Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/352

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


12 THE BRITISH EMPIRE :— UNITED KINGDOM persons to he justices of the peace for his county, to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor. His duties however are almost nominal. There is also a sheriff, who represents the executive of the Crown, an under-sheriff, a clerk of the peace, coroners, who are appointed and paid by the County Councils, and other officers. The licensing of persons to sell intoxicating liquors, and the administration of the criminal law — except that which deals with some of the graver offences — is in the hands of the magistrates. For the purposes of local government England and Wales are divided into sixty-one admini- strative counties, including the county of London, which differ slightly in area from the geographical counties. For each administrative county there is a popularly-elected Council, called a County Council, who co-opt a prescribed number of aldermen, either from their own body or from outside it. Aldermen are elected for six years, half of them retiring every third j^ear. A councillor is elected for three years. The jurisdiction of the County Councils extend to (1) making of county and police rates ; (2) borrowing of money ; (3) supervision of county treasurer ; (4) management of county halls and other buildings ; (5) licensing of houses for music and dancing, and of racecourses ; (6) maintenance and management of pauper lunatic asylums ; (7) maintenance of reformatory and industrial schools ; (8) management of bridges and main roads ; (9) regu- lation of fees of inspectors, analysts, and other officers ; (10) control of officers paid out of the county rate ; (11) coroner's salary, fees, and district ; (12) Parliamentary polling districts and registration ; (13) contagious diseases of animals, and various other matters. The control of the county police is vested in a standing joint committee composed of an equal number of magis- trates and members of the County Council. The London police are however under the control of the Home Secretaiy. The administrative counties, with the exception of the County of London, are subdivided into ' County Districts ' which are either ' Urban ' or Rural, as the case may be. Generally speaking, an urban district comprises a town or a small area more or less closely populated, and a rural district takes in several country parishes. Women may be elected to District Councils, but may not sit on County Councils ; and the chairman of a District Council is, unless a woman, a magistrate for the county by virtue of his office. The District Councils administer the Public Health and Highway Acts, and also exercise some powers formerly exercised by the justices out of session. In every civil parish in a ' rural district ' there is a Parish Meeting, at which every parochial elector may attend and vote. In such parishes of over 300 inhabitants there is in addition a Parish Council. To these latter bodies dias been transferred all the civil powers of the old Vestries, including the election of overseers, and in addition very considerable powers over charities, allotments, and other public matters. Where there is no Parish Council some of these powers, including the lappointment of the overseers, are exercised by the Parish Meeting. Urban District Councils can, by petitioning the Local Government Board — which is the supreme Local Government authority — obtain part or all of the powers of a Parish Council. Only Parish Meetings may have power to adopt the Public Libraries Acts, the Baths and Washhouses Acts, the Lighting and Watching Acts, the Burials Acts, and the Public Improvements Acts. In the County of London local government is carried on under the County Council by the Vestries, formed under the Metropolis Management Acts, and exercise powers similar but somewhat wider than urban district councils. These Vestries are elected on the same wide suffrage as district councillors. Married women, properly qualided, have votes, and may now sit on them, as well as single women. [See Local Government Acts, 1888 and 1394.]