City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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FOURTH DAY. Wednesday, 29th March 1882.
(fn. 1) Mr. James Beal examined.
495. Have you a copy of it ?—I have a copy, which I will read: "The memorial of delegates representing certain vestries and district boards in the metropolis, respectfully sheweth : That a resolution was passed at a meeting of the St. James's Vestry held on the 11th day of July 1878, asking for inquiry into the condition and management of property belonging to the metropolitan parishes, the Livery Companies of London, and other public bodies. That in pursuance thereof the assembled delegates represent, that in nearly every parish of the metropolis there are charitable funds, the bequests of past benefactors, in doles, in kind, in money and estate. That if the funds referred to were properly applied your memorialists believe it would result in a large reduction of the serious local burdens now laid on the metropolis. That your memorialists also venture to bring before you specially the present condition of the Livery Companies of the City of London, and to lay before you the reasons why, in the interests of the ratepayers of the metropolis, they solicit that an inquiry should be made into the present state of the said Companies of the City, as has been already ordered into the parochial charities of the City of London, in order that if, as they believe, property and funds belonging to the said Companies are now misapplied and wrongfully administered, a measure may be framed to direct a right application of them. That in the fourth year of His Majesty King William IV. commissioners were appointed to inquire into the existing state of the municipal corporations of England and Wales, in order that Parliament might be enabled to legislate upon the subject early in the ensuing session, as it had already done in the cases of nearly all other corporations. That in their report the commissioners stated that it was necessary to make the institutions of the City of London the subject of a special supplemental report; and the second report of the commission, dealing with this question, was not presented until 1837. For reasons which were not in any way consequent upon the character of that report, it was not followed by any legislation. That the commissioners reported upon the various Livery Companies of the City as being within the scope of their commission, but such report is fragmentary and inadequate, and now of ancient date. The reason of its imperfect character is stated by the commissioners in their report to be the refusal of some of the Companies to furnish the information required" (see extract at foot). "That the City guilds were established for the purpose of benefiting the particular trades from which they derive their names, for guarding against bad workmanship, for training artisaus, and for providing support for those who were prevented by age from pursuing their work. They were regulated by royal charter setting forth these duties, and on condition of their due performance the Companies were allowed to purchase lands and to hold them in mortmain. Membership in the Companies was generally confined to those who practised the particular trade, and all such in the City and suburbs were compelled to become members. Large estates and various sums of money were also left by members to their guilds, when so composed, to be used for pensioning decayed tradesmen, or otherwise for the benefit of the trade. That the Companies ignored the authority of a Royal Commission, and yet it is by a royal charter only that the Companies are regulated in their duties and their due performance, and are allowed to purchase lands and to hold them in mortmain. That your memorialists now beg to call to your notice that the said Companies, except in a few instances, have entirely ceased to perform the objects for which they were constituted, but contrive to enjoy the benefits derived from the royal charters, grants, and from the bequests given or left to them when they were such trade organisations. That your memorialists beg further to affirm that the government and property of these Companies are now kept secret, even from the general body of members of the Companies, and that vast estates are held by them upon which no succession or legacy duty is payable, whereby loss is sustained by the public revenue. That your memorialists therefore respectfully solicit that a Royal Commission with parliamentary powers be appointed to inquire into the present condition and management of the property and charities of these guilds, and of the several parishes of the metropolis, with a view to consider and determine the proper objects to which the properly of these Companies should in the present day be applied, and for the better application of charitable funds. Extract: Some of the Companies of trades, which still exist in great number in connexion with the Corporation of the City of London, refused to furnish any information to the Commissioners, and others furnished it only under exception and restriction. Although, therefore, sufficient information has been given to show the general and ordinary constitution of these bodies, the details as to many of the individuals Companies have not been obtained." (fn. 2) That memorial was presented to the Home Secretary.
499. Will you tell the Commission what is the constitution and the object of those bodies ?—Those refer to larger questions than those which are before this Commission. They are for the reform of the local government of the metropolis by the creation of one municipality on a representative basis.
501. What are the signatures under which you have written ?—( (fn. 3) "Nemesis" in the "Weekly Despatch" and "Father Jean" in the "Echo."
502. We may take it, I presume, that you have formed an opinion as to the reforms which you consider desirable, and that you are prepared to suggest some plan for carrying into effect those reforms ?— I am.
503. Will you state briefly the nature of what you propose ?—I can put it briefly, in the shape of a few resolutions, which have been sent to me to present to the Commission from the several clubs of working men in the borough of Chelsea. There are four of those clubs, and they all met in one meeting and passed these resolutions: "That in view of an early report by the Commissioners on the City Livery Companies, it is desirable that the working classes of the metropolis should present to the Commissioners the following suggestions:—That the Guilds having been established for public and municipal purposes, that no pretext exists for the contention that any part of their property is private, and that the whole should be handed over on the creation of a municipality for London to that body, for the benefit of the people of the metropolis and in their interest, and that they be authorised to realise the whole of the estates of whatever kind, real or personal, and to devote the income of the proceeds to any or all of the following objects. In aid of the education of the poorer classes, in establishing high schools. exhibitions at the universities, technical education, support of public libraries, acquisition and maintenance of open spaces, pension funds for decayed artisans and others, extension of hospital accommodation and the training of nurses, in aid of provident institutions, and the promotion of the physical welfare of the people, and other known objects of public utility. That it is desirable a short Act should be passed preventing any company dealing with their property until its future destination is settled, except with the consent of the Secretary of State for the time being, and that they be prohibited from adding to the number of Liverymen by purchase or creating any fresh offices, entitling the possessor to a retiring allowance." The others have come to me in another form through the Liberation Society, and as they are in print I had better hand them in. They refer to the ecclesiastical endowments in the metropolis, and contain the resolutions passed at a conference at the Westminster Palace Hotel, held last week.
504. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) What is the Liberation Society working for ?—They first deal with the objects that I have referred to, but they refer, mainly, to that which the Church may claim for Church purposes.
506. (Mr. Firth.) Will you read that ?—That, "In the opinion of the Conference, such an appropriation is uncalled for and would be unjust—(1) It is uncalled for because the intentions of the founders have been already so for departed from, and are now so incapable of fulfilment that they impose no obligation in regard to a new disposition of their gifts, which should now be regarded as being at the absolute disposal of the State. It would be unjust because any application of public money for sectarian objects must, of necessity, benefit only a section of the population; whereas no such injustice would be involved in the appropriation of the whole of the funds to the purposes to which it is proposed that the general charity funds shall be applied."
507. (Chairman.) In the first place, what are these Chelsea Clubs, the combined committee of which passed those resolutions ?—They are political clubs formed by working men in the several divisions of the borough of Chelsea. There is one in the King's Road, called the "Eleusis Club;" there is another at Hammersmith, called the "Hammersmith Club;" there is another at Notting-hill called the "Progressive Club;" and another at Kensal Town called the "Cobden Club." Those clubs are composed of a number of working men in each place.
508. I only put the question to you because I observe in the first paragraph they say that: "It is desirable that the working classes of the metropolis should present to the Commissioners the following suggestions." Now, if I rightly understand you, though it may be quite possible that those clubs do represent the general opinion of the working classes; as a matter of fact they only represent some few hundreds of persons in their borough ?—So far as that is concerned, that is so; but they are federated as one club throughout the metropolis, and a copy of that has been sent to each, and you will, no doubt, receive the same resolutions from each.
509. Have you any evidence that the opinions expressed in these resolutions are also those of the working classes generally, or of any large portion of them ? —I must give a personal answer. I have lectured at all their clubs throughout the metropolis for years past, and in every case they universally assent to the ideas there expressed; we have never had an amendment upon this question, or upon the London Government question carried.
514. What is the smallest number of any one of the clubs ?—The Hammersmith Club has 460 members; that is the smallest, I think. They are composed of the most intelligent working men of the district in all cases.
515. (Chairman.) In these resolutions it is proposed that on the creation of a municipality for London, the whole of the funds of the guilds should be handed over to that body for the benefit of the people of the metropolis; is it meant by that that the property should be handed over to the absolute discretion of the new municipal body, or that it should be handed over for certain purposes limited and defined by Parliament ?—Of which those persons will form a part.
517. That is to say, you propose that not the new municipal board, but that Parliament should direct the application of these funds ?—If it followed the precedent of the Act of 1835, it would of necessity become the inheritor of the estates; but as it is a totally different constitution to that of any other municipality in the kingdom, if those properties were included, then Parliament must secure the future devolution of the income.
518. One of the objects is defined to be the education of the poorer classes, that is at present provided for by the rates is it not ?—Yes, and it was that which was the basis of my demand for a fresh inquiry. I felt that the burden was very great upon the ratepayers; there was a strong opposition to the Act constituting the school board, by the rich, by the clergy, and by the middle classes; and I therefore looked round, taking a great interest in education, to see if there were not funds which might be used in the reduction of the school board rate; and to a certain extent I should claim that part of these funds should be used for that purpose.
519. Then when you say it should be used in aid of the education of the poorer classes, you only mean that inasmuch as the education of the poorer classes is already provided for, it should be applied in relief of the rates at present incurred for educational purposes ? — I push it further than that: that the rich or middle class have taken from the poor great educational endowments in London, for which they should make compensation or restitution. I mean endowments like those of Christ's Hospital, the Charter House, and St. Paul's School. Those were absolute endowments in the interests of the very poorest class, and those endowments have gone from them; and I think that if the income of those charities were handed over every year to the London School Board it would relieve us from the contention which arises as to the cost of the administration of that body, which I am most anxious to see.
520. Then your other objects are, "establishing high schools, exhibitions at the universities, technical education, support of public libraries, acquisition and maintenance of open spaces, pension funds for decayed artizans and others." Do you mean that funds should be provided to pension off artizans in all trades throughout London ?—The right use of one portion of the funds of these Companies is to pension the decayed members, and I think that by a proper appropriation of a certain portion of the income that object could be carried out for the trade specially known in connexion with the different guilds; I do not go beyond that.
522. Would you apply that to London only, or extend it to the country generally ?—I would take the metropolis, not the city of London simply. The charters of the Companies extend from to three to 10 miles round, and one goes as far as 24 miles.
523. Then you propose an extension of hospital accommodation, and the training of nurses; does that mean that hospital accommodation should be gratuitously provided out of the public funds ?—The hospital accommodation of London at the present time is most defective; it is chiefly limited within a mile and a half of Charing Cross; it is largely confined to St. Bartholomew's and St. Thomas's, and one or two others. I should go further and say that I think the day has gone by when hospital accommodation in London should be dependent upon private subscriptions, and that it should be done by a rate; it should be done by alliance and association with the poor law in some form or other. But as we have these large funds it would be another means of reducing the rates if the hospitals were to be supported from the rates, and a portion of the funds were used for that purpose.
524. Then that proposal of yours presupposes the adoption of another plan, which has not yet been adopted, namely, the maintenance of hospitals out of local rates ?—If it were not adopted I should still press this as a proper use of a portion of these funds. For instance, if a man be hurt at Highgate he has to be brought to Gray's Inn Lane, or if he be hurt at the Crystal Palace he has to be brought up to Westminster Bridge. We want reconstruction of our hospital arrangements, and I propose that a portion of the funds should be devoted to the extension of hospitals or to the erection of other hospitals which should be taken over hereafter by the new municipality.
525. Then there is a further proposition, that part of these funds should be applied in aid of provident institutions; will you explain what kind of provident institutions you mean, and how you think these funds could be applied in assisting them ?—The Peabody Trustees have the advantage of borrowing a large sum of money at a low rate of interest for the extension of their very munificent work; and I think, when well established provident institutions for the working classes required assistance of that kind, and could give adequate security, it would be an advantage to them to be able to get a loan at a low rate of interest, the money to be used in sustaining a pension fund, and as a guarantee fund; that is one instance.
528. Is it found where good security can be given, that there is much difficulty in borrowing money at present ?—No, I am not assuming that. They have not had the advantage offered to them in any form at present. They simply work upon their own arrangement of a Pension Fund, and the reports of Friendly Societies show that these things want a much better basis than they have.
529. What do you mean by "the promotion of the physical welfare of the people." Does that apply to improved dwellings ?—Yes, and to recreation grounds, to gymnasia, and baths, and modern requirements of that character.
530. Do you not think that the very large programme which you have sketched out would considerably more than exhaust the funds of the Companies?—I think not. I see by the Report that they admit an income of 700,000l, a year, but my own impression is that it is considerably over a million.
532. I understand that this plan is entirely dependent upon the success of the scheme which we understand is shortly to be brought before Parliament for creating a great municipality for all London ?—I would not say that; but I would suggest that the money should be handed over to a body of commissioners like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with power to lay it out upon those lines.
534. That the total capital should be vested in such a municipality, if it exists, or in commissioners, if the municipality does not exist, and should be applied to the purposes which you have described according to the directions contained in an Act of Parliament to be passed for the purpose ?—That is strictly accurate.
535. Would you propose that the special propertions to be applied to each purpose should be defined beforehand ?—No; I should leave that to either the municipality or the commissioners to decide upon evidence which they would hear.
536. You have seen, I think, a report which has been presented to this Commission, a volume marked "confidential," it is the return made by the Companies to the circulars which we sent out last year ?—I have.
537. We should be glad to hear any observations which you may have to offer upon that volume ? (fn. 4) —My difficulty about it is a mere question of sight. I am not able to read at night time, and I have had to have it read to me. What I want to explain is this. The Return of Keble's Charity is 9l. 2s. per annum; I turn from that to Herbert's "Twelve Great Companies" for his evidence of Keble's Trust, and I find that includes a mansion in Old Jewry, and houses behind in Grocers' Hall Court; the site of Grocers' Hall itself was part of Princes Street behind, and part of the present Bank of England. I put that modestly at 25,000l. a year, and it is returned at 9l. 2s. One of those houses is let at a ground rent of 3,360l. a year. I put it therefore that unless we get a disclosure of the absolute income, house by house, of the property held by these guilds, we have not that full disclosure to which we are entitled.
538. Do I understand you to mean that you consider that the guilds have not included the value of the houses in the returns which they have made ?— That return to which I have referred of Lord Robert Montagu's gives the income which existed at the time, two or three centuries ago, but I want the present income, the present profits and rents of the property which I claim must follow the original devolution. I contend that the whole of this property must be corporate, and, therefore, public; and that the trust property is separate from it, and that whatever increase of property there is, flows into the corporate and becomes, as I think, the property of the people of the metropolis.
539. In other words, for your purposes, and starting from your point of view, you do not admit that there is any difference between the trust funds of the Company and the property which they have dealt with as their corporate fund ?—No, I do not.
540. You consider that they are all equally applicable to such purposes as Parliament or the municipality think fit?—Yes, and follows clause 92 of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, which enacts:— That after the election of the treasurer in any borough the rents and profits of all hereditaments and the interest, dividend, and annual proceeds of all monies, dues, chattels, and valuable securities belonging or payable to any body corporate named in conjunction with the said borough in the said schedules (A.) and (B.), or to any member or officer thereof in his corporate capacity, and every fine or penalty for any offence against this Act, (the application of which has not been already provided for), shall be paid to the treasurer of such borough, and all the monies which he shall so receive shall be carried by him to the account of a fund to be called 'the borough fund,' and such fund subject to the payment of any lawful debt due from such body corporate to any person which shall have been contracted before the passing of this Act, and unredeemed, or of so much thereof as the council of such borough from time to time shall be required, or shall deem it expedient to redeem, and to the payment from time to time of the interest of so much thereof as shall remain unredeemed, and saving all rights, interests, claims, or demands of all persons or bodies corporate in or upon the real or personal estate of any body corporate by virtue of any proceeding either at law or in equity which have been already instituted, or which may be hereafter instituted, or by virtue of any mortgage or otherwise shall be applied towards the payment of the salary of the mayor, and of the recorder and of the police magistrate herein-after mentioned when there is a recorder or police magistrate, and of the respective salaries of the town clerk and treasurer, and of every other officer whom the council shall appoint, and also towards the payment of the expenses incurred from time to time in preparing and printing burgess lists, ward lists, and notices, and in other matters attending such elections as are herein mentioned, and in boroughs which shall have a separate court of sessions of the peace as is herein-after provided towards the expenses of the prosecution, maintenance, and punishment of offenders, and towards such other sum to be paid by such borough to the treasurer of such county as is herein-after provided, and towards the expense of maintaining the borough gaol, house of correction, and corporate buildings, and towards the payment of the constables, and of all other expenses not herein otherwise provided for, which shall be necessarily incurred in carrying into effect the provisions of this Act; and in case the borough fund shall be more than sufficient for the purposes aforesaid the surplus thereof shall be applied under the direction of the council, for the public benefit of the inhabitants and improvement of the borough, provided that it shall not be lawful for the council to be elected under the provisions of this Act in any borough in which the body corporate named in conjunction with the said borough in the said schedules A. and B. before the time of the passing of this Act shall have contracted any lawful debt chargeable on any tolls or dues belonging or payable to the said body corporate, or to any member or officer thereof in his corporate capacity, or towards the satisfaction whereof such tolls or dues, or any part thereof, were applicable before the passing of this Act, to alter or reduce the amount to be levied and payable of such tolls or dues, or to grant for any consideration any remission of, or exemption from, such tolls or dues or any part thereof, unless with the consent in writing under the hands of a majority in number and amount of the creditors to whom such debt is due, until after such debt and all arrears of interest due thereon shall have been fully paid and satisfied; and in case the borough fund shall not be sufficient for the purposes aforesaid the council of the borough is hereby authorised and required from time to time to estimate, as correctly as may be, what amount in addition to such fund will be sufficient for the payment of the expenses to be incurred in carrying into effect the provisions of this Act, and in order to raise the amount so estimated the said council is hereby authorised and required from time to time to order a borough rate in the nature of a county rate to be made within their borough, and for that purpose the council of such borough shall have within their borough all the powers which any justices of the peace assembled at their general or quarter sessions in any county in England have within the limits of their commission by virtue of an Act made in the fifty-fifth year of his late Majesty King George the Third, intituled an Act to amend an Act of his late Majesty King George the Second for the more easy assessing, collecting, and levying of county rates, or as near thereto as the nature of the case will admit, except as is hereinafter excepted, and all warrants required by the said Act to be issued under the hands and seals of two or more justices, shall in like case be signed by the mayor and sealed with the seal of the borough; provided that such council shall not be empowered to receive, hear, or determine any appeal against any such rate; and if any person shall think himself aggrieved by any such rate it shall be lawful for him to appeal to the recorder herein-after mentioned at the next quarter sessions for the borough in which such rate has been made, or in case there shall be no recorder within such borough to the justices at the next court of quarter sessions for the county within which such borough is situate, or whereunto it is adjacent; and such recorder or justices respectively shall have power to hear and determine the same and to award relief in the pre- mises as in the case of an appeal against any county rate, and all such sums levied in pursuance of such borough rate shall be paid over to the account of the borough fund and subject to the provisions herein-before contained shall be applied to all purposes to which before the passing of this Act a borough rate or county rate was by law applicable in such borough or county. Provided that in every case in which before the passing of this Act any rate might be levied in any borough, or in any parish or place made part of any borough under the provisions of this Act for the purpose of watching solely by day or by night, or for the purpose of watching by day or by night conjointly with any other purpose, it shall be lawful for the council of such borough to levy a watch rate sufficient to raise any sum not greater than the average yearly sum which during the last seven years, or where such rate shall not have been levied during seven years then during such less number of years as such rate shall have been levied, shall have been expended in the maintenance and establishment of watchmen, constables, patrol or policemen within the district in which such rate was levied, and for that purpose the council shall have all the powers herein-before given to the council in the matter of the borough rate; and where any part of any borough shall not at the time of the passing of this Act be within the provisions of the Act authorizing the levy of such rate for watching as aforesaid it shall be lawful for the council from time to time to order that such part or so much thereof as to the council shall seem fit shall be rated to the watch rate in like manner as other parts of the borough to be specified in such order and such watch rate thereupon shall be levied within the part mentioned in such order in like manner as in the other parts of the borough so specified and all such sums levied in pursuance of such watch rate shall be paid over to the account of the borough fund. Provided always, that no such order as last aforesaid shall be made for such watch rate any part of any borough in which at the time of passing this Act such rate as aforesaid shall not be levied and which is more than 200 yards distant from any street or continuous line of houses which shall be regularly watched within the borough under the provisions of this Act. Provided also, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to render liable to the payment of any debt contracted before the passing of this Act by any body corporate any part of the real or personal estate of the said body corporate which before the passing of this Act was not liable thereto, or to authorise the levy of any rate within any part of any borough for the purpose of paying any debt contracted before the passing of this Act which before the passing of this Act could not lawfully be levied therein towards the payment of the same."
546. When have the working men had any chance of advice from the outside in drawing up the proposals which you have submitted to the Commission ?—If you had the pleasure of meeting them, you would know that they require no such assistance; they are most remarkably intelligent men, and they read a great deal. They have good libraries, they have discussions, and they are thoroughly familiar with the whole scope of this question; and amongst them are men who have had before them the same material from which to derive knowledge, that you might have had access to, or that I might have had access to; I believe they have all read the letters of mine to which I have referred, and that has been the basis of their education.
548. Are they satisfied that free admission to hospital would really be of advantage to the class generally ?—I think not; they are the people who largely work the Saturday Hospital Fund, with the view of contributing as large a fund as they can, for the support of the hospitals; that fund is collected in all their workshops.
549. It still appears from what you say, that they have so little confidence in being able to keep the hospitals self supporting, that they have suggested that the funds of those institutions should be supplemented by the rates; and also by a contribution from the endowments of the Guilds ?— I think it is a disgrace that our hospitals should be supported by charity. I think it should be part of the work of the municipality; but until that is created, this money should be used in aid or extension of the existing hopsitals, or in the erection of new hospitals.
550. Then I gather that the view of these societies, is adverse to co-operation amongst the working people, to supply them with needful medical advice ?—No; if it were put to them that dispensaries should be established to which they should contribute so much a week, no doubt they would be very pleased to subscribe.
551. Would not the effect of such an institution as is contemplated in those papers which you have read to us, running side by side with a self-supporting institution, be to utterly destroy it ?—No, I am afraid that I have not made what I wish to convey quite clear. If the municipality be established, then I think these funds would be part of the general wealth of London held by that municipality; but if the municipality be not established, then I want these funds used for the erection of hospitals for the requisite accommodation of London which is now most insufficient. There is no arrangement by which the hospital at Charing Cross, or any other hospital, can place themselves in alliance with the poor law dispensaries; you want to see where the poor law dispensaries and poor law unions are, and erect your hospitals in connexion with them and as part of a complete scheme.
552. Am I correct in saying that these proposals contain a suggestion that provision should be made for the sick and injured of the poor, out of the rates, supplemented by endowments from the guiids ?—Yes, you can force it to that point.
555. And you stated to the president the different objects over which you think it might be distributed; do you still think that the distribution of 1,000,000l. a year; a portion among hospitals for the poor alone (the qualification being poverty, not disease), and a portion among provident institutions, would not be, in the end, a source of very great moral harm to the people ?—No, it is their property, and I simply ask that it should be given back to them; for instance, if they had Christ's Hospital to-day, instead of another class, they are entitled to it, it is theirs, or if they had the Charterhouse, it is theirs, or if they had St. Paul's School, it is theirs, and I want to know why the rich should take possession of it, and the poor be dispossessed.
556. Then your argument amounts to this, that it should be given back to them, because it once belonged to them, irrespective of the question whether it would do them harm or do them good? — Ruskin said: Know ye, that the poor have no right to the property of the rich." I reverse it, and say, "Know ye that the rich have no right to the property of the poor."
557. (Mr. Firth.) In the answer you gave just now you said you would go much further than the subject in the hands of the present Commission, but that, in your judgment, the property should be given back to the poor—do you mean to pay it in some form to the poor, not necessarily in the same form ?—Yes; the subject to which referred just now. Christ's Hospital should entirely change, and instead of being a school for the middle classes, it should be a school for perhaps 14,000 or 15,000 poor boys.
559. As regards the payments of that class, specific in amount, do I understand you to contend that all the present surplus should be applicable to the purposes ejusdem generis ?—Yes, and of public utility, such as parks and open spaces for all classes.
561. If you were enabled to see them, do you think you would be able to point out, in many cases, deficiencies, if such exist ?—No doubt I could largely check the information given as to the property, by name or number, of the street which the Company has given, because I took considerable pains in having the rate books of the city looked up, and I found that the property which belonged to them was rated to an extent of over 500,000l. a year.
562. 516,000l. a year —504,000l. a year. I had special inquiry made, and found that Bradbury's Charity, returning 30s. in Lord Robert Montagu's Return, produced 27,765l. a year, according to the rate book.
563. Under whose control was the charity you speak of ?—The Mercers' Company. That is a very remarkable case; it originally produced 30s. a year, and was 109 acres. It began at Mercers' Street, Long Acre, and went right down Long Acre, and passed Coventry Street into Bond Street, and right away up Bond Street, and included Conduit Street to Stratford Place. 100½ acres of that is lost or gone, and is the property of a city corporation, and is known as the Conduit Mead Estate, and there are 8½ acres left in St. Martin's parish; this now on the rate books represents 27,765l. a year.
564. With respect to that estate, you say part is lost; have you any opinion as to the course which might be usefully taken to prevent such losses in future ?—I have only suggested by this resolution that no property should be dealt with, except with the consent of the Secretary of State, or of the Treasury; or if it be handed over to the new municipality, it should follow the provisions of the Act of 1835, clauses 92 and 94, which are very important clauses.
565. Are you in favour, or not, of the property being vested, so far as the charity went, in the hands of official trustees ?—I am in favour of the land being sold. I do not think land should remain longer in mortmain in England; it is a loss to the Treasury, and is an injustice to the mass of the public.
567. Speaking from your experience and your standing on this question, will you tell the Commission what, in your judgment, is the prejudicial effect of land being held in mortmain; does it affect its commercial value ?—First, as a question of revenue, I strongly object to land being held in mortmain, as entailing loss to the revenue by the loss of succession duty. Where it is charitable property, and property held in mortmain, the property tax is returned by the Inland Revenue, it would otherwise pay. In order to make a statement, I have asked and it has been granted in Parliament, for a return of all property held in mortmain, and of the official statistics of the revenue calculated by somebody in the public offices duly qualified to calculate it; it is a very large sum.
569. Upon the question of revenue, supposing the present tenure, by the corporations, of this land is continued, is there any way that would suggest itself to you for dealing with the question of succession duty ?—Yes, it should be treated as dead every 30 years or every 35 years. I believe the lease of life used to be calculated at 30 years, and now it is calculated at 35 years; every 35 years the duty should be charged upon it, as if the owner were dead; but I prefer the dead hand being taken off altogether.
571. Now will you tell me the effect upon land, treated as a commercial article, free trade in land ?— My wish and desire has been that we should have free trade in land, or in other words that every restriction should be taken away from its coming into the open market. I think having vast quantities of property like this locked up is very injurious to the value of property generally.
572. Did I rightly understand you to say that the effect of your examination of the City Companies' rate accounts was to show that 504,000l. a year was the estimated rateable value of the realty held by these Companies in the City ?—The city land held by them, to say nothing of the still larger estates held by them in every county in the kingdom.
575. Have you formed any estimate apart from the Irish estates of the property held by them in mortmain outside the City of London ?—It was to get at that that I suggested that they should give us a return of all the property they held, and the bequests generally, lands, manors, benefices, estates, some thousands of acres, and so on; I wanted all earmarked.
578. I notice that upon this point you said that you estimated the income of the Companies not at the amount at which it was returned, which was 700,000l. a year, but at 1,000,000l. a year; what was the ground of your statement ?—I can only use the information placed at my disposal by public documents. With regard to the two cases which I just now mentioned, the one at the Old Jewry at 9l. 2s. which now must be worth at least 25,000l. a year, and the other at 30s., which I know is worth 27,000l. a year, I went carefully through Herbert's "Twelve Great Companies," and Lord Robert Montagu's return, taking Company by Company, and wherever I could get the exact information, say a house, No. 15 or 16, Friday Street, or a house in Plough Court or Lombard Street, I took the return with the income, and found what it was to let or leased for, and I found that they represented a vast total. If I applied the same process of reasoning to the country estates, taking half what I put upon the London estates, it would come to a much larger sum. If you multiply a few cases in the same way, 9l. 2s. now being worth 25,000l., and 30s. now being worth 27,000l. your figures at once roll into volumes. Here I have stated a number of them, making a total of 700,000 which they call income.
579. You have not seen these reports, and therefore you cannot give an exact judgment upon their effect, but you will probably find that in the last one in some of the cases that you are quoting the total net receipts are returned in one form or other, that is to say the Grocers' Company are in the companies' return, they give their net rental on the land in Old Jewry?—Yes, but what do they return for their hall?
581. Now with respect to the question of the halls, did you ascertain how much they were rated at in the City, is the 57,560l. a year taken from the City rate book? — Yes. Take the Goldsmiths', their hall is rated at 5,500l. If anybody know the building they will know that it is a magnificent palace; it would readily let at say 9,000l. to 10,000l. a year.
583. (Sir Richard Cross.) Would they let as halls for that sum?—No. I would sell them for public purposes. They can have their dinner at the Cannon Street Hotel; they do not want the hall to dine in, but if they did, one hall would do for all of them In the Drapers' Hall they have let off their gardens, and therefore I should say, taken in connexion with other buildings near, they would certainly be worth 12,000l. a year at least.
584. (Mr. Firth.) I see you have the rateable value as you took it out of the rate books, up to 57,560l.; have you formed an estimate of what the real annual value would be ?—As a minimum up to 150,000l. a year. I went to look at all their great halls. I suppose the staircase of the Goldsmiths' Hall cost 30,000l. to put up, and I should think the Drapers' Company spent 80,000l. in decorations and alterations in the last few years.
585. What purposes, so far as you have ascertained, do these halls serve ?—They are their offices, the courts in which they hold their banquets; but they serve no municipal purpose. That is performed at Guildhall, and when an election is on you see the names of the Companies in a horse-shoe shape, and the liverymen are recognised by their beadle. The business done at the hall is not municipal business. They manage their property at their halls, but for municipal purposes the halls are not wanted in any way.
586. Supposing you take the Drapers' Hall and the property connected with it, is there, so far as you know, any reason why all the Companies should not transact all their business in that single hall?— Supposing that they are to continue in possession of all the property, and to have the administration of it, that one hall, judiciously used, would meet the entire question of the banqueting, the most important of all, and that of the offices in connexion with their rents. I may illustrate this by the fact that Messrs. Clutton collect four or five times this amount of rental in one or two sets of buildings in Whitehall; the London and Westminster Bank carries on vast operations in a building which, compared with the halls of these Companies, is an entrance hall.
588. What should you say was an adequate amount? —6,500l. a year. Then the only duty there performed, apart from the banqueting and renting, is that they have two inspectors who look after the fish at Billingsgate. We could do that by appointing two officers of the City of London.
591. Supposing that their administration was concentrated in this way, what would you suggest might usefully or legally be done with the remainder of their property in these halls ?—The whole of them. I think, should be sold. We do not want them; they have long ceased to be of any public utility at all.
592. What would you consider to be the sum that they would be likely to realise if sold; have you formed an estimate of it ?—Yes. I should think the saleable value in the market would be something between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l. sterling.
593. (Mr. Pell.) How many years' purchase would that be on the rental ?—If we put it all into the market at once we might depreciate it, but the City is selling to-day ground rents for 27 years' purchase; but in fixing that value I rely upon many other things. We might want to widen the street if they were coming down, and the public would be benefited by that. We should not get the value in money, but we should have it in the improvement.
594. (Mr. Firth.) Twenty-seven years' purchase on 150,000l. a year would be about 4,000,000l.?—You might not get the full value. When a lot of benefices were put into the market, benefices fell, as in the case of the Lord Chancellor's livings.
595. You said just now that the municipal functions of the Companies were discharged in the Guildhall; have you inquired into the discharge of the municipal functions by the Companies at all?—No, only what I have seen. I have seen a common hall, and I have watched the barrier put round with the name of each of the Companies, and the beadle watching each member as he went in, and that was the only municipal function which I have seen performed.
596. You have drawn attention to the fact that the Municipal Commission of 1833 considered these Companies within the province of their Commission ?— (fn. 5) Yes.
597. And that was upon the ground that they had municipal functions to discharge ?—Yes, but the same was done with Bristol, Nottingham, and Leeds in the 1833 inquiry, and was not disputed; and the reform which came by the Act of 1835 affected the whole of those bodies.
600. And that election is conducted, is it not, by the liverymen of the City guilds ?—Yes. If you press me whether other citizens have the franchise as well as the liverymen, I could not say, but they have it, I know.
601. Have you considered the way in which the liveries of the City guilds are constituted ?—I have called attention to the modern extension of a number of these guilds, and I have undertaken this labour, the result of which I will show to his Lordship. I have gone through each of the Companies on the city voting list, and marked where the same name occurs more than once, and at the end I have put in pencil how often it occurs, twice, three times, four times, and so on; and it occurs 29 and 30 times in some, and they become very happy little family parties.
602. I understand you to say that the effect of your examination of the list of members is to show that the same families are largely represented in some cases on particular companies ?—That is one observation I have to make, the other is that some of these Companies of late years have added largely to their numbers, by the admission of members who have paid, and this amongst those which were before, the smallest Companies.
606. (Mr. James.) Have you that return ?—You moved for a return which was given you, with the then number of members of the Spectacle Makers' and Loriners' Companies. If you moved for a continuation you would see how the manufacture of voters is going on in the City; of men who have bought the franchise, but have no other qualification.
607. (Mr. Firth.) Are the men who so purchased their rights to parliamentary and municipal votes, in any case connected with the business of the Company to which they go, or connected by patrimony with any member of it?—No, they need not even live in the City, they may live 25 miles out; they buy this franchise and come and vote.
612. Do you know anything with respect to the management of any other of the Livery Companies which you wish to state to the Commission now ?—I have set out so much in the letters, that I thought if any gentleman specially representing the City had read them and cross-examined me upon them it would be preferable to my repeating what I have so frequently put in print.
613. Have you endeavoured to ascertain the manner in which the Companies are controlled, and how their funds are expended ?—Yes, I have. I wrote to Mr. E. J. Watherston, a member of the Goldsmiths' Company, he is a silversmith at the west end, and his father has been a member of the Court for 33 years; and he wrote me a long letter in reply, in which he says: " In reply to your question I have no hesitation in saying that, in my opinion, the connexion of the Goldsmiths' Company under prevailing conditions, with the trades in the precious metals, is one of unqualified disadvantage to the respective crafts. Fortunately, as far as respects jewellery (gold and silver) their powers are too limited to do much harm; and, as a consequence, the trades flourish, because, to a great extent, they are let alone; but where their power is great, as in the case of watches, and more especially as respects silver and gold plate, the result of their action is most disastrous. In the first place, I object altogether to any laws in restraint of trade, other than those which may be necessary for the health or safety of the people. Secondly, I object to any self elected body of men having powers over a given craft. The powers now in the hands of the Goldsmiths' Company, are a relie of bye-gone days when the Government exercised a paternal control over every industry, regulating modes of production, and pestering manufacturers with rules and regulations, with what effect we all know. We need only refer to glass, soap, paper, and bricks to show the folly of such a system. Such interference had always its inevitable effect, that of stopping all improvements. It is laughable now to read how the soap trade was almost regulated out of existence; and still more laughable are the facts relating to the glass and brick trades ! Of course the raison d'être of all these regulations was protection. It is the same as respects silver-plate. The laws under which silver (and gold) plate is manufactured in this country were originally framed upon protection principles, and they are sought to be maintained and even extended now upon the same principles, and the good old Tory Goldsmiths' Company oppose the slightest attempt at reform. When I say the Goldsmiths' Company, I ought to say the clerk of the Goldsmiths' Company, inasmuch as the Company, i.e., the governing body, the Court, as a rule, know nothing of the craft and its requirements. The Company are in the possession of certain ancient laws, and by their officers exercise certain functions. Reform to those officers means revolution. It is not wonderful, therefore, that they should oppose reform. It is true that there are some goldsmiths and silversmiths on the Court; but who are they ? one, the senior member, is my father—a thorough reformer—who has had to pay for his reforming opinions by being kept out of the chair of the Company. He was passed over and not allowed to be a warden. No. 2 is Mr. F. B. Thomas, of Bond Street, a dealer in, and therefore a worshipper of, hall-marked plate; a very unlikely man to want reform. No. 3 is Mr. Smith, of King Street, a thorough protectionist manufacturer. No. 4 is Mr. Lambert, of Coventry Street, also a dealer in secondhand plate. These three gentlemen represent the entire trades of gold and silver, and watch case makers in the United Kingdom, inasmuch as my father has long since ceased to interfere. I think this alone shows a case for reform. All the rest of the members of the Court are wholly unconnected with the crafts as far as the laws relating to hall marking are concerned. One is an assayer, and another is a bullion broker, but of really craftmembers there are but four. For many years there were but two. However, be there four or forty, Mr. Prideaux, the clerk, is de facto the Company; there is nothing wonderful in this. Nearly every vestry clerk in London if a lawyer is de facto, the vestry. Mr. Dangerfield, vestry clerk of St. Martinin-the-Fields, has for 30 years been the vestry ! ! Such a power in the hands of one man must, I hold, be most detrimental to the best interests of an artistic trade such as that of the silversmith. But to return to the Goldsmiths' Company. I have already said that I object to being governed in the pursuit of my calling by 'a self-elected body of men.' I ought to have said 'self-created.' The modes of election to the Goldsmiths' Company are threefold, first, by servitude; secondly, patrimony; thirdly, redemption, i.e., purchase. Certainly more than half the present Court owe their position to the latter mode. A., a rich merchant or banker, meets B., another rich merchant or banker; A. asks B. to dine at Hall; B. likes it!! (well he may!). A. then asks B. whether he would like to join Company. B. having said 'Yes' (as well he may!), A. moves at next Court that B. be 'admitted to the Freedom of the Company upon payment of the usual fine and 'fees.' He is so admitted. Every two or three years, upon death of 10 liverymen, there is 'a call' to the livery. Wardens nominate 15 freemen, Court elect 10. It need not be said that B. is nominated and elected. Then upon death of a member of the Court up goes 'B.' over the heads of 150 older liverymen. This is the way in which by far the greater part of the Court have been elected. Be it remembered that these gentlemen, although wholly unconnected with the crafts, become ipso facto masters of the crafts, and being necessarily Conservatives (or they never would have been elected) reform finds no friends in them; on the contrary directly they get on the Court, the little reform they might previously have had in their composition is snuffed out—or woe betide them !! What in my opinion is wanted is this: all their compulsory powers should be take from them. Under a voluntary system of hallmarking the trade would flourish; under the present system the trade is rapidly becoming worse and worse. Of course with their enormous income much could be done by the Goldsmiths' Company for the benefit of the crafts—by technical education. At present but little is being done, and that little all wrong. They waste annually 500l. in prizes for drawings. This sum might as well be thrown into the road. Certain 'pot hunters' run after the money every year, produce designs not worth sixpence (ask Mr. Poynter, R.A.), which designs never are carried out; they used to be sent for exhibition to a place in Tufton Street. I went there one day, some weeks after the collection had been on view. I was the second man in the trade who had put in an appearance. I would not have taken the designs as a lot if they had involved me in a half-a-crown cab for their removal. Of course 'prizes for drawings' are not 'technical education.' The laughable part of it is that whereas the Company do nothing or nearly nothing for their own crafts they devote 3,800l. a year for the technical education of clergymen and lawyers, by means of scholarships or rather exhibitions at Oxford and Cambridge, in sums of 50l. per annum. It is lamentable to think what good might be done at comparatively but little cost, if the Company rightly understood their responsibility to the trades. A few hundreds per annum would support a technical school in which much could be done. However, so long as Mr. Prideaux reigns supreme in Foster Lane, I look upon the matter of reform as utterly hopeless."
614. Have you formed any opinion as to the advantages or disadvantages to these Companies with respect to trade, which seems to be the principal subject of that letter?—Only so as to the Goldsmiths; there are a few others, the Apothecaries, for instance, but that is more regulated by Act of Parliament than it is by their charter, and it is a sort of trading concern, an ordinary chemist's shop, administered by a company; and then there is the Vintners' one of the most mischievous powers that can possibly exist. A man who is a member of the Vintners' Company opens a house for the sale of wines without a magistrate's licence. He is under certain control, it is true, but it is a privilege that is mischievous.
617. Was there not one in connexion with the Royal Exchange ?—Yes. Of course the Stationers' Company presumably exercise some little control, but their funds are not used for that purpose, fees are paid. The same with the Gunmakers.
619. And they have Old Moore's still, have they not?—Yes. What I look at is that their funds are not used for the purposes of trade; they charge fees when they do any duty, which cover the cost of it; and the same with the Gunmakers, if they prove a gun they charge a fee, which covers the cost. The Fishmongers' Company I have referred to as having two inspectors, and we could nominate them from the city, without having a big company to do it.
620. Are you aware of any other Company that at present exercise any influence, useful or otherwise, over trade ?—I know of none. The Clothworkers have not done it for 150 years, and as to the Mercers' Company, there is not a mercer in it. A century ago they wrote they were different to other Companies, they had one mercer.
622. Have you ascertained, either from the register or elsewhere, how far members of the Companies are members of the trades the names of which the Companies bear ?—Knowing a large mass of the public in London in different trades, I have taken from the register the names of men who represent the trades; Distillers and Brewers have more names than any others.
623. What do you find to be the general condition of the Companies, from that point of view ?—The trades are not represented. This illustration of the Goldsmiths' Company is remarkable. It has the largest number of any, except the Distillers.
624. Did you look into the case of the Merchant Taylors?—Yes; the reason I included the Merchant Taylors is that I do not see their name in the list, and the same with the Drapers, the Mercers, and the Salters.
625. We know something, for example, of the Company you have just mentioned; do you know that 200 or 300 years ago the Merchant Taylors used to go with a cloth yard into Bartholomew fair ?—That is part of their history; they boast that a number of men who were on the craft of their company have been Lord Mayors of London, and the same with the Grocers' Company. It was part of their great pride; and one gentleman in the city, Mr. Orridge, wrote a book to show the association of those mayors with their craft, and with the noble families with which they became allied.
626. You have directed public attention, in the press and otherwise, to this state of things ?—To the absolute decay of the Companies. They are no longer of any use whatever; it is absolute desuetude.
627. Now, as to the future, are you of opinion that any useful service ought to be rendered by all or any of these Companies to the trades whose names they bear ?—Of course, we could provide a scheme of technical education, and from the Companies, assuming that the original craftsmen returned to them, we could have a devolution of useful work, but not as they are at present constituted.
628. Would the appropriation of their funds to technical education meet with your support ?—Yes, but I should want a much longer inquiry than has been hitherto made before they began to expend money for that purpose.
629. Did they begin to expend money for that purpose before or after the agitation of which you have spoken ?— (fn. 6) After; and the 25,000l. for the London Hospital was after that agitation. A vast amount of money was given in various ways after our agitation, and I think they are a little premature and hasty in this scheme of technical education. I admit its value, but I think we should have more inquiry: men like Professor Huxley, and other men who have expressed opinions, do not think it is upon a right basis. Professor Huxley wrote to the "Times" strongly about it.
630. With regard to a Company like the Salters' Company, what would you think of the possibility of dealing with those trades in the way of technical education, or for a trade appropriation of their funds? —I do not see that it applies to those; modern legislation has provided an inspector with power to examine into the proper quality of goods, and an analyst is appointed to the several vestries of the metropolis.
631. In the case of a company like the Salters' Company, what would you say would be the course which you would suggest ?—They have allowed the work to pass out of their hands, and they have allowed public analysts to be appointed to do it throughout the metropolis; there is nothing for them to do, and we do not want them.
634. What do you say as regards that contention?— Having a municipal basis, and being part of the corporation of the city, I think it follows the principle of the clause of the Act of 1835, to which I have referred, and it is public property, it is in no sense private. I contend that even their gold and silver, and their furniture are public property, and that any devolution of the continuity of this principle to another concern, it, of right, follows it, as the Bristol property after reform came to the modern corporation of Bristol, and Leeds the same; in fact, in the case of Leeds, it is historic that an action was brought to recover property which has been sold, and it was successful. I can form no idea of any pretext upon which the word "private" can attach to property which has come into the possession of those guilds. I will even carry it to the extent of including Swaites' bequest of 20,000l. to make themselves comfortable. I say, absolutely, that is public property. Everything belonging to the company is public. If our contention be right, that their charters are gone, and that they had before the charter a property, then, I say, you were not content with your title, you asked for the charter, and if your charters are forfeited then we are going to deal with an intestate estate, and Parliament must take it, and must sit down and make new rules to administer it.
637. Did you, in putting forward your argument for the widening of the municipality of London, turn to the Duke of Westminster and address him thus: "And then you, your Grace, might condescend to become Lord Mayor of London" ?—I did not say that; if any one, Lord Elcho did; but I do not think he used the word "condescend." Sir R. Cross can confirm this. What he did say was "that his noble friend (the Duke of Westminster) might aspire to be the first Lord Mayor."
640. Up to the present time the position of Lord Mayor of London has been filled by the middle classes, and I understand that you would take it from the middle classes and place it in the hands of the aristocracy?—No, certainly not. At present the aristocracy have not been represented. When we have this municipality (though it is not within the scope of this Commission to deal with this) I think it would be a compliment, when all classes are going to unite on a representative basis for the formation, creation, and support of an entire municipality, to make a man of the eminence of the Duke of Westminster with his large property the first mayor; and that Ave of the humbler classes should show that we respect the owners of property, and that the municipality is not in antagonism with the aristocracy, but that in the sense of the words of Lord Derby friendliness exists between all classes in this country no matter what their divergence of opinion may be.
641. I believe you agree with me that it has been the fault of the aristocracy themselves that they have not been Lord Mayors of London up to this moment? —If you had let London extend as London was found to extend into Farringdon Without and Cripplegate, and had taken in all London then there would have been a chance for the aristocracy; but they are not shopkeepers in the city, or tradesmen in the city, and are not eligible as members of any guild to hold the post. A man must be a member of a guild to be Lord Mayor of London.
643. And you would take all the property which is now held by the guilds from them of whatever kind? —I do not take it, I change the body that is to possess it, that is the municipality of London instead of the guilds; it is a continuity of the administration; the heirs coming into possession of their property.
645. But that is only as regards the voting?—What else would you have, they are part and parcel of the corporation of the City of London, and you have to present your choice to the Court of Aldermen for approval.
646. Surely you do not believe their property to be part and parcel of the corporation?—Certainly, I cannot disassociate it; it would not be theirs were they not what they are, it would not have been left them.
650. You were instancing just now the case of the Grocers' Company having property which they paid 9l. 2s. a year for, and you said they had made no return of it ?—9l. 2s. is the return, that is a trust called Keeble's trust.
654. I am anxious for the honour of the Company that that should be set right; they have set forth the present rental which they are receiving for those properties ?—In so far as I have attacked their honour it was upon the ground that they returned the 9l. 2s. only; they never said there was a return of 20,000l. behind it, but now we have got it the object of the Commission is served. (fn. 7)
656. It says here that "the title of the Companies is based upon Acts of Parliament, it has been repeatedly held by the Court of Chancery that the Companies are actually entitled to the whole increment of the rents as corporate and not trust property" ?— They cannot separate corporate from any property which I call public; I do not understand the word "corporate" as meaning "private."
657. Then you do not agree with the Court of Chancery in that respect ?—That is a decision of a century ago. The public were not represented when those decisions were given; and I think if we had the public represented now we should have rather a different decision. I do not call in question the knowledge of Lord Eldon or any of the men who made these decrees, but the public were not repre sented. Look at the case of Donkyn; (fn. 8) the public were represented, and the Attorney-General made a great fight. The Wax Chandlers' was another case.
659. You are aware that the whole of the charity property of the guilds held in trust is now under the control or supervision of that body ?—If that be so, then the reports of the Charity Commissioners to the Home Secretary and Parliament are very wrong, because they state the deficiency of their power—that they have no right to inquire into anything, the income of which is 50l. a year, except with the consent of the governing body of the charity; and that the only chance they have got of getting into their secrets is if an improvement takes place touching city property they must go to the Charity Commissioners about the re-investment of the money; and then the Charity Commissioners get hold of it and use their powers. If you like I will bring the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 27th Reports of the Charity Commissioners.
660. They say "No account of the rents was given if the title was not disputed by the Charity Commissioners." That applies to the case of the 9l. 2s., does it not?— (fn. 9) I do not dispute the Charity Commissioners' decision. This 9l. 2s. was the income from six cottages and gardens and yards somewhere about the year 1500. The entire income was given to be divided in certain ways; then I say as a matter of law that every shilling of that property, to whatever it may amount, must be used for the same purposes.
661. (Sir Richard Cross.) It must depend upon the deed which gives it ?—If he said the residue or remainder to same purpose, well and good, but still it would it would be public property in my point of view.
664. Have you any idea as to the relative position of those who now enjoy the benefits of the Bluecoat School compared with those who enjoyed them at the time when the school was founded; may it not be benefiting a somewhat similar class ?—I do not know whether you have read Stow's history. He says that the children were gutter children, and he speaks of them as such, and he says that 400 children were taken out of the streets within one month of its establishment; and I do not think that that is the class at present in possession. If the school board had it as a truant school it would be a magnificent use, with certain changes.
665. Are you aware as to the limit which excludes children from being admitted into the Bluecoat School? —Yes, I have all the rules, and how a class of this kind can go into it I do not know. The father must state that he is a pauper, and three other people must bear witness that he is a pauper; the churchwardens of the parish and the rector or vicar of the parish must certify that the parents have no means of bringing their children up. I have seen the Bluecoat boys riding in their carriages and pairs, and I have seen them coming out of houses in Portland Place.
666. (Mr. Pell.) According to the bequest they must be in receipt of parish relief ?—No, but in Christ's Hospital the parents cannot enter a boy unless the parish gets a certificate that they will take care of him, if so required by the Hospital.
667. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) What would be the wages of an artizan? I suppose you would put an artizan's child in, would you not, under the new rules? —No. The pride of an ordinary working man would not let him sign the certificate.
668. Are you aware that the real exclusion from Christ's Hospital is the possession of a larger income than 300l. a year ?—I will bring the report of 1816, where it is all set out. I will bring Brougham's report, and Mr. Farren's report, and Mr. Hare's report. They are most instructive documents, which you should read.
669. Personally, I understand that you have no objection to the middle class enjoying the benefit of these schools as they have done for many years past?— They belong to the poor, and the middle class begrudge paying even now the school board rate. The "Times" contention was that you should give compensation in endowments to the middle class, and the school board to the humbler people; but do not begrudge the school board rate, and do not begrudge the education that is given in the schools.
670. You spoke of technical education, and you said that you do not approve of it, as at present commenced ?—No. I take the view of Professor Huxley that sufficient inquiry had not been made, and that the matter was jumped forward, to appease the demand of public opinion for something. They should have stopped and have thought more about it, though I give them credit for what they have done. The Goldsmiths' Company talked about exhibitions at the universities, that requires very grave thought and care; it is put down as a public object, but 3,800l. a year, to be spent out of their moderate fund, for that purpose, is an expenditure that I should resist.
672. Have they not helped to build up the property of the guilds?—Which they paid into a public body with a full knowledge of their duties, and if they would not perform those duties I claim that money.
674. Then you cannot accuse those who have joined the guilds in these days of going into it as a guild, following a particular craft ?—I do. I draw a general indictment there. You have raised the fees of admission to a price which no artizan can pay. You pay a hundred guineas to the Vintners' and the Goldsmiths', and you prohibit the artizan from coming in, and I say on the contrary, you might go to the Court of Chancery and say, "These men are not legal members of that guild, because they have forfeited their charter, and you must reduce their fees so as to enable any member of those trades to join them, as it was originally."
675. You have not prepared a scheme, have you, for the use of the money of the guilds, supposing it should be handed over to you ?—I have mentioned several subjects of utility, the extension of education and open spaces, which would benefit all classes, the extension of hospitals, and the training of nurses, and exhibitions.
676. (Sir Richard Cross.) You stated that you did not see any difference between corporate property and trust property. The Charity Commissioners at all events have the power and insist upon looking at the accounts, and upon having accounts rendered of what is called trust property ?—Yes.
677. And there a distinction is made, is there not, between trust property and corporate property; one being clothed with a trust and the other not; do you agree in that distinction ?—I do not think you have correctly stated it as they state it in their reports; they set out in their own reports the amount of money that they have taken into their hands and controlled; they do not call it corporate property, they call it trust property.
678. The Charity Commissioners have had, and are bound to have, the accounts rendered to them of the property which is clothed directly with a trust which amounts to about 200,000l. a year belonging to the Companies. Then there is other property of about 500,000l. a year, with regard to which the Charity Commissioners do not call for accounts, it not being clothed with a distinct trust; do you agree in the distinction between the two terms ?—So far as the Charity Commissioners put it, yes; but I do not agree in the definition of the word "corporate" as you put it.
679. Is your contention this, that taking the Guilds as they stand, every property which they hold, down to their pictures and plate, is all public property to this extent, that it is meant for public use?—Yes.
684. Those gentlemen who sold that property were very learned people, and were bound to know the law, were they not.?—Yes. We know also that there have been a great many errors on the part of very learned people, as set out by Lord Brougham in his celebrated letter to Sir Samuel Romilly.
685. I want to know whether you would have contended, as a matter of fact, that the property belonging to the members of Serjeants' Inn was public in the same sense that you contend that all the property that belongs to these Companies is public?—I have not looked into that as I have into the Inner Temple, which is distinctly public property; nor do I sufficiently know the origin of Serjeants' Inn. I only know the contention of some people and my contention, namely, that if they had been stopped by legal procedure the sale would not have taken place.
686. Are you aware having looked into the question of the Companies that the Crown made great exactious in early times, in the time of the Stuarts, and the Tudors, after they got their charters?—Yes, both in the time of Edward the Sixth and Henry the Eighth.
689. And they were restored to a great extent, were they not, by the munificence of members of the Companies at the time ?—There is a little difference about that. The City got into debt and became insolvent and we were taxed in some way, I think it was by a penny tax upon coal, which has been continued from that time to this, to pay off that indebtedness. It has grown as you know from 1d. to 4d., and 1s. 1d., and so on.
691. And did not a great number of men who belonged to the Companies come forward and advance large sums?—Herbert, and Jupp in his history of the Carpenters, in their books represent the indebtedness as a given time, the sacrifices made, and how they were paid off.
694. You are aware, are you not, that there always has been a distinction drawn in the courts of law between those deeds which give property to a body or to a person on condition that he makes a payment to B., and those cases where there is a devise or a gift for the benefit of A. and B. ?—I put it as a footnote. I took legal opinion upon it, in order to know whether I was right in my view of the law.
696. I am reading from the judgment of Lord Cairns in the case of the Attorney-General v. the Wax Chandlers' Company: "As was said by Lord Kingsdown in your Lordships' House, in the case of the Dean and Canon of Windsor, there is the same difference between these two classes of cases as there is between a devise to A. upon condition that he makes a payment to B., and a devise of land for the benefit of A. and B. together"?—No doubt that is the law. I should like to have this pamphlet put in (handing in the same).
698. You say, "The law has in too many cases applied decisions which would be perfectly just as between an individual benefited under a will subject to his satisfying other bequests; but does this rule of construction apply as to these public and charitable gifts, which applies to a private will, or rather a will of private property to relations. Thus if A. left a house let at a rent of 50l., with a direction that B. should pay 25l. a year to C., and 20l. a year to D., he is held to have given to B. the whole estate beyond the 45l., and if it comes to 1,000l. a year B. is entitled to have the whole residue. If this were a gift for charitable purposes there should be a different construction for the public benefit, and the charitable objects should justly increase in proportion as the value or produce of the property increased. The companies say, in most of these cases, we pay the fixed sums, and the rest is given to our use. Our case then is: You are public bodies, and the only uses you have a right to apply it to are public uses. As the old ones have failed, it is the duty and business of the Legislature to find new ones for the public benefit." Do I understand that your ground for appropriating the money of these Companies and giving it to the proposed municipality or to any other purpose rests upon their being municipal institutions to start with ?—Yes, public bodies. (fn. 10)
699. But the Commissioners who sat to inquire into the operation of the Municipal Corporations Act some time ago did not consider them as municipal institutions, did they ?—Clause 92 of the Act of Parliament of 1835 did. Take, for instance, the report upon Bristol.
701. I am speaking of the Municipal Commission of 1834; are you aware that there were serious doubts entertained at that time as to whether these Companies were municipal corporations at all ?—I know there were legal opinions to that effect expressed, and that is the reason given, I think, for the Merchant Taylors Company not replying to the questions of the Commissioners. That is set out in Herbert.
705. With regard to the trust property that is administered by these Companies, which amounts to 200,000l. a year, have not the Charity Commissioners from time to time reported that in their opinion that part of the business has been managed very well by the Companies, and that they had no fault to find with their administration of it?—I am not of their opinion, taking the Keeble case as an example.
707. So far as regards those particular charities, amounting to 200,000l. a year, would you be content that the Charity Commissioners should have it in their power to make fresh schemes with respect to them ?— No, I should not.
710. Why have you lost all faith in the Charity Commissioners?—They wanted to make Christ's Hospital a great middle-class boarding school, and they have assented to the Charterhouse School going out of London, whereas they should be schools for the poor of London; they also consented to the removal of St. Paul's School to Hammersmith. I want a more popular body represented. I think trades unions should be represented upon the Charity Commission.
715. Do you think that by direct election in such a great place as London you would get people who would be the best persons to devise schemes for administering these charities?—Yes, where it is on a broad basis like the school board, which is an important example.
716. Would you like the election to be conducted like that of the school board ?—Yes, you may make variations, but if the municipality is elected direct from the electors, better men may come forward.
717. Do you not think that if this million a year which you speak of is to be given to the poor of London, it will have a very serious effect upon London in the course of time ?—No, not as we propose to administer it, for purposes of public utility; it is theirs, and I do not know any reason why they should not possess their own property.
718. I will now come to the question of the school. One of your objections was, and I may agree with you, that some of the moneys belonging to schools like the Charterhouse, have been taken away from the poor and given to the rich, and that the poor are educated in the rate-paying schools in consequence ?—Yes.
721. Do not they ?—No, I want a much higher education at those schools than they are having; the great inequalities of fortune in life have to be got over by the highest possible education. To a child coming into the world, of whatever class he is, the bitterness and antagonism is gone when he is trained for the race with the highest education you could give him.
722. Could you send a boy into a high school unless he is fit for it ?—He would pass his examination in the lower school, and go to a higher school; if he still pursued his career of merit he would go to the universities, precisely as they do in Christ's Hospital, and I can see no reason of class why you should not produce many good men. Louis Cavagnari was a Christ's Hospital boy, and that man had from Christ's Hospital for nothing as good an education as he could have got in 20 other schools, but he kept another boy out who might have been another Louis Cavagnari.
723. If you relieved the rates by this money, you would devote a good deal of it to relieve the rich, would you not?—You cannot help that; you do relieve the rich, no doubt, to that extent; but the public purpose to which we should devote this money would generally require new departures. The rate for the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the rate of the School Board, you allow to be paid out of another fund altogether. Parliament passed a Bill which I promoted, in 1860 and 1868, which reduced the income of the Gas Companies 1,209,000l. a year; nobody said that that money should not keep in the hands of the ratepayers, in fact it pays the Metropolitan Board rate, School Board rates, and freeing the bridges.
725. Would it be a wise application of all this money that it should go to relieve the ratepayers ?—I do not say all of it. London open spaces take a great deal of money, only you do not build hospitals out of the rates as you ought to.
726. May not the Companies themselves be entrusted with the administration of some of these funds ?— Why did not they give 25,000l. to the London Hospital before we began our agitation. I admit that they have done for the London Hospital what is a good work, but I have not seen that they have used the money so wisely and well before. A dinner at the Goldsmiths' Hall is not a very elevating sight, and I think that the emptying of the Halls is a still less elevating sight. (fn. 11)
728. Would you tell me what you mean by "public"?—That they are public bodies instituted to perform public trusts, and that everything that goes into their coffers, or into their possession, is public property, and should follow the original purpose for which it was granted to them. They are to control the trades and keep up the mysteries.
729. What sense do you attach to the word "public" in respect of property ?—Take a dockyard, that is nominally called Her Majesty's property, but as a matter of fact it is national property, and could not be parted with except with the consent of the Legislature; this property in the same sense is used for the purpose and duties of these guilds.
730. Do you not go further and impose a limitation upon this public property, if it was to serve the interest of the poor alone, which is not the case with Her Majesty's dockyard ?—That seems reasonable, but most of these bequests invariably use the term poorer classes or paupers. Eton College was to be a school for paupers.
731. When your subsidised hospitals were established, would you deny admission into them, they being established out of this public money, to the middle classes ?—Certainly not; but I go much farther. I want to make the administration of that property the municipal work of London.
733. I thought your contention was that a sum should be devoted as regards education to the middle classes ?—You did not take my reservation. I said that when a compact was made of board schools for the working class, and endowments for the middle class, at least we expected in no ungrudging spirit that they would pay the School Board rate, but they imme- diately set up an antagonism with the view of reducing the quality and quantity of the education. I should look round and see who are entitled to it and have not got it.
736. (Chairman.) When you say that all the property of these Companies in your view is public property, I did not understand you to be describing what you supposed to be the actual legal position of the law, but rather that you were speaking of what in your view ought to be if the law were modified to make it so ?—As a popular view outside the legal.
740. If your view is correct, there would be no necessity for application to Parliament at all, in order to deal with the property of the Companies, because if it is legally applicable to public uses a court of law would give the redress which you think desirable ?— No; we must first of all repeal the charters which give them the power to hold it. Then when you have repealed their charters you must ask somebody to say what other body may be entrusted. So long as they hold the charters, and the land is left in mortmain, it cannot be so. I say their charters should be declared forfeited.
741. (Sir Richard Cross.) Surely if it is public property, the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, or some other division, would enforce its being applied to public uses ?—Take the case of Donkin's Charity as an example, but where will you get an attorney general to fight a battle again like that? (fn. 12)
743. (Mr. Pell.) Did not you say that the old judgments of 100 years ago were very different from what you might expect to obtain from courts of the present day ?—Yes; if they had our modern interpretation of that one case of Keble's, they would have given us the relief we asked for.
746. (Mr. James.) I believe it is the case that in a debate which took place in Parliament upon the corporation, and upon the Report of the Municipal Commissioners of 1837 (I have been unable to get the exact reference), it was stated by the attorneygeneral of the day, after the debate in the House of Commons, and an examination of the case, that the general sense of the House was that these bodies were municipal corporations. Have you that passage ? —I thought I showed it to you some time ago.
748. And under the Act of 1835, special trustees were appointed for the trust property, under the Court of Chancery?—Under a particular clause, where the property belonged to the Church of England, and the corporation did not appoint a sufficient number of trustees, the Court of Chancery was to do it before June of the following year.
751. When you speak of the property of the Companies being public property, you mean that it is property which should be under the control of a body in some sense analogous to the town council in our municipal corporations?—Precisely the same, except that it is an unformed corporation, and those were existing.
754. Have you any scheme, or have you any suggestion to make with regard to that ?—In every Bill that I have introduced we have had a clause for compensation of two thirds the salaries, but some of these salaries are astounding; take Mr. Prideaux, 1,800l. a year besides his fees as a lawyer for the Goldsmiths' Company, for instance, and so on.
756. Now as to the vested interests of an individual, take subscriptions given to public institutions; the Goldsmiths' Company gives an enormous amount in subscriptions, do they not ?—Could not we do that with our own money, as well as the Goldsmiths' Company.
761. You spoke to Mr. Firth about the six different Companies; the Apothecaries' Company, the Vintners' Company, the Goldsmiths' Company, the Fishmongers' Company, the Stationers' Company, and the Gunmakers' Company, all of which in the present day retain some connexion with the trades. Would it be well to dissever that old connexion which has existed so many years, would you lose sight of that?—What connexion is there between the Apothecaries' Company and an ordinary chemist? A public analyst appointed to do work they ought to have done.
762. The Apothecaries' Company is rather a peculiar Company; the powers and regulation over trade exercised by the Apothecaries' Company are extremely large, and it is in a different position to that of any other Company, is not that so ?—It does not exercise them. You can take a drug to the Apothecaries' Company and have it analysed, but the Apothecaries' Company do not send round.
765. You think it is desirable to dissociate the Companies entirely from the old connexion they have maintained ?—Out of 89 you come down to five or six, who do nominally pursue something in the trade.
768. You have been acquainted with a great number of members of these Companies, have you not, at different times ?—They will not know me now; if I have known a man for 20 years he does not know me now.
769. May I ask whether you ever had an invitation to join the Companies ?—Yes; many years ago a member of the Corporation invited me to join a Company; they were then trying to resuscitate its numbers.
771. Is it not the case when you are a member of a Company, as a freeman or otherwise, that you take an oath ?—Yes, I have brought the oaths here, and I have marked here and there where it sustains that contention of mine as to its being a mystery, or craft, or trade guild only, and municipal in its objects.
772. Will you give us one sample ?—One is a sample of the whole. "Declaration of a Freeman: I solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare that I will be good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria, and be obedient to the wardens of this Company in lawful manner. I will also keep secret the lawful councils of this fellowship. And all manner of rules, impositions, and ordinances that are now or hereafter shall be made and lawfully ordained, for the ordering and well governing of the said fellowship, I will truly observe and obey to my power. God save the Queen."
773. When you have met any members of the Corporation, and discussed this question with them, I believe you usually find a distinct denial that the Companies and the Corporation are identified ?—Yes, as Alderman Cotton has put it to-day, it is the universal city observation.
775. As to the trust property and the Corporate property, the whole of the trust property is accounted for by the Charity Commissioners, is it not ?—We differ as to that. Where the trust is 9l. 2s., and they return it to the Charity Commissioners, I admit that the Charity Commissioners are satisfied that their duties are fulfilled, but where the income is 25,000l. a year, then I want it to come into trust property.
778. I do not see how you reconcile that with what you told me a moment ago, that you thought trust property was to be treated in the same sense as public property?—It belongs to the Corporation, but say it is a fund of 25l., and a man left 5l. to A, 10l. to B, and the rest to C; they might very easily pay the amount to A and B, and keep the balance of the property; but if he left the whole income of the 25l. to charity, then I do not care what form it assumes; you must pay 25l. if it is so, for ever, to the same object, and I put it that that is sound law.
779. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) If it accumulated to 25,000l., would you divide it between the three men? —That is what you do at the Charterhouse. You have eighty old men living there, at a cost of 250l. each. I would make to each an allowance of 80l. or 100l. a year, realise the site, and convert the whole into a pension fund.
780. (Mr. Pell.) How do you connect the Charterhouse with the Corporate Companies ?—I would have the money used for the same objects, but extend its benefits. Four nobles were left for dinners at St. Paul's School, and they spend 200l., and have 153 scholars. I would either go back to the four nobles, or increase the number of scholars.
782. Take the case of Christ's Hospital; are you aware that the original endowment of Christ's Hospital was the endowment of old Grey Friars, and that the large increase in the revenues of Christ's Hospital have been in consequence of the large bequests which have been virtually given during the last 200 years ?—It is left to a certain object, and I claim it for the original object, for the poor, destitute, and homeless children.
783. Are you aware that a great deal of that money was not left for that object, but that some of it was left under specific trusts?—King Charles the Second's School is one I would not touch, but the original bequest of King Edward was for poor, fatherless, and destitute children, and he went beyond that, for he founded other institutions for men and women.
784. Because a man leaves 10,000l. in the year 1800 for the education of children in Christ's Hospital, he meant that that 10,000l. was to be given to the education of gutter children; is that what you say ?—No, I take the actual words, and the historic fact that 400 poor children were in a month taken from the streets. I stop at that, and I would administer it as they administered it.
786. I understand you to say as to corporate trust property you would not allow the Charity Commissioners to have any control over it ?—If the body called Charity Commissioners were much changed from what it is at present, I would.
789. (Mr. Aderman Cotton.) Are you aware that a new Governor of Christ's Hospital pays 500l. ?—It is the best investment a man can make; I have five boys and I could have educated them all for 500l., instead of spending that per annum for years and years.
791. It keeps up the funds of the Hospital, does it not ?—I would not allow a master to take pupils on his own account in a school, or any governor to nominate scholars, because by so doing the poor go to the wall, and the rich take the most.
792. (Mr. James.) You have said you have seen children riding in carriages educated in Christ's Hospital; that does not show that they are not the children of comparatively humble persons?—It is a tolerable proof to the contrary. In that particular case I do not know that I could prove that they were rich, but in Farren's Reports he states that the boys come back to school suffering from a surfeit of cake; that would not happen to the gutter children of London, or the poorer classes.
793. Have there ever come within your knowledge individual cases of malversation as to the management of these properties with reference to the duties discharged by the members of the Companies ?—The administration is so secret that I have not learnt anything about it, except from public documents.
797. You are not acquainted with any others ?— No, I do not know that I searched for malversations; it was not so much my contention that these men were doing a dishonourable thing, as that they were not doing right; and not knowing what was the true devolution of this property, I do not think I ever inquired whether this property belonging to guilds was ever let to a relative of a governor or warden.
FIFTH DAY. Wednesday, 26th April 1882.
798. (Mr. Firth.) Have you to-day brought with you the evidence of the Charity Commissioners themselves through their reports as to the point raised last time, that they possessed sufficient control over the charities connected with the City Companies?—I have brought several reports of the Charity Commissioners, the 10th, the 11th, the 17th, the 18th, the 21st, the 24th, the 25th, and the 29th to show that in each of those reports they ask Parliament for further powers to enable them to deal adequately with the great trusts, and I have marked passages which sustain the contention.
799. Is this one of them, in the 10th report, on the 4th page: "We are confident that the voluntary resort to this simple and inexpensive jurisdiction may be relied upon for producing progressively a large improvement in the administration of endowed charities, notwithstanding that our inability to exercise many of the most important powers vested in us by the Charitable Trusts Act, 1860, except upon the application of the trustees only in cases of charities possessing more than an inconsiderable income, or of prescribed parties in other cases, involves an important limitation of those beneficial provisions. If the Legislature should think fit to remove hereafter or relax that restriction, we humbly consider that great advantage would result from that change of the law to the objects of the charities"?—That is one.
801. With respect to the 11th report, you wish to direct the attention of the Commission to the paragraph on page 5, in which the Charity Commissioners, speaking of the Charities generally, say: "A considerable addition to the former income of many charities comprised in those reports has resulted from legal proceedings instituted since their date for the restitution of charitable rights which had been in suspense, and a yearly income of 22,420l. 3s. 2d. is derived from new charities founded since the former reports in the proportions of 11,780l. 9s. 4d. arising from foundations made by will, and 10,639l. 13s. 10d. from charities founded by deed or other acts, inter vivos. The remainder of the increase is due in a very principal degree to the improved productiveness of the endowments, the value of which especially in the Metropolis and its vicinity, has been very largely augmented, resulting in some instances, especially of charities applicable within the City of London, in a disproportion of the endowments to the purposes or objects of the foundations, which may well deserve at no distant period the interposition of the Legislature to regulate their application"?—I do.
802. You also wish to draw the attention of the Commission to the suggestions made at pages 5 and 6 of the 17th Report of the Charity Commissioners as to the necessity of amending the Charitable Trusts Acts in the direction of giving increased control over charities of the kind with which we are dealing ?—I do; there is the repetition of the same demand there. The Charity Commissioners with respect to that matter say: "In former reports we have adverted to certain provisions of the Charitable Trusts Acts, which in our judgment detracted more or less seriously from the beneficial efficacy of those laws for their designed objects, and have instanced particularly two of the most important of those provisions. The first, creating an uncontrolled right of appeal from our most important orders if affecting any but minor endowments, exposed the charities to a liability of becoming involved in illadvised and costly legislation contrary to their true interests. The second restricts us from making orders for the reconstitution of any considerable charities, except upon the application of their actual administrators, who may be opposed to all reformation of their management. The Charitable Trusts Act, 1869, passed during the last session of Parliament, besides removing several minor imperfections, and improving the effect in other respects of the previous Charitable Trusts Acts, has provided an effectual remedy for the first of the defects to which we have referred. Requiring that all appeals from our orders shall be made with the approval of the Attorney-General, it has at the same time preserved the right of the public to have those orders revised in all proper cases, and has placed as substantial a safeguard on appeals as the Act of 1853 placed on all litigation affecting charities, but which the Act of 1860 (probably without foreseeing the consequences) removed in the case of such appeals only. This enactment has had the effect of facilitating our proceedings and relieving us from a very prejudicial constraint in the discharge of our duties. We should look for a yet larger amount of public benefit if the Legislature for remedying also the second defect to which we have referred of the existing Acts, should think fit to enable us to act upon all endowments alike, upon other applications than of their existing managers only, if not also to act upon our own knowledge alone of the existence of sufficient occasion for our intervention. The Act of 1869, section 9, received a modification in the course of its progress through Parliament, which appears to us to deserve regret. It has been our duty to prevent rigidly the charge on the public purse of all expenses within our control connected with the administration of particular charities. The practice of requiring upon all applications for our warrants for the disposal of charity properties, that the surveys and other information required for our guidance shall at the outset be provided by the trustees from the funds in their hands exemplifies this principle, to which we are able to adhere in many other cases. The Act as originally framed proposed that the Commissioners should have a larger power of requiring the trustees of charities to provide from the funds at their disposal certain classes of expenses incurred at the instance and for the necessary information of our board, but the limitation of that provision to expenses only incurred on the application of the trustees or other applicants has greatly lessened its beneficial operation. The general law of charities, as distinguished from the provisions made by the Charitable Trusts Acts for its administration is matter for wider consideration. We have ventured in our former reports to suggest that an expansion of that law is greatly needed in the public interest for authorising a larger latitude than is now permitted in the reappropriation of endowments of distant date to new uses, and our whole experience impresses on us that conviction. We think that such re-appropriation might be made with great advantage in very numerous cases, and that they might be accounted to be in furtherance rather than to the disappointment of the general designs which it is just to attribute to the founders of the endowments. Our authority to propose legislative schemes for particular charities may be considered as of no effect for the preceding general purpose." Then, as an illustration, they refer to the case of Owen Jones's Charity, at Chester: "In the case of Owen Jones's Charity an endowment producing at the present time upwards of 600l. per annum, is held for the benefit of the poor of the several City Companies in Chester. These Companies are 23 in number, and whatever may have been the importance of their functions at the time of the foundation of this charity, they have, with the single exception of the Company of Goldsmiths, long wholly ceased to have any duties to perform for the public benefit, and with that exception they continue to exist apparently for no other object than to be enabled to divide amongst their members the income of this endowment. They exhibit, as is forcibly observed by Mr. Martin, the anomaly of a body of recipients being continued for the sake of the charity instead of the charity for the sake of the recipients. The moral working of this socalled charityis sufficiently illustrated by the statement of the case given in the Appendix; but mischievous as its effects undoubtedly are, the evil in the present state of the law is virtually irremediable, for so long as these Companies, who are the declared objects of the foundation, shall continue to exist, no scheme can be established, either by the Court of Chancery or by our board, which shall have the effect of compulsorily depriving them of its benefits, and of transferring the endowment to really useful objects; nor should we expect (with the experience we possess) that any legislative scheme proposed by our board for a similar object would succeed, in the face of opposition from persons interested to maintain the existing state of things. The result is, that an endowment, which, if placed under effective regulation, might furnish largely the means of advancing the welfare of the industrial classes in the important town for whose benefit it was designed, will. unless some new legislative remedy shall be applied, continue to operate to the degradation only of its recipients."
803. With respect to the answer you gave as to the limitation of 50l. you wish to direct the attention of the Commission to the 18th Report of the Charity Commissioners, pages 5 and 6. Perhaps I might be permitted to read the first of those sentences:—"We should anticipate especially much advantage from the removal of the restriction, which is still placed upon the exercise of our jurisdiction to make orders for the regulation of any charity having a gross yearly income of 50l. or more, except upon the voluntary application of the trustees themselves, who may be the persons most interested in preventing action in the matter. In our humble judgment, the authority of this Commission to take measures for the correction of any maladministration of charities brought to its knowledge, or for effecting any fit improvement of their application, should not be dependent on the accidental disposition of individuals to appeal to its jurisdiction for such purposes. But the specific restriction on its authority, which has been referred to, appears to be open to peculiar objection." And there are further notes which you wish to put before the Commission?— Yes, as confirming the same answer. The Charity Commissioners further say: "Our increasing experience, moreover, has strengthened us in the opinion, which we have repeatedly expressed, in favour of a judicious relaxation of the law, which, with more or less strictness, though with some embarrassing uncertainty, either prohibits or confined within narrow limits all deviations from the trusts of the original foundations of charities. In our Report for the year 1868, without entering into the question how far the intention of founders ought to be allowed to govern distant generations, we suggested that those intentions would, in spirit and substance, be more effectually promoted by the abrogation of prescribed details of administration unsuitable after the lapse of long periods of time, and that the practice which enjoins the continued observance of such details, at the cost of the efficiency and usefulness of the charity, must be subversive of the object of the trust. Retaining the impressions we should anticipate, as then, that if all tribunals having power to establish schemes were enabled to modify any of the original trusts found, after the lapse of time or under altered circumstances, to be no longer beneficial to the object of the charity, this wise extension of power would be followed by a progressive amelioration of the management and extension of the benefits of endowed charities, which being effected through existing agencies, and a familiar course of procedure, would to a great extent be exempt from such undue distrust and apprehension as not unfrequently create serious impediments to improvement. The reasoning in favour of this suggested modification of the law may be held to apply with even greater force to future foundations, which would be created with a knowledge by the founders of the effect of the new law subjecting the trusts to subsequent revision." And then they further remark:—"We have also explained that after many earnest attempts to give effect to this important part of the Charitable Trusts Acts, the conclusion has been forced upon us that the attempt to procure the establishment of such legislative schemes in opposed cases is vain, and that our exertions may be more usefully devoted to the other pressing business in our office than to the promotion of any such scheme, unless there shall be a reasonable certainty of its being substantially unopposed."
804. Then you wish to draw the attention of the Commission to the observations of the Charity Commission in the 21st Report, on pages 4 and 5, as to the desirability of corporations being allowed to remain as trustees of charities at all?—I do.
805. "It must be observed that, according to past experience, corporations cannot generally be regarded as eligible trustees for the administration of charities. It has been found that through the use of a common seal a veil is thrown round the decisions and acts of the individual trustees, which tends to weaken their sense of personal responsibility, and hence to produce laxity of administration. There is great difficulty, moreover, in providing against the misuse of the common seal by insufficiently constituted meetings of the corporate trustees, or in securing regular renewals of the corporate bodies with any due control over the selection of the new members. It is a further objection to these incorporations that neither the courts nor this board has the power to vary the constitution given to them upon their creation, or to divest such bodies (as in the case of an individual trustee), of the trusteeship with which they had once been clothed. It may be mentioned, as an instance of the mischief which may thus be occasioned, that the important advantage of uniting the several charities of a locality under the management of one body of trustees, might be lost by their separate incorporation. Hence it has been the current of modern practice, in the settlement of new schemes for charities, whether by legislative or other special authority, to substitute, as far as possible, individual trustees for previously existing corporate bodies. This policy has been signally affirmed by the Legislature in the Municipal Corporation Act. (5 and 6 William IV., chapter 76) whereby the several municipal corporations dealt with by that Act were displaced throughout the kingdom from the trusteeship of the borough charities in favour of bodies of individual trustees. We may also mention the contrivance to which the Court of Chancery has found it necessary to resort of oppointing boards of managers for controlling at least the acts of the corporate trustees whom it is unable to remove. It is also the almost invariable practice of the Endowed Schools Commissioners in framing schemes for incorporated charities to provide for the extinction of the corporations, and the substitution of individual trustees or governors in their place." With respect to that, have you any opinion of your own as to the desirability of the control of these charities remaining in corporations, which you wish to express ?— I support the principle of the Charitable Trusts Bill of last session, which would have handed them over to the charitable trustees.
806. (The President.) Just let me ask one question upon that. I understand that the answer you have given refers not exclusively to these City charities with which we are dealing, but to all charities of whatever kind?—It would have a general application.
807. (Mr. Firth). You wish in the same matter of their control and limitation to 50l. to draw attention to the 24th Report, on pages 6 and 7?— Yes, referring to every report. I say they have not the requisite powers, and cannot deal adequately with them. The Charity Commissioners in that report say :— "In these circumstances we are compelled to recur to the suggestion made by us as long ago as the year 1866 in the report quoted above, that these funds are in effect so far liberated by the altered circumstances of the locality in which they are applicable, as to require re-appropriation to new charitable uses, a work which can be carried out only by some special extension of existing jurisdictions by the authority of Parliament." And they further say :— "Since the passing of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1860, we have repeatedly had occasion to mention in our annual reports, and especially in our 15th, 16th, and 18th Reports, the disadvantage of the restriction imposed by the 4th section of that Act, upon our exercise of the jurisdiction created by the Act. The general nature and effect of this restriction are fully stated in the following passage of our 15th Report:— If the gross yearly income of a charity amounts to 50l. or more, our jurisdiction can be appealed to by a majority only of its trustees, or actual administrators, to the exclusion of the Attorney-General, as well as all other parties; and we venture to express our opinion that so absolute and irresponsible a discretion to limit the application of a beneficial law is not conveniently entrusted to private persons. The inconvenience of this restriction will be especially apparent when it is considered that in cases most requiring the interposition of our board, the trustees, who are alone capable of setting our jurisdiction in motion, may be the persons most interested to exclude it. may be added to this statement (which applies now with special force to the existing circumstances of our jurisdiction), that the restriction in question appears to be foreign to the practice of the Court of Chancery in charity matters, which it was, we believe, the object of the Act to make the basis of the new jurisdiction thereby vested in the Commissioners. The rules of that practice permit all persons interested in a charity to invoke the assistance of the Court to correct abuses in its administration. But the practical effect of this restriction is found to be, to deny to all persons interested in a charity which falls within its limits, a resort to the cheap, simple, and expeditions remedies against the defective adminis tration of trusts, which are created by the Charitable Trusts Act of 1860. But the direct abuse of charitable trusts is not the only mischief for which this restriction forbids the remedy. The jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, transferred to our board by the 2nd section of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1860, includes the power of making orders in charity matters under the Trustee Acts 1850 and and 1852, upon the application, either of any person benefically interested in the trust estate, or of a duly appointed trustee. It was one of the main objects of those Acts to facilitate the appointment of trustees, and the transfer and vesting of trust property, where a trustee, either solely or jointly possessed of the trust estate, was incapable or inaccessible, or where his existence was uncertain. But in the case of charities, the gross annual income of which exceeds 50l., the exercise of this remedial jurisdiction is frequently obstructed by the operation of the restriction imposed by the 4th section of the Act of 1860. A direct consequence of this restriction is, in many cases, that the existence of the very mischief which the Trustee Acts were designed to obviate, operates to prevent the application to that mischief of the jurisdiction created by those Acts. For where the trustee whose disability or other incident of his relation to the trust forms the ground for an application to the Court under the Trustee Acts, happens to be either a sole trustee or a co-trustee with no more than one other person, it is obvious that no application can be made to the Commissioners by a majority of the trustees in compliance with the requirements of the 4th section of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1860. We continue to entertain the opinion so frequently expressed in our previous reports that the removal of this restriction on our jurisdiction would be attended with distinct public advantage, and would obviate much of the disappointment and delay which now embarrass the attempts by individuals to invoke our assistance to remedy glaring misapplication and waste of charity funds."
808. With respect to the question of accounts and returns, you wish to draw attention to the paragraph on page 4 of the 25th Report, which shows that those are imperfectly supplied now ?—Yes, and that they have no power of audit, one of the most essential powers omitted to be granted to them. In that report the Charity Commissioners say:—"In our 14th Report we laid special stress on the fact that the obligation to make returns, and a liability to have that obligation enforced, induces accuracy on the part of administration of charities in the discharge of their duties. We are of opinion, however, that this advantage would be more certainly secured if further provisions were made by law for giving increased publicity to these statements of accounts when thus rendered. By section 61 of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1853, it was enacted that the statement of account and balance sheet thereby required, should, in the case of every charity whose gross annual income for the time being should not exceed 30l., be delivered, and sent by the trustees of the charity to the clerk of the county court to which the charity was subject, or of the county court for the district adjacent; or, in the case of a charity whose income exceeded 30l., to the clerk of the peace of the county where the charity was established or its property was situated. Besides other provisions for the inspection and obtaining of copies of these accounts, power was given to our board to make such orders and directions as to the delivery and publication of accounts as we should think fit, and thus the fullest publicity as to the income, expenditure, and financial condition of every charity was amply secured. By the Charitable Trusts Act of 1855 these provisions were repealed, and as the law now stands, the accounts of every charity are required to be transmitted to our office in London, with the further provision, that in the case of parochial charities a copy of the accounts shall be delivered to the churchwardens to be by them presented to the vestry of the parish, and to be open to public inspection. In the case, therefore, of the considerable number of charities which cannot be classed as parochial, it may be said that little or no provision is made for ensuring that publicity which appears to us to be so necessary and so valuable. It is true that copies of the accounts are or should be sent to our office and may be inspected there; but to the many applicants interested in distant charities, and desiring information as to their condition or administration, but who do not visit the metropolis, or to whom a payment for an office copy of the accounts may be a matter of inconvenience, such a provision is of no use. We think that a recurrence to the enactment of 1853, to the extent of giving to our board power to make such orders for the delivery and publication of accounts of charities, as they may think necessary, would be highly advantageous and would greatly contribute to the satisfactory execution of charitable trusts." The same is repeated in the 29th Report, that is the last one, and which is just issued; and the Endowed School Commission say precisely the same thing in four lines.
810. The Endowed School Commission say: We are of opinion that the power of inquiry should be extended to title deeds by which an endowment has been created, in whatever hands they may be, and that it should be such as is now exercised by courts of law and equity;" that is what you wish to draw attention to?—It is.
811. In question 555. Mr. Pell asked you this: You stated to the President the different objects over which you think it might be distributed; do you still think that the distribution of 1.000,000l. a year, a portion among hospitals for the poor alone (the qualification being poverty, not disease), and a portion among provident institutions, would not be in the end a source of very great moral harm to the people?" and your answer was, "No, it is their property, and I simply ask that it should be given back to them; for instance, if they had Christ's Hospital to-day, instead of another class, they are entitled to it, it is theirs; or if they had the Charterhouse" and St. Paul's; do you wish to give any fuller answer as to that?—I want to bring forward Mr. Pell as a witness in favour of my contention in respect of a very interesting memorandum he gave to the City Parochial Charities Commission on the use of surplus funds of this kind for provident purposes.
812. This memorandum of February 1880 deals with that question: "Assuming that in many parishes the charities are out of all proportion to the needs of the locality, and that after these have been adequately satisfied a large surplus will remain for distribution, I am of opinion that this surplus in each case should be brought into a common fund, and administered by a newly created authority, for the general benefit of the metropolitan poor; with this limitation, that the fund should be so applied as to encourage any legitimate effort which the poorer classes may be themselves now, or hereafter, making, to meet the wants and attain the objects which the founders of these charities had in view, where these may be in harmony with the conditions of society in modern times. In other words, that provident institutions supported by the poorer classes should have the first claim on the fund. One exception might, I think, be made in favour of the acquisition and preservation of open spaces in the neighbourhood of the districts crowded with the homes of the poor. I think the report should have distinctly and emphatically condemned the application of the charities to the provision of articles of first necessity, such as food, clothing, and fuel, the distribution of which has proved universally mischievous;" is that the point?—No; that the surplus in each case should be brought into a common fund and administered by a newly created authority for the general benefit of the metropolitan poor.
813. Now I will ask you some questions upon the relation of the Companies to the Corporation which is a corporate body. Is it your opinion that those Companies form an integral part of the Corporation of the City of London ?—That is my contention.
814. What historical basis have you for that contention?—I propose to put in as evidence the fact that from 1189 till to-day, every Lord Mayor of London is a member of a City Guild or Company, and would not be eligible for the office if he were not a member of such a Guild; and that he is elected in Common Hall composed of the Liverymen of the City of London, and that that has gone on for 700 years in unbroken succession.
815. Beginning with Henry Fitz-Alwin, in 1189 (which is the date of legal memory), the first 26 Lord Mayors were members of the Drapers' Company ?— Yes. That is stated in Mr. Orridge's book, called "Some account of the Citizens of London and their Rulers," in which he sets out the successive mayoraltie from the date I have mentioned up to within a year or two of the present time. Of course, I can complete it, and show that up to the present time it has maintained the same form.
816. Are you aware that it has been always the contention of the Corporation of the City, that the Livery Companies were an integral part of it, and subject to its jurisdiction ?—I have here a book published by the Corporation itself when Sir William Rose was mayor, with the addresses and remonstrances presented from the City, and petitions to the Throne from the Court of Aldermen, the Court of Common Council, and the Livery in Common Hall assembled, for a century, ending in 1860. I have marked every one of those where the term is expressed, "the Mayor, Aldermen, and Livery." I have specially marked one or two where they raise the contention against the Crown, as in Wilkes's time, and they assume the privileges that they possess as an integral part of the Corporation, and where they otherwise set out how else they may approach the Crown by Lord Mayor, by the aldermen in their inner chamber, by the mayor, aldermen, and council in their Common Council assembled, and the mayor, aldermen, and livery in the Common Hall, which is the meeting of the electors, the base and root of the Corporation. They are all set out here to the extent of 100 years, ending in the reign of Queen Victoria, and the address on the death of the Prince Consort.
817. The history of the method in which the Corporation has approached the Throne by petition, I think, shows that they have approached it in three capacities, which may be taken to be illustrated in the last case in 1861. The court of mayor and aldermen in the inner chamber, the court and mayor, aldermen, and commons of the City of London in Common Council assembled. And the meetings of the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and liverymen of the several Companies of the City of London in Common Hall assembled ?—Yes.
821. (fn. 13) Have you read the address presented on behalf of the Lord Mayor and the livery companies in common hall in 1775, in respect to an answer of the King?—Yes, in the reign of King George III.
822. With respect to what the rights of the liverymen were ?—Yes; and I think it is very important that that should be read, because it sets out in the strongest possible form that they are and they claim to be an integral part of the Corporation.
823. Is this it :—"The King has directed me to give notice that for the future His Majesty will not receive on the Throne any address, remonstrance, and petition but from the body corporate of the city. I therefore acquaint your Lordship with it, as chief magistrate of the city, and have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient humble servant, Hertford. Grosvenor Street, April 11, 1775. The Right Hon. John Wilkes, Lord Mayor of the City of London." This is the answer to that, signed by the Lord Mayor:— "It is impossible for me to express or conceal the extreme astonishment and grief I felt at the notice your Lordship's letter gave me, as chief magistrate of the city, 'That for the future His Majesty will not receive on the Throne any address, remonstrance, and petition but from the body corporate of the city.' I entreat your Lordship to lay me, with all humility, at the King's feet; and as I have now the honour to be chief magistrate, in my name to supplicate His Majesty's justice and goodness in behalf of the livery of London, that he would be graciously pleased to revoke an order, highly injurious to their rights and privileges, which, in this instance, have been constantly respected and carefully preserved by all his royal predecessors. The livery of London, my Lord, have approved themselves the zealous friends of liberty and the Protestant succession. They have steadily pursued only those measures which were calculated to secure the free constitution of this country, and this your Lordship well knows has created them the hatred of all the partisans of the exiled and proscribed family. They form the great and powerful body of the Corporation, in whom most important powers are vested; the election of the first magistrate, the sheriffs, the chamberlain, the auditors of the receipt and expenditure of their revenues, and of the four members who represent in Parliament the capital of this vast empire. The full body corporate never assemble, nor could they legally act together as one great aggregate body, for by the constitution of the City, particular and distinct privileges are reserved to the various members of the Corporation, to the freemen, to the liverymen, to the common council, to the court of aldermen. His Majesty's Solicitor-General, Mr. Wedderburn, was consulted by the city in the year 1771, respecting the legality of common halls, and the remonstrances of the livery; in conjunction with Mr. Serjeant Glynn, Mr. Dunn, and Mr. Nugent he gave an opinion, which I have the honour of transcribing from our records :—'We apprehend that the head officer of every corporation may convene the body, or any class of it, whenever he thinks proper; that the Lord Mayor for the time being may, of his own authority, legally call a common hall, and we see no legal objection to his calling the two last; we conceive it to be the duty of the proper officers of the several companies, to whom precepts for the purpose of summoning their respective liveries have been usually directed, to execute those precepts; and that a wilful refusal on their part is an offence punishable by disfranchisement ?'"—That is the extract.
824. ( (fn. 14) ) ( (fn. 15) ) ( (fn. 16) ) I will leave that branch, as to the action of the City, and ask you one further question; have you read the decision in the case of the refractory Companies in 1775, when between the Corporation and the Goldsmiths' Company the question was contested ? —Yes.
825. (fn. 17) What was the effect of that decision ?—The Companies were found to be in the wrong, and that they were an integral part of the Corporation, and it is fully set out in your own book, "Municipal London."
827. Now with respect to the charters of the Company, I should like to ask you this: You have, I think, for some time advanced a very important contention as to the effect of these charters, having regard to some provisions in Magna Charta itself; can you tell me what those are?—The City in every one of their published works take credit to themselves for the part they took as to the agreement with the Prince of Orange (which was afterwards confirmed by William and Mary as the Bill of Rights), that they thereby preserved and maintained the liberties, charters, and franchises of the City of London and the Companies, but there is a very important reservation there which, if you think fit at some later period to refer this question to the Law Officers of the Crown, you will find to be of supreme importance. By the Act of William and Mary, they only confirm that which they "lawfully had." That may be colourable language to hold in reserve some important contention, but when it is read by the light of Magna Charta there is no doubt that the whole of those charters were bad; that the King had parted with his right to grant charters, and that they are ultra vires.
829. "Furthermore, we will and grant that all other cities, and boroughs, and towns, and ports shall have all their liberties and free customs; and shall have the common council of the Kingdom concerning the assessment of their aids, except in the three cases aforesaid"? ( (fn. 17) )—The "three things aforesaid" included three Feudal Aids. The right of search granted in the charters is not consistent with liberty of trade; the right of search was granted, and is bad, and if that is bad the charter is bad, and I fall back upon simply their municipal rights; I say that they are simply municipal bodies, and if this is argued as it should be, and must be, I suppose, before it is done with, before some great officer of State, that contention I think, could be maintained; at all events it is thought so by a very great many able men who have thought upon the question, that they are simply municipal bodies.
830. I understand you to quote the Act of William and Mary to show that there has not been, at any rate through that Act, any parliamentary title given to the companies ?—Only as they lawfully had it before, and if it were not lawful there was an end to the whole thing. The question was, in fact, put before me as to whether the then Law Officers of the Crown used this as colourable language. I presume for the purpose for which it was used it was good, so far as they lawfully had it they granted it, but they granted nothing more than existed, and they have nothing more than existed, and if it were nothing, then they have nothing.
831. Is this the clause that you mean :—"And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every of the several companies and corporations of the said City, shall from henceforth stand and be incorporated by such name and names, and in such sorts and manner as they respectively were at the time of the said judgment" (that is the judgment quo warranto of 1684), "given, and every of them are hereby restored to all and every the lands, tenements, hereditaments, rights, titles, estates, liberties, powers, privileges, precendencies and immunities which they 'lawfully had' and enjoyed at the time of giving the said judgment"?—Yes, and the "lawfully had" is in inverted commas.
832. Is there anything further which you wish to say with respect to the validity of the charters at the present time ?—No, but after the doubt which has been thrown out, it might be proper, perhaps, simply to say, supposing the question arise and have to be taken in greater form, that I possess at every one of the places marked by those little slips of paper evidence of control, either by the Crown or the City over every Company of the City by what they are pleased to call "exactions of the Crown"; in the 1st vol. of "Herbert's History of the Twelve great Livery Companies of London," pp. 47, 55, 105, 113, 114, 117, 159, 177, 179, and pp. 213 to 220, but I have no wish to press so voluminous a matter if it be not thought proper to-day.
833. As to the validity of the charters, you advanced a contention just now which was not taken down by the shorthand writer; would you state what that was with respect to the effect of the cessor of trade by these Companies?—My contention would be that if they had only been trading companies, then when they ceased to trade there was an end of their charter, and that Parliament must have decreed new Uses, or the property must have gone to the heirs of the original donors of the property, if they could have been found. Then there remained the municipal franchises, and so long as they have that, they are permitted to exist under their charters if their charters be valid, but if the recommendations of the Commissions of 1837 and 1854 were adopted, and their right to the franchise taken away from them, they would cease to exist as companies, and the Crown and Parliament must settle the new devolution of the property. That is following the contention I put forward the other day, that in no case can a single thing they possess be considered private property, even to the last postage stamp in their office.
834. You have told us the grounds on which you contend that they were public bodies; is there any other ground upon which you contend that they are public bodies, besides that of their being municipal bodies?— (fn. 18) No, only as part and parcel, as I have said before, of the Corporation, because they meet in common hall, and are the very root of that Corporation.
835. Have you any evidence that you wish to give with respect to the area over which the chartered rights of those companies extend ?—The Commission have that in their own hands in these reports before them, by which they will see in the case of every company that they are not limited to the City area. Some go over the whole kingdom, others three miles round, others 10 miles, some 20 miles, some 24 miles. That I could make out as a table if you would allow me, because it is a little interesting as showing the position of one or two of the companies whose returns you have, and I could put that in as part of the evidence; in no case is it limited to the area of the City only.
836. You have raised some rather difficult questions with regard to the legal position of these companies in relation to Magna Charta, the effect of the Act of William III. and the effect of the cessor of their trading operations; is there any suggestion which you could make to the Commission, embodying your opinion as to how it should be dealt with ?—Whether any value could attach to my opinion or not, I have thought right to put forward contentions held by a large number of persons, and I should most respectfully suggest that a case should be prepared for the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, or that some important lawyers of eminence should be called upon to give an opinion upon the points raised.
837. (The President.) What points do you refer to ?—Particularly as to the existence of the charters at the present time, whether they are valid, whether if they be not valid, and the companies ceased to be municipal electors of the City their charters will expire, and whether when they ceased to trade their charters would also have expired except that they had the municipal right.
839. Without going through hundreds of instances of this kind, in what form can you present the evidence of such complete control to the Commission ?— That is very difficult to say, when I have marked so much of that evidence.
842. The disfranchisement of the members, the extinguishment of the Company, and the settlement of byelaws ?—That right has been asserted in the Court of Aldermen within the last few years by the objection of Sir Andrew Lusk to the conduct of a company in the election of persons whom he called faggot voters.
845. Perhaps you can prepare some evidence for the Commission ?—I can make a brief analysis by reference to the pages of Herbert's "History of the Twelve Livery Companies of London," which is, of course, a standard book, and well known to every City man.
846. As you have made reference to the law officers, I may ask you, could you make any suggestion as to any means by which there might easily be obtained the opinions or evidence of liverymen upon the subject of this inquiry ?—I think what was done in 1834 would be useful to suggest now, namely, that the Commission should meet in the City at the Guildhall, and invite the liverymen to attend and give evidence.
847. In that case I think the result was not very encouraging, was it?—It is not encouraging to the Commission to do it, but I think it would be as well to do it, so that no contention might hereafter arise that they had not the opportunity to attend and give evidence.
849. Perhaps I may ask you whether, in your opinion, the Commission in the examination of witnesses should have further power than exists at present ?—My great desire before the Commission was appointed was, that it should be a Statutory Commission and not a Royal Commission, because this Commission falls short of the real powers which, I think, it should have, as will be seen when you make an analysis of the accounts which are presented to you. However admirable and full they are, I think you will want information which you could only get by being able to call upon the clerk or some other witness to attend on your order, and not merely at your request. I refer particularly to a parallel case, that of the Winchester Commission, which was presided over by Lord Brougham. The contention in that case was set up that their charters were secret; but that Commission had parliamentary power, and Lord Brougham told them that if they did not return within an hour with their minds changed he should commit them. That was a power which brought forward most important evidence, and evidence which would never have been otherwise received, and that is a power which you have not got to-day.
851. But I think you have not yet had time to prepare the complete body of evidence upon the subject? —No, I have gone very much through them. They are most admirably prepared, and, I think, with the greatest frankness and candour, but they require a much larger analysis than I have been able to make, and put to you in very few words. As part of your work you are to give an idea of the value of those estates. If I begin, say with the Goldsmiths' Com pany, and I take the property in Lombard Street, occupied by Glyn, Mills, and Co., I find that it is a lease dated from 1828, at a ground rent of 180l. To get a possible idea of the value, I have to look to the reversionary interest which is coming into effect within a very short time of a property which ought to be rated at some 6,000l. or 7,000l. a year. That is one case, but taking property let at ground rents of 2, 10, 25, and 50 years, Mr. Warr has put them at about 20 years' purchase, clearly they should be at 27 or 28 years' purchase; I could get it out in schedules fairly enough to give a general idea of the total value, but it cannot be done in a day or two.
853. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Taking your last answer first, you consider that Mr. Warr is wrong in assessing ground rents having a period of say, 15 to 30 years to run, at 20 years' purchase?—I do. Some of them would fetch 50. Some were sold the other day at 45 years' purchase. I have referred to the rent reserved in 1828 on one property which to-day is rated on the books of the parish at about 1,000l. a year, the reversion of which will fall in in a comparatively brief period; and then they come into the 7,000l., or whatever its then annual value may be.
854. May I take your answer to mean that you would take 27 or 28 years' purchase as an average of the ground rents generally ?—Clearly. Good ground rents, such as the companies possess. I am not referring to suburban ground rents. You might even go to 30 years' purchase.
856. How do you reconcile that with your statement which followed that the companies had given most full and ample returns with the greatest frankness and candour?—I think it is perfectly reconcilable. So far as they have given them, it is so; but if you look at it you will see where the defects are. For instance, they put the rental, the number of years lease, and then they are asked whether they have had a valuation of this property, and although they have a surveyor, there is no valuation. Then they are asked to give the rental gross and net, the money they receive; that they do not give. This information some of the larger companies have given, and all of them could do it, but it is a most important guide in estimating the value. If they let a place at a rent of 180l., and it be rated at 1,500l., we want to know what was the building lease or the consideration for so small a rent with so large a rating.
858. You suggest rather that they have not given sufficient evidence ?—I am not here to make an offensive imputation. I say we have got an immense volume of facts and evidence of permanent value. Suppose it be subsequently decided that my contention is wrong, and that they are private bodies and not public bodies, we do not care two straws about its value; then it is their property, and let them have it. But suppose my contention be right that it is public property, we have a most important schedule of property to take possession of in the public interest; when I come to that I want a little more information than they have given me, but I make no imputation whatever.
859. I think I may say, with the Chairman's permission, that the companies have not been asked, with one or two solitary exceptions, for any information that they have not supplied?—I am looking at the want of better information.
860. (Sir N. M. de Rothschild.) Do you not think we all understand pretty well that property in the City increases in value; we take the present annual income of the companies and know that there is a gradual increase, and do not require them to detail that, because it is a thing so palpable ?—But you have it in the schedule, and some companies have returned it, and it is most instructive as regards the value, but others have not done so. Then of course I know the growth of this City property as well as any man living, but when I get a remarkable case like that of Glyn's at 180l. a year, the property being rated at under 1,000l. when it is worth at least 6,000l. or 7,000l. a year, I think it raises a good many contentions, if we want to go into minute detail, if the company has returned the true answer.
861. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Then the company having returned the true answer, you think it the function of this Commission in consequence of information they receive, to raise the question as to whether the assessor of taxes in the City has properly assessed the property or not?—I say it raises that contention.
863. You have told the Commission, I think, that in your opinion the Crown and City have power to exercise very large control over the companies, even to the extent of altering and varying their bye-laws at the present time ?—Yes, they have. (fn. 19)
864. Can you give any illustration within the last half century of the exercise of any such power;—Not within the last half century. Herbert deals with it up to 1836, and I will give you a schedule from his book, if you like.
865. Has not the position of the companies in relation to the City of London very materially changed during the last two centuries ?— (fn. 20) Do you mean that there have been a less number of men of eminence connected with it, and fewer Lord Mayors ?
866. No; have not the City ceased for nearly two centuries to exercise any marked or powerful control over the management of the funds or business of the livery companies ?—I think that is very likely.
867. Can you quote any instance in which the Corporation of London, as a Corporation, have materially interfered in the management of the funds of the livery companies in the character of the interference that existed two centuries ago?—No, there is no necessity for my doing so. They elect the Lord Mayor, by virtue of their suffrage rights, and vote for him and the most important officers.
870. And you are satisfied ?—They have elected the Lord Mayor, the Chamberlain, the Bridge Masters, and held common hall at fixed dates, as they have done for centuries, and never ceased to exercise municipal authority within the City.
871. Are you satisfied to rest your assertion that they are an integral part of the Corporation upon that connexion ?—More, I also rest it on the fact that they have elected the Lord Mayor for 700 years. I have set out the addresses to the Crown in which they have asserted their rights, even to the extent of being received by the King on his Throne, not in the ordinary way of Levee, because they are an integral part of the Corporation. I have read those addresses.
872. Is it not the fact that while there may be a ceremonial connexion and a political connexion betwen the companies and the Corporation of the City of London, that there is practically no connexion which gives the Corporation power to exercise any control over the administration of their funds?—I should say that that is a delusion, in whosoever mind it is fixed.
873. Have not the livery companies for the last century exercised an absolute control over the disposal and management of their property, without interference on the part of the Corporation ? —Very likely; it is within their privileges, except the Corporation please.
874. If purchasers of real property belonging to the livery companies had thought that the Corporation had any power of control over their property, would they have purchased, and thought they had a good and sufficient title ?—I do not know that they have purchased; I should be very sorry to hear that they had, except under the compulsory powers of Act of Parliament.
875. Are not you aware that the livery companies have sold real property without any interference on the part of anyone, and given good titles, and made good their titles in the courts of law continually, during the last century ?—I have heard you state it, and I take you as the authority for it; otherwise I do not know it.
876. You are not in a position to contradict the assertion, are you?—No, certainly not; I am very sorry to hear that they have been selling. I know the Bakers and Stationers have sold property to the Skinners, and that the Skinners have paid for it and invested it again.
877. Are not you aware that the companies have dealt with large and small pieces of real property belonging to them in the same manner as private individuals?—They would have to do it for public improvements.
879. Would you be astonished to hear that it is so?—I am not astonished at anything when you say that so broadly. I am sorry to hear it, but I think it raises the contention that they should not be allowed to do it.
880. You have called the attention of the Commission to-day to the reports of the Charity Commissioners asking Parliament, from time to time, for further powers for dealing with charities over 50l. a year can you point to any statement in any one of the roports which seems to indicate that that refers particularly to the charities managed by the livery companies ?—Certainly not.
882. But surely if there are no complaints, the question of further powers cannot refer to the livery companies ?—The Charity Commissioners say that in so far as you have sent in returns to them they are satisfied, but they have no power to make you send in any return of property over 50l., but they are not satisfied that they have not that power, and I ask for them to have that power.
883. Can you refer to any statement of theirs showing that they are not satisfied with the trust properties in the hands of the livery companies ?—Certainly; that very statement is sufficient to show that they are not satisfied with their powers to deal adequately with those things.
884. Does not that statement refer to many thousand charitable trusts throughout the whole of the country ?—Of course it must. They were a charitable Commission, I believe, for all England, and the greater includes the less.
885. You have told us that you are of opinion that the charities should be handed over to the official trustees; I suppose you mean vested in the official trustees?—As provided by the Charitable Trusts Bill of last year.
886. You do not contemplate that the management of those charities should be handed over to the official trustees ?—No, but that the property should be in the hands of the official trustees; the property held in fact by the Government—by the nation.
887. Can you point to any instance in which the livery companies, being trustees of charitable properties, have objected to the property being vested in the official trustees ?—I have no chance of knowing it. I complain of the administration by them of their trust in this, that where a small sum was given (say, two or three centuries ago), which then represented the entire income of the property, you still distribute amongst the poor, or the freemen, as the case may be, that modicum, but the greater income you claim as private property. I say it must go to the same public uses as the smaller sum.
888. Are you not aware that the Charity Commissioners have from time to time investigated a large number of such cases, and that their decisions in the matter, whether confirmed by courts of law or not, are now being acted upon, and that the Charity Commissioners have themselves allowed the sum which was allocated to the charity to be redeemed, and the property realised ?—Yes, I have heard of it with regret.
889. And that they have done that after a careful investigation of all the legal rights ?—We differ as to that legal question altogether. I say we have not had the decision we ought to have as to whether the property, having been originally devoted for public uses, can go into the private exchequer of the Company.
890. Do I understand you to say that you consider the Charity Commissioners have not exercised a wise discretion in that respect?—I have already said so, and I think they have failed in their duty in that respect.
893. I will read to you the words of Clause 25 of the Act. "The said Board shall have the authority upon such application as aforesaid to authorise the sale to the owners of the land charged therewith of any rentcharge annuity, or other periodical payment charged upon land, and payable to or for the benefit of any charity or applicable for charitable purposes upon such terms and conditions as they may deem beneficial to the charity"?—Kindly read the limitations again; it is not general.
894. The point I want to put to you is this : that as the Charity Commissioners have discretion to determine what the amount shall be, whether you object to their decisions in the cases in which they have so determined and have adjusted the amount payable to the charity, and the amount to which the Company is entitled for its corporate purposes ?—If they have a rentcharge of 10l. or 6l., it might be sold with their sanction for 300l. or any similar sum; that is perfectly legitimate, but they are not selling the income of the property plus the 10l. a year. If you notice the words there, you will find they refer to an annuity, a rentcharge, or a quit rent, or something tangible in the market.
895. Do I understand that you demur to the decisions of the Charity Commissioners in the cases brought before them in which the rentcharges have been redeemed ?—I say you are giving a larger interpretation to that clause than it is possible to give. You want to make it general instead of special.
897. Do you object to the interpretation which the Charity Commissioners have put upon the clause, and to the decisions which they have given under that clause ?—I do not know what it means in your view and your way of putting it. I know what it means in my own mind. Those are fixed quantities that they are selling—rentcharges, tithes, annuities, and so on.
898. In question 521, this was put to you: "You mean that the funds of each guild should be in part applied to provide for decayed members of the trade connected with it. (A.) Yes, that was their original purpose." Do you mean to suggest to the Commission that the companies should, out of their funds, pay pensions to decayed members belonging to the old trades, leaving out in the cold artizans and persons working in new trades which have come into force, such as the iron and steel trades and the textile manufactures, rather than to distribute their money in promoting technical education, which would be an advantage to all trades ?—I object to their present scheme of technical education. I think they are in too great haste. I think it ought to have been begun in the school board with children of 10 or 11 years of age, rather than in the way it is being done; but I would have the money distributed either by the Corporation, on whom the property might devolve, or the Commissioners to whom it might be entrusted, on rules they might lay down; and, as a matter of course, that would include the growth of all modern trades.
899. You do not want them to limit it to decayed members in connexion with the particular guilds ?— There is another answer of mine in which I have said so, but it is not so big a sum as some gentlemen here seem to think. A million pounds per annum is only 5s. per head per annum of the population of London.
900. In answer to Question 523 you suggest that part of the money should be given to the extension of hospital accommodation and the training of nurses. Are you aware that nearly all the leading companies are very large and liberal contributors to almost every one of the metropolitan hospitals ?—Of course I am.
902. Do you think that that portion of their funds could be better distributed by some other body than it is now distributed ?—That is not the question. The question is, is it their's to distribute, or is it our's, and if our's, can we not distribute our own money on rules that we should lay down ourselves.
904. In answer to Question 530 you say, "I see by the papers that they make an income of 700,000l. a year, but my own impression is, that it is considerably over a million;" do you mean to suggest that the companies have not made a faithful and proper return ?—You do not seem to follow that answer that you have got there in the Keeble's case, which I took to be a sort of test. They return Keeble at 9l. 2s. a year; that property consists of No. 8, Old Jewry, with Grocers' Hall Court behind, and the hall of the Grocers' themselves.
906. The companies return the amount which they receive. I will put it in this way : do you suggest that they have returned 700,000l. a year as their income when they ought to have returned 1,000,000l., and that they know it ?— (fn. 21) You will not take my answer. If you will let me give you the book and turn to the Grocers' Company you will see the whole thing set out. In the first schedule of property of the Grocers' Company you will find Keble's Trust. That is part of Grocers' Hall, as I say, and they put down the little figure of 3,000l. a year there, whereas No. 8, Old Jewry, lets at 3,360l., one sixth of the whole; and then there is the hall behind and Grocers' Hall Court, and their entrance in Princes Street, and the property they sold to the Bank of England, in Princes Street. What does that represent ? If we had these gentlemen here and asked them questions about it we should change the face of those returns.
(fn. 21) 907. I will ask you as to Keble's benefaction. Was not Keble's benefaction subject originally to certain superstitious uses, which were redeemed by a payment of 20 years' purchase to the Crown; and was not their title confirmed by an Act of Parliament of the 4th year of the reign of James I. like the title of other lands of the City companies ?—It does not say so in Herbert (page 356, Vol. I.).
909. Is not 9l. 2s. the annual sum charged for charitable purposes upon the property, and has not a Charity Commission fully investigated the whole matter, and given that as their decision, and sanctioned the present condition of things?—One of my contentions is, that that decision is wrong. If Keeble left 9l. 2s. there is no power in any man to divert the surplus income of that two centuries after, when it has grown to a much larger sum. It is left to the poor, and must go to the poor.
911. If that is so, should not the Company have been reached by legal process ?— (fn. 22) Who is to begin all this ? The Attorney-General began Donkin's case, and won; the Attorney-General began the Wax Chandlers' case, and won that; but where are the funds to come from, until we get the municipality to take them by the throat and to deal with them.
912. Would you contend that property which has been left for superstitious uses, and redeemed by the payment of money, is not the corporate property of the Company ?—It is corporate, of course, but not private. I do not care whether it is for superstitious uses or not. I say that every atom of their property, whatever it is, is public property, and that the term private cannot be applied to it.
914. I turn now to Question 541; Mr. Pell asked you what constituted the membership of the working men's club which prepared the resolutions which were presented to the committee, and you stated "Certain monthly subscriptions," may I ask whether the working men's clubs possess any more exact views as to the guilds and members of the guilds with respect to their property than you yourself possess ?—I think they possess the same, and that it is equally accurate.
915. Have you read the cases of the Attorney-General v. the Fishmongers' Company in the Preston case, and of the Kenworth Charity and the AttorneyGeneral v. the Grocers' Company ?—I do not know that I have. I have read Donkin's and the Wax Chandlers', which are leading cases, but I have not read those you have mentioned.
916. And in which the decisions were in favour of the Company ?—I am not quarreling with the fact as to the decisions, but I say these questions have not been properly argued except in two or three cases, and those we won. The law has been administered as to the public trust as if it were a private one. We consider that it is wrong, and I know that several members of the Charity Commission agree with me.
917. Are you aware that in the case of the Wax Chandlers' (Kendal's Charity), the Master of the Rolls, Lord Romilly, and Lord Chancellor Hatherley decided in favour of the Company and against the charity ?—I do not think you are right.
918. That was afterwards appealed against, and the decision was reversed, is not that evidence to be considered?—The fact is we won in Kendal's case, and they had not the pluck to go to the House of Lords.
920. Is not that some evidence that if the Companies have made a mistake in law they do not make intentional mistakes in misappropriation of their property ?—So far as the contention goes, that they went to the courts to administer so much of the money as they call "trust," the decisions are to be accepted; but when it is contended that the surplus of that, they may take into their corporate trust and call it private, I say the law has decided no such thing; the law has decided that it is corporate property, and it cannot be any other.
922. Are you aware that the Companies, as a whole, paid to King Edward VI. 18,700l., which was a very large sum of money at that time, as the price of the property dedicated to superstitious uses ?—What does it matter ? what remains must be corporate however invested.
923. And that the title to the land so bought has been confirmed by Act of Parliament ?—It is money going into the coffers of the Corporation, and it is corporate; it does not matter to me how they get it, or where from.
924. I take it you consider that the issue which the Commission has to consider is the question of whether the corporate property is now properly applied or not?—I do not care about that; I am asking, you see, for a change of administrators, because it is corporate property, and seeking to change the corporators. I fall back upon the 92nd section of the Municipal Reform Act, which we had here the other day, which shows that the natural heir to that property is a new reformed Corporation.
925. Do I gather that you ask that the property of the livery companies should be handed over to other persons to be administered?—I say it must follow; it must go to the new Corporation when it is created.
927. I do not understand you ?—The total sums of money paid per annum by members of the bodies comes to about 7,000l. a year. If you wanted a life interest out of it I suppose we should have to give it you in some form, if it were a matter of compromise; but I say when you paid your money into these companies you knew what you were doing, and you knew what the body was; you also knew that their property was corporate property, to be kept for corporate uses, and I claim it as such. I have nothing to do with your parting with your money.
928. Have you a right to make that assertion ? I will give you one example. I paid 300l. at the age of 50 for the privilege of becoming a member of a company; do you not think persons in that position, who brought into the company, assuming the existing state of the management, to be recognised by the law, might consider that that was a thing on which they could rely ?—They should have inquired into the title, and seen whether they had a right to admit, or whether, when the money got into their coffers they could get it out again.
930. Do I understand you to admit that persons who have bought in, and are now living, should have compensation ?—I did not mean to give that as a specific answer when I said that we might, for the sake of peace, give something, though they were not entitled to it; no doubt, when we come to settle the question, some compromise may be made.
931. May I take my own case; I paid nearly 300l. at the age of 50 to become a member of the Clothworkers' Company, taking the probable duration of my life, do you say that that would entitle me to the return of that money ?—I do not say that it would entitle you to any return whatever. You went and put your 300l. in; it went into a sieve; you have got a certain body (in the election of whom you have no voice unless you happen to be one of them yourself) to manage it. The livery have no power over that money; it is corporate property, and they could not part with it at all.
932. You think, because I have invested 300l. in the membership of a company which had existed upon certain recognised rules and regulations, undisturbed by the law for the last century, that I am not entitled to be compensated if the management of the property is disturbed in such a manner as to take away my privileges ?—If we reform that Corporation you are not entitled to any compensation.
934. That you think would be fair, and could not be regarded as confiscation of private rights ?—I can give you no other answer, in the case of a corporation; if it were a benefit club it would be different.
936. In the case of the livery companies you think all persons having rights and privileges, whether by redemption or patrimony, ought to have them taken from them without compensation ?—They are not entitled to compensation; but I say that no doubt some mode or means would be found of meeting cases of that kind, so as to have an amicable settlement and avoid a great dispute. Commissioners, I have no doubt, would be appointed to set out how to deal with those cases. I do not go into that case; it is too small a question in so large a matter; really, I am looking to the property.
937. In reply to Questions 562 and 563 you call the attention of the Commission to what is known as the Bradbury's Charity, asserting that the return was only 30s. a year ?—That is the Mercers', I think.
939. Are you not aware that the amount, instead of being 30s. is, as given in the Mercers' own return, 9l. 10s. a year?—In Lord Robert Montagu's return it is 30s. It is rated on the books of St. Martin's parish at 27,700l. a year at the present time.
941. Is it fair to take the value at which property is assessed to the poor, and say that is the value of the ground rents payable to the freeholders ?—No; let them set out their ground rents, and set out their rating.
942. Are you aware that the Mercers' Company have set out their ground rents at 13,000l. a year ?— The Mercers' Company is not in any of the returns before me; I have it in Herbert. I only know Herbert as to that; he sets out the history of Bradbury's trust; 100½ acres were sold to the City, and 8½ acres remain, and that is as well known a property as any in London.
945. If you quote Herbert as an authority for that statement, does not that lead us to infer that we cannot rely upon that, and much of the other information that you give ?—It is the Mercers' Company's own information. Herbert's is official; but even if it be 13,000l., I claim the difference between the 9l. 10s. and the 13,000l. a year as available for Bradbury's trust, and not for the Mercers' Company, and I say that claim is a good one.
946. Although the Crown has been paid by the Mercers' Company and the Corporation for that part of the property which was left for superstitious uses ? —109 acres were so left, if the figures be correct in Herbert. 100½ acres were sold, some being in Conduit Street, Bond Street, Grafton Street (the street at the end), and on the left Woodstock Street and the whole of Stratford Place. They have the 100½ acres to answer for, whatever they paid to the Crown.
947. Have they not admitted the rental of 13,000l., and the Charity Commissioners agreed that that was only liable to the payment of 9l. 10s. a year for charitable use?—You will not see my contention, which is that the Charity Commissioners are wrong, and that that 13,000l. must follow the 9l. 10s.
951. (Chairman.) I think we are getting into a little confusion, when you say the Charity Commissioners are wrong in certain decisions they have given, I do not apprehend you to mean that they are legally wrong, and that they could legally have given any other decision, but that you think the principle upon which by the law they are compelled to act is not that which ought to be applied to the cases of Corporations; am I right in putting that construction upon your answer?—No, the Corporation being a public body, as I contend, the money must go to public uses, and as near like the original uses as possible.
952. In short, in the case you mention, whether the Company has a legal right or not to the funds in question, you consider that it has not a moral right, is that your distinction?—No, I take it the words legal right to mean established legal right. It has the right to pay 9l. 10s., but not the right to put the other part of the income into its coffers. I say that that income must be equally applied to public uses, the Company being a corporation.
953. (Sir R. Cross.) I think you said that the particular charity which was entitled to the 9l. 10s. would be entitled to the 13,000l. a year also?—No, I say that it should be applied to the like uses.
954. What you mean is to get it quite clear, that the 9l. 10s. must go to the particular charity, and that if the 13,000l. goes to the Corporation under the decision of Lord Cairns, the Corporation can only use that for some public trust, not for their own purposes, —that is what you meant?—Clearly.
955. (Sir S. Waterlow.) Following out Sir Richard Cross' question, does not that really involve the whole question of whether, whatever property the Livery Companies have they have no right to exercise absolute control over it, dealing with it as they see fit?— That is the whole contention.
957. (Sir S. Waterlow.) As regards this particular Bradbury's trust you are willing to admit, as I understand, after the decision arrived at by the Charity Commissioners, that assuming the Corporations to be entitled to that which they thought and paid for out of their corporate funds, they are now appropriating what by law they are required to appropriate to trust purposes, and only dealing corporately with that which the law has permitted them hitherto to deal with?—As a Corporation that is quite right. You have ear-marked all that property, it is at the present time corporate property, and we now know all about it.
958. Is it not a fact that the 100 acres which the Mercers' Company lost out of the 109 acres were conveyed from the Mercer's Company by an Act of Parliament in the reign of King Henry VIII., and have not been held by them since that time, and that the Company have had no control over it at all?—I am not blaming them, I only say it mysteriously disappeared. Herbert tells us in his book that the City bought it under an Act of Henry VIII.
959. How can you call it a mysterious disappearance when openly known to everybody by the Act of Parliament?—We did not find that out for a very long time; we have had most important hints as to its arising out of church property in Conduit Street.
960. You cannot impute any blame to the Mercers' Company can you in reference to it, assuming that they have the right to deal with their corporate funds?—I say they have that right only for the like uses to which that 9l. 10s. a year was left.
964. In question 567 you refer to the operation of the law of mortmain as regards the livery companies, I presume that your objection is a fiscal one?— Largely, but of course there is the other objection, that I do not like to see land locked up unnecessarily.
965. With regard to the fiscal part of the question, can you point to any company that has ever objected to a consideration of what they ought to pay in consequence of their not paying succession duty, and is it not a fact that two of the companies—the Clothworkers' and the Goldsmiths'—have in their reports suggested that some payment should be made by the companies in consequence of their not paying succession duty?—Yes, there is that, but it is a death-bed repentance.
966. Would that remove your fiscal objection?— No, my objection of course is to any land being held in mortmain at all. If you get rid of fiscal payment every 30 or 35 years, you do not get rid of the fact of land being locked up in the market.
967. I think you objected to the companies not continuing their connexion with trade, are you aware that there are some of the companies which still carry on the trades with which they were originally connected?—I think we had that all out last examination in connexion with the Apothecaries' and Gunmakers'.
968. I have looked over the report of the evidence given last time, and I should like to ask you whether you are aware that the Stationers' only elect members of their own body or members of their own trade?—There is another argument put forward by the Goldsmiths' Company, namely, that they ought to represent the public also.
969. I ask you whether you are aware that the Stationers' Company only elect members connected with their own trade?—Yes, the Stationers' are a small Company chiefly dealing in old almanacs, and having some privileges in regard to copyright, for which they charge fees.
976. Are you aware of the case of Brown v. Dale, which was tried before the Master of the Rolls in the High Court of Justice on the 21st of March 1878, in which the contention as to the right of the Fullers' and Dyers' of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to divide the whole of their property amongst the then members of the guild was raised?—No, I am not aware of it.
977. I call your attention then to the decision of the Master of the Rolls in that matter. The Master of the Rolls there says, "Yes, it is a common trade guild, and they have absolute control over the property. These trade guilds are common enough, or were at one time, singularly common. There were many thousands of them, which have now disappeared, they were clubs, or voluntary associations, or members of a craft or trade, and they dealt with their own property as they liked without any trust whatever. They had a right to do so, and this property must be divided accordingly"?—That does not touch our case in the least, which is separate from that of the Corporation of Newcastle.
978. If the livery companies have not absolute right to deal with their property, how do you reconcile the fact that the courts have recognised their rights and have admitted their power to deal with it by confirming conveyances of all kinds within the last 50 years?—Then they must re-invest the proceeds. So long as the corpus does not go out of the Corporation, I do not mind if the court assent.
980. I gather your answer to be, that if properties have been so sold, and the proceeds have not been re-invested for the same purposes, it has been a fraud?—Certainly. I do not know of any instance. I regretted to hear what you said as to its having been done. I was almost thinking that it had not been done, and that they were so honourable that they would not do it. If every case stand upon its own footing and you will let me know of any such case I shall be very happy to answer your question. My point is that the money is divided. In the case of the Leeds Corporation the sale had taken place before the Municipal Reform Act of 1835.
981. Question 670, referring to technical education runs thus:—"You spoke of technical education, and said you do not approve of it as at present commenced?" In reply to which you say, "No, I take the view of Professor Huxley that sufficient inquiry had not been made, and that the matter was jumped forward to appease the demand of public opinion for something." Are you aware that before the Livery Companies did anything in the way of promoting their scheme for technical education they took the opinion of Professor Huxley, and that their scheme is based upon his opinion and his recommendation jointly with the opinions of two or three other professors?—Yes, Professors Donelly, Armstrong, and so on. I had the document here last time. You will see that in Professor Huxley's letter to the "Times," he rather complains that they have departed from their views, but I go further about that. I think they began altogether wrong in this vast expenditure of money before inquiry by men of the same stamp as Professor Huxley, and that they should have begun in our school boards,—I think that technical education really begins there.
982. How can you make that assertion when the Livery Companies in announcing their scheme, printed and published the opinions of those various professors and based their scheme upon their recommendations? —I must bring Professor Huxley's letter, if you will allow me, to show the variation they made between his scheme and the scheme they adopted.
983. You are probably aware that such men as Mr. Spottiswoode, the President of the Royal Society, and Sir Frederick Bramwell are acting conjointly with the livery companies who propose the scheme?— Yes, I am aware of that.
984. Is it not a fact that the Court of Chancery has lately recognised the City Guilds' Institute as the best channel through which bequests for the purpose of technical education could be promoted?—I was not aware of it, I have not followed the legal intelligence lately.
985. But the Court of Chancery in appropriating some charitable trusts on the ci pres principle have recommended that the money should be placed at the disposal of the Guilds Institute, and I ask you whether that is not some evidence that in the opinion of the Court of Chancery the scheme has been well prepared?—That is not evidence that a much wider scheme would not have been better.
986. (Chairman.) I should like to ask one or two questions in explanation. I understood you to say that you thought it doubtful whether the charters of the companies would not be found to be legally invalid if the question were tested?— (fn. 23) The extract I put in from Magna Charta distinctly states that the King will not grant charters against the privileges of the citizens, and certainly it was against their privileges to give a right of search against any trader, and the Bill of Rights expressly regrants the charters, "so far as they are lawfully good."
988. Has there not been every opportunity of testing it for an indefinite time past?—I think not; they have ceased to trade and therefore so far as the offensive character of their charters is concerned there was an end of it. For two centuries and more they have not traded, except as regards the small things to which Sir Sydney Waterlow has referred. But the words are in inverted commas, and it seems to me a sort of mental reservation. Of course there are lawyers who have paid great attention to the subject. I only refer to it so that their opinion might be obtained. The words are to the effect that they so far confirmed the charters which they "lawfully had." My contention is that they had some unlawfully.
989. Do you think it likely that any court of law would determine that a charter which had been acted upon for 200 years, and more, was invalid from the beginning without any substantial alteration? Would it not be held to have become valid by long usage?— The Court might decide that, but I say, if it were bad in the commencement nothing could make it good.
991. (Chairman.) You spoke of its being desirable to take other means to obtain the evidence of the companies than those existing at present. Do you not think that it would be premature to suggest the use of compulsion until we know that the information we want will not be voluntarily given?—We did suggest it before the Commission was granted, and you will remember Sir William Harcourt's answer was, that he would try this means first, and as you have a large mass of information given to you, you were probably wise in doing so, but I should have liked a Statutory Commission. That is only my view.
992. (Mr. James.) If you had a Statutory Commission, how do you think it would have been possible by having statutory powers to produce the evidence?— I do not think it would have produced it; on the contrary, I think that it would very largely have extended it; you would then have the power to send for persons, books, and papers, as I instanced in the case of Winchester College and Lord Brougham.
996. It is, but there are a good many charges against the companies and those connected with them. Do you know whether those charges were correct or not?—They were never replied to. I do not know whether that may be taken as an inference that they were correct. The parties concerned may have thought them too bad or too mean to reply to.