« ElőzőTovább »
of this power is to be found in the action of the President of the Board with regard to various threatened strikes.
The Board of Trade is the collector and publisher of the national statistics connected with trade and commerce, and returns of all kinds are digested by the department. By an Act passed in 1907 it was given the duty of organising a census of production. It now establishes and maintains Labour Exchanges and Trade Boards. The Finance Department of the Board of Trade also administers the funds necessary for the duties above mentioned, and deals with the accounts of the various departments.
§ 91. The Local Government Board was formed in 1871 to concentrate in one department the general control over matters of public health, relief of the poor and local government. It is composed of the Lord President of the Council, the Secretaries of State, the Lord Privy Seal, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a President, but, like the Board of Trade, it never meets. Its duties are performed by its President, assisted by parliamentary and permanent secretaries and a large staff. Its authority is one of direction in the relief of the poor and of supervision in other matters. It has a general control over all local authorities, and its relations with these will be more fully considered in the chapters relating to local government. It will be sufficient to state here that it gives advice when asked, makes orders, sanctions loans, approves bye-laws, appoints inspectors and audits local accounts. It is the central pension authority for old age pensions. By Provisional Order, which needs parliamentary confirmation, it can unite several districts into one for such purposes as sewerage and water supply. It makes reports on all private bills dealing with local matters.
It administers the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905, and has control over the grant to relieve unemployment.
Among other duties which fall to its lot may be mentioned the supervision of such matters as vaccination, motor cars and the inspection of alkali and other chemical works and the management of the census.
§ 92. The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries was created in 1889, and, like the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board, never meets. It is composed of the Lord President of the Council, the Secretaries of State, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Secretary for Scotland and other persons appointed by the Crown. Its work is done by the President, assisted by a permanent secretary and staff. Unlike the other Boards it has no parliamentary secretary.
The Board administers the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts and the Destructive Insects Acts. It supervises regulations with regard to fertilisers and feeding stuffs, and appoints an agricultural analyst. It collects and digests agricultural statistics, and can promote agriculture and forestry in various ways.
With regard to the land, it administers the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts, and controls the enfranchisement of copyholds, the inclosure of commons and the commutation of tithe rent charge.
In 1903 the control of fisheries was transferred to it from the Board of Trade.
§ 93. The Board of Education was formed in 1899. It is composed of the Lord President of the Council, the Secretaries of State, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a President. Like the other Boards it does not meet. Its administration is presided over by its President, who is responsible to Parliament; he is assisted by parliamentary and permanent secretaries. Its principal duty consists in the control of
elementary education in England and Wales. It issues a code of regulations for elementary schools, defining the subjects of instruction. It inspects schools and training colleges, examines teachers and determines disputes as to the necessity for schools. It has taken over the control of the Department of Science and Art, and supervises various museums in London including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Patent Museum.
The President is assisted by a consultative committee of eighteen containing representatives of various educational bodies.
Besides its duties with regard to elementary education, which will be more fully considered in the chapter on that subject, the Board of Education was in 1903 entrusted with duties in respect of secondary education. A strong body of secondary school inspectors has been appointed to inspect grant-aided schools and other secondary schools which seek recognition for efficiency. Upwards of half a million of public money is expended each year in direct grants to secondary schools.
§ 94. The First Commissioner of Works is the Parliamentary head of another Board called the Board of Works and Public Buildings. Its other members are the Secretaries of State and the President of the Board of Trade. It has control over the royal palaces and parks, and such of the Government works and public buildings as are not under the control of any other department.
§ 95. The Postmaster-General is responsible for the administration of the Post Office. The position is a political one and its occupant is frequently in the Cabinet. It dates back to 1710, although some postal arrangements existed as early as the sixteenth century. The principal date in post-office history is 1837, when the rights and duties of this department were defined by statute.
The work of the Postmaster-General is different from that of his colleagues. They have to direct branches of the public administration or supervise matters of public concern, but he has to manage what is virtually a huge business. This business is a State monopoly, and although it is primarily administered for the public convenience it produces a profit which assists to pay for other branches of the State's activities. This profit would be larger were it not for the telegraph service, which is run at a loss.
The Post Office employs a large number of men, women and boys, who form part of the Civil Service. At the present time the number is about two hundred thousand. The competition to enter the postal service is very keen, and the result is that many take up this employment who are fitted for more important positions. Such persons frequently become dissatisfied with their wages, forgetting that the latter are intended to correspond with the duties which are to be performed and not with the capacity of the person performing them to fill another sphere of action. Postal servants are therefore continually pressing for an advance in wages, and the political pressure which their voting strength is able to bring to bear affords a striking warning of what might be expected from an increase of municipal or State trading.
As manager of the Post Office the Postmaster-General has not a very wide discretion, and for any important changes in policy must obtain statutory sanction. Less important changes, if they affect the amount of revenue which will be produced, have to be authorised by the Treasury. But in 1906 an Act was necessary to give the Treasury power to sanction the carriage of literature for the blind at a special rate.
The work of the Post Office is extensive, varied and increasing. It has the sole right to carry letters and
to transmit telegrams. It conducts a telephone service itself, and receives a royalty from all other telephone companies. It delivers letters, newspapers and parcels within the United Kingdom on the prepayment of certain charges which are imposed by Parliament from time to time. As a result of an Imperial Postal Conference held in London in 1797 an Imperial penny post was established with India and the Colonies. This was later extended to the United
Contributions in respect of the National Insurance Acts (1911 and 1916) are effected by means of stamps purchased at the Post Office.
One great department of the Post Office is the Savings Bank. In this there is a large number of depositors, and to encourage thrift postal officials attend at some of the largest industrial establishments on pay-day if desired. The issue, payment and transmission of money and postal orders is another side of the banking business of the Post Office. It also pays old age pensions.
Besides acting as banker the Post Office acts too as stockbroker for the purchase of Government stock and as an insurance company for the purchase of annuities and for life insurance.
§ 96. The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain is one of the most important members of the Cabinet. The history of his office will be found in an earlier chapter (§ 63). At the present day he is the guardian of the Great Seal and is appointed by its delivery to him. He is responsible for all documents to which it is attached. is the chairman or speaker of the House of Lords, and is in practice always a member of that body, although this is not necessary. He is the head of the Judiciary of the kingdom, and appoints the judges of the High Court and the County Courts. He also appoints justices of the peace.