Urban Powers – 19 Mr A. Neal – Concluding Remarks – Colliery as Godfather

November 1919

Mexborough and Swinton Times, November 29, 1919

Mr A. Neal, M.P..

The Colliery Company as Godfather.

Mr Neil, replying for the promoters, said all of the opposition, with very few exceptions centred in the person of Mr Chambers. He was the Denaby company, he was the Denaby Parish Council, he was the Cooperative Society, and when you came to the Doncaster Rural District Council, you found he was the important gentleman who was required before any final decision could be taken.

In support they had a Parish Council elected by a poll of the people, and absolutely unanimous on this question. They had the whole of the district representatives on the Rural District Council, except Mr Chambers. They had the unanimous vote of the two miners branches, of the glass workers, of the general workers, and of the discharged sailors and soldiers representing the great bulk of working class opinion in the district.

Against this they had a petition flourished in their faces which had nothing to do with the Colliery – (laughter) – which had not a particle of coal dust on it -(laughter.)- which was brought forth at a little spontaneous meeting by a thought reader who happened to be connected with the colliery- (laughter) -Andrew had obtained it from the solicitors in the Colliery Company. (Laughter.).

It had been said that the men were around with this petition telling the people that if urban powers were granted, rents and rates would go up.

Whether they said so are not, it was to be all that that was strewn. Why? Because there was a crying need in that district that someone could face the social problem. The salient facts in this case was – infant mortality. Last year’s return showed that 222 Denaby babies out of every thousand born, died in 12 months. They had heard that typhoid was rampant, that ashpits leaked putrid matter, and nothing done by the sanitary authority cleanse them.

The Prime Minister had said that this place was to be fit for the return soldiers to living. Were they surprised that with one voice these men said, “give us a chance to govern ourselves.”

It was true that the colliery company had done everything. He said that with no criticism at all. The Colliery Company simply had to do everything.churches, chapels, Institute, water, gas and everything else – the Company fathered them all.

They had to say, “if you please,” to the, Company for the very necessaries of life. That was not self government. Mr Chambers said. “I will grant you urban powers and they have to come.” That was the tale in 1900, and they never got them. There was plenty of opportunity to make this district better and brighter than it was, but it wanted an enlightened and thoughtful Administration. Here they had the very negation of government, and what he said, in opening about the state of things in this district been a crying scandal, was only criticise able on the ground that it was not forcible enough.

Mr Jardine: that is your statement?

Mr Neal: (excitedly) if my learned friend will travel with me from Conisborough station, you will see a state of things he cannot see anywhere else in England. I say it is a crying scandal that such things exist!

Mr Neal, proceeding, said that even good government was not a synonym for self-government. This little place, which one could walk around in a short time, contributed a fifth of the rateable value of a wide rural area, and his learned friend, Mr Talbot, admitted that nothing like that amount was spent on the population by the people who receive the money. Indeed, he made a point of it, and said, “don´t do this thing, it will mean compensation.”

Mr Marshall admitted that you could not maintain the ordinarily social amenities for an industrial population out of the houses, and that you had to have a large works and minds, and so on, and yet, the promoters were challenged because they sought to bring into the area the Cadeby Colliery.

It would be a violation of elementary principles of local government. If they were to leave out the colliery. On the other side of Doncaster, where a colliery company sank a new pit, they had to provide a model village.The Denaby Company. Of course, if they had a virgin soil, would do the same, and everybody would be be living there. There was not a thing in the model village which the Colliery Company did not have to provide, because it was necessary to entice the Labour to the district.

“They have got the Labour in this district, but their moral duty is no less because it is easier than if they had 20-to come here. I don´t think they want to share that duty. Mr Chambers went so far as to say, “would not mind being linked up with Mexborough,” at 18s 8d in the pound, if he thought it was for the good of the district.

It is not so far as Mr Chambers is concerned a question of the costing rates. The question for this Company is “how shall we get the best government which these men need: better government than they get today?”

He was not there to talk about the geographical delimitation of areas. What they asked for was that the district might have a chance to govern itself. These were days in which all public men were looking with watchful care on the development of the feeling in the industrial population. He believes the industrial population was sound at the core, and that old England and nothing to fear from it. But if that was to be maintained it could only be maintained by giving them at least the advantages of the freest institutions, and letting them take their share the responsibilities and the difficulties of governing themselves.

There was some applause (which the chairman deprecated) towards the end of Mr Neal´s speech.

This concluded the enquiry


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