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The Social and Industrial history of Scotland, from the Union to the present time
Nineteenth Century: 16. Municipal Enterprise and Social Progress


At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Scottish Town Councils were close Corporations, whose members chose the new councillors in place of those retiring by rotation. Only if the elections proved to be invalid were the burgesses entitled to exercise this right, subject to a warrant from the Crown sanctioning their meeting for this purpose. In 1817 the burgesses of Montrose elected their council in virtue of this right, and of the warrant of the Crown sanctioning the poll. This was the beginning of a movement on behalf of municipal reform, which went hand in hand with that for parliamentary reform. The need for such reform was accentuated by the bankruptcy of the Aberdeen Town Council in 1817, as the result of scaudalous mismanagement and corruption. Nearly half of the Royal Burghs themselves voted resolutions in its favour. The question was agitated in Parliament by the Whigs, and pressed on the Government by Lord Archibald Hamilton. The case for reform was urgent enough, the Town Councils being practically responsible only to themselves. There was no effective outside control over the spending of the public money, which seems to have been of a haphazard, in some cases, even a corrupt, character, whilst the sanitary conditions were very primitive, and the police supervision very inefficient. It was not till 1812-13 that the Edinburgh Police Commissioners, for instance, who were created by the Police Act of 1805, first undertook the scavenging of the city, and though there must have been some method of cleansing the streets, which were formerly used as common sewers, there is no record before this date of public expenditure for this purpose. Glasgow seems to have been equally backward. " It was not till the passing of the Police Act of 1800 that the removal of refuse and the sweeping of the streets was looked upon as a public duty. The cleansing of the city was added to the duties of the master of police or chief constable. No separate staff was set aside for the work, however, the night watchmen or policemen being entrusted with the cleansing as well as the watching of the streets of the city. Their first attempt in the way of cleansing was to devote two hours twice a week to the sweeping of the street." It was not till 1815 that a separate cleansing staff existed.

The demand for municipal reform encountered the strenuous opposition of the Tories, who realised that municipal was a step in the direction of parliamentary reform. It came at last as the logical sequence of the Reform Rill of 1832, in the Scottish Municipal Reform Act of 1833, which empowered the qualified burgesses (the municipal franchise being the same as the parliamentary) to elect the Town Councils of the burghs. The Act was the initial condition of the improved and increasingly complicate municipal administration of the nineteenth century. It was the forerunner of many others enlarging the powers of the municipal authority and the scope of its activity, such as the series of Burgh Police Acts (whether local or general), Improvement Acts, Acts bearing on the water supply, public health, housing, town planning, etc. In the counties the administration up to 1889, when it was transferred to elected County Councils, was in the hands of Commissioners of Supply and the Parochial Boards.

Improvements in sanitation and housing in burghs were at first entrusted by local Police Acts to local bodies of Police Commissioners, and not to the Town Councils. It was not till 1833 that the first general Burgh Police Act was passed, and not till 1900 that the Police Commissioners were generally merged in the Town Councils, though in the case of a number of towns this union had taken place earlier. The Act of 1833 was amended and supplemented by others, notably that of 1862, which made provision for lighting, cleansing, paving, draining, water supply, and public health in burghs, and for the appointment of an officer of health to deal with the causes and prevention of disease within the burgh area. Five years later the Public Health Act (1867) established the Board of Supervision as the central authority for administering the Act, and placed the responsibility for its local application on the local authority—the Town Council or the Police Commissioners. It empowered the appointment of a sanitary inspector or inspectors, and a medical officer or officers for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Thirty years later it was replaced by the more comprehensive Public Health Act of 1897, which made it obligatory on the authority to appoint health and sanitary officials.

In consequence of the application of this complicated legislation, the history of the Scottish burghs since 1833 has been one of expanding municipal enterprise and social advance. We can only attempt to illustrate this advance by some characteristic data in the case of the larger cities, particularly of Edinburgh and Glasgow, which afford an object lesson on the largest scale in municipal social enterprise. Large schemes, for instance, have been carried out for improving the water supply, housing, and public health of these cities. Up to the sixties the water supply of Edinburgh was in the hands of a Water Company, whose concern was rather the interests of its shareholders than the needs of the citizens. After a great deal of contention, the Town Council in 1869 bought out the Company at a cost of considerably over half a million, and established the Edinburgh and District Water Trust, consisting of members of the Councils of Edinburgh and Leith. In 1874 the Trustees promoted a scheme for increasing the supply by bringing water from the Moorfoot Hills to the city, which raised the available supply by nearly 9 million gallons per day, the capital expenditure being about 400,000. Twenty years later the growth of the population necessitated another addition, and this was ultimately provided in the Talla Water Scheme which, at a cost of about 1,000,000, gave a further supply from the Tweedsmuir region of 10 million gallons per day, raising the amount to 45 gallons a day per head of the population. The expenditure on the waterworks from 1869 to 1919 amounted to a total of 2,882,683. In 1855 the Glasgow Town Council acquired the works of the Glasgow and the Gorbals Water Companies, and obtained powers to draw a supply from Loch Katrine, 34| miles distant. For this purpose the level of the loch was raised four feet, and an aqueduct, capable of carrying 40 million gallons per day, constructed to a reservoir at Milngavie. Thirty years later another Act empowered the Corporation to raise the level by five additional feet, to raise that of Loch Arklet by twenty-five feet, and carry the water from this loch by a tunnel to Loch Katrine, and to lay a second aqueduct to the reservoir at Milngavie capable of carrying 70 million gallons per day. Adding the supply from the Gorbals Works, which is derived from the White Cart, and yields about 4| millions per day, the city thus commands a daily supply of 114| millions, besides another millions from the Clyde Supply Works for commercial purposes. The total capital expenditure on these works amounted to nearly four million pounds. Subsequent expenditure has increased the amount to nearly five millions. In 1915 the Corporation purchased the land in Glenfinlas with a view to ultimately diverting the water of the river Turk by tunnel to Loch Katrine, so as to yield a further daily supply of 14^ million gallons. A Provisional Order of 1919 empowered it to raise the level of the loch by an additional five feet, and thus proportionately increase the supply. In addition to acquiring the Loch Katrine water supply, it recently purchased the watershed area north and south of the loch, extending to 24,0U0 acres, at a cost of about 72,000.

As in the case of the water supply, the gas lighting of the larger burghs was originally a private concern. Since 1888 in Edinburgh and 1869 in Glasgow, it became a municipal enterprise. In the former year the Corporations of Edinburgh and Leith purchased the works of the two local Gas Companies, and placed their management in the hands of a joint Gas Commission. About twenty years ago the Commission obtained authority to construct extensive new works at Gran ton, which were completed in 1903. The removal of the Edinburgh works from the site in New Street, east of the Waverley Station, at the same time, did away with what was an ugly defacement of one of the finest prospects in the city. Glasgow possesses three works in addition to the two originally acquired by the Corporation—the latest and most extensive being situated at Provan, and capable of producing 16 million cubic feet per day. Exclusive of the Provan works, which are expected to be completed in 1921 at a cost of half a milium, the total capital expenditure up to the year 1900 was close on 2| millions, and has now risen to double this figure. The quantity of coals used per annum was 666,769 tons, the number of men employed 3121, and the revenue—in part contributed by the sale of coke, tar, and other by-products —770,000. In 1920 it had risen to nearly double this sum. Towards the end of the nineteenth century electricity began to supplement, and now bids fair to supersede gas for both public and private lighting in the large cities. Glasgow Corporation led the way by obtaining an Electric Lighting Act in 1890. Edinburgh followed a year later, and in 1895 completed the power station at Dewar Place, to which some years later the M'Donald Road station was added. The total expenditure on these undertakings up to 1920, including a projected station at Portobello which has not yet been completed, amounted to 1,318,629, and the annual revenue, which was only 16,322 in 1896, had risen to 142,735 in 1914. Electric lighting was first supplied in Glasgow by a private company in 1879 for St Enoch Station, and soon afterwards by another company for the Queen Street Station, and in 1884 by a third company for the Glasgow General

Post Office—the first in the United Kingdom to be so lighted. In February, 1803, some of the main streets were electrically lighted for the first time from the Waterloo Street Generating Station of the Corporation, and the demand became so great that it was found necessary in 1897 to erect two new works—one, extending to 4 acres, at Port Dundas, the other, covering about two acres, in Pollokshaws Road. Another indication of the rapid extension of the undertaking is the rise of the number of consumers from 108 in 1893 to over 4000 in 1901, and of the revenue from nearly 7000 to nearly 80,000, whilst the total capital expenditure verged on a million. In 1920 an additional station was opened at Dalmarnock at a total cost of over two millions. The number of consumers had risen to 45,000, the revenue to nearly one million, and the capital expenditure to nearly millions.

Communication within the larger burghs was greatly facilitated by the introduction of street tramways, the running of which was at first leased to private companies. The first tramway in Glasgow was opened in 1872, and in 1870 thirty-one miles of single track lines had been completed. In 1894, when the Corporation took over the undertaking, the length of the lines had increased to eighty miles. By the Corporation Act of 1899 powers were taken to extend the system to Paisley, Cathcart, Rutherglen, Tollcross, and Shettleston, and subsequently it was carried to Bishopbriggs, Clydebank, Renfrew, and Cambuslang, raising the total length to 137 miles. In 1898 overhead electric was substituted, as an experiment, for horse traction on the Springburn route, and the experiment was so satisfactory that it was decided to adopt it for the whole system. To this end a high tension generating station—the largest of its kind in Europe —was erected at Pinkston, with five sub-stations at the existing horse-car depots. The total length of single track is now 198 miles, the total capital expenditure nearly 4 millions, and the gross revenue reached nearly If millions in 1920.

In Edinburgh a company obtained power to construct tramways in 1871, and the system, which was subsequently extended, was opened for traffic two years later. A second company was authorised to lay down cable tramways in the northern district of the city, where the steep gradients rendered horse traction impossible. Both systems were acquired by the Corporation, the former in 1892, the latter in 1898. Whilst other large burghs decided to discard horse for electric traction, the Edinburgh Corporation preferred for reasons of amenity and cheaper maintenance to adopt the antiquated cable system, at the same time leasing the service to a company. The total expenditure (including the purchase of the original undertakings) on this reconstruction amounted, up to 1920, to fully 1,600,000. The system has proved unsatisfactory, and the breakdown of the Edinburgh cable cars has been in recent years a chronic occurrence. The inefficiency of the system has, in fact, become a byword of reproach to the city, and the Corporation recently took over its working with a view to its ultimate conversion, meanwhile substituting motor 'buses on certain parts of it. Motor traction by private company is also available on the main routes from the Capital to the towns and villages in the more immediate neighbourhood.

Sanitation and cleansing, which are closely related, are among the most important of modern municipal enterprises. Under the Burgh Police Acts, the Public Health Acts, the Housing Acts, and, directly or indirectly, many others, the Town Councils are invested with wide powers relative to the erection of buildings, drainage, sanitary conveniences, cleansing, insanitary houses and areas, etc. Five of them—Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Greenock—have special police acts regulating these matters. The Dean of Guild Court, consisting of the Dean and two other Councillors, has jurisdiction over the construction of new buildings and the alteration of existing buildings and streets. Other important officials under this legislation are the Medical Officer, the Sanitary Inspector, the Inspector of Cleansing and Lighting, the Burgh Engineer, the Master of Works. In a large city like Glasgow a number of subordinate officials—assistant medical officers and inspectors of various kinds—is necessary to carry out the work of these departments. The chief medical officer and the chief sanitary inspector are responsible for that of the sanitary department, which has a central staff of 75, and a divisional, which works the five administrative areas of the city, of 181. This department deals with the detection and prevention of epidemic disease, for which special hospitals are provided, the testing of drains, the sanitary condition of common lodging-houses, of the houses of the poor, workshops, and common stairs, the fumigation of infected buildings and infected articles, overcrowding, the inspection of shops, dairies, markets, slaughter houses, the detection of adulterated food and drugs, the provision of public baths and wash-houses, the supervision of children's playgrounds, ctc. The Cleansing Department is concerned with the scavenging of streets, closes, and courts, and the removal and disposal of all refuse. The sweeping of the streets is done at night by horse machines introduced at Glasgow in 1870, and motor driven machines, and during the day by hand sweeping, the refuse in the principal thoroughfares being lodged in iron bins, sunk at intervals in the pavement. This refuse, along with that collected from shops and dwellings, is removed daily to the dispatch stations. The street sweepings are emptied into trucks owned by the Corporation and dispatched to the country to be utilised as manure. Domestic and shop refuse, after treatment, is also utilised for this purpose, whilst the rubbish is consumed in destructor furnaces, and the clinker, or furnace ash, is sold as material for making concrete. The revenue derived from manure and various kinds of refuse amounted in 1919 to over 21,000. The Glasgow Corporation, besides supplying farmers over a radius of fifteen counties, uses a large proportion of the city refuse for fertilising its own farms, extending to about 1,500 acres. This method of disposing of this material, which aggregates nearly 450,000 tons per annum, is a vast improvement on the old system obtaining up to the " eighties " of last century, of carting it to open depots within the city boundaries, where its accumulation formed a grave sanitary danger. The total cost of cleansing the city, after deduction of revenue, is 202,000.

The Cleansing Department of Edinburgh employs a staff of nearly 600. In several "toons" in the country it disposed of over 100,000 tons of refuse in 1919, including about 4,000 tons of manure to farmers and allotment holders. The salvable refuse, such as waste paper, rags, etc., was sold for about 6,500. The expenditure of the department in the same year amounted to about 95,000.

Closely connected with the sanitary improvement of the large towns is the problem of dealing with slum property. The problem has engaged the attention of the municipal authorities during the last fifty years, and improvement schemes, more or less extensive, have been initiated with the object of lessening, if not eradicating this blot on urban life. All the large Scottish cities, and even some of the smaller ones, like Perth and Inverness, have undergone a transformation in this respect by the reconstruction, in part at least, of slum districts. Edinburgh took action immediately after the passing of the Public Health Act of 1867 when its first improvement scheme—that of Lord Provost Chambers—was put in operation. The net cost of this scheme was 285,621. Under the Housing of the working Classes Acts of 1890 and 1909 further improvements were carried out at a cost of 215,198, whilst under the Housing and Town Planning Act of 1919 an additional 92,291 had been expended up till May 1920—in all nearly 600,000. Another notable improvement has been the purification of the Water of Leith—the stream of this name running through Edinburgh and Leith—which was carried through by a Commission under the Acts of 1889 and 1893 at a cost of 275,945. This undertaking consists of a trunk sewer, commencing at Malleny in the County of Midlothian, traversing the valley of the stream, and falling into the sea at Seafield, a distance of about 12 miles. It receives the discharges of numerous contributing sewers in Edinburgh and Leith, and from the industrial works in the valley.

Glasgow again affords an object lesson on the largest scale. It was, in fact, the pioneer of the slum improvement movement in the United Kingdom, its City Improvements Act having provided Lord Cross with the model for his Improved Dwellings Act. The Glasgow Act, which called into being the City Improvements Trust of the Corporation, was obtained in 1806. Its objects were expressed in the preamble, which states that "various portions of the city of Glasgow are so built and the buildings thereon are so densely inhabited as to be highly injurious to the moral and physical welfare of the inhabitants, and many of the thoroughfares are narrow, circuitous, and inconvenient, and it would be of public and local advantage if various houses and buildings were taken down, and those portions of the said city reconstituted, and new streets were constructed in and through various parts of said city, and several of the existing streets altered and widened and diverted, and that in connection with the reconstitution of those portions of the city provision was made for dwellings for the labouring classes who may be displaced in consequence thereof." The congested and highly insanitary "portions" included in the Act consisted mainly of the Gallowgate, High Street, Trongate, and Saltmarket, and covered about 90 acres. The Act empowered the Corporation to construct new and alter existing streets in this area, to purchase the ground, to demolish old and erect new buildings for the poorer classes, and sell or lease it for this purpose, to borrow millions, increased by the Act of 1880 to millions, and levy an assessment on occupiers for carrying the scheme into operation. The Corporation proceeded with the work of clearing away dilapidated and insanitary buildings and forming new and altering existing streets. Whilst erecting two model tenements and several model lodging-houses in place of the wretched private lodging-houses that abounded in the locality, it preferred to sell the ground and leave the construction of dwelling-houses and commercial premises to private enterprise, and up to 1876 the policy was put in operation with considerable success. Rut the commercial crisis of the following years practically brought the scheme to a standstill. It was not till 1889 that it took upon itself the task of rebuilding in earnest, and up to 1901 it had erected 46 tenement blocks, containing 200 shops and 1,456 dwelling houses, reconstructed old properties containing 842 additional dwellings, formed 80 new streets, and improved 26 old ones, and transformed a portion of the lands in the north-eastern quarter of the city, acquired under the 1866 Act, into a public park (the Alexandra Park, opened in 1872). Not one public house is allowed in these properties. Under the 1897 Act powers were obtained to deal similarly with other congested areas, to purchase a maximum of twenty-five acres within or near the boundaries of the city for the construction of houses for the poorest class, and impose a new assessment on landlord and occupier for this pur}>ose. The realisation of the extended scheme, which resulted in the provision of 520 additional houses for the poorest class, constitutes another landmark in the work of slum improvement and the provision of hygienic dwellings, which has deservedly placed Glasgow in the front rank as a progressive city. "As a type of the modern city," says Mr Shaw, a recent American writer on Municipal Government in Great Britain, "with highly developed and vigorous municipal life, and with complex, yet unified, industrial and social activities . . . Glasgow may well repay study. It combines in itself most remarkably all that is significant in the history of city government among peoples of British origin—that is to say, to study Glasgow is to study the progress of municipal institutions in every stage." Under the Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909, and the Housing (Scotland) Act of 1919, a grand scheme, drawn up by the Town Clerk, Sir John Lindsay, and a Special Committee of the Corporation, has been developed for the ultimate provision of 57,000 houses suitable for various grades of the working classes. Edinburgh and other cities have also put in operation similar schemes. The progress of municipal enterprise on its social side, which we have illustrated chiefly from the cases of Edinburgh and Glasgow, has also been exemplified by the application, if on a more limited scale, of general or special Acts in the case of the other large burghs. The scope of this enterprise was enlarged by the Housing Acts of 1890, 1900, and 1903, and the Town Planning Acts of 1909 and 1919. Other phases of it is the provision of public parks, of recreation grounds, such as bowling greens, golf courses, and lawn tennis courts, of museums, galleries, and public libraries, of music for the people, etc. In the rural districts much has also been done to improve the conditions of life, especially since the establishment of County Councils and their District Committees in 1889, and of the Local Government Board in 1894, recently transformed into the Board of Health.

The effect of improved sanitary conditions is observable in the diminution of the death rate. In the case of Edinburgh, for example, the rate per 1000 of population fell from 25.88 in 1803 to 14.39 in 1913. Among children under five years of age the reduction was from 93.29 to 33.6. There is apparent, however, a serious falling off in the birth rate during these fifty years. In 1861 it was 83.4; in 1913 it was only 20.0. In the case of Glasgow the death rate diminished from 29.6 per 1000 of population in 1870 to 16.4 in 1919. Retween 1914 and 1919 the infant death rate fell from 133 to 114 per 1000 births. A great deal is being done, under the Notification of Births Acts, 1907 and 1915, to counteract the ravages of disease among children by means of Maternity and Child Welfare Schemes. Edinburgh, for instance, possesses a number of establishments, such as the Royal Maternity Hospital, the Hospital for Women and Children, several Child Health and Day Nurseries, which devote themselves to this object in co-operation with the Medical Officer of Health, and with financial aid from the Corporation. Five Child Welfare Centres or Day Nurseries have been established in Glasgow, and two Country Homes have been opened for the treatment of children suffering from malnutrition, rickets, and other infantile diseases. A third at Dalmuir is in course of construction, while there are thirteen centres in the city for infant consultations by four lady medical assistants. For the treatment of tuberculosis, Edinburgh has provided accommodation in the City Hospital, the Victoria Tuberculosis Dispensary, the Victoria Hospital, and the Polton Farm Colony with a special staff under Dr Williamson as Chief Tuberculosis Officer, and Sir Robert Philip as Consulting Tuberculosis Officer. Glasgow has six Tuberculosis Dispensaries, and provides 842 beds in hospitals and 155 in sanatoria, besides defraying the cost of treatment of a large number of patients elsewhere.

There is still, unfortunately, room enough for farther improvement in the matter of housing in both town and country, as appears from the Report of the Royal Commission on Housing, issued in 1917. The congested area in the large towns is still too common. Here is one of the examples in the Report taken from the Anderston District of Glasgow, in which a whole street of high tenements, with dark and damp sunk flats below the level of the street (which is only 19 feet wide) has been wedged into a V-shaped space between two important converging thoroughfares.

One witness described this area as follows:— "The sunk flat houses even in a hot dry summer remain damp and unwholesome. The stairs down to these houses are almost invariably dark and dirty, the passages pitch dark on the brightest day, so that only by feeling along the walls can one discover the doors. The bulk of the houses are of the made-down type, very dark lobbies (now lighter by night than day owing to the Corporation's recommendation that incandescent burners be put on the stairhead lamps). In all these closes the stairs are filthy and evil smelling, water closets constantly choked, and foul water running down the stairs, sickly cats everywhere spreading disease. One street is known as 'The Coffin Close,' so bad is its repute— narrow stairs and dark twisting lobbies, with no light and absolutely no air.' "

The following shows the deplorable state of things in some of the mining districts:—"The 'Miners' Row' of inferior class is often a dreary and featureless place, with houses dismal in themselves, arranged in monotonous lines or in squares. The open spaces are encumbered with wash-houses, privies, etc., often out of repair, and in wet weather get churned up into a morass of semi-liquid mud, with little in the way of solidly constructed road or footpath—a fact which greatly adds to the burdens of the over-wrought housewife. The houses vary greatly in construction, but a large number are of two types. The older is either a 'single end' or 'but and ben,' according as it has one or two rooms. It has only one door, and the solid back wall is pierced only by the smallest of windows, if by any, so that through ventilation does not exist. Many of the older houses show the faults of their class—leaky roofs, damp walls, and uneven and broken floors—the last a source of particularly bitter complaint. In addition there are faults not found outside mining communities, the chief being broken plaster and fissures in the walls, where 'subsidence' has been serious; while in the worst houses in the West of Scotland, the only place for the storage of coals is below the bed. The impossibility of domestic cleanliness and order where this is the case needs no enforcement. If the workers in a house are on different shifts, the task of the housewife is complicated by irregular meals and sleeping hours. If the pit is a wet one, the miners' soaking clothes must be left at night by the kitchen fire; and as the kitchen is a sleeping apartment, even where there are one or two other rooms, the steam and the gas which are given off as the pit clothes dry are highly injurious to the children, who may be in one of the two large beds near by. In the absence of baths at the pithead, or in any save the newest houses, the miner on his return must take his bath in the scullery (if there is one), or in the inevitable publicity of the kitchen. With this accumulation of difficulties to contend with, the standard of cleanliness and neatness attained in many houses (though by no means in all) is a matter for genuine surprise and admiration. In the numerous cases, however, in which water has not been introduced into the houses, but must be fetched from a standpipe at the end of the row, a high standard of cleanliness cannot be looked for.

"The dreary and unkempt surroundings of many rows have been already referred to, but a word must be said as to the nature of the outhouses which fill the intervals between the rows. Occasionally there is a properly constructed common wash-house, but in the older villages more often only such makeshift and ramshackle wash-houses and coal-sheds as the miners have run up for themselves. Rut the chief of these unsightly structures are the privies. In the West of Scotland this often is the 'privy midden,' which has only in comparatively recent times been expelled from the cities, and still unhappily retains its place in the mining villages. It is a large erection, open on one side, where ashes and all other household refuse are thrown in, and closed (though often not adequately closed) on the side which serves as latrine. It is the only sanitary convenience in many rows; and it is so impossible to keep clean, so foul smelling, and so littered with filth of all sorts, that no decent woman can use it, while, if the children do so, it is at grave risk to their health of body and mind. Another ease, one degree less bad, is that of the range of separate privies—one for each three or four houses in the row. Here things may be better if they are well kept, but the difficulty of keeping them well is enormous; and often locks are forced, and doors may even be wrenched off. These abominations are gradually being replaced by better sanitary appliances, but in some districts they are still the rule."

The general housing statistics given are very significant of the widespread shortage of sanitary houses in both town and country, and of the urgent need for amendment. The number of occupied houses in Scotland, according to the Report, is 1,041,591. Of these 83,577 are estimated to be uninhabitable, of which 25,908 are regarded as repairable, and 57,669 as unrepairable and requiring demolition : 55,761 new houses are required in respect of overcrowding and sub-letting. Adding these to the total of those needing demolition, the shortage works out at 113,480. The Commissioners are, however, of opinion that this number is short by 8,000 in the agricultural areas, making the total number of houses required 121,430. Of the million odd houses occupied in 1911, 129,730 consisted of one room, and 409,354 of two rooms, and a large percentage of these houses were not provided with proper sanitary conveniences. The need for improvement is most urgent in the large industrial centres, particularly in those of the Clyde and the West of Scotland—Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dumbartonshire, and Renfrewshire ; in the mining districts, especially Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, and, in a less degree, the Lothians and Fifeshire; and the crofting communities of the north and west. In the large towns the lack of adequate accommodation has a serious effect on the shrinking birth rate. In the selection of tenants landlords prefer small to large families, and this tends to discourage child rearing.

In summarising the conditions revealed by the mass of evidence adduced and demanding redress, the Majority Report, with which that of the Minority agrees in many essentials, emphasises the " unsatisfactory sites of houses and villages, insufficient supplies of water, unsatisfactory provision for drainage, grossly inadequate provision for the removal of refuse, widespread absence of decent sanitary conveniences, the persistence of the unspeakably filthy privy-midden in many of the mining areas, badly constructed, incurably damp labourers' cottages on farms, whole townships unfit for human occupation in the crofting counties and islands, primitive and casual provision for many of the seasonal workers, gross overcrowding and huddling of the sexes together in the congested industrial villages and towns, occupation ol one room houses by large families, groups of light-less and unventilated houses in the older burghs, clotted masses of slums in the great cities. To these, add the special problems symbolised by the farmed-out houses, the model lodging-houses, congested back lands, and ancient closes. To these, again, add the cottages a hundred years old in some of the rural villages, ramshackle brick survivals of the mining outbursts of seventy years ago in the mining fields, monotonous miners' rows flung down without a vestige of town plan or any effort to secure modern conditions of sanitation, ill-planned houses that must become slums in a few years, old houses, converted without necessary sanitary appliances and proper adaptation, into tenements for many families, thus intensifying existing evils, streets of new tenements in the towns developed with the minimum of regard for amenity."

This summary forms a grave indictment of the. failure of previous legislation and the ameliorative efforts following on it to secure adequate social reform in the matter of housing in town and country alike. The Commissioners adduce among the obstacles to such reform " the failure of commercial enterprise to keep pace with housing needs, the failure of the Local Authorities, both of town and country, to appreciate the full value of their powers, the rapacity of property owners in their claims for compensation, the persistence of antiquated methods of arbitration, the absence of any definite basis for the assessment of compensation, the impotence of the arbiters to check speculative claims, the consequent enormous and deterrent expense of improvement schemes and reconstructive schemes, the impotence of the Local Authorities to control the prices of building sites within the city or of potential building land in the immediate neighbourhood, the absence of a direct obligation on any authority to see that adequate housing is provided for the whole community, the inadequate size, area, and resources of many Local Authorities, the absence of powers to require combination of authorities, the consequent impossibility of effective enforcement of statutes by the Central Authority, the insufficiency of the Central Authority's equipment, the unsatisfactory status of the Central Authority itself . . . with commercial enterprise and municipal enterprise have failed to keep pace with the steadily rising demand for more and better house-room."

They emphasise the importance of the relation of land to housing. "The question of the land is fundamental. If nothing is done to make it possible either for individuals or for public authorities to obtain building land at more reasonable prices than hitherto, housing reform will be paralysed at the outset. If the methods of compulsory requisition of lands, including land and other property, are not simplified, the exorbitant claims that have already stopped building schemes in the cities will continue to be raised." An adequate remedy is, they believe, only possible with the aid of the State, acting through the Local Authorities. ''The State itself, through the Local Authorities, is alone in a position to assume responsibility. . . . Hitherto the Local Authorities, though their powers for the provision of houses are extensive, have, for various reasons, been restrained or have refrained from using them to any appreciable extent. We are satisfied that if those powers are to be exercised on the scale necessary to realise the programme we have set forth, the Local Authorities must be placed under an unmistakeable obligation to maintain a continuous and systematic survey of their housing accommodation, to ascertain how far private enterprise can meet the demands, but, failing provision of houses by other agencies, to undertake themselves—with financial assistance from the State—the necessary building schemes. Without such a definite obligation, exercised under direction of the Central Authority, we are satisfied that by no administrative machinery known to us can the necessary houses be provided." At the same time they condemn the proposal of the Minority that the State should subsidise employers of labour, landowners, and speculative builders. Whilst assuming full responsibility for housing, the State should place on the Local Authorities that of seeing to the provision of building. They recommend the strengthening of the Local Government Board as the Central Authority by an increase of its direct executive powers, as well as its membership and staff, and emphasise the paramount importance of empowering it to require the combination of existing authorities for all purposes of public health and housing. They propose to transform it into a principal department of State under the designation of the Scottish Ministry of Health—a proposal which has taken effect in the Scottish Board of Health. Another radical condition of housing and health reform is the sweeping away of the one-room house, which is "incompatible with decent or wholesome family life."


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