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These companies formerly discharged various public functions connected with their respective trades, and were once doubtless of great public utility. Every trading citizen, rich or poor, man or woman, could become a member, and was sometimes obliged to do
It is probable that the companies are still legally “empowered to compel every tradesman in London or the suburbs to take
his freedom in the company; and every tradesman or craftsman has the right to be adınitted. The companies are bound to teach the trade to all who come to learn, and to
PROVIDE FOR THE POOR, infirm, and decayed out of the lands which they were by charter permitted to acquire." (Firth's “ Reform of London Government, " pp. 101-2. London: Sonnenschein—" Imperial Parliament” Series.)
It need hardly be said that the companies themselves recognize no such obligations. The Goldsmiths' Company still exercises a vexatious and unnecessary “hall-marking" of gold and silver; the Fishmongers' Company still inspects and condemns stinking fish; the Apothecaries' Company maintains botanic gardens and grants inferior medical degrees; the Gunmakers' Company tests and stamps gun-barrels; and the Stationers' Company sells almanacks and maintains (most inefficiently)a register of published books. But these, with some feeble efforts of the Plumbers, Turners, Coachmakers, and a few other companies, practically cover the surviving public services rendered in return for the magnificent public property administered by the companies.
The necessity for reform has long been manifest. In 1884 a Royal Commission presented an exhaustive report, signed by such moderate reformers as the Earl of Derby, the Duke of Bedford, Viscount Sherbrooke, Lord Coleridge, and Alderman Sir Sidney Waterlow, in which they recommended the
IMMEDIATE INTERVENTION OF THE STATE “ for the purpose of (1) preventing the alienation of the property of the companies of London; (2) securing the permanent application of a considerable portion of the corporate income thence arising to useful purposes; (3) declaring new trusts in cases in which a better application of the trust income of the companies has become desir
They also recommended that the companies should be compelled to publish accounts; that their constitution should be reorganized, and that admission to the livery should cease to confer the Parliamentary franchise (C., 4073, 1884).
But as the companies now fulfil practically no useful functions, and can no longer be made open to all London citizens, there is no reason why they should still be permitted to deal with London's inheritance. They must be dissolved, and their functions, rights, property and duties transferred to the County Council (or perhaps to the suggested Hospitals and Charities Board, see p. 22) as the representative of the people of London. The first step is to pass through Parliament a bill to safeguard this public property from secret alienation, conferring upon the London County Council power to prepare a scheme for the management and distribution of the magnificent heritage of the people of London.
THE PROPERTY OF THE POOR. Of the vast amount of property given or bequeathed by way of endowment of various charities, much has been stolen; and much is still being jobbed or misapplied. There is no complete record even of existing charities; no official statistics exist of the charitable endowments; no general public audit, supervision or control checks the waste or misappropriation of the Property of the Poor. The “Charity Commissioners" interfere, sometimes unadvisedly, in special cases, but they have no general authority over charities as such. Trustees of charitable funds are bound to render accounts to the Commissioners, and, in the case of parochial charities, to the Vestry (18 & 19 Vic. c. 124, s. 44), but many disobey the law, which is not enforced. Those returns which are received are not published.
The annual income from charity property administered by the City Companies is about £218,000 (see p. 45); the income from property of 19 general hospitals is £41,962 (Memorandum on Medical Charities, by C. 0. S.-see p. 21); the “ City Parochial Charities,” reorganized in 1887-9, possessed an income of £108,000, of which about £40,000 or £50,000 a year is being diverted to * Polytechnics,"
Open Spaces,” etc.; the income from property of other endowed charities of London is estimated to exceed £150,000 (see List in Charity Organization Review, Aug. 1888, p. 356). Some of them, such as “The Foundling '
and Christ's Hospital, are among the “great landlords” of London (see p. 9). The total property income of all the London Charities must amount to at least half a million sterling annually (not including the “corporate "income of the City Companies-see p. 45). The total income from all sources of metropolitan charities is put at £4,000,000 (Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. xiv. p. 833); or, at least, £3,000,000 (see the statistics in Charity Organization Review, Aug. 1888, p. 358).
For all England and Wales, Mulhall (Dictionary of Statistics, p.79) estimates English Charitable Endowments in 1876 as follows :
£2,198,000 “The real estate comprises 154,000 acres of land and some house property.” It is believed that this is an under-estimate of the present value, and that much school and other property is excluded. The old Charity Reports of fifty to seventy years ago showed an income of £1,209,395, and large groups of charities were exempted. The Charity Commissioners since 1853 have authorized sale of land value £6,715,550, and their official trustees hold about fourteen millions sterling of investments. The older Universities possess (with the Colleges) over £10,000,000 of property. “The Endowments are£280,000 per annum in Oxford, and £235,000 in Cambridge” (Mulhall, p. 457). The charitable endowments bear, however, a very small proportion to the whole property of the community. Even if they amount to £100,000,000, this is little over 1 per cent. of the aggregate wealth (see “ Capital and Land”-Fabian Tract No. 7).
PERVERSION OF CHARITIES.
Much London property has been, and is being, diverted from the poor and working classes, for whom it was given or left, to the benefit of others. Property left by Atwell, for employing the unemployed, and by Hunt for apprenticing boys and relieving decayed tradesmen of the Skinners, has been taken for middle-class or secondary education. The usual plan of the Charity Commissioners is to take poor's money, and (with the help of the Education Department) pervert it to middle-class education, giving a small portion to be competed for by children from elementary schools. Much of thàt property of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge which was given for poor scholars is now thrown open to competition, and largely obtained by the rich, whose sons have, by training, advantages over poor men's sons. The abuses of Christ's Hospital and “God's Gift," Dulwich College, are well known. A scheme for the perversion of Southwark Free Grammar School was begun in 1889. Rent-charges belonging to charities (generally each of small value) have been, and are being, lost by neglect. Even now, the Charity Commissioners make new schemes, appointing as trustees of charities persons elected by the London close vestries or “co-optated.”. Very frequently, donors of charities left land to corporations subject to keeping so many boys at a school, or paying such a sum to charity. Frequently (but not always) it is held that no part of the unearned increment of value of the land accrues to the charity.
By the “ Mortmain ” Acts, Parliament forbade land to be left to the people, and also threw hindrances in the way of free gifts of land to the people for charitable or public purposes. There are, however, a number of specially favored charities or charitable objects to which gifts of land by will or otherwise are partially allowed. The time has come to repeal the Mortmain Acts entirely. Now that land in mortmain is (partially) subject to "corporation duty” in licu of death duties, and charities are subject to revision by Parliament, most of the reasons for the Mortmain laws are gone. Voluntary “land nationalization” for charitable purposes should be encouraged, not discouraged.
THE POLICE AND THE POLICE COURTS. London has two entirely distinct police forces, the “Metropolitan” and the “ City” Police. The former (established under Mr.-afterwards Sir-Robert Peel in 1829) is now wholly paid for out of the rates levied by the several parishes, but is nevertheless entirely controlled by the Home Secretary. He appoints the chief officers, supervises the administration and the accounts, and is consulted about all important orders. The people of London have nothing to do but to pay the bill. The bill is heavy. In 1888-9, the total expenditure was £1,597,832, equal to almost precisely one shilling in the pound in London's rates (one-fifth of the whole rates).
(House of Commons Return, No. 127 of 1889.) The City police cost, in addition, £117,746 annually (expenditure for 1886-7). (House of Commons Return, No. 423 of 1889.)
The Metropolitan and City police district (established by 2 and 3 Vic., c. 47) comprises, however, an area more than five times that of the "administrative county” of London. It has a radius of 15 miles from Charing Cross, and covers 688 square miles.
It is a rapidly growing area. Since the year 1849, when the police numbered 5,493, there have been built 513,278 new houses, and 3,123 are still in course of erection; 1,853 miles of new streets have been added to the charge of the police, and the population has increased from 2,473,758 to 5,590,576, which means that in regard to population alone, the cares of the police have increased 126 per cent. To guard that enormous population, the Metropolitan police provides 30 superintendents, 837 inspectors, 1,369 sergenants, and 12,025 constables, a total of 14,261. (Report of Chief Commissioner, 1889, C-5761; price 4 d.). The City police furnishes, in addition, about 1,100 men.
Drivers and conductors of public carriages deposited with the police 23,187 articles in the course of the year, and of these 10,338 were returned to their owners, and the rest were sold. The convictions for drunkenness, recorded against drivers and conductors were 1,527. The number of summonses issued on the application of the police was 12,574, and in 11,710 the result was conviction ; this shows a marked increase on 1887. Another growing duty of the police is the taking of persons injured, or otherwise wanting medical aid, to the hospitals. Of such cases there were 6,300 last year, or 17 every day-an increase of 300 on the year before. The total number of persons apprehended was 75,807, or 207 every day, and of these 49,606 were summarily convicted, 22,711 were discharged, and the remainder committed for trial; 4,400 beggars were “run in”; 481 persons were apprehended for “having no visible means of subsistence," and 295 of them were duly punished therefor; 2,797 prostitutes were apprehended for “annoying male passengers
and other offences. (C5761.) The police register, license and inspect common lodginghouses (see p. 28), cabs and omnibuses (see p. 51), tramway cars (see p. 35); they license drivers and conductors, as well as hawkers and pedlars; and they are responsible for carrying out the Smoke Nuisance Abatement Acts (53 summonses; £278 16s. 8d. fines and costs imposed, in 1888). Yet the people of London have no shadow of control over them or their proceedings.
The twelve police courts are paid for out of the national exchequer, and London's representatives have no control over the twenty-two magistrates. The courts and magistrates cost £66,564 in 1888-9, of which £12,519 was recouped by fees (H.C., No. 127 of 1889)largely a tax on the "justice" of the poor.
With proper precautions against abuse, the fees for summonses might well be abolished. “To no man will we sell, to none deny justice" (Magna Charta).
LONDON'S PUBLIC HOUSES.
The licensing of public houses was not affected by the Local Government Bill, and still rests in the hands of the Justices of the Peace, an exclusively capitalist body, nominated by the Lord Chancellor. The following are the statistics for Middlesex and the metropolitan divisions of Surrey and Kent :
2,869,833 6,515 1,726 8,241
4,154,191 9,066 2,535 11,601 (House of Commons Return, Session 1889, No. 152.) Although the area covered by these statistics is not precisely that of the “ Administrative County” of London, it may be taken as fairly representing it as regards the number of licensed houses in proportion to population. This stands at one licensed house to every 358 people. The proportion for all England and Wales is one to every 202 (H.C., No. 152, 1889). The total number in the Metropolitan Police District is 14,028; on the other hand, the number of bakers in the metropolis is only 3,346 (C—5761).
Whether this proportion is considered correct or not, it appears absolutely necessary to place the full control over the granting of licences to sell alcoholic liquors in the hands of the people of each locality, through popularly elected representatives.
LONDON'S CABS AND OMNIBUSES.
The first “ hackney coaches” date from about 1625, when there were 20 of them : the first omnibuses from 1829 (Ency. Brit., vol.xiv. p. 823). The number licensed in 1884 and 1888 respectively was as follows :
Hansoms. Four-wheelers. Omnibuses.
1,898 (C.-5,761.) There are 585 cabstands, and only 38 “cabmen's shelters.” The police also license conductors and drivers in the case of cab drivers, after an examination as to knowledge of London geography, at which over one-third of the candidates fail). The number licensed in 1888 was, cab-drivers, 15,514 ; omnibus or tramcar drivers, 5,395; conductors, 7,238; total, 28,147 (ibid, p. 12). The licensing may be convenient to the public, but why charge these poor men fees for it?