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present; the object of this paper is merely to indicate the movement of wages in London during the fifty years following those twenty or twenty-five years in which no movement at all is discernible. This particular period has been chosen, partly because it is, as every one would agree, especially interesting, partly in order to bridge a gap already indicated in the greatest industrial history we possess—the History of Agriculture and Prices containing very few particulars as to London wages for those years. As it would be impossible, within the limits of an article of this kind, to print all the figures for the different London works at length, it has seemed best to print one set as fully as possible, rather than condense the whole, or make extracts. The town rates are given continuously for the first forty years, after which it has been necessary to fill up from other works. The figures are not printed for every industry included in the accounts; but of those industries selected, the figures are in every case given in full. To facilitate the comparison with contemporaneous country rates, I have ventured to print Thorold Rogers' “highest carpenter” and “average bricklayer" in columns side by side with the town rates for the corresponding years.
B. L. HUTCHINS
A vervtions whi he last 2
Of the many difficulties with which the Corporation of Liverpool have to cope, the housing problem is, and has been for the last halfcentury, one of the most pressing. The conditions which prevail in Liverpool are in many ways peculiar. A very large proportion of the labouring population is composed of persons entirely, or almost entirely, dependent upon casual labour at the Docks. Many of these belong to the lowest class of Irish, and all, from the nature of their occupation, are forced to live in close proximity to the river. During the earlier part of the present century the population increased with extreme rapidity, and the demand thus created for cheap houses was met, in the absence of any sanitary regulations, by the erection of an enormous number of unventilated, undrained, back-to-back houses of the most hopelessly insanitary description. These were crowded together upon a small space of land, mainly in the Scotland, Exchange, and Vauxhall wards of the city, upon which the density of the population was therefore very great, and the death-rate correspondingly high. As late as 1875 the death-rates in three of the worst streets (which have since been cleared for the erection of labourers' dwellings) was 63.1, 67, and 71:4 in the 1,000 per annum-rates which the medical officer not unjustly describes as wholly unprecedented.
Such conditions obviously necessitated the interference of the Corporation, and in 1846 it obtained its first Sanitary Act. This was followed by the Liverpool Sanitary Amendment Act of 1864, and by further amending Acts in 1879 and 1882. These empower the Corporation to acquire and demolish insanitary property. The greater part of the sanitary work of Liverpool has been accomplished by means of the powers they confer, for the municipal officials find them more economical and quicker in procedure than the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. Since 1882, when the amending Act of that year came into force, the Corporation has purchased nearly 5,000 houses, of which over 4,000 have been demolished, at a total cost (to December 31, 1898) of £340,490. The charge thrown upon the rates this year by the operations of the Insanitary Property Committee is 1d. in the £. The Corporation has adopted and enforced strict building regulations, and the Medical Officer and his staff carry out a system of careful and thorough visitation, inspection, and regulation. About 10,000 insanitary houses still remain to be dealt with, but the number has decreased with astonishing rapidity, and the city has been cleared of many of its worst slums.
Inspection and demolition are, however, only preliminaries, and the real difficulty in Liverpool, as in London, is the provision for re-housing the persons displaced by improvements. The Corporation built three large blocks of artisans' dwellings, the S. Martin's Cottages, which contain 134 tenements, and the Victoria and Juvenal Dwellings, which together accommodate about 1,500 persons. The last two were built upon a site cleared under Cross's Act. They are managed directly by the Corporation, pay a fair return upon their expenses of erection, and are, as far as they go, a decided success. The needs of the artisan class could now safely be left to private enterprise, and builders were found perfectly willing to follow where the Corporation had led the way.
There, however, remained a class for which no builder would cater, a class whose needs had hitherto remained unsupplied, the class to the existence of which is due the real essential difficulty of the housing problem. In Liverpool, its members inhabit the lowest description of court-houses, paying about 23. 6d. a week for three rooms, and for the most part living in one of these and sub-letting the other two. Their destructive tendencies render them impossible tenants for any ordinary landlord. If they are to be housed in anything like decency they require the most careful supervision. Any woodwork which can easily be detached is liable to be used as fuel; the drains are frequently stopped up by old clothing or broken crockery. Even if such persons could be accepted as tenants in buildings like the Victoria and Juvenal Dwellings, the rents would be entirely beyond their means. Till within comparatively late years they have easily found shelter in the courts and alleys of the city, but demolitions and improvement schemes are rapidly making this impossible, and the problem of their disposal is becoming acute. Mr. Percy Boulnois, the late city engineer of Liverpool, made a courageous effort to solve it, and though his experiment is of such recent date that it can hardly form a basis for argument, as far as it is yet possible to tell, he has succeeded. In 1896 he built upon a cleared area in Gildart's Gardens a number of three-storey houses, most of which contain a two-roomed tenement on each floor. There are 88 tenements and 185 rooms. Mr. Boulnois's aim in their construction was to erect houses which might be let at a weekly rent of ls. a room; the rents have actually worked out to 28. 6d. and 2s. 9d. a week for a tenement of two rooms and a scullery, 3s. 6d. for three rooms and a scullery. The buildings are constructed upon the most economical lines possible. They are not attractive, but that Mr. Boulnois was anxious to avoid, for experience has taught him that the result of building attractive dwellings and offering them at low rents is, very naturally, that they are occupied by a class which is perfectly able to pay a higher rent, while the persons for whom they were destined are displaced. The artisan will offer the labourer a trifling sum for possession of his dwelling, and, small though it is, the temptation is scarcely ever resisted. The artisan takes possession, and the housing problem is as far from its solution as ever. So Mr. Boulnois's cottages have small rooms, unplastered walls and ceiling, unornamental exteriors. The doors are solid, there is very little woodwork, the sanitary appliances are of the simplest description. Every care has, however, been spent upon the details of construction. The sanitation, though simple, is as nearly perfect as possible, and to it must be attributed the greater part of the expenses of construction. The houses are not furnished with coppers, for persons of the class for which Mr. Boulnois wishes to provide can scarcely afford fuel at all, and certainly cannot supply enough to heat a copper. For the same reason they are without large coal bunkers. Neither have they elaborate food cupboards or larders, so dear to the authorities of the Local Government Board, for their inhabitants can very rarely have anything to put in them. So far, the buildings seem to have been a complete success. Their occupants are undoubtedly persons of the very poorest class, and a recent report shows that no less than 90 per cent. of them formerly inhabited insanitary property, which has been demolished by the Corporation. It is said, too, that they show distinct signs of pride in their new houses, and a wish to keep them clean, or even to decorate them. The financial aspect of the buildings is satisfactory, and they are expected to yield a net return of over 4 per cent. Obviously, time alone can show the real value of the experiinent, against the policy of which it is no doubt possible to adduce cogent arguments, though perhaps the arguments in its favour are still more forcible. But meanwhile it suggests several questions, Why, if houses can be let at a weekly rental of 1s. 3d., or rather less, per room in Liverpool, and can yet be made to pay a return of over 4 per cent., is this impossible in other towns, for instance, in London ? Is it really impossible, or is it only made so by the policy of the municipal authorities ? And if it is a question of policy, which is right, or rather, which is more likely to succeed?