§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, after the word "shall," to insert the words "half-yearly."—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'half-yearly' be there inserted."
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he did not know whether or not the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board accepted this Amendment, which would, he thought, make the clause somewhat clearer.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. SHAWLEFEVRE,) Bradford, Central
said, he did not think the Amendment at all necessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
said, he had the following Amendment on the Paper:—Page 1, line 17, leave out from the beginning to "that," in line 21, and insert—The grant due from that one-half of the fund to each parish shall be determined by three Arbitrators to be appointed by the Local Government Board, who shall apportion the amount of half the Equalisation Fund among the sanitary districts.In making such apportionment the Arbitrators shall have regard to the following considerations:—181
- (a) the population of each district;
- (b) the rate in the pound required in each district in order to provide the amount expended in each district for the purposes hereinafter mentioned;
- (c) such other matters as are in the opinion of the Arbitrators necessary to be considered in order to enable them to carry out the object of this Act.Where a sanitary district comprises two or more parishes, the Arbitrators shall divide the grant due among those parishes, and in making such division shall have regard to the same considerations as are mentioned in the preceding sub-section with reference to apportionment.Provided nevertheless that.He was aware that this Amendment was no longer in Order, the Committee having decided that the London County Council should determine the grant due in some form or another. As the Bill stood, the proportion of the distribution was a mere matter of arithmetic, as the authorities were directed to apportion the fund on the basis of population. The object of the Amendment was to provide that the grant should be determined not in proportion to population, but in such proportion as might be fixed by three Arbitrators to be appointed by the Local Government Board. No doubt the population plan was a rough-and-ready method, which might, in the majority of cases, be found to work out with more or less fairness. But there were a few parishes in which it was certain, at any rate, that under this plan injustice would be done. He submitted that as it could be shown that in one case, at least, the theory failed to secure justice, that was primâ, facie evidence that the theory itself was faulty, and should not, therefore, be adopted by the Government as the basis on which the fund was to be distributed. In support of this argument, he would remind the Committee that for many years the corpuscular theory of light was accepted, but it was subsequently discovered that one fact would not fit in with the others, so that the whole theory was discarded as unsound. In the same way in regard to equalisation, if it broke down in one parish, or inflicted injustice, it showed that after all they had not got hold of the right theory. One important factor in dealing with equalisation had been left untouched by the Government. In the distribution of the fund no regard whatever was paid to the different needs and requirements of the parishes that were to receive it. That lay at the root of the whole thing. If the population proportion worked out without doing injustice it would not much matter, even if it were not absolutely correct; but if it was not correct, they must find out the cause. If they were going to equalise the 182 rates, they must take into account what the existing rates were in any parish or district, for they would be distinctly the measure of its requirements. They must take the various factors into consideration and work out a formula which would have the effect of introducing them. No one on the other side had suggested such a formula. They did not intend to do so. Then he ventured to suggest that the only way of distributing the money so as to bring about an equalisation of rates in the several districts was to leave the matter in the hands of Arbitrators to be appointed by the Local Government Board. That was the suggestion he put before the Committee to-night. Anyone who read the Amendment as it originally stood would see that one of the factors he proposed the Arbitrators should consider was population. The next factor was one which obviously should be brought in—namely, the rate in the £1 required in each district in order to provide the amount expended in each district for the purposes of the Act. Then, if justice was to be done, they must bring into account other factors which could not be enumerated in the Bill without leading to great complexity, but which, in the opinion of the Arbitrators, it might be necessary to consider, and which every sensible man who made such an apportionment would consider. One was the question of compounding, which made the rates appear in some parishes 1s. in the £1 higher than they actually were. If they were going to equalise, they must start not with the nominal rate as it appeared in each parish, but with the actual amount. As he had said over and over again, to decide the question of distribution on the mere basis of population could not possibly meet the justice of the case. It had been shown, and practically admitted, that, taking the basis of population in the case of Kensington and Islington, the principle of the Bill broke down. But there were far worse cases than that. St. George's-in-the-East and Bermondsey were both poor districts. The rates in the former parish were 5s. 5d. in the £1, and in the latter 7s. 4d., a difference of 1s. 11d. What would happen under the Bill? The district which had the lowest rate would get a reduction of 5 3–10d. in the £1, whilst Bermondsey would get a reduction 183 of only 3 3–10d. Obviously, therefore, the principle broke down, and instead of equalising the rates it would make them more unequal, giving the poorest parish and the one with the highest rate the least amount of relief. If the House was to be content to pass these things by thinking it too late to discuss them, and that they should be content with the extremely rough test of population, so be it; it was not worth while to bother any more; but it was obvious that the principle of the Bill was not a sound principle. Though the right hon. Gentleman said, with some confidence, that on the whole the parishes that ought to receive would receive, and the parishes that ought to pay would pay, he had shown that the parishes which ought to receive most did not receive most. He would take the cases of St. George's, Southwark, and Bethnal Green, where the rates for 1892–3 were almost precisely equal, in the former parish being 6s. 7d. and in the latter 6s. 6¾d. in the £1. These two parishes were practically equal in their rates and in their poverty, and yet the Bill proposed to give to St. George's 4 2–10d., and to Bethnal Green 8 4–10d., or nearly double. Obviously that was not equalisation. It might be said, "But Bethnal Green is probably a poorer parish than St. George's, Southwark." That was no answer to the argument, because what they had to look at was the burden on the individual in each parish. Take a man living in a £20 house in St. George's, Southwark, and another in Bethnal Green. They were both, probably, of equal capacity to bear the burden, and if they were to equalise they ought, as far as possible, to make the burdens equal. Therefore, when they considered that the burdens were to measured in that way, and they were to have regard to persons equally rated with an equal capacity to bear the burden, it would be seen that to give one parish twice the relief of the other was not equalisation. If they were to do even rough justice the system proposed by the Government should not be adopted. He considered the best way to carry out a plan of equalisation was to allow the work of apportionment to be done by Arbitrators, who would have certain lines laid down on which they might proceed. The test of population was too rough if 184 the proportions of population remained the same between Census and Census—from 1891 to 1901; but it was obvious that in 10 years there would be vast shiftings of population, and that the inequalities which existed now were likely to be much more magnified at the end of the double quinquennial period. For that reason the test of population, rough and uncertain as it was now, would get worse and worse as time went on. If his proposal were adopted the Arbitrators would have regard to shifting population. For these reasons he ventured to move the Amendment.
Amendment proposed, page 1, line 18, after the word "fund," to insert the words—
In such proportion as may be fixed on by three Arbitrators to be appointed by the Local Government Board."—(Mr. Bousfield.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that an analogous Amendment to this was discussed on Friday night, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, stated on behalf of his friends that the proposal of submitting the whole question to three Arbitrators was one which they could not possibly accept. He did not think, therefore, that it was necessary for him to deal at length with the arguments of the hon. Member. It appeared to him that of all the alternatives suggested to that contained in the Bill this of leaving the matter to three Arbitrators was the very worst, because the Arbitrators were to determine absolutely at their own discretion——
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
I intend, if this principle is accepted, to move the latter part of the Amendment which gives directions to the Arbitrators.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the hon. Member intended to move the latter part of the Amendment at some later stage. The Arbitrators were to act upon their own discretion subject to two or three directions which were not conclusive. The Amendment was one the 185 Government could not possibly accept. He admitted there were some anomalies, but they were not the result of the scheme. The parishes which would pay had an average rate of 5s. 1⅓d., and the effect of the Bill would be to bring them up to a little beyond 5s. 4d., whereas the average rates of the receiving parishes, which had been 6s. 3d., would be brought down to 6s. The difference between the two classes of parishes in the past had been 1s. 1d., but in the future it would only be 7d.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) was very glad to quote his opinion, but he should only quote it as far as it had been given. The point on which he differed from the hon. Member (Mr. Bousfield) was as to the Arbitrators. Beyond that he thought there was more force in the principle on which the right hon. Gentleman would justify equalisation than there was in the principle of the Bill. The hon. Member proposed—In making such apportionment the Arbitrators shall have regard to the following considerations:—(a) the population of each district; (b) the rate in the pound required in each district in order to provide the amount expended in each district for the purposes hereinafter mentioned.That was a legitimate test and standard to apply. The difficulty they on the Opposition side of the House had to encounter in amending the Bill was want of information from the Government. On that point he might have more to say as different Amendments came before them. Then the hon. Member proposed—(c) Such other matters as are in the opinion of the Arbitrators necessary to be considered in order to enable them to carry out the object of this Act.He was sure what was in the hon. Member's mind was the difficulty of finding a solution of the problem by any cut-and-dry method at all. The difficulty was to find the machinery to carry out the scheme, and with regard to this the Government had never attempted to meet the objections raised. The principles which had been laid down by his hon. and learned Friend ought to have found their way into the Bill, which in removing some anomalies created others. He trusted, however, that his hon. and learned Friend would not think it necessary to divide the Committee, because he 186 (Mr. Goschen) would not be able to support the proposal for the appointment of three Arbitrators. The hon. and learned Member, however, had done good service in calling attention to the fact that they could not decide a question of this kind by population alone.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said that, so far from the average being 4s. 10½d., it was something like in some cases 5s. 6d. in the £ 1. The average rate in the City, he was assured, was 5s. 2d., and not 4s. 6d. The Government had given them very little information, and what little they had given was utterly irreconcilable with the statements of the Government. It was an extraordinary thing that in connection with a Bill dealing with such an enormous sum of money the Government should give them so little information. The statements they had made were not only not borne out by the information hon. Members possessed, but were irreconcilable with the facts laid before them. This was a most extraordinary mode of dealing with a very important question.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
desired to say that the argument drawn from averages failed when applied to a Bill of this sort, on which they were dealing with particular instances in order to equalise. Of course, they might take the rates of the whole of Loudon and say, "The average is so much in the £1," but the object of equalisation was to pick out the high rates and the low ones and to try to equalise them. When the right hon. Gentleman said, "I average the half that pay and the half that receive," he was leaving out the factors to which they must have regard. Take the half that received. The right hon. Gentleman averaged it, but when they found that one parish received twice as much relief as another they could not help thinking that the scheme of equalisation was a bad one. With regard to the Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had not dealt with the principle of arbitration at all, but had gone off on the details of the proposal. If the principle had been accepted it would have been easy to agree as to the details.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.187
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said, the object of the next Amendment which stood in his name was to secure that those parishes or sanitary districts whose rates last year were above the average should alone be recipients this year of the Equalisation Fund. The avowed purpose of the Bill was to equalise rates, but if the Equalisation Fund were devoted to sanitary purposes in districts in which the sanitary rates were below the average the measure failed to achieve its ostensible object. He submitted that the fund should go to those districts whose rates were above the average, and not to those whose rates were below it. He could not conceive on what ground this Amendment could be criticised. The arguments advanced against the Amendment he moved when the Bill was last before the House were certainly not applicable to this. Probably the plea of extravagance would be again put forward, but that could better be dealt with later on when they came to deal with the question of controlling the expenditure of the money. At any rate, he could not imagine that any parish or sanitary district already overburdened with rates would have the effrontery to further force up its rates.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 18, after the words "sanitary districts," to insert the words—
Whose total sanitary rates in the previous year shall exceed the average sanitary rates of all the parishes in London in that year, and in proportion to the amounts properly expended by such sanitary districts in the previous year for sanitary purposes in excess of such average rate."—(Mr. Kimber.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, there was but little difference between this Amendment and the one the hon. Member moved on the previous Friday night, and in his opinion the same arguments applied to both. The Amendment if carried would prove a direct incentive to extravagance, because a parish whose average rate was below the average would be tempted to raise that rate in order to share in the Equalisation Fund. He therefore asked the House to reject the Amendment.
§ CAPTAIN NAYLOR-LEYLAND (Colchester)
said, the right hon. Gen- 188 tleman did not appear to have borne in mind the fact that the great object of the Bill was to improve the sanitation of London, and that the Amendment tended in that direction by securing that the fund should be applied to sanitary purposes.
§ MR. GOSCHEN,
on a point of Order, asked if the Amendment before the House were negatived it would preclude debate on that of the right hon. Baronet's, the Member for London University, which sought to secure the addition of the following words:—Provided always that, unless the rates in a sanitary district shall on the average of the last three years have exceeded or fallen short of the average rate (hereinafter defined) by at least 6d. in the £1, such district and the parishes therein shall not be liable to contribute, or entitled to receive, any sum to or from the Equalisation Fund for the year?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ CAPTAIN NAYLOR-LEYLAND
In the absence of the hon. Member for North Islington, I beg to move the Amendment standing in his name.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 18, to leave out from the word "districts," to end of sub-section (4) and insert—
At their discretion with a view to equalise as far as possible the burden of local taxation in different parts of London, having regard nevertheless to the following considerations:—
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'in proportion to their population' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, his Amendment laid down that this 6d. rate—as it might be roughly called—should be collected and distributed by the London County Council on certain definite principles. He was not known to be a strong supporter of the London County Council; he should have preferred that this fund should be distributed by the Local Government Board; but looking at the matter from a practical standpoint, and considering that they had got a London County Council established, it was reasonable that that body should have the distribution of the fund. He believed that if the administration of the fund were placed in the hands of the London County Council with definite principles—such as those in his Amendment—laid down for their guidance, they would administer it far fairly and more justly than it would be administered if any such haphazard mode, as a system of population—such as the Bill proposed—were adopted. He had gone with great attention and care into the way in which the Bill would work out, and he found that certain parishes would be very hardly hit, indeed; and although some of those parishes were small, it was no consolation to the individual, who was hardly pressed, that he belonged to a small parish. It had been his lot for many years to have to do with poorer persons in Loudon; and he had no hesitation in saying that the rates pressed as hard on what might be called the thriving and well-to-do small men of the richer districts as on any persons in any other part of the Metropolis. He candidly admitted that he was unable to invent any system of distributing this money which would do equal justice to all the parishes. If a large sum of money were pressed on Islington, which he represented in the House, Islington, naturally, would be glad to accept it; but looking at London as a whole, there was no doubt that if there was a fair system—allowing for the good administration of the local affairs of Islington, which would fairly give them a lower rate than many other parishes—it was not reasonable that some other parish 190 should pay them a large sum of money. He had always been a supporter of some fair system of the equalisation of rates; and he had always held that the present system was not fair. He was sorry that the Government had not accepted the Amendment which would confine this fund to the sanitary improvement of London, for if that had been done a great deal of the difficulty in connection with the Bill would have been got over. One of the great difficulties which those who desired to see London improved had to contend with was that population had a tendency to concentrate itself and become more dense in certain parts of London. In such parts as Bethnal Green and St. Giles, the very nature of the employment to be obtained there—the manufacture of small toys, for instance—tended to make them more congested; and as this Bill said to the parishes—"The more populous you are, the greater will be the benefit you will receive from this fund"—it would, of course, encourage the further concentration of population in those already too crowded portion of the Metropolis. This was not a Party question in any sense—it was above Party; and he thought it deplorable that while one of the great evils which those who had the well-being of London at heart tried to get rid of, was the dense concentration of population in certain parts of London, this Bill should directly encourage that concentration. In parishes where the population was already great, and which would get benefit from the Bill in the shape of reduced rates and reduced rents, the population would naturally have a tendency to become still more congested. He really thought, therefore, that the principle of the Bill, by which the fund was to be administered to the parishes according to their population was a very bad principle. His Amendment would hand over the administration of the fund to the London County Council, and lay down certain rules for their guidance. He could not see why the Government should oppose the Amendment. The London County Council was a body elected by the inhabitants of London; and although he had no great opinion of them, it seemed to him that if they were given some definite instructions—and he might say he was not unwilling to have his Amend- 191 ment modified—they would make a more just division of the fund than could possibly be done under the accidental, dangerous, and most disastrous system proposed by the Bill.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the Amendment came very strangely from the hon. Member, for on Friday the hon. Member was not prepared to concede to the London County Council even the power of simply administering the fund.
MR. BARTLEV (interposing)
said, he would very much rather that the Local Government Board should have the administration of the fund; but as his Amendment to that effect had not been accepted, he thought his present proposal was far better than the proposal in the Bill.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that was no answer to the argument. On Friday the hon. Member moved an Amendment which would deprive the London County Council of even the purely administrative duty of distributing the fund; and he now moved an Amendment in a directly opposite sense, for he proposed to give to the London County Council the widest possible discretion in the distribution of the whole of the 6d. rate, amounting to £800,000 amongst the various parishes. It was true the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to limit the discretion of the London County Council by laying down certain principles. But these principles were not binding legally. There was no obligation at law on the part of the London County Council to take those conditions into consideration. The Amendment merely submitted those conditions to the London County Council. Did the right hon. Gentleman think it right and reasonable to trust the London County Council with such a wide discretion? Nothing he had said in the past would give one the impression that he was prepared to trust the County Council in this matter, and he did not think the County Council would at all desire to have such a wide discretion left to them. It would be a most difficult duty to undertake without raising difficuties and endless opposition in every part of the Metropolis. There was no indication of the way the duty was to be performed. Under the Amendment it would be possible for the County Council 192 to say that a 6d. rate should be levied in St. George's, Hanover Square, and St. James's, Westminster, and the whole of the proceeds distributed amongst the poor parishes. There was no local limitation on their discretion. He presumed the hon. Member intended to tack on to his proposal the further Amendment giving an appeal to the Local Government Board; but, again, there was no direction as to what principle the Local Government Board was to adopt in, giving a decision upon the Bill. The Local Government Board might not assent to the settlement of the County Council and might redistribute the money. The result as it appeared to him would be that the Local Government Board would be flooded with appeals from the ratepayers, hundreds of whom would be dissatisfied; so that if the question were re-opened in respect of one parish it would be necessary to re-open similar questions in respect of all parishes. The result would be to give an endless amount of litigation to the Local Government Board to decide, ending in a state of affairs which would be absolutely intolerable. The fact was, the distribution under the proposal of the hon. Member would be so delicate and difficult that it should not be entrusted to any Local Authority. He could not conceive how hon. Gentlemen opposite who had not in the past shown much confidence in the County Council could propose to entrust to it a duty so onerous, delicate, and difficult. The right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, seemed to think that it was the duty of the Government to provide an alternative scheme.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had implied that the Government had not supplied the Opposition with sufficient information to enable them to adopt an alternative scheme. There had been several alternative schemes brought forward, some of which had been still-born, some of which had been discussed, and one of which was that before the Committee, and he ventured to say that every one was open to far more serious objections on the ground of grave inequalities of every kind than the proposal of the Government. The scheme at present before the 193 Committee sought to impose a dangerous and difficult task on the County Council which they had no desire to undertake, and which, if undertaken, they could not fulfil with satisfaction to the ratepayers of the Metropolis.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he would point out the position in which they were placed. The question as it was put from the Chair was——That the words 'in proportion to their population' stand part of the Clause.That was the Question as against the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington. It was clear that if the Amendment of the hon. Member were to become the Main Question they would then be able to amend it; therefore, they had not got simply the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman before them, but an alternative which they could further discuss. If these words stood part of the Bill they would be precluded, so far as general principle was concerned, from moving any alternative scheme. Therefore, they had arrived at the point when they should consider whether they should accept the principle of compulsion. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had said that no alternative scheme had been proposed which would hold water. But the right hon. Gentleman's own scheme did not hold water. They could not help thinking that one scheme they had proposed would hold water, if the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the principle that it was sanitation the Committee ought principally to fix attention upon. If the proposal of the Opposition in that sense had been accepted, other proposals would have been submitted which in their results would have been infinitely more acceptable than the proposals of the Government.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he presumed that he might be allowed to state the case; for the parish of St. John, Hampstead, in which he lived, and to explain the objection entertained by the Hampstead Parochial Authorities to the plan of distribution by population. The great parish of Hampstead was happily one of those that were rising rapidly, both in population and in rateable value. He observed that in each decade the parish rose about one-third in population and one-third in 194 rateable value. The Parochial Authorities apprehended that this Bill would increase their burdens, and that when they came to pay the contribution that would be demanded from them under this Bill they would have to make an addition to their rates. They apprehended that this increased burden would become heavier during each year of the current decade. On the other hand, the only asset that could be set against this liability was the increase in their population. They would contribute upon rateable value and would receive upon population. But while their contribution would increase every year their asset would not go on increasing, because under one of the later provisions of the Bill the population upon which they would receive would not be the population of the year on which they paid, but the population of the last Census. The present decade was still comparatively young——
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
Perhaps I may say that I propose at a future stage of the Bill to move an Amendment which will make the Census quinquennial, so as to avoid the long period of 10 years.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for this information, which raised a large question, which, of course, he should not be prepared to argue at that moment. A quinquennial Census for London would mitigate the objection he was stating—in fact, it would halve it. There was, however, still the objection that during the five years the parish would continue to receive upon the population indicated by the Census, whilst it would pay upon an increasing assessment. He should think that a quinquennial Census would be difficult to carry out, but, no doubt, it could be accomplished. He might be permitted to complete his argument, which was that year by year there would be perhaps an appreciable addition to the burdens of the parish without any corresponding addition to the assets. Nothing could remove this objection except the making of some annual estimate of population. He admitted that this was impossible, and therefore the plan adopted by the Government was very objectionable in the estimation of the authorities of the well-managed parish in which he lived. He was sure that there were no 195 ratepayers who less deserved to have a burden put upon them than those amongst whom he lived, for there was no parish which did its duty better or whose affairs were better managed than that of Hampstead.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said, he did not know whether the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) would charge him as he had charged his hon. Friend (Mr. Bartley) with inconsistency, inasmuch as he had voted infavour of assigning to the Loudon County Council the arithmetical duty of computing how much had to be paid by and to the various parts of London under the Bill, but he could not help expressing his extreme reluctance to vesting in the London County Council, of which he was privileged to be a member, the distribution of this money according to its discretion. He thought, nevertheless, that the Committee was indebted to his hon. Friend for having very laudably attempted to devise a plan which was not based upon population. If Members of the Committee had not been successful so far in devising any plan as an alternative to that of the Government, it must be borne in mind that they had not the information and resources at their command which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw-Lefevre) possessed. He could not resist the belief that if the right hon. Gentleman had made all the use he could of his resources he would have been able to bring forward some better plan. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman had set his powerful mind to work to devise some other expedient, because the right hon. Gentleman seemed, on succeeding to the Office which he now adorned, to have taken over the absolute text of the Bill from his predecessor. If the resourceful mind of the right hon. Gentleman had been brought to bear upon improving the Bill, he (Mr. Cohen) thought that a far more satisfactory measure would have been produced. He certainly disapproved the principle of population. He believed it to be unjust, and he thought that if it were rejected by the Committee it would be possible to devise a plan which would be more satisfactory than that of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, if he examined the Amendment, would see that it did not in any way touch 196 the question of levying the rate. The Amendment did not affect in any way whatever the system on which the contributions of the various districts were to be raised.
§ MR. COHEN
went on to say that in reference to this Amendment he was not swayed by any want of confidence in the Loudon County Council. His reason for not desiring to leave this matter to the London County Council was that that body had, at any rate, as much, and in his judgment had more, work than they could adequately and efficiently discharge. To add this new duty to their work would be to impair the efficiency with which their present duties were discharged, and to strike another blow at localisation—at that home rule of which, under circumstances far less appropriate, the Government had avowed themselves the apostles. The result must be to add another reason to those which deterred from taking part in local administration those persons whom it ought to be the object of every wise system of local government to attract into the important and useful work of local government. He believed that if the Committee rejected the system of distribution according to population they would Vie able to devise a scheme of distribution which would have regard—first, to the needs; secondly, to the claims of the districts; and, thirdly, to the efficiency with which the grant was distributed. For these reasons he should vote without hesitation for the omission of the words of the Bill.
§ MR. FISHER (Fulham)
said, he shared the view expressed by his hon. Friend who had just sat down, that population was a very false and erroneous basis of calculation to adopt in reference to the distribution of the grant. At the same time, if population was to be taken as the basis it was necessary to get the Population Returns fairly and approximately correct. Glaring as many of the inequalities and anomalies under this Bill undoubtedly were, he thought that one of the most glaring of them was to be found in the method of calculating population from the Returns of the last Census. Even the promise which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. 197 Shaw-Lefevre) had given as to a quinquennial Census would not do substantial justice to his (Mr. Fisher's) constituents. The Bill made each parish contribute on its annual rateable value, whilst the grant was distributed according to the population as shown by the last Census. Fulham was probably the most rapidly growing part of the whole Metropolis. It had an enormous area still unbuilt over, and therefore from Census to Census for some time to come it must every year continue to show a great annual increase in its population. What would have been the result if the Bill had become law in the decade from 1880 to 1891? In 1880 the Census population of Fulham was 42,895 and the rateable value was £190,136. Year by year the rateable value went on increasing until in 1890 it was 385,407. If the Bill hail been in force the parish would have had to pay upon this increasing rateable value, but it would have received each year of the decade upon the population of 42,895, although by 1891 the population had risen to 91,639, and had thus more than doubled. If the Bill had been in force since the Census of 1891 Fulham would have received its share of the grant upon the population of 91,639. The rateable value of Fulham, however, had gone up ever since 1891, when it was £426,551, and it was now £484,851, whilst the estimated population was now 108,000. The population was growing at such a rate that he regretted to say he fully contemplated that by the time we entered upon another century it would be very nearly 200,000. They would only be receiving a proportion according to the last Census which gave them a population of 91,000, and they were increasing at such an enormously rapid rate that a very great injustice would be done to his constituency if they were to be treated on the basis of population according to the last Census. He did not wish to go more fully into the matter, and he had made this statement now instead of upon his own Amendment, because the right hon. Gentleman interpolated the remark that he would propose that a quinqennial Census should be taken for the Metropolis. That would in a sense meet the injustice; though in fact, to calculate it upon 91,000, which was the population 198 of his constituency at the last Census, would not be quite satisfactory, because the population would really be about 120,000. The only real way of meeting the injustice would be to have an annual estimate made of the population. There were so many anomalies and such injustice involved in this question that they ought to give up the idea of population as a basis of contribution. At all events, he thought he had made out a case that when the population was enormously growing, and must continue to enormously grow, the Bill would inflict great injustice.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, the discussions that had taken place last Friday, and again this evening, showed how much better it would have been if the Government had been satisfied with the Second Reading of the Bill and then referred it to a Select Committee. His right hon. Friend in charge of the Bill said this was a rough-and-ready measure of justice. He saw the roughness, but where the justice came in he could not see. They had had another discussion this evening, which showed how much more consideration this very little question deserved. He did not complain of the Government, as he admitted the perplexity of the question; but at the very last moment, without any warning, they were told they were to have a new Census for London every five years. Why was not that in the Bill? Because it was an afterthought, and what he wished to know was who was to pay the expenses?
I must draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact there is nothing of that in the Amendment.
§ MR. FISHER
On a point of Order may I ask if we shall have an opportunity of discussing the question of the quinquennial Census?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
When the hon. Member moves his Amendment, I will state what the alternative scheme is which the Government propose. I mentioned it to show that we were ready to meet the views of the hon. Member.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, he did not wish to discuss the question; he only wished to know who was to pay the expenses; because if London was to pay for it, then in the majority of the dis- 199 tricts the Census would cost them more than they would receive under the Bill.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER) (St. Pancras, E.
wished to say a few words upon the rapid changes that took place in the population of various districts in London. The district 'he represented was totally different from that of his hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Fisher). His was a railway district, and the Midland Railway had encroached in the district very much, a large number of small tenements having been pulled down, which had not been a benefit, but rather an injury to the locality, and the tradesmen in that part of the district were hardly able now to earn a living. There were also very rapid changes in London every year, and in one year Somers Town lost 7,000 or 8,000 of its inhabitants; therefore, he was glad to hear they were going to have a quinquennial Census, but he would point out that if they were going to have population as the basis of collection they should go closer than every five years. In another Bill that passed through the House the basis of population was taken. He could not refer to that Bill—the Parish Councils Bill—as it would be out of Order, but he might point out that in a village near Manchester, during the construction of the Ship Canal, the population was over 300, and this was the case when the Census was taken in 1890; yet now, owing to the completion off the Canal, there was only one solitary individual left in this heretofore village, who, according to Statute, would have to form himself into a Parish Council, as on the 1st of next January all districts which, according to the Census of 1890, had 300 inhabitants would have to do so. That was an instance which showed how rapidly in any particular district the population might change, and though in London the case might not be so gross, there were very great changes taking place. But further than that, this Bill only took into account the night population; and not only in the City but in Wrapping, where there were chiefly wharves and warehouses, and in other parts of London, the night population was comparatively small, and in these cases, where so many of the population—as in the case about the docks—worked for so very poor a return, was it desirable to put on this 200 additional tax? Another objection to the basis of population had been pointed out, and it was that in some cases the workhouses were not in the parishes to which they belonged, but the population of these workhouses would be counted in the population of the district in which the workhouses were situated. The right hon. Gentleman had taunted them with not producing another alternative; but there was the alternative of the Municipal Common Poor Fund, and many others which he believed would work very much better and more fairly than the very rough and, as he thought, unworkable proposal contained in the Bill, where the only basis was that of population.
§ MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
said, he wished to know how the right hon. Gentleman proposed to carry out the important proposal contained in the statement he had made. The great argument against the present Amendment used by the right hon. Gentleman was that he would mitigate the injustice of the Bill by proposing for London that in future there should be a Census taken every five years, and he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed to insert clauses in the Bill that would give effect to that proposal? He did not think he should be out of Order in saying that he happened to be a Member of the last Census Committee, which recommended a Quinquennial Census throughout England. The last Government would not assent to that proposal, which he knew could only have been carried out by a Quinquennial Census Bill. Every Census, as he was aware, involved a considerable expenditure of public money.
§ MR. WHITMORE
said, he would not proceed further with that, but would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed to include in the Bill clauses that would provide for the taking of a Quinquennial Census? If he did, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would, by that proposal, add enormously to the difficulty of getting this Bill through the House.
§ MR. BURDETT-COUTTS (Westminster)
said, the right hon. Gentleman was determined to stick to the sham title of equalisation of the rates, and 201 seemed determined to resist every attempt made from that side of the House to give some verisimilitude to the title. The right hon. Gentleman rejected the opportunity provided by this Amendment of, to some extent, equalising the rates of London in connection with this Bill, and insisted upon his method of distribution according to population. If they were to have that method, as the Debate upon this Amendment had practically been turned into a Census Debate, it seemed to him absolutely essential that they should have a yearly Census, and that that Census should be taken according to the option of Local Authorities in particular districts. It was the mode, apparently, to speak of one's own constituency, and, therefore, he might be permitted to speak of his, and to instance the fact that in Westminster at least they had to sanitate for the day population, they had to sanitate for the maximum population, and the difference between the day and night population of Westminster was 100 per cent. It seemed to him that if this standard of population was adopted for the distribution of the fund, at least every effort should be made to form an accurate estimate of the population for whom the sanitation was to be carried out. The most striking instance of the rapid increase of a population would be afforded by the conversion of the site of Mill-bank Prison into lodging houses, which would, in the course of a few months, increase the population of Westminster by some 4,000 souls. It seemed to him that for Westminster to be deprived of the rights which it would have under this Bill, owing to its increase of population, for four or five years, and at the same time, owing to its increase of rating, to have to contribute an increased sum to the fund, was one of the most glaring instances of the injustice of this Bill could be found.
§ MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
wished to ask whether it would not be possible to have these calculations made by some responsible body like the Local Government Board? As the Bill stood it was full of anomalies. For instance, his own parish received 7½d., whereas the parish represented by his right hon. Friend who represented Poplar received 11⅓d., Limehouse and Shadwell received 9d., 202 whilst Mile End Old Town only received 7¼d., and St. George's-in-the-East only received 5¼d. These showed there must be something radically wrong in the way these amounts had been calculated, and if they put it into the hands of a responsible body like the Local Government Board they would be distributed in a way that would give greater satisfaction, and would be more in accordance with an equalisation of the rates. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the question and see how necessary it was to adopt some plan that would give a greater degree of satisfaction.
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
said, he thought they had arrived now at an Amendment that was the very crux of the Bill. Having decided that the contribution was to he 6d. in the £1 all round, according to the rateable value, and put into a common pot, the question was whether that should be distributed according to population? The question was not exactly the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Islington—that would be the second question put. As he understood it, the question would be whether the words "distributed according to the population" should stand part of the Bill? He took a few of the words that fell from the Minister in charge of the Bill as a test of his sincerity as to the grounds on which he intended to proceed. The right hon. Gentleman stated with great triumph that no one could agree with the alternative proposals made to those contained in the Bill, and that they all involved some defects or anomalies which were worse than the plan proposed by the Bill, and that the anomalies that would exist under the Bill were not the result of the scheme under the Bill, but would exist in spite of the scheme of the Bill. He was going to show the right hon. Gentleman that he was entirely wrong. The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to accept the truth of the statement he made the other night, and he was going to convince the right hon. Gentleman now with more correct data taken from two authorities that would be accepted as good foundation for his argument. One was from the return made by the London County Council of the ratings in all the parishes of London for 203 the five years from 1889 to 1893 and the average of those ratings, and the other was the Parliamentary Return which was in the hands of hon. Members. As to the anomalies which existed under the Bill, and whether they were the result of the Bill or not, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to listen to this analysis of the rates on the average of five years in every parish in London. He would give the anomalies, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would find the two categories of them amounted to 39 distinct anomalies—divergences greater than now existed or would exist under any other plan. Though the right hon. Gentleman was fond of saying that if the Bill contained anomalies it did not contain so many as other plans, he had not pointed out yet a single anomaly in any of their suggestions. All the right hon. Gentleman had said was that the tendency would be so and so, and that to give money to any one would tend to extravagance. That might be so, but it was not an anomaly, and he was going to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the anomalies under the Bill, and caused by the Bill. There were three parishes in London whose average rate was 5s. 7d.—that was equality at present, but what was done with these three equal rates? Two of them were put down, and one was put up, so that positively these three which were equal before were made distinctly unequal, and the divergence between them was considerable. Take the next at 5s. 6d. At present there were four parishes rated at 5s. 6d. on the average of five years. These four were at present equal, but they would be made unequal, and the divergence created between them would reach as much as 9d. in the £1. Take 5s. 4d. There were eight parishes in London rated at present at 5s. 4d.—equality again. What did the Bill do with them? The effect was to put three of them up and five of them down, and the extreme divergence between them was nearly 9d. Take the next at 5s. 3d., at which rate there were three at present equal, and they were treated in this way: Two of them had to pay—that was to say, their rate was increased to 5s. 7d., and the other was put down to 5s. 2d. There were three other parishes 204 that were at present equal at 5s. 2d., and one was made to pay nearly 4d. extra, another was put down 2½d., and the third was put down by 2d.
§ MR. KIMBER
Yes, the rate I am speaking of is the average of the rates for five years—from 1889 to 1893.
§ MR. KIMBER
said, the hon. Member could make his answer presently. The strongest statement of all was that there were two parishes at present rated at 5s., one of which was put up and the other down. If they added these divergences together, they would find they were 28 in number, 28 divergences created by the Bill, and consequent upon the Bill and not existing in spite of the Bill. But that was not all. Taking the right hon. Gentleman's own way of putting it, the right hon. Gentleman said that the average of all London was supposed to be about 5s. 5d. He forgot whether the right hon. Gentleman said it was 5s. 5d. or 5s. 3d., but he would take him either way. Assuming it was 5s. 3d., the right hon. Gentleman said the effect of the Bill was that nearly all above the average received, and nearly all below paid. He ventured to contest that statement, and here were the figures. There were no less than six parishes above the average of 5s. 3d. at present on the average of five years which would under the Bill be called upon to pay more than at present. The hon. Member shook his head, but it was so. Taking the parishes below the average there were three that would receive. But if they took 5s. 5d. as the average there were three above who paid and eight below who received. These added 11 anomalies to the other 28, making 39, and he might go one and show that even where the rates were above 5s. 7d., although all the parishes received, they received in extremely unequal proportions. He would give the right hon. Gentleman one case of a great divergence. His own parish on the average of five years was rated at 5s. 10d.; 205 that was put down, and was entitled to receive 0.84, that was 4–5ths of a penny, but other parishes rated at 5s. 6d. or down as low as 5s., received a subsidy of from 2d. to 6d. in the £1. That showed that while the right hon. Gentleman was right in saying that parishes above the average received they did not receive in equitable proportions among themselves. Again, the parishes below the average paid in unfair and inequitable proportions. In the 28 cases he had stated to the Committee, and the names of which he could give if necessary, there was a distinct divergence instead of an approximation. He submitted the proper course for the Government to adopt in this case was to let the Bill stand over until an investigation could be made into the whole matter by some Committee or other Representative Body in order to ascertain what would be the fair principle for the distribution of this fund.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
said that, having regard to the course the Debate had taken, he thought it well to suggest what he had intended to incorporate in a subsequent Amendment. He made the suggestion not in the hope that the Government would accept it now, but that they would between this and the Report stage give the matter their serious consideration. It had been pointed out that to take the simple basis of population as the basis of the division of this fund would work out manifest injustice in certain cases, and what he suggested was that, instead of population simply, they should take population and the sanitary rate jointly; that was to say, they should arrive at the proportion in each case by multiplying the population by the sanitary rate. [Laughter.] Just let him explain what the effect of that would be. In every casein which he had been able to examine what the effect was it had been to reduce the glaring inequalities which had been pointed out. The operation seemed to excite the merriment of the Government. He supposed they had made up their minds that whether taking the basis of population gave just results or not they would take it. But if it could be proved that a truer and better result was more equally arrived at by making the division according to the proportion of population and 206 the sanitary rate jointly he did not see why the Government should ridicule the suggestion. It was quite obvious that the President of the Local Government Board was throwing as much ridicule as he could upon the suggestion without examining it or ascertaining how it would work out. Let him tell the right hon. Gentleman how it would work out in the three typical cases in which it had been shown that injustice would be done by the Bill. In the case of Islington and Kensington the proportions were determined by the figures 319,000 and 166,000; that was to say, Islington had a population of 319,000 and Kensington 166,000, the sanitary rates being 1s. 4d. and 1s. 5d. If they multiplied 319,000 by 16 in the case of Islington, and 166,000 by 17 in the case of Kensington, and took the product as the basis of their division instead of the simple numbers of the population, that would tend somewhat to reduce the amount given to Islington in the division, and increase the amount returned to Kensington. Take the other case of St. George's, Southwark, and Bethnal Green, where in 1892–3 the rates were almost exactly equal; but where, according to the Bill, they proposed to give to one parish double what was given to the other. The Bill proposed to divide in proportion between these two of 59,000 to 129,000 representing population. If they took the sanitary rate, which in one case was 2s. 2d. and in the other 2s. 1d., and multiplied 59,000 by 26 and 129,000 by 25, taking the product as the basis of the division, they would tend to reduce the inequality of 2 to 1 and make the two parishes more nearly alike. St. George's-in-the-East and Bermondsey were both poor parishes, the rates in the one being 5s. 5d., and in the other 7s. 4d. in the £1, and the Bill proposed to give the most highly-rated parish only 3 3/10d., and the more lowly-rated parish 5 5/10d. The sanitary rate in St. George's-in-the-East was 1s. 8d. in the £1, and in Bermondsey 2s. 3d. If they multiplied 45,000, the population of St. George's, by 20, and 84,000, the population of Bermondsey, by 27, the result would be instead of St. George's, which was the lowest rate, getting 5d. and Bermondsey getting only 3d., they would get very nearly equal amounts. In each case the inequalities 207 were reduced, and justice was more equally done than if they took the simple figure of population. He hoped the Government would consider this suggestion.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (who was received with cries of "Divide!")
I think hon. Members opposite who show, perhaps not unnaturally, signs of impatience at this time of the Session must remember that it is not our fault that a Bill of this kind, touching as it does all our constituencies, comes at a time when the House is really wearied, and would like to be relieved of its labours. Here is a Bill vitally affecting London—not only affecting our constituents individually, but vitally affecting London—introducing new principles for the division of money which is raised upon the whole of the Metropolis, which comes on when hon. Members are thoroughly worn out on a Bank Holiday, when the attendance is such as not to give us a representative House, and now at this moment, when we have not got a representative House to deal with this important question, we have a totally new suggestion made—a valuable suggestion from some points of view—for a new quinquennial Census for London. That is introduced in a single phrase from the right hon. Gentleman, which he will no doubt afterwards expand, as if it were not a matter which would require very great consideration from every point of view. The fact is that, while, on the whole, it may improve the justice of the Bill, it will involve very considerable expense to the Metropolis at large unless the right hon. Gentleman intends it should be an Imperial charges, which, I hope, he does intend. If not, then I have to say that the rates of London are running up very much, and, in addition to all the existing charges, the Government, through the adoption of a bad principle of population, are driven, in order to amend their proposal, to introduce a measure for taking a quinquennial Census for London at the expense of the Metropolis. That is a very serious proposal to lay before us, and I do hope that hon. Members opposite, though they may find themselves weary, will remember that our constituents are deeply interested in this matter, and will, therefore, give us some latitude, as I think we may fairly claim. In the 208 first instance, with regard to the Amendment of my hon. Friend behind me, I have already said a word on the subject. But we have two questions—the principle of population and the Amendment of my hon. Friend. The principles which my hon. Friend has introduced into his Amendment, I think, ought to commend themselves to the approval of every Metropolitan Member. Hon. Members may say they do not approve of the County Council carrying it out, but with regard to the principles involved, I consider them to be infinitely better than the point of population alone. Are these not considerations which ought to be taken into account in determining the distribution of the fund raised upon the whole of the Metropolis? What are they?The amount of the local rates in each individual parish in relation to the average rates for the whole of London.That is a principle which ought to be taken into consideration, but which you exclude by taking it on the point of population. The second point of the Amendment is—The circumstances of the local rates in each parish, and whether they are especially high on account of some expenditure specially local and beneficial mainly to the individual parish.What can be more just than that principle? We talk of equal rates, or of higher or lower rates, but we do not take into consideration in so doing, whether they are specially local and beneficial, and whether the rates are not high, because a parish has, for some particular purpose, run up the rates. I look through the accounts and see many cases where that has happened. There are cases which could be proved if we had the necessary investigation, where rates have been made higher through special local circumstances. Another principle in the Amendment is—The relative number of ratepayers rated at £20 and under, excluding compound householders.I think the whole Committee are of opinion that this question of compounding enters largely into the consideration, and I am informed that in the Press particularly favourable to the Government it is admitted to be a matter deserving of consideration, but they say it ought to be 209 taken into consideration after the Bill has passed. I should think that is rather too late to take it into consideration then. What other points does my hon. Friend raise?The efficiency with which the rates are collected in the parish; the economy with which the rates are administered in the parish; the sanitary condition of the parish and the increased sanitary efficiency of the parish produced from year to year by the Equalisation Fund granted to that parish.There I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I consider it to be one of the greatest blots in the Bill that there is absolutely nothing which will ensure that there will be an increase of sanitary efficiency produced by the Equalisation Fund. That I consider one of the great defects in the Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman has not thrown out the olive branch in any way or given us any assurance that any security will be taken for the application of this fund. The right hon. Gentleman might shorten these Debates if, in the same way as is proposed in reference to the Census, he had said that before the stage was concluded he would accept some Amendment or endeavour to work out some clauses by which we may not simply transfer the burden, but may have that which I have insisted upon so often as almost, I am afraid, to weary the Committee—namely, security that the sanitary conditions are the better carried out. That is a point to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee. If the words dealing with the distribution of the fund according to population were omitted from the Bill—and I should certainly vote for their omission—I should then move an Amendment to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, because I am not prepared to hand this duty over to the County Council. I suggest the Local Government Board should undertake it, and that there should be an Order in Council, or that a Provisional Order should be submitted to the House of Commons, so that the House of Commons itself should be able to ratify and take note of the distribution to be made. I do not think that that would be an entirely satisfactory solution. The right hon. Gentleman says that all the solutions we propose are worse than that in the Bill. When he attacks our solutions, he finds weaknesses in them, no doubt; 210 but when we attack his principle of population, we find it breaks down almost at every point. Everyone who has listened to this Debate will admit, and the right hon. Gentleman himself has admitted, that it has great imperfections. He has already admitted that the population is a shifting one, and yet your rate is not to be changed except once in every 10 years; therefore, the Government are stereotyping the principle of population. One of my hon. Friends, the Member for Putney, has shown that in his constituency the population has more than doubled in 10 years, so that this parish would have been contributing under the Quinquennial Census to other parishes where the population might have decreased. If you had stated that the City, St. George's, Hanover Square, and one or two other parishes should pay £20,000 or £30,000, and you had distributed the money among the poorer parishes, that would have been an equally relevant and rough-and-ready method of carrying out the principle which the right hon. Gentleman has put in the Bill, and in some respects it would have been more candid. There you would have seen that you carried out that which the right hon. Gentleman said was the object of the Bill. He disguises it under the principle of population; but when you come to population he sees he cannot carry it out. He says it must be a night population. Is sanitation not important for the day population? You put the test of population into your Bill, and apply it only so far as it suits your convenience for that larger purpose which you wish to carry out. Neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any of his friends has dealt with the point I have raised, which I think of great importance, and which ought to appeal to everyone who represents a poorer constituency. You are going to help these poorer constituencies and parishes to which population flocks—those parishes which have received accessions of population—but those parishes which had dwindled in their population from decaying industry, and which are as poor as any other parish in the Metropolis, come off badly by the very reason of their poverty. I consider that is a very great defect in this Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman says that our competing plans break down, and he 211 twitted me with having said we should have assistance from the Department and further information in order to work out the scheme. Certainly, we ought to have had more information, and I frankly state to the right hon. Gentleman that is why I did not propound a plan myself—because I have no information as to how much is spent on sanitary efforts in the various parishes of the Metropolis. That information is not in these taxation Returns. You cannot distinguish what is spent under the Public Health Act of 1891 or for other purposes. It is mixed up altogether. If I had put forward a distinct policy which I would have followed myself, it would have been to look in great part to the needs of these parishes to their sanitary expenditure, and to work that in with the other tests which might be put in the Bill. But I cannot do that, because I do not know how far the various parishes would be affected. I do not know how it would work out, and, therefore, I have not ventured to put it on paper. That confirms, to an extraordinary degree, the view of the right hon. Member for the University of London, that we ought to have had a Committee which would have thrashed out the information, and then we should have been able, in a friendly way, and each contributing from his own knowledge of his own constituency all the necessary data, to find out what was the pauperism in the various parishes, because that is one very important element; then what are the sanitary requirements of the various parishes, and how far they have carried them out or failed to carry them out; if they have failed to carry them out because they have not got sufficient funds, or because they have not been sufficiently active, and whether there has been extravagance or not. The House has been invited to pass the Bill in the most light-hearted manner, at the end of the Session, without any necessary information, and the consequence is that there is no doubt an extreme difficulty in working out a counter-plan. Many of us would wish to base the distribution upon expenditure properly conducted, coupled with population if you like, coupled with poverty and with the needs of the various parts of the Metropolis. That would have been far better, and I think it would be generally admitted that if it were 212 possible it would be a better mode than that of taking this basis of a shifting population in the various districts.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
The right hon. Gentleman complains of not having information. I must inform him that this Bill was before the House for the best part of last Session, and it was mainly or solely by his exertions that the Bill did not pass last Session. The right hon. Gentleman did not ask us then for information. He has had the whole of this Session and he has not once asked for information of any kind. He might, at the beginning of the Session, if he had wanted information for really framing a scheme, have put some question on the subject, but he has allowed nearly the whole of the Session to pass without asking for information, and it is only at the last moment, when we hope to carry the Bill through, it is only this very night, that the right hon. Gentleman gets up and founds his opposition mainly on the want of information. The right hon. Gentleman has all the information before him which the Government has. The Returns before Parliament relating to the different parishes are very full. They may not be quite so full as the right hon. Gentleman desires, but they are quite full enough upon which to found any scheme the right hon. Gentleman has in his mind. The real fact is that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to frame any counter scheme. None of the schemes which have been suggested to the House by gentlemen opposite are in the least worthy of consideration. They are all of them essentially bad, and the further schemes which the right hon. Gentleman has ventilated in the course of his speech are equally bad.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
desired to state to the Committee what would be the effect of this Bill in the Union which Fulham and Hammersmith comprised. The rateable value of the Fulham Union in 1881 was £446,008; and in 1891 it was £964,896; so that they would have had to pay 6d. upon the larger sum and they would only receive for their population on the rate of 1881, which was then 114,811, whereas in 1891 it was 188,875. The part of London to which he was referring was increasing with such 213 enormous rapidity that unless they were practically to have a division every year they could not do justice to it. In these new increasing neighbourhoods the necessity for sanitary work was much greater in proportion than in the older parts of London. This was especially the case in Hammersmith, where the population for the last 10 years had increased at the rate of over 2,500 a year. That single fact would illustrate the unfairness of taking the population on the basis of the last Census. That was one objection he had to the Bill, and another objection was that unless they took the sanitary expenses into consideration they could not do what was fair. His constituents wanted to receive as much assistance as they could, but they wanted to do it fairly. The President of the Local Government Board said the Opposition had as much information as the Government. Then he had to press that they had not got sufficient information to enable them to frame a satisfactory measure, and that accounted for the Government Bill being what it was. He was anxious that a measure of this sort should be fair and should be free from Party influences, and for that reason he would not give any management into the hands of the London County Council, which, though it had done good work, proceeded on political lines. Instead of the County Council they should place the matter in the hands of the Local Government Board.
§ MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)
desired to say a few words in reference to the most extraordinary speech they had heard from the President of the Local Government Board. In a very short speech the right hon. Gentleman had contrived to make a number of very inaccurate statements. He commenced by saying that this Bill was prevented passing last year mainly by the action of the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square. A more unfounded statement never was made. The reason why the Bill did not pass last year was because the Government, who were responsible for the measure, did not think it worth while to bring it forward until the very fag-end of the Session, when there was no opportunity for adequately considering it, and when, despite its various con- 214 tentious points, they desired it to be passed as a non-contentious measure.
The simple reason was because the Government did not think it worth their while, or necessary, to bring the question forward until the extreme end of the Session, and then they suggested that the Bill should be taken as a non-contentious measure. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Opposition never indicated for one moment until now, at this late hour, that they were not satisfied with the details of the Bill.
§ MR. W. LONG
The Opposition, on the Second Reading, and on every opportunity since, had pressed for more detailed information. The right hon. Gentleman shook his head, but that would not alter the facts. He, for one, had pressed that view on the right hon. Gentleman. Last year, when it was urged that the Bill might be taken, to a large extent, as a non-contentious measure, the Opposition said that, although they were not opposed to the principle of the Bill, the subject was one of difficulty, and they required further information before they could adequately deal with the subject. And on the Second Reading they expressed the desire that there should be a Committee to inquire into the whole facts and circumstances, upon whose Report the Bill should be founded, and had that course been adopted the measure would have passed without any great difficulty. Now, when the right hon. Gentleman was asked for information with regard to the proposals in his own Bill, he thought it sufficient to shelter himself behind the assertion that the Opposition could not produce a better plan. "If you know nothing," said the right hon. Gentleman, "the Government know no more." A more astonishing defence from a Minister in charge of a Bill he had never heard. What his right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's desired was, that if money was to be granted out of the rates of one parish of Loudon for the relief of the rates of another parish, there should be some other result than that of merely relieving the burden of taxation. If they were relieving parishes from a certain amount of taxation they should at the same time secure from those parishes a 215 better system of carrying out the Sanitary Laws, which was a matter in regard to which there was great room for improvement. It was often said that the administration of the Sanitary Laws all over the country was far from satisfactory; and anyone who knew anything of London knew that the administration of the Sanitary Laws in the Metropolis might be vastly improved. There was nothing, however, in the Bill which would bring about this result. There was nothing in the Bill to secure even that the money should be applied to sanitation; there was nothing in it to indicate what action would be taken if the Local Bodies applied their grants to other purposes; and there was nothing in it in the way of strong pressure on the Local Bodies to do their sanitary work better than it had been done in the past times. If the Opposition had the information they asked for, they would be able to decide whether this money would be a benefit or a curse to the parishes which could receive it. But they had not that information; and the right hon. Gentleman told them that they knew as much as he did that he had no further information to give and that as they had not asked for the information earlier they should not ask for it now. That was a monstrous doctrine for the right hon. Gentleman to lay down. Even if it were true that the Opposition only discovered those weak points of the Bill at the present stage, why should they not emphasise them, and ask for information about them? Why, when the Local Government Bill of 1888 were under discussion hon. Members opposite were constantly pressing for information on all sorts of points and at every stage of the Bill, and the Conservative Government of the day were frequently told that if they did not give this information the Bill would not be allowed to pass. The Conservative Government did supply the House with tons weight of information on every conceivable point pressed by London Members, by County Members, and by Borough Members; and the present Government ought not to complain if a demand for further information in regard to this most important Bill was made upon them. When the Conservative Government gave out of the Probate Duty grants in aid to the Local 216 Authorities, they were told that they were seducing the ratepayers.
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman cannot go into that question. The question before the Committee is the distribution of the fund on the basis of population.
§ MR. W. LONG
said, the Amendment of his right hon. Friend proposed that one of the conditions which should apply to the distribution of the grant was—(f) The sanitary condition of the parish and the increased sanitary efficiency of the parish produced from year to year by the Equalisation Fund granted to that parish.It was to that Sub-section (f) that he was addressing himself; but, of course, he bowed at once to the ruling of the Chairman, and would only say in conclusion that he repudiated in the strongest possible terms the statement of the President of the Local Government Board that the delay in passing or considering this Bill was in any way to be attributed to the Opposition. The responsibility rested entirely with the Government themselves in not bringing the Bill on earlier in the Session.
§ MR. BARTLEY
desired to say that the only object he had in raising this point was to secure, if possible, some better system of adjusting the fund. He contended that the standard of population would lead to great irregularities and hardships on many districts, and if the word "population" were left out he would be willing to accept any reasonable amendment of his proposal. He was no great admirer of the London County Council; but bad as the County Council was, even that body would not distribute the money worse than the way proposed under the Bill, and he would rather trust any individual Radical opponent—even the hon. Member for Shoreditch himself—and that was saying a great deal—in administering the fund than the scheme of the Government. He could not see why the Government refused all Amendments to the proposal, which they must see would inflict hardship and injustice.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 119; Noes 43.—(Division List, No. 212.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he proposed to omit the words, in line 21, from "population," to the end of line 26, beginning 217 with the words "with this exception," for the purpose of allowing the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to state the effect of this particular exception, and to explain how it would really act.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that no difficulty would arise where the parish and the sanitary district were the same. But where they were not the same, where the sanitary district was formed of several parishes, with separate rating for Poor Law and other purposes, by law the general sanitary expenses were borne by the district as a whole and not by the parishes separately. In such a case the district was treated as a whole for the purpose of receiving the grant under the Bill. But in order to give poorer parishes a certain advantage in the distribution of the sum apportioned to the district, it was divided among the parishes in proportion to their respective population. With regard to the complaint made by the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich in respect of Charlton, the hon. and gallant Member pointed out that although Charlton paid the sanitary expenses incurred its own parish, and was treated separately for the purpose of expenditure, it was not treated separately for the purpose of receipts from funds apart from other parishes in the district. That was so; but the Government were advised that, legally, Charlton should not bear its own expenses of sanitary work, but that those expenses should be paid out of the Common Fund, to which all the parishes should contribute rateably. If this were done Charlton would gain considerably more than lose by the mode of contribution proposed by the Bill.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it was a difficult statement to follow, though the right, hon. Gentleman had done his best to make it clear. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the result was not this: that wealthier parishes aggregated together with poorer parishes in the same sanitary district would, under the system proposed by the Bill, receive, whereas if they stood alone they would pay? That was an anomaly which was ad- 218 mitted by the President of the Local Government Board, and which did not appear to be got over by the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. STUART
On a point of Order, Sir, I beg to ask whether this is the proper place for the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London to move the Amendment he has put down?
§ MR. ALBAM GIBBS (London)
moved to insert at the end of Sub-section 4 the following words:—Provided that, in the case of the City, the population shall for the purpose of this Bill be that ascertained by the day Census taken in 1891, unless or until the Local Government Board shall take a day Census or shall call on the City to do so. Provided also, that any parish may similarly take a day Census under the superintendence of the Local Government Board, and that the word 'population' in this Act shall mean the population so determined.The hon. Gentleman said he hoped he was not asking for anything that was not fair, and he was sure his constituency would not ask for anything that was not fair. In moving this Amendment he was fully convinced that it was a simple measure of justice that he was demanding. The City had been attacked rather strongly because it objected to pay the contribution in exactly the way settled by the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India and the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill held the doctrine that any scheme was good enough, whether founded on justice or not, which had the result of taking sufficient money from the City. The Secretary of State for India put forward the argument that because the City had given before it was right that it should give again, and that the City was asked to give in the Bill put forward by the right how. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square. The City gave cheerfully to the Common Poor Fund, not only because the object was good, but because proper checks were imposed on the expenditure, and because the money was to be distributed on a rational basis. The only other argument of the right hon. Gentleman 219 consisted of the use of the blessed word "Municipality," but the area of the London County Council was a Municipality neither in name nor in fact. A Municipality raised and administered rates for the common good, and those who found the money controlled the expenditure. What had that to do with a proposal that Parliament should order the proceeds of a certain fixed rate to be handed over for administration to people who did not pay it? Nobody could say that the state of affairs applicable to a Municipality was applicable to the City.
§ MR. ALBAN GIBBS,
continuing, said, he was attempting to show that the City was right in objecting to the way in which it was proposed to take the Census. However, he would leave that subject. The only other argument that had been adduced against the basis of a day Census was that of the hon. Member for Bermondsey who made a direct attack upon the Amendment by anticipation. He drew a picture of the day population of the City leaving their offices by the back door and making off to Bermondsey, where, he suggested, they would get satisfaction for any increased rate that obtained in the City. Surely the hon. Gentleman did not mean to say that the people who left their offices by the back door and went off to Bermondsey were those who paid rates in the City. Of course these people might suffer, because with the raising of the rates their employers might have to consider whether they could afford to go on with their business, and, in order to carry their business on, might have to reduce salaries. He was sure they would be very sorry to do so, but no one could go on working at a loss for ever. Those who paid the rates in the City were the employers who did not go so much to Bermondsey as to Marylebone, Padding-ton, and St. George's, where they found their rates raised as well as in the City. Returns showed that 89,000 of the day population of the City went to stations outside the City area at night. Yet it was for that day population that the sanitary expenses were to a great extent incurred, the roads made, and the streets lighted; and he submitted that it ought 220 to be the basis of any Return of population for the purposes of the Bill. The City was in an exceptional condition with regard to its population. The small number of the night population in the City was due to the demand for offices, to the great railway facilities enabling people to live in the country or suburbs, and more than all, perhaps, to the very strict working of the Inhabited House Duty, which was 9d. in the £1 on houses of any size. Only one caretaker was allowed on the premises by night, and he must be a menial. If two persons—two caretakers or a clerk and a caretaker— remained on the premises the duty was charged not on the part of the house that was inhabited, but on the whole building, and that largely increased the amount of duty. If the duty were not construed so strictly a great many more persons would live in the offices and buildings in the City. He contended, therefore, that a night Census was not a fair basis of population to take for the City. He maintained that a day Census was not more difficult to take than a night Census. A day Census of the City had been taken three times—in 1866, in 1881, and on April 29, 1891. The Returns from this last Census showed that on that day there were 29,520 employers in the City, 202,213 male employés, 50,416 female employés, and 19,200 children under 16 years of age. They also showed that in 16 hours, from 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning onwards, over 1,130,000 persons entered the City. That was sufficient to show that the City had already enough to do with its rates. People, in talking about the City, said that the City was rich. When they were so talking many people had in their minds the Corporations of the City of London. The Corporations had a certain amount of money, and he could easily tell the Committee how it was spent.
§ MR. ALBAN GIBBS,
continuing, said, the fact ought not to be lost sight of that there was a poor population in the City as well as in other parishes, that there were many struggling traders and shopkeepers who made very little profit who ought not to be rated higher than at present, when they could scarcely 221 make enough to pay their rents. The City would rather contribute the exaction in the form of benevolence than have an unjust tax placed upon it.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, after line 26, inserts—
Provided that, in the ease of the City, the population shall for the purpose of this Bill be that ascertained by the day Census taken in 1891, unless or until the Local Government Board shall take a day Census, or shall call on the City to do so.
Provided, also, that any parish may similarly take a day Census under the superintendence of the Local Government Board, and that the word 'population' in this Act shall mean the population so determined." — (Mr. Alban Gibbs.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, this Amendment would reduce the contribution of the City under the Bill to about one-third. It stood at 5d. in the £1, and the Amendment would reduce it 1.8d. in the £ 1. He entirely denied that the City of Loudon had any grievance at all. Nor did he admit the figures of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London, who said the rates for the City were 5d. 2d. in the £1 He thought the right hon. Gentleman must have included the Militia rate and some other rates not common to the whole of London. As far as he was able to ascertain, the actual rates levied in 1891–92, as calculated on the valuation, amounted to only 4s. 8d. in the £1, while the average rates over the whole of London in the last three years were on. 3d. in the £1. Therefore the rates in the City of London were about 7d. less. The Mover of the Amendment proposed to reduce the contribution of the City of London by calculating it upon the basis of a day Census instead of a night Census. If the day instead of the night population of the City were taken, it would include 6,000 Post Office employés who never slept in the City and enormous numbers of similar people who lived elsewhere and were rated elsewhere. Why should such people be counted a second time at a place where they did not live and where they paid no rates? The principle of the Amendment was one which the Government could not entertain for a moment. Even when the City was 222 brought under the provisions of this Bill it would still pay less than the average Metropolitan rate.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, that surely they ought to have something more than the opinion of the President of the Local Government Board as to what the rates in the City of London were. He should like to know where the right hon. Gentleman got his information from.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, his figures were taken from the only available Return at the Local Government Board.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the Return showed the actual expenditure, and from that he had made up his figures.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, he thought they ought to have something more definite than the mere opinion of the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had not told them on what Return his figures were based; surely this was a reasonable question to ask. It was most unfair to take the population of the City on Sunday or at night when only a few caretakers or housemaids were left in it. The real population of the City consisted of those who worked in it and made their living in it. On the other hand, the real population was not those who slept, but those who worked and thought in the City. That population exceeded 300,000, For them the City had to provide sanitation, streets, and lighting. The expenditure was based, and must be based, not on the 37,000, but on the 300,000. The injustice was, perhaps, most glaring in the case of the City, but it was not confined to the City. The hon. Member for Wands worth had shown that out of 90 districts there would be 39 new anomalies created by the Bill. So far as the City was concerned, he maintained that to the main expense for sanitary purposes the City already paid its full share. The annual expense of the main drainage in London was £190,000 a year, to which must be added the capital expenditure and interest on such expenditure. To all this the City contributed on its full rateable value. This expenditure then was already equalised. The rest of the sewerage expenditure, that for dust re- 223 moval, &c., for the Metropolis, exclusive of the City, amounted to £320,000 a year. The cost in the City was £68,000. It was now proposed to make the City pay another £100,000; so that out of £320,000 a year the City would be paying £170,000. If these items were paid by a genera] rate the share of the City would be about £100,000. As it was, they were really legislating in the dark. For instance, the primary purpose of the Bill was to equalise, or "aid in equalising," the expenses of the Sanitary Authority incurred under the Public Health Act of 1891, and yet the Government had not thought it necessary to lay on the Table any Return showing what those expenses were. He would like to ask his hon. Friends who were supporting the Bill whether anyone of them knew what the expenditure was under that Act. Was the right hon. Gentleman himself aware? But, at any rate, he submitted that the Amendment of his hon. Friend was both logical and just, and that unless it was accepted they would really not be distributing the funds according to population.
§ MR. KIMBER
said, he understood the Minister in charge of the Bill to challenge with a direct contradiction the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for London University that the rateable value of the City of London was over £4,000,000. [Cries of "Bo, no!"] Well, the right hon. Gentleman contradicted something, and he should like to know what it was. If it was the statement that the rateable value of the City was over £4,000,000, he would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that that fact was shown by the best authority they had Criesof "Agreed!"] He was glad to hear hon. Members opposite say they agreed with his statement; and he hoped the Minister in charge of the Bill would take that to his heart. The right hon. Gentleman in his argument against the Amendment referred to figures in some Returns, which he said he could not quote. It was a monstrous thing that the House should be called upon to pass this Bill on data afforded by the assertion of the right hon. Gentleman backed up by official documents which the right hon. Gentleman said were in existence, but which he could not quote.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
It is Part 4, for the year 1891–92. It was presented on the 20tb of January of this year.
§ MR. KIMBER
said, the Committee had decided that their so-called equalisation fund was to be distributed according to population. But what was the population of a parish? Was it the number of persons who slept in it at night? Was it the workers and toilers? Who were the ratepayers of the City? Were they the persons who slept there at night? Certainly not. Who were the people for the benefit of whom sanitary measures in the City of London were taken? Was it the people who worked there during the day or the people who slept there at night? Was the health of those who lived in the City in the daytime not to be considered at all? It was absurd and monstrous to say that they were not to be counted in the population of the City. They it was who made Loudon what it was—the great Metropolis of the country, and they should be reckoned as the population of Loudon in the distribution of this dole. The right hon. Gentleman also objected to the Amendment because it would largely reduce the amount expected to be got from the City by the arrangement proposed in the Bill. The question was simply whether the Amendment was fair and just. If it were, then it ought to be accepted whatever might be its consequences.
§ MR. W. LONG
said, that while he thought his hon. Friend was fully entitled in the interests of his constituents to move this Amendment; and while he entirely agreed with the view that the method selected for taxing the City was unfair, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed to a Division. The only safe and right basis of taxation was the ability of the taxed to bear the burden, and, judged by that test, no just case could be made out for the relief of the City, which was the wealthiest part of the Metropolis. There was, however, some features of the Debate to which he would like to call attention. The President of the Local Government Board had informed the House that his calculations 225 with respect to the City were based on Returns for 1891 and 1892; but in reference to Camberwell the right hon. Gentleman the other day gave the figures for 1894. It was ridiculous and misleading to give the statistics for different years in different localities, according as it suited the purpose of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had further asked whether the sanitary arrangements of the City could he supposed to be undertaken for those who went to the City "merely for business." Certainly they were. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that all the costly sanitary work of the City was carried out for the benefit of a few caretakers? Under the circumstances, they were entitled to ask that the day as well as the night population of the City should be taken into account. However, he did not go back from his statement that the City was able to pay, and consequently lie hoped the hon. Gentleman would not go to a Division upon his Amendment.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, he would appeal to the justice as well as to the generosity of hon. Members opposite. ["Divide!"] When a large sum of money was proposed to be taken from the City in addition to the existing burdens imposed upon it, he thought he had a right to say a word on its behalf. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had said that this burden ought to belong to those who lived in the City. He admitted that; but who were they who lived in the City? Were they wholly those who were caretakers and servants, who had no connection with the City except that they drew wages for comparatively humble work, or were they the men who lived in the City day by day, doing the work and managing the affairs of the world's centre of commerce?
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER
said, it was for those who went into the City "merely for business" that all the sanitary arrangements of the City were provided. His suggestion was that the day and night population of the City, and for the other parts of London, should be added together and then divided by two. That would give the average number of the population which during the 24 hours sanitary appliances, roads, lights, &c. would have to be supplied for, and would be a much fairer basis of calculation than 226 merely calculating the night population, who were, in the case of the City, mostly caretakers. Who used the roads and streets in the City—the day or night population? Why, of course, mainly the former.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK,
who said he had looked up Part IV. of the Local Government Board Returns, but there was nothing bearing out the statement of his right hon. Friend that the average City rate was only 4s. 6d. moved to insert, in page 1, line 26, after "district"—Provided always that, unless the sanitary rates in a sanitary district shall, on the average of the last three years, have exceeded or fallen short of the average sanitary rate (hereinafter defined) by at least 6d. in the £1, such district and the parishes therein shall not be liable to contribute or entitled to receive any sum to or from the equalisation fund for the year.The right hon. Baronet explained that the object of this Amendment was to carry out the avowed intentions of the Government. If this Amendment were carried, no parish would pay unless its rate was substantially below the average, and none would receive unless its rates were distinctly above the average. The Bill as it stood did not effect its object. Another great advantage would be the simplicity it would introduce. There were 95 districts dealt with under the Bill. Of these 60 would pay or receive less than £5,000. There were only 12 which would pay or receive more than £10,000. In many eases the amounts were very small, but what an enormous amount of book-keeping, what thousands of entries they would involve, practically to no purpose. For instance, the Tower, with a rateable value of £4,000, would pay £4; St. Catherine's, £10,000, £11; Horsleydown, £80,000, £30; Lee, £135,000, £138; St. Andrew, Holborn, £235,000, £600; St. Saviour's,'£121,000, £300; St. Luke's, £320,000, £400; and Chelsea, £730,000, £900. With two or three exceptions the mere book-keeping would cost more than the districts would gain. This would be an immense addition to the expense of the Metropolis with no advantage to the ratepayers.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 26, after the word "district," to insert the words—
Provided always that, unless the sanitary rates in a sanitary district shall on the average of the last three years have exceeded or fallen short of the average sanitary rate (hereinafter defined) by at least 6d. in the £1, such district and the parishes therein shall not be liable to contribute, or entitled to receive, any sum to or from the equalisation fund for the year."—(Sir J. Lubbock.")
§ Question proposed, "That those words he there inserted."
§ It being after Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.