Hide Articles List

5 articles on this Page

I. Merthyr Campaign Opened.

News
Cite
Share

I Merthyr Campaign Opened. Optimism in Labour Ranks. Big Rally Addressed by T. C. Morris and Others. The True Economy of Working Class Administration. Canvassing in the Merthyr Municipal election campaign began last week in most of the wards, and the propaganda campaign of the Labour candidates was opened brisk- ly at the beginning of the present week, with two or three open-air meetings each evening, and door-to-door work continuous- ly prosecuted. With nominations not due until Saturday the position of the contest cannot be accurately guaged, but keen fights are certain in Park, Town, and Peny- darren Wards, whatever may eventuate in the remaining five seats that fall in. With rates standing at 17/5 in the £ and at that only by the sale of a block of war-stock, it is perhaps natural that the "other side" should have began operations with loose talk about reducing the rates by unnamed economies. Everyone desires economies, and Labour's concern for reduced rates has been. amply attested by its formulation of the scheme for the Joint Water Board that would remove from our shoulders the most oppressive of our burdens, as well as by other schemes that will operate in the direc- tion of true economy, and not by those old economies of paint and labour that have so considerably shortened the life of valuable wood and iron work, with the ultimate re- sult that the half-pennies saved have cost pounds in replacements, and not by those false economics that sought to limit the town's liabilities at the cost of miserable injustices to Corporation employees. With every prospect of a still further rise in the costs of administration, not alone locally, but throughout the nation, talk about rate- reductions are mere idle pipe-dreams, that nothing but a closing of the mind to every atom of evidence can make palatable to even the middle-class ratepayer. True economy lies in the readjustment of the assessments on the basis of an equity that is at present far from existing, and with a Labour ma- jority on the Guardians what work can be done in the way of backing the burdens ac- cording to the strength of the bearer is being done as expeditiously as possible. TRUE ECONOMY. I No economy that merely means parsi- monious cheese-paring half-pennies is worth consideration, if it is to be effected at the cost of a sacrifice of educational opportun- ity, or of the depreciation of one solitary life standard. The best economy the town and nation can have—the economy that will yield the biggest return—is the economy of a better educated, more alert, more cheerful and happy citizenship, and that Labour is pledged to secure by a constructive forward programme of improved houses; better op- portunities and developing lives. If econ- omy is to be the criterion, then 011 the La- bour policy with respect to the water scheme alone, we can claim the vote and support of every true economist. That scheme was the outcome of Trades Council discussions, and is in true consonance with Labour principles. Its first converts were the Labour people of Newport, who upon it, and as the result of meetings between Labour delegates from both centres, beat their our, Corporation's scheme for a new supply. It is true that, as the result of the incontrovertible arguments of the late Mr. W in. Harris, secretary of the Trades Coun- cil, the Merthyr Corporation, or some por- tions of it, saw that here alone was the way out of a bankrupt position, but the convic- tion was not an altogether welcome one if we are to judge from the activities of the councillors concerned. Yet there alone lies safety and financial salvation for the town, and to ensure that that way is diligently sought out and fully explored it is essen- tial that Labour should win at least four new seats, and so have an absolute majority that will press for co-operative water as a fixed policy throughout the Principality, and that will back up Mr. Jas. Winstone in his work as a County Councillor to secure a representative conference of all local gov- erning and county boards in the South Wales area for consolidating a common equitable co-operative policy. This, coupled with direct labour, and sane municipal enterprise is the programme with which Labour ras entered the campaign and both candidates and workers arc full of optimism over the result of the fight. For the most part the fight will be conducted by local effort, of which there is plenty avail- able, but already splendid assistance has been rendered by Mr. T. C. Morris, of the Rhondda (Executive member of the N.U.R and Labour Candidate for Reading), Mr. A. J. Williams (N.U.R.), Swansea, and Mr. Mardy Jones (S.W.M.F.), whilst Mr. Jas. Winstone, who has worked hard in the wards during.the summer months, and who is not so well as he might be, hopes to get from under the pressure of work sufficiently long to take a keen part in the propaganda meetings.. LABOUR'S RALLY. I A big rail) was held on Tuesday for Park J ?nd Town Wards, at which the thre. I speakers named and the candidates ex. pounded Labour's national and local pro- gramme of local administration. Mr. T. C. Morris, Rhondda, said that the splendid rally around the Labour candidate in the Rusholme bye-election as disclosed in the poll now declared was a sign of the times that it was being realised that the one live movement which could be looked: to for a solution of the issues now confront- ing us was the Labour Party. Parliamen- tary institutions, as constituted- at present, are far too much out of touch with local needs, and the tendency in future would be the granting of w ider powers to munici- pal bodies, leaving Parliament to deal with greater and larger issues of International character. Now we were in the marking stage of administrative evolution. So far as the needs of the community were con- cerned they would in future be expressed' more and more through the county and town councils, and so it was vitally neces- sary for the workers to be represented by a predominance of Labour members on these bodies. The failure in dealing adequately with housing in the past was due largely to the indifference of the workers, and had the working-classes but returned Labour men to represent them municipally they would have administered the various hous- ing legislations decreed from time to time by Parliament and permissive in their na- ture so that the housing problem would not be the serious proposition met to-day. The health of the people should have been the first consideration of the municipal author- ities, but it was common knowledge that this was not so observed. Saving by stint- ing in the interests of public health by local administrators who never failed in their conception of duty as custodians of the yublic purse to keep expenditure down at all costs would have found it much to the advantage of the public exchequer had they by timely improvements, expended money in irradicating the root causes of disease. Increased wages and shorter hours of employment must need be accompanied by better social conditions. The power was there through the councils to create a healthier atmosphere, and the only party in municipal politics to-day that had a con- structive programme and policy was the Labour Party. EDUCATION. Touching upon the educational aspect he said that the day-schools to-day were a re- flex of the ideas of the governing-class, and if the movement of the working-class were to he builded upon a strong foundation La- bour must be given power on the adminis- trative bodies to enable them to introduce Labour movement ideas into the curriculum of our schools, placing education on a higher plane than the mere turning out of competent wage-slaves to beat the for- eigner. The stage had now arrived when the idea of Hardie for the granting by Parliament of powers to municipal bodies to set up as co- operative societies without continuous ap- plications for bills in Parliament prior to taking up water-supply, tramways, light- ing and so on. was being recognised—the principle could be seen in the Profiteering Bill. I INCREASED RATES. I Increased rates were not, as many would have us believe, the result of the prodigal ity of the Labour members. In the Rhondda where there was a Labour majority the rates were 18/- in the £ but in Neath and other places where Labour was in a minority the rates were far higher. We had arrived at a stage where there must be a revision of the present method of rating locally and ad- justing anew local and national finance. Many of the services now borne by the local authorities such as education, poor Jaw, maintenance of roads and so on were national in character and should be charged to the national exchequer. Also the present svstem of rating was entirely wrong. The Marquis of Bute for two acres of land re- ( quired by the Cardiff Corporation for the building of a school asked £3,000 an acre, and yet upon the rate-books of Cardiff those two acres were only rated at f,5 each. Apart from the inflation of the currency a large proportion of the increase in rates was caused by the high rate of interest on loans. He challenged the anti-Labour candidate in the Merthyr elections to say they could hold any hope for the rates coming down. The tendency of local expenditure was to go up, and because of that there must be some other ways and means devi&ii where- by our local administration might be financed other than by the rales. By muni- cipal income tax, advocated by Labour, ground rents and royalties should contri- bute to the local revenue and place much of the burden upon those best able to bear it. I MARDY JONES & CHEAP HOUSES. I I l\Ir. T. 1. Mardy Jones, Pontypridd .1 I pointed out that in the November elections' Labour had an opportunity to gain majority control on the Merthyr Corporation. Of the eight wards contested four already had been represented by Labour members, and were these held and the four others gained Labour would have 17 members out of the 32 representatives forming the town council. The powers of municipalities were growing daily, and with the administration of food and profiteering laws, war pensions, educa- tion and housing acts, and rating matters their responsibilities were becoming enor- mous. Now the Government was talking about quickly and cheaply-built houses, with earthen walls or of wood. Though ma- terials were scarce and skilled building la- bour difficult to obtain he would prefer to see constructed fewer dwellings good and sound, and wait a little longer to realise the whole of the original housing schemes than to rush up cheap substitutes that would be- come a disgrace to the country. Unless the people elected strong bodies of Labour men this shoddy would be thrust upon them. A pre-war house would cost three times as much to build to-day, and even after making allowance for the Government sub- sidy the price would be double that in pre- war days, which would mean that tenants would be called upon to pay double rent to meet the cost. And the pre-war houses, too, would soon find the same enhanced stan- dard once the Rents Acts were repealed. This was likely to occur very soon-in 1921 —and unless Labour were returned in suffi- cient numbers to prolong for another few years the life of these acts, the people would find themselves paying through the nose higher rents, in addition to increased rates for their houses. Six months after the end of the war (a date to be fixed shortly by a Commission) property owners will be entitled to charge 10 per cent. extra rent besides rates increases provided that the Sanitary Authority considered the houses habitable and iu good repair. And so it was important to put Labour men upon that Authority (the town council in the case of Merthyr) so that before a certificate were granted the dwellings in question were ob- viously in good condition for the municipal inspectors naturally would model their con- ception of habitability and repair on the wishes of the members of the authority they served.

The Union of Post Office Workers.

Advertising

A Socialist Dolly's DialoguesI…

Merthyr Marriage Annulled.