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The Standing Orders of the Council are as follows :
(1) There shall be kept at the county hall a list of the rates of wages and the hours of labor to be paid and observed by the Council in works which are in the nature of construction or manufacture, and which the Council may resolve to carry out without the intervention of a contractor.
The list shall be settled by the Council on the recommendation of the Works Committee, and shall be based on the rates of wages and hours of labor recognised 20d in practice obtained by the various Trade Unions in London, and by contractors in respect of the supply, manufacture and production of any raw material or manuSetured articles, except contractors for the supply of stores to be used in maintenance, and shall form part of the standing orders of the Council.
The list shall at all times be open to public inspection.
(2) In inviting tenders for work to be executed within 20 miles of Charing Cross, the advertisements and instructions for tender shall state that in the case of all workmen to be employed by the contractor he will be required to pay wages at rates not less, and to observe hours of labor not greater, than the rates and hours set out in the Council's list, and that such rates of wages and hours of labor will be inserted in a schedule and will form part of the contract, and penalties shall be enforced for any breach thereof. As regards each contract the list shall be that in force at the date of the tender.
The system works smoothly and well. If the work is to be executed within the London district it is an easy matter to see whether the rates correspond with those in the Council's Standard List. If the work is to be done elsewhere, it is found in practice quite possible to ascertain by inquiry of the proper local officers of the associations of employers on the one hand, and the trade unions on the other, whether the proposed rates are really those current in the district. Firms accusing themselves of paying less than these rates are informed of the fact, as a reason why their tenders are not accepted, and have, therefore, full opportunity of correcting any injustice. The good contractors fall easily into line. The key-note of the Council's policy is, not the abolition of competition, but the shifting of the plane from mere cheapness to that of industrial efficiency.
The Works Department. Wherever possible the Council dispenses with the contractor, and executes its work by engaging a staff of workmen under the supervision of its own salaried officers. The first trial of this experiment was that of watering and cleaning the bridges over the Thames. The new system has now been tried for three years, with the result that whereas the contractor charged 45. 7d. to 4s. 10 d. per square yard, the work is now done at an average cost of 3s. 2d. a square yard, everything included. This, however, was a mere matter of hiring labor, no constructive work being involved. The first piece of actual building executed by the Council was the schoolhouse at Crossness. The architect's estimate was for £1,800. The lowest tender was for £2,300. The work was completed by the Main Drainage Committee, under its own officers, at a cost of £ 1,764, or £ 536 under the lowest tender, and £ 36 under the architect's estimate. But the case that finally convinced the Council was the York Road Sewer. The engineer's estimate was for £7,000. Two tenders only were sent in,
for £11,588 and £11,608. The work was done by the Council itself, with the result that a net saving of £4,477 was made by having the work done without a contractor.
The outcome was the establishment in the spring of 1893 of a Works Committee to execute works required by the other committees. The Works Committee has an entirely distinct staff, and keeps its own separate accounts. Up to the present it has completed and rendered accounts for twenty-nine separate jobs, varying from £ 100 to £ 18,785. Sometimes the expenditure works out below the estimate, sometimes above, but, in the aggregate, the total cost of these twenty-nine works-undertaken at the very outset of a new business, with insufficient plant and under manifold disadvantages comes to £63,061, against the architect's and engineer's detailed and independent prior estimates amounting to £66,061 Is. 2d.
Stores. The Council decided in 1891 that contracts for the supply of stores should be entered into for one year only, and in June, 1893, a special committee was appointed. The stores are supplied by ninety-nine firms, and comprise 1,817 items, which are classified under twenty-four headings, the most important of which are boots, brass fittings, brushes, baskets and matting, clothing, disinfectants, engineers' goods, firewood, fodder, glass, hats and caps, indiarubber and waterproof goods, ironmongery, leather, oilman's sundries, oils, paints and varnishes, rope and canvas, tools, and wrought and cast iron. The “Fair Wages" Clause is inserted in all the clothing and boots contracts, and the work must be done in the contractors' own factories. The question of establishing a Factory of its own, for making boots and clothing, is now under the consideration of the Committee.
The Shop Hours Act, 1892. This Act provides that no young person under the age of eighteen years shall be employed in or about a shop for a longer period than seventy-four hours, including meal times, in any one week. At present, the duties of the inspectors have been confined to investigating specific complaints made as the result of the Council's widely advertised intention of following up cases of infringements of the Act brought to its notice. Experience showed that there were some businesses, notably that of hairdresser, in which the Act was very generally disregarded. The result of the enquiries that were made was that, in 1893, 102 infringements were discovered on the premises of hairdressers alone. With a view to more completely investigating cases affecting women, a woman inspector has been appointed. Since the Act came into force, 1,386 investigations and reports have been made, and infringements have been discovered in 231 cases. These have been dealt with by 179 written cautions, and legal proceedings have been taken in thirty cases, resulting, up to March 1894, in twenty-six convictions, and the imposition of penalties and costs to the amount of £28.
VI. THE COUNCIL AND LONDON'S PURSE.
The rateable value of London is £33,913,707, and the amount raised in 1893-4 was £1,782,509, which is equivalent to 8s. 5}d. per head of the population. Each penny in the rate represents 7d. per head.
London's finance is complicated by the fact that the Council is not only a borrower, but also a lender. It lends money to local authorities, and receives interest from them. It receives contributions from various local authorities, and from the Government, and thus its receipts are swelled. In 1893-4 the gross debts were over £ 33,000,000, and the net debts under £19,000,000, having increased by £1,200,000 since the Council came into existence.
The Council's precept for 1894-5 has been for 14d. in the pound, whilst the last precept of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1888-9 was only for 101d. But these figures can no more be fairly placed in comparison than the budget of a lone widow with that of the mother of a large and growing family. The Council's precept includes not only the old charges of the Metropolitan Board of Works, but also several other rates which used to be formerly levied in other ways. The old County Justices' rate, for instance, which amounted to itd. in the Middlesex part of London, 1'375d. in the Surrey part, and no less than 4d. in the corner which was formerly in Kent, or an average throughout London of 1'72d. in the pound in 1888-9, the last year of its separate existence, now accounts for 1.73d. of the Council's expenditure. Then there are portions of the old Poor Rate and local Vestry Rates, which the Council, for the sake of efficiency and better equalization of the burden, has had placed on its own shoulders. These items, which are actually paid by the Council to the local Vestries and the Boards of Guardians, and do not form part of its own expenditure at all, amount to no less than 3*72d. out of its levy on London. If we add these to the last Metropolitan Board of Works precept, as in all fairness we should do, we shall see that, instead of there being any increase of burden in the Council's precept, there is an actual decrease of 1:45d. in the pound. The result is, that as regards the majority of parishes, the net demand of the Central Municipal Authority has positively decreased during the six years of the Council's existence.
Apart from these financial complications, which affect rather the distribution of the burden than its total amount, the Council's net demand on the London ratepayer has, in the six years, risen by 1fd. in the pound, everything included. A half-penny each for the Parks Committee and the Technical Education Board, a farthing for the Fire Brigade, and another farthing for the growing activities of the Public Health, Asylums, Main Drainage, and other committeesthis is the price which London as a whole is asked to pay for the abolition of its old corrupt government, and the substitution of a body which has carried out a beneficent revolution in every department or its municipal life. The net increase of charge upon each londoner, after six years of the Council's rule, is less than id. per ..onth, everything included.
London's Budget, 1893-4.
EXPENDITURE. $ Exchequer Contribution 339,411 Interest on debt and expenses 1,071,537 Contributions for Fire Brig
Grant for Indoor Paupers ... 326,809 ade
45,297 Other grants in relief of Do. Industrial Schools
12,099 Judicial receipts Fees,
33,390 Fines, &c.
14,964 Judicial Expenses and CrimiMiddlesex & Surrey County
nal Prosecutions ... Councils 1,626 Establishment Charges
30,204 Contributions for Main
103,535 Drainage ...
238,602 Grant for County Pauper
142,998 Lunatics 11,532 Parks and Open Spaces
87,496 Fees and Fines from various
Bridges and Free Ferry services and miscellaneous
Weights and Measures Inreceipts
13,152 Difference of balances be
23,534 tween beginning and end
26,138 199,542 Lunatic Asylums
49,602 Rate for General County
Parliamentary Business 12,821 purposes 1,499,969 Sundry Services
122,410 Rate for Special County pur
VII. A PROGRESSIVE COUNTY COUNCIL
PROGRAM. To bring it into line with the Municipal Boroughs in the provinces, London must be unified by the supersession of the City Corporation, and the London County Council must obtain powers from Parliament
(1) To levy special taxation upon the owners of ground rents and other land values, and to collect half rates from owners of empty houses and vacant land.
(2) To secure special contributions by way of betterment from the owners of property benefited by public improvements.
(3) To absorb all future unearned increment by means of a Municipal Death Duty on local real estate.
(4) To further equalize the local rates by means of a Common Municipal Fund analogous to the Common Poor Fund.
(5) To enforce a proper valuation and assessment of houses and land.
(6) To collect its own rate.
17) To protect, reclaim, and usefully employ the vast misappropriated endowments now in the hands of the City Guilds.
(8) To control the water supply by providing an independent supply, and taking over, on equitable terms, the plant, pipes, &c. of the existing undertakings.
(9) To work the tramways as it acquires them, under its legal powers, without the intervention of any lessee, contractor, or other middleman.
(10) To secure the transfer of all existing private markets, and to provide new ones where required.
(11) To take over and extend the existing gas supply, (12) To control the police force.
(13) To take over the duties of the Asylums' Board, and the control of the hospitals.
(14) To obtain control of all the metropolitan open spaces still vested in the Crown, including the Royal Parks and Trafalgar Square.
(15) To supervise and control the Vestries and District Boards so as to secure more uniformity in paving, cleansing, and lighting the streets, and the enforcement of the sanitary and other laws affecting the public health.
(16) To license omnibuses and cabs.
(19) To promote bills in Parliament for all the purposes of its work.
In addition, women should be made eligible as candidates, in order that in its administrative work the Council may be able to have the assistance of every capable citizen, irrespective of sex.
The maintenance of the policy of the present Council on the following points should also be insisted upon :
The Proper Treatment of Labor. (1) A normal Eight Hours day. (2) Not less than Trade Union rate of wages for each occupation. (3) Full liberty of combination. (4) One day's rest in seven, and sufficient holidays. (5) The prohibition of overtime except in unexpected emergencies. (6) The direct employment of labor by the Council wherever
possible, in preference to contracting, both in the supply
of commodities and in constructive works. (7) Where contracting is necessary, the putting down of all
sweating and sub-contracting, and the rigid enforcement of the rule that only firms which pay the Trade Union rate of wages for the particular occupation, and observe the standard hours of labor, where such standard exists, shall be employed.
County Council, 1893-4, the Report of the Technical Education Board, and the
G. STANDRING, Printer, 7 & 9 Finsbury Street, London, E.C.