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Parish Meetings-Constitution of Notices of Assembly
CONSTITUTION OF PARISH MEETING.
RURAL Parishes under the Local Government Act, 1894, may be for practical purposes divided into two classes, namely, those in which a separate Parish Council will be established, and those in which there will be no separate Parish Council. There will be a Parish Meeting for every rural parish, whether or not the parish has a separate Parish Council, or whether or not it is grouped with another parish or parishes under a common Parish Council (s. I (1)); but in the case of a parish without a Parish Council, some of the powers of a Parish Council will be exercised by the Parish Meeting. One of the principal functions of the Parish Meeting in parishes having a Parish Council will be to elect Parish Councillors.1 Parishes in Urban Sanitary Districts will have neither a Parish Meeting nor a Parish Council.
Generally, the constitution of the Parish Meeting and its procedure Constitution of will be the same whether the parish has or has not a separate Parish Council. In the following observations attention will be drawn to any points of difference as they arise.
The Parish Meeting is to consist of the parochial electors and no other persons; and it is sufficient for the present purpose to state that the "parochial electors " will be the voters registered in respect of a parish in the local government and the parliamentary register of electors (s. 2 (1)). In other words, either the county council or the parliamentary franchise will qualify a person to be a parochial elector.
For the purposes of the Act, married women may be placed on the local government register (s. 43). The register of parochial electors will include parliamentary ownership electors, lodgers, and service voters, as well as the occupation electors. This extended franchise will apply to all elections under the Act, whether for Parish Councils, for Guardians, or for District Councils of county districts other than Municipal Boroughs.
Any person whose name is not in the register of the parochial
Conveners of parish meeting.
Times and place of meetings.
Notice of meeting.
electors of the parish is not entitled to attend a meeting or vote as a parochial elector, and any person whose name is in that register is entitled to attend a meeting and vote as a parochial elector unless prohibited from voting by any statute (s. 44 (1)).
Where a parish has a Parish Council the chairman of the Parish Council or any two parish councillors may at any time convene a Parish Meeting.
In a parish not having a Parish Council the meeting may be convened by the chairman of the Parish Meeting."
Whether there is a Parish Council or not, any six parochial electors may at any time convene a parish meeting (s. 45 (3)).
The Overseers will convene the first Parish Meeting for the whole or (where Parish Meetings are held for parts) for each part of a rural parish (s. 78 (1)).
The Parish Meeting are required to assemble at least once in every year, on the 25th of March, or within seven days before or after that day, and the proceedings of every Parish Meeting must not begin before six o'clock in the evening (s. 2 (3), Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 1) Greenwich mean time [Statutes (Definition of Time) Act, 1880 (43 & 44 Vict. c. 9)]. Where a parish has no separate Parish Council, the Parish Meeting must assemble not less than twice a year (s. 19 (2)). Subject to these provisions, the days, times, and places 3 for holding Parish Meetings will be fixed by the Parish Council, or, if there is no Parish Council, by the chairman of the Parish Meeting (s. 45 (1)). No power to hold a Parish Meeting outside the parish is conferred by the Act.
A parish meeting should not, where it can be avoided, be convened to meet on a bank holiday.*
The first assembly of the Parish Meeting is to be held at the time fixed by or under the Act for the first election of Parish Councillors, whether there is or is not a Parish Council for the parish (s. 78 (1)). If no later date in 1894 is fixed by the Local Government Board, the first election of Parish Councillors will be held on the 8th of November, 1894 (s. 84 (1)). If any difficulty arises with respect to the holding of the first Parish Meeting, it may be removed by an order of the County Council (s. 80 (1)).
NOTICES OF MEETING.
Not less than seven clear days before any Parish Meeting, public notice must be given specifying the time and place of the intended meeting and the business to be transacted, and signed by the chairman of the Parish Council or other conveners of the meeting. When the business relates to the establishment or dissolution of a 1 The vice-chairman is not empowered to convene the parish meeting, see 2 See next page. page 31. 3 As to place of meetings for parochial purposes, See page 9 as to this. 5 See page 233. 6 See page 232.
see pages 79 to 82.
Parish Council, or the grouping of a parish, or the adoption of any of Notice of the adoptive Acts, not less than fourteen days notice must be given (Schedule 1, Part 1, г. 2 and 3). In reckoning the seven or fourteen days, as the case may be, both the day when the notice is given and the day fixed for the meeting must be excluded.-Liffin v. Pitcher (1 Dowl. (N.S.) 767).
A public notice of a parish meeting must be given in the manner required for giving notice of vestry meetings, and by posting the notice in some conspicuous place or places within the parish, and in such other manner (if any) as appears to the persons convening the meeting desirable for giving publicity to the notice (s. 51.)
The effect of directing that the notice of a parish meeting is to be given in the manner required for giving notice of vestry meetings is that copies of the notice must be affixed on or near to the doors of all the churches and chapels within the parish [The Vestries Act, 1818 (58 Go. III. c. 69,) s. 1; The Parish Notices Act, 1837 (7 Will. IV. and 1 Vict., c. 45,) ss. 1, 2]. The notice need only be published on churches and chapels of the Church of England, and need not be affixed to any but the principal door of each.-Ormerod v. Chadwick (16 L. J., M. C., 143; II J. P., 138). It will not be necessary that the affixing of a notice of a Parish Meeting on the church doors should be done on a Sunday before the commencement of service, as is required by the Acts for notices of vestry meetings. The notice of a Parish Meeting may be posted on the church doors on any day at any time provided that the notice is posted to allow of a lapse of seven or fourteen days, according to the business to be transacted, before the meeting takes place.
Where a parish meeting is adjourned, no further notice of the adjourned meeting is necessary if no new business is transacted at the adjourned meeting-Scadding v. Lorant (19 L. J., M. C., 5; 3 H. L., Ca. 418; 17 L. T., 225), Kerr v. Wilkie (24 J. P., 211). New business would necessitate notice as of an original meeting.
PROCEEDINGS OF PARISH MEETING.
The incumbent of the parish was ex-officio chairman of every vestry meeting at which he was present, but he will have no right to preside at the parish meetings constituted under the Local Government Act.
If the chairman of the Parish Council is present at a Parish Meeting and is not a candidate for election at the meeting, he will be the chairman of the meeting (s. 45 (2)).
A Parish Meeting in a rural parish not having a separate Parish Council, are required at their annual assembly to chose a chairman for the year (s. 19 (1)), but are not empowered to appoint a vicechairman. The chairman must be a parochial elector; for only parochial electors can attend a Parish Meeting. A woman may be a parochial elector, and although the Act is silent on the point, she is apparently eligible to be chosen for the office of chairman as for other parochial offices.
1 This provision does not apply to the vice-chairman, see page 31.
Chairman of meeting.
Term of office of
The first chairman of a Parish Meeting elected under the Act is to retire on the second ordinary day of coming into office of councillors, which happens after his election (s. 78 (3)), that is on the 15th of April, 1896 (s. 3 (4)), although his successor must, by s. 19 (1) be chosen at the annual assembly of the Parish Meeting, which is required to take place within seven days of the 25th of March (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 1). In the year 1897 and subsequent years, the chairman will retire on the day on which his successor is chosen. A chairman of a Parish Meeting may resign his chairmanship by notice in writing to the meeting. Any casual vacancy in the office is to be filled by the Parish Meeting, and the person chosen will retire from office when the vacating chairman would have retired (s. 47 (3)(4)). When the chairman of the Parish Meeting is absent from or unwilling or unable to take the chair at any assembly of the Parish Appointment of Meeting, the meeting may appoint a person to take the chair, and that person will have, for the purpose of that meeting, the powers and authority of the chairman (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 10).
Resignation of Chairman. Casual vacancy.
Right of Chairman of Parish
Council as such
This last rule is, perhaps, applicable only to a Parish Meeting of a parish without a separate Parish Council; but, if that is so, the same result is brought about by section 2 (4), which provides that, subject to any particular person being the chairman of a Parish Meeting, the meeting may choose their own chairman, and this latter provision is applicable to the Parish Meeting of every rural parish.
The Act does not expressly confer on the chairman of the Parish Council as such the right to be present at a Parish Meeting. It to attend parish simply provides that, if he is present, and not a candidate for election, he shall, save as otherwise provided, be the chairman of the Parish Meeting (s. 45 (2)). He can, according to the Act, be present either in the capacity of a parochial elector (s. 44 (1)) or as a candidate for election to the office of parish councillor (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 9); but in the latter case he is not to take the chair (s. 45 (2)). The chairman of the Parish Council need not necessarily be a parochial elector, for he may be a person who has, during the whole of the twelve months preceding his election as a parish councillor, resided in or within three miles of the parish (s. 3). If his qualification consists in residence only, the terms of section 45 (2) do not seem sufficient to enable him to be chairman of the Parish Meeting in view of the express provisions as to the persons of whom the Parish Meeting is to consist. Not only does section 2 (1) provide that the Parish Meeting shall consist of the parochial electors and no others, but section 44 (1) further emphasises the position of a person who is not on the register of the parochial electors of the parish by enacting that such a person shall not be entitled to attend a meeting or vote as a parochial elector. This question may be of considerable practical importance where divisions run close, for the chairman at a Parish Meeting has a second or casting vote (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 8).
Casting vote of
unless notice given
No business, other than that for which public notice of the meeting No business to was given, should be transacted at the Parish Meeting, as failure to give proper notice of the business transacted would render the proceedings as to such business void and of no effect. Even where proper notice has been given there is no general right to discuss at such meetings any matters not pertinent to the purposes for which a Parish Meeting is constituted by the Act.
An informal practice had in many parishes been followed of Discussion of discussing at the Vestry Meetings subjects of general interest. This Parish affairs. had no legal authority, but there was some convenience in the inhabitants being able to express their opinion on subjects connected with the life of the parish. The Local Government Act expressly authorises a Parish Meeting to discuss parish affairs and pass resolutions thereon (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 4), but the affairs discussed must, it will be observed, be parish affairs only.
Every question to be decided by a Parish Meeting will, in the first Majority to instance, be decided by the majority of those present and voting on the question (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 5).
This rule requires that the majority deciding as to a question shall be the majority of those present who actually vote on the question. It will not necessarily be the majority of the parochial electors present, as some of them may not vote. The rule, although not in terms qualified, is subject to other provisions of the Act for, in some instances,1 a greater majority than a simple majority of the Parish Meeting will be necessary to give effect to a resolution of the meeting, and, in others, a poll must take place on the question submitted for the opinion of the parochial electors. But, in general, questions will be determined by a simple majority of the electors voting. The votes of the parochial electors must be given in person. There will be no continuance of the privilege which Corporations possessed under section 2 of the Vestries Act, 1818 (58 Geo. III., c. 69), of voting at a Vestry Meeting by means of their clerks or other agents.
No quorum is fixed for a Parish Meeting, but it would not be safe for one parochial elector, who was present alone at a Parish Meeting, to proceed to transact business, as no meeting at all could properly be said to be held where less than two electors were present.2 Parish Councils, Boards of Guardians, and District Councils elected under the Act are in a different position as to this matter, for it is
1 See pages 23, 89, 92, &c.
In connection with this, the following cases under the Joint Stock Companies Acts may be referred to :
-re Sanitary Carbon
One shareholder does not constitute a "meeting "—
Company (W.N. (77), 223).
The word "meeting" implies the coming together of at least two personsper Coleridge, C. J., Sharpe v. Dawes (2 Q. B., 26; 46 L. J. Q. B., 104 36 L.T., 188). No meeting if only one attends.