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in Schedule C lasted on till 1899. The area of the City, whose government is very complicated, resting partly on statute, partly on ancient charters, was not seriously affected by the Act of 1855, and it is again practically untouched by the Act of 1899.
* The main object of the London Government Act, 1899, is to substitute for the numerous elective vestries and district Boards a smaller number of local authorities of greater dignity and with wider powers."
The Act comes into operation on 1st Nov. 1900, or so soon thereafter, not being more than six months later, as the Lord President of the Council may appoint, either generally or specially: and from then 28 “Borough Councils" will be set up in each of the metropolitan boroughs, and will supersede the vestries and boards.
The Council will consist of a mayor, aldermen, and councillors: the latter are elected by those entitled to vote in London for either Parliament or the County Council, including women, provided they reside in the particular borough, or rather ward of the borough ; and in addition some married women are entitled to vote. Women, however, will not be eligible for seats on the Council. The councillors, whose numbers must not exceed 60, hold office for three years, a third retiring yearly.
The aldermen are elected by the councillors from amongst themselves or from outside, to the extent of one-sixth of the number of the Council ; they will sit for six years, one-half retiring every three years. The term of office of the Mayor will be one year; he will be a justice of the peace of the county of London, and may be paid ; he need not be a member of the Council, though he must apparently reside in the borough, thus preventing the boroughs from spreading their nets to catch distinguished outsiders as Mayors.
As to the powers of the new bodies, they are of three kinds : (a) The transferred powers of the elective vestries, including the power of adopting the Baths and Washbouses, Burials, and Public Libraries Acts; (b) A few minor powers transferred from the London County Council, e.g., as to sky signs and obstructions in streets, under the Building Act; (c) Certain new powers expressly given by the Act. The Councils are empowered to buy land, to set in motion the Housing of the Working Classes Act, to make byelaws for the good order of the borough, and to promote Bills in Parliament. The Council are to be overseers of the poor; and churchwardens, who are henceforth to be purely ecclesiastical authorities, are to cease to be ex officio overseers. All these provisions are, however, subject to being supplemented, and modified even, by schemes made by the Commissioners appointed by the Act. Not the least important feature of the new Act is that the local bodies, instead of, as in the past, auditing their own accounts, are to subject their accounts to an auditor appointed by the Local Government Board.
i See, for an excellent account of the Act, Jenkin, London Government Act, Knight and Co. 2 This is not free from doubt. See Jenkin, op. cit., p. 8.
Two other short Acts affect London-one extending the London Government Act of 1898 so as to include the Royal Holloway College at Egham; the other relates to London water, authorising and enforcing, what has recently become the custom of the water companies in times of drought, viz., that each should assist the others with water, so as to make good deficiencies in time of emergency ; powers are given to the Local Government Board to compel this joint action. The only other enactment of importance in the sphere of municipal economics is 62 and 63 Vict., c. 10, which makes the tenure of office of parish councillors throughout England three years instead of one, as under the Act of 1894, the elections becoming, of course, triennial also.
II. Of seven important enactments dealing with the affairs of England or the sister kingdoms as a whole, it is significant that no less than five are devoted to education.
Power is given to the elementary education authority to make provision for the education of defective and epileptic children, not being imbecile, who are incapable of benefiting by the ordinary instruction, the child having been previously certified by a doctor approved by the Department. The school authorities may provide special classes in the schools, may board out children, so as to bring them together into one school, and may establish special schools, so as to secure the advantage of the best and most scientific methods of education.
The school authorities, in order to achieve the same end, viz., concentration, may also provide guides and conveyances. The expenses are to be borne in the usual way, with additional aid from parliamentary grants, and contributions from parents and Boards of guardians. The age limit of education for such children is to be 16 (62 and 63 Vict., c. 32).
Not the least important educational measure of the year was that which Mr. Robson so skilfully piloted through the House of Commons, raising the age limit of compulsory attendance in elementary schools from 11 to 12 years (c. 13).
The most important measure of the year, however, is that setting up the new Board of Education for England and Wales; this is to consist of a President, and also of the Lord President of the Council (unless he happen to be the chosen President of the Board), the Principal Secretaries of State, the First Commissioner of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Vice-President of the Council is to be also a member during Sir John Gorst's tenure of the office, but on his resignation the office is to be abolished.
The new Board is to replace the discredited Science and Art Department, and its main work is to be inspection of the secondary schools. The Act is but a skeleton, and everything will depend on the intelligence brought to bear on its working, and on the weight given to the opinions of the Consultative Committee of Experts. This Committee is a great feature of the Act. Two-thirds of their number are to be chosen so as to represent the views of the universities or other educational authorities, and their first work is to compile a register of teachers (62 and 63 Vict. c. 33).
62 and 3 Vict., c. 50, sets up a department of agriculture and technical instruction in Ireland, with the Chief Secretary as President, and a Vice-President as actual manager; to assist the departnient, a Council of Agriculture, an Agricultural Board, and a Board of Technical Instruction, are constituted, composed of members of County Councils and county boroughs. Moneys are to be provided from various sources, and to be expended on agricultural and technical instruction and for encouraging sea fisheries.
Local authorities may also contribute funds by raising rates. Under this Act also, as under the English Act, there is to be a Consultative Committee of Education.
By cap. 30 the Acts as to inclosure of commons are amended and codified. District Councils and, by delegation, Parish Councils are given power to make schemes for the drainage and improvement of commons, and byelaws for regulating nuisances thereon. The Council may also acquire the fee simple or any estate in or rights over any common so regulated, by a scheme, but only on payment of proper compensation to any owner or person beneficially interested. All schemes are subject to the consent of the Board of Agriculture.
Three remaining Acts deal with clerical tithe in England, seats for shop assistants in England, and the procedure for private legislature in Scotland. For the next two years during the continuance of the Act which gave relief to agricultural land in 1896, clerical owners of tithe are to be relieved of the burden of half their rates, by a grant from the Imperial Exchequer, which it is estimated will reach £87,000. In spite of some opposition from Mr. Debenham and other employers of female labour, the Shop Assistants Act (62 and 63 Victoria, c. 21) was passed, requiring that in every room of a shop where goods are actually retailed to the public, and where female assistants are employed, the employer shall provide seats in the not very magnificent proportion of one to every three assistants. By c. 47 the Scotch members have secured an arrangement to obviate the necessity for going to Westminster in every case where a private Bill is now required.
Public authorities and others promoting Bills may petition the Secretary for Scotland, who may, with the consent of the Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords, or of Ways and Means in the Commons, send the matter for enquiry before Commissioners, who shall hold an enquiry; if they approve, the Secretary of State may embody the petition in a provisional order, which is then to be reported on by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, and thereon is to be placed in the same position as an ordinary private Bill which has passed the Committee stage.
It seems doubtful if this complicated measure will meet with much approval, or materially accelerate Scotch business.
III. Several measures affect the United Kingdom. The Sale of Food and Drugs Act (c. 51), which gave rise to much discussion in Committee, considerably strengthens the existing law as to marking imported provisions, especially margarine or margarine cheese,
, impoverished butter, condensed or skimmed milk, or any adulterated or impoverished article of food. These must all be clearly labelled according to their character, under a fine not exceeding £20 to the importer for the first offence, £50 for the second, etc.
The powers of the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture are also considerably increased; either of them may, i any matter appearing to affect the interests of the public, authorise an officer to procure samples for analysis ; if a local authority omits to institute proper analyses the Boards may act instead of the local authority
Manufacturers of margarine or margarine cheese are to keep registers, showing the quantity and destination of all they manufacture, and this register is to be subject to inspection by a public officer. No margarine is to contain more than 10 per cent. of butter fat. All persons who sell cream or milk in a public place from a vehicle or can must have their names legibly inscribed thereon, under a penalty of £2.
Mr. Chamberlain's Small Dwellings Act (c. 44) gives power to local authorities to advance money to residents in houses, so as to enable them to acquire their houses, provided the advance does not exceed four-fifths of the value of the house, and also is not greater than a sum of £250, or if freehold more than £300. Repayment is to be made in 30 years, and interest is not to be more than 10s. above the rate at which the local authority can borrow money at the time. Advances are only to be made to residents who intend to continue residing, who can show a good title, and that the house is in good repair; the house must also be conveyed to the local authority, subject to the right of redemption on repayment of the money. If the money is not punctually repaid, or other conditions, such as that of continual residence, are not complied with, the local authority may either take possession of the house, or order the sale of the house without taking possession.
Though the borrower must reside, generally speaking, he may yet, with the consent of the local authority, transfer his house to a purchaser, together with the rights and liabilities under the loan. The Act applies, with modifications, to Scotland and Ireland.
Apart from the Finance and Appropriation Acts themselves, no Acts dealing with imperial matters of first-rate importance figure on the Statute Book for last year. The Finance Act altered to some extent the duties on wine and imposing duties on instruments issued by any foreign government or any foreign or colonial corporation, transferable by delivery. It increased the duty payable on a company's nominal capital from two shillings to five, and imposed an ad valorem stamp duty of half a crown on every hundred pounds of loan capital issued by any corporation in the United Kingdom. It also increased the duty on letters of allotment from 1d. to 6d. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, by section 16 of the same Act, reduced the amount for the year to be paid off the National Debt from 25 to 23 millions.
The Appropriation Act grants out of the Consolidated Fund, and appropriates to the expenditure of the year, 87 millions.
IV. Of other Acts the following deserve notice :
The Gordon Memorial College at Khartoum Act empowered the trustees of the Gordon College to invest money for the College in bonds of the Egyptian Government. The Colonial Loans Act (c. 36) gave power to the Treasury to make advances to twelve Crown and other Colonies, such as Jamaica, Gold Coast, Trinidad, and Cyprus, for railways and other public works, to the amount of three millions. By the Royal Niger Company Act (c. 43) the Treasury are empowered to pay £865,000 to the Company, on the Government's taking over the Company's land, buildings, wharves, etc., and revoking the charter of the Company. Two Acts, viz., the Military Works Act, 1899 (c. 41), and the Naval Works Act, 1899 (c. 42), vote large sums, seven millions in all, for permanent expenses of construction and works connected with the two services. This is part of a general scheme of military and naval defence, commenced in 1895 in the case of the Navy, and 1897 in the case of the Army. Of a total of nine and a half millions for the Army, including five millions voted in 1897, and four millions last year, more than five millions go in new barracks in England and abroad, including £130,000 at WeiHai-Wei. Ranges account for another million, while more than two millions go in defence works, of which no particulars are given, and which have called for much criticism from accredited exponents of our principles of national strategy. The seven
millions voted, i.e., £4,500,000 in previous years and £3,100,000 this year for naval works, include first of all defence of harbours, e.g., one million at Gibraltar and three and a half millions at Dover; secondly, adaptation of naval ports to present requirements, Gibraltar again figuring for two and a half millions, and Hong Kong for something more than a million ; while naval barracks at Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, and the new college for the “ Britannia ” will account for further large sums.
PROFESSOR ASHLEY ON THE COMMERCIAL LEGISLATION OF
The interesting article which Professor Ashley contributed to the November number of the Quarterly Journal of Economics is in one respect disappointing.