Royal Commission on the City of London
The Royal Commission on the Corporation of the City of London was a Royal Commission, established in 1853, which considered the local government arrangements of the City of London and the surrounding metropolitan area.
Three commissioners were appointed by letters patent under the Great Seal on 20 June 1853, to enquire into the existing state of the Corporation of the city of London. The commissioners were Henry Labouchere, Sir John Patteson and George Cornewall Lewis. The secretary was J. D. Coleridge The commission's report was sent to the Home Office on 28 April 1854.
The commission's report ( HC (1854) xxvi) made thirty-two recommendations:
- A governing charter be granted to the City of London. The city had no charter as such, being regulated by an inspeximus of Charles II which recited previous charters without detailing them. Consequently, there was uncertainty to the exact rights, powers and privileges of the corporation.
- The method of election of the Lord Mayor should be altered to conform with the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.
- The method of electing aldermen should be reformed: each alderman should be elected for a six-year term by the burgesses, with one alderman elected in each ward. As in municipal boroughs, aldermen would be ex officio justices of the peace.
- Stipendiary magistrates for the city should be appointed in a similar way to the rest of England.
- The Court of Aldermen should be abolished, with its powers transferred to the Common Council.
- The number of wards of the city should be reduced, to between 12 and 16. The new wards would be of broadly similar area and population, with boundaries fixed by local inquiry.
- The size of the Common Council would be reduced, and it would absorb the Court of Aldermen. The new Common Council would have three common councilmen and one alderman for each ward.
- The electors for council elections should be all occupiers with a rateable value of 10 shillings or more, with no additional qualification.
- Elections in "Common Hall" should be abolished: this would end the influence of the livery companies on the corporation.
- The common council should continue to elect two sheriffs for the county of Middlesex.
- The Lord Mayor's court and Sheriff's Court should be consolidated.
- The Court of Hustings should be abolished.
- The Court of St Martin's-le-Grand should be abolished.
- The prohibition on anyone not a freeman of London to carry on a trade or handicraft in the city should be lifted.
- The corporation should no longer be entitled to "metage" or duty on all fruit, grain and "measurable goods" landed on either side of the River Thames from Staines to Yantlet creek in Kent.
- The Fellowship of Porters should be dissolved.
- Brokers should not be admitted as aldermen.
- All street tolls on carts entering or leaving the city should be abolished.
- The City of London and Metropolitan Police Forces should be amalgamated.
- The Conservancy of the Thames should be transferred from the Corporation to a new Thames Navigation Board consisting of the Lord Mayor, First Lord of the Admiralty, President of the Board of Trade, First Commissioner of Woods and the Deputy Master of Trinity House.
- The exclusive privileges of the company of Watermen and Lightermen on the Thames should be abolished.
- The Corporation's accounts should be consolidated, as there was "an unnecessary complexity in the keeping of the city accounts and in the administration of its affairs is produced by the multiplication of departments and separate funds."
- The money and securities of the Corporation should be lodged in the Bank of England.
- Auditors should be appointed in a manner consistent with Municipal Corporations Act 1835.
- The provisions of the 1835 legislation in relation to mortgages on land and to making annual returns should be extended to the city.
- The Honourable The Irish Society should be dissolved, and its properties administered as a trust established by parliament, with trustees appointed by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
- The boundaries of the City of London should not be altered, but its control over the Borough of Southwark should be ended.
- The remainder of the metropolis should be divided into districts for municipal purposes. The boundaries of the districts should correspond with the seven metropolitan parliamentary boroughs: Finsbury, Greenwich, Lambeth, Marylebone, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster. The districts would be governed by a "municipal body".
- A Metropolitan Board of Works should be established consisting of a number of members deputed from the "municipal bodies" and the Common Council.
- The coal duties of the corporation of London should be transferred to the Metropolitan Board.
- The Metropolitan Board should be empowered to levy a rate for public works of "general metropolitan utility".
- No works should be performed by the Metropolitan Board without the sanction of the Privy council.
The findings of the report led to the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Works by the Metropolis Management Act 1855. The call to create municipal boroughs based on parliamentary representation was rejected.
- Young, K. & Garside, P., Metropolitan London: Politics and Urban Change, (1982)
- London Gazette, issue no. 21450, dated 21 June 1853
- "List of commissions and officials: 1850-1859 (nos. 53-94)". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 9. 1984. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- The corporation of the city of London, The Times, 12 May 1854