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RIGHT HON, SIR WM. VERNON HARCOURT, Q.C., M.P.
HER MAJESTY'S SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT,
EQUALLY DISTINGUISHED AS
A LAWYER AND A STATESMAN,
THIS VOLUME IS (WITH PERMISSION) RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
PREFACE TO FIRST AND SECOND EDITIONS.
' experience of the working of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 revealed many shortcomings. These were chiefly due to the difficulty of dealing with existing laws, statutes, and usages, charters, grants, and letters patent, so as to effectually provide against injustice when bringing their operations within the scope of a uniform measure. Progressive legislation effected many important changes which required corresponding modifications of the original Act. The Municipal Corporation Elections Act, 1869, shortening the term of residence and admitting women to the municipal franchise, the Ballot Act, and the Corrupt Practices (Municipal Elections) Act, 1872, the Municipal Elections Act, 1875, the Municipal Corporations (New Charters) Act, 1877, the Parliamentary and Municipal Registration Act, 1878, and the Town Council and Local Boards Act, 1880, diffused the law through many channels and eventually rendered consolidation a matter of imperative necessity.
While the Act dealt with in this volume, is, to use the words of Mr. Hibbert, the member for Oldham, one intended "merely to consolidate all municipal Acts relating to England,” it at the same time effects by no means unimportant alterations and amendments, most of which are more particularly noticed under the several sections in which they appear.
The Act has now been before the public for some weeks, but it is doubtful if many of the changes effected by it have obtained general notice. The principal of these are as follows:
The Mayor may be elected “from the aldermen or councillors, or persons qualified
to be such”-in other words, the Council may choose the Mayor from the general body of burgesses or non-residents qualified for election as councillors,
to the exclusion of members of the Council (See section 15 (1) at page 34), All questions at, and acts of a Council, are to be decided by a majority of the
members present and voting (See Schedule II., paragraph 10, at page 40). Notice in writing, to the Town Clerk, is required for the resignation of a corporate
office (See section 36, at page 51). The salary of a Recorder may be increased without the necessity of reappointment
or a new appointment (See section 163, at page 146). The powers of the Recorder are given to the deputy Recorder (See section 168 (9),
at page 150). The Watch Committee is not to exceed in number one-third of the Council (See
section 190 (1), at page 161). Assaults on Borough Constables are treated as provided for in section 81 of the Act
of 1835, notwithstanding intervening legislation (See section 195 (1), at page
163), Borough Constables may take bail by day or night (See section 227, at page 184)
There are other changes which remove doubts as regards identity of candidates or voters raised in many of the cases decided, and which will tend to render this Act simple and efficient in its working.
The first seven Schedules have been interpolated with the various Sections of the Act having relation thereto. The Index has been prepared in a form which it is thought will greatly fucilitate reference to the body of the Act. The List of Cities and Boroughs to come under its operation on January 1st, 1883, comprises the population of each place according to the census of 1881. The Time Table sets out the principal duties of municipal administration which are associated with fixed periods of the year.
It has been the earnest desire of the Editors to render the
present work a complete legal and practical text-book, to avoid unnecessary prolixity, and to afford safe guidance and useful information to all persons more immediately interested in the municipal institutions of the country.
J. W. HUME WILLIAMS.
J. R. SOMERS VINE. LONDON, December 1st, 1882.