§ Application of Act to Boroughs.
§ Clause 30 (Certain large quarter sessions boroughs named in the schedule to be treated as counties).
In page 25, line 13, to leave out from the word "Act" to the word "shall," and insert the words "being a borough which, on the first day of June, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, either had a population of not less than fifty thousand, or was a county of itself."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper which provided for the inclusion of any other borough—Which shall hereafter, by incorporation or otherwise, attain to a population of not less than fifty thousand shall, after an inquiry by the Local Government Board on the application of such borough.He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would accept that Amendment in order to enable other boroughs, when their population exceeded 50,000, to become counties of themselves?
§ THE PRESIDENT of THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, he 921 would take care that the matter should receive consideration.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
asked, whether, if the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman were inserted, it would leave places which were now cities in themselves their own municipal government?
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that it was intended to leave all municipal governments as free as they were at present. The clause only applied to boroughs that would be named in the Schedule of the Bill.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, the following Amendment made:—In page 25, line 15, after "itself," by inserting" and is in this Act referred to as a county borough."
In page 25, line 16, leave out from "for" to end of line 31, and insert "all other purposes the borough shall continue to be part of the county (if any) in which it is situate at the passing of this Act, and if a separate commission of assize, oyer and terminer, or gaol delivery is not directed to be executed within the borough, the borough shall, for the purposes of any such commission, and of the service of jurors and the making of jury lists, be part of the county in which it is specified in the said schedule to be deemed for the purposes of this Act to be situate.
(2.) An equitable adjustment of the financial relations, if any, between each county and each borough specified in the said schedule as being deemed for the purposes of this Act to be situate in that county, shall be made by agreement, made within twelve months before the appointed day, between the councils of the county and each borough, and in default of any such agreement, by the Commissioners appointed under this Act; and such adjustment shall provide, in the case of any expenses which may in future be incurred by the county wholly or partly on behalf of the borough for the liability of such borough to contribute, and save as provided by this Act, any existing liability to contribute or to incur expense shall, after the appointed day, cease, and an equitable provision for such cessation shall be made in the adjustment.
(3.) In making such adjustment, the Commissioners may consider the effect on the financial position of the county of the provisions of this Act with reference to all the county boroughs deemed to be situate therein.
(4.) In such adjustment regard shall be had to the existing property, debts, and liabilities (if any) connected with the financial relations of the county and borough, and to the proportions of the shares which the councils of the county and of the borough will respectively receive from the duties on transferred licences, on local taxation licences, and the probate
duty grant, and to all the circumstances of each case which it appears equitable to consider, subject, nevertheless, to the following provisions:—
(5.) The provisions of part four of this Act with respect to the adjustment of property, income, debts, liabilities, and expenses, and to borrowing for the purpose shall apply as if the Commissioner under this Act were the arbitrator in that part mentioned.
(6.) Until any adjustment in pursuance of this section has come into operation, the county or borough council shall pay out of the county or borough fund to the borough or county
council, as the case may be, the average annual amount which during the three years next before the appointed day has been expended by the county for the benefit of the borough, or contributed by the borough to the county, as the case may be, but any sum so paid shall be taken into account in the making of the adjustment, and the adjustment shall be made so as to take effect as from the appointed day.
(7.) Any contribution by a county borough to the county in pursuance of this section shall be required and made in accordance with section one hundred and fifty-three of "The Municipal Corporations Act, 1882," and that section, except so far as relates to the appointment of an arbitrator, shall apply in like manner as if every such borough were a quarter sessions borough situate in the county.
(8.) Expressions in this section relating to contributions by a borough to a county shall be construed to include any sum raised by the assessment of the parishes or hereditaments in the borough to the county rate.
(9.) Nothing in this Act with respect to county boroughs shall prevent the continuance of one police force for any county borough and one county, or the consolidation of the police forces of any county borough and any county in like manner as heretofore, but where the provisions of this Act affect the arrangement with respect to the consolidated police force for a county and borough, an adjustment shall be made between the council of the borough and county in accordance with the provisions of this Act"—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
asked how the Government proposed to deal with county towns such as Nottingham, which had hitherto paid all its own expenses, and never contributed anything to the County Fund, nor had it ever received anything from the County Funds?
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he wished to call attention to Sub-section 4 of the Amendment which dealt with the adjustment of the financial relations between counties and boroughs, and to ask, in the interests of his constituents, who would be affected by the clause, if it was intended to deprive the boroughs of any of the prerogatives they now enjoyed?
said, the proper time to discuss the details of the Amendment would be when the proposal was made to insert it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
asked how much of the Amendment the Chairman proposed to put, because he was of opinion that the greater part of it would be entirely out of Order, and 924 inconsistent with what had already been passed in regard to the Bill? He would call attention to its effect upon Clause 20, which had already been passed. Sub-section 2 of that clause provided that the amount collected in each county should from time to time be certified by Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and paid under the direction of the Local Government Board out of the local taxation by the Council of such county; and Sub-section 3 transferred to the County Councils the power to levy duties on local taxation licences. They had already passed a clause which provided that where County Councils were constituted the licences should be paid over to such Councils. He, therefore, submitted that no proposal and no Amendment could now be made which would in any way vary that clause, and any proposal to pay over the money to anybody except the County Councils would be inconsistent with the decision already come to by the Committee. He was anxious to save time, and he desired to elicit an opinion from the Chair, because he regarded this Amendment, occupying as it did a page and a-half of the Notice Paper, as practically a new Bill, overthrowing the arrangements already arrived at. If it were pressed it would probably lead to a very protracted, and, he was afraid, a rather contentious discussion. He was of opinion that no variation could be made in the provisions laid down in Sub-section 2 of Clause 20, and his object in appealing to the Chair was to save, if possible, a day or two in the discussion of the Bill.
said, he could not, in consequence of Clause 20 having been passed, rule that this Amendment was irregular; Sub-section 2 of Clause 20 undoubtedly provided that certain revenues, when collected, should be paid into the account of the County Councils; but there might be some subsequent adjustment made in regard to the sums so paid in.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
wished to draw attention to the fact that Sub-section 4, line 4, provided that the licensed duties were no longer to be paid to the county in which they were collected, but to be paid in certain proportions according to the will of the Commissioners to be appointed under the Bill. In other words, the Commissioners 925 were to undertake the duties which the previous clause gave to the County Councils.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the object of the Amendment was to set up a body of gentlemen by whom any financial relations which existed at present between the counties and the boroughs and also the collection of the amount of revenue collected within the borough and within the county were to be adjusted. Nothing inconsistent with that adjustment had been passed already in the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the word adjustment was rather ambiguous. What they who represented county boroughs understood by adjustment was that certain other gentlemen who lived elsewhere were to take away the money which the Bill had already assigned to them. They might call it adjustment if they liked; but it was a fact that the money assigned by Clause 20 to the Council of the county—namely, the licences collected within that county, would be taken to another county. They could not escape from that difficulty by using the word adjustment. It was quite plain that the object of the Amendment was to provide that under the plea of adjusting the licences collected in the county they were to be paid elsewhere. That was altogether inconsistent with Clause 20, which provided that they should be paid over to the Council of the county. What was the use of making that provision if under the name of adjustment they were to set up a process which was to take the money when collected away? He had hoped to shorten the proceedings by calling the attention of the Chair to the fact that this Amendment substantially replaced Clause 20 already passed. He regarded it as an absolute breach of what he understood to be the arrangement arrived at.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that they were now discussing a point of Order.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he thought it would be convenient to come at once to an understanding whether the Amendment was compatible with Clause 20. The Licence Duties were already allocated to the Council of the County, and this was a proposal to take them away.
§ MR. RITCHIE
submitted that it was competent to consider the financial ar- 926 rangements that were to exist between the counties spoken of in the early part of the Bill and the boroughs which this Clause proposed to take out of them.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
said, he rose to move an Amendment, the object of which was to include within the scope of the functions of the Commissioners the distribution of the proceeds of the transferred licences, local taxation licences, and probate duty grant, between each county and the boroughs treated as counties within it. He had not taken part in the discussion of the technical question, because he wished to reserve himself for a discussion of the question upon its merits. He hoped the President of the Local Government Board would now be in a position to meet the representations which had been made to him from time to time. The county of Lancaster was represented by a deputation which waited on the right hon. Gentleman on the 5th of June, and in answer to the deputation the right hon. Gentleman said—That the Government would have much preferred to have the Bill remain as it was, with reference to the 4th Schedule, when introduced. He did not wish to conceal that for a moment. With reference to the point as to whether the provisions of the Bill placed Lancashire at a disadvantage, that was a matter which it was right and proper the Government ought to consider, and there was no doubt at all that if there was some amount of injustice, so far as that county was concerned, created by the fact of the large boroughs being placed in the 4th Schedule, that injustice, if it existed, was considerably increased as the number of boroughs added to the Schedule was increased. So far as the Government were concerned, they would do their utmost to see that the county did not suffer financially by the exclusion of the boroughs.In order to simplify the issue, he proposed not to move his Amendment in the form in which it stood on the Paper, but to leave out the first words respecting the burden of maintaining main roads. It would, consequently, refer only to the distribution of the proceeds of the transferred licences, local taxation licences, and probate duty grant. He might point out that the proposal of the Go- 927 vernment affected the county of Lancaster in an extraordinary degree, and much more than it affected other counties in which there were county boroughs. No less than 27 out of the 56 counties of England and Wales contained county boroughs, but he proposed to base what he intended to say mainly upon the case of Lancashire, as it afforded the best indication of the great amount of harm that would be done if there were no adjustment such as he ventured to propose. Each of the boroughs in Lancashire was a sort of metropolis of the surrounding county districts. A large amount of the revenue derived from the licences granted in the county boroughs would be caused by the districts surrounding those boroughs, and in those circumstances he maintained that the county should share in the distribution of the proceeds of such licences. For instance, there were the licences to deal in game; and game dealers generally resided in the metropolis of the district; but the revenue arising from the sale of game was a revenue caused, to a great extent, by the wants of the county districts. He thought the Committee would recognize the propriety of the redistribution between the counties and boroughs, so that the county should have a fair share of this revenue which was to take the place of the grant formerly given by Parliament in aid of local taxation. The effect of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman would be to give the boroughs a far larger share of the distribution than they were entitled to. The population of Lancashire in 1881 was 3,500,000, and its rateable value in 1884 was £18,624,000. Deducting the population of Manchester and Liverpool, which were the county boroughs originally included in the Bill, there would have remained a population of 2,500,000, and a rateable value of £12,665,000. From those figures, after the change had taken place in the Bill, would have to be deducted the population of at least 10 other boroughs, and their rateable value, which reduced the population to 1,647,000 and the rateable value to £6,665,000; thus considerably more than one-half of the rateable value of Lancashire would be in the 12 county boroughs, and rather more than one-half of the population. But while 11 of these county boroughs would receive from the Licence Duties a sum of 928 £198,300, the counties would only receive £145,500. Of the Probate Duty grant, which, of course, was a smaller amount, there would be a difference as against the county of as much as £55,000, so that, taking the two together, there was a difference of £108,000—that waste say, that £108,000 more would be received by 11 county boroughs than would be received by an equal population outside the county boroughs. He could go on multiplying statistics of this sort to show how little relief the counties got, and how disproportionate was the relief given to the boroughs. The statistics showed similar anomalies in the case of the West Riding, Durham, and other counties. He could also show that as between borough and borough there would be a great discrepancy that called for adjustment; but he based his argument mainly on the fact that, whereas it was intended to give relief not only to the borough rates, but also to the county rates, the mass of relief in the case of Lancashire and of some other counties went to the boroughs, and a very small share to the counties. It must not be supposed that when he spoke of the residue of the county he was speaking as far as Lancashire was concerned on behalf of a rural population; on the contrary, he was speaking of a population with wants exactly similar to those of the boroughs—populations which were, to some extent, in the enjoyment of municipal privileges. There were many towns in Lancashire with populations under 50,000 who were governed by Town Councils or Local Boards, and which had heavy rates and a large expenditure. They were certainly quite as much deserving of consideration as larger and more powerful towns. He had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having considered the case of Lancashire in the Amendment he had placed upon the Paper appointing a Commission to readjust in many important particulars the claims of the counties and boroughs; he thanked him also for the promise he had given on three or four occasions during the progress of the Bill that sufficient power would be given to the Commissioners to enable them to deal with this great subject, which was so vital to the interests of Lancashire. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would now tell the Com- 929 mittee exactly how he proposed to deal with the matter. He (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) was not wedded to his own Amendment; on the contrary, he had seen an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the noble Lord the Member for the Darwen Division (Viscount Cranborne) which he was prepared to adopt. He trusted, however, that the Committee would adopt either the Amendment of the noble Lord, or the one which he now proposed, giving the Commissioners full power to deal with a matter of this kind, so that an equitable adjustment might be made of the financial relations between the counties and boroughs, in order that the counties should not suffer financially from the removal of those additional boroughs from the county. He did not now propose to raise the question of main roads or whether Quarter Sessions boroughs should be called in to contribute to them. The issue he raised was whether it was right or fair, without any readjustment or powers of redistribution by the Commission, that 11 county boroughs of Lancashire, for example, should receive in licence duties and probate duty grant about £108,000 more than the residue of the county, which had an equal population and rateable value.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment,
In line 8, leave out "of the," and insert "respecting the distribution of the proceeds of the transferred licences, local taxation licences, and the probate duty grant, and all other."—(Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, it was much to be regretted that they were embarking upon a discussion for the second time in the course of these debates on one of the main principles of the Bill. He was inclined to think that the anticipations of the first Lord of the Treasury were likely to be doomed to disappointment if a new controversy were to be opened up likely to protract the discussions on the Bill. He acknowledged, however, that his right hon. Friend was perfectly consistent; he had maintained his views in the Committee, when a member of a deputation which waited 930 on the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and on the occasion of the Amendment moved by the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James). The effect of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board was, that a new body of Commissioners would be created who were to have the power of altering existing financial arrangements between counties and boroughs, and who were to hand over a certain portion of the taxation levied in boroughs to the counties. He disputed altogether the case which the right hon. Gentleman had sought to make out, because he seemed to forget altogether the fact that boroughs were taxed; he seemed to regard them as oases in the county in which taxation was unknown. He wanted the Committee to look at the general question. What were the existing financial relations between boroughs and counties? No county rate could be levied in a Quarter Sessions Borough, but a Quarter Sessions Borough was bound to contribute a certain portion of county expenditure. But when the Quarter Sessions Borough had no gaol or lunatic asylum of its own, it made a contribution to the county in respect of those institutions, and the ordinary expenditure was assessed according to the rateable value. No one wished to disturb that relationship, but there were certain boroughs which, not being in the county and being subject to contributions, would, under the proposal of the Government, gain an exemption from their present liabilities. So far he agreed that this discrepancy should be adjusted, and that the county should not suffer. But what was the position of the counties in respect of main roads? The present position was that they were repaired by the Local Highway Authority, and the Local Highway Authority was entitled to receive from the county, under the Act of 1878, one-half of the cost of maintenance; the Government contributed one-quarter. Therefore the present position was that the county paid one-half, the Government one-quarter, and the Local Authority one-quarter. But under the new arrangement the entire cost would be thrown on the county, which would cease to receive a quarter from the Government, while the Local Authority would be exempt from paying 931 its quarter share. The Government said they would facilitate a plan by means of which personal property should contribute to this arrangement. He wanted this adjustment to be a fair one. He did not want the boroughs to get the advantage, or to be placed at a disadvantage. Given the existing local taxation of £26,000,000; given the new contribution of £3,000,000 which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said was to be handed over to the counties, he asked how that £3,000,000 was to be divided, and he said it ought to be allocated in fair proportion over the £26,000,000 of local taxation, and that no portion of the county should have any advantage over the rest. London paid £6,750,000 of local taxation, the urban boroughs £7,500,000, and the counties scheduled paid £12,000,000; in all £26,000,000, which represented the total amount of local taxation. The share of the counties of this £3,000,000 he made £1,380,000, the share of the boroughs he made £840,000, and the share of London £780,000. Then, how would the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board work out? Exclusively of the Wheel and Van Tax, he gave to the Metropolis £339,000, to the boroughs £565,000, and to the counties £1,266,000. In order, therefore, to make the apportionment just, it would be necessary that out of the proceeds of the Wheel and Van Tax the Metropolis should receive £440,000, the scheduled boroughs should receive £275,000, and the counties £115,000. It was evident that the counties would receive a much larger share of the tax. He did not understand how the right hon. Gentleman could ask for a Commission to diminish the taxation of counties and increase the burden on boroughs. The Government said that they found the local taxation so onerous and great that it was just and fair that the contributions should be made not so much from the Imperial funds as from a certain description of property. His right hon. Friend asked that a Commission should be appointed avowedly to increase the taxation of boroughs, and to decrease that of the counties. He was waiting with great interest to hear what the President of the Local Government Board would say as to the scope of that Commission, and how it was to 932 be composed. It was a serious thing to delegate the taxing power of the House of Commons to a Commission. What he wished to impress on the President of the Local Government Board was that the scheme of his Bill and the undertaking into which he had entered was that for better or for worse the counties and boroughs must take the law as they found it; that they should not escape their present contribution and that the Bill must not be converted into an opportunity for re-adjusting the existing proportion of taxation as between counties and boroughs.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)
said, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman had clearly stated the position of the President of the Local Government Board when he said that the county boroughs should not escape from the obligations under which they were now, and that under the Bill the county should be fairly treated. But the right hon. Gentleman had gone further, and said that county boroughs did not aspire to any advantage over the counties under the arrangement that was now being made. He (Viscount Cranborne) contended that under the proposal of his right hon. Friend, unamended in some such way as he himself or the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttle worth) proposed, there would be a loss accruing to the county and a gain to the boroughs. He did not think that his right hon. Friend had realized what an enormous sum of money was involved in the matters of the county which he represented. If the Bill passed without the Amendment which he and the right hon. Baronet advocated, the county boroughs of Lancashire would gain from the Exchequer contribution account £108,000 more than the county. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said he did not wish the county boroughs to gain more than the county. But he had shown that this would be the case if the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet did not pass. However, the county would gain something. They would gain by a fall in the rates to the extent of 1⅔ of a penny in the pound. But the boroughs would gain by a fall in the rate to the extent of 4⅙ of a penny in the pound. That was an enormous difference, and he submitted that that alone was a very important fact, and he thought it bore 933 very strongly upon the point of view which the right hon. Gentleman or any-one else might take up with regard to this subject. He maintained that there was a strong case for adjustment by the Commission, so that neither in Lancashire nor in any other of the counties should there be an unfair arrangement. The right hon. Gentleman had tried to make out that the Exchequer contribution was a contribution from the county boroughs to the counties. But he submitted that that was entirely wrong. The transferred licences and Probate Duties were in lieu of the grants formerly given. Under the Bill originally there were undoubtedly some exceptions, although few in number, but under the Bill as amended the loss would be very great, and the amount received would entirely lose that correspondence which it ought to maintain to the value of the old grant. The fact was that if the Amendment passed without the words which his right hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe proposed, the scale of adjustment would be strictly limited, because the words would run simply "adjustment of financial relations, if any." But if the financial relations were very slight, the adjustment could only be very small. He submitted that this would not be fair, because the contributions ought to correspond with the grant formerly given. Again, the present arrangement would not be justified by any other test. Whether they took the amount of population, rateable value, or the present amount of the Imperial grants, they would find that they gave a totally different proportion from that which was now proposed to be enacted. If this were so, if there was this very large difference to be put right, then he submitted that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, as it stood, did not give sufficient powers to the Commission. The sum of £108,000 was so large that the Commissioners would very properly say, "If the Bill did not mean so large a difference to exist, it would have been so enacted, and, therefore, we must presume that it is to be maintained." Besides this, there was the case of those boroughs which had very slight financial arrangements with the county, and which, in the nature of things, the Commissioners could not 934 deal with. This applied not only to Lancashire especially, but also to other counties in England. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) had pointed out that some hard cases would be brought about as between borough and borough, such as between Sheffield and Leeds. If the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet were accepted, that hard case would be set right, because then all the relations of each county borough might be subject to adjustment. The Amendment of the right hon. Baronet would also rectify the inequality which he believed the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton had referred to as existing between some boroughs and others. If the distribution under the present Bill was unfair as between the county and the county borough, the Commission would recognize that fact and alter it; and if not, then the right hon. Gentleman himself would be the first to agree that they should have the power to make such an alteration. They had found that there were very hard cases in Lancashire and other parts of the country, and they maintained that the Commission should be entrusted with ample power to deal with such cases. So far as he was concerned he had put down an Amendment, but was perfectly willing to support that of the right hon. Baronet opposite, although he thought that his own put the proposal a little more concisely. If his right hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) divided the Committee on his Amendment he should support him.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he rose to defend the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to him like the person in the Beggars' Opera, between two ladies who were endeavouring to seduce him from his engagements. He wished to protect the right hon. Gentleman from the seduction of the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord opposite who wished him to depart from his engagement to aid the charitable object which they had both combined to attain. The noble Lord said, first of all, that he (Sir William Harcourt) had pointed out great inequalities even between the boroughs. That was quite true, and it was true, also, as between counties. But what he 935 wanted to know was why this great Bill that was to establish the principle of Local Government and local independence was to be handed over to a High Commission Court, which was to dispose of the property and liberties of all the boroughs and all the counties in England. A more ridiculous ending to a Local Government Bill it was impossible to conceive. They were going to magnify the independence of these local communities and, at the same time, they were going to issue a High Commission Court to deal with all these boroughs and counties, and to administer to them a kind of centralizing equity. He was sure that it was not the view of the Government that this Commission should go about to consider what was generally equitable between counties and boroughs. What he understood the Government to pledge themselves to was that where there was existing relations between counties and boroughs, those relations should be looked at with reference to the operation of the Bill, and that they should be fully maintained. There was no attempt to redress some fancied injustice in the existing condition of things.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, it was not a fancied injustice in the existing condition of things, but a very real one that would be raised by the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, if the noble Lord thought there was injustice in the existing condition of things which ought to be redressed, he pointed out that this had already been disposed of by the Government, who had said that they would not enter upon this matter. He was sorry to emphasize the silence of the right hon. Gentleman; but by the course he was taking, he compelled Members on those Benches to go back on the whole of this question. If the right hon. Gentleman deigned to get up at once, and say that he would not accept this Amendment, it would not be necessary for them to go back on the question. The Government had pledged themselves "that the existing relations of the boroughs and the counties should not be altered to the disadvantage of either." Now, he wanted to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman. Supposing there was a borough which never had any financial relations with the county, would that come under the Commission? [Mr. RITCHIE: Certainly.] Then he was obliged to go back to what 936 the right hon. Gentleman had previously distinctly stated. He had asked the right hon. Gentleman on the second reading of the Bill whether, if there were any existing relations between the county and borough, they would remain just as they were. To this the right hon. Gentleman replied—"Most distinctly they will." If, then, there were no relations of the kind, what had the Commissioners to do with the matter? They could only go and create relations which did not exist. As far as he was aware, the borough of Derby had no financial relations whatever with the county; what, then, was this High Commission going to do in Derby? The noble Lord had stated that in Lancashire the boroughs would get too much under the Bill; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had shown what the taxation of the boroughs was. The noble Lord said that the boroughs would get twice as much as the county. But, supposing that the local taxation was twice as heavy. His right hon. Friend had shown that, in point of fact, the county got a greater proportion than it ought to have as compared with the boroughs in Lancashire. But it was not upon that ground that they were to discuss this Amendment. If they were going to divide the relations between boroughs and counties for the future, this subject might, no doubt, be discussed with advantage; but that was not what the Government had said. They said they were going to keep the existing relations as they were, and the consequence of that would be that in the case of a Bounty which had no financial relations between itself and the boroughs, the matter would be altogether beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission.
§ MR. RITCHIE
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton have charged me with inconsistency, and said it would be entirely contrary to what I promised, if, after the declaration of the Government made by me on that subject, I were to give any countenance to the proposal of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth); and, as we do intend to give countenance to that proposal, I shall endeavour to say, as I believe I can, that there is not the smallest inconsis- 937 tency between the position originally taken up by me on behalf of the Government and the position which I take up now. I should like to state, as strongly as I can, that this is not a question between the scheduled boroughs and the rural districts as the argument of right hon. Gentlemen opposite might have led the Committee to believe. This is no question as between the scheduled boroughs and what I may call the urban districts of the counties. It does affect the question of local taxation, and it also materially affects the boroughs left in counties, and it does not affect the scheduled boroughs. When the right hon. Gentleman maintains the independence of the financial position of a borough, he argues as if it were one of the boroughs of the Fourth Schedule of the Bill. I desire also to speak in favour of the financial position of the boroughs within the counties themselves. I would have the Committee understand that whatever tells unduly against the boroughs which are included in the Fourth Schedule will tell unfavourably on the boroughs which are not included in the Schedule, and in everything I have said and done, and in anything I shall say on this subject, I have the financial position of the boroughs within the county quite as much in my mind as the financial position of the boroughs which are placed in the Fourth Schedule. Now, the position I have always taken up is that the county shall not suffer by these boroughs being placed in the Fourth Schedule. I have never taken up any other position, and I have again and again used words similar to those words quoted from my speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton to that effect that no fresh liability should be created as between boroughs and counties; and I have again and again stated that we do not pretend by this Bill to remedy grievances of which the counties complain as to financial position, and the liability of the boroughs within the counties, and especially with regard to this question of main roads. I have always taken up the ground, which may or may not be right, that the Quarter Sessions boroughs should not be liable for the maintenance of main roads, but, so far as we are concerned, we do not propose to remedy that injustice. We, therefore, in all we do in connection 938 with these financial relations, take the existing contributions of the boroughs to the counties, and assume that they are right and just, and not attempt any re-adjustment such as is contemplated with reference to main roads or any other matters in the county. That is the position I have taken up, and I say again that if the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment had stood as it was originally upon the Paper, we should not have given it any countenance whatever, because we should have regarded it beside the pledge I have given and the declarations I have made. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton interprets everything I have said as being applicable to the new system of revenue in place of the grants to be discontinued; but, Sir, I have never taken up that ground at all. I have always contended that there is a difference between the existing contributions to boroughs and counties and the new system of revenue which we are setting up. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset (Sir Richard Paget), on the discussion of the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Clitheroe, distinctly asked me if this was a question as to the amount of Licence Duty as between boroughs and counties, and I said, "Yes." I distinctly stated that these were, in our opinion, the subject of equitable adjustment, and ought to be taken into account. Would it not be a monstrous injustice to say that those boroughs which desire to come out, from no idea, I believe, of financial gain, but because they felt that being placed in the Fourth Schedule they would be put to a somewhat greater amount of expense, to say that we should make the counties suffer in consequence? The Government propose to discontinue certain grants and substitute for them within the counties certain taxes. If we were departing from the original scheme of the Bill, to take out from the county a large number of boroughs which are the main gathering grounds of the revenue, when we are going to give any substitution for the grants, would it not be a perfect sham to say we are giving one penny more to the revenue of the counties? It would be in many cases, I conceive, rather less than more. I am sure that every hon. Member who has been a member of any deputation I have 939 received in connection with this matter will bear me out, when I say that the great point I have always made in connection with it was that if we had acceded to the requests of those boroughs to be placed in the Fourth Schedule, it must have been on the distinct understanding that an arrangement should be made by which the counties should not be losers. What would have been the position of the financial relations as between those boroughs and the counties if we had not acceded to the request of those boroughs to be taken out of the counties? There would not be any doubt that the duties which were raised within those boroughs would, as in the case of all the boroughs at present in the county, go towards the county fund. Therefore, having taken them out of the Fourth Schedule, it was necessary that the county should not be a loser. But now there would be boroughs which under the proposed re-adjustment would gain rather than lose; while, undoubtedly, in the great majority of instances the county would lose if some provision of this kind were not made with respect to the boroughs. Therefore, looking to all the circumstances and the declaration I have made as to the position which would be occupied by the county finance and the borough finance, I say, if no provision of this kind were adopted, my pledges to the counties and boroughs would not be fulfilled. Now the Government have introduced an Amendment by which they think that this proposed adjustment may be made; but it will be remembered that when this question was last discussed it was pointed out again and again by hon. Gentlemen interested in counties that, in their opinion, some words such as those suggested by the right hon. Baronet were necessary in order to make my Amendment complete. I said the Government could not accept the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet, which had a population basis. We did not think it fair that we should instruct the Commissioners to make a Rule of Three sum, and say that because the population of a borough is so much as compared with a county, therefore they are to have so much. We thought that all the circumstances of the case ought to be taken into account, and, therefore, we think the best means of dealing with the question is by means of a commis- 940 sion. Let me give one or two illustrations as to what would be the result of not providing an equitable adjustment of this kind. Take the West Riding of Yorkshire. We calculated that the West Riding would gain something like 3d. in the pound on the rateable value, but the borough of Sheffield would gain 6d. in the pound. That might be right, and there might be a set of circumstances in which it might be fair, but I confess that it does look unfair. But, then, Bradford unfortunately loses; it only gains a little over 2d. in the pound; so that while Sheffield gains largely, Bradford, unless some arrangements were made, would be nowhere. And the effect would also be a little unfair to Halifax, for, as far as we can make out, this Borough would be a loser, because it would only gain 2½d. in the pound of rateable value.
§ MR. RITCHIE
I do not care how it arises. I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman will hit upon no plan which will apply to every localtiy without some differences. Taking the Bill as it stands, I say that one borough will get twice as much as the general average in the county, while other boroughs will get less than the general average. Now, take Lancashire. The general average in Lancashire is over 3d. in the pound; but Manchester only gets about 3½d. in the pound, and Salford only gets 2½d. in the pound. Oldham gets rather over 4d. in the pound, St. Helen's 6d., and Preston 6d. I dare say hon. Gentlemen who represent those boroughs do not at all object, and I do not say that it is absolutely unfair; but I say that at least there is some very strong ground for the appointment of someone who will listen to the representations made by a borough or a county, and say what is an equitable adjustment. Again, Durham gets over 3d. in the pound, but Gateshead does not get 2d. I am sure the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) will say that there is at least some grounds for the representations of that borough being heard. The relief in Staffordshire is, on the whole, large. The average relief in that county would be something like 5d. in the pound, but the relief in Wolverhampton would be 10d. in the pound.
§ MR. RITCHIE
Now we will take the county of Kent. The relief given to that county is between 4d. and 5d. in the pound; but the relief given to Canterbury is 1s. 0½d. It is very easy to understand why that should be so, Canterbury naturally being a very large gathering ground for this revenue. The relief given to Cheshire we calculate will be about 3d. in the pound. The relief, however, given to Birkenhead is only about 2½d. in the pound; while that given to the city of Chester itself would be 1s. 1¾d., if no adjustment were made. The relief given to the county of Gloucester is 4d. in the pound, but to the city of Gloucester 9d. The average relief in Norfolk is 6d., but that given to Norwich is 1s. 1d. Worcestershire will be relieved to the extent of 5d. in the pound, but the city of Worcester itself to the extent of a 1s. Nottinghamshire will be relieved to the extent of between 5d. and 6d. in the pound, while the borough of Nottingham will receive relief to the extent of 5d. Now I think I have shown by these figures, that if justice is to be done at all, some tribunal should be set up which will take all the circumstances of the boroughs into consideration, and deal justly and equitably as between county and borough. I do not recede for an instant from the position I have always taken up, and that is that great care must be taken that by putting additional boroughs in the Fourth Schedule the county may not suffer. We believe that the addition of these words will make the matter more plain, and while of course, it would be impossible to accept the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttle worth) placed on the Paper subsequently, dealing with the question of main roads and with the mode of distribution, I have no hesitation in supporting the insertion of the words now proposed.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
said, he did not think the Committee would, for a moment suggest that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) had any other than a strong desire to fulfil all the pledges In had given; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman was unconsciously going now, if he accepted this Amendment, 942 beyond anything which tended to fulfil the promise he had given. What they asked for, when the right hon. Gentleman gave way to the claims of the boroughs of 50,000 and above to be formed into counties themselves, was that whatever burden of taxation had previously been borne by those boroughs should continue to be borne by them. That was all they asked; the boroughs did not wish to be put in any better or in any worse position. The feelings of the right hon. Gentleman, for some reason or other, inclined towards the counties; but it was for him (Sir Henry James) and others similarly placed to see that the boroughs did not lose by the transaction. He could not help thinking that powers would be given to the Commissioners so great that they might impose upon the boroughs greater taxation than they bore now. The Committee ought to say how the Licence Duties should be apportioned in principle, he did not say in detail. But, by the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth), they were going to give the Commissioners power to deal with the principle of the distribution. If the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) were to say that the Commissioners might make an apportionment on principle as to what was to be received by the boroughs and the counties, he certainly would not fulfil his pledge. Would the right hon. Gentleman take care that by means of some Proviso the Commissioners should not have elastic power enough to act according to their own sense of the re-adjustment of the burden of taxation, but that they should be bound down to see that the boroughs and counties were kept in their present relative positions?
§ MR. RITCHIE
asked, if he understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the Commissioners should have power to see that equity was done between borough and county, but that they should not have power to inquire whether or not the contribution of the boroughs to the counties was in any way altered or affected?
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, that what he objected to was giving the Commissioners power to see that equity was done between the boroughs and the county. The words of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend were so wide 943 and large, that they did give power to the Commissioners to see that equity was done. They did not tell the Commissioners that they were not to impose on the boroughs a greater obligation in the way of taxation than existed now. Personally, he would be content if the right hon. Gentleman would introduce an Amendment providing that the Commissioners should not have power to alter the relative burden of taxation between boroughs and the county.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, that by the Amendment under consideration they were not now dealing with the burden of taxation at all, but with the distribution of the proceeds of the transferred licences, Local Taxation licences, and Probate Duty grant.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said they were not dealing with the burden of taxation; but if they took away from the boroughs the amounts they ought to receive, they did deal with the burden of taxation. If a borough had received £10,000, and the Commissioners said it should only receive £2,000, they added £8,000 to the burden of taxation in that borough. He, and those who thought with him, would not, if they could help it, allow the Commissioners to have the power of adjusting the financial relations between the boroughs and the counties in such a way that the ratepayers of the boroughs should be in any worse position than they were now.
MR. MOWBRAY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said, he thought that all Members, whether they represented counties or boroughs, wished as far as possible that this matter should be settled on a fair and equitable basis. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had said that he wished to maintain the statu quo, but if the right hon. Gentleman would look at the Blue Book which had been published by the President of the Local Government Board, he would see that a distribution on the basis shown in that Blue Book did not preserve the statu quo. The new Licence Duties were admittedly given in lieu of the grant which had hitherto been given by Parliament to the counties and boroughs 944 of the Kingdom; and if they were to maintain the statu quo, he maintained that the Licence Duties ought to be distributed in the same proportion in which the grants had hitherto been distributed. If they took the case of Lancashire, they found that whereas, under the Parliamentary grant, Lancashire, including the boroughs, received about £319,000, the boroughs received rather more than 55 per cent of that, and the county a little more than 44 per cent. Under the present arrangement the boroughs would receive more than the county, the boroughs receiving 59 per cent and the county upwards of 40. He was glad the Government were ready to accept the Amendment, and to entrust to the Commissioners the duty of dealing equitably in the adjustment of these matters. He certainly considered that by accepting the Amendment the Government would not violate any pledge they had previously given.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
said, he did not think it could be contended for a moment that there was anything in the acceptance of this Amendment by the Government which was contrary to any pledge they had given. On the contrary, his recollection was most distinct that at the very outset of the discussion in Committee on this Bill, when his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) moved an Amendment which led to the enlargement of Schedule IV., and the inclusion in that Schedule of a large number of towns which were not then in it, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) raised the question, and obtained a most distinct pledge from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) that counties and boroughs not included in Schedule IV. should not be financially the sufferers by the concession. There could not be the slightest doubt that, if some adjustment of the new grants as between the county and the county boroughs was not made, the county and the boroughs not included in the Schedule would be very serious sufferers from the extension which had been given to that Schedule, and the pledge given by the Government would not be redeemed. The division which he represented (Rossendale) consisted mainly 945 of three large towns; one was a municipal borough and the two others were not. None of the towns were of a size to become county boroughs, but, as far as he was aware, there was no very great difference in the local taxation of those towns and that of the town which his right hon. and learned Friend (Sir Henry James) represented, and which he had succeeded in getting included in the Schedule. Why were the three towns he (the Marquess of Hartington) represented to suffer, because his right hon. and learned Friend had been able to induce the Committee to agree to the inclusion in the Fourth Schedule of ether towns like Bury, Bolton, and Blackburn? It appeared to him impossible to justify any such proposal as that, and that very gross injustice would be done, not only to the rural districts in Lancashire, but to some distinctly urban districts if the Commissioners had not full power to inquire into the equitable distribution of the revenue which was now being raised in relief of local taxation.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
said, the discussion so far had taken place upon the inequalities in regard to Lancashire; but he wished to draw attention to the question of the counties as a whole, and then consider whether Lancashire and Canterbury had other anomalies brought before them which should be dealt with by special powers given to the Commissioners. If the President of the Local Government Board was so anxious to keep his pledge as not to add to the existing liabilities or benefits which the boroughs were to receive under the Bill, why did he not keep to his own Amendment, which gave fulfilment to his pledge? There were about 60 boroughs which would be included in the enlarged Schedule. About three-fourths of these contributed to the county rates under the Municipal Act. To that number it was not desirable to add. By Clause 20 of the Bill before the Committee the principle was originally laid down that each locality should receive the revenue raised within its limits and be dependent upon its own resources. It was a just and proper provision that those localities should manage their own affairs with their own resources; but both the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet and that of the Government would override the principle of the 20th clause. It 946 was not to be the proportion which counties contributed to taxes which was to go back to them, but the whole was to be put into a hotch-potch and a different relation established between counties and boroughs. He was afraid many Members had been misled by an able article in The Economist the writer of which concluded that, on the whole, the counties would lose, by the new arrangement, £29,000. But really, instead of losing, they would gain £690,698, or, in round figures, £700,000—that was to say, the surplus of the new taxes over the deceased grants would be £700,000. The boroughs, under the new circumstances, would get £298,000; or, in round figures, £300,000. The counties would gain 28 per cent more than they had from Imperial grants under the old system, and the boroughs 30 per cent more, so that the difference between them was not very great. The writer in The Economist got wrong, and converted a surplus into a deficit by assuming that the charges for main roads would be a new charge upon counties. The counties at present paid one-half, and would continue to do so, and the highway districts paid a quarter, and they would be relieved from that. The ratepayers in the county would pay that one-quarter, to it came from the ratepayers of the same district, and the quarter which they lost from the Imperial grant would be received from the licences and other compensation, so the main roads did not come into the question at all. The counties, therefore, would receive under the new system £700,000 more than they received before, and the boroughs would receive £300,000 more. On the whole the counties were large gainers, and that without taking into account the Wheel Tax and the Horse Tax, which in all probability would go in larger proportions to the counties than to the boroughs. But there were special inequalities, as in the case of Lancashire, and he had put down an Amendment to the 4th section to provide that the Commissioners "may, if they think fit," consider the proportions between the boroughs and the counties, and make adjustments to promote equality. The Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Clitheroe Division of Lancashire altered the whole situation, for by it the Commissioners were invested with powers which ought 947 to be reserved for Parliament, thus entirely changing Clause 20 and the principle under which the House passed that clause. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) told a deputation last week, that what was aimed at was to recognize the existing condition of things as between counties and boroughs. [Mr. RITCHIE: Hear, hear!] But this was not done, and there was an entire change of the conditions under which the House assented to the second reading of the Bill.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, he thought that a misunderstanding had arisen from the fact that some hon. Gentlemen had spoken of the liability as an absolute liability, and not as a relative liability. It was maintained by the Mover of the Amendment (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) and by the noble Marquess (The Marquess of Hartington) that the counties were unfairly prejudiced by the present proposal. The counties, no doubt, under the present proposal got an advantage; they got more money given to them than they formerly got under the subvention, but they did not get so much relatively as they would if the Bill had continued in its original form. He had compared the percentage of increase between the original subvention and the grants which the counties would receive under the new proposal. As the Bill originally stood, it was a curious coincidence that the large scheduled boroughs improved their financial position 93 per cent. and that the counties and the other boroughs together improved their financial position 92 per cent. As nealy as possible, there-fore, under the original proposal of the Bill there was complete and perfect equality; but now the improvement in the financial position of the counties would be reduced to 86 per cent. and the improvement in the financial position of the boroughs increased to over 100 per cent. so that the Committee would see that, relatively, although the counties had got an advantage absolutely, they suffered very considerably by the alteration in the Bill. Personally, be regretted that the original financial position, at any rate, was abandoned. The difficulty was owing to the unfortunate policy of the boroughs. He agreed with hon. Gentlemen that the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Ughtred 948 Kay-Shuttleworth) was somewhat too large in its scope; he did not think that it sufficiently indicated the power of the Commissioners. It struck him that under the Amendment either the boroughs or the counties might be unfairly prejudiced; but he presumed it was possible to put in some words or to draw up an Amendment which might avoid the possibility of such an unfortunate occurrence. He certainly thought the counties were entitled to share relatively in the advantages which were now being conferred in local finance.
§ MR. NEVILLE (Liverpool, Exchange)
asked the President of the Local Government Board, whether he thought it was fair that the boroughs which were intended to be counties, as the Bill was originally drawn, should, any more than other counties, suffer from the admission of the smaller boroughs to Schedule IV.? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) had said to the smaller boroughs, "If you go into Schedule IV., you must go in upon certain terms, your proper places being, in our opinion, in the counties. If you are to retain your autonomy, it must be on the condition that the county is in no way financially injured." Liverpool was originally intended to form a county in itself, and it did seem to him (Mr. Neville) rather hard that Liverpool should suffer because the smaller boroughs had been admitted to Schedule IV. The rights of Liverpool and other large towns were no less than the rights of all other counties which were provided for specifically by the Bill, and, therefore, he asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be fair they should stand on the same footing as they would have stood if there had not been any alteration made in the Bill?
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, there was no provision of any kind in regard to an adjustment of these matters in the original Bill in reference to the boroughs as regarded the original Schedule. The whole question of finance had not been, when the Bill was introduced, worked out. He could hardly think that any of the boroughs would have any ground of complaint. He considered that the proposals of the Government were fair and equitable; and he was satisfied that the boroughs did not desire, because of the independent position they were to occupy in future, that the counties in 949 which they were originally situated should suffer.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
said, reference had been made to Nottingham. If the words "if any" had been retained in the Amendment, he did not think Nottingham would have had any very large cause of complaint. The President of the Local Government Board said that Nottingham would not suffer financially; but, as a matter of fact, might stand to gain something. But that was not the reason of the objection taken to the proposal by the Nottingham Authorities. Their contention was that for 600 years they had had financial independence from the county, and all they wished for was that they should be left in precisely the same position in the future. After 600 years of financial independence and complete freedom, Nottingham very much objected to some mushroom body, called a Commission, interfering or proposing to interfere in the financial affairs of Nottingham. If the words "if any" were retained, their objections would be met, for Nottingham and Liverpool and the other eight boroughs in Schedule IV. would not be interfered with. He understood that the income from licensed houses was to be included in the financial arrangement, that the revenue from that source would be subjected to adjustment by the Commission. The outcome of that would be that a borough having a large income from licensed houses would have to share that income with the county, the county having none of the annoyance, none of the evils, none of the loss, and none of the anxieties and troubles arising from a large number of licensed premises. That was evidently an injustice, and one which had been hitherto overlooked. He trusted that his hon. Friends who were greatly interested in the temperance movement would assist in protecting the large towns against this encroachment upon what they were entitled to. Once they gave this roving Commission power to re-adjust financial matters between boroughs and counties, there was no telling where its interference would cease.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, that he should vote against the Amendment, because the words were dangerous; but, assuming that it would be carried, he gave Notice that he should move, in 950 order to mitigate its effect, to add the words—So as not to alter the relative burden or relief of local taxation now existing between counties and boroughs.
§ MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)
said, he trusted the Government would be able to make such a modification in the Amendment as would meet the wishes of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James); but on the main ground he (Mr. Maclean) thought they were acting fairly in accepting the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe. It was a remarkable fact that in the debate so many Members had spoken with an utter disregard to the general interests of the country, and entirely from the point of view of the constituencies they represented. He thought that was a rather selfish spirit in which to approach the discussion of a question of this kind. Personally, he stood in a somewhat unique position, because, whereas the municipal borough he represented had been formed into a separate county, the Parliamentary constituency contained also a number of districts under Local Boards which had interests opposed to those of the municipality, and therefore it might be taken that he spoke with the utmost impartiality. The question at issue was whether the county was to be prejudiced by the enlargement of Schedule IV. The original scheme of the Bill was that the net amount of £3,000,000 was to be given from the Imperial Exchequer in aid of Local Taxation. All the additional boroughs which had been exempted would, under the original scheme, have formed part of the county, and all the money would have gone into a common purse, from which those boroughs would simply have obtained their fair share of relief. Was it equitable or fair that, because the right hon. Gentleman had yielded to the importunities of those boroughs, they should obtain an unfair share of the spoils given to the counties generally by the Bill? He could confirm what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that, when the boroughs approached him, and asked him to make them into separate counties, they spoke in a very fair way in regard to their liabilities to the counties. They said 951 that, if he would grant them the privilege of being constituted counties under the Bill, they would not ask for any financial advantage thereby. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst) just now had spoken of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had been interviewed. Yes, he had been interviewed, but by whom? By representatives of the boroughs, who came forward and pressed demands which, if granted, would place them in a much more advantageous position financially than they would have been in if they had remained in the counties. He had been much struck, in reading over a report he had seen the other day, with the fact that the principal speakers at one of the meetings held upon this subject had been the Town Clerks of the largest boroughs, and he was afraid that the representatives of the Municipal Corporations had been guided too much by the opinions of the Town Clerks. No doubt, these Town Clerks were very ingenious gentlemen, and had managed to make out a very specious case; but their personal interests were closely wrapped up in the aggrandisement of their respective boroughs, and the Committee, in considering the matter, ought to take a much larger view and consider what would be best in the interests of the whole country in passing this great measure. It would be a great mistake if any rankling sense of having been treated unfairly were left in the counties by having these large boroughs taken out of them. If they were to judge by the views expounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) and others, this Bill would be one for enlarging the powers and privileges of the great boroughs in England by reducing the areas, limiting the resources, and degrading the character of the counties. That was not the view of those who brought in the Bill and wished to see it passed, and he was therefore glad that the Government had accepted a proposal which would lead to an equitable distribution of financial burdens between boroughs and counties. He hoped that such words would be introduced as would meet the views of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) to a great extent, and would 952 enable the Committee to achieve what they all desired—namely, an equitable distribution of financial burdens and revenues as between boroughs and counties.
MR. POWELL-WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
said, he had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for West Nottingham, and thought that there was something, and yet, if he might say so, nothing, in the criticism which he raised. No doubt, the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman in accepting the Amendment was simply one providing a method by which the new revenues to be distributed between the boroughs and the counties should be dealt with by the Commission which it was proposed to set up, and therefore there was no question at all of interference with the financial operations of the Corporation of Nottingham, or of any other corporation. But he (Mr. Powell-Williams) ventured to submit, nevertheless, that the point raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury lent some force to what had fallen from the hon. Member for West Nottingham; because it was clear that, unless they gave some specific instructions to that Commission—some basis upon which they were to proceed—they would find that the Bill was a serious interference with the financial affairs of the Corporation. He (Mr. Powell-Williams) noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, in certain figures he quoted, spoke of so much in the pound, and he (Mr. Powell-Williams) had ventured to interrupt him to ask what he meant by that, and the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was an assessment of so much in the pound.
said, he had always understood it was so much in the pound on the assessment. If rateable value was to be the basis upon which the Commissioners were to proceed, it was a very unjust basis. The rateable value of Nottingham, for instance, was low; whereas the rateable value of Birmingham was high, and, therefore, if these funds were to be distributed according to rateable value, they would, in a number of instances, be 953 distributed on an unequal basis. All through the calculation it was assumed that rateable value was equal all the country over, in the boroughs as well as in the counties; whereas those who had any experience at all of local public life knew that the very contrary was the case. He held, therefore, that some instructions should be given to the Commissioners as to the basis on which they were to make the distribution. He should suppose, himself, that the proper basis would be the benefit per Caput of the population. That would be a far more equal basis to go on, and would result in a far more equal distribution of funds which the Commissioners would have to deal with. But whilst he agreed with the right hon. and learned Member for Bury in endeavouring to give some instructions to the Commissioners, and direct them as to what methods and what principles they should adopt in making their distribution, he did most sincerely trust that the Amendment which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had suggested to the Government would not be brought in after the word "considered" in Sub-section (4) of the Amendment, and he would explain how that was. The words as they stood plainly had regard to all the circumstances of each case which it appeared equitable to consider in reference to the existing payments made from a Borough to a County fund. Now, if the words of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury were inserted there, it would prevent the Commissioners from dealing—or would seriously hamper them in dealing—with the existing payments. Take the case of Birmingham. That town had for many years made a contribution of £3,000 a-year—something closely approaching a halfpenny rate—to the county of War-wick, for which it received no return. He had himself obtained a second reading of a Bill to limit this grievance; but he had withdrawn the measure on the Government of the day—the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)—proposing a Commission to inquire into the whole matter. He thought he convinced that Government, at any rate, that the payment made by Birmingham was unjust and ought not to be continued. There were payments made, as the President of the Local Go- 954 vernment Board knew—with but one solitary exception—namely, with regard to military barracks—for purposes for which Birmingham provided itself out of its own funds. The payment made was for county surveyors, for assizes, for the county treasurer, for the county coroner, and for the justices' clerks, and for all those purposes Birmingham at present provided its own officers. What he ventured to put to the Government was this—that inasmuch as they came to Parliament, and asked Parliament to relieve them from those payments, the Government ought not to do anything in this Bill which would leave them in a worse position than they were in before the Bill passed. He understood from the Government that their object was to leave things very much as they were, and not to put anybody, so far as they could help it, in a different, and certainly not in a worse, position than they stood in now. But if the clause passed without the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury, it seemed to him that they would be prohibited hereafter from seeking, if it should be necessary, relief from Parliament in respect of these payments, and would have to go on for ever and ever making a contribution from the funds of the Borough of Birmingham to the County of Warwick for purposes from which the borough derived no benefit whatever. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, in answer to one of the deputations, which he (Mr. Powell-Williams) had the honour to attend, said he had not received any complaint at all, so far as he remembered, from any county in regard to what he proposed to do under the Bill. Well, it was not likely that the right hon. Gentleman would receive many complaints from any county if the counties were going to receive for all time contributions to which they knew they were not entitled. This was a very serious matter to the borough which he had the honour of representing. The people there knew all about it, and were most anxious to have this relief. These payments ought not to be allowed to continue, and he trusted that whatever was done in this Amendment, or by the Bill, would free them from the obligation of making the payments, or, at any rate, would not put them in a position worse than they were now in, of having no 955 possible remedy for what was an obvious injustice.
§ MR. LEAKE (Lancashire, S. E., Radcliffe)
said, that though, unlike his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), he did not re-present a borough which was to be made a county, but, like his noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), he did represent a county community in which there was a large urban population, he believed he approached the consideration of this Bill with a tolerably unprejudiced mind. Certainly, he should not desire to gain an advantage for his own particular constituency at the expense of the constituencies, throughout the country. He felt that the discussion that night had entirely absolved the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board from any imputation of having broken his pledges to the House. Those pledges amounted to a declaration that the boroughs and the counties would not suffer, the one or the other, in their financial relations the one to the other. But since those pledges were given, two things had happened—one, the abstraction from the counties of a considerable number of boroughs; and the other, the arrangement affecting the transfer of licences and contributions from the Exchequer. It was upon those points that the whole of their present discussion turned, for the proportion in which the boroughs made counties would benefit by the transfer of licences, if not regulated by an Amendment to the Bill, and the proportion in which the counties deprived of these boroughs would suffer by the abstraction of these licences, went to the very root of the matter under consideration. It had been proposed that, in order to make the matter mere equitable, the receipts from licences should be distributed according to population. That was rejected. It was then proposed that they should be distributed according to rateable value; but that also was rejected. Whether by one or the other, the county which he represented (Lancashire) would not have suffered, for, curiously enough, the rateable value and the population were equally divided between the county and the boroughs taken out of the county; but by the division originally proposed the proceeds of the licences would go in much greater part to the boroughs than to 956 the counties. That, certainly, delighted the mind of his right hon. Friend the Member for South Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), who thought that Leeds had a perfect right to all the licences collected within the borough. And his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool was also delighted with such a prospect, as well he might be, because, according to the Returns in the Blue Book, the county of Lancaster would receive by these contributions from the Exchequer £145,000 additional, and the boroughs would receive £198,000; but Liverpool itself would receive some £78,000—a very considerable inducement to the mind of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool to approve of no such Amendment as suggested. But as they had rejected every other method of more equitable distribution of contributions from the Exchequer, what was there left for the Committee to do but to accept the proposal of the Government, and place in the hands of Commissioners the equitable distribution of these contributions. If they were to define the distribution in the Bill, the circumstances of different cases would so vary that what would be equitable in one case would not be equitable in another. They were, therefore, driven to the alternative of Commissioners. He could not well understand why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby should deem this a ludicrous termination of their difficulties. There could be no reasonable objection to the appointment of capable persons, where the boroughs and counties could not agree between themselves, to say what was the proportion of contributions they were to receive or to pay. He believed that in three out of four cases the boroughs and counties would come to an agreement as to their relative shares without the interposition of the Commission. Without the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Clitheroe Division there would have been considerable ambiguity in the proposed clause of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. But under the terms of this Amendment, bringing into the purview of the Commissioners the amounts which the boroughs and counties would receive in contributions from the Exchequer, the whole case was before them, and he anticipated nothing but the best results from the appointment of the Commissioners 957 and the acceptance of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. He trusted that the very reasonable and wise concession of the Government in this matter would remove many impediments from the future progress of the Bill. He believed that when the effect of the Bill was seen in the country it would be noted that there was no desire on the part of the counties or of any section of the Members of the House to take advantage of the proposal of the Government.
§ Mr. RITCHIE
said, he only desired to make a suggestion in order to remove some of the difficulties raised during the discussion, and to show conclusively that there was no intention to increase the liability or burdens of boroughs. He would propose that in a subsequent portion of the clause, words should be introduced into the Bill to the effect—he had not examined the Amendment as to where it would come in, but something of this kind might be adopted—In the adjustment of any financial relations other than the distribution of the proceeds of Licences and Probate Duty, no borough exempted from contribution for any object shall be rendered liable so to contribute a greater proportion than at present.He thought that would show that there was not the slightest desire on the part of the Government to maintain any objection of any borough more than existed at present, nor was there any desire to increase the obligation of any borough beyond what was right.
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
said, that so far as he could gather from the words read by the right hon. Gentleman, they seemed to him perfectly fair, and only calculated to carry out what was desired.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
said, he was sorry he could not read the writing in which the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was submitted; and, therefore, he could not give his opinion upon it.
§ Question, "That the words 'of the' stand part of the proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
said, that if he understood the right hon. Gentleman's proposal aright, it was to put in the words "existing contribution," and if that were so, it might not be neces- 958 sary for him (Sir Lyon Playfair) to move his Amendment.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that was so; but he was not certain what would be the exact extent of the meaning of the words in the present state of the clause. It might imply, if put in in the place where the right hon. Gentleman proposed to move his Amendment, that there should be no arrangement except where there were existing liabilities; but there were boroughs where there were no existing liabilities in connection with counties, and it was in connection with such boroughs that re-adjustment was most necessary.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
said, he would not move his Amendment, as he understood that of the right hon. Gentleman would effect the purpose he had in view.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he did not propose to move the long Amendment to line 18 of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, but there was an Amendment to line 25 which he desired to propose, as he thought it was consequential to the Amendment carried by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth).
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, in line 25, leave out from "borough" to the second "and" in line 26.—(Viscount Cranborne.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
said, that the Amendment down in his name was what he thought would be an improvement on the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but after the Committee had accepted the proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth), it was useless for him to propose his Amendment. He would move, however, the next Amendment—in line 26, after "grant," to insert—And to the amount of benefit and value of the services which the borough receives in return for existing contributions.As an illustration of the desirability of this Amendment, he would mention the 959 circumstances of the borough he had the honour to represent—namely, Leeds. Leeds, under the 52nd section of the Municipal Corporations Act, contributed £8,000 to the county, of which £4,000 was for purposes of lunacy, and it was right that that should be redeemed, either by a redemption fund or a grant to the fullest extent. But Leeds contributed £3,571 to the county for purposes for which it did not receive the slightest compensation from the county. It was an old contribution, and he did not deny the liability of Leeds to contribute; but the fact remained the same, that it derived no benefit from it. In the same way, the borough of Birmingham contributed £2,900 to the county for purposes for which it did not receive the slightest value; and Liverpool, in the same way, contributed £2,000 to the county. Well, all that they contended was this—they admitted the legal liability, which existed by old tradition so far back as 50 years at least. All he said for the Amendment was that when the Commissioners considered the conditions of the redemption, they should be able to take into account the services rendered to the county by the borough. Where services were rendered distinctly under the Lunacy Act, the county should be allowed a redemption; but the case was very different when a payment was involved for which the borough received no services.
In line 26, after "grant," to insert "and to the amount of benefit and value of the services which the borough receives in return for existing contributions."—(Sir Lyon Playfair.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that the object the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Lyon Playfair) had in view was sufficiently attained by the words the Committee had already agreed to in the original Amendment. Sub-section 4 stated that in the adjustment regard should be had to the existing property, debts, and liabilities (if any) connected with the financial relations of the county and borough and so on, and "to all the circumstances of each case which it appears equitable to consider." He (Mr. Ritchie) thought that within these words would come the various matters the right hon. Gentle- 960 man had referred to. Of course, it must not be taken for granted that though the boroughs contributed towards some purposes for which they did not receive services that their contributions ought to cease; but he certainly thought there was something in this matter which ought to be considered when an equitable adjustment was taking place. The point to which the right hon. Gentleman drew the attention of the Committee was one of the matters the Government had in view in proposing their Amendment. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman, after this explanation, would be satisfied with the original Amendment.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
said he thought it would have been as well to have confined the original Amendment simply to the appointment of the Commissioners, and they could then have considered all the circumstances connected with the work of the Commissioners. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that though the boroughs now admitted these charges, because they knew their legal liabilities and did not think this the time to fight the matter, still they could not admit the question to be settled. They had been to the Government very frequently—both to Conservative and Liberal Governments—on this subject, and it was admitted that the boroughs were under a sense of injustice in the matter. A Royal Commission had sat in order to see whether those charges bore unjustly upon the boroughs, and a Bill had been introduced into the House dealing with the question, but they had been told that that was not the time to pass such legislation, and that the proper time would be when the question of county government was being dealt with as a whole.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
begged to move the Amendment standing in his name—after line 18, to insert "or if not having a separate commission of assize." All he was anxious for was that they should be assured, in such places as the borough of Leicester, that they would be left in precisely the same position as 961 they occupied now—that was to say, as they had their own separate Borough Assizes, that they should not be called upon to pay anything for other Borough Assizes.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 25, after line 18, to insert "or not having a separate commission of assize."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted"
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he would undertake that the borough of Leicester should not be placed in any worse position by the Bill than it was in at present. He believed that this would be effected by the proposal of the Government as it already stood; but, if that were found not to be the case, he would undertake that Amendments should be inserted to carry out that pledge.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed to Mr. Ritchie's original Amendment,
In line 64, after Sub-section (d), to insert "In the adjustment of any financial relations other than the distribution of the proceeds of the licences and probate duty no borough exempted from contribution for any object should be rendered liable so to contribute in greater proportion than at present."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That the original Amendment, as amended, be there inserted."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he regretted that, owing to the critical hour to which the House was subjected, the very important Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Clitheroe Division of Lancashire (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) was carried without challenge, and without a Division. [Laughter.] It must not be supposed on that account—though it seemed to be somewhat amusing to hon. Gentlemen opposite—that hon. Gentlemen on the other side achieved a triumph by these means. It must not be supposed, because the Amendment was accepted without challenge, that they were indifferent to what had been done. The truth was that there were a great many boroughs in England, of which he represented one, which did not regard this matter the least in the world as a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, from which 962 point of view it had been almost exclusively argued to-night. That was not the point of view in which the borongh he represented regarded it. In that borough they had been accustomed for generations to manage their own affairs, and they had had nothing to do with the county, and the county had nothing to do with them. For the first time, under the Amendment, not of the Government, but which the Government had accepted from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe, Derby would have its affairs put into the hands of a Commission, and a Commission of which they knew nothing would come in and deal with its local funds. He was bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that such intervention would be deeply resented, not by Derby alone, but by a great many other boroughs. This proposal was no part of the Amendment as originally put on the Paper by the Government. In their Amendment the Government carried out the pledge they had deliberately given. He remembered that when he asked for that pledge he argued that there should be an equal adjustment of the financial relations between the boroughs and the counties if any financial relation existed, and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill thoroughly understood that. The right hon. Gentleman had referred several times to-night to the language of the pledges which he had given. Well, he (Sir William Harcourt) knew this as well as the right hon. Gentleman, and he knew that the right hon. Gentleman had conveyed those pledges in the Amendment he had deliberately put upon the Paper. If the Government had adhered to the Amendment as they put it on the Paper, knowing full well that it conveyed the pledges they had given, he (Sir William Harcourt) should have been satisfied; but, for some reason which he would not inquire into, they had accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe, and that Amendment had entirely changed the whole relation of the Amendment as to the boroughs having no financial relations with the counties. The Amendment was moved simply because the original Amendment carried out the understanding at which they had arrived. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe had 963 contended against the principle of the original Amendment, although that Amendment was brought forward simply to carry out the pledges of the Government; and the Government had gone into the opposite camp, and thrown aside the understanding they had originally arrived at. Of course, it was useless to do more than enter a protest against such a proceeding. He thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite would agree with him that he had not spoken or acted in hostility to the Bill. He had endeavoured to support the right hon. Gentleman's proposition against attempts to alter it; but, in this matter, he must toll the right hon. Gentleman very plainly that the situation was one which would be very strongly opposed, and which would be strongly resented by the boroughs to which he referred. The borough of Derby had not interfered with the county, and the county had not interfered with them; but the Government thought fit now to sanction the establishment of a roving Commission to upset their local funds—funds collected by them within their own localities—and, upon such principles as they might think fit, might manage the affairs of the borough for them. Against that he protested, and, so far as these self-governing boroughs were concerned, he felt that the right hon. Gentleman had not enhanced the popularity of his Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken that the Government had no reason to complain of the position the right hon. Gentleman had taken up with regard to the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had shown no desire whatever to prevent the Government proceeding as rapidly as possible with the measure. But this he would say—and he did not think the right hon. Gentleman would gainsay it—that he (Sir William Harcourt) had never failed to take advantage of any incident which had occurred which enabled him to draw a moral with reference to the action of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had warned them that they would incur the wrath on some future occasion of the boroughs with which they had so hastily interfered, and he had spoken especially of Derby. Well, with reference to Derby they had not much to lose, and the right hon. Gentleman's was 964 not at all an appalling picture. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that they had appointed a roving Commission to interfere with the local affairs of Derby. Now, as a matter of fact, they had proposed an Amendment which had just been accepted by the Committee which specially barred the Commission which it was proposed to appoint from rendering Derby, in any shape or form, liable to the payment of a single penny more than she was liable to already. If, therefore, Derby was not liable to contribute for any county purposes at present, she would not be liable in future so to contribute. But the right hon. Gentleman went on to another point, and said the Government were going to take away the local funds of such towns as Derby. Well, now, what was the position of Derby with reference to its funds at the present time? So far as regarded every one of these contributions with which they had been dealing, Derby paid her contribution, but she paid it to the Imperial Exchequer, so that she was not called upon to pay one penny more in the shape of licences than she had already paid. He maintained, therefore, that Derby was not at all interfered with. All that Derby would have to do under the provisions of this Amendment would be to make an equitable adjustment of those local duties which were to take the place of the grants which had hitherto been paid to the county in which Derby was situated, and care would be taken that Derby should not be made to suffer. With regard to the Commission, he would point out that it would only step in if Derby and the county in which it was situated were not able to come to an agreement.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that the position was this—that Derby, instead of paying into the Imperial Exchequer, would pay into the local purse and receive her full share out of it—that was if things came to the worst. He was sure that any borough which had the good sense to return the right hon. Gentleman to Parliament would not be unreasonable in such a matter as this; therefore he thought that in the case of that town there was every prospect of its being able to agree with the county without 965 the intervention of the Commission. He must point out that the right hon. Gentleman had expressed unqualified approval of the original Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the Commission in the original Amendment would have no power to interfere with Derby.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he disputed that altogether. His firm conviction was, that under the original Amendment the borough of Derby would have been situated precisely as under the Amendment they had just accepted. He admitted, however, that the matter was open to doubt, and he was only expressing his own opinion.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Then why accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe?
§ MR. RITCHIE
Because it was pointed out from all quarters of the House that the original Amendment was not sufficiently specific. He hoped and trusted that there would be no friction between Derby and the county in the adjustment of these relations. The right hon. Gentleman said that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clitheroe originally proposed his Amendment the Government would have nothing to do with it; but he thought that was a very different Amendment then. The right hon. Gentleman had proposed to make boroughs like Derby liable, under certain circumstances, for the maintenance of main roads, and the Government had declined to accept that; because they had always insisted, as a cardinal principle, that they should accept no Amendment that altered existing liabilities as between boroughs and counties. In accepting the Amendment which had been adopted, they did so because they believed it entirely in accordance with their own original Motion, and entirely in accordance with the justice of the case. He hoped and trusted that the decision the Committee had come to would not disturb the harmony of Derby. Looking at the advantages they derived from the presence of the right hon. Gentleman, he was bound to say that his desire in favour of a change in the opinion of Derby was considerably modified.
§ Question put, and agreed to.966
§ On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, the following Amendments made, in page 25, line 37, after "shall," insert "subject to the provisions of this Act as to proportions between counties and county boroughs;" page 26, line 8, leave out from beginning of line to end of line 9, and insert "with the following modifications":—
- (a.) The county borough shall be the county, and borough fund shall be substituted for county fund, and town clerk shall be substituted for clerk of the peace and clerk of the council;
- (b.) Such powers, duties, and liabilities of the court of quarter sessions or justices as in the case of a county are transferred to the county council shall be transferred to the council of the county borough, whether the same are vested in or attached to the court of quarter sessions or justices of the borough or of the county in which the borough is situate;
- (c.) In the case of the duties collected by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in respect of the licences for trade carts, locomotives, horses, mules, and horse dealers under any Act of the present session, those Commissoners shall certify the amount collected in each county in like manner as if the county included each county borough specified in the fourth schedule of this Act as deemed to be situate in that county, and the amount as so ascertained shall be divided between the said boroughs, and the residue to the said county in proportion to rateable value according to the standard or basis for county contributions for the time being, and the share so ascertained shall be paid in like manner as if it had been collected in the county borough or in the residue of the county, as the case may be;
- (d.) Any sum standing to the Exchequer contribution account of a county borough which remains after payment of the grant required to be made in respect of indoor paupers shall be applied in defraying any costs incurred by the council of the borough which heretofore have been wholly or partly defrayed out of local grants or out of moneys expended by the county, and subject to that application shall be carried to the borough fund, and the provisions respecting the payment of the same to the general county account of the county fund, and the subsequent application and division thereof, shall not apply.
(11.) On the appointed day there shall be transferred to the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of each borough all such bridges and approaches thereto situate within the borough as were previously repairable by the county or any hundred therein, and the costs of the council in repairing such bridges and in repairing any roads in the borough which by virtue of this Act or any Act applied by this 967 Act are main roads, shall be payable out of the borough fund;line 10, leave out sub-section (3); line 28, leave out sub-section (4); line 34, leave out "(b) main roads;" line 39, at end insert "or (e) the preparation or revision of the basis or standard for the county rate;" page 26, line 41, at end of line, insert—
(12.) "Nothing in this section shall transfer to the council of any borough any power in relation to the division of the county into polling districts for the purpose of a parliamentary election for the county, the appointment of places of election for the county, and the costs of, and other matters to be done for, the registration of parliamentary voters for the county.
(14.) The powers and duties of the county authority under the Allotments Act, 1887, shall, as respects the borough, continue to be exercised and performed by the Local Government Board;page 27, line 1, leave out sub-section (6); page 27, line 4, leave out sub-section (7); page 27, line 15, leave out sub-section (8).
An hon. MEMBER
said, there was provision made for the maintenance of lunatics which had been subscribed and paid by the boroughs that were taken out of counties. Would this money be paid and subscribed at present under the Bill?
On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, the following Amendment made:—In page 27, after sub-section (8), insert—
(9.) "The council of a borough may, for the purpose of enabling them to pay any money for redemption of any liability under this section, from time to time borrow, on the security of all or any of their funds, rates, and revenues, such sums as they may require.
(10.) Any balance remaining to credit of the Exchequer contribution account, after making all the payments by this Act required to be made thereout, shall be carried to the credit of the borough fund, or district fund, or improvement fund as the council may determine.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 31 (Application of Act to larger quarter sessions boroughs not treated as counties).
§ MR. I. WILSON (Middlesbrough)
said, that in the absence of the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 27, line 29, leave out "as local authority."—(Mr. Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, that in this they spoke of Quarter Sessions Boroughs containing a population of 10,000 or upwards, and in the next clause they also spoke of Quarter Sessions Boroughs; but in the clause following they spoke of "borough" and "boroughs whether having a separate Court of Quarter Sessions or not." He should like to have some explanation of what this meant.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he did not quite apprehend the question, but the clause they were about to discuss was one which was applicable to Quarter Sessions Boroughs not being boroughs named in the 4th Schedule of the Act—that was to say, boroughs having over 10,000 inhabitants.
On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, Amendment made, in page 28, line 22, before "shall," by inserting—
Shall be deemed to be a highway authority within the meaning of 'The Highways and Locomotives Amendment Act, 1878,' and";
and in page 28, line 32, after "borough," by inserting—
(c.) May within two years after the passing of this Act apply to the county council to declare such roads in the borough as are mentioned in the application to be main roads within the meaning of 'The Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878,' and the county council shall consider such application and inquire whether such roads are or ought to be main roads within the meaning of the said Act, and shall make or refuse the declaration accordingly, and if the county council refuse to make the declaration, the council of the borough may within a reasonable time after such refusal apply to the Local Government Board, and that Board shall have power, if after a local inquiry they think it just so to do, to make the said declaration, which shall have the same effect as if made by the county council.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.969
§ Clause 32 (General Application of Act to boroughs with separate commission of the peace) agreed to.
§ Clause 33 (Application of Act to quarter sessions boroughs hereafter created) agreed to.
§ Clause 34 (Application of Act to smaller quarter sessions boroughs with population under 10,000).
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON (Gloucester, Tewkesbury)
said, the effect of the clause as it stood would be that the boroughs referred to therein would be able to use the asylums and buildings of the country to the capital cost of which they had not contributed. The object of his Amendment was to remedy this. The first part of the clause referred simply to the conversion of the present obligation to provide an asylum into a capital charge; and in the last three lines he proposed that the contribution should be effected on agreement by an extra weekly payment, as was done at the present time in the case of each lunatic maintained.
In page 30, line 5, insert,—"Provided always that any such borough shall contribute a due proportion of the capital cost of any asylum or building which they shall upon such transference become entitled to use conjointly with the other inhabitants of the county; and if any difference shall arise in respect of any such contribution by any borough, such difference shall be referred to the Local Government Board, whose decision shall be final. Any such contribution may by agreement be made by an addition to the weekly cost of maintenance, as charged for each lunatic maintained, to the several unions in the county."—(Sir John Dorington.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, this was one of those Amendments which on on the face of them did not possibly give rise to very much objection; but his hon. Friend would see that the question involved was only one of the many points which would have to be adjusted when the general adjustment was considered. In the Bill already, under Clause 62, ample provision was made for the adjustment of property and liability as between counties and boroughs; and his objection to the Amendment was that it dealt with one of the subjects which would have to be adjusted, and 970 not with others. If the Amendment were adopted it might be open to some objection; and as he assured the hon. Member that the adjustment he desired would be secured by Clause 62 he ventured to suggest that the Amendment should not be pressed.
§ SIR JOHN DORINGTON
said, he was desirous that the charge should be made a weekly and not an annual payment, as that was the form the contribution of these boroughs took at present.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, if his hon. Friend thought that Clause 62 required general amendment, his proposal might be more properly brought forward when that clause was reached.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
On the Motion of Mr. RITCHIE, Amendment made, in page 30, line 37, at end, by adding—
The council of the borough may within two years after the passing of this Act apply to the county council to declare such roads in the borough as are mentioned in the application to be main roads within the meaning of 'The Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878,' and the county council shall consider such application, and inquire whether such roads are, or ought to be, main roads within the meaning of the said Act, and shall make or refuse the declaration accordingly, and if the county council refuse the declaration, the council of the borough may, within a reasonable time after such refusal, apply to the Local Government Board, and that Board, after a local inquiry, shall have power, if they think it just so to do, to make the said declaration, which shall have the same effect as if it had been made by the county council.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 35 (Application of Act to all boroughs with population under 10,000).
§ MR. WHARTON (York, W.R., Ripon)
said, the object of the Amendment he was about to move was that boroughs of under 20,000 inhabitants should be deprived of the control of their own police. As far as his experience had led him to observe, in all boroughs of under 20,000 inhabitants it was hardly possible, owing to the action of Watch Committees, to keep a police force properly under the control of a police superintendent or head constable. He held in his hand a Return showing the convictions under the Food and Drugs Acts, Weights and Measures, and Licence Acts in these small boroughs. The Return was very instructive. There were in one borough under the Food 971 and Drugs Acts only three convictions in 12 months; under the Weights and Measures Acts seven convictions in one borough, and one in another, and none whatever in the other 18 or 19 boroughs named. Turning to the next page there were 10 or 11 convictions under the Food and Drugs Acts; under the Weights and Measures Acts there were five convictions. This was for 40 boroughs. On the next page there were something like 30 boroughs with four convictions under the Weights and Measures Act, and six under the Food and Drugs Act. He thought that those figures were very instructive to those who believed that the police in the small boroughs were administered properly under Watch Committees. His own opinion was that there could be no more inefficient system than that of administering the police by Watch Committees in small boroughs. And, moreover, he wanted to impress on the Committee that the police, as administered by Watch Committees, were more than doubly expensive than they would be if they were administered with the police of the counties. He had found that the police rate was in Durham 2d., whereas in the small boroughs he was referring to it was something like 5d. in the pound. Failure of justice again and again occurred, because the different authorities did not act harmoniously, and because when the borough police found that an offender had got beyond their limit they took no more trouble about the matter. For his own part, he should be glad to see the limit of 50,000 adopted under which the boroughs should not be allowed to control the police, but he felt he had no chance of carrying such an Amendment as that; he, however, placed the present Amendment before the Committee with the hope that it would be favourably received.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 31, line 31, leave out "ten," and insert "twenty."—(Mr. Wharton.)
§ Question proposed, That 'ten' stand part of the Clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he hoped the Government would not accept this Amendment, which had not attracted much public attention, but which really attacked the autonomy of a great many boroughs. It would take the boroughs in question by surprise, 972 and give, at the same time, a good deal of offence. He confessed that no man was more capable of fulfilling the duties of Quarter Sessions than the hon. Gentleman who made this proposal; but he had a sort of universal and implicit faith in county management which led him to mistrust the borough police; and he (Sir William Harcourt) could not but think that this mistrust was not altogether well founded. The hon. Gentleman had stated that if he had his own way he would take the control of the police from boroughs of less than 50,000 inhabitants. But that did not appear to him as a satisfactory proposal; he did not think it desirable that the borough police should be administered on such a principle.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby in the remarks he had made on the subject of this Amendment, which he ventured to hope his bon. Friend would not press. He thought they must consider the position of the boroughs in question, and it appeared to him hardly desirable or prudent to pass such an Amendment as his hon. Friend proposed. Although he agreed to what he said with regard to the difference of cost as between the county administration and that of the small boroughs, yet he thought it would be a great shock to the boroughs in question if they were to wake to morrow to find that this proposal of his hon. and learned Friend had been agreed to.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, that nothing had come upon the counties with a greater shock than the taking out of the counties boroughs of under 50,000 inhabitants. The only wish of hon. Members on those Benches was to make this a good and, if possible, a perfect Bill; and there was no Member of the House, not excepting the right hon. Member for Derby, who had been at the Home Office, that did not know that it was not in the interests of the efficient administration of justice that boroughs of under 20,000 inhabitants should have their own police. There were those who, outside the House, were always ready to say that these police forces should be got rid of, and their place supplied by efficient bodies; but when they came into that House they seemed to be afraid to express or give effect to their former opinions. 973 No doubt, the majority would vote against the Amendment of his hon. Friend; but if it went to a Division he should give it his support.
An hon. MEMBER
said, he could confirm from his own experience the statement of the hon. and gallant Baronet that the maintenance of these small police forces was certainly detrimental to the interests of justice. As an illustration, he might mention a case in which two men had committed a robbery outside one of the small boroughs in the middle of the day; the thieves escaped into the borough, and asked the Corporation Police to apprehend them; but such was the jealousy between the two bodies of police that nothing was done, and the thieves eventually escaped. This failure of justice was entirely owing to the circumstance of the borough police acting independently of, and, to a certain extent, in hostility to, the county police; and it was because he thought that these small police forces should be abolished that he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ripon.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, he hoped the Amendment would not be carried. The hon. Gentleman opposite had drawn a fancy picture of what might occur in some boroughs; but he hoped that the supporters of the Amendment would be able to furnish the Committee with some more specific instance than had been given of the mismanagement of the police in the small boroughs. The Committee was asked to change the attitude of that House towards boroughs of 10,000 inhabitants and upwards, an attitude which had been taken up ever since the passing of the Acts relating to the police forces of the country.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
said, he joined in the general protest which had been made against the Amendment before the Committee. He wished to express his regret that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had not shown more faith in his own measure and in the probability of the boroughs coming to terms with the new County Councils. He was not an advocate of the establishment of small police forces in small boroughs; but the forces which had been established had been maintained, 974 he thought, in a manner which had never been called in question. In regard, too, to fairs, there was a general feeling of apprehension and concern that the Government might take away the powers of the boroughs, and place many of them at the mercy of what it was thought might be a hostile influence.
§ MR. WHARTON
said, he regretted that his right hon. Friend was unable to accept his Amendment, because it dealt with a matter of undoubted importance; but he would not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing upon it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, with reference to the proviso at the end of the clause, that the right hon. Gentleman would be aware of the difficulty experienced in counties with regard to the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act of 1886. When they were establishing County Councils to have the management of all the matters relating to the county, surely the Government could, on Report, make some provision which would enable County Councils, in conjunction with the town authorities, to frame rules to deal as a whole with cattle disease in a county, with the view to preventing the spread of disease throughout the country.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that this section merely dealt with the delegation by Orders of the Local Government Board upon the Local Authorities, with reference to the powers of registration; but he would inquire into the matter.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Application of Act to Metropolis.
§ Clause 36 (Application of Act to Metropolis as County of London).
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he could promise the right hon. Gentleman that Members on those Benches would give the clauses relating to London a most fair consideration; at the same time there were several points which they considered of vital importance, and on which they would like to be met by the right hon. Gentleman. The Amendment in his name related to a subject which had already been decided with regard to County Councils generally under ether sections of the Bill, and he would point out to the Committee the reasons why they thought 975 that there should be no selected Councillors in the County Council of London. Unfortunately for those he represented, in times gone by they had had institutions put upon them which were not the best for controlling their own affairs. They had had opportunities of testing the value of Bodies composed of nominee members and Bodies elected on the dual system, as against those composed entirely of persons who had derived their powers directly from the votes of the people. He was bound to say that the general opinion out-of-doors was that any of the institutions in London that were based on nominee or dual election did not stand in good odour with the general public. Take the case of the Metropolitan Board of Works; it was a Body the members of which had never had to go to the ratepayers of London for their powers. It was supposed in 1855, when the Metropolis Local Management Act was passed, that if there were a Central Body for London it would be much better not to allow the ratepayers of London to elect the persons who were to compose the Board. An Act was passed under which the Vestries were to be elected by the people, and the Metropolitan Board of Works were selected by them. The principle of selection went to a greater extent than that, because there were in London District Board of Works were in their turn selected. They had a right to ask how far this system had acted for the welfare of the people of London. He did not think he need go into that question in detail, inasmuch as the facts were being told to the civilized world at the present time, and if there were anything necessary to condemn the system of selection they were here furnished with a conclusive condemnation; the Metropolitan Board of Works was a thorough illustration of the pernicious principle here involved. There was also another Board composed of selected members, and which had great authority and spending powers. Those powers were not conferred by the people, and he said there was as large a want of confidence on the part of the ratepayers in the Metropolitan Asylums Board as there was in the Metropolitan Board of Works. In this case the Board was elected by and 976 from the Guardians, amongst whom there were a number of members appointed by the Local Government Board. Now, he said decidedly that the two Bodies in question were not the most economical Bodies that could be found. They had had in the past no representative government for London, and he hoped the Government were now going to meet hon. Members on that point and give them at once a thoroughly representative institution which would command the confidence of the people of the Metropolis. What were the general arguments urged in favour of having these selected Councillors? One of them was that when the County Council got to work there would be great social problems to be dealt with by them; and it was also urged that to get a good Council it was necessary that there should be power in the hands of the Council to place on the Council, after the election had taken place, men who were specially able and qualified to deal with the social problems in question. That was as much as to say that if these great specialists were to solicit the suffrages of the people they would not be returned. But what was the fact? When in London the people had to elect their first School Board, it was perfectly well known that they had to elect a Board to deal with the educational problem which, on account of the magnitude of the population, was far more difficult than that presented in any other part of the country. But whom did the people elect? It stood to the glory of the people of London that they elected men of fame and world-wide reputation. He did not think there was a single man of note who lost the election in any one section of London. Professor Huxley, Lord Lawrence, the Rev. William Rogers, and Sir Charles Reed were elected; and he could go through the whole composition of the London School Board to show that not a man who had made a reputation for himself and had studied the great educational problem was rejected in favour of some unknown man. If the people of London did this in 1870, could they not be trusted to do similar work now, particularly as education had since reached throughout the whole community and the people had been intrusted with the suffrage? He contended that if the best men for dealing with the social problems of the day 977 were put forward for election by the people of London they would be returned to a man. But if men of this kind were put upon the Councils by the back door process here proposed, they would lose that influence and weight with the people which they would otherwise command, and with it much of their power of doing good. He ventured to say that those who had studied this question could point out beforehand the people who would be selected as soon as the County Council for London was created. That Body would have an enormous amount of work to do, and it was of the greatest importance that it should carry with it the entire confidence of the people. As he had said, the best men had always found their place on the London School Board; but could anyone point to a single town in the country where the Council had used their power to go abroad and find some great man of worth and reputation for the position of Alderman? He said, if these Councils only appointed men who had already won a seat on the Town Council, it was no argument whatever for one portion of the London Council being elected by the other. He was in favour of giving the people of London the utmost amount of power that could be conferred upon them, because he was sure that the greater the number of men returned by the suffrages of the people of London, the greater would be the number of those on the Council who thoroughly understood the serious problems which would have to be solved. He could not see one reason for having selected men on the Council of London; nor did he see why the action of the London Council should be fettered by selected Councillors simply because the people in other parts of the country had had them forced upon them. If this principle was applied, he believed that before long there would be an agitation for the abolition of the selected Councillors, not only with regard to London but throughout the country. That would undoubtedly be the case in London, even if this Amendment were defeated by the Government majority. He had proved that the people of London could wisely exercise their powers, and he contended that they should be allowed to do so to the fullest extent in this matter of electing the members of the London Council. The time had gone by for these privi- 978 leged Councillors; the whole tendency had been to put power in the hands of the people, and if going in that direction the Government would give up these selected Councillors, he was convinced by experience that they would not have cause to regret the step they had taken.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 32, line 11, after the word "effect," to add the words (1) "There shall be no selected Councillors in the County of London."—(Mr. James Rowlands.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
said he agreed very much with what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Amendment (Mr. J. Rowlands). He confessed he did not like the idea of selected Councillors anywhere, either in London or the country; but he did not share the apprehensions of the hon. Gentleman with regard to what he believed would be the character of selected Councillors, because he (Sir Roper Lethbridge) imagined that they would have chosen upon the County Council for London exceptionally good men, whether they were elected or selected. Agreeing with the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Amendment as he did, he held that it would be a very great anomaly if they were to have selected Councillors on every Council throughout England, and not to have them in London. He saw no distinction in the case of London why it should be treated differently to other parts of the country. He, therefore, felt that there would be a certain amount of anomaly attaching to the Bill if the Amendment were carried, and, therefore, he could not follow the hon. Member altogether in his Amendment.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he sympathized with the hon. Member (Sir Roper Lethbridge) in his dislike for anomalies; but he thought that the amount of attention the hon. Gentleman must have given to the study of the history of the institutions of this country must have convinced him that if it were not for anomalies there would be no Constitutional history of England at all. There were Aldermen, as they all knew, in the City of London, but they were elected, and not selected; so that Lon- 979 don was in an anomalous position at the present time; but he wanted to know why the citizens of London should be deprived of the benefit of that anomalous position, seeing that they had enjoyed it for hundreds of years? Why should the right of free choice, which was at present exercised by the City, be taken away from the whole of London when they were extending the principle of local self-government? He protested against this stereotyping of one particular idea over the whole country. He (Mr. Conybeare) and his Friends throughout the progress of the Bill protested against the principle of selected Councillors, and it was on that account that he rejoiced in this one other opportunity of making one more stand in favour of the election of local representatives. He did not see that they could take a more strong ground than that of maintaining, in a purely Conservative manner, the desirability of continuing an old-established institution such as the elected Aldermen of the City of London. He was astonished that an hon. Member like the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Roper Lethbridge) should have the audacity, with his Conservative instincts, to come forward and object to this proposal, and in favour of the revolutionary proposal of the Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he did not know whether there were any of his hon. Friends connected with the City of London; but if there were, it would be gratifying to them to hear the ancient institutions of the City of London find such a powerful defender on the other side of the House. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the Aldermen of the City of London as though the Government were proposing by the Bill to disestablish them and set up something in their place; but it was not proposed in this Bill to do anything of the kind. It was not proposed to touch the Aldermen of the City of London, so that it might be some gratification to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Conybeare) to know that, even if he voted in favour of the proposal in the Bill, that ancient and honourable institution the Aldermen of the City of London would still remain unscathed and untouched.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, he quite appreciated that. He had not for a moment imagined that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local 980 Government Board, with all his Radicalism, would propose to disestablish the hon. Baronet behind him (Sir Robert Fowler). He (Mr. Conybeare) had not referred to personality, but to principle; and he submitted that the Government should continue the ancient principle which existed in London for so many hundreds of years.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the hon. Member seemed to have a respect for what had existed for hundreds of years.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the Government would mark that announcement with great interest, and might have occasion to remind the hon. Member of it at some future period. The hon. Member seemed to think that the Government were creating an anomaly because they did not propose that the Aldermen of the County of London should be elected in the same way as the Aldermen of the City of London. The hon. Member's ideas of an anomaly were very curious, because, as a matter of fact, so far as he (Mr. Ritchie) knew, the City of London was the only city in Great Britain which elected Aldermen in that particular way.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he would confine himself in that observation to England. In every other town in England Aldermen were selected; therefore, he could not agree with the hon. Member that in adopting that principle in the County of London, about to be created they would be adopting an anomaly; on the contrary, it would be anomalous to depart from that principle. To go back to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment (Mr. J. Rowlands), he entirely recognized the spirit in which it had been delivered; but the question had been practically decided as far as this Bill was concerned. He trusted that the Government would have the support of the Committee generally, and especially of hon. Members representing the different parts of the Metropolis, in passing the London Clauses. He was sure that the House as a body would have joined heartily in the great regret which the Government would have felt if, by any pressure of circumstances, they had been compelled to abandon those clauses. The Government, however, never had any 981 intention to abandon them; and now, they were rejoiced to say, all possibility of relegating them to some remote future had been put an end to. The object of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman was to prevent the selection of Aldermen in the County of London, and the hon. Gentleman based one of his main arguments on the fact that the principle had not worked satisfactorily so far as the present Governing Body in London was concerned. He told them that the mode of secondary elections, so to speak, which was practised in connection with the Metropolitan Board of Works, had not resulted in that success they would have desired to see, and he (Mr. Ritchie) entirely agreed with the hon. Member. The Government would never for a moment contemplate proposing any such secondary system of election for the County of London; but, as the hon. Member knew, the proposal in the Bill was altogether different. What was the existing condition of things in London? Why, the Vestries, though they were not Governing Bodies themselves, elected the District Boards of Works, and the District Boards of Works elected the members to sit on the Metropolitan Board of Works, so that there was really more than a secondary election in a large number of cases. He need hardly point out to the Committee that by this system of election the choice of the Governing Body was limited, not necessarily, he granted, but as a matter of practice, almost entirely to the area of the Vestries which sent these members to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Well, that was a totally different thing to the proposal in the Bill. The proposal in the Bill was one which had already been assented to with reference to every other County Council in England, and, with reference to the existing condition of things, in every borough throughout the country. The hon. Member, in making good his contention that the selected principle had worked unsatisfactorily, had mainly dealt in generalities, and had not given them any instances of the actively objectionable features of the principle; and though he (Mr. Ritchie) had known that attitude taken up by others, he had never yet been shown by anyone the bad effects of the system of selecting Aldermen on the Corporation of the City of London; and, on the other hand, he had heard it 982 stated again and again that the most useful members of the Corporation were the Aldermen. If the system of selection was good when applied to any other part of the country, it must be better when applied to London. Why should London be the only town in the country which should not have the privilege of selection? They were proceeding to do this—to create a new Body to govern the greatest city in the world, in which more problems were waiting for solution than in any other part of the country—problems which required the aid of scientific men who had devoted their lives to matters connected with sanitary affairs. If they accepted this Amendment, they were going to debar the elected representatives of London from securing these eminent gentlemen to assist them in the difficult and onerous duties that would devolve upon them. It might be said that these eminent men would have no difficulty in finding seats on the Council of the County of London by means of a general election. Well, it might be that that would turn out to be so; but it might also be that such men would not be willing to undergo the trouble of engaging in a general election for which they had neither time nor inclination—their habits of mind might not run in the direction of offering themselves for election in the manner they would have to offer themselves. He did not deny the fact that there were good grounds for contending that there should be no selected Aldermen in any part of the country; he did not deny that, but he contended that so long as the institution of selected Aldermen did exist, and so long as no opportunity was presented of obtaining the best men on the Council of the County of London to assist the elected members in solving the problems which would be offered to them, it was important not to refuse to the elected representatives of London the same power and privilege which was granted to every other municipality in towns, and which was about to be granted to elected County Councils in the country. The Government, under these circumstances, must adhere to the proposal they had made. They could not agree that the elected Councillors in London should be deprived of a power which would be productive of great benefit and tend largely to the better government of the Metropolis.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
said, he could not agree with the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. The fact was that they were developing the principle of placing selected Councillors or Aldermen on Local Governing Bodies at a time when in the great towns popular feeling was changing in regard to this system. The question had been largely mooted in the city he represented, not only in the Council, but outside of it. It had been proposed in the Council that the principle of selected Aldermen should be done away with, and if this proposition had not been carried out it was simply because those who were elected Aldermen did not desire to perform the happy despatch, and because those who had hopes of attaining to that position took a similar view of the situation. Outside the Council there was a very strong desire to put an end to the system, and he did not wonder at the existence of that desire. He maintained that because they had made a mistake by applying the system to the rest of the Kingdom was no reason why they should repeat the mistake in connection with the new County of London by continuing that obsolete arrangement. He, therefore, trusted the hon. Member who moved the Amendment would proceed to a Divison, when he (Mr. Schwann) should certainly give him his support.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that there were no men in the House who rejoiced more truly that the Government had not thought it necessary to throw over the London Clauses of this Bill than the Liberal Members for the Metropolis. Those hon. Members looked upon those clauses as embodying—not quite in their own fashion, but still in a real form—the principle for which they had been fighting for so long, of unity of popular control and management in London, similar to that which existed in the great municipal boroughs of the country. They believed that the right hon. Gentleman was providing in this Bill a machinery for dealing with the social problems which he agreed were greater in the Metropolis than in any other part of the Empire; but he could not see why the right hon. Gentleman should be so 984 pedantically attached to every detail of the system which he had embodied in the Bill, as to pretend that because they had allowed selected Councillors to be placed on the County Councils they should necessarily do exactly the same in regard to the County of London. It was quite true that, for the purposes of the Bill, London was treated as a county; but London was only treated so in order to bring it within the scope of the Bill. London was a great city, of the same kind though larger in degree than Liverpool or Manchester, and there was no real force in the argument that because they had allowed selected Councillors to find a place upon the County Bodies generally, therefore the principle should be retained in connection with the County of London. This was no Party question. The hon. Member for South Islington (Sir Albert Rollit) had placed upon the Paper an Amendment very similar in terms to that now moved, and the Committee would have a right to complain if he and hon. Members sitting opposite did not state what was understood they had said outside the House—namely, that they were strongly in favour of excepting London from the general principle adopted in the Bill, and that they believed that the principle of selection would be mischievous in its operation when applied to the Metropolis. The right hon. Gentleman was sensitive as to local feeling. He had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman had heard that almost every Local Body in the Metropolis had pronounced itself hostile to the principle of selected members. Local Bodies in London were not, as a rule, very revolutionary in their ideas; but they believed that this principle would work badly. They considered that it would be likely to reproduce the evils of which they had had to complain in common with the rest of the inhabitants of London in the past. There was unanimous testimony from those who could speak on behalf of the municipal boroughs of the country in favour of the abolition of the principle of selected Councillors, and it had been the practice to evade the intention of the provision of the Municipal Corporations Act by choosing men as Aldermen who had first obtained the suffrages of the ratepayers. It had been said that they could not quote the example of the Metropolitan Board of Works. 985 It was quite true that in the case of the Metropolitan Board of Works there was some sort of responsibility. The members who had been elected had refused to acknowledge that they were responsible to their constituents in the Vestry; but there was, at least, some kind of indirect responsibility. In the case of the selected Councillors there would be no responsibility at all. The ratepayers of London so utterly distrusted the principle of selection that they thought that they ought to make a clean sweep of it once for all now they had a chance. It seemed to him a mistake to suppose that they would get the superior persons to join the County Councils owing to the power of selection. The right hon. Gentleman could not pretend that those who had not the time to stand the brunt of an election would have the time to do the work of the County Council. If they could do that work they surely could spare the time occupied in an electoral contest. What was the use of having upon these Councils men who had no local knowledge? They certainly did not want doctrinaires who would find themselves unable to obtain the suffrages of a constituency. Furthermore, he thought the right hon. Gentleman's argument, that they would be able to secure men of the type, he supposed, of some of the philanthropists who had done good service in the great schemes of social reform which had been carried out in London, entirely fell to the ground, because they found in the case of the School Board that exactly that class of men had been in the past ready to solicit the votes of their fellow-citizens, and that certainly until the policy of successive Boards was discredited by lax finance they were welcomed by those who had the chance of sending them to the Central Council in matters of education. Exactly the same arguments were used when the Metropolitan Management Act was under discussion in 1855. It was then said that by the principle of selection they would get a superior class of persons. As the principle had failed in that case so it would fail now. They were starting in London with a clean sheet, and they had an opportunity of really setting up an efficient Body for the consideration of Metropolitan concerns. They ought to recollect that in London there was a great 986 poverty of that public spirit and corporate energy which might have made the principle of selection almost innocuous in the great boroughs in the country; and he was perfectly certain that his Colleagues in the representation of the Metropolis knew that it was impossible to hope for a continuity of pure and efficient administration unless they made the whole of this Body directly responsible to the inhabitants of London.
MR. BARING (London)
said, that on behalf of the constituency which he represented, which was no unimportant part of London, he absolutely repudiated the statement the hon. Member (Mr. Lawson) had made that the City of London did not want selected Councillors—
said, what he wished to urge was that the Common Council the other day passed a resolution by a majority of two to one in favour of the principle of selected councillors. He understood that two hon. Members based their argument against the principle of selected Councillors on the practice of the City of London. ["No, no!"] If there was any argument at all for exempting London from the rule which was applied to the rest of England, it was because the City of London had hitherto directly elected its Aldermen. But the City of London, by the vote of last week, had expressed its approval, so far as the county of London was concerned, of the indirect election of County Aldermen. There were persons who would be very useful in the County Council of London, but who were more or less incapacitated, by age or position, from undergoing the turmoil of a contested election. There were persons eminent in Science, in Art, and in Medicine, and, if he might use the phrase, in statecraft, who would be exceedingly useful members of the new Body, but who would not, for the reasons he had given, undertake the work of a contested election. He was particularly desirous that at first, at any rate, the new machine should be guided by persons who had had some experience in municipal government. Until the time arrived when the machine could move freely without the assistance he desired to afford it, and that might be six, nine, or 12 years hence, he wanted to make 987 provision for securing the services of able, learned, and intelligent men, who would be willing to give their time, perhaps at great sacrifice to themselves, to what they considered real national work.
§ SIR CHARLES RUSSELL (Hackney, S.)
said, that the position of the hon. Member (Mr. Baring) was quite intelligible. He understood the hon. Member to express distrust of the County Council which would be set up under the Bill. [Mr. BARING: Distrust at present.] What was the hon. Gentleman's ground for that distrust? Was it that this Body would be too popular in its representative character; that it would be too much in touch with popular feeling; because if that were so his position was quite intelligible, and he could understand the hon. Member desiring to minimize the popular character of the constitution of the County Council. Before going further, let him say that the Representatives of London were glad that the Government had seen their way to adhere to the London Clauses of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had not said much in favour of the Amendment upon its merits. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress upon the fact that earlier in the discussion the Committee had committed itself to the principle of County Councillors; but, for the life of him, he (Sir Charles Russell) could not see what was to be said in favour of the principle. They were proposing to create by the Bill small local Parliaments which would be intrusted with very important functions, and he could not see why they should apply to those Bodies a different principle to that they applied to the House of Commons. It was said that without the adoption of this principle they would not get men to serve whose services would be of the greatest possible use upon the County Councils. It was said that there were great problems to be solved, and they could not get men of eminence, men of special knowledge in special departments, to go through the worry and trouble of contested elections. But did not all those arguments apply equally to the constitution of the House of Commons? He maintained that if the so-called experts and men of eminence were prompted by a patriotic and public 988 spirit to give the benefit of their services to the County Council they would not shrink from the worry, if it be a worry, of a contested election. The hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Amendment had well pointed out that the School Board elections disproved this. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had said that the selected principle in Municipal Councils had worked very satisfactorily. He (Sir Charles Russell) had heard it again and again asserted, in relation to the great Municipal Bodies of the North of England, that those Bodies had proceeded upon the principle of either conferring the dignity of Alderman on men already in the Council on account of political services either inside or outside the Council, or else of bringing from outside the Council men who had stood for popular election, and had been unsuccessful. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board said that there were many persons who would be willing to serve if they could serve without having to stand a contest. But where were these remarkable men? He denied that selected Aldermen were in any marked degree, if at all, better than the men elected by the popular voice. Of course, if the Government had made up their minds not to accept this Amendment, the Amendment would not be successful; but, nevertheless, this was a matter on which a stand ought to be made.
§ MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
said, he was sorry that he found himself obliged to agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Charles Russell), but he could not possibly support the Government against this Amendment. He voted for the principle of selected Councillors in regard to the rural County Councils, because he thought that in the counties there were men who had amply proved that they had done their work well in the past, who were, undoubtedly, experienced administrators who were connected by permanent local ties with the districts in which they lived, and who, it might be argued, really ought to have seats on the new County Councils without going through the turmoil of contested elections. But there was no such class in London. The only class, unfortunately, who had had experience of municipal public life in London was the very class 989 about whom they would all say they must go through the preliminary purgation of popular election before they could become members of the County Council. The hon. Member for London (Mr. Baring) had said there were many men of great distinction in Science and Art and statecraft who ought to be members of the County Councils. Certainly; but the hon. Member went on to say that these gentlemen had not time to undergo election by a popular contest. But if they had not time to do that, how could they have time to do the work of the Council, which they all knew would be difficult and complicated, and require the very greatest attention? They did not want a dilettante Body of men to sit on the County Councils. They wanted men who would give up their whole time and attention to the work of the Council; and he was afraid that, however distinguished in other ways might be the men selected, they would not be men who could possibly give adequate time and attention to the routine business of the Council. Surely, what they wanted in London above all things was to stir up a spirit of local interest. They wanted to get the very best men of all classes to train themselves in local politics and local business. Were they taking the best step to achieve that result? It was most difficult in London to get the ordinary ratepayer to come to the poll. If, however, they did anything to cause the ratepayer to believe that even if he gave his vote the final composition of the Council was independent of it, he would be still less likely to take the trouble to record his vote. He (Mr. Whitmore) was aware he differed from almost everybody who at upon his side of the House. He hoped he was not presumptuous in expressing these views, but he did honestly believe that the proposal of selected Councillors would not add to the practical efficiency of the County Council of London, and, therefore, he could not support the proposal. Moreover, he did not think he would be doing right if upon this subject he gave a silent vote.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had said that the system proposed by the Bill was totally different from the system adopted in the case of the exist- 990 ing Bodies of London. But he seemed for the moment to have forgotten the Metropolitan Asylums Board. The constitution of the Metropolitan Asylums Board was expressly devised in order to introduce into that Body men of superior capacity and attainments. With that view there was conferred on the Local Government Board the power of nominating one-fourth of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. The Local Government Board was able to scour London for its nominees, absolutely untrammelled by those other considerations which would unavoidably intervene in the case of elected Councillors. The Local Government Board was able to pack the Metropolitan Asylums Board to the extent of one-fourth of its composition with those delightfully superior persons of whom they had heard so much, but of whom he feared they saw so little. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was satisfied with the result of the principle as applied to the Metropolitan Asylums Board? Had the action of the Metropolitan Asylums Board been such as to command the respect of the ratepayers of London? He (Mr. Pickersgill) knew very well what answer the right hon. Gentleman must give to that question; for, little more than two years ago, at the close of the inquiry into the management of the Eastern Hospitals, the Local Government Board poured upon the Metropolitan Asylums Board as scathing a censure as was ever incurred by a public body. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the best men would not stand the racket of a contested election. But they knew from experience that the best men would do this. They were able, against the right hon. Gentleman's theory, to cite the experience which London had upon the occasion of the first election of the London School Board. The right hon. Gentleman was providing a back door for the entrance of those superior persons, but he was deceiving such persons with false hopes. They, probably relying upon the expedient he had devised, would hang back from entering into competition with other men as they otherwise would do, and the result would be that there would be an elected Body of very middling capacity, and it was contrary to all reason and experience to suppose that a Body of middling capacity would choose any but men of 991 middling attainment for their fellows in that Body. He was much surprised at the attitude assumed by the hon. Member for North Kensington (Sir Roper Lethbridge), because, if his memory served him, the hon. Member originally placed on the Paper an Amendment almost identical in terms with that now under discussion. He should like to know what had induced the hon. Member to change his mind?
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE
said, that earlier in the evening he explained the reason which had induced him so far to alter his mind as not to support the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. J. Rowlands). His reason was that the Committee had already, by a very large majority, decided that throughout the country there should be selected Aldermen. He much regretted that decision, and he voted against it; but, it having been arrived at, it became them loyally to accept it. Personally, he saw no reason why London should be an exception to the general rule.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said, he wished the hon. Gentleman had abided by his original intention; in the case of the hon. Gentleman second thoughts were not the best. He did not profess to entertain any hope that they would be able to carry their point to-night. No doubt, they would be over-borne by the weight of numbers; but, at all events, they would have the satisfaction of making their protest. He, for one, felt that they had time on their side, and that before many years were over the House would endorse the vote which a good many would give to-night.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, he could not understand why there was so much excitement upon this matter. London, of all places, possessed a large number of business men, and everyone knew that it was the business men who did the best work in the country. At the same time, it was well understood that active business men would not frequently go through the turmoil of a contested election. The example of the School Board went very far to prove that, for whereas, at the first election, men of high standing did present themselves, now they scarcely got a man of high reputation to offer himself as a candidate. Personally, he did not see any reason whatever why London should be 992 treated differently from the rest of the country.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes after Twelve o'clock.