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SECT. 2. of the parish council is present at a parish meeting, and is not a candidate for election at the meeting, he shall be the chairman of the meeting.
Reference may also be made to the First Schedule, Part 2, Rule (11), which provides that the parish council may appoint a vice-chairman, who shall, in the absence or during the inability of the chairman, have the powers and authority of the chairman. It would seem, therefore, that, in the absence of the chairman, the vice-chairman of the parish council would be entitled to preside at a parish meeting. If neither the chairman or vice-chairman of the parish council is present the meeting may choose their own chairman.
It is not quite clear from the text, whether it will be competent under the provision in the text for a parish meeting to choose a chairman who is not a parochial elector of the parish. The correct view appears to be that the chairman must be chosen from among the persons entitled to attend the meeting, viz., the parochial electors.
The Act leaves some doubt as to whether a chairman chosen by the parish meeting is a chairman for the year, or merely for the purposes of that particular meeting. In the case of parishes not having a separate parish council, there is a distinct provision, that a chairman of the parish meeting is to be chosen at the annual assembly, and is to hold office for the year (section 19); and section 47, sub-section (4), which provides for filling up a casual vacancy in the office of chairman of a parish meeting, "where there is no parish council," is silent as to any casual vacancy in the chairmanship of a parish meeting in parishes where there is a parish council. Comparing these provisions with the text, it would appear that in parishes with a parish council, a chairman chosen at any meeting (i.e., at any assembly of the parish meeting) occupies that position only during the continuance of that particular meeting, and that there will be no chairman elected for the year. But again Rule 10 of Schedule I., Part 1, which is in terms applicable to "the chairman" of any parish meeting, provides that if he is "absent from, or unwilling or unable to take the chair at any assembly of the parish meeting, the meeting may appoint a person to take the chair, and that person shall have for the purpose of that meeting, the powers and authority of the chairman," and Rule (11), provides that a notice required to be given to a parish meeting may be given to the chairman of the parish meeting. Moreover, sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 47, provide for the chairman of a parish meeting retiring and resigning office in terms which are applicable to the chairman of the meeting in any parish. These rules, therefore, and these sub-sections evidently, contemplate a more permanent chairman than seems to be referred to in the text, and in sections 45 and 47, sub-section (4). It is difficult to reconcile these provisions, but the better view seems to be to regard the chairman chosen by a parish meeting, in a parish having a parish council, as occupying that position only for the purpose of the meeting at which
he is chosen, and to explain Rule 10, and sub-sections (2) and (3) of section 47, as having reference only to parishes which have not a separate parish council, and which, therefore, have a chairman for the year under section 19. In these last-mentioned parishes, the chairman of the parish meeting is invested with more important functions than the chairman in other parishes: the office is continuous, and the holder of it, together with the overseers, form a body corporate. Section 19.
The duties of the chairman of a parish meeting comprise (besides the ordinary duty of managing the conduct of business and preserving order) deciding as to the result of a vote taken at a meeting (Schedule I., Part 1, Rule (5)), and when the votes are equally divided giving a second or casting vote (ib. Rule (8)); where necessary, signifying his assent or dissent to the taking of a poll (ib. Rule (7)); receiving on behalf of the parish meeting any notice required to be given to that body (ib. Rule (11)). Where no parish council exists the chairman of the parish meeting is the person who has power to obtain payment out of the poor rate of the expenses of the parish meeting. Section 11, sub-section (4).
(5.) A poll consequent on a parish meeting shall be Sub-sect. (5). taken by ballot.
POLLS.-See Part I. of the First Schedule, the rule is laid down that: "Every question to be decided by a parish meeting is in the first instance to be decided by the majority of those present and voting on the question, the decision of the chairman as to the result being final, unless a poll is demanded before the conclusion of the meeting" (Schedule I., Part 1, Rules (5), (6)).
The matters respecting which a poll may be demanded by any one parochial elector are enumerated in Schedule I., Part 1, Rule (7), and they do not include elections, but by sub-section (k) of that rule power is given to the Local Government Board to prescribe any other matter in respect of which a poll may be demanded, and the Board have, by the Parish Councillors Election Order, 1894, Rules 13, 14, prescribed that at a parish meeting for the election of parish councillors, a poll may be demanded by any parochial elector present thereat. As to matters not enumerated in the rule above-mentioned, or prescribed by the Local Government Board, a poll is not to be taken "unless either the chairman of the meeting assents or the poll is demanded by parochial electors present at the meeting, not being less than five in number, or one-third of those present, whichever number is least" (ib.). See further the note to section 6, sub-section (3), post.
A poll at an election regulated by rules framed under this Act and every poll consequent on a parish meeting is to be taken by ballot, and the Ballot Act, 1872 (35 & 36 Vict. c. 33), and the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, 1884 (47 & 48 Vict. c.
70), and Part IV. of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 50), as amended by the last-mentioned Act (including the penal provisions of those Acts), are to apply as in the case of a municipal election, but subject to the adaptations, alterations, and exceptions made by such rules; the use of the schools and public rooms referred to in section 6 of the Ballot Act, 1872, is extended, and section 37 of the Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Act, 1881, is to apply as if the election were an election mentioned in the First Schedule to that Act. See post, section 48.
(6.) The reasonable expenses of and incidental to the holding of a parish meeting or the taking of a poll consequent thereon shall be defrayed as hereinafter provided.
EXPENSES OF PARISH MEETING.-The reference is to section 11, sub-section (4), post, where it is provided that these expenses (the word "reasonable" being omitted) shall be paid out of the poor rate; where there is a parish council, that council is to pay the said expenses of the parish meeting and the parish council, and, where there is none, the chairman of the parish meeting is, for the purpose of obtaining payment of these expenses, to have the same powers as a board of guardians have for the purpose of obtaining contributions to their common fund. See notes to section 11, post.
It will thus be the duty of the overseers from time to time to pay over out of the poor rate all such sums as an order of the parish council or chairman of the parish meeting (as the case may be) may direct to such person as is named in the order.
See as to the limits of expenditure of a parish council section 11, subsection (3), and of a parish meeting (in a parish where there is no parish council), section 19, sub-section (9), and as to the payment of expenses incurred by reason of the use of an elementary school or other public room in the parish, not vested in the parish council or in the chairman and overseers. Section 4.
It may be mentioned here that the expenses of holding a vestry meeting, and of taking a poll demanded at a vestry meeting, are defrayed by the churchwardens, except in a very few cases in which such expenses are otherwise expressly provided for. This has sometimes led to much hardship, as the churchwardens have frequently had to defray the expenses themselves, being now unable to compel payment of a church rate for such a purpose.
(7.) With respect to parish meetings, the provisions in the First Schedule to this Act shall have effect.
Part 1 of Schedule I. contains "Rules applicable to Parish Meetings." See the Schedule, post.
3. (1.) The parish council for a rural parish shall be SECT. 3. elected from among the parochial electors of that parish Constitution or persons who have during the whole of the twelve of parish months preceding the election resided in the parish or within three miles thereof, and shall consist of a chairman and councillors, and the number of councillors shall be such as may be fixed from time to time by the county council, not being less than five nor more than fifteen.
parochial electors, post, sub-section (5).
"Elected" by the
The qualification of a parish councillor is twofold; he must be either a parochial elector of the parish or a person who has during the twelve months preceding the election resided in the parish or within three miles thereof. As to the former qualification the register is conclusive. See definition of "parochial elector," section 2, sub-section (1), ante, and section 44, post.
RESIDENTIAL QUALIFICATION.-The residential qualification gives rise to greater difficulty. To be qualified by residence merely a person must have resided in the parish or within three miles thereof, "during the whole of the twelve months preceding the election." Numerous cases have been decided as to what is a sufficient "residence" to qualify, or "break of residence" to disqualify an elector, in a case where “residence" is an essential part of his title to have his name inserted upon the parliamentary register of voters. So long ago as 1864, ERLE, C.J., in deciding a case under the Reform Act, 1832 (2 Will. 4, c. 45), s. 27, which provides that a person shall not be registered "unless he shall have resided for six calendar months next previous to the last day of July," &c., said: “I entirely subscribe to the doctrine so clearly laid down in ⚫ Elliott on Registration,' 2nd edition, p. 204, where the learned author says that, in order to constitute residence a party must possess at the least a sleeping apartment, but that an uninterrupted abiding at such dwelling is not requisite." "Absence," he continues, "no matter how long, if there be the liberty of returning at any time, and no abandonment of the intention to return whenever it may suit the party's pleasure or convenience so to do, will not prevent a constructive legal residence. But if he has debarred himself of the liberty of returning to such dwelling by letting it for a period, however short, or has abandoned his intention of returning, he cannot any longer be said to have even a legal residence there" Powell v. Guest, 18 C. B. (N.s.) 72 ; 34 L. J. C. P. 69. The principle which is there laid down has not, it is believed, been dissented from. Disabilities arising from absence upon duty have been to a certain extent removed in the case of parliamentary and local govern
SECT. 3. ment electors by the Electoral Disabilities Removal Act, 1891 (54 Vict. c. 11); but this enactment, although affecting parochial electors, has no bearing upon the residential qualification of a parish councillor. The law, therefore, as to the meaning of residence in the various Acts relating to the franchise which is laid down in Powell v. Guest, and later decisions, such as Durant v. Carter, L. R. 9 C. P. 261; Ford v. Pye, ib., 269; Taylor v. St. Mary Abbott's, Kensington, L. R. 6 C. P. 309; Bond v. Overseers of St. George's, Hanover Square, ib., 312; and Beal v. Town Clerk of Exeter, 20 Q. B. D. 300, unmodified by the Act of 1891 above referred to, will apply to the residential qualification for a parish councillor, and a person not qualified as a parochial elector, whose residence within the prescribed limits has not been sufficiently continuous to satisfy the requirements of the law relating to the parliamentary franchise, will not be qualified to be elected as a parish councillor.
Rule 4 of the Parish Councillors Election Order, 1894, requires that the nomination paper of a candidate for election as a parish councillor shall state whether he is qualified as a parochial elector or by residence. See further as to the residential qualification, the notes to section 20, sub-section (2), post.
No provision is made by this Act, and, perhaps, none is necessary, as to the way in which distances such as the three mile radius mentioned in the text are to be measured. It may, perhaps, be taken for granted that the measurement is to be "in a straight line on a horizontal plane," and may be determined by the ordnance map. See Municipal Corporations Act, 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 50), s. 231.
Disqualifications which involve the vacating of the office of chairman or member of a parish council are enumerated in section 46.
CHAIRMAN OF PARISH COUNCIL.-The chairman of a parish council is to be elected by the council at the commencement of their annual meeting, and must be himself either a member of or a person qualified to be a member of the parish council. Sub-section (8), Schedule I., Part 2, Rule 3. He continues in office, unless he resigns or ceases to be qualified or becomes disqualified, until his successor is appointed—that is, until the election of a chairman has taken place at the next annual meeting (sub-section (8) and note); he may himself be re-elected at that meeting (section 47 (2)); he may resign his office by giving notice in writing to the council (section 47 (3)), and a casual vacancy in the chairmanship is to be forthwith filled up by the parish council (sect. 47, sub-sect. (3), Sched. I., Part 2, Rule (2)); he may at any time convene a parish meeting or a meeting of the parish council, and it his duty to give public notice of a parish meeting, and notice to the councillors of a meeting of the council convened by him (section 45 (3) ; Schedule I., Part 1, Rule (2); Schedule I., Part 2, Rule 2 (4), (5)) ; in case of an equal division of votes he has a second or casting vote (Schedule I., Part 2, Rule (10)); it is his duty to sign the minutes of a