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Population of less than 300.
Parish Councils-Establishment of-Constitution of—
ESTABLISHMENT OF PARISH COUNCILS.
FOR every rural parish, which, according to the census of 1891 has a population of 300 or upwards,' there will be a Parish Council; but in a parish of a population under 300 an order of the County Council will be necessary to provide for the establishing of a Parish Council.
It will be obligatory upon the County Council to provide for establishing a Parish Council if the Parish Meeting of a parish with a population of 100 or upwards so resolve. In the case of a parish with a population of less than 100, the County Council may, with the consent of the Parish Meeting provide for establishing a Parish Council (s. 1 (1)). It will not be obligatory on the County Council to do so.
To supplement the provisions in section 1 (1), it is provided by section 38 (4) that the Parish Meeting of a parish with a less population than 200 may apply to the County Council for a Parish Council, and the County Council are to forthwith take the application into consideration.
This supplementary provision is now defective in form, for it makes no provision for the case of a parish with a population between 200 and 300. When the House of Lords raised the limit of population prescribed by clause I (1) for the purpose of the compulsory establishment of Parish Councils from 200 to 300 no consequential amendments were made in subsequent clauses of the Bill. But in every case where a Parish Meeting of a parish with a population less than 300, but not less than 100, resolve to have a Parish Council, it will be obligatory on the County County by section I (1) to provide for establishing that Council. The supplementary provision in section 38 (4) is not actually required.
Every parish with a population of 300 and upwards will by the operation of the Act have a Parish Council, but parishes with a
1 A Return to an order of the House of Commons of the number of poor law parishes and parts of parishes in England and Wales, according to the 1891 census, shows that out of a total number of 13,235 parishes and parts of parishes in rural sanitary districts (that is parishes which are "rural parishes" within the meaning of the Local Government Act, 1894), 6,879 parishes and parts of parishes had a population of 300 and upwards. (Parliamentary Paper No. 315, H. C. Session, 1893).
less than 300.
population of less than 300 will at the appointed day have a Parish Population of Meeting only, as no Parish Council can be established in such parishes, or for a group of such parishes, without the initiative or consent of the Parish Meeting, and that Meeting will not come into existence until the appointed day. Any establishment of Parish Councils for such parishes cannot take place before the appointed day.
An order of a County Council establishing a Parish Council does not require confirmation by the Local Government Board (s. 40). The provisions for the compulsory establishment of a Parish Exceptional Council, in some parishes determined by the population being sufficiently large of itself, and in other parishes determined by the amount of population and by a resolution of the Parish Meeting, are subject to an exception in one special case where the effect of establishing a Parish Council would be to have both a Parish and Rural District Council exercising jurisdiction in the same area of one parish. To meet this exceptional case, the Act provides that where a Rural Parish is co-extensive with a Rural Sanitary District, then, until the district is united to some other district or districts, and unless the County Council otherwise direct, a separate election of a Parish Council shall not be held for the parish, but the District Council shall, in addition to their own powers, have the powers of, and be deemed to be, the Parish Council (s. 36 (4)).
CONSTITUTION OF PARISH COUNCIL.
A Parish Council will consist of a chairman, and such a number of Number of councillors, not being less than five nor more than fifteen, as may be fixed from time to time by the County Council. The councillors will Qualification of be elected from among the parochial electors of the parish, or persons who have during the whole of the twelve months preceding the nomination (s. 75 (2)) of parish councillors resided in or within three miles of the parish (s. 3 (1)), and both single and married women will be eligible for election (s. 3 (2)). The three miles must be measured in a straight line on the level [Interpretation Act, 1889 (52 & 53 Vict.c.63), s. 34]. A councillor who ceases to be a parochial elector, or to reside within the required limits, will not thereby vacate his office.
The chairman may be elected either from within or without the council Chairman. (s. 3 (8)). If he is elected from within he will be both chairman and a councillor. If he is elected from without he will be a member of the council although not a councillor. The office of councillor and chairman are quite compatible and can be held by the same person. A woman may be elected chairman.
In connection with qualifications for the municipal and parlia- What constitutes mentary franchise, the question of what is to be considered "resi
1 See page 6, as to "the appointed day."
As to the disqualifications for the office of parish councillor, see page 217.
What constitutes dence" has been several times before the courts, and it appears from the different cases that in order to constitute residence a person must possess at the least a sleeping apartment, but an uninterrupted abode at his dwelling is not requisite. Absence, no matter how long if there is liberty to return and no abandonment of the intention to do so, does not prevent a constructive legal residence. But if the person 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. In Powell v. Guest (18 C.B.. N.S. 80) an occupier convicted of assault and imprisoned for five months during the qualifying period, was held not to have resided for the purpose of the parliamentary franchise for the period of his imprisonment. A clergyman who had exchanged duties for a time with another to whom he had given up his residence was, although he retained control over certain locked rooms, held not entitled to be registered-Ford v. Pye, (L.R. 9, C.P. 269). A man may have more than one residence-R. v. Mayor of Exeter (L. R., 4 Q. B. 110).
Term of office.
Retirement of first councillors.
The term of office of parish councillors will be one year (s. 3 (3)), and it will expire on the 15th of April in each year, when the newly elected councillors come into office (s. 3 (4)).
The first councillors elected under the Act in November, 1894, will not retire from office until the 15th day of April, 1896 (s. 78 (3)). The parish councillors are elected by the parochial electors (s. 3 (5)) Parish Meeting. at a Parish Meeting or a poll consequent thereon (s. 48 (1)), and the elections are to be conducted according to Rules framed by the Local Government Board (s. 3 (6)).
Candidates may attend.
Failure to elect.
At a Parish Meeting held for the election of parish councillors, opportunity is to be given for putting questions to the candidates present, and receiving explanations from them, and any candidate is to be entitled to attend and speak at the meeting, but, unless he is a parochial elector, not to vote (Schedule 1, Part 1, r. 9).
If at the annual election of parish councillors any vacancies are not filled by election, such number of the retiring councillors as are not re-elected, and are required to fill the vacancies, are, if willing, to continue to hold office. The councillors to continue will be those who were the highest on the poll at the previous election, or if the numbers were equal or there was no poll, as may be determined by the Parish Meeting, or if not so determined, by the chairman of the Parish Council. This determination should be made by the outgoing chairman. A retiring parish councillor is re-eligible for re-election.
In case any Parish Council become unable to act by reason of a want of councillors, whether from failure to elect or otherwise, the
1 See Chapter XII as to elections.
County Council may order a new election, and may by order make such provision as seems expedient for authorising any person to act temporarily in the place of the Parish Council and of the chairman thereof (s. 47 (1) (2) (5)).
MEETINGS AND PROCEEDINGS.
In every year, on or within seven days after the 15th of April, the Annual meeting. Parish Council must hold an annual meeting (s. 3 (7)).
The first business at that meeting is to elect a chairman and to Chairman. appoint the overseers1 (Schedule 1, Part 2, r. 3). The chairman must either be a councillor or a person qualified to be a councillor. Unless he resigns or ceases to be qualified, or becomes disqualified, he is to continue in office until his successor is elected (s. 3 (8)). A retiring chairman will preside at the annual meeting at which his successor is elected. He is himself eligible for re-election at the annual meeting (s. 47 (2)).
The Chairman of the first elected parish council should be elected First Chairman. at their first meeting, and his successor should be elected at the subsequent annual meeting in April, 1895.
The Parish Council may, if they think fit, appoint one of their Vice-chairman. number to be vice-chairman, and the vice-chairman will, in the absence or during the inability of the chairman, have the powers and authority of the chairman (Schedule 1, Part 2, r. 11).
The chairman may be elected from either within or without the council, but any choice of a vice-chairman must be made from among the councillors. To what extent the vice-chairman will have the powers and authority of the chairman is not expressly stated, but the provision occurs among rules applicable to Parish Councils, and its operation must be restricted accordingly. The vice-chairman would not, for instance, be entitled to convene or preside at the Parish Meeting.3
Every parish councillor must, at the first meeting after his election, Acceptance or if the council at the first meeting so permit, then at a later meeting fixed by the council, sign, in the presence of some member of the council, a declaration that he accepts the office, and if he does not sign such a declaration his office will be void (r. 1). The chairman of the Parish Council, if elected from outside the council, is not required to make any declaration of acceptance of office. If he is elected from the council he will make the declaration as a parish councillor. A chairman once elected continues in office until he resigns, or ceases to be qualified or becomes disqualified, or until his successor is appointed (s. 3 (8)). His simple non-acceptance of
office does not vacate the chairmanship.
1 See page 39 as to appointment of overseers.
See page 217 as to disqualifications for the office of chairman of the Parish Council.
3 See page 15.
Conveners of meeting.
A parish councillor may, by notice in writing to the chairman of the council, resign his office, and a chairman of a Parish Council may resign his chairmanship by notice in writing to the Council (s. 47 (3)). No fine is required to be paid on resignation of office.
A casual vacancy among parish councillors or in the office of chairman of the council will be filled by the Parish Council (s. 47 (4) ), and the council are required to be forthwith convened, as soon as a casual vacancy occurs in their body, for the purpose of filling the vacancy (Schedule 1, Part 2, r. 2), but the proceedings of a Parish Council are not to be invalidated by any vacancy among their members, or by any defect in the election or qualification of any members (r. 12). No definition of "casual vacancy" occurs in the Act, but the expression apparently means any vacancy occuring otherwise than by the expiration of time for which a person was elected to hold office.
The Parish Council, in filling casual vacancies, must elect persons who are qualified to be parish councillors. A quorum of the council must be formed before they proceed to the business of election.— Newhaven Local Board v. Newhaven School Board (30 Ch. D. 350)'. A person elected to fill a casual vacancy will retire from office at the time when the vacating councillor or chairman would have retired (s. 47 (4)).
A Parish Council must hold not less than four meetings in each year, of which one is to be the annual meeting. Every meeting is to be open to the public unless the council otherwise direct (r. 13).
The chairman may at any time convene a meeting of the Parish Council. If the chairman refuses to convene a meeting of the council after a requisition for that purpose signed by two members of the council has been presented to him, any two members of the council may forthwith, on that refusal, convene a meeting. If the chairman (without so refusing) does not within seven days after such presentation, convene a meeting, any two members of the council may, on the expiration of those seven days, convene a meeting (r. 4). The first meeting of the Parish Council under the Act is to be convened by the chairman of the Parish Meeting at which the first parish councillors are nominated, or in his default by the clerk of the guardians (s. 78 (2)). If any difficulty arises with respect to the holding of the first meeting of the Parish Council, it may be removed by an order of the County Council; but if there is a failure to constitute a parish council the parish will still be deemed to be a parish with a parish council (s. 8o (1)).
The Act gives no direction as to when the first meeting should take place, but it should be convened for the day of the coming into office of the first elected councillors, or for a day as soon as Date of coming practicable after that day. The councillors will come into office on the second Thursday after their election if the Rules of the Local Government Board as to elections fix no other day.3 (s. 84 (2)).
1 See page 30, as to a Parish Council becoming unable to act by reason of a want of councillors. 2 See page 232. 3 See page 233.