[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—I have read your
article on the housing question, and, as I happen to be one of the " Bumbles of Westminster " who have incurred your displeasure, I feel that it is only right that I should express an opinion on the matter. Your strictures are uncompromising, but I have no fault to find with your policy of denouncing a wrong from the house tops. All I ask for is fair play.
No one disputes the inequalities of human existence, and everyone with a spark of feeling deplores the wretched state of squalor and misery in which thousands of people are living ; but are you sure that the governing bodies in London are not making a big and brave effort to minimise this as much as lies in their power ? This state of things has been the growth of generations, and is not to be abolished by any stroke of magic. It will have to be done by the persistent efforts of thoughtful and sympathetic men and women, and by the expenditure of vast sums of money. The change will certainly not come by talk alone.
I believe that the Westminster Council and all the other Councils of London are fully alive to the evil, and are making a sincere effort to bring about a better state of-things wherever they find it possible. As evidence of this, I am enclosing you a report of the housing projects of the Westminster Council, issued by the Chairman of the Health Committee, and from this you will see the outline of the vast houiing schemes adopted by the Council. One project provides flats kir 4,,5oo people, and another provides houses for 220 families. These are facts that you may think worthy of consideration.
Experience has shown that it is useless dispossessing poor people of their homes until we find better ones for them, and this being the case, we are bound to move carefully and (unfortunately) slowly. Newspaper articles and outside committees may have the effect of eduCating the public in social matters, but they cannot teach the City and Borough Councils much that they do not know, and they cannot inform them of evils that every right-minded councillor is not anxious to remedy.
Believe me when I say that the men who are engaged in the management of the affairs of this great city are neither more thick-headed or callous than, shall we say, the editors of newspapers.—I am, Sir, &c.,