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LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION.
(35 AND 36 VICTORIA.)
By W. CUNNINGHAM GLEN, Esq.,
I. POOR LAW LEGISLATION.
The legislation of the session 1872, as affecting Poor Laws, though not of very much importance, is yet of a varied character, and is classed as follows.
BORROWING MONEY BY GUARDIANS.
The first act is the 35 Vict., c. 2, to extend and explain the law relating to loans for purposes connected with the relief of the poor.
It will be remembered that the 14 and 15 Vict., c. 105, sec. 16, enacts that in respect of a school district situated within the metropolitan police district, the limit of expenditure for building and furnishing district schools is enlarged from one-fifth to one-third of the average amount of the aggregate expenditure for the three years next preceding the raising of the money. By section 1 cf the 35 Vict., c. 2, that limit is increased from one-third to two-thirds of such annual average. Doubts having existed whether the 14th section of the 30 and 31 Vict., c. 106, which increased the limit of amounts of money to be raised for building workhouses applied to the metropolis, the doubt is removed by section 2 of the 35 Vict., c. 2, which explicitly declares that the section shall apply to the metropolis.
The next section illustrates the difficulty, or rather the want of reflection, with which acts of Parliament are framed. By 32 and 33 Vict., c. 45, any sum of money borrowed by guardians may, at the option of the guardians and with the consent of the Poor Law Board be repaid by thirty equal annual payments, with interest on the balance remaining unpaid each year. It was not foreseen that it might be expedient to pay off the loan within a period of less than thirty years; hence, the 3rd section of the 35 Vict., c, 2, which enacts that the
section does not prevent the guardians from borrowing money to be repaid within a less period than thirty years.
The last section enables persons who have made advances to unions and parishes, under certain circumstances, beyond the borrowing powers, to be reimbursed by leave of the Local Government Board; but it has not an extensive application.
The enactments next in order are the Mutiny Acts (35 Vict., c. 3 and 4). The 40th and 54th sections of these acts respectively protect soldiers and marines from being taken out of the service on civil process for debts under £30, or for not maintaining their wives and families. But the first part of section 92 of the 35 Vict., c. 3, is important as containing an entirely new provision with regard to discharged soldiers who are destitute. It is as follows:-"The Secretary of State for the War Department may, if he thinks proper, cause any soldier, on his discharge, and his wife or child, if occasion require, either with or without him, to be sent to the parish in which, on his attestation as a recruit, he stated himself to have been born; and if relieved at the workouse of that parish, or at the union comprising such parish, he shall then be received therein by the master or other proper officer thereof."
DIVISION OF PARISHES PARTLY IN URBAN AND PARTLY IN RURAL SANITARY DISTRICTS.
This will be best understood by printing verbatim section 5 of the Public Health Act, 1872. It is as follows:
"A rural union in this section means any union which is not coincident in area with an urban sanitary district, nor wholly included in an urban sanitary district. The area of a rural union, with the exception of those portions (if any) of the area which are included in urban sanitary districts, shall form a rural sanitary district, and the guardians of the union shall form the rural sanitary authority of such district, with the following exceptions; that is to say (1.) No elective guardian of any parish belonging to such union, and forming or being wholly included within an urban sanitary district, shall act or vote in any case in which guardians of such union act or vote in their capacity of members of the rural sanitary authority. (2.) Where part of a parish belonging to a rural union forms or is situated in an urban sanitary district, the Local Government Board may, by order, divide such parish into separate wards, and determine the number of guardians to be elected by such wards respectively, in such manner as to provide for the due representation of the part of the parish lying within the rural sanitary district; but until such order has been made the guardian or guardians of such parish may act and vote as members of the rural sanitary authority, in the same manner as if no part of such parish formed part of or was situated in an urban sanitary district. (3.) An ex-officio guardian resident in any parish or part of a parish belonging to such union, which parish or part of a parish forms or is situated in an urban sanitary district, shall not act or vote in any case
in which guardians of such union act or vote in their capacity of members of the rural sanitary authority, unless he is the owner or occupier of property situated in the rural sanitary district of a value sufficient to qualify him as an elective guardian for the union."
The provisions of the Public Health Act, 1872, will be hereafter adverted to.
ORDERS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD.
Much trouble and unnecessary expense to the country was occasioned by the mode in which general orders of the Poor Law Board were required, by the 4 and 5 W. 4, c. 76, to be published. To obviate this trouble and expense it is enacted by the Public Health Act, 1872, section 48, that every general order of the Local Government Board, made in pursuance of the 4 and 5 W. 4, c. 76, and the several acts amending the same, shall be published in the London Gazette, and when so published shall take effect in like manner, and shall be of as much force and validity, as any general order of the Poor Law Board made and sent in the manner prescribed by those acts, and no further proceeding shall be necessary in such behalf; and as regards any single order of the Board made in pursuance of those acts, it shall not be necessary henceforth to send a copy thereof to the clerk to the justices of the petty sessions.
"The Bastardy Laws Amendment Act, 1872," which is in the mar gin stated to be the "short title" for the act 35 and 36 Vict., c. 65, repeals sections 2 and 3, and parts of sections 5 and 7 of the 7 and 8 Vict., c. 101, and section 41 of the 31 and 32 Vict., c. 122; and makes new provisions enabling any single woman who may be with child or who may be delivered of a bastard child after the passing of the act to apply for a summons against the putative father; and the justices, upon the hearing, to make an order for the payment of a weekly sum, not exceeding five shillings, for the maintenance and education of the child, and the expenses incidental to its birth and burial if it died before making the order, and also the expenses of obtaining the order. The order, except for the purpose of recovering money previously due under it, shall not be of any force or validity after the child in respect of whom it was made has attained the age of thirteen years, or after the death of the child; but the justices may, in the order, direct that the payments to be made under it in respect of the child shall continuc until the child attains the age of sixteen years; in which case the order shall be in force until that period.
By section 7 of the act, when and so often as any bastard child for whose maintenance an order has been made by justices on the application of the mother shall become chargeable to any parish or union, any two justices having jurisdiction in the parish or union in petty sessions may, if they shall see fit, by order under their hands and seals, from time to time appoint some relieving or other officer of the parish or union to which such bastard child shall be so chargeable
to receive on account of such parish cr union such proportion of the payments then due or becoming due under the order as may accrue during the period for which the child is chargeable, and such appointment shall remain in force for the period of one whole year whenever the child shall be or have so become chargeable, and may afterwards from time to time be renewed by endorsement under the hand of any one justice for the like period; and any payment so ordered to be made shall be recoverable by the relieving officer or other officer appointed to receive it in the manner provided for the recovery of payments under an order obtained by the mother-that is, under section 4 of the act.
By section 8, when a bastard child becomes chargeable to a union or parish, the guardians may apply to two justices having jurisdiction in the union or parish, in petty sessions, and thereupon such justices may summon the man alleged to be the father of the child to appear before any two justices having the like jurisdiction, to show cause why an order should not be made upon him to contribute towards the relief of the child; and upon his appearance, or, in the event of his not appearing, upon proof of due service of the summons upon him, such justices may, if satisfied that he is the father of the child, upon such evidence as is by this act required in the case of a summons issued upon the application of the mother—that is, as in section 4-make an order upon the putative father to pay the guardians cr one of their officers such sum, weekly or otherwise, towards the relief of the child during such time as the child shall continue or afterwards be chargeable, as shall appear to them to be proper; and such order shall, if the payments required by it to be made be in arrear, be enforced in the manner prescribed by the 11 and 12 Vict., c. 43, provided always: 1. That no payment shall be recoverable under such order except in respect of the time during which the child is actually in receipt of relief. 2. That an order under this section shall not be made, and, if made, shall cease, except for the recovery of arrears when the mother of the child has obtained an order under this act. 3. That nothing in this section shall be deemed to relieve the mother of a bastard child from her liability to maintain such child. 4. That any person upon whom an order is made under this section shall have the same right of appeal against such order as in the case of an order obtained on the application of the mother. 5. That if after an order has been made under this section the mother should apply for an order under this act, the order made under this section shall be primâ facie evidence that the man upon whom the order is made is the father of the child.
With regard to the foregoing enactment, the Local Government Board, in their circular of the 7th October, 1872, say that it may be well to observe that the 6th section of the 7 and 8 Vict., c. 101, which renders the mother liable to punishment for neglect or desertion of her bastard child, is not repealed; and that the proviso to the 7th section of that act, which enables the guardians to enforce an existing order when the child becomes chargeable on the death or incapacity of the mother, also remains in force, though the rest of that section is. repealed.
DISQUALIFICATION OF GUARDIANS.
By the Corrupt Practices (Municipal Elections) Act, 1872, 35 and 36 Vict., c. 60, with respect to municipal elections it is provided (section 4) that where it is found, by the report of an election court acting under its provisions, that any corrupt practice has been committed by or with the knowledge and consent of any candidate at an election, such candidate shall be deemed to have been personally guilty of corrupt practices at the election, and his election, if he has been elected, shall be void; and he shall, whether he was elected or not, during seven years from the date of the report (among other disqualifications), bɩ incapable of acting as overseer or guardian of the poor.
THE BALLOT ACT, 1872.
This act (35 and 36 Vict., c. 33), contains a provision to which the attention of the guardians as well as overseers may be directed. It is enacted, by section 6, that the returning officer at a parliamentary election may use, free of charge, for the purpose of taking the poll at such election, any room in a school receiving a grant out of moneys provided by Parliament, and any room the expense of maintaining which is payable out of any local rate; but he shall make good any damage done to such room, and defray any expense incurred by the person or body of persons, corporate or incorporate, having control over the same, on account of its being used for the purpose of taking the poll as aforesaid.
There is a provision to be noticed in the 35 and 36 Vict., c. 21which by a “short title" is described as "The Reformatory and Industrial Schools Acts Amendment Act, 1872"--but it has not much bearing on Poor Laws. It enables a prison authority to contribute towards the ultimate disposal of any inmate of a certified industrial school, and the expenses so incurred are to be deemed expenses incurred by such authority in carrying into effect the Industrial Schools Act, 1866.
INFANT LIFE PROTECTION ACT.
This act (35 and 36 Vict., c. 38) does not directly affect Poor Law administration; but it will be well that the attention of Poor Law authorities should be called to its provisions generally.
By section 2, from and after the commencement of the act it shall not be lawful for any person to retain or receive for hire or reward in that behalf more than one infant, and in case of twins more than two infants, under the age of one year for the purpose of nursing or maintaining such infants apart from their parents for a longer period than twenty-four hours, except in a house which has been registered as herein provided. And by section 3, the local authority shall cause a register to be kept in which shall be entered the name of every person applying to register any house for the purposes of the act, and the