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REPORT BY OONSUL JONES, OF CARDIFF.
In a report upon the price of labor and the cost of living, embracing the moral, social, and economic condition of the people, a few general observations concerning the geography and characteristics of the country specially dealt with seem desirable.
By common consent Wales is divided into two sections, North and South. The counties of Flint, Denbigh, Anglésea, Carnarvon, Merioneth, and Montgomery constitute North Wales, while South Wales is composed of the shires of Cardigan, Radnor, Brecknock, Glamorgan, Carinarthen, and Pembroke. The area of the principality measures 4,721,823 acres. The physical features of the country are varied and attractive, consisting of rich valleys, barren rocks, dense forests, lofty mountains, and desert moors. Agriculture and quarries are the wealth-producing agencies of North Wales. In the southern division husbandry consists in large measure of sheep grazing, which is carried on upon a large scale and with good results in several counties where the land is mountain. ous and only capable of sustaining froin one sheep per acre upwards. But the poverty of the surface is abundantly compensated by the rich mineral deposits of the hills.
The population of the country, according to the census of 1881, was 1,359,895. The wage-earners, or working classes, may be comprehen. sively divided into (1) agricultural laborers, (2) slate quarrymen, (3) miners, and (1) iron-workers. To these particular classes must, of course, be added the ordinary craftsmen and laborers of progressive society, who build houses and their appartenances, construct railroads, bighways, and canals, as well as rolling stock, vehicles, and boats, and those who handle and facilitate the machinery of commerce and of communities.
South Wales now takes the first position as a coal-exporting district. This draws to the ports of the Bristol Channel a large amount of the toppage of the world ; and in shipping Cardiff, Newport, and Swansea take a prominent position among the great ports of the Kingdom. Notwithstanding the advantages of this district in the presence of coal and iron, and the existence of some of the largest mills in the Kingdom turning out ship-plates in large quantities within a few miles of tidal water, ship-building, beyond the mere business of repairing, bas not yet been established on the banks of the streams of South Wales. But the advantages enumerated, together with the employment afforded to tonnage, can not fail to induce capitalists to erect ship yards on the Taff and other streams on the Bristol Channel.
In the preparation of tbis report I have not confined myself entirely within the lines indicated by the circular of the Department dated Felin ruary 15, 1884, and before dealing with the specified requirements of the circular I have introduced cbapters dealing with the political status of the British workman, local government in England and Wales, local taxation, and the social condition of the people. Following these will be found papers and schedules dealing with life and labor iu Wales upon the plan suggested by the circular.
THE POLITICAL STATUS OF THE BRITISH WORKMAN,
The parliamentary electoral qualifications are manifold and complex in the United Kingdom; to an American they are even confusing. Ad. hering, in this instance, to England and Wales, they may be comprehensively divided into the borough franchise and the county franchise. Prior to the reform act of 1832 the qualitications of the general elector rested upon the holding of freehold property to the yearly value of £2 ($9.72). Under the operations of the reform act, and of subsequent leg. islation enacted in the years 1867, 1868, and 1869, electoral rights were modified and extended to their present form. The existing county franchise of England and Wales may be divided, for the sake of brevity, into three classes: (1) The £50 ($243) rental franchise of 1832; (2) the £12 ($58,32) rating franchise of 1867; and (3) the property franchise of 1867 and 1868, whether consisting of a £2 ($9.72) or £5 ($21.30) freehold, or of a copyhold or leasehold of the value of £5 ($24.30) a year or more.
Among the evils and abuses possible under the present county franchise are the qualification of non-resident voters purely and merely for party purposes, and whereby such non-resident voters number, in some instances, one-fourth of the votes upon the register of the constituency.
Another aspect of this abuse is found in the subdivision of hereditaments. Mr. Gladstone, when introducing his franchise bill of 1884, said that he “had in his possession a photograph of a hereditament, a certain structure not very imposing in itself, occupied by a single per. son, and conferring one occupation franchise, but held by forty-tive owuers, every one of whom stands upon the register in virtue of his forty-fifth part of this building, wbich qualifies only a single occupation voter!"
These electoral qualifications are common enough in this country. Their potency was brought home to Mr. Gladstone during his celebrated canvass in Midlothian. No ordinary man could have overcome the 6 fagot" votes of the Scottish constituency, and I am here tempted to indulge in a single comment. A political scandal of corresponding importance in the United States would evoke thundering denunciation from platform, press, and pulpit, from Puget Sound to Florida, but the iniquity is rather winked at here—both parties indulge in it-and even the premier's declaration about the photographed house caused more laughter than sensation. But the hand of fate is on the curtain.
The borough franchise consists of six qualifications, under which male persons of full age, and not subject to any legal incapacity, are entitled to vote for the election of members of Parliament in boroughs, viz:
I. The occupation of a dwelling-house rated to the relief to the poor, and upon which the rates have been paid according to the acts of 1967, 1860, and 1869.
II. The occupation of any premises other than a dwelling-house rated to the poor at not less than £10 ($48.60) per aunum.
III. The occupation as sole tenant of lodgings of the annual value of £10, if let unfurnished.
IV. The occupation as joint tenant with another person or persons of lodgings the clear yearly value of which, if let unfurnished, is of an amount which, when divided by the number of lodgers, gives a sum of not less than £10 (18.60) for each lodger.
V. Being registered as a freeinan or free burgess in any place other than London.
VI. Being a freeman of the city of London, or a liveryman belonging to one of the city companies.
The electoral qualifications V and VI were conferred long ago by the crown upon certain people for services rendered, or otherwise, and made hereditary from father to son, or through connection with organizations or companies, such as the Lurrymen or Freemen's companies. These are designated as “aucient right” franchises, and even a brief descrip. tion of their qualifications would lead this paper to inordinate length. Enough has been said to show that while the borough franchise is coin. paratively satisfactory the county franchise must be unsatisfactory to