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M. E. (C. P.) A., 1884... Municipal Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Prac
M. M. A.,
M. M. A. A., 1856
M. M. Acts
P. H. A., 1875 .........
P. H. A., 1891
tices) Act, 1884.
Metropolis Management Act, 1855.
Metropolis Management Amendment Act, 1856.
Metropolis Management Acts.
Public Health Act, 1875.
Public Health (London) Act, 1891.
P. L. (A.) A., 1834, 1844. Poor Law (Amendment) Acts, 1834, 1844.
To understand properly the structure of the municipal government of that part of London which lies outside the City, it is necessary to bear in mind that the only true explanation of the present form of that government is to be found in its history. Unless this fact is recognized the government of London will many respects unintelligible.
appear to be in
The history of the County of London is the history of the growth and development of the various parishes composing it. As the municipal needs of parishes increased, local Acts were passed the provisions of which varied with the varying circumstances and requirements; other statutes imposed duties of local government upon commissioners for different parts of the Metropolis; whilst the absence of a clear line of demarcation between the ecclesiastical and the civil life of the parish found the same officers and bodies discharging ecclesiastical as well as what are now regarded as wholly different functions. For example, the churchwardens of the parish down to the coming into force of the Act which is the subject of this volume are not only the guardians of the fabric of the Church, but ex officio members of an administrative vestry, and the elective vestry not only administer the affairs of the Church, but in many instances make the poor rate. Moreover, the passing of Hobhouse's Act, a permissive statute enabling representative bodies to supersede meetings of inhabitants, added still further to the diversity in the mode of government.
The first general legislation affecting the parochial government of the Metropolis was the passing of the Metropolis Management
Acts of 1855, 1856, and 1862. Those Acts were based upon two principles. The one was that the parish should be treated as the local government unit, and this principle was carried out by the simplification and consolidation to a certain extent of the local government of the parishes. The other was that the government of London should be regarded as partly local and partly central in character. By the Act of 1855 an elective vestry was constituted in each metropolitan parish: in the larger parishes the vestries were entrusted with powers of municipal government, whilst— speaking generally-the smaller parishes, or parishes then but sparsely populated, were grouped into districts, for each of which a board of works, consisting of representatives elected by the elective vestries, but not necessarily from among themselves, was similarly vested with municipal powers. Beyond the duty of electing these representatives and of administering the affairs of the Church (where previously administered by an open Vestry or meeting of inhabitants), the latter vestries have never had any municipal powers or duties. A central body called the Metropolitan Board of Works, consisting of representatives of the Vestries and District Boards and of the Woolwich Local Board (a), was constituted to succeed the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers, and upon this Board were conferred numerous powers of local government which Parliament considered could most conveniently be exercised by a central body.
The Metropolis Management Acts transferred to the Vestries and District Boards all powers relating to highways, local improvements, sewers (other than main sewers) and drains, paving, dust removal, obstructions, lighting, street watering and cleansing, &c., then vested in Commissioners, Committees, Boards, Trustees and other bodies; and generally conferred wider powers upon the Vestries and District Boards in relation to these matters. These bodies were also entrusted with powers of sanitary administration by the Nuisances Removal Acts, which in due time were repealed when
(a) See p. 159, post.
the law on this subject was codified by the Public Health (London) Act of 1891. Other legislation conferred additional powers of municipal government, notably, the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, the Housing of the Working Classes Act, the Factory and Workshop Acts, the Electric Lighting Acts, the Metropolis Water Acts, and the Metropolis Open Spaces Acts. By the Metropolis Management Amendment Act, 1856, the powers and duties relating to the affairs of the Church (except the power of making Church rates, the management or relief of the poor, or the administration of any money applicable to the relief of the poor), theretofore vested in any open or elected vestry or meeting of inhabitants, were also transferred to the elective vestries, except where such powers were vested in any guardians, governors, or trustees, when they were to continue to be so vested. All the powers of vestries are by the London Government Act to be vested in the Councils of the Boroughs to be established under the Act, except powers and duties relating to the affairs of the Church, which are to be again vested in the inhabitants.
In certain cases the Vestries act as Overseers for rating purposes, and in these cases the powers and duties of Overseers in relation to rating and assessment are exercised and performed by such Vestries. By section 11 of the London Government Act the Borough Council will be the Overseers for all purposes for every parish in their Borough subject to the proviso contained in the section (b).
The provisions of the Local Government Act of 1894, with respect to the qualifications of the electors, and of the persons to be elected, and with respect to the mode of conducting the elections, were applied to the Metropolis. That Act did not of itself directly increase the powers of Vestries and District Boards, but it entitled them to make application to the Local Government Board for Orders conferring upon them the powers of appointing Overseers, and any powers of a parish council (c).
(b) See p. 103.
(c) Pages 57, 137.
Turning to the central body created by the Metropolis Management Acts, the Metropolitan Board of Works by the Act of 1855 was vested with powers relating to main sewers (including the control of Vestries and District Boards in the construction of sewers), the naming of streets, numbering of houses, street improvements, lines of frontage, local loans and numerous other matters. Subsequent legislation has, as in the case of local authorities, considerably amended and extended these powers, Parliament, when conferring new municipal powers, favouring the central rather than the local authority. By the Local Government Act, 1888, the administrative County of London was created and the London County Council was constituted; and to this Council were transferred the powers and duties of the Metropolitan Board of Works and the administrative powers of justices in quarter sessions.
It is impossible to set out exhaustively the powers and duties of the London County Council in addition to those mentioned. The most important relate to the following matters:-Building; public health; embankments and prevention of floods; fire brigade; metropolitan commons, parks and open spaces; licensing of theatres (except within the jurisdiction of the Lord Chamberlain), music halls and racecourses; bridges; water supply; infant life protection; storage of petroleum and explosives; contagious diseases (animals); coroners; tramways; testing the purity of gas; pauper lunatic asylums; reformatory and industrial schools; making bye-laws; weights and measures; pollution of rivers; dangerous structures; unhealthy areas; provision of lodging houses for the working classes; licensing of offensive trades and slaughterhouses; technical instruction; overhead wires; shop hours, &c.
These powers are not substantially affected by the London Government Act.
The London County Council also possesses certain powers of control over, and of acting in default of, the local authorities, and they may in certain cases be appealed to against orders of the local authorities. The London Government Act does not deprive the Council of these powers.