Commissioners of Scotland Yard
|Long title||An Act for repairing the High wayes and Sewers and for paving and keeping clean of the Streets in and about the Cities of London & Westminster and for reforming of Annoyances and Disorders in the Streets of and places adjacent to the said Cities and for the Regulating and Licensing of [Hackney] Coaches and for the enlarging of several strait & inconvenient Streets and Passages.|
|Citation||14 Car. 2 c. 2|
|Relates to||2 William & Mary session 2 c.8|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
The Commissioners of Scotland Yard was the informal name for the Commissioners for the Streets and Wayes, a body of improvement commissioners established in 1662 to manage and regulate various areas relating to streets and traffic in the cities of London and Westminster and the borough of Southwark. They were appointed under a 1662 Act of the Parliament of England (14 Car. 2 c. 2) which expired in 1679. The Commissioners' office was attached to that of the Surveyor of the King's Works in Scotland Yard.
The 1662 Act empowered the king to appoint up to 21 commissioners, who were authorised to:
- Determine encroachments by buildings onto the highway
- Manage the repair and paving of specific streets, including Pall Mall
- Enlarge various other specific streets, including St Martins Lane, and to demolish existing buildings where necessary and compensate the owners
- Levy charges on each householder to fund repair, paving and enlargement work
- License, tax and set maximum fares for hackney carriages
- Charge duty on hay and straw sold in city streets
To combat an apparent problem with people throwing coal ashes into the street, the act also required every person in London, Westminster, Southwark and surrounding suburbs to sweep the area in front of their house "... every Wednesday and every Saturday in the Weeke". The act also prohibited the hooping of barrels and sawing of stones or rough timber in the streets. Rakers and scavengers were to use "... a Bell Horne Clapper or otherwise [and] shall make distinct and loud noise and give notice to the Inhabitants of theire coming ..." so "... that all persons concerned may bring forth theire respective Ashes Dust Dirt Filth and Soil to the respective Carts or Carriages". These scavengers were to be elected according to existing customs, and within 20 days rubbish collection rates (to be paid quarterly) were to be set by churchwardens and other leaders of the parish.
Under the act, "... from Michaelmas until our Lady day ..." (29 September – 25 March) from dusk to 9 p.m. every householder was required to place a candle or lantern outside "... his house next the street to enlighten the same for Passengers ...". The act also ratified a decision by sewer commissioners on 8 August 1661 to construct two new sewers to drain the area near the Palace of Whitehall.
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, several Acts to promote rebuilding vested the power of paving and sewer maintenance within the city solely in its Corporation. This restricted the Scotland Yard Commissioners to areas outside the City. The act was "to continue & be in force untill the end of the First Session of the next p[er]liament", and when this happened in 1679 it was then "allowed to expire". A 1690 Act of Parliament imposed sanitation requirements on the districts around London similar to those of the 1662 Act, but did not revive the Commissioners. Instead, powers of enforcing compliance were given to the justices of the peace. Sewerage in Westminster was transferred to the existing Westminster and Middlesex Commission of Sewers.
Members and officers
As well as the 21 commissioners appointed by the king, the act provided that the Lord Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen of the City of London; and the Dean, High Steward, Deputy Steward and the two High Burgesses of the City of Westminster should become joint commissioners with the same powers.
Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset was one of the initial Commissioners, as was the diarist John Evelyn, who described his fellows as "divers gentlemen of quality". Some MPs were commissioners, including John Ashburnham, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Charles Berkeley, later Viscount Fitzhardinge, John Denham, William Glascock, Ranald Grahme, Robert Howard, Thomas Ingram, Daniel O'Neill, Richard Onslow, and Edmund Waller.
- John Raithby, ed. (1819), "Charles II, 1662 — An Act for repairing the High wayes and Sewers and for paving and keeping clean of the Streets in and about the Cities of London & Westminster and for reforming of Annoyances and Disorders in the Streets of and places adjacent to the said Cities and for the Regulating and Licensing of [Hackey] Coaches and for the enlarging of several strait & inconvenient Streets and Passages.", Statutes of the Realm: Volume 5: 1628–80, pp. 351–357, retrieved 5 July 2013
- John Raithby, ed. (1819), "William and Mary, 1690 — All Act for Paveing and Cleansing the Streets in the Cityes of London and Westminster and Suburbs and Liberties thereof and Out-Parishes in the County of Midlesex and in the Burrough of Southwarke and other places within the Weekly Bills of Mortality in the County of Surrey and for Regulating the Markets therein mentioned", Statutes of the Realm: Volume 6: 1685-94, pp. 231–236, retrieved 6 November 2014
- Webb, Sidney; Webb, Beatrice (1922). "Ch.4: The Improvement Commissioners". Statutory Authorities for Special Purposes. English Local Government. Vol.4. London: Longman, Green. pp. 239–241, 323.
- Webb, Sidney; Webb, Beatrice (1908). "Ch.4: The City and Borough of Westminster". The Manor and the Borough, Part I. English Local Government. Vol.2. London: Longman, Green. pp. 213–231.
- Vestry of the united parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist, Westminster (June 1889). Special and annual report, with notes on local government in Westminster from pre-reformation times to the present day. Westminster: Wightman. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- Cannan, Edward (1896). The history of local rates in England, five lectures. London: Longmans. pp. 124–126. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Evelyn, John (1901). "14th May, 1662". In William Bray (ed.). Diary. Vol.1. introduction by Richard Garnett. Walter Dunne. p. 357. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- Pepys, Samuel; Latham, Robert; Matthews, William (26 January 1983). The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Vol.X: Companion. University of California Press. p. 393. ISBN 9780520020979. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- 18&19 Ch.II. c.8 section 18; 22&23 Ch.II c.17 section 2.
- section 31
- Cannan, p.126
- Ogborn, Miles (1998). Spaces of Modernity: London's Geographies, 1680-1780. Guilford Press. p. 92. ISBN 9781572303652. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Highways and Sewers.: Earl of Dorset and others, Commissioners in London and Westminster". National Archives. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Ashburnham, John I (c.1603-71)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Cooper, Sir Anthony Ashley, 2nd Bt. (1621-83),". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Berkeley, Sir Charles I (1599-1668)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Denham, John (1615-69),". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Glascock, William (1617-88)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Grahme, Ranald (c.1605-85)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Howard, Sir Robert (1626-98),". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Ingram, Sir Thomas (1614-72)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "O'Neill (Oneale), Daniel (c.1612-64)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Onslow, Sir Richard (1601-64)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
- "Waller,Edmund I (1606-87)". History of Parliament Online. 1983. Retrieved 6 November 2014.