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Parish officers and parish documents.
the subject-matter of the complaint affects any other county, the complaint is to be referred to a joint committee of the councils of the counties concerned. The county council to which the complaint was made would be the body to act upon it under this section if the joint committee reported in favour of action being taken.
(3.) Where a rural district council have determined to adopt plans for the sewerage or water supply of any contributory place within the district, they shall give notice thereof to the parish council of any parish for which the works are to be provided before any contract is entered into by them for the execution of the works. The powers of a district council as to sewerage and water supply are contained in the Public Health Act, 1875, ss. 13 to 34 and 51 to 70.
The expression "contributory place" is explained in section 229 of the same Act. It includes a parish, part of a parish where the residue is included in an urban district or a special drainage district, and a special drainage district.
It may be presumed that where a notice of a plan for sewerage or water supply has been given to a parish council under this clause, that council will have power to state objections to those plans, and, generally, to make representations to the district council regarding them.
17. (1.) A parish council may appoint one of their number to act as clerk of the council without remuneration.
As to the audit of the accounts of the officers of a parish council, see section 58, post.
CLERK OF THE PARISH COUNCIL. The provision of the text must be read subject to section 81, which enacts (sub-sections (2) and (4)) that where there is an existing vestry clerk appointed under the Vestries Act, 1850, he shall become the clerk of the parish council upon the same conditions as heretofore, and with no diminution of salary. He will be, of course, the officer of the parish council, and may be dismissed by that body.
A vestry clerk could hold office either under the common law or in parishes with a population exceeding 2,000, under the Vestries Act, 1850; if appointed under that Act his salary was fixed by the Local Government Board, and he could only be dismissed by a resolution of the vestry and with the consent of the Board. The duties of a vestry clerk are enumerated in section 7 of the Vestries Act, 1850. It may be assumed that those of a clerk to a parish council will be similar.
Service of any notice upon a parish council may be effected by service upon their clerk (Schedule I., Part 2, Rule (15)), and a parish council may appear before a court or in any legal proceedings by their clerk,
and may authorise him to institute and carry on any proceeding which SECT. 17. the council may institute or carry on. Ib., rule (16).
It is to be observed that it is not obligatory upon a parish council to appoint a clerk at all; but the convenience of having such an officer is obvious.
(2.) If no member of the parish council is appointed Sub-sect. (2). so to act and there is an assistant overseer, he, or such one of the assistant overseers, if more than one, as may be appointed by the council, shall be the clerk of the parish council, and the performance of his duties as such shall be taken into account in determining his salary.
ASSISTANT OVERSEER MAY BE CLERK.-This provision, again, is to be read subject to section 81; an assistant overseer will not become the clerk of the parish council where there is a vestry clerk existing upon the appointed day.
The salary of an assistant overseer is at the present time fixed by the vestry under 59 Geo. 3, c. 12, s. 7. Under section 5 (ante, p. 25) the power of appointing the assistant overseer is vested in the parish council, who have presumably the power of fixing the salary assigned to the office. If the assistant overseer is also the clerk of the council they must consider the duties which he will have to perform as clerk in determining the salary which he is to receive. It may be added that by section 81 the assistant overseer who holds office at present will continue to hold it by the same tenure, upon the same terms and conditions, and at a salary not less than heretofore. As to the tenure of office of an assistant overseer, see section 5, sub-section (1), ante, p. 25.
(3.) If there is no assistant overseer, the parish council Sub-sect. (3). may appoint a collector of poor rates, or some other fit person, to be their clerk, with such remuneration as they may think fit.
COLLECTOR OF POOR RATES MAY BE CLERK.--This sub-section, again, is to be read subject to section 81. See notes to two preceding sub-sections.
The duty of collecting the rates may be assigned to the assistant overseer where no collector of poor rates has been appointed under 7 & 8 Vict. c. 101, s. 62. That section provides that if the guardians of any union apply to the Local Government Board to direct the appointment of a paid collector of the poor rates in any parish or parishes within the union, the Board may, by order under their hands and seal, direct the guardians to appoint such a collector, and, thereupon, the powers of the vestry to appoint any collector cease. The council, it is to be observed, need not appoint a collector to be their clerk unless they think fit. If there is no assistant overseer, they may appoint a collector, or any other fit person.
SECT. 17. (4.) A parish council shall not appoint to the office of Sub-sect. (4). Vestry clerk.
VESTRY CLERK.-The parish council are not to appoint a vestry clerk, but as the powers of the vestry are transferred to the council by section 6, it would appear that it will no longer be possible to appoint a vestry clerk in any rural parish. A vestry clerk is a civil and not an ecclesiastical officer, and it does not appear that the exception to the transfer of the powers of the vestry mentioned in section 6, subsection (1), (a.), (i.), will cover the power to appoint to that office.
(5.) When a parish council act as a parochial committee by delegation from the district council, they shall have the services of the clerk of the district council unless the district council otherwise direct.
CLERK WHERE PARISH COUNCIL ACTS AS PAROCHIAL COMMITTEE BY DELEGATION FROM DISTRICT COUNCIL.- As to a parish council as such acting as a parochial committee by delegation from the district council, see ante, section 15 and note.
The duties of clerk to a rural sanitary authority are performed by the clerk to the guardians of a union, except where he is unable or unwilling to act; in which case another person is appointed. Public Health Act, 1875, s. 190. Any person who is at the " appointed day" filling the office of clerk to the rural sanitary authority will, under section 81, become clerk to the district council.
(6.) The parish council may appoint one of their own number or some other person to act as treasurer without remuneration, and the treasurer shall give such security as may be required by regulations of the county council.
(7.) All documents required by statute or by standing orders of Parliament to be deposited with the parish clerk of a rural parish shall, after the election of a parish council, be deposited with the clerk, or, if there is none, with the chairman, of the parish council, and the enactments with respect to the inspection of, and taking copies of, and extracts from, any such documents shall apply as if the clerk or chairman, as the case may be, were mentioned therein.
DEPOSIT OF PLANS OF PROPOSED WORKS WITH CLERK OR CHAIRMAN. The Act 7 Will. 4, and 1 Vict. c. 83, provides that where the standing orders of Parliament require maps, plans, and
sections of proposed works to be deposited with parish clerks and others SECT. 17. before the introduction of a bill relating to those works, the parish clerks, &c., shall receive the plans, and shall allow inspection of and taking copies of, or extracts from them, and a penalty of five pounds is imposed for any neglect of duty on the part of the parish clerks and other officers named. A similar enactment as to plans, &c., of railways is contained in the Railways Clauses Act, 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. c. 20), 88. 8 and 9. The language in the text seems hardly sufficient to preserve the penal provision of these enactments as against a defaulting clerk or chairman of a parish council. The Act of 1845 in applying the provisions of the earlier Act expressly mentions "and under the like penalty for default."
(8.) The custody of the registers of baptisms, mar- Sub-sect. (8). riages, and burials, and of all other books and documents containing entries wholly or partly relating to the affairs of the Church or to ecclesiastical charities, except documents directed by law to be kept with the public books, writings, and papers of the parish, shall remain as provided by the existing law unaffected by this Act. All other public books, writings, and papers of the parish, and all documents directed by law to be kept therewith, shall either remain in their existing custody, or be depos ited in such custody as the parish council may direct. The incumbent and churchwardens on the one part, and the parish council on the other, shall have reasonable access to all such books, documents, writings, and papers, as are referred to in this sub-section, and any difference as to custody or access shall be determined by the county council.
CUSTODY OF PARISH BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS.-As to the custody of parish books and documents where a parish is divided by this Act, see section 36, sub-section (3), and where parishes are grouped, section 38, sub-section (3), post. The registers of baptisms and burials are kept in the custody of the rector or vicar of the parish (52 Geo. 3, c. 146, s. 5); and so also the register of marriages performed according to the rites of the Established Church (6 & 7 Will. 4, c. 86).
It seems from the text that the vestry minute books relating, as they must do to some extent, to the affairs of the church must remain in their present custody. The same observation will apply to tithe apportionments and maps, but not to inclosure awards and maps, and similar documents.
The Vestry Act of 1818 (58 Geo. 3. c. 69) enacts that minutes of the proceedings of every vestry shall be entered in a book to be provided
for that purpose by the churchwardens and overseers, and (section 6) that those books and all former vestry books, and all rates and assessments, accounts, and vouchers of the churchwardens, overseers, and surveyors of highways, and other parish officers, and all certificates, orders of courts and of justices, and other parish books, documents, writings, and public papers of every parish except the registry of marriages, baptisms, and burials shall be kept by such person and deposited in such place and manner as the inhabitants in vestry assembled shall direct. Penalties are imposed upon any person wilfully injuring the same or refusing to deliver them up on the order of the vestry. It is doubtful whether these penalties will attach upon disobedience to an order of the parish council as to the delivering up of the documents entrusted to its control.
Amongst the documents directed by law to be kept with the public books of a parish may be mentioned the copy of bye-laws made by a rural authority under the Public Health Act, 1875, and relating to that parish (Public Health Act, 1875, s. 185), and the award of an arbitrator and his report as to the condition of land compulsorily hired by a parish council for allotments. See section 10, sub-section (5), supra, p. 78.
Documents, other than those wholly or partly relating to the church or any ecclesiastical charity which have been under the control of a vestry, will, it is submitted, pass under the control of a parish meeting in the parishes where no council exists by virtue of the general transfer of the powers of the vestry contained in section 19, sub-section (4), and this seems to be contemplated by sub-section (9) of the present section.
It will be noticed that the parish council is not bound to interfere with the existing custody of these documents; their power is permissive only, and is subject to the control which may be exercised by the county council under the next sub-section.
Not only the incumbent and churchwardens, but every parochial elector of the parish may inspect books and documents under the control of the parish council or meeting (section 58, sub-section (4), post).
(9.) Every county council shall from time to time inquire into the manner in which the public books, writings, papers, and documents under the control of the parish council or parish meeting are kept with a view to the proper preservation thereof, and shall make such orders as they think necessary for such preservation, and those orders shall be complied with by the parish council or parish meeting.
DUTY OF COUNTY COUNCIL AS TO PRESERVATION OF PARISH BOOKS. This provision does not empower the county council to make