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THE CONTEMPORARY REVIEW.
being pushed to a perilous extreme. They have emigrated to far-off lands there to live as Englishmen, not to found separate nationalities. If England had not possessed a spirit of enterprise in the past, misnamed to-day, for political purposes, "aggression,” where would have been our power or our commerce ? English Colonists are also the best customers of the mother country. Compare France and Australia for example: the one imports of British manufactures the equivalent of 108. per head of her population, whilst Australians require goods from our looms and factories to the value of £6 10s. per head.
Such generally are the opinions that, as a Conservative, I hold and defend, and such in the main were the political sentiments that I submitted to the electors of Liverpool in the recent contest.
The Standard, with its curious Conservatism-an undetermined and incalculable quantity-amongst other courteous observations, charges me with having an unprincipled programme. It is not my ambition to represent the Conservatism of the Standard. I am, however, quite willing to stand at the bar of public opinion, and to be judged by that great Constitutional party which it has been my privilege to serve earnestly for many years past, and in whose ranks I shall continue to use my best energies, confident that that party ere long will take its proper place in the Councils of the Empire as the party of national security and rational progress.
ARTHUR B. FORWOOD.
CCORDING to the Annual Local Taxation Returns presented
to the House of Commons, August 9, 1882, the balance-sheet of the County Treasurers of England and Wales, exclusive of the metropolis, for the year ending. Lady-day, 1881, may be thus stated :
The cost and management of the gaols had been transferred to the Prison Commissioners before the date of this return by the Act of 1877. The Loans outstanding at Lady-day, 1881, are given as £2,995,311. The average of the county rate, on an assessment of £119,056,839, is 23d. The average of the police rate, on an assessment of £75,755,858, is lid. This sum of £3,002,060 is somewhat
less than half the amount expended in England and Wales, exclusive of the metropolis, for the same period for relief to the poor and purposes connected therewith,—the exact amount being £6,220,164.
The above statement will show at a glance the nature of the work which the magistrates in Quarter Sessions assembled in England and Wales have had to perform beyond their duties connected with the administration of criminal law and their appeilate jurisdiction, and the expense at which it has been carried out. These several duties have been at various times imposed upon the Quarter Sessions by statute, and it is admitted upon all hands that the magistrates have, as a rule, paid the greatest attention to the duties thus laid upon them; and in those counties where the accounts have always been audited and regularly published, and where financial matters have been thoroughly sifted by a carefully selected finance committee, as has very often been the case, it is hardly possible to hope that any more economical arrangement can be effected. The whole question was thoroughly examined by a Committee of the House of Commons in 1868, over which Col. Wilson-Patten, now Lord Winmarleigh, presided. It is evident, not only from the report of, but also from the evidence given before, that Committee, that the dissatisfaction that existed did not arise from want of confidence in, or distrust of, the magistrates and Courts of Quarter Sessions, but from the fact that the levying and expending of funds received for county purposes was the only instance in the fiscal system of England and Wales of the taxpayer having no control through his elected representatives of the moneys raised and expended for public requirements, and that no good system existed by law for a proper audit of the county expenditure. Such were practically the suggestions of Mr. Wylde, in consequence of whose Bill the Committee was appointed, but it is only due to the magistrates to place upon record the terms of the report finally, and on this point unanimously, agreed upon by the Committee.
1. That the administration of the financial business of counties has been hitherto conducted by the magistrates with a general regard to economy.
2. That nevertheless a desire prevails on the part of county ratepayers in favour of placing the county finance more directly under their own control by means of County Financial Boards.
3. That this desire appears to arise from considerations of public policy, and in some instances from a want of sufficiently detailed information as to county expenditure, rather than from dissatisfaction with the magistracy.
It will be seen from the above balance-sheet that in many, at all events, of the heads of expenditure—as, for example, in the case of criminal prosecutions, &c.—there is little or no discretion left with the local authority. Or, if we take another case, in which some discretion is clearly left-as, for instance, the case in which the expenditure is the largest, i.e., the police force—every one with any knowledge of the subject is aware how difficult it was, so long as the establishment of the rural police was left optional, to constitute the force at all, and how difficult it was afterwards, when the establishment of the force was made compulsory by statute, to raise it up to the requisite strength. One policeman to every thousand inhabitants was the kind of scale laid down by Sir George Grey; but the annual reports of the inspectors of police show how difficult it was in most, how impossible in many, cases to reach this standard. It has often been stated that the increase of the Treasury subvention has largely increased the cost of the police to the ratepayers. A fairer way of stating the case would be, that it has done away with much of the resistance by local authorities to come up to the proper scale.
No doubt, in some cases, pressure has been put upon the Home Office since the increase of the Treasury subvention to sanction considerable increase of expenditure ; but in the vast majority of such cases the increase has originated, not in the local authority itself, but has sprung from, and is owing to, the strong pressure brought to bear on the local authority by the ratepayers themselves who have claimed the right to further protection at the hands of the police. Such pressure, however, has already been brought under effectual control through the action of the Home Office in the time of Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, by insisting on a regular annual estimate being presented for the whole of the ensuing year to the Home Office, by the October Quarter Sessions, so that any proposition for increased expenditure might be fully investigated before the Civil Service Estimates were prepared for presentation to Parliament.
There is now happily no difficulty about procuring a regular and public audit of the county treasurer's accounts, and the only question remaining is, how best to meet the demand that taxation and representation should go together, and at the same time to improve the administration of county affairs, and to secure the continued services of the best of those who have hitherto devoted so much time and attention to the subject. The Committee of 1868 came to the conclusion that a system of financial control would be satisfactory to the ratepayers under which the boards of guardians in counties should elect representatives who should be admitted to take part in, and vote at, all meetings of magistrates held for the consideration of questions of county expenditure. There are however, no doubt, many objections to such propositions. It would involve the principle of double election, which has not been found to work well in other cases where it has been tried ; and there is much force in the opinion recently expressed by Mr. Goschen, in his speech at Ripon, “that the county government should be built up in a manner which should steer clear altogether of poor-law administration.” The late Government prepared two different schemes for the consideration of Parliament. By their Bill of 1878 the Court of Quarter Sessions, when transacting administrative business and constituted as a county board, was to consist of two justices of the county, to be chosen by the Quarter Sessions, due regard being had to the petty sessional divisions of the county, and, as far as practicable, to the representations of such divisions by justices resident or actually acting therein, and two elective members to be elected for each petty sessional division by the elective guardians of the rural parishes situated in such petty sessional divisions, and provision was also made for the representation of certain boroughs on the board. By the Bill of 1879, the Quarter Sessions were to combine the parishes within the county into wards, for the election of so many members of the County Board as would secure two-thirds of the number of members of the County Board allotted to such county by the schedule to the Bill to be elected members, and such members were to be elected by the elective guardians of the several parishes in the ward. The remaining third of the board was to be appointed by the Quarter Sessions out of members of their own body. Of these three plans, probably the principle contained in the Bill of 1878 has found most favour, although, of course, there exists great difference of opinion as to the question of double election—that is, of the election by the elective guardians instead of by direct election of the ratepayers, and also as to the proportion of the members to be chosen by Quarter Sessions and the members to be elected. In any such scheme, however, effect would be given to the principle of taxation and representation going together, and the county would have the advantage of the continuance of the services of many of its most able and experienced men, many of whom would not care to go through the turmoil of a popular election, but who would gladly continue those services which they have hitherto so cheerfully rendered. Such a mixed board is by no means without precedent, and has been found to work well in practice, as is amply proved by the management of the great estate of the river Weaver, in Cheshire, for the benefit of the county ; by the example of boards of guardians, of cattle plague committees, and of highway boards.
It is of course impossible to foreshadow what the view of the Government may be upon this question. If they propose a measure which will provide for the fair representation of ratepayers on the governing body with the object of improving its efficiency and of satisfying all reasonable demands, they may feel assured that it will receive the most careful and impartial consideration. From what has fallen, however, from several members of the present Cabinet in the course of the recess, it would seem that the Government are