Slike strani

we might scrape together of old 40-pounders, old 20-pounders, muzzle-loading 16-pounders, and the lighter part of the siege-train, enough in number for the defence of London ; but any scheme of defence must include a sufficient supply, for all purposes, of guns of position of the most effective kind and newest pattern, and these have still to be manufactured.

Such, then, is the result of a comparison of the plan described with our existing resources. But it is needless to say that no plan could be adopted without being maturely considered and approved. And not till it is approved can it be set in operation. Meanwhile events will not await our convenience; foreign states will obstipately pursue their own plans without reference to it; and the outlook which the Continent affords at the present moment is at least uncomfortable. There are probably millions of people in this country who flatter themselves that nobody can possibly harbour evil designs against such an inoffensive and excellent nation as ourselves, and that if such designs did exist they would excite general reprobation. The facts, unfortunately, are quite different. Who are the friends that are to stand by us in time of need? All our great neighbours have known at one time or other what it is to be dominated by an enemy; our immunity has caused them no special satisfaction; and our calamities would excite no other general tone of reflection than this--that the turn of England, so long in conning, had come at last. The statesmen of the Continent, who without emotion saw Germany rise upon the ruin of France, would set about fresh schemes for the balance of power, in which England would no longer count, with dry eyes and cheerful countenances.

It is, then, because the subject of defence is so pressing that the present writer again and again invites attention to it. It is also because the concurrence of the public is so essential. All Governments in this country have a great reluctance to enter on any scheme which involves a large expenditure; therefore, however needful it may be, they prefer not to look at it, which it is easy not to do when there are so many less risky subjects to which to direct their attention. It is certain, therefore, that any serious and sufficient measures for the defence of London must be approved and aided, if not originated, by the municipal authorities of London, supported by the desire of the inhabitants. To them I would, then, commend the consideration of this paper. The fact must be accepted that any plan will cost money and entail inconvenience. To many minds these objections are insurmountable; but if they are to be allowed to prevail, that will be to proclaim that we are such slaves to our love of money and our dislike to incur inconvenience as to be incapable of exercising the faculty of self-defence which is an attribute of all who call themselves men.



An attempt was made in a previous number to give an account of the most material factors which require to be taken into consideration in framing any scheme of Local Government. They were shown to be-Counties, Unions, Urban Sanitary districts, Rural Sanitary districts, School Board districts, Highway districts and parishes. With the exception of counties and certain parishes, each of these districts has an elective administrative body involving the expenses of a separate registration and all the paraphernalia of a little local kingdom, and, above all, speaking generally, a separate rate or tax.

Two important factors in addition to the foregoing have to be considered: police, and, above all, licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors. The police are usually paid out of a separate rate, but are managed by the county and town authorities. The authority having jurisdiction in respect of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors is the justices acting either in quarter sessions, petty sessions, or licensing sessions; but no rate is required for the purposes of the licensing authority, as the expenses are paid out of the county rate as part of the expenses of the justices.

The origin of these areas and authorities is as various as their descriptions; three principles have been involved in their creation :-

1. Historical considerations.
2. Natural selection.

3. Official pedantry. The county and the parish may be selected as having derived their birth from historical, or rather mythical, parentage, on the ground that no one can exactly discover the reasons why they assumed their present shape.

Probably counties owe their origin to small kingdoms formed by conquerors; and the resulting division of the land amongst the conquerors generated either manors or village communities, the germ of parishes--the one area, the county, being at the top, and the other, the parish, at the bottom of the scale of local areas in England. However this may be, their origin must be attributed to conditions arising rather from the political situation of the then existing communities than froin any considerations as to their aptitude or

inaptitude for purposes of local government. Natural selection or a sense of the necessity, with a view to social advancement and mutual assistance, of combining together on particular spots, has led to the foundation of cities and towns. The larger towns require for their regulation larger powers of self-rule than smaller towns; and if from the first this principle had been followed, if the investiture of urban communities with judicial and sanitary powers had been graduated according to the scales of population, the contrast which now exists between towns of large populations with powers only a little more extensive than those of a country village, and of country towns scarcely larger than country villages, with a government not much less powerful than that of a large town, would never have existed, and consequently would not have led to the difficulties which occur in readjusting urban government.

Still even thus counties, towns, and parishes, had they been left to their natural affinities, would have admitted of rearrangement without any serious alteration of the existing powers of local government, or disturbance of existing obligations and liabilities. The possibility, however, of fitting on the new garments required by increasing civilisation to the old bodies was almost destroyed by the official pedantry which set down in the midst of the old authorities the new organisation of unions, in many cases overlapping counties, and mixing up in hopeless confusion towns and country villages, by reducing towns for the purposes of the poor law to the condition of mere aggregates of villages. Even so a hope remained of a satisfactory readjustment till the counter process took place under the sanitary laws of extracting the towns from the unions, and setting them apart each on its own isolated pedestal, and creating an area called a rural sanitary district out of the residue of the union.

Never were words so skilfully devised to disguise the real state of the county as the names urban and rural sanitary districts. The words seem to express the results of a careful and systematic organisation. An urban district implies an aggregation of men requiring police, sanitary laws, and other special laws for the regulation of a considerable number of individuals packed closely together. A rural district should properly mean a group of villages containing a considerable population, and so situate as to be adapted for subordination to a common system of rural government; instead of which urban districts are towns scattered over the whole county, varying in population, powers, and forms of government, and rural districts are broken scraps of unions grouped together from the mere accident of their having formed for poor-law purposes part of an area called a union.

The existing local authorities for the county are the Justices in Quarter Sessions and the Justices in Petty Sessions; the Guardians govern the unions, and are the sanitary authorities in both urban and

rural districts; Highway Boards in certain cases manage the highways; School Boards preside in school-board districts; and Vestries constitute the parochial authorities.

The powers of local government, having reference to the mode in which they have been and should be dealt with in Acts of Parliament, may be divided into three classes and be roughly described as follows:

Class 1. County Powers. 1. Police. 2. Main roads.

3. Confirmatory and appellate powers in relation to licences for sale of intoxicating liquors.

4. General administrative powers of justices in quarter sessions.

5. Special administrative powers in relation to carrying into effect various Acts of Parliament--e.g. cattle-plague--and vested in counties and quarter-session boroughs.

6. The exercise of the central powers intended to be delegated and now exercised by the Local Government Board, Board of Trade, and the Home Office, with the reservation to the central authority of the power of making inquiries, receiving reports and appointing auditors.

7. The administration and distribution of subventions out of national funds.

8. The collection of certain taxes proposed to be handed over to the county authority.

Class 2. Intermediate or District Powers. 9. Poor-law relief and administration. 10. Town improvement and urban powers. 11. Powers of assessment committees.

12. Administrative powers of justices in petty sessions in respect of licences for the sale of intoxicating liquors and otherwise.

13. Inspection and prevention of nuisances. 14. Roads other than main roads.

Class 3. Parochial Powers. 15. Sewerage and drainage. 16. Elementary education. 17. Gas and water supply.

18. The establishment of public libraries and the execution of Acts the execution of which is vested in the parish authorities.

19. Powers and duties relating to registration and other matters vested in or imposed on the vestries or overseers.

Such are the materials which must necessarily enter into the construction of any Local Government Bill. It is time to see how they have been arranged in the vast scheme of legislation proposed by the Government. The primary administrative areas of local government consist of counties and ten boroughs named in the schedule. The counties, with the exception of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, are counties at large, the Ridings of Yorkshire and the Parts of Lincolnshire being treated as separate counties. The Isle of Ely, the liberties of Peterborough and Ripon, and all other liberties are merged in the counties.

The boroughs named in the schedule are to be increased by the addition of eight more. They would properly have been named counties of towns, and practically include all towns having a population of more than 100,000 persons. The secondary administrative areas are called county districts. The faulty organisation of the union is here followed. The county districts are the existing urban and sanitary districts. An attempt is made to surmount the numerous overlapping towns and overlapping rural districts by declaring that an overlapping urban district is to be situate in that county in which the greatest part of the population is situate ; and that overlapping rural sanitary districts are to be divided by the county boundary, the part in each county forming a separate rural district, or else being annexed to some existing rural district.

Four administrative areas are thus created : two primary areasnamely, counties at large, and boroughs of 100,000 inhabitants and upwards; two secondary areas called county districts, and consisting of urban sanitary districts and rural sanitary districts. How are these areas to be goverred? With respect to the eighteen boroughs of 100,000 inhabitants or upwards the answer is obvious. They retain their municipal councils; but a new elective body must be created in the county, to be called the County Council, in place of the justices in quarter sessions.

The county council is to be constituted and be in the like position in all respects as the council of a borough, divided into wards, with the difference (why this condescension to old-world and antiquated prejudices ?) that the mayor is to be addressed as chairman, the aldermen as selected councillors, and the other councillors as elective councillors, with a few other variations. In short, every county in England is to be assimilated to Birmingham, and to be parcelled out after the fashion of the wards of Birmingham.

The resemblance, however, between a county and a municipal borough is not so close as to preclude the necessity for giving special instructions as to the principles to be adopted in forming the wards. First as to the towns. Is it intended that the towns should be considered as altogether merged in the county, and that the whole area is to be cut up into sections containing equal populations, or is any provision to be made for a separation of the urban from the rural population ? The answer to this question is to be found in the clauses

« PrejšnjaNaprej »