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MANAGEMENT OF SWANSEA MARKET.

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Vhc Cambrian.

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Vhc Cambrian. FRIDAY, MAY 11, 1900. REFORM AT LAST. Few towns have more cause to lament the imbecility of the Borough Funds Act, 1872, than Swansea. It contributed as much as anything to the 1088lof the Triple Scheme, and an examination of the Corporation records would prove that only too frequently has it helped the town to make costly mis- takes. The wonder is that the Act has been allowed to stand for so long without amend- ment and improvement. British legislators, whether they be Conservatives or Liberals, are slow to move, especially when there is no popular conscience to stimulate them. But there is an end to all things, even to the patience of municipal corporations. The obsolete Borough Funds Act, 1872, is to be amended. Sir Albert Rollit, who delivered a capital apeech at the Free Library on the occasion of the visit to Swansea of the Incorporated Law Society a couple of years ago—Sir Albert Rollit is the recognised mouthpiece of the municipalities in Parlia- ment—and a few days ago, on his motion, a Bill for amending the Act of 1872 was read a second time and referred to the Stauding Committee on Law. In the interests of local government the reform now promised does not make its appearance in the legisla- ture any too soon. The wonder is that a piece ot statecraft which, by its patent and ludicrous absurdities is a perpetual satire upon the sonree of its being, has not before this undergone the process cf translation into a form reasonably consistent with human intelligence. We are indebted to the Borough Funda Act for the statutory towns' meet- ing," and how many have been held in Swansea, and how interesting and absurd they have been, we will not endeavour to explain. It is significant that in the discus- sion in the House of Commons none had the courage, or apparently the desire to resist the amending measure. Of course, the prin- ciple of referendum in regard to local affairs of the lirot magnitude—aSairs, that ia, involving the promotion or opposition of a Bill in Parliament-is obviously sound. But it is a travesty of that principle to vest, aa does the existing law, in every individual ratepayer the right of demanding a poll, and thus of involving a community, whose feeling may be overwhelmingly in favour of the object challenged,in considerable ex- pense. Where there is a legitmate wish for it, a poll is necessary as the only means of definitely ascertaining public opinion and it may be taken for granted that the pro- posed amendment, by which the requisition of at least a huudred ratepayers would be required to give validity to the demand, will be adhered to. The disappearance of the public meetings and the substitution of a system of advertising, constitute a point on which criticism has fastened and if the Bill in its final stage reflects the views gene- rally expressed on the second reading, it would appear to be probable that the towns' meetings will be retained. The experience of the ratepayers of Swansea on the futility of these conclaves would make them hope, we should imagine, that such will not be the case .More vital, however, than changes in the referendum is the new principle that an omnibus Bill may be submitted to the rate- payers in parte. The Triple Scheme was an Omnibus Bill. Unfortunately, it was over- burdened, and small issues were allowed to over-cloud the larger issues. If the new principle referred to be agreed upon-and as to that we do not entertain any doubt.- a voter would not be compelled to accept or reject the Bill as a whole, but the poll would be so taken as to permit of discrimination between the selection of the main divisions embraced by the measure. Such elasticity would often prove of advantage. But whereas proposals of a popular kind are now sometimes made to serve as the pretext for the securing of more valuable and necessary powers which, to the thoughtless, have a savour of tyranny, and taken by themselves would be resisted, the selective method, despite its inherent reasonableness, might be practically mischievous in working.

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