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(93 Boer farmers, he had thought it right to announce that the Government were not going to give money to men who had been fighting against us; but in cases of special hardship the justice of making a free gift would be considered. If every injury done to the enemy in war, however, was to be compensated by a gift of money, the claims of our friends, including those connected with the mines, would have to be met in a similar way, and this would involve an enormous expenditure. He justified the proposal to make loans to Boer farmers on grounds of policy; but stated that preference must be given to the claims of loyalists, and that no payment would be made for goods willingly surrendered for the furtherance of the war. To the position which they originally took up with reference to the future settlement of the new Colonies the Government adhered. They proposed that there should be a gradual progress in the direction of self-government, and that as soon as possible military administration should be brought to an end." There would be substituted for it an executive council with a nominated or partly nominated legislative council, and the next step would be to add an elected element. Finally, there would be absolute self-government. The proposal that an elected assembly should be summoned in the first instance was preposterous, especially as the British inhabitants of the country were away from their homes. The Government had disclaimed over and over again any vindictive feelings ; but they were determined to take such measures as would prevent the possibility of another war at a future time. If the Boers were allowed to question our resolution or courage the two races in South Africa would not respect each other, and there would be no harmony between them.
Mr. Haldane defended Sir A. Milner, and said he would never allow himself to be made the tool of any faction. Mr. Labouchere considered that Lord Kitchener had proved himself to be a better statesman than either the Colonial Secretary or Sir A. Milner. There were no further speeches of importance on this occasion, nor was there any fresh feature in a debate on house burning and peace terms raised by Mr. T. Shaw (Hawick Burghs) on April 2, when the House of Commons adjourned for the Easter recess.
On the previous day a measure which had passed easily through the Upper House, attracting very little attentionthough not many years before it would have aroused great feeling—was read a second time in the Commons without a division, on the motion of Sir W. Foster (Ilkeston, Derbyshire). This was the Cremation Bill, which empowered local authorities to erect crematories with the sanction of the Local Government Board. It was referred to the Grand Committee on Law, for the introduction of safeguards against abuse, dealt with there, and further considered and amended in the House of Commons, but failed to secure the very little more time needed to pass it into law.
Queen Victoria Memorial Scheme--London County Council and the Housing
Problem-The Premier and Home Secretary on Housing-South African Despatches-Civil Service Estimates-The Budget-Income-tax increased, Sugar Duty and Coal Export Duty-General Acquiescence-Opposition of Coal Trade to Coal Tax-Irish University Education-Deceased Wife's Sister Bill Read a Second Time - Debates on Budget Resolutions Private Members' Bills-Debate and Division on Coal Tax-Monmouth District Election-Bond Delegates' Agitation-Debate on Alleged Jury. Packing-Government Education Bill Introduced—Its Reception-Civil List Committee's Report Considered and Adopted by Great Majorities—Seizure of Irish People-Debates and Divisions on Army Reorganisation Scheme and Finance Bill-Mr. Morley's Speech-Social Questions in the Lords—The Duke of Cornwall's Imperial Tour.
DURING the weeks of which the leading political events have just been recorded, one movement was in progress which attracted universal sympathy in this country, uniting persons most strenuously opposed on other matters. This was the organisation of measures for a worthy national memorial to Queen Victoria. A distinguished and influential provisional committee, including, at the wish of King Edward, members of the existing and previous Governments, had the subject under their consideration in consultation with his Majesty, and by March 26 the project had been sufficiently developed to allow of the holding of a public meeting at the Mansion House. The Lord Mayor presided, and there was a very influential attend
A letter was read from Sir Dighton Probyn intimating a subscription from the King of 1,000 guineas towards the fund, and adding that the scheme which had been evolved for erecting the memorial in front of Buckingham Palace had the entire approval of his Majesty, who trusted that sufficient funds would be forthcoming to erect a lasting and worthy memorial of the great Queen, his beloved mother. Mr. Balfour moved, Sir W
ourt seconded, and Mr. Chamberlain supported, a resolution in favour of erecting a national monument to Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace. In an excellent speech Mr. Balfour indicated that the kind of design that was contemplated would be something more than a mere monument in the ordinary sense—“some great architectural and scenic change" in the quarter of London selected. The resolution was unanimously adopted, as was a second one pledging the meeting to support the fund and commending it to the sympathetic munificence of the community throughout the United Kingdom and the Empire. Subscriptions amounting in all to over 16,0001. were announced during the meeting.
Certain important decisions were announced on Good Friday (April 5) as having been taken by the Executive Committee (which had been appointed, with the approval of the King, by
[95 the General Committee) with regard to the method of obtaining designs for the national memorial to Queen Victoria. The Executive Committee consisted of Viscount Esher, Lord Windsor, Sir Edward Poynter (President of the Royal Academy), Mr. A. B. Freeman Mitford, Mr. W. Emerson (President of the Institute of British Architects), and Mr. Sidney Colvin. Their first and most vital decision was to ask Mr. Thomas Brock, R.A., to prepare a design for the group or groups of sculpture, including a statue of the Queen, which would be placed opposite the entrance gates to Buckingham Palace. The Committee further decided to invite Sir Thomas Drew, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy ; Mr. T. G. Jackson, R.A.; Mr. Aston Webb, A.R.A.; Mr. Ernest George, and Dr. Rowand Anderson, R.S.A. (Scotland), to prepare designs for the treatment of the western end of the Mall, where the group or groups were to be placed, and for a general scheme, should funds allow, to include an architectural entrance at the Spring Gardens end of the Mall, as well as an architectonic rearrangement of the Mall, with groups of sculpture at intervals, the whole forming a processional road. The plans were to be submitted in the course of the next three months.
By this time subscriptions to the amount of over 50,0001. had been received at the Mansion House. In a letter communicating their decisions to the Lord Mayor, Lord Esher stated, however, that a sum of not less than a quarter of a million sterling would be "required to carry out the scheme as conceived," and added that, the King's desire being that the memorial should be national in the fullest acceptance of the term, the General Committee would specially welcome small contributions from every class of the community. The general scope of the scheme for the memorial secured cordial public approbation, but there was some division of opinion as to the wisdom of the action of the committee in making selections which allowed of no competition at all in regard to the central feature of the memorial, and only a strictly limited competition with respect to the designs for the architectural setting. There was no doubt something to be said in favour of this course, but the arguments used in its defence seemed to involve a somewhat painfully, and perhaps unnecessarily, low estimate alike of artistic feeling and of artistic capacity in England at the close of the Victorian era. The difference, moreover, in the treatment accorded by the Executive Committee to the professions of sculptor and architect respectively was extremely difficult to account for on anything that could be called a principle. A very pleasing incident in connection with the movement for the memorial to Queen Victoria was the expression of a desire on the part of Americans living in London to be allowed to contribute to the fund in its support. This was warmly and gracefully acknowledged in a letter written on King Edward's
behalf to Mr. Van Duzer, of the American Society in London, by Lord Esher (hon. secretary of the Memorial Committee), who mentioned that the memorial would “in all probability assume a form which would permit of a clear designation, for all time, of the offering made in memory of the Queen by the citizens of the United States."
Among the problems with which the newly chosen London County Council had to deal none could compete in magnitude or complexity with that of the housing of the working classes. Within a few weeks after the elections this question came up for treatment in two cases, both of great importance as regarded the principles involved, and one in itself of very large dimensions. On March 26, at the Council Meeting, the Housing of the Working Classes Committee brought forward an estimate of 26,2851. for the erection of three blocks of dwellings on the Duke's Court site, Drury Lane, to accommodate 610 persons of the working classes who would be displaced by the carrying out of the Clare-market-Strand scheme. It was objected that the minimum rent to be charged—three shillings for a single room-was too high ; and an amendment which would have required fresh plans on a basis of two-shilling rentals was moved and seconded from the Unionist side. It was replied, however, by members of the Progressive majority that so long as the Council was hampered in its action in such matters by the existing legal requirements with regard to the repayment of loans obtained for housing purposes, and by the restrictions imposed by the Home Office in regard to the number of persons for whom accommodation might be supplied in the houses they erected, it would be impossible for them to build as cheaply as the private companies, which did not labour under similar disadvantages; and the amendment was rejected.
On April 2 the Housing Committee brought forward a further scheme for building operations on a very extensive scale. It was proposed to buy an estate of 400 acres at Tottenham, at a cost of 4001. an acre, and to erect thereon 5,779 cottages, the weekly rentals to vary from 10s. 6d. for first-class cottages, with five rooms and kitchen, to between 6s. and 7s. for fourthclass cottages, with three rooms and kitchen. A first portion of the site would be immediately dealt with, at an estimated cost of 1,530,8581. The Finance Committee reported that the scheme was likely to be self-supporting if the capital could be raised at 3 per cent. In this case also it was contended by Unionist members that the classes which would be benefited by the great scheme proposed were not those who needed help, and Mr. W. Peel, M.P., moved an amendment to the effect that, if the Council proceeded to build, the cottages should be so constructed that the rents demanded should be within the means of the classes earning less than 30s. a week. This was seconded from the same side, and Mr. Steadman, among the Progressives, declared that this scheme was not going to help
[97 the men of East London in the very least. Men working on the Thames, he said, who were at present crowded in the East, would not go out to Tottenham to live. It was impossible, he also argued, for the Council under the existing law to provide buildings at rents as low as the minimum charged by private companies.
Mr. Beachcroft (Unionist) held that the Council were proceeding on wrong lines. They should devote their entire energies to increasing the means of locomotion in and out of London, but so far as actual building was concerned they should confine themselves to providing accommodation within the county for those persons who must remain on the spot.
Mr. Burns, M.P., said that this scheme must be a contribution to the housing problem. Unskilled labourers, casual labourers, the very poor, and artisans paid, for much worse property, higher rents than those proposed to be charged at Tottenham.
On a division the amendment was defeated by 82 to 21, and the committee's recommendation was then adopted.
These discussions and divisions were undoubtedly of interest, but they left in considerable doubt the principles, if any, on which the two parties in the London County Council respectively conceived themselves to be acting in regard to the housing question.
In December, 1900, as recorded at the close of Chapter V. of the English History in the ANNUAL REGISTER for that year, Lord Salisbury had used language of, for him, surprising emphasis as to its being both the duty and the interest of the Unionist party when its members were engaged in local government to pay practical attention to the housing problem. He was challenged on this subject in the House of Lords (March 8, 1901) by Lord Portsmouth and the Marquess of Northampton, and an attempt was made to lay upon the Government a heavy responsibility for having failed to bring forward legislation facilitating the action of local authorities. Lord Salisbury, in reply, maintained that more time was required for the consideration of the complex questions involved, and that there would not be any opportunity for treating the housing question in the present session. As to the session of 1902, he declined to pledge the Government, but he offered the assurance that they would
pay earnest attention to the subject, and that he very much desired that legislation might be carried lightening the efforts of private enterprise and of local authorities.
On March 19, at a dinner of the United Club, the Home Secretary (Mr. Ritchie) expressed satisfaction at the attempt of the London County Council to deal with the problem. But they must be careful, he urged, not to build over the heads of the class they sought to help. What the Council had to do was to house the people who could not afford to pay high rents, and they had also to see that there was no call on the ratepayers.