Page images
PDF
EPUB

a Commission of the Peace for a smaller district within a county, either directly, or by charter, conferring on such place the right to elect Justices. Where Justices are appointed for any such place, the Justices of the county will not as a rule be prevented from acting within it, except the Commission of the Peace or charter for that place contains express words restraining the Justices for the county from acting. However, the Justices for the county seem to be restrained from acting in certain of the more important of such places by custom alone. These places with a separate Commission of the Peace are known as liberties or franchises. They are of two classes. Ist. Certain liberties into which a Commission of the Peace

always issues, and where there is accordingly a separate Quarter Sessions. Such are the Isle of Ely, the Liberty of Ripon in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the Soke of Peterborough. In such liberties the Justices of the county at large can only exercise powers by

virtue of express words in a statute. 2nd. Liberties which are so by charter. The most important

class of these liberties are the corporate towns to which a separate commission of the Peace is granted by

Charter. The question of the jurisdiction of the Quarter Sessions of the county within an old corporate town not under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, still depends on the charter of the town.

Within a municipal borough, with a separate Court of Quarter Sessions, the Justices for the county have no jurisdiction by virtue of their Commission.

With regard, however, to the administrative business of the Quarter Sessions, as these powers are conferred by statute, the statutes generally lay down the local extent of the jurisdiction in each matter, but where the statute is silent the jurisdiction of the Quarter Sessions will be co-extensive with their jurisdiction by virtue of their Commission. For some purposes the jurisdiction of the Quarter Sessions is excluded in all boroughs, the Town Council exercising the corresponding jurisdiction within their borough. On the other hand, for many purposes, Liberties, other than Quarter Sessions Boroughs, are included in the counties in which they are situated. Moreover, for some purposes the boundaries of the county are expressly altered, and accordingly in almost every set of statutes dealing with local government the term "county” has received a special

Changes under Local Government Act.

definition, and that definition has to be kept carefully in view in reading the statute.

As we have seen, under the Local Government Act, 1888, a County Council is to be established for each county at large, and also for the Isle of Ely, and for the Soke of Peterborough, which are such important liberties that they have in many statutes been treated as counties at large. More-over, Sussex and Suffolk, which although having but one Commission of the Peace, are divided into two divisions for many purposes, are each to be treated as two counties.

We are now in a position to explain the meaning of certain expressions employed in the Local Government Act, 1888, and to give an account of the changes in county boundaries. made under that Act.

The area for which a County Council is elected, and throughout which, generally speaking, the Council will have authority, is called an “administrative county.”

The six counties of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, and Sussex each comprise, as we have seen, more than one administrative county. The area, consisting of all the administrative counties taken together in each one of these six counties, is termed an “ entire county.”

The boundaries of the administrative county of London will be the boundaries of the Metropolis, as laid down in the Metropolis Management Act, 1855 (18 & 19 Vict. c. 120), and this provision of course determines the boundaries. of the administrative counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent, where they adjoin the administrative county of London.

Elsewhere the boundaries of each administrative county will be the present boundaries of the county for the purpose of returning members to Parliament, subject, however, to the following provisions and exceptions :(i.) The county boroughs do not form part of any ad

ministrative county. (ii.) Where any urban sanitary district, other than a county

borough, is situated partly within and partly without the parliamentary boundaries of a county, the district is to become part of the administrative county which contains the largest portion of its population, according

to the census of 1881. (iii.) Where two administrative counties which form portions

of one entire county adjoin, the boundary as existing forthe county rate is to be the boundary; but if an urban sanitary district lies partly without and partly within the boundaries of such a portion, the district is to become part of the administrative county which contains the largest portion of its population, according to

the census of 1881. (iv.) The wapentake of the ainsty of York (except so much

as is included in the municipal borough of York as extended by the York Extension and Improvement Act, 1884) is to become part of the administrative

county of the West Riding of Yorkshire. (v.) The Scilly Islands will not form part of the administra

tive county of Cornwall. The Local Government Board have power, by Provisional Order, to arrange for the local government of these Islands; but until that is done the County Council of Cornwall will exercise

certain powers within them. (vi.) Subsequent changes may be made, which are explained

in Chapter IV. Thus the whole of England and Waies, including the Metropolis, will be mapped out, subject to any future alterations, into sixty-one administrative counties and sixty-one county boroughs; all existing liberties, franchises, counties of towns and counties of cities will be either in one of these counties, or themselves an administrative county or county borough. It may be pointed out that the county is an

area of importance for other purposes besides that of local government, and the Local Government Act, 1888, makes provisions for the effect of a change in county boundaries, made by or in pursuance of that Act, on the county for other purposes.

The County Council will transact most of the administrative business at present transacted by the Quarter Sessions of their county, and other county business, but the local extent of their authority will not be the same as that of the Quarter Sessions to whom they succeed, for it will extend throughout their administrative county in almost all cases, except within boroughs where the Town Council exercises the corresponding authority. Further, liberties and franchises will be for the purposes of the County Council in the county in which they are situated, and the County Council will succeed to the

1 Local Government Act, 1888, sec. 59.

Financial effect of Local Government Act.

authority of their Quarter Sessions as they succeed to that of the Quarter Sessions of the county.

The transfer of business to the County Council from the various authorities whom they succeed, is explained in Chapter II. and the business which they will, when fully constituted, have to transact is more fully dealt with in Chapter V. The finance of a County Council is explained in Chapter III. In the meantime it may be well to give a general idea of the financial position of the County Council, as compared with that of the Quarter Sessions.

The expenses of the Quarter Sessions are chiefly met by rates and by contributions from other local authorities, but they have received from the Treasury, grants in aid of the police force, the costs of criminal prosecutions, the maintenance of pauper lunatics chargeable to the county, and the maintenance of main roads.

County Councils will receive no grants in aid, properly so called, but, with the Town Councils of county boroughs, will share in the proceeds of certain imperial taxes. Out of the sums thus coming to their hands they must first make grants to Boards of Guardians, to Town Councils of boroughs, other than county boroughs, and to Sanitary Authorities, in substitution for the grants in aid which will cease to be paid, and also pay a share of their own expenses in connection with their police force, and other purposes for which grants have hitherto been received from the Treasury. Secondly, they must pay the new grant we have mentioned towards the costs of union Officers. Out of the surplus they must pay certain of their expenses, of which the chief will be the maintenance of main roads, and then the ultimate surplus will be divided between the County Council and certain other local authorities.

The share of the proceeds of imperial taxes, which will in this way find its way into the hands of local authorities of various kinds, will, it is estimated, exceed the sums hitherto distributed among them in the shape of grants in aid (excluding the additional grant in aid to Quarter Sessions in respect of main roads, made during the year 1887-88) by about £3,000,000 annually, the effect of which will be, it is estimated, to lighten local rates throughout the country by about 5d. in the pound on an average. The consideration of the Excise Duties (Local Purposes) Bill, by which it is proposed to levy the taxes popularly known as the Horse and Wheel Tax, has been postponed to the autumn session. Should that Bill not pass, the amount to be distributed will be reduced by the amount of these taxes, which, it is estimated, would produce about £800,000 annually, and in that case the rates would, on the same basis, be lightened by about 3 d. in the pound.

i See ante, p. 9.

Thus we see that the Local Government Act, 1888, not only effects a great reform in the direction of rendering the governing authority in the county representative of the ratepayers, but that it will also considerably alter the incidence of taxation, distributing the burden of local expenses to a greater extent than in the past, upon the whole country

There are a few other matters that may be mentioned in conclusion.

First, under various general Acts of Parliament there are in existence the following bodies empowered to carry out works of a public nature, and to rate the area under their control for that purpose :

Burial Boards.
Lighting and Watching Inspectors.
Commissioners of Baths and Wash-houses.
Commissioners under the Public Libraries Acts.

Secondly, under the Elementary Education Acts, the country is divided into school districts, namely :

The Metropolis.
Municipal Boroughs except Oxford.
The District of the Local Board of Oxford.
Parishes not included in any of the above mentioned

districts. Special adjustments of the boundaries of these areas may, however, be made for the purposes of the Education Acts, so that a school district is to a certain extent an independent area. For each school district a School Board is or may bc appointed ; no change in school districts or School Boards is contemplated under the Local Government Act, 1888.

In some counties there exist old sub-divisions called Hundreds, or in some counties Wapentakes. In Sussex the hundreds are grouped into larger divisions called Rapes, and in Kent the hundreds are grouped into larger divisions called Lathes. All these divisions, at one time of great importance, have ceased to exist for any practical purpose except the

« PreviousContinue »