magistrate or the Metropolitan Board of Works. Mr. Layton also referred to a letter; I should tell you that that letter was received by the chairman of a public meeting, I believe, on Saturday, and it gave him two days’ notice to get up a meeting of inhabitants, on a road about three-quarters of a mile long, to go before the highway committee; this letter was sent by the vestry clerk after the matter had been before the highway committee two years and a half.
John Charles Buckmaster83
[The Chair, in establishing the credentials of the witness, elicited the information that he had been very active in the government of Battersea.]
5847. Have you continued to take an interest in the management up to the present time?—Not much now; I have ceased during the last two or three years to take much active interest in the affairs of the parish.
5848. Had you any reason for ceasing to interest yourself in the matter?—I felt that I obtained so little support from the more intelligent and influential ratepayers of the parish, that it seemed to me hopeless to continue my efforts; I am now perfectly indifferent.
5849. You had reason to complain of the local management, and were opposed to the manner in which it was conducted?—Yes, I was very much opposed to the general local government of the parish. It seemed to me to be committed to persons very respectable in their way, but persons in whom I could feel no confidence with reference either to their judgment on many questions or to the raising and expenditure of such large sums of money as annually passed through their hands.
5850. Would you be good enough to state the points on which you had reason to differ from the vestry, or to disapprove of their conduct?—[Under the Local Management Act, the auditors are unpaid volunteers, inadequate and unwilling to perform their duties properly; consequently there is no proper oversight of the expenditure of rates.]
5851. The auditors, I presume, would not be required to judge of the propriety of the expenditure, but only whether it had been really incurred?—[They simply see the receipts. The collection of rates was so badly done that the district board took it over, but now it is back in local hands, and again mismanaged.]
5852. By whom are the collectors of the local rates appointed?—The churchwardens and the overseers.
5853. Then the vestry has no power over them?—None.
5854. Would they have any power of preventing malversations of this sort?—The vestry seems to have no power in our parish; the churchwardens and overseers make all the rates; the precepts are served on them, and the vestries seem to me to have no duties, or, if they have, they never perform them. Last year the vestry was convened only three times; once to elect the four members to the district board; once to appoint three members to the burial board; and once to fix the time for the going out of a portion of the existing vestry.
5855. I presume that the powers which the Metropolis Management Act has conferred on most vestries are, in your case, vested in the district board?—The district board is made up of persons sent from the vestries every year; we meet for the purpose, the first Wednesday in June, to appoint six men to the district board; one year we had a very severe contest in the parish; we were desirous, if we could, of getting a different class of men into office; after a very severe contest in a parish of 2,500 ratepayers, and collecting rates amounting to £70,000 or £80,000 a-year, there were only about 200 ratepayers that voted in the election, although for weeks before we had all the organization of a contested election, with the public-houses opened, and bills and cabs, and everything of that kind; but we failed entirely.
5856. That was with regard to the vestry?—[The strenuous attempt was made because the vestry is the source of all power and government; the failure to get the voters out resulted in the election of three beer-house-keepers seeking licenses, two retired publicans, a retired tripedresser, a hairdresser, a pianoforte tuner, an undertaker, and people of similar class. People who did not vote said they had been insulted enough.]
5857. To what do you ascribe this unwillingness of so many persons in the parish to take part in the elections for the vestry?—[Though thoroughly dissatisfied with the system, they see no way of improving it. While action by the district board is better, it is hard to induce, for example in his own case, concerning the preservation of footpaths and right of way.]
5858. If I understand you rightly, what you complain of chiefly, both in the vestry and in the district board, is indifference;—that they do not trouble themselves about public objects?—They do not; they do not perform the duties which they really ought to perform. With regard to nuisances, we have had piggeries and nuisances, of the most abominable character in the parish. At the present time I know of small houses in compound, where the cesspools in the backyards have been overrunning with filth, nearly six inches, for the last two or three weeks, loose bricks have been laid down for the tenants to walk on to keep them out of the filth as they go to the closets. You may ask why has it not been removed? I spoke about it to the inspector of nuisances, and it is to be brought first before a localcommittee, then the district board; but all this takes time, and the tenants might die with fever or cholera before any action is taken.
5859. A committee of the vestry?—[Yes, the most active member being the owner of the houses. Knowing nothing can be done, people submit to the abominable conditions.]
5860. What is the constitution of the district board?—The district board is formed by members elected from the vestry.
5861. From the vestries of the different parishes?—[In the case of Battersea, the twenty-four vestrymen, many of whom do not attend, elect several members to the district board in June. The board, which has wide jurisdiction, acts with contempt for local sensibilities.]
5862. The district board, I suppose, is constituted under the provisions of the Metropolis Local Management Act?—Yes.84
5863. What is the extent of the district?—The district takes in Battersea, Tooting, Streatham, Clapham, Wandsworth, and Putney.
5864. So that the extent of the district is considerable?—Taking the boundary of the Thames at Battersea to Putney on one side, and from Tooting to Clapham on the South, on the other, you will get the entire area of the district comprehended by the district board.
5865. If I understand you rightly the complaints against the vestry and the district board are rather negative than positive. You complain of them for not doing things which they ought to do?—[Most of them try only to keep down the rates and to build compound houses, which have become a great nuisance because they are greatly under-rated.]
5866. In what manner does putting the houses into compound cause them to be under-assessed?—The man who builds these houses and puts them into compound, says to the churchwardens and overseers, “You see these are weekly tenants, they may go out; the house may be empty, but whether it is empty or occupied, I will pay the rates regularly.” The churchwardens and overseers think that that is a capital offer, that it will save the collector a great deal of trouble, and that they will be sure of their money. The consequence is that the houses are put into compound, and that is often the qualification for a man to be on the vestry. If it were not for this compound property, there would be eight or nine men now on the vestry who would be disqualified.
5867. In order to have the security of the owner for the rates, they are willing to compound with him for a much lower amount, provided it is paid throughout the whole year, whether the house is occupied or not?—Exactly.
[The principle is that of the Small Tenements Act.]
5869. Is there any private Act in force in Battersea?—I believe there was asmall Local Act of Parliament obtained some years ago.85At that time the parish was almost entirely market garden ground, and the small houses were occupied by men who were engaged in cultivating this ground. I dare say there were very few poor men receiving more than 12s. or 13s. a-week, and it was sometimes felt difficult to get the rates from them. A solicitor, with the consent of the churchwardens and overseers, obtained an Act of Parliament for the purpose of putting this property into compound, and that Act of Parliament (which was obtained under circumstances very different from the present condition of the parish), has continued in operation to the present time. The existing owners of compound property take advantage of it, and the houses are put in at a third of their value.
[This practice is allowed under the Local Act.]
5871. As you have so unfavourable an opinion of the existing management of the parish, will you tell us what improvements you would recommend, in order to prevent the evils to which you have referred?—[The management now is vastly inferior to what it was a half-century earlier. If the present system is continued, there must be a great improvement in the levying and collection of rates.]
[The present occupiers of compound houses could pay proper rates.]
5874. What length of time are the rates compounded for?—There is no time specified, but if one of these compound houses should become a beer shop, or any other kind of shop, then I believe the occupier is rated. I do not believe that the overseers and churchwardens have the power of putting them out of compound after they have once accepted them without giving the owner a reason for so doing, which is rarely done.
[Discussion continued on the process of compounding, which was arranged wholly and foolishly by the churchwardens and overseers at the behest of the builders.]
5890. You mentioned that there were frequent arrears of rates, and that it was necessary to summon, every half year, five or six hundred ratepayers out of a total number of not more than 2,500; to what do you ascribe those arrears and the necessity of summoning the ratepayers?—[While the collectors retain their office, the body who appoints them, the churchwardens and overseers, fluctuates in membership and so loses control. Also, the collectors turn first to the large and dependable ratepayers, the public companies and the respectable people living at Clapham Common, and leave the rest for another day.]
5891. Then the want of looking after the collectors of the rate is the great grievance in this case?—Yes; the churchwardens and overseers say, “We are notgoing to incur any unpleasantness with the collectors; they have many relations and friends in the parish; we shall soon go out of office and have nothing more to do with the matter.” They tell me, that with reference to the collector of the poor rates, they are absolutely powerless; that although they are responsible for the collection of these rates, they have no power to remove the collector except for dishonesty.
5892. Is the collector appointed for life?—He is appointed by the guardians for life if he likes to retain the situation.
5893. And have the guardians no power to remove him?—Yes; but the guardians are made up of persons from other parishes, as well as Battersea, and any attempt to remove the collector would probably not be successful; I have written to the Poor Law Board two or three times about the collection of the poor rates; unless you can show that a man has positively done something that is criminal he is allowed to go on.
[In Buckmaster’s opinion, smaller ratepayers do not pay, and the larger, while they may be indignant, often do not look into the matter.]
5896. In what manner are the collectors paid—by a percentage?—Yes; and that makes it rather a disadvantage, because the collectors do not care about taking the trouble to get these small sums. They may go out, and in one morning earn £10 or £12, or £20 by per centages, which it would take two or three weeks to earn by the collection of small rates. That is made use of in favour of this system of compounding.
5897. What would you propose by way of remedying these inconveniences?—I would propose that there should be more direct responsibility to some permanent, and, perhaps, paid body. The churchwardens and overseers are a changing body, and it takes them some time to become thoroughly acquainted with the duties of their office, so that they are absolutely in the hands of the collectors, and many parochial officers never do understand or try to understand the many important duties which attach to their office.
5898. To what body would you entrust this control?—I think with reference to the poor rate, the Poor Law Board ought to have more authority. I think their power should not be limited simply to seeing whether the money had been legally expended. I think they ought also to see whether it has been properly collected, and whether the assessment of property is just, and whether the rates made are excessive. Their functions seem now to be limited to the expenditure and not to the collection, which they say it is the duty of the churchwardens and overseers to superintend.
5899. In regard to the other local rates?—With reference to the local rates, if the present system continues, I think the district board should be made responsible for the collection of the whole rate in the district, which should be uniform, subject to a paid auditor, and some more direct supervision and responsibility. For theprotection of the ratepayers, and some easy method of compelling the district board to do its duty.
5900. You mean, if the present local government by vestries and district boards continues?—Yes; I think it might be patched up in that way.
5901. Do you think it is desirable that that system should continue?—I think it very undesirable; it is more expensive and inefficient.
5902. What would you suggest in lieu of it?—It is very difficult to suggest anything, but my impression is, that a larger organization is necessary. You do not want a small organization for Putney, with its local board, its vestry clerk, surveyor, inspector of nuisances, medical officer, and all the paraphernalia of a great government, and then the same thing repeated at Streatham, at Tooting, at Clapham, at Wandsworth, and at Battersea. All this machinery is expensive; you cannot have vestry clerks and surveyors in all these little parishes without paying them, and it seems to me that if all these parishes were united into one, the district would not be larger than some of the municipal corporations in the midland counties and other parts of England, and they would have the advantage of being under one jurisdiction.
5903. It would appear, however, that the district board is in some degree a kind of experiment, on the principle of management by larger districts; but you do not consider that experiment to be successful?—I think it has been a failure, because they seem to have very limited powers, for they are very indifferent to the exercise of the powers they have.
5904. What would be your reasons for expecting a less degree of indifference, and a greater degree of vigilance and activity, in the exercise of their powers, from a body otherwise constituted?—[A more intelligent body of candidates would be called forth by the greater responsibility and authority.]
[The witness gave details of inadequacy and bias by the district board.]
5928. I understand you to say that you do not think the district board a successful experiment?—I do not.
5929. And you would wish for an experiment on a still larger scale?—Yes, under very different arrangements.
5930. In what manner would you have it conducted; how would you constitute the local administration so as to be in your opinion better?—The district board is made up of the same class of men as the vestry. A man must first of all be on the vestry, that is, he must be assessed at £25, or £40 a year as it is now; from the vestry he is sent to the district board. Now as the vestry is, so will the district board be, and I say that the vestries of our parishes are not of such a character as to ensure that public confidence which I think such an administration ought to ensure.
5931. Should you think it preferable that the members of the district board should be elected directly by the ratepayers?—I think it would be much better.
5932. You think that a superior class of persons to those who constitute the vestry, would in that case be willing to serve on the district board?—I think that is very probable: the election to the district board by the vestry is a very easy matter; half a dozen men meet together and go through the form of a ballot, but it is no ballot whatever. One man says to another, “We shall vote for Brown, Jones, and Robinson, and you vote for the same”; the list is then put into a hat, and Brown, Jones, and Robinson go to the district board.
5933. The members of the district board are elected by the vestry from their own number?—Yes.
5934. Do you think that the vestry usually selects its best men for that office?—I do not. There are certain men who are very anxious to be on the district board.
5935. You think that it is more often for the convenience of the persons elected, than for the benefit of the public that the choice is made?—Yes, and perhaps they are anxious for the little position, which, being on the district board, gives them, meeting as they frequently do, more respectable men from other parishes.
5936. Do you think that if the district board was elected by the ratepayers, you would get better men to serve on it?—I think if you had a direct representation to the district board, without any assessment qualification, you would get a better class of men, because other men would become candidates. No person has now any chance outside the vestry.
[The witness indicated he had never been a candidate for the district board, not being qualified even to be on the vestry.]
5938. I think I understood you to say that, besides what you consider a defect in the mode of electing the district board, its powers are not sufficient?—I think its action, with reference to the collection and expenditure of rates, is not under that control and supervision which it ought to be.
5939. You think that they have sufficient powers, but that those powers are not sufficiently controlled?—They do not exercise them. With reference, for instance, to the footpaths across Wandsworth Common, I wrote 16 letters to the Wandsworth district board, but I received no assistance whatever from them. I then appealed to the district board, with reference to the enclosure of about 10 acres of ground by a railway company, which were not required for the purposes of their Act, and I asked in a friendly way if they could tell me by what authority all this was done, but they refused to give me any assistance or advice.
5940. Was that within the legal power of the vestry?—It was quite within the power of the district board, and it was their duty to have inquired into the matter.
5941. Do you consider that the extent of the district over which the district board exercises its authority is sufficient, or would you have a still larger district?—I would have a larger district, without increasing the number of men. I am not quite sure whether in every case voluntary service is good service, it is never felt as a responsible service. A man neglects his duty, but what of it? You cannot expect himto give up his time without some equivalent. Those who do the public work should be paid for it.
5942. You would wish to have paid officers to perform the duties now performed by these bodies?—I think there should be more paid officers; you would then have greater and more responsibility and supervision.
5943. Do you think that there should be paid officers only, or that there should be paid officers to constitute what may be called a local executive, and a more popularly constituted body to vote the rates?—I would keep up the present system of popular election, and extend it if possible, but I think there should be some other more responsible body, and perhaps it would be a matter of consideration, and more desirable, that some portion of that body should be permanent and paid, but responsible to some other and higher authority.
5944. You think it would be a good plan to have paid officers for every branch of administration, who should be responsible to an unpaid body elected by the ratepayers?—Something of that kind.
5945. By whom would you have these paid officers appointed?—The appointment of these paid officers would, perhaps, be a difficulty. I have not thought the matter out.
5946. Do you think it would be a good plan that there should be a permanent chairman of the elected body, and that this permanent chairman, who might be paid or not as might be thought advisable, should be the responsible head of the local administration, should be responsible for the appointment of proper persons to all the paid offices?—I would not vest the appointment of the paid officers entirely in the hands of such a person; I think there should be some board with which he was acting that should have some power in the matter, or the appointments might become jobs.
5947. By supposition he is the chairman of the elected body, and, being chairman of the elected body, holding the same relation to it as the Lord Mayor does to the Common Council, might be either the responsible person to appoint the executive officers himself, or propose them to the elected body?—Yes.
5948. And in that case there would be, perhaps, a responsibility which you think is at present deficient?—I think, perhaps, that would meet the difficulty. At present, we have several paid officers; we have a clerk to the board, a surveyor, and two or three clerks; that is the organization for the district board simply. In our parish we have a paid vestry clerk, who does as little as possible, and another clerk, and we have three paid officers. It seems to me, that if all these offices were fused into one, it would be more economical for the ratepayers than having the present number of paid servants.
5949. You think there is no use for the vestry, and that it would be sufficient to have the larger district with a proper organization, an elected council, and the requisite number of paid officers under them without having any on a smaller scale?—Yes, and when I tell you that last year the elected vestry only met three times, you can form an estimate of how unimportant the vestry has become.
5950. The vestry existing at the present time is merely an electoral body to appoint these other persons?—Yes.
[They elect the churchwardens and prepare a list of overseers for the magistrates who automatically take the first names. In reply to the Chair’s information that according to the Act only houses up to £15 value could be rated to the owner, Buckmaster insisted that houses of greater value, letting for up to 10s. per week, were being compounded for.]
5954. May not that fact be owing to the very considerable rise that has taken place in the value of property in many parishes, so that houses originally not worth more than £15 a-year may now be worth £20?—That will apply, no doubt, to a very large amount of property in the parish, but not to all of it. I believe there is a kind of understanding between the churchwardens and overseers, and the owners of these compound houses. Supposing the churchwardens and overseers to be themselves owners of compound houses, to any extent (and we have had abundant instances of that), of course they would do the thing very lightly for themselves.
[Questions dwelt on various matters pertaining to the vestry of Islington, which Fuller asserted was open to charges of gross mismanagement.]
6125. Is there a weights and measures committee in your vestry?—Yes; it is not what we call one of our permanent committees; it is selected from members of other committees.
6126. Selected when there is any work to do relating to weights and measures?—They are always elected on Easter Tuesday.
6127. Have you any remarks to make about that committee?—No, I know nothing against them. I believe they are a very useful committee; I think it is very essential that parties should be well looked after in that respect.
6128. Have you anything to say about the lighting committee?—[There has been some negligence.]
6129. Did you ever hear the weights and measures committee complained of for not dealing sufficiently severely with tradesmen when possessing false weights and measures?—It was proposed before the vestry that we should publish the names of persons whose weights and scales had been found incorrect. The weights and measures committee rather objected to it; they said they did not like to take the responsibility of publishing the names; but they did the next best thing, that is, they consented that the reporters for the press should be present at meetings when the names were announced, so that they might be published in the local papers.
6130. Has there not been some complaint against those committees for eating and drinking at the expense of the ratepayers?—Yes; it appears that we allowedthe committee, I think, about £60 a-year for their expenses, and they made it about £60 or £70 more. They used, I believe, to go a little way out of town and have splendid dinners with champagne, burgundy, and all the choice wines, and three or four courses, and rose water after dinner.
[The event occurred three or four years previously.]
6132. But they did not expend more of the ratepayers’ money than you allowed; the rest was at their own expense?—They kept within the money allowed by the vestry.
[Mill began after the Chair’s identifying questions.]
6182. I believe you have taken great interest in the question of municipal institutions?—Yes.
6183. You have been an officer in municipal institutions in America many years?—Yes.
6184. Has your attention been drawn to the distinction between the practical working of municipal government in America and England?—Yes.
6185. In what part of America have you served municipal offices?—In the first place, I was in New York, and latterly in New Orleans, also in Canada.
6186. What offices did you fill in those places?—In one municipality, I had the situation of auditor, and in another that of assessor.
6187. And things came to your knowledge respecting municipal administration there, and the manner in which it was carried out, which you think may throw light on municipal administration here?—Yes.
6188. Be so good as to state them?—In the first place, with regard to assessment, it occurs to me that there is a very great difference between the system of assessing property in this country and in America. In America, all property, real and personal, is assessed for municipal purposes, including income.
6189. Do I understand that the assessment is entirely on property and not on rental, as it is here?—On property, real and personal.
6190. Here it is not an assessment on property at all, but the assessment in the United States is on property, if I understand you?—It varies in different States; in some States, the assessment is made on the whole value of the property; in some other States, it is made upon the annual value of the property, but in all the States, it not only includes real property, but personal property, merchandise, money used in business, professional income, and every other species of personal property.
6191. You mean that the per centage is taken upon the estimated value of the whole property of each person?—If you will permit me, I will give you an instancein point, which will show what I mean. As an assessor, I call upon an individual, and ask him the amount of rent he pays, supposing the assessment to be upon the rental (I take that for the purpose of making a fair comparison between your system and theirs). If he states an amount lower than the amount I think is reasonable, I add to that amount. If he has taken his house at a period when property was too high, I deduct from that amount, giving what I consider a fair estimate of the present value of the property.
6192. The assessor does that?—Yes.
6193. Is there any appeal from the assessor?—I will mention that. After ascertaining the value of his real property, I ask what business he is engaged in, and, if he is a professional men, the amount of his income. That is put down at its annual value. If he earns £1,000 a-year, the annual value would be £60 per annum. If he is engaged in mercantile transactions, I take the average stock in trade, and the annual value of that is supposed to be a sum represented by five or six per cent., according to the different States. That is included in the annual value, and in the amount assessed against him; so that the basis of taxation is much larger than it is here; it includes all that a man is possessed of.
[That is, for municipal purposes.]
6195. If you do not think that the declaration of a person himself is correct, you add to it or diminish it, according to your judgment?—Yes.
6196. Is there any appeal from the assessor?—There is an appeal from the assessor to the members of the municipality. As a general rule they appoint a committee for the purpose of hearing those appeals, and if the appeal is decided against the party, and he is not satisfied with it, he can appeal again from that body to the county judge, whose decision is final.
6197. So that ultimately, if he chooses, the matter may be carried before a strictly judicial tribunal?—Precisely, I may also mention that if the assessor desires to save trouble, or considers it a better way, he has the option of presenting a declaration to the individual that he may make, either by affirmation or oath, as the case may be, a statement as to the amount of his real and personal property.
6198. His function seems to be similar to that of the Income Tax Commissioners here?88 —Somewhat so.
6199. Is there anything else which, in your capacity as assessor, struck you as being important?—Local improvements are very generally done by local assessment; for example, in the case of individuals in a particular street or block of houses desirous of having some change made; a new drain, or a common sewer, or a new pavement, or a new causeway in the street; a number of them constituting in the whole a majority as to value and numbers, present a memorial to thecorporation or municipality setting forth that they desire this improvement; the property benefited by such improvement is then visited by the assessor, who assesses the property according to his judgment at the amount which each individual ought to pay towards the improvement.
6200. Who is it that decides whether this improvement shall be made?—The municipality.
6201. Then the subject is brought before the municipality first, and if they decide in favour of the improvement being made the assessor proceeds to assess the means of payment of all persons in the district?—Yes; except that in the event of the locality being willing to bear the whole of the expense they invariably get the improvement, but where they ask the assistance of the municipality it is a question whether they get it or not.
6202. When you speak of the locality you do not mean any definite division of the district, but you mean any portion of the public comprised within any boundary whatever who consider that they have any interest in common?—Yes.
6203. Have you found this system work well?—I think so.
6204. You think it gives general satisfaction?—Yes.
6205. Is there any other point to which you desire to draw the attention of the Committee in connection with the duties of assessor?—At present I do not think of any other.
6206. You have also had experience in the capacity of auditor?—Yes.
6207. Have you anything to remark upon, which came to your knowledge in that capacity?—With respect to the auditing of accounts it is an invariable rule, in fact it is the law, that all accounts must be published in the local papers, and paid for.
6208. At the expense of the rate?—At the expense of the ratepayers.
6209. How are the auditors appointed?—That varies in different municipalities; but I think, as a general rule, one is appointed by the head of the municipality and another by the members on a division.
6210. Then there is an officer who is at the head of the municipality?—Invariably.
6211. What are the peculiar functions of that office?—[The title varies in different jurisdictions, for example in counties there is a chairman of supervisors, in townships a chairman, in towns a mayor.]
6212. What power does the chief (whatever may be his name) exercise independently of the remainder of the body?—[In New York, he exercises very great powers, being connected with the management of the county. When there are small municipalities, they federate so that the mayor, as head of the supervisors, becomes a member of the superior body in control of the erection of schools, poor houses, and infirmaries.]
6213. School houses, poor houses, and infirmaries, belong to a larger district than a municipality?—They do.
6214. Consequently they require a special board to administer them; that is, there is a board representing a larger district than the municipal districts which has authority over the school houses, poor houses, and infirmaries?—That is so.
6215. And how is this board appointed?—The townships each elect supervisors; persons who have authority in the municipalities, corresponding to your parishes.
6216. “Supervisors” is the name of the members of the municipal board of the townships?—Yes.
6217. And the chairmen of the different township municipalities become members of the County Board of Supervision?—Yes.
6218. The county board, then, is composed of the chairmen of the local boards?—Yes.
6219. How are these chairmen appointed; are they elected by the ratepayers to the special office of chairman, or are they elected in common with other members of the board, and then, having been elected supervisors by the ratepayers, are they appointed as chairmen by the Board itself?—That is the way: they are elected amongst other supervisors, and afterwards appointed by the respective municipalities as chairmen.
6220. And these chairmen come together and form a board for the county?—They do.
6221. And is there any board for a larger district than a county?—There is no larger district recognised, except the State, which is the next step. I will give you the respective steps: the village, having a board of five trustees, the town, having a board according to the number of inhabitants, of from seven to 20 or 30 persons, and in the case of New York 41, the county, having a board consisting according to the number of municipalities in the county, of from 30 to 60 or 80 members. Then the State, which is at the head of the whole, comprising, of course, all the counties; but that is an entirely separate affair, having no connection with the municipal arrangements.
6222. It is one of the most important subjects in municipal administration, what powers should be exercised by the elected board, and what are the responsibility of the chairman individually; how is that matter arranged in those boards in America with which you are connected?—It is not invariable. They have changed the plan several times in New York on this account; there is a very large foreign population there; the city being now composed of more than half foreign born people. The system was devised for the Americans themselves, who are much better educated than we are (I speak as one of the humbler classes myself). Having been trained and educated in this system of municipal government, they found no difficulty in managing it; but they have since changed it, so as to give the mayor a veto upon certain measures; if the council pass a measure by a large majority the mayor can put his veto upon it and stop it altogether.
[The mayor is elected for two years.]
6224. Is he appointed by the Council?—In New York he is appointed by the people.
6225. Is that frequently the case?—It varies in different States. As a general rule, in the States, I think, the head of the municipality is appointed by the people, but in the country it is the other way; the chairman is elected by the municipalities. However, there is no rule adhered to; it varies in different States.
6226. Have you formed any opinion as to which of these plans works best?—I have not considered that matter sufficiently.
[Mayor and board are elected by the same suffrages.]
6228. If you had to give an account of the duties of the mayor, in a large town in the United States, of what would you say they consisted?—I should say that he was the general executive officer of the corporation, that he did, or saw to the doing of everything done in the place.
6229. He is responsible to the corporation for the execution of those public duties of which they are the controllers?—He is.
6230. Is he in the habit of consulting them generally, or does he proceed on some general rule which they are only bound to see observed?—In the large State of New York, particularly, the municipality divides itself into committees, each taking charge of a particular department: the mayor is, generally, a member of the most important of those committees, and whatever business they transact must, in all cases, come under his supervision.
6231. Is the power of these committees in any case paramount to his, or are they merely intended to keep the body which appointed them, informed as to his proceedings in order that they may exercise the duty of controlling? In congress itself, there are committees appointed to superintend every part of the business of Government, and consequently every Act of the Government; but in spite of that, these committees have not a controlling power over the president; is that the case in municipal government, or does it stand?—That is generally the case; but I have remarked already that in New York the mayor has a veto.
6232. In New York nothing can be done without the mayor’s consent?—Nothing of importance.
6233. But that is not the case in most other places?—Not in general in American municipalities.
6234. Generally, what is the extent of the power of the mayor; what could he do of his own authority?—His power is limited by the general Act of Incorporation; in the case of New York by the special act, which they have for that purpose; although the whole of the country is incorporated under general acts, there are certain towns that have applied for and have obtained special acts, and New York is one of them.
6235. According to the general system of the country where there are no special acts, is the mayor merely the minister of the corporation, or has he powers of his own?—Generally he is a mere minister of the corporation.
6236. In fact he executes their instructions?—He does.
6237. So that in the more general case it is the corporation itself, as in this country, which administers, and the mayor is only the chairman of their body?—Yes.
6238. But it is not so in some of the towns under special acts?—No.
6239. Do you think there is any growing tendency in the United States to confide this greater degree of power to the executive officer, the mayor, or whatever he may be called?—If we might judge from the case of New York, there is, but that is an exceptional case.
6240. Owing to the great concourse of foreigners, but you think the general system is that of administration by boards rather than by individual officers?—Yes, the municipal business of New York and of some other large cities is so extensive that it is impossible for the unpaid members of the municipality to do it. In any case the actual duties are delegated to separate boards; for instance, in New York the superintendence of immigration is delegated to a special board.
6241. Is that a paid board?—A paid board. The duties are all done by paid officers.
6242. Does the board consist of members of the corporation?—So far from that being the case, the members of that board are appointed by the Governor and Senate of the State of New York. The police of New York, a most important matter, is also controlled by a board of the same description appointed by the Governor and the Senate of the State, altogether independent of the corporation.
6243. To that extent a portion of the work in other places belonging to the municipal government is taken out of that category and is assumed by the general Government of the State?—Yes.
6244. Is there anything else that you wish to state with regard to the differences between the municipal government of the United States and this country?—I have looked over the Bill proposing to establish municipalities in the metropolis, and I have observed that there is a difference in this respect, that the electors are proposed to be the burgesses of the respective municipalities. Now, I can understand what a burgess means in the City of London, where I believe there are special privileges and large sums of money left in the way of endowments, and so on.
[In the outlying districts of London, the ratepayers would be the proper parties.]
6246. The intention of the Bill is that it should be the ratepayers.89 They would only be constituted burgesses by the district being constituted a corporation. The name burgess is like the name of alderman and common councilman adopted in the Bill, as I understand, merely because they are terms used in existing cases?—There is another suggestion which I may be allowed to make, which is taken from American practice. I find that there are references in the margin of the Bill to a variety of other Acts under which the municipalities are to be constituted or to act. In the case of America, all the powers under which a corporation acts are comprised in one Act, so that each one of the municipalities, by means of a sixpenny pamphlet, can see precisely the extent of their powers.
6247. Does any other suggestion occur to you?—All the elections for municipalities in America take place in every State on a particular day mentioned in the Statute; generally about the 8th of December; and before that day a statement of accounts must be published in the newspapers, so that the ratepayers may have an opportunity of checking the expenditure.
6248. By whom are the auditors appointed?—One is appointed by the head of the municipality and another by the council; that is the general rule.
6249. Even when the head of the municipality is merely as it were the chairman of the municipality, without having independent powers, it is still usual that he should appoint one auditor, and the body should appoint the other?—It is.
6250. Is the audit usually an effectual one? Does it give satisfaction to the ratepayers?—I think so.
6251. Of course the duty of an auditor does not relate to the reasons for the expense, but only to its having been actually incurred; but the ratepayers who are judges of the reasons of the expense have opportunities, if I understand you rightly, by a regular publication of the accounts before the annual period of the elections, of judging how far their representatives have done their duty during the year?—Precisely so.
6252. That takes place annually?—Yes. In New York there is a special arrangement. An auditor is appointed by the government of the City, and he has a veto on expenditure which he does not find that the municipality have legal authority to make.
[The questioning turned to the division of State and municipal powers, and the witness said the New York waterworks were provided for by a special State Act, giving borrowing powers to the city.]
6342. The works were made at the expense of the corporation?—At the expense of the city.
[Wilson outlined the kinds of expenditure to explain the apparently high municipal taxes, mentioning police, free schools, workhouses, infirmaries, reformatories, lighting, watering, and paving.]
6399. And are the gaols included?—Yes.
6400. Is water laid on to every house?—To every house in New York; but there are towns without water.
[Wilson gave his opinion that in London the great thoroughfares and public streets were in better repair than in New York; the reverse was true of the back streets.]
6426. I believe that New York is said to be one of the worst places in the United States in that respect?—Yes.
[Exceptionally, Mill, rather than the Chair, began the questioning.]
6494. Will you state the public offices you have filled?—As a Commissioner of Inquiry into the Administration of the Poor Law, I have had to consider the principles and to prepare measures which resulted in the consolidation of the administration of 16,000 parishes into some 650 unions.90As a Commissioner of Inquiry into the state of the constabulary force in the country, I had to prepare principles of organisation and action which have led to the substitution of a parochial constabulary force by county police forces.91As a consequence of my report in 1842 on the sanitary condition of the labouring population of Great Britain, I had a leading share in the preparation of measures by which the administrative arrangement for the water supply and drainage of towns have been consolidated in between one or two hundred cases under local boards of health.92I refer to these cases of administrative consolidation, because in proportion as those principles have been adopted by the substitution of paid for unpaid service; in wider administrative areas economy has in every instance resulted more or less coincident with efficiency.
6495. You have had your attention drawn very much to the principles applicable to local administration as well as to general administration?—Particularly.
6496. And you have paid very particular attention to the local administration of the metropolis amongst others?—Yes. Under the Poor Law Commission, I had to examine the parochial administration of the metropolis. Under the Metropolitan Sanitary Commission, I had to examine, with my colleagues, the administration of works under sewers commissions and paving boards; and as part of the sanitary inquiry, I examined especially the interment of the dead in the parochial graveyards of the metropolis, upon which I reported. Under the consolidated Sewers Commission, I had to prepare, with colleagues, various measures for the amended drainage of the metropolis.93Under the Public Health Act, and as amember of the General Board of Health, we had to direct examinations and temporary organisations of the means of administering relief to the sick on the occurrence of extraordinary epidemic visitations.
6497. It is well known that the experience which you acquired in all these different capacities you have made use of in turning your mind to the subject of the general principles of administration in its various branches. Although several of the subjects with which you are especially conversant are not within the scope of this inquiry, the Committee have no doubt that the general principles which you have been led by your experience to arrive at will be of great use in the inquiry?—It appears to me that the best mode of considering administrative organisation is to get a distinct view of what is required by the public to be done, and then a clearer opinion may be formed of the sort of agency required to do it. Now I venture to aver, in respect of the metropolis, that fully one-third of the existing death-rate may, and ought to be reduced; that is to say, taking the deaths at 60,000 per annum, 20,000 may be annually saved, and 20 times that number of cases of sickness may be prevented by measures, the results of which are so clearly ascertained, that if adequate premiums were given, data might be offered to commercial people as a private enterprise under which, with proper powers, they might safely undertake to contract for the attainment of these results.
[In response to the Chair, Chadwick indicated that he referred to the whole metropolis when asserting that a one-third reduction in the death-rate was possible, and added that for every preventable death there were twenty cases of preventable sickness.]
6499. What is the nature of the evidence on which you found this opinion?—[The judgment is based on what has been done in typical old buildings where adequate sanitary improvements have been made. Even better estimates could be made from properly constructed new buildings.]
6500. What do you consider to be the obstacle that the present state of things throws in the way of the adoption of improvements from which you expect these great results?—[The answer might be deduced from a description of what should be done and at what expense, which Chadwick offered, by a new general and complete system of works replacing those of the private companies.]
[Chadwick maintained his position, citing more evidence of what had been and could be done at low cost.]
6506. The estimate which you have made with regard to the amount at which these different things could be done is founded on actual experience?—[The experience is drawn from various places. It may be anticipated that average costs in London would be even lower.]
6507. You have mentioned the great improvements which in your opinion remain to be effected in the local management of the metropolis. What in your opinion are the administrative means by which those great improvements, or any practical improvements, might be effected?—[The great means is unified management of a larger undivided area, as is evident, for example, concerning drainage.]
6508. You think therefore that the present management by which only what may be called arterial drainage is in the hands of the sanitary authority (the Metropolitan Board of Works), and the minor drains are in the hands of parochial authorities or local boards of works, and the house drainage sometimes not under any, is a vicious system?—Yes; my own conclusions in respect to unity of management and the administrative consolidation of works stated in 1842 were subsequently confirmed by the Commissioners of Inquiry into the Health of Towns. In that commission were Mr. Robert Stephenson, Mr. Cubitt, and other engineers; Sir Henry De la Beche, and many men of scientific authority, and they concurred in this; that the drainage of the house, of the street, and the site, also the supply of water to towns, and the formation, the drainage, the cleansing, and the maintenance of the roads of a district, comprising the natural drainage area, must be under one and the same authority, and that authority ought to be a public one; and all the consolidation in other places has gone to that to bring these subject-matters under one and the same authority, and that a public one.
6509. The whole drainage, therefore, of the metropolis, including the house drainage, you think, ought to be entrusted to a single authority?—[The many reasons for consolidation include the geology of the region, economy, engineering concerns, and efficiency and the resulting improvement in services.]
6510. Would you infer from this that the same body ought to have the charge of the drainage of the metropolis and the roads of the metropolis?—Yes, the footpaths and the carriage ways; suburban as well as urban. In the particular instance cited of the metropolitan road trust which worked so well, comparatively, to the smaller parochial administrations, we believed that the consolidation was imperfect, dnd that the consolidation with the drainage and surface cleansing arrangements, which drainage arrangements were entrusted to a separate authority, would be attended with further benefit.
6511. Sir Benjamin Hall’s Act was subsequent to that report, I think?—Yes.
6512. Are you acquainted with the working of that Act?—[Chadwick said he was not, but the benefits of consolidation could be seen in the parallel improvements found when the district sewers commissions were united.]
6513. I understand that you rely for the improvement of local administration principally upon the consolidation of the fragmentary portions in which the work is now executed and superintended, and placing them all under a single management; and you rely also for enabling these single management boards to get through such a mass of business upon the discharge of as much of it as possible by paid officers who devote their whole time to the subject?—[To cease to rely on part-time experts would save lives as well as money.]
6514. Then, having regard to the existing state of things, and the means by which it may be improved, what administrative changes would you recommend in the present local administration of the metropolis?—[The enormous scale of works required, with the consequent dangers of very expensive mistakes—some already made—make it imperative that in devising and carrying on great works, there should be a special commission responsible to parliament rather than to ignorant vestry representatives.]
[The questioning turned to Chadwick’s belief that there should and could be two drainage systems, one for sewage, to be directed onto lands for absorption, and one for rain and subsoil water to empty into the Thames.]
6531. Your idea is, if I understand you, that there are certain things necessary in order to contrive a new system, and get it going, which you think can best be done by a temporary body created for that express purpose, and which you think should be central rather than local?—Yes.
6532. But after the new system is once established, then it can be delivered over to local bodies?—[In Chadwick’s view, perhaps to a new body, but not to several, because disunity in superintendence would be expensive at best and also disruptive if less than best.]
6533. But if a general system for the whole of the district that you think ought to be included had been selected and actually carried into execution, and brought into good working order, to whom would you afterwards entrust the administration of it?—[A mixed administrative body, including some responsible to parliament, some paid and some selected representatives. Elections, however, are not the best means of getting qualified persons.]
6534. You think that anybody locally elected would not be adequate even to superintend the different branches of local administration when they were well started?—I think you might possibly and by selection introduce the representative element to some extent; but you should mainly rely on permanent officers, as in the case of the Metropolitan District Roads Commission, looking to the elected or selected persons merely for supervisory services, not for any initiative or executive directions, and I should connect the whole, in the case of the metropolis, under immediate reponsibility to Parliament.
6535. That would be quite consistent with having local boards elected, because I understand you to think that the main business, apart from the superintendence, ought to be carried on by permanent officers who would be selected for their special qualifications, and in that case the business of any administrative boards could only be the voting of rates, and seeing that proper persons were appointed to the offices, and that the funds were applied to proper purposes?—Apart from any political prejudices, the best specimen of administration is to be found in the operation of unity of management in Paris. Looking at the strides they are making there, we may well have reason to be ashamed of ourselves in comparison. The conseil of the municipality is appointed by the Government, and it is composed of men of eminence in science; Dumas, the chemist, members of the Institute, retired executive officers or administrators, who are competent to judge of the measures submitted to them for their approval by the permanent officers, and to audit and vouch for them. During the revolution of 1848 they made the body elective, and the competence and character of the persons elected was so inferior in all respects, that by universal public consent the old mode of responsible selection was resorted to.
6536. But I believe under the government of Louis Philippe the municipal commission of Paris was elected by popular suffrage, although, I believe, the qualification was rather high, being the same as the suffrage for the Chamber of Deputies, which was high and restrictive.94 The commission, I think, was appointed in that way, and consisted then, as it does now, of some of the most eminent men in Paris willing to discharge those duties?—I am stating from recent communications in saying that when they attempted to get a council by popular election, the character of the body fell off so considerably that they reverted to the system of nomination.
6537. Do you not think it is likely that in the time of the Revolution, with the period intervening between the subversion of Louis Philippe’s government and the commencement of the present government, the municipal commission might have been elected more for political reasons than for any special qualifications, and yet that this might not be the case in a permanent state of things, even under popular election?—Apart from any political questions, this is clear, that demands for labour in these offices are greatly increasing, while the demands on the time of men for their own professional pursuits, or their own personal special studies are also increasing, and that you have fewer and fewer of a competent and a valuable leisure class from whom you can get sacrifices of time for public work. They have made their sacrifices, and done all they can in the way of daily labour in connection with their professions. After that they want the relief of amusement, and are not disposed, at least in the metropolitan districts, as far as I have seen, to labour for the public; and we find it to be exceedingly difficult to get committees of the right quality for the requisite service.
[In response to the Chair, Chadwick indicated that even appointed eminent men found it difficult to give sufficient time to serve the metropolis.]
6539. Probably you would recommend that administrative bodies of this character should, at any rate, have a permanent chairman, who would be selected for his qualifications, and should be considered as a permanent officer?—Yes, butany departure from the principles of unity of administration and the combination of works for the whole metropolis, I am convinced, will involve extra expense and inefficiency.
6540. You are aware that in Paris, although there is but one superintending municipal commission for the whole, the city is divided into a great number of executive districts, each of which has a mayor?—Those are the remains of old and effete functions and organisations. The mayors, I believe, merely register and do some notarial acts, in analogy with the mayors all over the country, but my recent information is that there really is but one administrative body at present in Paris, and that all the amendments going on are worked by engineers or paid officers, with occasional supervision by the conseil; there is nothing there like our inferior and wasteful parochial management. The public intelligence there does not tolerate anything of the sort.
6541. Then is your opinion not favourable to any subdivision of the metropolis for any administrative purposes whatever?—[It is not to be recommended in any of the areas of which he has a special experience, such as public works and poor relief. Also, the administration of police should not be elective, and should be united.]
[Chadwick added police supervision of water for fire control to his list of properly centralized functions.]
6544. Altogether the result of your experience and reflection on the subject, in all the departments with which you are specially acquainted, is that the whole of the metropolis should be under one management?—Yes, and from its being the seat of the Government, the Government itself should be required to share the responsibility of that management. I may mention as an instance of the recognition of legislative and administrative principle that it is distinctly provided in the American constitution that the seat of the Government, not only Washington itself, but Columbia, shall be under a distinct and special Government, responsible to the Senate, to Congress, or to the President.
[Chadwick would not commit himself as to the desirability of there being a government department responsible for metropolitan management.]
6546. You think that the general executive of the country ought to have a share in appointing members of the controlling body, whatever it may be?—Certainly; they ought to be distinctly responsible for it. In Parliament, Members now indicate their notions of a Parliamentary responsibility as respects the metropolis, by asking questions about particular streets, or concerning themselves with the action of minor works there; and, certainly, works that concern about a seventh of the population of the country may be well attended to by them; I think there has been a gross dereliction of duty on the part of some representative people in not attending to this whole matter.
6547. Under such a consolidated body you would, I suppose, entrust the different branches of the metropolitan government to permanent paid officers, under the general superintendence of the body which was partially elective and partially appointed by the crown?—Yes; but better with honorary supervisory service selected by the union.
6548. In that way you would expect to obtain officers, with first-rate qualifications, in each of the departments on whom would rest the principal part of the administration, the duty of the board being chiefly to look after them?—I think besides that you would, with responsible paid service, also get a higher order of voluntary unpaid service.
6549. You think you would obtain in the board itself a superior class of persons to those obtained now for any local purposes?—Yes; but I am clear upon this, that you cannot have in any of those works I have specified, any separation without disastrous waste.
[Other members of the committee canvassed Chadwick’s opinions on diverse administrative questions.]
6610. Have you anything further to state in elucidation of your views?—[The virtues of the Liverpool administration had been much exaggerated; it had failed, through the operation of special building interests, to attend properly to matters of public health, and so compared very unfavourably with French municipalities such as those of Bordeaux and Lyons.]
[Again the questioning took in many aspects of the problems in metropolitan government, before Mill asked the final question.]
6637. I believe you have given a statement of your views with reference to the improvement of Poor Law administration as applicable to the metropolis to the President of the Poor Law Board?—I have, especially as to the medical relief of the sick poor.95
[Mill opened the questioning.]
6638. You are a Member of the Islington Vestry?—I am.
6639. And a representative in the Metropolitan Board of Works?—I am.
6640. How long have you filled those offices?—Since the passing of the Metropolis Local Management Act in 1855.
6641. Have you been particular in your attention to local business during all that time?—Yes; I have been constant in my attention, or nearly so.
6642. Are there any remarks you wish to submit to the Committee on the working of the present system, or any improvements that it may admit of?—Yes; I think there is one great improvement that might be made. Assuming that these vestries and district boards are continued, I think it would be a very great advantage in the larger ones. I will not say in those composed of so small a number as 36 or 48 members, or possibly of 60, but in all those beyond that number, if they had a permanent chairman. My experience, from that which I have seen, from a constant attendance at my own vestry, and occasional attendances at others, has confirmed me in my opinion that that would be a most desirable improvement.
6643. Be so good as to state the advantages that you would expect from it?—[The present disadvantages may illustrate the expected benefits; at present there is a constant changing of chairmen in the Islington vestry, with consequent irregularities and unfortunate situations, including disrupted meetings. Part of the problem is that churchwardens with one-year terms are expected to be chairmen.]
6644. The duties of chairman of the vestry at present comprise nothing beyond presiding at the meetings?—[Usually nothing else is required, though when Savage himself was chairman he also chaired the Highways Committee, one of their busiest.]
6645. Does any duty devolve on the chairman as to the preparation of business for the vestry?—It has not of necessity been the case; but whilst I was chairman I was always in communication with the vestry clerk, and had very much to do with the business, consulting him prior to its being put in the paper. Still, no official duty of that kind devolves on the chairman.
6646. I understood you to say that you thought there might be with great advantage a permanent chairman, who might be made useful for administrative purposes, independently of presiding at the meetings. What administrative purposes had you in view?—I think if, as in the Metropolitan Board of Works, it were expected of him that he should attend the various committees and make himself thoroughly acquainted with the whole business, and also upon certain occasions put himself in communication with other vestries, or with the Government, or with the Metropolitan Board of Works, as might be required; I do not mean in the way of agitation, but to communicate with the Government, or the Board of Works, or with other vestries upon matters common to each and mutually interesting to us. I think in that way he might be made extremely useful as an officer of the vestry.
6647. A sort of head of the local administration?—As a sort of head of the local administration.
6648. In what manner would you have him appointed?—[He should be appointed as the Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works is, by the members at a special meeting. There should be a three-year term, though Savage himself would prefer a permanent chairman, who could be removed by a two-thirds vote.]
6649. I believe the very able permanent chairman you have at the Board of Works97 receives a salary?—He does.
6650. The other boards do not?—They do not.
6651. Should you recommend that the local permanent chairman should receive a salary also?—That is a matter to which I have given some consideration, and it does occur to me (without offering any dogmatical opinion about it) that if you called upon the chairman to perform the duties which I have suggested it would not be unreasonable that he should be remunerated, of course, upon a lower and more moderate scale than in the case of the Metropolitan Board of Works.
6652. Having regard to the administration of the metropolis under the direction of a certain number of select and paid permanent officers, you would probably see a considerable disadvantage in the administration being so minutely divided as it is at present; you would probably wish to give to each of the boards a larger area than they now have?—I have not given so much consideration to the subject as I might have done if I had intended to go fully into that question; but I think there is force in the way in which you put it.
6653. Are you acquainted with the plan that has been recently proposed for the division of the metropolis into municipalities, which would correspond nearly, but not exactly, with the Parliamentary districts?—I have heard of it.
6654. Should you think that the districts proposed in that plan, which in some cases coincide with the Parliamentary districts, while, in other cases the division is rather smaller, would be a good basis on which to ground the local administration of the metropolis?—I am not prepared to say; not having fully gone into it, I cannot give a decided opinion upon it.
6655. Have you, in your experience, been led to think that the divisions are at present too small or that no inconvenience arises from this smallness?—Many of them are very small; my attention has been drawn more directly to the larger ones, such as our own and some others, the City of London amongst them; we have, as you are aware, under the Metropolis Local Management Act several very large districts; the City sends to the Metropolitan Board three members, and the other six districts two members each.
6656. The magnitude of these districts is not much less than in the case of the proposed plan; and in the case of the City of London it is not at all less?—It is less. The parish of Islington, I may mention, comprises half the borough of Finsbury.
6657. The difference between such a size as that of your district and the size proposed in the plan is only a difference of degree and detail?—That is all; I do think that the metropolis is split up into too many divisions; I am rather of that opinion, without having very deeply gone into the question, because, as I have said already, I have thought of the larger districts, and perhaps have not turned myattention so much as I might have done to the smaller ones; but it has always struck me that they might well be amalgamated and fused into larger districts.
[Savage reaffirmed his views as to the proper term for chairmen, and the size of districts.]
6667. In the proposed plan, as in the case of the recent Reform Bill, for Parliamentary purposes it is proposed that the Tower Hamlets should be divided into two districts, and the parts proposed to be taken from Finsbury and Marylebone to go to form an intermediate district of Bloomsbury?—That would lighten the borough of Finsbury, which is in itself a very large borough.
6668. Your vestry sends two members to the Metropolitan Board?—Yes.
6669. You have been very regular in your attendance, I believe?—Tolerably constant.
6670. Has the same been the case with your colleague?—I think I may say that he has been almost as constant as myself, but his health has not been so good for several months lately, and his attendance less regular.
6671. Do you find that the attendance of the deputed members of vestries is tolerably assiduous at the Metropolitan Board?—Yes, I think it is. We average 35 or 36 out of the 45 members. I consider that the attendance is very good: the average is about four-fifths; and, considering that a few members come from great distances, and do not attend often, that makes the general attendance still more regular.
6672. Has the election of a temporary chairman of the vestry of Islington been the subject of dissensions in the vestry?—Yes; it has caused very many contests during the last five years to obtain the honour of the chair.
6673. You are aware that several of the vestries have come before this Committee by petition; I believe yours has not?—No; they have not taken any active part in the matter.
6674. Was that owing to the state of opinion in the vestry on the subject?—I can hardly tell. They repose a good deal of confidence upon most matters in their representatives. They do not make us delegates in our own work, but leave us free to study their interests. They do not meddle so much with outside matters that do not more immediately concern their own business as some vestries do.
William Edward Hickson98
[Mill began the questioning.]
6684. You have turned your attention a great deal to the subject of municipal administration generally, and to that of London particularly?—I have.
6685. You are a ratepayer of the City of London, and the owner of buildings in the City, are you not?—I am.
6686. And you have been officially connected with commissions of inquiry, and have made a report of the state of the manufacturing districts, which was printed by order of the House of Commons in 1840?99 —That was so.
6687. Are there any points in regard to the municipal administration of the metropolis on which you have any communication to make to the Committee?—[Had the question of municipal reform been properly tackled in the mid-1830s, when expectations and enthusiasms were high, moderate changes would have prevented the expenditure of the enormous sums now being raised, estimated at £3,500,000 for the Thames Embankment and the New Mansion House Street.]
6688. In what way do you conceive these sums of money would have been saved?—[Actual savings would have been realized through the consolidation of jurisdictions, the abolition of useless posts, the reduction of salaries, and greater economy generally. The City of London provides an example of the abuses resulting from divided jurisdiction; Hickson’s own rates and taxes illustrate the problems, and show that the burden in the City is much heavier than it is commonly stated to be.]
6689. Will you mention the items?—First there are the parochial and union rates, which consist, first, of two new church building rates, of 6d. each.
[In response to the Chair’s probing, Hickson gave more details, then handed in an account of his rates and taxes, and answered further questions about it.]
6709. You include the whole direct taxation of the country, so far as it falls on real property?—The whole of what is called direct taxation (which I think a misnomer) comes, particularly in towns, upon house rent, and this burden is now getting to such an extent as to approach confiscation, and it checks and impedes most seriously the progress of building improvements in regard to those dwellings best adapted for the middle and working classes.
[The Chair again went into details about the rates.]
6720. Have you any suggestions to make with regard to the basis of the municipal taxation?—I have a statement here, which I have drawn up to give a short and comprehensive digest of my views on this subject.
[Hickson handed in the statement, and the Chair examined him on its meaning and implications. His final question elicited the response that a tax on furniture might be practicable, as on the Continent.]
6750. Are you aware that the tax on furniture in France is, in some cases, if not in all, virtually a sort of income tax, not being taken on a valuation of the furniture, but on an estimate made by the revenue authorities of what sort of furniture may be expected to belong to a person who lives in such a house?100 —I am not able to speak of furniture estimates as so formed, and should doubt its being a universal fact.
6751. I am not aware that it is universal, but no doubt it must have been resorted to on account of the inconvenience, difficulty, expense, and liability to evasion which attended a valuation of the furniture?—Just so, when the valuation attempted had been unnecessarily minute.
[Other potential sources of taxation were discussed, and then the questioning turned to property values.]
6785. Are there any parts of London where the value has actually fallen?—I should think there are many. In my own case, in St. Dunstan’s, there certainly has been no rise in the value during the 20 years I have held the property.
[The proper emoluments, qualifications, and election of the Lord Mayor of London came under discussion.]
6804. He would not be taken by rotation?—No, nor in the case of the new Court of Aldermen I have proposed should I have the aldermen elected by the whole of the ward.
[The Chair asked the identifying questions, and then Mill began.]
6901. You have turned your attention to municipal administration generally, and the local government of the Metropolis in particular?—Only in so far as it is connected with the condition of the lower classes, and more especially in connection with the question of public health.
6902. You have written on the subject?—I have written on the subject,102and the cause of my writings that I have put forth, partly in newspapers and partly in pamphlets, has been an utter dissatisfaction with the management of health matters connected with the poorest people.
6903. Will you state to the Committee anything you may be disposed to say upon that subject?—[Many known causes for illnesses of the poor could not be erased because poor law guardians and, after the Act of 1855, the officers ofhealth, had not the authority or means. He himself had resigned because he was not allowed to carry out the duties of his office.]
6904. Was this from want of power on the part of the board of guardians, or want of will?—[The problem lay not with the guardians, but with members of the vestry, some of whom did not understand the mode of implementing the new law, but also some of whom were obstructing because of corrupt motives. Faced with the impossibility of his position, he had resigned and, after one failure, was elected as a vestryman.]
6905. Did you, in that character, renew your exertions to obtain a remedy of these evils?—It is since that time that I have used my influence amongst the vestrymen, many of whom are patients of my own, and among my friends, to work up a better state of things.
6906. Have you done so with any success?—Yes, principally owing to the exertions of one of my friends in the vestry and myself, we have lately obtained another inspector, and that inspector a most active man. Previously our visits were to a very few houses, but now perhaps we have 100 cases inspected every week, and the new inspector tells us that out of the 100 cases inspected, at least 90 of them (I think he said 39 out of 40) are in a very bad sanitary condition and absolutely require amendment. When I urged the appointment of the new officer, it was said that nothing of the sort was wanted, and that the old officer was going on very well, but it turned out that he did not generally inspect, but waited for complaints to be made.
6907. So far as concerns that particular parish, some improvement has been effected by the choice of more proper persons to the vestry, yourself being one?—It has; but the endeavour to improve has been such an up-hill fight as no one perhaps would willingly undertake, certainly not unless he had some independence behind him, for there is a great deal of offence arising out of it amongst neighbours.
6908. Do you think that the obstructions you met with arise from an unwillingness to incur expense for fear of increasing the rates, or from any interest that the members of the vestry have in keeping up the present state of things?—[Both motives operate. One bad practice is the use of influence by vestrymen to become paid officers.]
6909. What would you recommend by way of remedy for these evils? Would you recommend a change in the mode of constituting the local boards, or the substitution of anything else for the present vestry system?—I published a pamphlet entitled London Vestries and their Sanitary Work, at my own expense, and circulated it at my own expense. The Metropolitan Sanitary Association required me to read a paper on the same subject, which has also been published. I have endeavoured to show that the extension of disease amongst the poor is partly owing to neglect in the locality, and partly to neglect in the arrangements; and I have stated in one of the pamphlets that there must necessarily be, in order tocounterbalance the self-interests which are at work in small bodies, some power behind, readily to be got at, to which you can appeal, to compel the local body to do its manifest duty.
6910. Of what nature do you think the body should be to which the appeals should lie?—I think it should not be a controlling, over-riding body, to destroy local representation or local power altogether; but that if, for instance, a respectable minority in a vestry or even a considerable number of ratepayers outside, who felt that their body, whether elected properly or not, were not carrying out their duties in a proper spirit, there should be a central body of a fully over-riding power in that matter, to come down and insist upon the local authority doing its duty according to law, or else to do the work itself and charge it to the local authority.
6911. Have you turned your consideration to the question of how this controlling body should be composed, or by whom it should be appointed?—I do not think it should be the Metropolitan Board of Works, because I can see plainly the pressure put upon the representatives of the different vestries who form that Board. With regard, for instance, to a first-class water supply, which is so much wanted in the metropolis, I can fancy that the various interests in these bodies might influence the members and prevent the public good that we should expect; I would rather have a body to be called upon only now and then. I think it should be a Governmental authority, such an office as might come out of the Privy Council.
6912. A kind of department of health in the general government, or would it include other subjects besides public health?—[Rendle replied that he felt competent only concerning matters of public health. He then mentioned the difficulty of dealing with the problem in the parish.]
[1 ]Walter Francis Scott (1806-84), 5th Duke of Buccleuch.
[2 ]George Percy (1778-1867), 5th Duke of Northumberland, and Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk.
[3 ]The legislation covering taxation, following on the crown lands’ becoming national property, is found in Instruction de l’Assemblée nationale sur la contribution foncière (22 and 23 Nov., 1790), Lois, et actes du gouvernement, II, 183-221; Loi relative aux domaines nationaux, aux concessions et échanges qui ont été faits, et aux apanages (1 Dec., 1790), ibid., 163-73; and Loi concernant la contribution foncière (1 Dec., 1790), ibid., 178-83.
[4 ]Member of the Common Council of the City of London, and Chairman of the Holborn Valley Improvement Committee.
[5 ]William Corrie (1806-81), solicitor and barrister, Remembrancer of the City of London from 1864.
[6 ]Benjamin Scott (1814-92), Chamberlain of the City of London from 1858.
[7 ]“Quo Warranto—3 James I” (20 Aug., 1605), App. 3 to the Second Report of the Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Taxation (1861).
[8 ]2 William and Mary, Sess. 1, c. 8 (1689).
[9 ]James Beal (1829-91), land agent and auctioneer, and one of Mill’s most active political supporters.
[10 ]18 & 19 Victoria, c. 120. Sects. 67-134 outline the vestries’ powers. Benjamin Hall (1802-67), later Lord Llanover, introduced the Act in the Commons. Shortly thereafter he became Chief Commissioner of Works for London.
[11 ]18 & 19 Victoria, cc. 116 and 121 (1855) (Diseases Prevention); 23 & 24 Victoria, cc. 84 and 125 (1860) (Food and Gas); and 14 & 15 Victoria, c. 28 (1851) (Lodging Houses).
[12 ]Chiefly the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts, 18 & 19 Victoria, cc. 116 and 121.
[13 ]See his evidence given to the Select Committee on Metropolis Local Taxation, PP, 1861, VIII, 139-64, esp. 153.
[15 ]See No. 93, n7.
[16 ]By 28 & 29 Victoria, c. 90 (1865).
[17 ]15 & 16 Victoria, c. 84 (1852).
[18 ]“Memorial to the Home Secretary, from the Vestry of St. James,” App. 1 to “Second Report of the Select Committee on Metropolis Local Taxation,” 321-2.
[* ]The Report was delivered in.—Vide Appendix. [“Report of a Meeting of Delegates,” in App. 9 of the present Report, 616-18.]
[19 ]By 3 & 4 Victoria, c. 29 (1840).
[20 ]Edwin Lankester (1814-74), Medical Officer of Health for St. James’s parish from 1856.
[21 ]See Schedule A of the Bill.
[† ]A copy of the Bill was delivered in.—Vide Appendix. [“A Bill Intituled ‘An Act for the Establishment of Municipal Corporations within the Metropolis,’ ” in App. 9 of the present Report, 619-28.]
[22 ]It was not printed in the Appendix. The bill for a central municipality that Mill introduced in the House of Commons in 1867 was based partly on Beal’s model (see No. 82).
[23 ]See “Report from the Select Committee on the Gas (Metropolis) Bill,” PP, 1860, XXI, 29-428. The resulting Act was 22 & 23 Victoria, c. 125.
[24 ]See n13.
[25 ]The Lord Mayor’s Day, marked by a banquet and a procession to Westminster in a gilded coach.
[26 ]At Q. 2083-4 it was pointed out that the Corporation of London received no income from the Irish estates.
[27 ]Appointed under the Charitable Trusts Act (1853) to supervise charities and inspect their accounts.
[28 ]William Farr (1807-83), a medical doctor, superintendent of statistics in the Registrar General’s office from 1838 and a pioneer statistician.
[29 ]For their reports see PP, 1852-53, LXXXV, 9-98, and 1863, LIII, 1-89.
[30 ]George Horton, a clerk in the General Register Office (questioned at 2443 ff.), had written a pamphlet entitled Municipal Government of the Metropolis (London: Hardwicke, 1865).
[31 ]Horton’s proposed divisions are reproduced in the “Report of a Meeting of Delegates,” in App. 9 of the present Report, 617.
[32 ]15 & 16 Victoria, c. 84 (1852), sect. 1.
[33 ]28 & 29 Victoria, c. 79 (1865).
[34 ]Farr had been responsible for compiling the “Supplement to the Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in England,” PP, 1865, XIII; see esp. sect. ix, “Mortality of Cities; Relation between Density and Death-Rate,” 33-5.
[35 ]Julius Jeffreys (1801-77) invented the respirator in 1835 to relieve his sister after a pulmonary attack; the principle was based on a ventilator invented by Neil Arnott (1788-1874) in 1810 to ventilate a ship.
[36 ]“A Bill for the Redistribution of Seats,” to be introduced by Gladstone on May 7.
[37 ]Thomas Beggs (1808-96), mechanical engineer, sanitary reformer, and writer; he had been one of the early supporters of Mill’s candidacy for Westmister.
[38 ]Notes to Beggs’ testimony say that both map and schedule were handed in, but only the schedule was printed, in App. 2, 270.
[39 ]In sect. 6 of 18 & 19 Victoria, c. 120.
[40 ]See App. 2, 270.
[41 ]Usque ad coelum. Thoughts on the Dwellings of the People, Charitable Estates, Improvements, and Local Government in the Metropolis (London: Low, 1862).
[42 ]Macmillan’s Magazine, VII (Apr. 1863), 441-7.
[43 ]Actually in 1865, reported in the Morning Star, 11 Apr., 1865, 3. For Mill’s support of Hare at that meeting, see No. 4.
[44 ]For these details see “Ideal of a Local Government,” esp. 445, where, however, 75 representatives of property are suggested.
[45 ]Denmark’s Electoral Law of 2 Oct., 1855, introduced proportional representation into the Rigsraad as part of the new constitution for the United Kingdom of Denmark, Schleswig, and Holstein. The assembly ended when the duchies were lost in the Prusso-Danish War of 1864.
[46 ]See Hare’s speech, “On Such an Organization of the Metropolitan Elections.”
[47 ]See “Ideal of a Local Government for the Metropolis,” 445.
[48 ]See Q. 2689.
[49 ]Vestry clerk and solicitor for St. Martin-in-the-Fields parish.
[50 ]Samuel Jones Loyd, Lord Overstone (1796-1883), banker and financial expert, and Henry Hoare (1807-66), also a banker and active public figure.
[51 ]See “Proposed Market at Leicester Square,” The Times, 27, 28, and 30 Apr., 1863, 6, 10, and 14.
[52 ]By sect. 132 of 18 & 19 Victoria, c. 120, vestries and district boards “shall from time to time appoint” medical officers of health; by sect. 9 of 18 & 19 Victoria, c. 121, they might appoint a sanitary inspector.
[53 ]An allusion to Edwin Lankester (see Q. 1833).
[54 ]A bookseller living in Whitechapel.
[55 ]In clause 13 of “A Bill for the Redistribution of Seats.”
[56 ]William Henry Black (1808-72), antiquary and assistant keeper in the Public Record Office.
[57 ]Vestry clerk of Whitechapel.
[58 ]William Augustus Fraser, London Self-Governed (London: Harvey, 1866).
[59 ]Presumably an allusion to Considerations on Representative Government, CW, XIX, 542, which points out that the local is less powerful than the national press.
[60 ]Perhaps the East London Observer (1857-1928).
[61 ]At Q. 3128, Gladding had averred that, of the 58 members of the Whitechapel Board of Works, 52 were tradesmen, but that “there are not more than 16 out of the 52 who are not men of property distinct from their trades; and the rest, so far as I know, are respectable tradesmen.”
[62 ]Member of Kensington vestry, and its representative on the Metropolitan Board of Works.
[63 ]Chairman of the Board of Works of St. Pancras district.
[64 ]A chemist and member of St. Pancras vestry.
[65 ]Member of the vestry of St. George’s in the East.
[66 ]William Francis Jebb (1828-90), lawyer, became clerk to the Westminster Board of Works in 1867.
[67 ]Medical Officer of Health to the Newington vestry.
[68 ]Mill is probably referring to “A Bill to Amend the Law Relating to the Public Health,” which had been introduced into the Commons on 6 June (PP, 1866, IV, 375-98). Clause 32 enlarges the powers of the sanitary authorities to inspect, cleanse, and ventilate the common lodging houses. It received royal assent on 7 August.
[69 ]By virtue of the Common Lodging Houses Act of 1851.
[70 ]“Suggestions, by the Medical Officers of Health of the Metropolis, for Amendments which they Deem Desirable, in the Existing Sanitary Acts,” App. 9 of the “Seventh Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council,” PP, 1865, XXVI, 531.
[71 ]Died 1878, a draper, vestry clerk of St. George-the-Martyr, Southwark.
[72 ]That proposed by the Commissioners reporting on the Corporation of the City of London in 1854; see No. 93, n7.
[73 ]Vestryman of St. James’s parish, Westminster, and its representative on the Metropolitan Board of Works.
[74 ]George Henry Drew (1817-1906), solicitor, vestry clerk of Bermondsey parish.
[75 ]Solicitor and member of St. Pancras vestry.
[76 ]Vestry clerk of Islington.
[77 ]See sects. 12-14 of 18 & 19 Victoria, c. 121.
[78 ]Sect. 6 sets forth the qualifications of a vestryman, including the £40 requirement, and the waiving of it, discussed in Qs. 5781 ff.
[79 ]See sect. 16.
[80 ]As provided for in 20 & 21 Victoria, c. 150, Local and Private Acts (1857).
[81 ]Sects. 96-9 and 105 of the Metropolis Local Management Act concern the payment for street paving.
[82 ]John Edwin Bradfield (1818-88), a parliamentary agent, appearing before the Commission to express the dissatisfaction of some Islington parishioners with their vestry.
[83 ]John Charles Buckmaster (1823-1908), J.P. and Science Examiner for the South Kensington Museum.
[84 ]By sect. 32.
[85 ]8 & 9 Victoria, c. 21, Local and Private Acts (1845).
[86 ]Member of the vestry in Islington.
[87 ]Resident of Bloomsbury.
[88 ]Local commissioners appointed by the Land Tax Commissioners from their own body, to appoint and supervise assessors and collectors of the income tax.
[89 ]See clause 11 of the proposed Bill.
[90 ]Chadwick refers to the Report of 1834 and to the resulting Act, 4 & 5 William IV, c. 76 (1834).
[91 ]See “First Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Best Means of Establishing an Efficient Constabulary Force in the Counties of England and Wales,” PP, 1839, XIX, 1-233, and 2 & 3 Victoria, c. 47.
[92 ]The Act resulting from Chadwick’s 1842 report was 11 & 12 Victoria, c. 63 (1848).
[93 ]See “First and Second Reports of the Metropolitan Sanitary Commission,” PP, 1847-48, XXXII, 1-319.
[94 ]Louis Philippe (1773-1850), King of France 1830-48; “Loi . . . sur l’organisation municipale de la ville de Paris” (20 Apr., 1834), Bulletin des lois du royaume de France, 9th ser., Pt. 1 (Lois), VI, 113-17.
[95 ]A note indicates that “The Witness delivered in the documents.—Vide Appendix”; however, no such statement on the Poor Law appears there.
[96 ]Died 1875.
[97 ]John Thwaites; see 231 above.
[98 ]William Edward Hickson (1803-70), City resident and writer.
[99 ]“Hand-Loom Weavers. Copy of Report by Mr. Hickson, on the Condition of the Hand-Loom Weavers” (11 Aug., 1840), PP, 1840, XXIV, 659-717.
[100 ]“Décret de l’Assemblée nationale du 13 janvier 1791, sur la contribution mobilière,” Archives parlementaires, XXII (13 Jan., 1791), 169-72.
[101 ]William Rendle (1811-93), surgeon, at one time Officer of Health and later vestryman for St. George-the-Martyr parish, Southwark.
[102 ]E.g., London Vestries, and Their Sanitary Work (London: Churchill, 1865), and Fever in London (London: Metropolitan Sanitary Association, 1866).