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That the business of running omnibuses—now nearly all under joint stock management-is a profitable one to the capitalist, the following statistics of the four companies will shew:
The burial of the dead is supervised in London by 29 “Burial Boards,” appointed by the local vestries in the City, by the Common Council). About 17 of these have their own public cemeteries, including Paddington, Hampstead, the City, Kensington, Fulham, Hammersmith, St. George's (Hanover Square), St. Pancras, Islington, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Lee, Charlton and Woolwich. Brompton Cemetery (which ought to be closed) belongs to the national government, and is administered by the Office of Works and Buildings, the annual receipts being paid into the Exchequer. The Metropolitan Burial Boards present the following statistics :
Burial Fees to
£ Expenditure 17,943 7,849 5,527 8,898 4,589 5,985
Loans outstanding, £108,602 (H.C., 341, 1888, p. 248).
This does not by any means exhaust the taxation levied on London's funerals. Owing to past individualist neglect, the provision of burial places has been allowed to become a matter of private speculation, and some of the largest London cemeteries are in private hands. Complete statistics for these are inaccessible, but the following particulars of four joint stock companies can be given :-
(See - Stock Exchange Year Book,” 1889.) The total annual number of deaths in London is about 83,000 (in 1887, 82,545; see C-5138), or about 20 per 1,000 of the population (1885, 19:8; 1886, 19:9; 1887, 19:6).* A death occurs in each household on an average once
years. Why need we add to the trouble and economic disturbance necessarily incident to death by levying a toll on burial? The disposal of the dead is a matter of common concern; the fulfilment of this public duty presses crushingly on the poor in their hour of greatest need ; " communism in funerals” is not likely to lead to reckless increase in the demand for graves; and any simplification of the extravagant expenses now incurred in the matter would be a great boon.
“ Free burial” would, moreover, enable the total abolition of infant insurance, with its accompanying evil of infant murder. No valid plea for the insurance of children would remain if the need for individual provision of funeral charges were obviated. The Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies (Mr. J. M. Ludlow) emphatically recommends the public management of funerals (as in Paris). “The real remedy as respects infant insurance, he persisted in
thinking, lay in vesting the carrying out of burials, for all classes "alike, as a public function, (in) such (authorities) for instance, as “town or county councils, or, at all events, in large companies act
* This death-rate shows a great decrease even during the present generation, due almost entirely to the steady, though largely unconscious, progress of “ Municipal Socialism.” In 1854, the “ cholera year," the death-rate was 29.4, and in 1855 (a normal year) 24:3 per thousand. The difference between this last figure and the present rate represents the saving of 18,000 lives per annum (Report of Metropolitan Board of Works, 1888, p. 7). How many more could be saved by an extension of this municipalization ?
The present low death-rate is, moreover, an average for all London, obscuring the fact of a terrible mortality in the poorer quarters. “The rate of “ mortality in a certain quarter of St. Pancras was stated by the excellent “medical officer of that parish, Mr. Murphy, to have reached in the year 1882 " the enormous rate of 70:1 per 1,000, but this was a calculation for a very “ small number of buildings. In Wellington Square, nowever, which was “ stated in evidence to belong to a member of the St. Pancras Vestry, the rate “the same year was 53.7 per 1,000, and in Derry Street, 44:4 per 1,000.” (Report of Royal Commission on Housing of the Poor, 1884, p. 14.) In one street in St. Giles', in 1886, the death-rate was 53 per 1,000; in Bloomsbury a few hundred yards off, only 14 per 1,000. (Medical Officer's Report.)
“ing under their authority.” (Evidence of Mr. Ludlow before Select Committee on Friendly Societies, see Times report, 13th July, 1889.)
The actual provision of burial grounds, and the bare cost of interment, might, at any rate, be made a public charge; borne by all collectively instead of by each in turn. As soon as cremation becomes generally adopted, this should also be made a matter of public administration. The Paris Municipal Council, which maintains all cemeteries and controls all funerals, has its own “ crematorium at Père la Chaise, for the use of which only a nominal fee is charged.
LONDON'S FINANCIAL BUDGET.
The various public authorities of the metropolis had a total income in 1885-6 of £10,108,761, a revenue exceeding that of any British Colony, and only surpassed by 14 Empires and Kingdoms. The expenditure was £9,462,577, or £11 per family per annum, being nearly equal to the average share per family of the national expenditure. The total outstanding debt was £37,999,350, or just about one year's rental. We pay to the landlords every year, for permission to live in London, as much as the total outstanding cost of our schools, parks, drains, and magnificent street improvements. (Report of Local Government Board, C.-5,526, p. 437.)
The municipalization (by purchase) of the gas and water supply, the tramways, the docks, the monopolist markets, and the private cemeteries might add another fifty-five millions sterling to London's corporate debt, but the addition would be merely nominal. At present, we are paying nearly £3,500,000 annually to the share and bondholders who are permitted to "own" these undertakings; and this amount would provide, at 3 per cent., the annual interest on no less than £115,000,000 addition to the County Council debt.
Even buying up these undertakings at their present inflated market price of some £80,000,000 would enable a saving of nearly a million annually in interest. If we were to pay out the shareholders at cost price, we might save nearly £1,500,000 per annum, or eight pence per week per family, and have at the same time the advantage of complete public control over what are essentially public services. Each year's such saving would provide half as many artizans'
dwellings as have been built by the eleven joint stock co ever since they began : or it would provide one year's bo secondary education for every child now turned out annual our elementary schools. What it now does is to enable so thousand families to live, as shareholders and bondholders, the labor of Londoners, without the obligation of renderin service in return.
The "municipalization" of these essentially public services v thus not only cost nothing, but provide an annually growing i as at Manchester and elsewhere, for London's improvement. London's further needs, London's growing rental would easily s fice. The complete rehousing of the million poor would cost scarca more than one year's income of the London landlords, even if t. rooms were let rent free. A “landlord's rate" of only a shilling i the pound would be adequate to cover the whole net cost of the operation if carried out by a loan. The mere
ground rent” of London, apart from any payment for buildings or other improvements, would more than replace the whole of the present receipts from dock dues, water rates, gas bills, tram fares, school fees, bath pence, burial fees, police court stamps, and a host of other imposts now levied as toll upon the public.
The “ unearned increment' of value annually added to the London landlord's estate would, of itself, cover the whole expenditure of the School Board, and also provide every London child with two years' secondary education, with board and lodging thrown in.
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