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being taken from the report, will be interesting, as showing at a glance the trust and corporate income of the twelve great companies and the proportion which the one bears to the other, à proportion which varies very much in the case of the several companies above named, and which varies still more in the case of the minor companies.

Whether the State would be justified in interfering with these companies in the administration of their corporate estate, and, if so justified, how far it would be wise to interfere, are questions involving matters of very serious import. The majority of the Commissioners have come to the conclusion that they are so justified, and have stated their chief reasons for coming to this conclusion. We have already stated that we cannot agree with them in their opinion that these companies were originally a municipal committee of trade and manufactures, and that on their incorporation they became a State department for the supervision of the trade and manufacture of London,' or a vital and integral part of the municipality or governing body of London, so as to alter their original constitution. If any of their lands were really acquired expressly for benevolent objects, or if those which were confiscated at the Reformation as devoted to superstitious uses were suffered to be redeemed only on condition that they were then to be devoted to charitable or educational purposes, or if the companies, in defiance of the law of trusts, have wrongfully appropriated the increment of their properties to the increase of their corporate at the expense of their trust estate, of which there is no shadow of evidence, the law is strong enough (as decided cases have already proved it to be) to vindicate itself. The suggestion made by the Commissioners that title deeds which have been destroyed in the fire of London might, if preserved, have disclosed trusts now unknown, is too far-fetched to form the justification for interference by legislation as proposed by them. The opinion of the present Lord Chancellor, who appeared before the Commissioners as a member of a deputation from the Mercers' Company, seems to have met with somewhat scant courtesy at their hands, but it is of such importance that it should be made known, and that it should not be pushed too far on the one hand nor be made too little of on the other, it is better to set it out as it was given to the Commissioners verbatim, question and answer.

(The Chairman to the Lord Chancellor.) I suppose we may take it that the object of this deputation is twofold, that in the first place you wish to bear witness to what has already been done by the companies and by the Corporation in aid of technical education, and in the next place that you wish to indicate a purpose to which the funds of the City companies might be more largely applied in the event of there being any interference with their distribution by the State ?—I do not think that I can say yes to that question. I do not think our views have extended in the least degree whatever to that second object. We of course are totally ignorant of what the Commission may think it their duty to do or to recommend, but we have had no object whatever in coming here to-day except to inform the

any such

Commission of what has been done, in compliance, as we understood, with the wish of the Commissioners.

Then I will put my question in another way. I presume that one of your objects in coming here is to show what has been done for technical education, and to guard against the possibility of less being done in the event of any redistribution of the City companies' funds ?-I rather decline to contemplate anything which may be done in the way of redistribution of the City companies' funds. It is not at all for me to anticipate any opinion or judgment which may be formed on that subject. If I am permitted to say so, I see that a gentleman who has appeared before this Commission has referred to a speech which I made in the House of Lords about the Inns of Court, as if it were to be inferred from that that I thought the Inns of Court and the City companies were in pari conditione. I do not think so at all. The reasons that lead me to think the Inns of Court a public institution have no application whatever to any company, or at all events to the only company I know—that is, the Mercers' Company-not the slightest. Therefore I decline to enter into any question of redistribution at all. It is not for me to say whether the Commission may or may not think that there are grounds upon which thing may be right; I prefer not to go into that question.

I think we may take it, from what you have said, that when this movement among the companies in favour of technical education was begun, it was a purely voluntary one on their part and absolutely unconnected with any apprehension of interference from outside ?—I think the dates I have given will show that that is 80. Nobody can possibly speak as to other people's minds, but the fact that the Clothworkers' Company began this movement (on their part. at all events) in the year 1873 will show, I think, that it was begun at a time wheu no propositions were before the public affecting the status of the City companies. It is impossible for me to say that that was so at the time that the institute was formed, because, in point of fact, & motion was made in the House of Commons at that time, or about that time, upon the subject. My own judgment was not influenced in the least degree whatever by that circumstance. I have always thought that the City companies, assuming them to be (as I believe them to be in law) absolute and perfect masters of their own property, as distinct from that which they hold on trust, could do nothing better with their property than promote objects which were for the public interest, and my judgment in co-operating with this undertaking was entirely uninfluenced by anything wbich was suggested in the way of interference.

Are we to take it from you that the City companies are entitled to their property in the same manner and as fully as a private owner would be ?-In point of law they are in my opinion absolutely entitled to it, and under no trust whatever. It will, of course, be understood that I do not speak of estates which have been given to them on any special trusts. Morally, I do not think that I, as a member of a City company, should choose to be a party to using it in exactly the same way as I should use what was my own as an individual.

You acknowledge a greater moral responsibility to the public than in the case of private property, but not any greater legal right :—That is my impression. I do not know that I can express it much better. They are ancient institutions; the funds which I call their own property were derived, as far as my knowledge extends, from their own subscriptions, and gifts by their own members and others, intended to be for their absolute use; and although I do not think the present generation ought to put those gifts into their pockets, yet, on the other hand, I cannot admit for a moment that they are upon the footing of public trusts.

It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Horace Davey, in the written opinion which he gave upon several questions to the Commissioners, although he justified a transfer of some portion of the

property of the companies from the class of corporate to that of - charitable property, lays it down strongly that the Commissioners

would not be justified in recommending that the corporate property of the companies should be taken from them by the State. Such an act of the Legislature,' he says, 'would be an act of confiscation, and would not unreasonably shake the confidence of the owners of property in the security of rights of property.' And though the majority of the Commissioners have come to the conclusion that the State is justified in interfering with the administration of their corporate property, they have by no means adopted the very extreme measures which were pressed upon them for acceptance, viz. that the companies were to disappear from the face of the earth, and that the whole of their corporate property, balls, plate, livings included, should be swept into one common lot, to be disposed of as Parliament might think fit. Disestablishment and disendowment in its most complete form, pure and simple ! Mr. Firth, as it turned out, only found one member of the Commission to vote with him for his proposal that it was desirable to dissolve the livery companies of the City of London. The majority of the Commissioners have, however, proposed very strong measures-namely, the appointment of a statutory Commission, to undertake, among other matters, the allocation of a considerable portion of the corporate income to objects of acknowledged public utility, which should sit for a period not exceeding five years, with the provision that the courts of the companies should be allowed three years during which themselves to frame schemes in accordance with such act under the supervision of the Commissioners; and that the Commissioners should have, if necessary, the remaining period in which themselves to frame schemes for any companies which may have made default; and, in order to prevent any alienation of real or personal property meanwhile by the companies themselves, they recommend that the Lords of the Treasury should by Act of Parliament be constituted a restraining authority for that purpose-recommendations which, it may be said, do not carry out the principle to which the minority of the Commissioners in their report so strongly object to the full extent proposed; but still recommendations which certainly admit, and not only admit but which clearly act upon, this dangerous principle itself, leaving open only the question of degree as to how far it is to be pressed.

This question of degree, however, is just the point upon which the majority of the Commissioners are particularly careful to say little or nothing, all that they vouchsafe to say on the matter being as follows: "The percentage or percentages of which such considerable' (why considerable ?) proportion should consist in the cases of the companies respectively we are not ourselves prepared to define, as there is great disparity in the incomes of the companies, and also in the proportions in which such incomes consist of trust moneys;

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Commission of what has been done, in compliance, as we understood, with the wish of the Commissioners.

Then I will put my question in another way. I presume that one of your objects in coming here is to show what has been done for technical education, and to guard against the possibility of less being done in the event of any redistribution of the City companies' funds ?-I rather decline to contemplate anything which may be done in the way of redistribution of the City companies' funds. It is not at all for me to anticipate any opinion or judgment which may be formed on that subject. If I am permitted to say so, I see that a gentleman who has appeared before this Commission has referred to a speech which I made in the House of Lords about the Inns of Court, as if it were to be inferred from that that I thought the Inns of Court and the City companies were in pari conditione. I do not think so at all. The reasons that lead me to think the Inns of Court a public institution have no application whatever to any company, or at all events to the only company I know—that is, the Mercers' Company-not the slightest. Therefore I decline to enter into any question of redistribution at all. It is not for me to say whether the Commission may or may not think that there are grounds upon which any such thing may be right; I prefer not to go into that question.

I think we may take it, from what you have said, that when this movement among the companies in favour of technical education was begun, it was a purely voluntary one on their part and absolutely unconnected with any apprehension of interference from outside ?— I think the dates I have given will show that that is 80. Nobody can possibly speak as to other people's minds, but the fact that the Clothworkers' Company began this movement (on their part at all events) in the year 1873 will show, I think, that it was begun at a time when no propositions were before the public affecting the status of the City companies. It is impossible for me to say that that was so at the time that the institute was formed, because, in point of fact, & motion was made in the House of Commons at that time, or about that time, upon the subject. My own judgment was not influenced in the least degree whatever by that circumstance. I have always thought that the City companies, assuming them to be (as I believe them to be in law) absolute and perfect masters of their own property, as distinct from that which they hold on trust, could do nothing better with their property than promote objects which were for the public interest, and my judgment in co-operating with this undertaking was entirely uninfluenced by anything wbich was suggested in the way of interference.

Are we to take it from you that the City companies are entitled to their property in the same manner and as fully as a private owner would be ?-In point of law they are in my opinion absolutely entitled to it, and under no trust whatever. It will, of course, be understood that I do not speak of estates which have been given to them on any special trusts. Morally, I do not think that I, as a member of a City company, should choose to be a party to using it in exactly the same way as I should use what was my own as an individual.

You acknowledge a greater moral responsibility to the public than in the case of private property, but not any greater legal right ?—That is my impression. I do not know that I can express it much better. They are ancient institutions; the funds which I call their own property were derived, as far as my knowledge extends, from their own subscriptions, and gifts by their own members and others, intended to be for their absolute use; and although I do not think the present generation ought to put those gifts into their pockets, yet, on the other hand, I cannot admit for a moment that they are upon the footing of public trusts.

It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Horace Davey, in the written opinion which he gave upon several questions to the Commissioners, although he justified a transfer of some portion of the

property of the companies from the class of corporate to that of - charitable property, lays it down strongly that the Commissioners

would not be justified in recommending that the corporate property of the companies should be taken from them by the State. Such an act of the Legislature,' he says, 'would be an act of confiscation, and would not unreasonably shake the confidence of the owners of property in the security of rights of property.' And though the majority of the Commissioners have come to the conclusion that the State is justified in interfering with the administration of their corporate property, they have by no means adopted the very extreme measures wbich were pressed upon them for acceptance, viz. that the companies were to disappear from the face of the earth, and that the whole of their corporate property, balls, plate, livings included, should be swept into one common lot, to be disposed of as Parliament might think fit. Disestablishment and disendowment in its most complete form, pure and simple! Mr. Firth, as it turned out, only found one member of the Commission to vote with him for his proposal that it was desirable to dissolve the livery companies of the City of London.' The majority of the Commissioners have, however, proposed very strong measures—namely, the appointment of a statutory Commission, to undertake, among other matters, the allocation of a considerable portion of the corporate income to objects of acknowledged public utility, which should sit for a period not exceeding five years, with the provision that the courts of the companies should be allowed three years during which themselves to frame schemes in accordance with such act under the supervision of the Commissioners; and that the Commissioners should have, if necessary, the remaining period in which themselves to frame schemes for any companies which may have made default; and, in order to prevent any alienation of real or personal property meanwhile by the companies themselves, they recommend that the Lords of the Treasury should by Act of Parliament be constituted a restraining authority for that purpose-recommendations which, it may be said, do not carry out the principle to which the minority of the Commissioners in their report so strongly object to the full extent proposed; but still recommendations which certainly admit, and not only admit but which clearly act upon, this dangerous principle itself, leaving open only the question of degree as to how far it is to be pressed.

This question of degree, however, is just the point upon which the majority of the Commissioners are particularly careful to say little or nothing, all that they vouchsafe to say on the matter being as follows: "The percentage or percentages of which such considerable' (wby considerable ?) proportion should consist in the cases of the companies respectively we are not ourselves prepared to define, as there is great disparity in the incomes of the companies, and also in the proportions in which such incomes consist of trust moneys ;'

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