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(From “ Stock Exchange Year Book," 1889.) The cost of the dwellings thus erected has accordingly been nearly £3,000,000, on which on an average 43 per cent. interest (besides occasional “bonuses” and the Income Tax on dividends) is regularly paid. The interest payable by the County Council on such a loan would have been about one-third less.
Provincial towns have long since done what London has feared to attempt. In Liverpool the Corporation has cleared upwards of four acres, and itself erected five blocks of dwellings containing 322 tenements and housing 1,300 persons, at a cost for land and buildings of £130,816. 5,230 square yards still remain unbuilt. (House of Lords Return, 1888, 275.)
In Greenock an area of about 3} acres was cleared, under the Artisans' and Laborers' Dwellings Improvements (Scotland) Act, 1875) in the years 1879-81. Owing to general depression of the value of property in Greenock it was found impossible to sell the land thus cleared, and the Local Authority itself erected 197 tenements, with the best sanitary arrangements, accommodating 890 persons. (House of Lords Return, 1888, 275.-31d.)
Glasgow obtained a private Act in 1866, under which the Glasgow Improvement Trust was created. About 80'acres were bought at a cost of £1,600,000. A great part of the property so acquired was cleared, and about 30,000 persons displaced, who were, it is supposed, provided for by a rapid increase of speculative building in the outskirts of the city. The land so cleared was disposed of partly by selling it to a railway company and to builders who erected on it shops, warehouses and middle-class dwellings, and partly by the construction of new streets and a public park. At the same time one block of tenement houses was erected at a cost of £3,426. So far the Glasgow improvements correspond very closely with those of other towns. But between the years 1870 and 1879 the Glasgow Trust tried a very interesting and successful experiment by building and opening, under their own management, seven common lodginghouses (six for men and one for women). From May, 1887, to May, 1888, 637,581 beds were let to men, and 33,986 to women, at 4 d., 34d., and (in the women's lodging-house) 3d. per night. The net revenue from all seven was £3,999, representing 48 per cent. on their cost.* These houses are most admirably managed.
The beds are clean, and in each house there is a comfortable recreation room in which lectures are delivered, and music is produced by a "harmoniumist " whose salary appears regularly among the expenses,
. The inmates have ample opportunity for cooking their food and drying their clothes, while cheese, candles, sugar, tea, etc., are sold to them by the Corporation at wholesale prices.
Instead of well-organized municipal lodging-houses, London's poor have access to 25 “ casual wards,” accommodating 1,139 men and 466 women and children, the average number of occupants nightly being 567 men and 171 women and children. About 4 per cent. of these are identified as habitual visitors, and detained four days as punishment (Local Government Board Report, C—5526, pp. 236241). Those not destitute of twopence resort to London's 995 “common lodging-houses," accommodating 32,172 inmates, which are registered and inspected by the police, who, in 1888, summoned twelve proprietors for breaches of the regulations (C_5761, p. 6). These “ doss-houses ” furnish a miserable “ home to thousands of London's citizens. The example of Glasgow shows how municipal organisation could, without cost, immensely raise their “standard of comfort.”
Up to now the total efforts of a generation of private and philanthropic work, aided by the immense virtual subsidy from the Metropolitan Board of Works and the magnificent Peabody Fund, have resulted in providing not more than forty or fifty thousand rooms, out of the 400,000 required (see p. 5). In the meantime the overcrowding in the central districts has become positively intensified. The Royal Commissioners of 1885_say in their Report:—“The first witness who was examined, Lord Shaftesbury, expressed the opinion more than once, as the result of nearly “sixty years' experience, that however great the improvement of “the condition of the poor in London has been in other respects, the "overcrowding has become more serious than it ever was.' This “opinion was corroborated by witnesses who spoke from their own “knowledge of its increase in various parts of the town.”
The re-housing of London's poor can only be adequately dealt with by London's collective power. For every penny in the pound
* Statement of the Trustees under the Glasgow Improvements Act, 1866, for the year 1887-88.
levied on the rentals of London's landlords, as many improved dwellings could be built (by raising loans on the rate) as the whole eleven Joint Stock Companies have provided since they began in 1845.
LONDON'S WATER TRIBUTE. London is at present supplied with water from the works of eight companies of private shareholders, who profess to have expended a total capital of over £14,000,000 upon them. This amount is, however, largely swollen by the former reckless competition between rival companies, by legal and parliamentary charges, and by the wasteful extravagance engendered by abundant wealth. It is probable that duplicates of the existing works, mains and other plant could be constructed for a much smaller sum-say ten millions sterling, which could be raised on the credit of the County Council at about 3 per cent.
AMOUNT AND VALUE OF SHARE CAPITAL.
+18.8 ! 2,144,266 3,050,952
(From House of Commons Return No. 136 of 1885.)
Since these dates a further increase has taken place. By H. C. No. 178, May 1889, the total share capital had grown to £10,805,383, worth, at market prices of 31 Dec. 1887, £26,131,750 ; and the total loan capital to £3,160,475, estimated as worth £3,803, 250, giving a total saleable value of £29,935,000.
Even on the inflated outlay, a splendid dividend is paid. The companies make..an annual profit of more than a million sterling, equal to over 7 per cent. on the whole, notwithstanding lavish pay and pension to all the superior employés, and handsome fees to directors. The ordinary shareholders often get as much as 12; per cent., as, for instance, in the case of the New River Company for the last five years. *
RATES PER CENT. OF DIVIDENDS.
Rate per cent. of
Dividend in first half- Dividend in last half-year
per cent. of
DIVIDENDS AND SHARE CAPITAL TAKEN UP BY SHAREHOLDERS
AT PAR. (Forming, as the Stock was saleable at a high premium, a large bonus in addition
to the dividends.)
Amount of Capital paid up
Period 1872-83, taken up by
Shareholde s at Par.
207,830 225,212 41,075
£8,501,486 £2,202,433 £715,117 *The shareholders of the New River Company possess, moreover, anomalous electoral privileges. The owner of ever so small a fractional part (provided that it produces £2 a year) of one of the original shares possesses a vote as a freeholder in every county constituency in which the Company owns property, or through which its pipes pass. These shares also escape Probate Duty, and pay orly Succession in place of Legacy Duty. One of the original "Adventurer's Shares was sold by auction in 1889 for £122,800. The original capital contributed on this share was probably a bout £100.
Between 1883 and 1887 a further sum of £518,627 was allotted to the shareholders in this way (H. C., 178 of 1889.)
These excellent dividends are earned owing to the extraordinary legal rights possessed by the companies, under their private Acts of Parliament, to levy a water-rate in proportion to the rental, without reference to the amount of water supplied. As London houses increase in number or size (about two per cent. per annum) and those already built rise in value (about one per cent. per annum), so the water revenue goes up. It rose 58 per cent. (more than half as much again) between 1872 and 1883, though the number of houses only rose 32 per cent. and the quantity of water delivered per house was nearly always less than in 1872. There is no limit to the possible tribute thus leviable upon London, in return for the supply of an article of prime necessity to its inhabitants. The actual figures are given below. (House of Commons Return No. 136 of 1885.)
TABLES SHOWING POSITION OF LONDON WATER COMPANIES
NUMBER OF HOUSES AND WATER RENTALS.
AVERAGE DAILY SUPPLY OF WATER FOR DOMESTIC PURPOSES
TO EACH HOUSE.
Number of Gallons.
Name of Company.
:: Grand Junction ·Kent .. Lambeth New River Southwark and Vauxhall West Middlesex
252 160 279 135 185 166 171 178
205 238 134 173 .167 168 16
6 + 45 41
I -I2 + 1